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There never was a beginning yet but it had a reference to an end, and the end therefore must give a character to the beginning. True, a person might alter his design as he proceeds, but then his beginning was not in keeping with the end he now has in view, nor is it the one that he would have adopted had he had the same end in view when he began. There is nothing more evident than that there must be an end in view to every beginning, and the beginning must be in keeping (however distantly) with the end proposed. The end may be very undefined, but nevertheless it was with reference to it that the work was begun or undertaken.

The servant of the Lord receives a commission from the Lord to do a certain thing; he may not be able to comprehend the full result of his work, but in order to be true to the result, he must be true to the commission. The first thing after the servant's appointment, is his commission. If he be ignorant of what he is to do, he must of necessity be defective in all his services.

Every real servant now is appointed, he is called of the Lord and gifted. A gift is a specific line of service, and as each servant waits on the Lord, he receives instruction from Him through the word in order that he may please Him who hath chosen him.

No one is an evangelist unless he be gifted by the Lord for that ministry. This is the first thing, and one which no one taught in the word will deny; the next thing is the commission which the evangelist receives from the Lord. Now here I apprehend arises all the imperfection and weakness in preaching the gospel in this day. Every servant is only really useful and efficient as he is the bearer of his Master's mind. Whenever he fails in truly representing the Lord's mind, he fails in his commission, however great his power as an agent. To "please him who hath chosen him", is the first and chief quality of a

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servant. It is not enough that he have ability; ordinarily speaking a servant might have every qualification, and yet be unsatisfactory, because he pays little attention to his Master's wishes. The most gifted evangelist, however great his power and ability, will fail in his service unless he knows what his Lord desires that he should effect by his preaching. It is therefore of great moment that he should learn from the Lord what he is to do.

In preaching the gospel you must either derive light as to your commission from the Scriptures before the Lord's ascension or after it. Before the ascension there was salvation for the soul, but there was no assembly, and the evangelist who now relies on the measure of light there was before the ascension for his guidance, is behind the mark, and however gifted he may be, he is defective in the Lord's mind, and is doing the Lord's work negligently; not intentionally, I fully admit, but in a day like this it is of the last importance to be able to discern the one perfect way. There cannot be two. Being near the right way, or having any amount of zeal or success, will not compensate for disregard of His mind or for ignorance of His wishes. To say "Corban" to the Lord is profane or worse, and yet the one who shelters his ignorance or argues for it, because of his or others' zeal or success, is literally doing so.

The gifts were given after the ascension of our Lord and therefore the evangelist now, if he be instructed by the Lord who has conferred the gift on him, must have a distinct end before him, and one according to the mind of Christ. The evangelist either falls back to the light before the ascension of Christ, and then he does not connect his gift with the source of it, and is behind the testimony, or, knowing that he is an evangelist by gift from an ascended Christ refused on earth, he seeks to turn souls from "darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me"; that is, in a glorified Christ.

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If the salvation of the perishing soul be the one end before the mind, then the beginning and every part of the evangelist's services more or less express this end. But if Christ, and being united to Him in glory be the end, (as it assuredly must be when the evangelist knows that he has been sent by a Saviour ascended to God's right hand, to preach the good tidings of His finished work,) then the beginning and every part of his work bears the stamp and colour of this truth, and souls who receive his message are enlightened accordingly. If the evangelist derives his gift from an ascended Christ, surely if he keep this one simple thing honestly before him, he must study the mind of his ascended Lord and look for souls here who will believe in an ascended Christ, and in believing receive the Spirit who unites them to Him now absent.

The assembly came in consequent on the rejection of Christ, at first indirectly though surely; that is, while there was an offer to Israel of the Lord in glory in the earlier chapters of the Acts, up to the stoning of Stephen, yet all the time the assembly was the only one true gathering point.

Saints now are baptized by one Spirit into one body; the weakest member is necessary, and the safety of the soul is not the end of the gospel now, but that believers should be united to Christ the Head in heaven, and to one another on earth by the Holy Spirit. It is of immense practical import whether the evangelist apprehends what is the mind of his Lord in conferring on him the gift of an evangelist; because however earnest and faithful he might be, he cannot do his duty to souls, or please the Lord otherwise. If he in his own heart limits the end and finish of his work to the salvation of the soul, he cannot seek for anything beyond, until the limit in his mind be altered. If the preacher in knowledge and purpose be not beyond remission of sins, there may be converts as there were at Ephesus, where they had not advanced beyond Apollos who had preached to them, "knowing only the

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baptism of John". When the Spirit of God blesses the word spoken, the blessing is according as it has been set forth. This is what is called in 1 Corinthians 3 "man's work", which may be either wise, foolish, or wicked. The work done is in keeping with the teaching of the servant. Souls may and do receive help or light in other ways from the Lord, but there will always be found a distinct correspondence between the teacher and the taught. Hence the disciples at Ephesus who were converted by Apollos were no farther on than their evangelist when Paul met with them. I adduce this to show that if the groundwork be not laid, if there be dispensational darkness in the evangelist, it must damage and hinder the converts. I am sure that no preacher can lay the foundation of unworldliness, nor can he have it in his own soul, unless he knows that he is united to Christ in glory and that he derives his gift for service from an ascended Lord upon whom he waits, knowing Him where He is, and receiving instructions from Him, according to the nature of the sphere from which He communicates them, and therefore in keeping with His present testimony.

It is impossible to separate from the world unless one knows what it is to be heavenly. Nothing can divert the heart from the earthly side of things but the Spirit of God leading it into association with Christ where He is. It is not to a believers' meeting that we go to look for it, nor a meeting of any kind however rightly constituted. If the heart has found its true bond to Christ, it will soon find the right meeting or way of meeting. Often the question of hell or heaven is settled for the future, when the question, Is it earth or heaven now? has never been raised; and the real reason, let servants fail to see it as they may, why there are so many advocates for the gospel without the assembly is this, that you can hold on with the world and in an earthly position and pursuits, and still earnestly seek to save souls from hell, which could in no way be done if your aim were to connect them with

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Christ in heaven, in order that they might be not of the world because He is not of it; and the fact is patent, that the most acceptable evangelists of the day are those who have never broken with the world. No one can truly or consistently maintain the truth of the assembly without in some degree breaking with all earthly things. The very constitution of the assembly requires it. It is heavenly in its hopes, and it is spiritual in its power and support; and it is impossible to be truly and sincerely a member of the body of Christ on earth, and not see that it is only as you are heavenly and spiritual that you are in any measure true to this transcendent calling. This highest order of mutual relations, and this entirely new kind of unity, where each member affects the other, can only be known and understood in the assembly, and as understood, it exacts new and peculiar vital sympathy, in the heart, for Christ's people on the earth, never known nor ever intended to be intelligible otherwise. I distinctly and sorrowfully insist that the great cause of the weakness in principle, etc. in the young converts of the present day is mainly attributable to the little reference made by the preachers to the Lord where He is, and from whom they have received their gifts; consequently, they go back to the Scriptures previous to the introduction of the assembly for instructions as to their commission, and hence all their work bears the stamp of their ignorance or indifference. Painful language this is, but necessary in such a day as this. May the Lord rouse them to a true sense of what becomes them, and show them that if they are sent by the Head of the assembly, they must distinctly and carefully accomplish the mission of an ascended Christ refused by men.

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The first and greatest desire of our Lord for His disciples on earth, was that they should be one after the same manner of unity as exists between Himself and the Father. The oneness of all saints in mind and judgment would have been the most impressive evidence to the world; hence He says, "that the world may believe that thou hast sent me". Nothing could so much arrest, and tend to convince the mass of men in general, as the astounding, novel, unheard-of fact, that one mind and judgment was maintained by all believers in Christ; there could be no greater evidence that the one God ruled and guided each; that man with all his peculiar feelings and self-concentration had given way, and that one holy, comprehensive mind and judgment directed and governed each and all. The old saying, 'every man for himself', is entirely contravened by the great truth that the saints should be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment. It is plain that with God there cannot be two opinions about anything, and therefore if there be difference of opinion in men, there must be a departure from the divine mind on either side, or, as is oftener the case, on both sides. It is therefore a very grave thing to differ in opinion from a saint, for it must be either that I am advocating what is not of God, or that he is. There should not be such a thing as agreeing to differ, though there may be a tolerance of difference of judgment.

Once it is admitted that it is the natural mind in us which hinders the true and clear acceptance of God's mind, there is at least an opportunity afforded for exercising oneself before the Lord as to the correctness of one's views and opinions. We learn from John 17 that we are either of the world or of the Father. If we are of the Father our opinions must be in perfect harmony; no one could see differently from another;

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some might see more than others, but all would see in the same direction. There may be different sizes of the same kind of tree, but that is quite another thing to there being different trees with different ways and rules of growth, etc. If we had no judgment of our own, and if our minds were like a tablet on which nothing was ever written, and on which nothing could be written but the word of God, we could not have any mind but the mind of the Lord; and this is the great end of the Scriptures; it is not merely that they give us light about certain things, but they form us into the mind of God about everything. You will never find that you learn the Lord's mind from any number of subjects which you may have studied in the Scriptures; you must study the revelation of God as one whole, and as you take it in, your mind begins to regard things as He does. Isolated subjects or doctrines to any extent can only inform you respecting themselves, and though quite necessary they are of comparatively small moment to the great importance of being in the current of God's judgment about everything; and this wondrous favour you can only obtain, by getting a full apprehension, if not comprehension, of all the revelation which He has been pleased to give us. A student of geography must learn the globe before he can determine the latitude of any particular country, so must the christian student learn the scope and intent of the Bible, before he can truly and fully define particular subjects or doctrines.

There are, I may say, four causes for the difference of opinion which, alas, is so wide-spread among us, and so humbling to us all. What can be a more humiliating picture than to see members of the one body, each of whom is a temple of the Holy Spirit, holding and advocating with all the earnestness of their abilities, opinions directly at variance with one another?

The first cause is ignorance. I think many are not sufficiently enlightened as to the word of God so as to be able to see or to accept what others see to be positively

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revealed. Thomas is an instance of ignorance when he said, "We know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" Nicodemus was ignorant; the eunuch was ignorant, and Apollos was ignorant. There is one distinct mark about one who is simply ignorant, and that is, he likes to be informed, and is really receptive; in those cases, and I suppose in every case where there is a sense of ignorance, light is in mercy supplied through some means. Mere ignorance, where there is not will, is no hindrance to the Spirit of God; hence the apostle says, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you", Philippians 3:15. Many are ignorant now of dispensational truth, and they argue that what was approved of by God at one time for His people is consistent for the present time; and surely nothing could cause a greater difference of opinion than darkness as to the varied dispensations from Adam downwards in contrast with a clear apprehension of them. One sincere believer will argue for war and earthly glory because David was a great soldier and a mighty king, whereas another, who sees the rejection of the King of kings, will know that all man's glory has passed away and that the only true greatness now is through the Spirit of God. The difference of opinion between two who hold to each of these creeds, must be so wide, so opposed, that there could be no point of agreement anywhere. They differ so essentially that everything said or done bears the mark of the difference, and yet the mass of believers is in this ignorance of dispensational truth at this present moment. The rejection of Christ is not seen, and there are very few who really and simply see the present period to be characteristically the assembly period; they do not deny the assembly, but they do not see that it was formed and disclosed consequent on the rejection of Christ by man upon earth, so that the assembly must be characteristically heavenly and not earthly.

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Now the reason why this ignorance is not enlightened and corrected is, that with the mass it is not simply ignorance as it was with Nicodemus, Thomas, or Mary Magdalene; it has grown into prejudice, which is another cause for the difference of opinion. Prejudice springs from being educated in a religious system. The conscience has been under the conviction that it is subject to the only true religion, and hence, the nearer the religion comes to the truth in external form and ceremony, the more difficult it is to free the conscience of that bias which I call prejudice. It is an immense thing to liberate the conscience from any religious imposition or ordinance founded on the authority of God's word. This was the prejudice of the Jews, and it ruled them to such an extent that they thought they did God service in killing the christians. "They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge". It is not merely the details of a religion which it is difficult to eradicate, but whatever has laid hold of the conscience as a special claim, is clung to with tenacity. And thus it is with believers; what circumcision was to the Jews, so to many christians at this moment is the law, as the rule of life, as well as the two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper, in various modes of administration. Prejudice judges everything, even the word of God, in the light of the religious dogma which governs the conscience, and there is no breaking down prejudice but by really setting aside man in death. Hence the apostle Paul, a man of the greatest prejudice - one who could say "after the .. . straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee" - was called out to be the witness in divine power of complete superiority over all prejudices.

The third cause is expediency. This often occurs where there is neither ignorance nor prejudice, and simply arises from looking at things in relation to man instead of in relation to God. James from expediency pressed and induced Paul to show his zeal for the law, Acts 21:20. Usefulness is generally grounded on expediency, which

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urges the claim of need, apart from the mind and pleasure of the Lord. This was Martha's mistake, her work was a useful and a necessary one seeing as man sees; but she consulted her own mind and not the Lord's. It is amazing the divergence of opinion which must exist between a Martha and a Mary; the more expedient the thing seems to be, the more difficult it is to renounce it for the word of God. Nothing seemed more natural than that David, sitting in his own house of cedars, should want to build a house for the Lord; and though it was good that it was in his heart, yet the word of the Lord countermanded it. It would be as difficult to effect an agreement between the man of expediency and the man of faith who is simply led by the word, as to make a man looking eastward see what the man looking westward sees. The man of expediency can always reason well, and has plenty of evidence to establish his argument. The man of faith sees what God says, and waits in patience to fulfil His mind, but there can be no oneness of judgment between them.

The last cause whereby the mind is warped and hindered from judging according to God is covetousness. Covetousness is desiring something for one's own gratification. There is the idol in the heart, and all truth is qualified or reduced in order to spare this idol or taste. We find in Ezekiel 14:4, "Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols". If I come simply to the word of God I shall always find that the thing which most hinders me is the one which the word most rebukes; but if I am determined at all cost to save my idol, whatever it be, I must limit the action of the word, and this limitation will inevitably run through every subject in the word which I take up. Have we not discovered how differently and boldly we insist on a passage, when a covetous course has been surrendered,

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which was garbled and glossed over formerly? The covetous man not only differs from the fearless asserter of the full truth, but he shuns the teacher, as the Galatians and all that were in Asia shunned Paul. There is always a twofold action of the word of God; one is deepening in your soul the truth you have truly and simply received, the other is correcting, and exposing either the working of the flesh in you, or its tendency; and when the heart is simple it likes both; and thus it is led into the mind of the Lord, and all who are so must have the same mind and the same judgment.

May the Lord exercise our hearts and consciences, that we may not be harbouring anything which is a hindrance to oneness of mind and judgment, for His name's sake.


The power of man became distinct and disconnected from the power of God the moment Eve, urged on by her own will, put forth her hand in selfishness to take of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There were then three powers on the earth; the power of God, the power of Satan, and the power of man. The power of God acting when and how it listeth; the power of Satan limited to evil; and the power of man defined by his own natural strength unless he became the agent of either of the other two.

Thus man on the earth was continually reminded of his powerless condition, - and his end, death, was the crown of it. And as he became conscious of his powerlessness, (for his mind gave him a station beyond his means to support,) he in unbelief had recourse to Satan, who in malice was ever ready to help him to do evil.

No man intentionally, unless very debased, could turn to Satan for help; but Satan, knowing the helplessness of man, had provided expedients, which would allure him in the hour of difficulty or temptation. Witchcraft and everything of that class were the devices by which Satan

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allured man in the hour of his impotence to turn to him while to the degraded man he came, and offered to help him to accomplish his evil purposes by entering into him.

When God set up man again upon the earth (Genesis 9), He gave him an increased power which I may call the sword, because it was to control; there was nothing of the ascending character in it. At any rate this new power is confined to man and all below him; it does not bring him nearer to God, while, if used for himself, it has the effect of making him more independent of God.

There was always in the converted soul another power, the power of faith; and this power preserved a line of its own witnesses. Abraham was a witness of it. And often we find that the power of government, and the power of faith, or the unseen power, were vested in one and the same person, as in Joseph, Samuel, or David.

There were, all through man's time - the old dispensation - wonderful instances of the actings of the unseen power. Eve built; Enoch translated; Babel confounded; the judgments executed on Egypt; the deliverance of Israel from Egypt; the way made through the Red Sea; the passage of Jordan; the preservation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the midst of the fiery furnace: the history of the returned captives; and many other instances too numerous to recount.

Thus there was the power of Satan to do evil, and exercised in that line only. There was the natural power of man, and the sword given to him by God in order to subdue and to maintain order. And there was the unseen power of God working through faith in the souls of men.

Now, as to the power of Satan, no one would admit that he was under it. Alas! we know that many are; but it is not a power which any one would willingly boast of. But the power which God gave man in order to subdue and to rule is, on the contrary, one which every natural man covets, and more or less seeks for. God often did, as I have said, connect faith - His own power - with the same person in whose hands He had placed the

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sword. But at the captivity of Israel the sword, in judgment on Israel, was handed over to the gentiles; and hence, subsequently, the only true power of the godly remnant was the unseen power - faith reckoning upon God, like Daniel in the lions' den, etc.

Now when Christ came, there was the power of Satan as it had been from the first; the sword was in the hands of the Romans; the Jews had the oracles of God and were in their own land, but having forfeited the sword they were powerless unless they had faith in God.

The Man Christ Jesus was the wondrous perfect expression of the unseen power of God in Israel, when they had no other power unless Satan's, by which they were afflicted; and they were ruled over by the power of the sword in the hand of the Romans. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him. He was the first Man in whom the Holy Spirit abode, as it was said to John Baptist: "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on him, he it is who baptises with the Holy Spirit". This was what would specially mark Him:

- a new power descending and remaining on Him, a Man among men, and not this only but "he it is who baptises with the Holy Spirit".

Christ was rejected by the Jew, who said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him", and who induced the Roman governor to crucify Him, saying, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend;" the Jew with the law of God said, "By our law he ought to die", and the Roman soldiers crucified Him. Thus the law and the sword were both used to exterminate from the earth the blessed One who went about correcting every evil, and removing every suffering which He came in contact with, by an unseen power. Devils were driven out, lepers cleansed, storms calmed, multitudes fed, the dead raised up; and yet no one could see this power.

Now Christ being exalted to the right hand of God,

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sent down the Holy Spirit to dwell in those who believe in Him; and this is the unseen power which is to comfort our hearts in His absence (John 14:26), and which is to bear witness of Him in the presence of the world which is a coalition of all the powers that are upon the earth.

The unseen power is the Holy Spirit; and now it is not only Satan's power which should be refused by a saint, but the power which God gave man must also be refused; (that is to say, he must not wield it, though he is to submit to it, as to "the powers that be",) because man did not use the sword for God, but was found in concert with the prince of this world. And yet in Christ's death the prince of this world was judged; by a Man in death, Satan was vanquished; Jesus entered into death "that ... he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil".

Now then we have, first, the unseen power here with the saints; secondly, Satan's power (though broken by the Lord Jesus Christ) is here, and that in a double way; openly like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; and secretly with wiles to entangle and hinder those devoted to the word of God; and thirdly, the power of the sword is still here, that which God gave man to preserve order and the like, but which has joined hands with Satan in the death of Christ, and these two last, together constitute the world. Natural power, conferred power, Satanic power, all exerted their forces against Christ, the one Man who alone maintained for God here in the flesh, in spite of all the powers combined. Every power on the earth opposed to the utmost; one Man only was superior to all in an unseen power.

Now if this unseen power, which is the Holy Spirit, be not our power in anything and in everything, we must fall back to the other powers.

Here let me distinguish between the arbitrary use of one's own natural powers, in what is called self-reliance, and the use of those powers, whether of mind or body, under the direction and sway of the Holy Spirit, as a

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horse is under the rein of the rider. It is plain that the only power on earth for God is the unseen power, and it remains for us to ascertain how we can distinguish the acting of this unseen power, from the acting of the natural or worldly man.

A believer does not lose his natural powers and gifts, but the difference is, that he has received a new nature and an entirely new power, and as he walks according to the new nature by this new power, he yields himself to His counsel and dictation, and not to his own.

Natural power never can effect anything but by a work; unseen power accomplishes everything by a word, "He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast". Man can accomplish nothing noiselessly and without display! "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: God uttered his voice, the earth melted".

The word then is the great distinctive mark between the invisible power and the visible ones. Hence the spiritual man depends on the word of God, not upon any activity or exertion of man's natural powers; he is used by the Spirit to set forth and express truly the word of God, and thus "by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe". It is the "still small voice" that is the divinely effective agent. And it is evident that the more the servant of Christ will coalesce with or seek countenance from the other powers the less will he be opposed by them, so that a success may attend his labours which may not be a genuine one. For example, Satan offered to countenance Paul and Silas at Philippi. Had they accepted it their success would have been more visible; but when they refused it their power was an unseen one, and their success though small was genuine, and of God.

One word in conclusion as to the different way in which this power acts in the bright morning of a dispensation and in the faithful residue when all is in ruins. Israel's first conflict in the land was marked by a most conspicuous intervention of the unseen power. The walls of Jericho fell down flat. For the remnant of the same people in a

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later day, the unseen power was just as great, but not so conspicuous in result. In Samuel's time it was prayer, after every kind of human means had been even in a measure successfully used by the judges. Prayer effected what the ox-goad, the nail, the jaw-bone of the ass, and the strongest of men had failed to effect.

The captivity returned to Jerusalem shorn of all earthly power, yet the word of the Lord is "my spirit remaineth among you; fear ye not". It is made manifest to individual faith, but not conspicuously, as it was before failure, and this is the great distinctive difference in the manner of its acting.

With the assembly it has been the same. At Pentecost there were great gifts, and great display of the unseen power. To Paul deserted by all, it was "the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me;" "and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And 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".


We do not seek what we do not need. Where there is no felt need of divine power there is neither a seeking after it nor a preparation of heart for it. It is therefore according to the sense of our powerlessness on the one hand, and our faith in God on the other, that we seek and obtain power from Him. If we are not powerless we do not require power; what we do not feel our need of we do not seek, nor would it be valued were it conferred. The awakened soul feels the need of a Saviour; he knows he cannot save himself, and the more simply and deeply he feels this, the more truly and fully does he lay hold on His arm who alone can save him. We see in the case of the palsied man (Mark 2), that he who bodily exemplified the greatest weakness, most fully unlocked the heart

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of Christ, and commanded the resources of His power. "When we were ... without strength, ... Christ died", etc. The maintenance of power of any kind on my own side must necessarily militate against my desiring it from Him, while it would check Him from offering me what I would not prize, and really have no room for.

The great faith of the syrophenician woman consisted in her taking the place of nothingness, admitting her powerlessness and insignificance, while suffering from Satan's power and while in the presence of the Lord. We have the same principle in Romans 7"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" The point of utter helplessness is reached and then the heart is prepared for the perfect relief in Christ, and can exclaim, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord". This Job reached when he cried out, "I know that thou canst do everything". "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes". Paul learnt it yet more deeply; after his time in the third heaven he found that by himself he could do nothing, but that the strength or power of Christ was made perfect in his weakness.

First, then, we have it established that weakness must be admitted and felt before power is sought for or obtained. Secondly, we proceed to examine the manner or way in which we get power; and then, thirdly, we shall see how the power will demonstrate itself.

I am weak, and I feel it; well, then, there is no getting power apart from Christ: "without me ye can do nothing". Everyone believing on Christ is safe from judgment; everyone believing on Him risen is brought into deliverance; but power does not necessarily belong to either of these two classes.

Hearing wondrous things in heaven is not power, as we see with the apostle (2 Corinthians 12). Learning from the most perfect teaching does not confer power, as we see with the two disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24). Power is only acquired by conscious connection with the

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source of power. Happiness and intelligence in themselves are not power. Either may make me feel that I want power to retain or to use them, but my power depends upon my abiding in Christ, and unless I know Him as the exalted Man at God's right hand of power, and that I am united to Him there, I can have no effective power here. That is, though I may have an easy conscience, and intelligence of Scripture, yet I am not master of my circumstances, whatever they may be, because I have not power. I may deplore my deficiency and my loss, and see painfully by spiritual sense what I need, but this only proves that I have not got it. I am here in a scene where everything is against God, where a coalition has been formed between man and Satan to acquire the rule of everything, so as eventually to reach a point where in the excellence and abundance of all earthly acquisitions, a man can openly and avowedly exalt himself against all that is called God or worshipped, and this will be the pinnacle of Babylon's greatness. This is the scene in which we are, and we can have no power except as we are drawing from Him who has been rejected from this scene, but has been exalted to God's right hand "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come".

It is as we are identified with Him who is beyond, above, and apart from, every evil force here, that we are really in divine power beyond, above, and apart from them all. How else could we be? "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it". All my blessing depends on Christ's work for me, all my power here depends on His being in me; that is, that I am here in His name, Himself characteristically. Many a saint is baffled and tried because he finds out in some emergency that he is not able to cope with it; he has no power and is really like other men. Now the reason of this is, not that he is not at peace in his soul, nor that he is

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lacking in vivid apprehension of the truth, but it is because his eye is not on Christ at the time, he is not consciously associated and identified with Him who is above it all and who has been taken away from this scene.

The way to secure power now is after the same manner as Elijah's reply to Elisha indicates when he asked for a double portion of his spirit: "If thou see me ... taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so". It is not said that Elisha saw Elijah more than once, but once he touched and reached the spring of power, and really had known it, it was known for ever, while the mode of appropriating it remains unchanged also. That is, the power does not work in me now apart from Christ; but as my eye in faith is on Him I am endued with His ability to act in my circumstances as He would act in them. I am never independent of Him, blessed be His name. It is joy to the heart devoted to Him to hear Him say, "Without me ye can do nothing".

Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus; he was above the winds and the waves - in figure above and beyond all the evil forces here, and so long as his eye was on Jesus he walked by the very same power as Jesus; he walked really as Jesus walked at the time, but seeing the wind boisterous he was afraid - his eye turned to another direction, and the power was forfeited - lost, because his link with the One superior to all power here was lost.

This is the secret of our power now; no one can have power, divine power, amidst the various godless powers here, unless, and as he is walking in the clear positive unfaltering sense of his union with a glorified Man at God's right hand in power. Thus when all the force of evil in religious guise bore down on Stephen, God prepared him for it, constituted him superior to it all, by connecting him through the Holy Spirit with Jesus in the glory of God. He "being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus". Many, I am persuaded, mistake happiness or intelligence

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or good conduct for power. Presently I shall explain what power is, and how it works; but first, I am sure it is of the deepest importance to understand how it is acquired, and that it cannot be enjoyed practically apart from Christ Himself; it is His power that worketh in us, and, as the apostle says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". It is an immense help, and a clue to still greater, when I know that all my ability to act for Christ here depends on my conscious identification with Him where He is, not where He was for me; though as I receive power from Him I walk here even as He walked; His life is manifested in me.

Now this leads to the inquiry how power shows itself - how it works. It is evident that if power cannot be in exercise in me but as I, in conscious union with Christ in glory, am drawing it from Him, the power must put me in conformity to what Christ would do; be it in things small or great, it would enable me to meet everything here as He would meet it; to walk on the water; face the enraged religionists of the hour; and be superior to my own circumstances in a prison for Him.

Power is not so much seen in exploits as in the manifestation of Christ's life at the moment. It is quite possible to present a truth or truths to the conveniences of others, and yet that person to be lacking in Christ's mode of behaviour in his surroundings at the moment. The power of Christ is required when there is nothing but winds and waves, and this is secured only by faith in Him at the time. Now it works contrary to everything here; it has an entirely new way of doing everything. It does not only renounce the way and manner of men, and the motives which sway them; but it introduces an entirely new way. It is divinely beautiful and simple - Christ-like. It disowns and discards the counsel and ways of men; while it insists on and maintains what is of Christ, it necessarily condemns and ignores man in his motives and principles of action - literally puts him to

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death; but as there is this power, the life of Jesus is manifested in my body.

Many a one sees light who is not in the power of it; he cannot distinguish other objects in the light of it; he is like the blind man when he saw men as trees walking (Mark 8), he has received light, but not enough of it to enable him to see everything clearly. It was in the second touch of our Lord that the full power of light was communicated.

How many are so far enlightened as really and truly to see; but how few see everything in the light of the truth, and how much easier it is for the teacher to give souls an elementary idea of the greatest truth than to carry them on into the depths, and judgments, and conclusions which that truth, held or known in power, would impart.

We get such expressions as "Strengthened with might [power] by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith", Ephesians 3:16,17. And again, in Colossians 1:11, "Strengthened with all might [power], according to his glorious power" - or the dominion of His glory - "unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness". The power shows itself in making me superior to all the forces here which would act upon me, and in setting me so free of myself, so silencing the flesh, that there would be nothing to impede the expression of Christ living in me. It would not be seen so much in works that would attract or strike the public eye as in the quiet, self-possessed tenor of my course which would make my antagonists to stagger and be confounded, and which sensibly would contribute to every saint, even the least spiritual - a certain conscious, moral influence, which no one possesses but as there is known practical power in oneself, because I never can have moral weight to repress in another that which I have not repressed in myself. When the truth is not in word only, but also in power, I am detected by it; that is light which "doth make manifest"; and I am

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formed by this power of the Holy Spirit in the new life which has superseded the old. Now for this, the teacher or guide, in order to be so efficiently, and an ensample, must increase in power, or he will not help on others, and in his ministry he will never lead on souls beyond a point.

May we learn truly that the secret of power is having the heart kept by the Spirit in conscious identity with the exalted Christ, and that the power shows itself in placing me superior to myself, in spite of every force here, in the way and manner of Christ, so that its work is novel and magnificent.


The good of power is to make me equal to the occasion, but then it is of great moment whether I regard the occasion as man does, or as God does. It is possible to meet a crisis in a way commendable, in the judgment of men, which would not be at all acceptable to God. When Moses killed the Egyptian, he was equal to the occasion according to man's judgment; but as it was not according to the mind of God, he had eventually to succumb and fly. In order to be equal to the crisis according to the mind of God, I must enter it from God's side and not from man's. The mere fact of being able to make a stand, as the children of Benjamin withstood the power of Israel for a time, is really no evidence that you are in the power and counsel of God. We are set in an evil world where man has departed from God, having used the power with which God had entrusted him, to crucify the Lord Jesus Christ. Unless we understand the nature of our circumstances here, we cannot in any measure comprehend how we are to meet them for God, nor can we be prepared to do so. We are here to live Christ, in the place, and among the people where He has been rejected; and the difficulty is ten-fold increased by there being, instead of avowed hostility to Him, a universal profession of His name. No one can properly or truly act for Him in any

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circumstances, unless he knows the relation in which those circumstances stand to Him. The saint is set here for Christ, and as everything, whatever its name may be, is really in opposition to Him, he never can discover his true course, by (as a great general would) obtaining information from anything transpiring around, as to how he is to be master of his position - I must therefore in order to be a man for the crisis come into the circumstances, not only with the power of God, but assuredly from God; that is, I must be so formed in God's presence with that which suits God, and savours of Him, that when I take my stand in the scene here, I am not swayed by anything here, but I am set and empowered to insist on, and maintain that which is due to God; and thus only am I equal to the occasion for God.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God. The moment the eye rests on the circumstances here, then the tendency is to borrow from natural things, in order to overcome natural things. We must not answer a fool according to his folly; we must come from God. It is the very opposite to human generalship; we are to know nothing of what is here, but what is of God, and whatever is due to God, on that we are to insist. Peter, although enlightened with the revelation of one of the greatest of truths, (Matthew 16:16, 17), savoured of the things which be of man, and not the things which be of God, when he chided the Lord for speaking of His death. As a man, and among men, I know of nothing but human ways and means of doing anything; when I am enlightened by grace and my heart is turned Godward, I may have zeal like Peter when he cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, but I am not a man for God in the crisis when I use carnal weapons to repress carnal evil. I have come from man's side into it, and have looked at it as man and not as God sees it. No amount of human energy, however successful at first, will eventually maintain for God, for it will surely come to nought. It is really so simple, that it ought not to require

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exposition, that in a scene where everything is organized in opposition to God, the saint in order to walk in it for God, must come, not only with the heart for God, but he must be so distinctly imbued and coloured with the mind of the Lord, from association with Him, that he comes into this scene to insist on, and maintain, a novelty even - the ways and walk of the perfect Man in heaven, in contra-distinction and separation from the man here; - free from any bias or direction from what is here and with the simple purpose of acting in it according to God. Just as a ray of light enters a dark room, to establish itself irrespective of all that had previously occupied the room, so is it with the man who comes from God; he has a mission of such distinct importance, that morally he is to "salute no man by the way", Luke 10:4. The Lord was the light that shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. He was the Son of man which is in heaven. He came from God; that is the entire secret, in order to be for Him in any emergency. I have no power but as I abide in Christ, and I have no proper plan, and no skill for the exercise of the power imparted, but as I am moulded into His mind, from association with Him in His own things, His word instructing me; and as I am thus moulded, I come not only with the spirit of power but also that of love and of a sound mind to act here for Him.

Abraham was imbued and coloured with the counsel of God, respecting himself, through the teaching of Melchisedec before he encountered the king of Sodom, and therefore he was enabled quickly and positively to refuse all the offers of the king; he was a man for the crisis, while Lot, though a saint, returns with his goods, etc. to Sodom. The latter was doubtless thankful for the mercy vouchsafed to him, for truly there was more attention visibly paid to him in his need and suffering, than there was to Abram. This teaches us how to acquire wisdom and strength to rise superior to things here which would influence and pervert us. Moses in

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connection with the testimony of the Lord (Exodus 32), comes from the presence of the glory of the Lord to witness the apostasy of the whole congregation of Israel. He insists on what is due to God, and faces the whole army of Israel without fear or compromise. He exclaims, "Who is on the Lord's side?" he is not afraid of them that kill the body, he thinks not of the imprudence of his course; he stands for God, and is as bold as a lion; he is a man for the crisis, and pitches the tabernacle of the testimony outside the camp.

Samuel came after the judges. After every kind of human expedient - a knife, a hammer, an ox-goad, a jawbone of an ass in the hand of the strongest of men which had proved only temporarily effectual - he by prayer effects the desired end. "The Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel". God answered his prayers in a very remarkable manner. "The Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel".

I must add a word on Stephen and Paul. It is of all importance that I should know that my ability to be for the Lord in the crisis depends on my own state with the Lord at the time; so that it is what I am that determines what I shall do, and my own state is the first thing to be secured. Stephen, "being full of the Holy Spirit having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus"; he is prepared now to encounter the combination of the greatest evil here bearing down upon him; he makes no display of power, he assails no one, and there is nothing visibly marvellous, and yet never was there such a man for the crisis, or a man so superior to his circumstances: he is tranquil and unmoved, so superior to everything which most bitterly affects man, that he makes those who are battering him to death the objects of his consideration. Never in a mere man was seen before such a witness on this earth of power

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according to God, with love and a sound mind. Stephen properly closes up all hope for an earthly polity, during the absence of Christ, leaving his last moments here as a legacy to the assembly because then was opened out the new line, and how the Spirit of God would sustain the saints by association with Jesus in heaven.

Now with Paul another thing is taught, even that when left alone, deserted by those who evidently were not men for the crisis, he whose earnest expectation and hope was that "in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death", even he can face the array of the great Roman power and succeed in proclaiming the truth of God because the Lord stood with him. Thus we see that the man who is simply for God in the most broken condition of things here, is supported by the Lord; and though he be forsaken by all, even by his own friends and supporters, yet by him will the preaching be fully known, and all the gentiles shall hear. Stephen in his last hours shows us the way to leave this scene; Paul, in his, shows us how to be in it.


Every position or vocation, according to its importance, has its own responsibilities. If it confers much, then much must be required. If a standing were conferred without a state, it would be a mere empty title; there would be no real elevation or inherent dignity. With man it is too often the case that standing confers nothing, though the intention of all title or position is to recognize and reward desert; and where this is the case, the standing is conferred as in keeping with the state. Now with God there is no standing of any kind conferred, but with distinct and precise instruction as to the state which should flow and be derived from it; so that a person practically drops from, or denies his standing, if he have not the state which is in keeping with it.

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It is not possible that God would appoint me to a standing which would subject me to ridicule or censure, because of the disparity between my name and my power; that is, He would not set me in high rank without any means or qualities to maintain it. No, according to the position in which God sets His people, He has from the very first given them power to be in keeping with it. Man in accepting the law assumed a position for himself, and failed in maintaining it; but according to whatever position God calls His people, so does He enable them to be; that is, He gives power in order that their state should be in keeping with their standing. He does not make their standing depend upon their state, because then the standing would be not of grace, but of works; but the standing is only enjoyed in proportion as the state belonging to it is maintained; for thus alone can there be ability to appreciate it.

When God called Abram saying, "Get thee out of thy country ... unto a land that I will shew thee", and he, in obedience to it, came into the land of Canaan, unto the plain of Moreh, we read (Genesis 12:7), "The Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him". Here there was a state corresponding to the standing. Abram occupies the place which God had pointed out to him. By faith he went out, not knowing whither he went, and when he reaches the true spot, his faith is crowned by the special manifestation of the Lord: and he builds an altar unto the Lord who appeared unto him. The appearing of the Lord declared that he had reached the standing, and his state is formed by it, and is in keeping with it. Now if he had not by faith accepted the standing, he never would have known the grace which met him there, and which fitted him for being there, according to the mind of the Lord. The Lord vouchsafed His presence to cheer and to form him in this new standing; and he can go forward, fit for the place in which God's favour had

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set him. But when Abram becomes occupied with the famine in the land, he declines in state; he forgets how the Lord had appeared unto him; the state goes first and then the standing. Thus we see that in order to preserve the standing in its worth, you must have the state which is in keeping with it. A rose tree is not only placed by a gardener in a favoured spot, but by its beautiful bloom it proves itself qualified to be there. Of how little worth is size or mind to a man, if he lack the health which would impart value to both.

It is simple and yet very important that we should truly accept the standing to which God is pleased to call us, but then unless the state which is becoming to that standing is maintained by us, we shall lose practically all the advantage of the standing. A flowerless rose tree is surely very unsuited for a fine garden. Position confers nothing upon any one unless he can enjoy it, and to enjoy it he must maintain it. When Israel got into the land, if they had not been able to overcome the enemies in it, their position there would have been a mockery. Thus although according to the purpose of God we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ, yet we have to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; we have to put on the whole armour of God that we may stand against the wiles of the devil. Let any one neglect to put on the armour, and what benefit will he derive from his high calling? The higher a man's position, the greater his fall when he is counted unworthy of it, and proved incompetent for it. A saint owning his heavenly position is subjected to greater dishonour if he does not maintain the state suited to it. If he be overcome, his fall is the greatest, because his height was the greatest. There is little use in obtaining any benefit, if I cannot keep it; and it cannot be kept, but as my state is true to

it. The whole mistake of the Galatians was losing the state which belonged to their standing in the Spirit, and when they lost the state, they gave up the true standing, and turned to circumcision and the law. Had they walked

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in the Spirit, they would not have fulfilled the lusts of the flesh. The apostle has to remind them, "If we live in the Spirit", that is your standing, "walk in the Spirit" - that is your state. They tried to get a standing by a state - by circumcision - and in doing so they surrendered their true standing, which if preserved would have ensured for them the highest state; but the state was given up, and the standing was surrendered, and the benefits lost; and so it is in every instance.

If the children of Israel did not remain faithful to the Lord in the land, if they were careless in their state, their standing was forfeited. "If thou do at all forget the Lord thy God ... ye shall surely perish", Deuteronomy 8:19. "And then the Lord's wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain ... and ... ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you", Deuteronomy 11:17. Though in the place of the greatest favour, in the highest standing, yet if their state did not answer to it, they should be deprived of rain, etc. - of all advantages connected with the place - all was forfeited because they were indifferent as to their state. When Peter left the ship to go to Jesus (Matthew 14) he accepted his true standing, but when he turned his eye to the winds and waves, his state was not in keeping with his standing and he began to sink.

There is a tendency to err on both sides. Some will not accept their standing, they really have not faith in God, they cannot see why they should be placed in so high a position. This was Israel's unbelief at Kadeshbarnea, when they heard of the giants, and the cities walled up to heaven. It is always looking at men and their works, which hinders a saint from accepting the position to which God has called him. It is God who has appointed it for him, so that it is simply a question whether God who calls him to it is greater than all that man could do to obstruct. Hence the apostle warns the Hebrews lest there should be in them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. It is called the day of

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provocation when Israel refused to go up and possess the land: how much more now when a saint refuses to accept the heavenly calling! He may allege that there are many difficulties in his way, but the fact is, he is more occupied with the difficulties than with God; and in his heart he has turned back unto Egypt. In 1 Corinthians 10 the apostle places "neither murmur ye" the last in the list, and the worst. I suppose he then gives the moral order, though it is not the chronological order, because when any one refuses to accept the position to which God calls him, there must be an end of all progress. If a horse will not stand on his legs how can he draw? If a bird does not use its wings, how can it fly?

On the other hand, with the increase of knowledge of the text of Scripture, there is great danger of giving a conscientious assent to the standing, particularly when insisted on by those really enjoying it, without a due sense of the state which the standing entails. This danger is to be chiefly apprehended, when the acceptance of the standing has relieved the heart of legal efforts to reach it, for then a delightful sense is made known to the soul; the standing that I pined after is discovered to be really mine, by the grace of God, and I enjoy for the moment unspeakable joy. I had been struggling in vain to reach it by seeking to have a state worthy of it; but after having found that the standing is mine, independently of my efforts, if I in any degree become indifferent about my state, and base my happiness and power on the bare fact of having ascertained my standing, I shall find ere long that I am nothing better than a miser, with means for a great position, but from want of making proper use of them, really worse off than I was when labouring to acquire them, and I am an object of mingled pity and reproach.

Finally, the one seeking to reach a standing by his own efforts, is like one attempting what is entirely beyond his power - trying to fly without wings - an attempt which must end in failure; while the one who is

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satisfied with his standing, and indifferent to his state, is in danger of what is expressed in that word, "his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened".


It is evident that there must be only one true way of seeing everything as it is in itself. There may be endless relations in which any particular thing stands with respect to other things; but there must be only one light in which everything is seen by God. I may truly see how a thing relates to me but then I am regarding it from my own point of view, and exclusively in its relation to myself. The great question is, not whether I see a certain thing, and how it stands in relation to me, but do I see it as God sees it, and as it stands in relation to Him? The tendency with man is to judge of everything as it affects himself, and because this is a veritable judgment - that is, it is real in his own mind, it is difficult to alter it, for he cannot alter it sincerely, until he changes his position. He judges as it refers to himself, this is the light in which he sees it; and this is so real to him that it must continue, until he sees it from a new point of view, and then it will be again real to him though quite different.

Nothing is more patent or more remarkable than how differently people will see the same thing. Each one is convinced that he is right, and he is sincerely convinced, because he has judged of it from the way it stands in relation to himself, and of what it is really to him. The simple and all important point is to judge of everything entirely apart from oneself, and as God judges of it, for our thoughts are not as His thoughts. How differently one would speak of what is called a happy incident and a painful one, if one had seen that the first was a bait to the greatest sorrow, and the latter a check to an intended folly.

The real cause of our inability to see things as God sees them is in our own minds. The natural man understandeth

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not the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him. The first thing then in order to be able to judge of things as God judges of them, is to have the mind of the Spirit. It is the lack of the mind of Christ which is the cause of the inability of the best intentioned to judge as He judges. How can I see things as He sees them if I have not His mind? But "we have the mind of Christ"; and as we judge of things in His mind, we judge rightly. If there were no rival mind all would be easy enough: but the carnal mind hinders according to its strength, and if not subject to the Spirit of God it will lead contrary to God. Thus we often find that when there is most natural mind in a saint, unless it is under the control of the Spirit, there will be most error in divine judgment. It is not that having a dull mind makes a person judge better; but such an one will not be able to influence others so much as a man with a powerful mind. The natural mind can be, and is used by the Spirit of God to convey the light, and to communicate the thoughts of Christ. It does not enable one to grasp truth, though it does to communicate it to others. The natural mind cannot assist the mind of Christ; the superior must necessarily demand the subjection of the inferior. The thoughts spring from the mind; therefore the first thing to ascertain about any thought is, Does this come from the mind of Christ, or from the natural mind? The most acute natural mind cannot in any degree reach the mind of Christ, simply for this reason, that each forms a judgment from entirely different and opposite stand-points. The natural mind, however acute, makes man its centre, its point of departure and its return; the mind of Christ makes God the centre, everything springs from Him and concentrates in Him. Now it is on account of this rivalry between the natural and spiritual mind that it is said that the matured are those who by reason of habit "have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil". (Hebrews 5:14.) There is no ability in a man to see what evil really is in the sight

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of God, until he has seen what good is. It is as he learns good, that he can distinguish it from evil, otherwise he is not skilful in the word of righteousness, he is a babe. It is therefore seldom, unless when walking in communion with Christ (which is common mind with the Lord) that one sees things at first as the Lord sees them. Man's mind cannot rise beyond himself, and this becomes very marked when he attempts to judge of divine things apart from the mind of Christ.

The mind of Christ is the new creation, and this is not helped by the natural mind, but by the Spirit of God; hence the mind of Christ will judge wisely for a saint, even as to natural things, and better than the natural mind, which will judge quite in a different way, and not at all according to the mind of the Lord. Thus there is a double gain when I am led by the Spirit of Christ; I can then judge of things for man in the smallest detail, as God has ordered them for him, whereas the greatest natural intellect can at best judge for him only in relation to himself as man.

The great proof of maturity is that a habit has been acquired of exercising the senses to discern good and evil; there is the consciousness that there is a rivalry; - "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would", - that you may be superior to the flesh.

There are different ways by which we are drawn away and led to act according to our own mind, while we think we are acting according to the mind of God. The one great clue by which to detect this deception, is whether the judgment we act upon is favourable or easy for ourselves, or whether it does not consider enough for us, but leaves the issue, as human foresight would say, to chance, or, as faith would say, to God.

The word of God simply accepted, forms His mind in us; it must form our judgment, but is not to be used to support our preconceived judgments. Hence the interpretation

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of the word betrays most distinctly the attempt of the natural mind to comprehend the mind of God. Every ignorance in doctrine or practice for which one uses Scripture, shows how one's thoughts are not as God's thoughts. If everyone saw only as much as he sees according to the mind of Christ, there would be no perversion, no erroneous interpretation authorizing strange practices.

This class is the most numerous, and the most difficult to convince of their mistake, for almost everyone, even Satan, endeavours to have a scriptural authority for his view of things. They assert they have authority from Scripture for what they desire, and even the desire they may have acquired in a natural way from the Scriptures. Eve is an example of this; she interprets the promise that her seed should bruise the serpent's head in a natural way, merely referring it to herself, and therefore she concludes that her firstborn son is the man.

Naturally she had some ground for this interpretation, for if there were no ground for it, there would be no difficulty in disabusing the mind of it; but the ground is one that no one skilful in the word of righteousness would admit, even that a child of Adam fallen, could regain what Adam innocent had lost; that one under judgment like Cain, could effect his deliverance when his father, though in innocence and safety, was not able to retain the place in which God had set him.

Now there was no exercise here; the promise of God was embraced because it offered something to meet the natural desire; there was no exercise of the senses to distinguish both good and evil. This kind of perversion is very common; we have an instance of it in the meaning put on our Lord's word, "If I will that he tarry till I come", etc. (John 21:22). "Then went this saying abroad ... that that disciple should not die". There was some ground for the idea, but from not carefully weighing the words uttered in simple relation to Him who uttered them, there was misapprehension, and thus is it

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that there are endless misapprehensions of His mind, and His interests are overlooked for one's own immediate benefit.

Again, others accept the word, but will not follow it up, they introduce into it limitations of their own. Abram does not fulfil the call which doubtless he had previously accepted, until his father is dead (Genesis 11:31). Lot pleads for Zoar instead of escaping to the mountain according to the word of the angel (Genesis 19). Jethro induces Moses to surrender the responsibility which the Lord had conferred on him, under the impression that it was too much for him (Exodus 18). "Another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house", Luke 9:61. These are cases of limiting, or only accepting part of the divine precept, with the idea that one can act up to only part of the word of God, and not the whole of it. But in every case a loop-hole is secured, where one can gratify one's own feelings, and so far supersede the mind of the Lord; the senses are not exercised to discern both good and evil.

Again, others openly avow their inability to accept what the word of God plainly enjoins. Moses does this when he pleads his want of eloquence (Exodus 4). There was not the simply subject mind by which no counter opinion would be entertained. In this class the word is not "mixed with faith", and we have a prominent example of it in the children of Israel, when they refused to go up into the land (Numbers 13).

Others again do more than they are desired to do; they exceed the course prescribed by the word of the Lord; and this too is from the same cause, even that the natural mind is uncontrolled by the word of God, like Moses smiting the rock twice (Numbers 15), or the demoniac in the gospel, who when told to go to his own house and show how great things God had done for him, went his way and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done for him (Luke 8:39).

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Others again, knowingly and willingly run counter to the word of God. Jonah goes down to Tarshish from fear; Barnabas takes Mark from simple natural friendship. But in all these cases and varieties, it is evident that when man's mind is allowed to act, there is a gainsaying, or a perversion of the word of the Lord in some way or another; and hence, when our tastes or affections are much engaged respecting any course the Lord would have us to follow, the danger is of our own minds acting, for when they do, we misconstrue, limit, exceed, refuse, or oppose, the word of the Lord.


While every believer will admit his imperfection in practice, he generally considers himself correct in doctrine; he may own that he is ignorant of a great deal of truth, but his conscience would not be at ease if he did not think that he held what was true. Hence it is more difficult to convince a saint of his error in doctrine, than of his defect in practice.

There cannot be correct practice with an assured conscience, but as there is correct doctrine. Once a saint is taught of God that he is heavenly as to calling, he may fail much in being practically heavenly, but as he knows the doctrine of his calling, he finds out that there is power given him according as he turns to the Lord to maintain his course as a heavenly saint.

In the first great point of doctrine the heavenly saints and the earthly saints are together; the sins of both are washed away in the blood of the Lamb: this one great truth is common to both, and to every saint since the foundation of the world.

Now because this first great doctrine distinctly and unquestionably belongs to both, the tendency or snare is to conclude that it is the same with regard to other doctrines, and this snare will always be in the descending

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or earthly line, and not in the ascending or heavenly. That is to say, the calling and blessing of the heavenly saint are brought down to the line of the earthly. Now in the very terms earthly and heavenly there is an immense distinction involved; and the rest is easily learned when once this great distinction is admitted. The real difficulty lies in convincing saints of the fact that they are heavenly in the true sense of the term. Christians acknowledge it in a general way, because they know that heaven will eventually be their abode, but no one can see the heavenly standing who does not see that Christ being rejected from the earth, the saint, if united to Him now, must be united to Him in heaven where He is; and that if not united to Him there, he has no link to Christ absent, although he is absolved from his sins by the blood of Christ. Moreover he is on the earth where Christ is not ruling, (for He must come before He reigns,) so that the portion of a saint now, if he were not united to Christ in heaven, would be infinitely worse than that of a saint in the millennium.

The saint in the millennium will have the happy consciousness of Christ's rule over everything. Satan will be bound and Christ will order everything morally as the sun rules the day materially. Christ is now absent, and unless the Spirit of God unites the saint to Him in heaven where He is, it is evident he is on the earth in a worse position than the earthly saint. But the saint now is united by the Spirit to Christ, and as he belongs to a heavenly Christ, he is on his way to heaven as his own place, even though he still be on the earth.

I am not now stating the various doctrines which distinguish and peculiarly belong to the heavenly saint; I am seeking to establish the fact that a saint is now heavenly both as to standing and hope, because he is united to Christ in heaven, and that the one great difference between an earthly saint and a heavenly one is, that the earthly one will not be united to Christ in heaven, but will be on the earth when the Lord reigns. The Lord

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being now rejected, a saint must either be connected with the world and the order of things here, or he is dissociated from man here because united to Christ in heaven. There can be no middle course.

The difference between this present time and the millennium is very distinct. The Lord is not reigning now, but He will reign then. The saint now is joined to the Lord, and is one spirit with Him. This embraces a great deal, and if this point of difference be really and truly admitted, all the others will follow as a consequence. If I am united to Christ, He is my life; "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". I am not only born again, which is true of every saint (see John 3:3 - 12), but I am enjoying another life through the Holy Spirit, and this could not be without distinct and positive deliverance from the man in the flesh, so that "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". Here I am dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God. The earthly saint lives here on earth, he is not united to Christ, he is not dead, he is a man living in all the commandments and ordinances of the law blameless.

As united to Christ, I have Christ living in me. I am to live in Him who is not here in the place where He is not, but in order that I may be able to do this, I am united to Him where He is.

This then is a great difference - the heavenly saint has a perfect sense of complete deliverance from the man in the flesh; while the millennial saint is through grace empowered to do what God required of a man in the flesh. "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people", Hebrews 8:10.

The heavenly saint is not below this in walk, but he is greatly beyond it, and if he be not, he is, as I have said, worse off than a millennial saint, because he is now where Christ is not present, nor reigning.

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Again, the way into the holiest of all is now made manifest. We - the heavenly saints - have "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". The earthly saint, though cleansed from his sins by the blood, cannot speak of being inside the veil, because his economy or dispensation is connected with this earth. If we admit that our place as worshippers is inside the veil, we must admit another great difference between a heavenly and an earthly saint.

One more difference I would notice: the saint united to Christ in heaven, knowing perfect deliverance in Him, and worshipping in the holiest of all, has a place in heaven prepared for him by Christ, which the earthly saint could never speak of. True he can speak of knowing the Lord of heaven and earth, and eventually he will be in the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, when all things are made new; but he cannot speak of having a place prepared for him in the Father's house, and still less can he speak of being raised up together with Christ now, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Thus we see there are four great differences in doctrine between the heavenly and the earthly saint - first, the connection with Christ is different, the saints during His rejection being united to Him, a privilege not known by, or granted to, any other class of saints, neither to the saints before His first advent, nor to the saints after His return. Secondly, the deliverance is different because the saints united to Him are in Him, and He is their life. Thirdly, the worship is different; the saint in perfect deliverance is inside the veil; and lastly, while the saints before the coming of Christ looked forward to a prospect of a heaven - they "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" - the saint at this time, not only knows that Jesus has prepared a place for him in heaven, but he knows too, that by the

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Spirit of God he is there, in Him through faith; now, with regard to the millennial saint, his hope and position are simply earthly.

If we admit these differences between the three classes of saints (and I apprehend they cannot be denied), it is evident that any saint who now loses sight of his calling as a heavenly one, will be weak in his soul as to all these blessings which I have spoken of - namely, his union with Christ, his perfect deliverance, the true worship, and the place - the Canaan given him of God.

All the saints are set upon the earth, but each of the three classes is called to a very distinct and peculiar relation to it. The Old Testament saint found that the prospect of heaven was the relief from the confusion and evil here; the millennial saint will be able to enjoy everything here, because the power of evil will be restrained, and the Lord will reign. Hence it remains that the saints on the earth during the absence of Christ should not be of it, but having received greater blessings, should walk here during His absence, studying only to be like Him whom men refused and to be unlike those who refused Him. The snare is that because they are forgiven their sins and have been relieved of the fear of judgment, they turn to the earth, and expect favours from God in connection with it; and when they do, they practically surrender the great truths which distinguish them from the earthly saints, and they are necessarily low in practice because low in doctrine. They fail in testimony and are, according to the light and opportunity which they have not answered to, subjected to chastening; for "our God is a consuming fire", and His "jealousy is cruel as the grave".


To attempt to do anything without either visible means, or faith in Him who is invisible, is foolish and uncomely. The presence and use of visible means satisfy and assure

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the natural mind, and therefore self-reliance, however you may try to silence it, is acquired from the possession of means. It is plain that nothing can be done without one or the other. There must be either visible means to rest on, or there must be faith in the Invisible; and the tendency of every saint is to be so buoyed up by the possession of visible means, that the invisible is disregarded and overlooked. A man feels a self-confidence, and a sense of superiority in himself, when he is the possessor of effectual means; and, as he is, he is diverted from seeking or enjoying the invisible power. Faith counts on God when there is no such possession - no means. When Eve was influenced by what was visible, she had in heart given up God, for the influence of visible means emboldened her heart to turn from the word of God.

Now this is an influence which must ever address and ensnare the natural man; and hence faith in God, counting on Him who is invisible, was never connected with visible means; nay, it enabled the saint to act according to God, in spite of being opposed by the greatest visible means, thus showing that there was invisible power where there was no visible means; for visible means are a support to the possessor of them, and thus they take the place of faith.

In every instance we see that when faith works, it is independent of visible means. Abram is called to break with all visible supports, and to come into the "land that I will shew thee". "And he went out, not knowing whither he went".

No one will deny that faith acts independently of means; but what I desire to show is, that visible means hinder faith, when possessed and used by the saint; though, to the man of faith, they are as nothing, when in the hands of his opponent. The green fields of Sodom met the eye of Lot, when he turned from faith. The visible becomes the ready support and attraction of the heart that drops from faith. The difficulty is to be

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superior to the visible thing; and yet the heart of man is ever seduced by it, and he acquires confidence and consequence as he possesses it, but possession of it obscures faith. Israel forfeited their highest favour, because in seeking visible support, they refused to keep the sabbatical year. When they were captives in Babylon, and all visible means were in the hands of their enemies, then the faithful realized and testified that the power was invisible - that God was for them. The great kings had fire and lions wherewith to torture them, and make their power felt; but notwithstanding all, the power was with the servants of God. Fire is the greatest natural force, the lion is the strongest and fiercest of animals, but both were ineffectual before the invisible power.

Since man's departure from God originated in his being alienated from Him by visible things, it must be the greatest evidence of restoration and new life when it is not the visible but the invisible, which sways him. Hence, "whatever is not of faith is sin".

If we turn to the scene of the thief on the cross, there we find grace coming forth in all its beauty and strength, rescuing the one degraded among men, by disclosing to his heart the Lamb of God, even He who died "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God". The thief was not only enlightened in soul by beholding his Saviour in the Man who had "done nothing amiss", but also assured in heart that he would be with Him that day in the paradise of God. Visible means, then and there, were in great combination to exterminate both, while the invisible was accomplishing the greatest and most wonderful results; even in man being righteously delivered from judgment and the polluted place. What a triumph of the invisible power! Here all the means at man's disposal are used against God; and they betray an accommodation to man's evil which stamps them with their true character. They not only suit the natural man, but they support him against God. When our Lord warned His disciples, on the eve of His rejection, to

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remember Lot's wife (Luke 17:32), He taught them (chapter 13) that helplessness of any kind - the absence of any visible means, would not be their hindrance. Suffering or distress, exemplified in the case of the widow, should not tend to make them like Lot's wife. The powerless one, the little child, was the only one sure to enter the kingdom of God. But the one with possession of things visible is the one who is really hindered from entering. However, if we surrender the hindrance, be it house, land, or anything else (verse 29), we shall have a present reward; but if we retain it, some day or other it will be our scourge.

At all events, at our Lord's death, the question of visible means, and of invisible power, was settled for every awakened soul. Man and all his force was against Christ, and it appeared to succeed according to his evil purpose, but God triumphed over it all, and secured eternal blessings for man, while he betrayed his full evil and venom in directing all the means given him of God to put His Son to death. This culminating act of man's evil ought to teach us how the power God gave man is subject to man, and used by him for the worst purposes. It was given to Noah to repress evil, and now man has disqualified himself for ever from holding power, seeing that he has used all he had, to crucify the Son of God.

Next, when we turn to the scene of Stephen's martyrdom, we see how all visible forces were directed against him in vain. Apparently he was left unsupported and friendless, and yet never was any man more sustained by the invisible power; "being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus". He is at ease in the heavenly glory. Neither the gnashing of the teeth of the solemn council - the great religious conclave - nor the pain inflicted by the stoning of his body, in the least overcame him; he was not only tranquil and composed, but able to act for others. He knelt down and prayed for them, so superior was he to all their fierce combination.

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As man had closed all hope for himself as a mere man at the cross, so now all hope for the Jew on earth is closed at the death of Stephen, and the mantle of Stephen must be worn by every true saint now; that is, he must see that there is nought but death here, but that there is the bright glory with Jesus above, apart from any earthly hope.

Now, when I come to the close of Paul's life, I learn another thing. Again, all the visible means are against him, and all his friends forsake him. "At my first answer", he writes, "no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.... Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And 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", 2 Timothy 4:16 - 18. He was on trial before the Roman tribunal; the saints were so intimidated that they forsook him; he had no visible support, but the Lord stood by him, and strengthened him. This is the view we get of the apostle, and I believe that, according as we are faithful, his mantle, as he is seen in this juncture, will fall upon us. All visible means here against us, even the desertion of our brethren, but if truly for the Lord, He will stand beside us, and though with hearts sorrowing for those who forsake us, yet we shall be encouraged, and enabled to maintain the proclamation of the truth, in deep, unquestioning assurance that we shall be delivered from every evil work, and preserved unto His heavenly kingdom.

It only remains for me to notice the close of the history of the assembly up to the Lord's coming. Philadelphia and Laodicea run down to the end in parallel streams. The former is characterized by having a "little power", but it is invisible; the latter, by what is visible. It has a great deal to say for itself, but Christ is outside the visible thing; the possessions have diverted the heart from Christ, and they boast themselves of having

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property, while they have not divine power. In Babylon's day there will be, as we have seen, assertion and assumption of all power; but our privilege is that we have power superior to all visible means; and our greatest glory here is to maintain, that, like Moses of old, we can endure as seeing Him who is invisible, and that when there is nothing to support or prop up the natural mind, we are happily dependent upon the invisible power; and that it is easier to do so when there is nothing to tempt or delude us; for when we have nothing, we can trust the Lord for everything.

May the Lord teach us, and lead us on in this most blessed exercise and privilege, for His name's sake.


There are two parts in every service; one, the nature and object of the service: the other, the manner in which it is received - the effect produced by it. The servant of the Lord, because of the perfect nature of the light committed to him on the one hand, and the hardness and wilfulness of man's heart on the other, enters into both in a supreme degree, and thus has a twofold experience as to his service; one of joy, and the other of exercise and sorrow; and as one is great, so is the other.

In communicating the truth given to him, he has, when simply acting from the Lord, the sense of what is perfectly good and true; and if his service ended here, it would be one of unmixed satisfaction; because it is all on God's side; but when he turns to man's side, and sees how indifferently the truth has been received and appreciated, he is filled with a sorrow which is only augmented by his sense of the goodness and greatness of what he had communicated.

The husbandman in spring-time, when the sun shines brightly, joyfully sows his ground with the choicest seed. At this time all is favourable and encouraging; but this

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is not all: there is a time coming when he must look anxiously at the crop which is the effect of his happy spring work; the harvest-day alone can decide what that will be. This is the other side of his work. It is not simply the brightness and hopefulness of spring-time, but he must wait and see how the soil will requite or acknowledge his work.

The real servant cannot confine himself to God's side where all is perfect and beautiful, but as he is really for God, he will be solicitous as to the effect on man of God's favour; and this not so much respecting those who utterly reject the light, or have not accepted it, as those who have professed to do so. Thus the unfaithfulness of the people of God has, at every time, been the source of deep and continued sorrow and exercise of heart to the servant of the Lord; and according as he is sensible of it, he is, like the prophets of Israel, used to warn the people of God and awaken them to the indignation of the Lord, and the chastening which the jealousy of His love, like a most vehement flame, will impose.

If we follow and note the history and ways of any true servant of the Lord, we shall see, that while on the one side they, like Moses on the mount, or Paul in Arabia, are entranced with the brightest and most marvellous display of divine glory; yet on man's side, those who know most of the divine ways, suffer most because of the indifference of those who have professed to be God's people. It is nowhere admitted in Scripture that a servant can be merely the herald of the light of God's grace; that is, that he should only have the joyful side of service. For every real servant, be he evangelist, teacher, or anything else, there must be the side of suffering, exercise, and humiliation.

Moses after all the varied and wonderful works in which were displayed the mercy and goodness of God to His people; after all the glowing sense he must have had of what it was to be God's instrument in expressing

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things so great and beneficent, is filled with the most poignant anguish because of the idolatry and perversity of Israel. He is ready to sacrifice himself, anything - to secure the honour of the Lord in His people. He says, "Oh, this people have sinned a great sin ... yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written". And then after his intercession for the people is answered, he finds his relief in the prayer, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory". He falls back upon God Himself as the true and unfailing resource of his heart.

No man had ever seen more of God's wonderful works for His people, or had with deeper sorrow witnessed the desperate rebellion of the human heart. The very goodness of God, and the delight that Moses as His servant had in expressing it, only made him more sensitive to and aggrieved by the wickedness of man. Hence his only resource was in God, and he cried, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory". This great servant had not only been used in the most remarkable manner, but he suffered on man's account, so like our blessed Lord that he longs for a sight of God's glory; and in a partial way it is vouchsafed to him. Everything to cheer and delight his heart among God's people had ceased to be; and hence he turns to God and asks to see His glory; and then he learns the grace that will make him sharer of it even then. And in a little time he was to see his Lord on the holy mount; he was selected by God as the fit one to bear Him company at the moment, when, as the perfect Man on earth, He was saluted with the words, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased".

Elijah, the other companion of the Lord in that wondrous scene, had also deeply entered into the declension and idolatry of Israel. He could say, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword". In him too we see that the servant most

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honoured of God, and gifted by Him is the one most afflicted on account of the failure and indifference of His people, and that the greater his light, the greater will be his sorrow because of man's indifference to it; and this he especially feels with regard to those who have accepted it.

If we study the life and ways of the apostle Paul who was at once the greatest of evangelists and of teachers, we see that while the highest and deepest truth was committed to him, so that he could say, "Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in the Christ, and makes manifest the odour of his knowledge through us in every place"; yet he was deeply exercised about those who had received the light from him, either for conversion or growth. He says, "I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears". These were saints who were brought to the knowledge of the Lord through his ministry. And to the Colossians whom he had never seen he writes, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh", Colossians 2:1. He had previously stated as to himself, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church", Colossians 1:24. And again to Timothy he writes from the prison at Rome, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory", 2 Timothy 2:10.

Thus we see that, whether as an evangelist or teacher, his service did not end with being blessed to souls in the communication of the truth, but that he followed with a devoted interest every believing soul as a nurse would, and was not content with being a father.

Lastly, when we look at our blessed Lord, God's greatest and only perfect Servant, who can comprehend fully the sense that He had of the counsel of God, which He only could understand or accomplish? No one else

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could have so deep and full a sense of its gravity and magnificence; and yet no one else felt more keenly the perverse soil of the human heart. He - the Son of man, was the Sower of the seed. Everything perfect was offered to man by the Holy One of God; but man saw no beauty in Him. He was charged with everything on God's side to impart profound and increasing delight to Him in His mission to ruined creatures sunk in darkness and misery. He had everything in abundance to meet their need. On that side His joy was unspeakable, and yet He was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief". "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows". His "visage was so marred more than any man", at death. "He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled". He wept with the sorrowing Mary. When He beheld Jerusalem He wept over it. He not only loved the assembly and gave Himself for it, but it is said, "No one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Christ the assembly". He proves His love by washing our feet. His unceasing occupation as our Saviour, Intercessor, is to sanctify and cleanse us with the washing of water by the word. And when failure and corruption were found in the assembly, He adopts, as we see in Revelation 1:3, the aspect suited to correct and judge it. In all its failure and declension; after all His unequalled services to it; after conferring the greatest gift - the gift of the Holy Spirit; the assembly is still the centre of His thoughts and services.

Thus we see in the history of every servant, and most of all in that of the Lord Himself, that the true servant becomes charged with the state and condition of those who receive the word of the Lord from his lips; and that he cannot confine himself to the happy side of his work, which is that of being appointed and gifted of the Lord to bless souls; but that the more he walks with the Lord in the exercise of his gift, the more will his heart be exercised by the state of those who bear His name. I am not pressing that a servant should look for results in the

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form of conversions or pupils; this I believe he should leave to the Lord. It is not that the actual result of work should either cheer or depress; but the manner and the effect of the truth which he has received of the Lord, and has been the channel of communicating will, I believe, produce deep exercise of heart in him, in proportion to the truth and reality of his service. Paul could say, "As a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation ... let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon".

It is incompatible with all divine service that a servant should be merely an orb of light, like the sun or stars, communicating much, but passive and unaffected by the condition of those to whom he has imparted light - with no feeling of care or charge, respecting those whom he has served. The attempt to be a servant like an orb of light merely, is really to appropriate all the joy and gratification of ministry, without enduring the afflictions of the gospel, or being weighted with the condition of the saints. It really limits the truth and light to its benefit to man, irrespective of what is due to God for so great a revelation. The return due to God is overlooked and disregarded; and a servant of this kind can never be deeply taught in the mind of the Lord; for he does not in any measure fulfil that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ; he knows nothing of the Lord's feelings when He wept over Jerusalem, or of Jeremiah's, when he exclaimed, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!". He has not on his forehead the mark of the men who "sigh and ... cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst" of Jerusalem; and he fails in his own soul to taste of the heart of our blessed Lord, who with inconceivable light and power, is ever increasingly interested in, and intent on serving those who believe in His name.

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It was on the redemption of Israel out of Egypt that was formed for the first time a habitation for God on the earth. On no other ground but that of redemption could this have been. It has been said that God did not dwell with Adam, nor with Abraham, for He could not dwell with man save on the ground of redemption.

The holiest of all was the place of His abode, first in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple. The retirement of the glory from the earth was consequent on the persistent rebellion, and open apostasy of Israel; yet our blessed Lord called the temple, "My Father's house", John 2. And even after the descent of the Holy Spirit the apostles repaired to it, as the place bearing the name of God, as we find in the beginning of the Acts.

The more we study the history of the "house", the more do we see how much it was in the mind of God to have a dwelling place upon the earth, and what an object of interest it was to Him. On the return of the captivity, the first work of Ezra was the resuscitation of the temple, and when they discontinued that work on account of the opposition to it, they lost all their blessing, "because of mine house that is waste". The house was an institution; for even after the glory had departed, it was still owned of God, and had a claim upon His people.

We must bear in mind God's intention in having a habitation for Himself on the earth; and that, once it was set up, although the greatest distinction which had attached to it was lost when the glory retired, yet it still retained the title of His house - "the place where thine honour dwelleth", until it was superseded by something greater.

I need not say that the house which He dwelt in among Israel is now superseded by the assembly, which is the habitation of God through the Spirit; and which has remained His house, in spite of all the failure and

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rebellion of His professed people. The Spirit of God is still here. The habitation has been of old, ever since redemption was actually effected for God's people out of judgment. At first it was distinguished by the visible presence of the glory of God - a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Afterwards the glory found its abode in the holiest of all; but even after the glory was withdrawn on account of the people's apostasy, God still claimed the house as His, and our Lord, as we have seen, called it "my Father's house".

Now the habitation still continues, but in a new and greater way, for it is by the presence of the Holy Spirit upon earth that God has a habitation here, and this has gone on through all the ages of darkness and ignorance, even while hardly any of the saints understood or sought for the presence of Christ. It is evident that the Holy Spirit has not retired from the earth, for where any divine work is, there the Spirit of God must be. This every one would admit. But there is more than this; what we have to accept is, that the Spirit of God has come down to earth consequent on the ascension of Christ. The Comforter - the Holy Spirit - was sent down from heaven for a two-fold service. One, as we read in John 14:26, to be an abiding comfort and reminder of Christ to the believer, and the other, as we read in John 15:26, to testify of Christ during His absence.

There is a different order in each of these as to His mission. In the one for the saint, He is sent by the Father. In the one for testimony, He is sent by Christ.

Now the simple fact for faith is, that the Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven. When He first came down (Acts 2), He filled the place where they were, and also in a particular manner rested on each of them. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a continual fact, and one not to be discontinued nor withdrawn as long as the assembly was God's habitation. When it is spued out of Christ's mouth, it is no longer the dwelling-place of God; but until then, however feeble, or ignorant, or degraded,

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as was the case with the assembly of Laodicea, the Holy Spirit is still there, constituting it God's habitation. The presence of the Holy Spirit on earth then is continual, and does not depend on the extent by which He is received by the saints.

The Holy Spirit had been sent from heaven even though the Ephesian saints had neither received Him nor heard of Him. (Acts 19). So that we must admit that, while every converted soul is quickened by the Holy Spirit, still His presence is here - dwelling on the earth, even when not dwelling in the souls of all the saints. It was so at Ephesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit was on earth but He was not dwelling in any of them, though they were all quickened by Him. I am not contending for the length of interval which may or may not elapse between quickening and sealing, or the indwelling of the Spirit, but I contend that it is clear from Scripture that each is a distinct operation of the Spirit of God, and therefore not one and the same, but two operations. Were it otherwise, the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth would be only according to the measure in which He had been received by the saints: and hence He would not have been sent down at Ephesus, because there the converts had neither heard of Him nor received Him. I fully admit that it is the right and privilege of every saint to be indwelt by the Spirit of God; but what I state is the distinction between the new bottle and the new wine. One is the building of the Spirit of God, and the other is His indwelling; or, as has been said, the Holy Spirit first builds a house, and then dwells in it.

There are these two things plainly set forth in Scripture. One, that the saint's body individually is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and the other, that the assembly is the temple of God; and this even though there be much corruption there, as there was at Corinth.

The presence of the Holy Spirit has continued in the assembly universal, and His presence cannot be measured or determined by the measure in which the saints have

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partaken of Him. Moreover we see in 1 Corinthians 14 and Hebrews 6 that He may act on persons who have not been quickened. At any rate we see that His presence is continual. Saints ought and are entitled to enjoy His presence, and each to have the "new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved".

Now the presence of Christ is different. It is conditional; and therefore, instead of being continual, it is with regard to the assembly occasional. The Lord's words are, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them". There is evidently a condition here. It is only to the two or three gathered together unto His name that He promises His presence; and therefore His presence is not continual, as is the presence of the Holy Spirit, but occasional. I do not say it may not be continually repeated, but though it can be known only through the Holy Spirit, it is not the same as the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the assembly.

Now when corruption came to be tolerated in the assembly when it became like a "great house" (see 2 Timothy 2), and in it "vessels ... to dishonour" (it has grown into this condition, because leaven was tolerated until the whole was leavened), there was no recovery for the whole, the glory we might say had departed. At first, on the occurrence and incursion of evil, the Holy Spirit's presence was insisted on, as Peter says to Ananias (Acts 5), "Why has Satan filled thine heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Spirit?" Paul instructs the Corinthians how they are to get rid of the evil-doer among them, (1 Corinthians 5) "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ". In the first case, the Holy Spirit's presence is the ground for unsparing condemnation; in the second, the power of Christ's presence is the only means given for putting away an evil person. The difference between the Holy Spirit's presence and the presence of Christ cannot be

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denied; the former is not conditional, the latter is. But it is evident that no one could know or enjoy the presence of Christ who did not know and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit; though again, the Holy Spirit can dwell in a soul, and yet that soul be debarred for the time from the enjoyment of the presence of Christ. It is written, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption". This shews that the soul does not lose its great Guest, but that He can be grieved.

But Christ does not promise His presence to us individually unless we keep His commandments (see John 14:21,23); that is, unless I am walking according to His mind, He will not manifest Himself to me. I do not lose the seal of the Holy Spirit because I grieve Him (though I lose His communication to me of Christ); but I forfeit the presence of Christ when I decline in any degree from His word. Otherwise He would sanction by His presence my own ways. And He is not in our midst collectively unless we are gathered together unto His name. It is not that two or three do it in a company, but that the assembly is gathered on this avowed ground. Many in it might fail to be there according to their avowed principle, but He would be in the midst for those who in faith counted on Him, and waited for the fulfilment of His word.

There is a difference in manner in the presence of Christ to the assembly, and the presence of Christ to the individual. In the former it is in the midst of them, as in John 20:19 and Luke 24; but to the individual, it is as to Paul, when he could say, "The Lord stood with me", 2 Timothy 4:17. It is the known sense of His presence beside one.

In conclusion, the presence of the Holy Spirit is general in the assembly universal; the presence of Christ conditional, but could not be known apart from or independently of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who enables our hearts gathered unto the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to recognize and greet Him in our midst, as

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well as individually to see Him when He manifests Himself; "we will come unto him, and make our abode with him"; this is the greatest favour God could vouchsafe. "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord" - a foretaste of that day when we shall see Him and be like Him.


"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God". "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". Thus we learn that divine guidance is the privilege, and more, is the very characteristic of God's people. The grace of God which has saved them, has also conferred on them all things that pertain unto life and godliness, and next to the gift of His own Son, God's chiefest gift, is that of the Holy Spirit; as the apostle has said, "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts".

Guidance must always be from without, and must depend on another and not on oneself. If I am ever so wise in heart and perfect in ways, these will not guide me, though they might shew I have no need of guidance; if, however, I know the need of guidance, I also confess that that is lacking in myself which guidance is to accomplish. But every true christian confesses to the need of divine guidance, and every christian is entitled to know it: it is as we have said, the very characteristic of God's children, that they are led of the Spirit, and if they walk in the Spirit, they will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh; thus instead of following the leading of the fleshly mind and will, they will in all things be led of God.

If any one asks, as has often been asked, Am I in everything to know and to do the will of God? the answer is simple and affirmative; it is the believer's

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privilege, so to walk as to please God, to be not conformed to this world, to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that he may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

God has indeed done His part, not only in willing our guidance, but in the gift of His Spirit in whose power we are called to walk. It is not the purpose of God that His children should walk in blindness, nor in doubt in the several steps of their path down here, any more than they should question His grace in their acceptance, nor the glory prepared which is to be the end of that path. Yet how many a saint who is assured of the love, and of the salvation of God, who waits for Christ's coming with confidence and expectation, is found full of perplexity in the common matters of daily life, of duty, or of service, as though their God and Father, who has assured them an eternity of glory with His Son, was indifferent to the steps by which they tread their path through this present world, and to all that may befall them by the way. It is good to remember that the path of God's people here is in the mind of God, not separated from its end, and that all His dealings with His saints, all His guidance and direction are only consistent with, and in view of that to which He has predestinated and called them. Our souls lose much, and the name and the testimony of the Lord lose more, because we separate our life on the earth from the glory to which some day we hope to attain. Hence the present life is often earthly, and formed on the world's model, instead of heavenly in character and hope. From the manger to the glory, the life of the Lord Jesus was pursued in a consistent course, and from the moment when we learn our place and part with Him in death and life, our life should be formed on the same model.

There is no greater subject of exercise amongst faithful christians than that they should be found in all things in the way of God, and not in the fulfilment of their own selfish wills. To the attainment of this, there

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appear to us to be three things essential. First, subjection of heart and mind to the word of God; secondly, an acquaintance with the Scriptures which, given by inspiration from God, are able not only to make wise unto salvation, but also to furnish unto all good works; and thirdly, a habit of communion of soul with God. In-subjection to or ignorance of the word of God, or a habit of life and walk apart from fellowship with the Father and His Son, either, or all of these must put the saint outside the place of guidance, and render him incapable of discerning the will of the Lord; just as in nature, the child who either knows not; nor cares for the father's word, and forsakes the intimacy of the father's heart and home, is found like the prodigal in the life and habits of the "far country". Moreover, in the degree, however small, in which these things may be deficient, will there be corresponding failure in the apprehension of guidance, and of the mind of God.

Through the insidious working of self-will many a heart which in purpose is upright towards God, is yet often in sore bondage in the many details of life and service. The difficulty of choice between two steps, and of decision on matters sometimes small, but sometimes which we may deem important, often involve deep heart searching and prayer to God for His direction. Could our own will, and the possible or apprehended consequences to ourselves, whether for gain or loss, be eliminated from such questions, the difficulty of choice would be small indeed. It is however the province of faith to guide the soul in these times of perplexity, and faith brings God into the scene, and looks not on its own things but on the things of God. Faith also knows God as Him who is after all the one most interested in the walk and welfare of His people, and who sees the eternal consequences of their steps, while they judge for the most part by the immediate and temporal results. Faith furthermore remembers that the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly - that He is

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able to keep him from falling, able to lead along the right path, and in His own time both justify all His dealings with His people, and confirm them in compliance and contentedness with all His ways.

Now it is a great relief to the upright heart to remember that guidance is promised by God to His people, and that while it is His part to guide, theirs only is to be guided: "I will... teach thee" and "guide thee with mine eye". "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory". This is the part of God, and whether we are conscious or not conscious of His guidance, He will not fail in that which He has undertaken. Guidance is not necessarily knowing that we are guided, but it is being guided - "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" - and our business is to be in that state of soul in which He can lead us as the Father His children, though often by a way we know not. No doubt it is a happy and higher thing to be always so sensible of the movement of His eye and of His hand that all our ways may be ordered in communion with Him, but it is also blessed for the soul to be so sensible of self-judgment and self-renunciation, that the simple and happy heart can leave itself in His hands, and trust in His guidance as a matter of course. This delivers from bondage, and the legal state of so many, who are ever inquiring whether they are doing the right thing; while if the will is broken, the rule of a christian's life should be that he does not suspect he is doing the wrong one. Still it is well to mistrust self, and the consciousness of the will at work, and sift it before the Lord, though we may in the end discover that the thing desired is the very thing He would have us to do. In nearness to God we solve these questions, as our heart and will become more and more fashioned by His guidance, so will it be not merely by coincidence but by habit that God's will and ours are identical. If then both ourselves and our time are really at the Lord's disposal, we can leave it to Him to dispose of us as He sees good; doing that which the hand

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finds to do, day by day, without bondage or distrust; and thus shall we be preserved from that perplexity and distraction which so hinders from communion and true testimony for His name.

But there are cases where the Lord will have us in real exercise, and in which we ourselves must choose for God, and it is in such a time that the habit of our life is then most felt for good or evil. If communion with God and His word be our habit, the hardest matters will be easily solved, while, if the contrary be the case, perplexity, ending in failure, must ensue.

The guidance of God is not for things spiritual only, but for the whole christian life. In his own affairs, in person, home, business, or in the world, the christian is to count on the leading of the Spirit. Many fail here, and while they look for spiritual guidance in their service to God, and to His people, and in their sorrows and difficulties, they lean to their own understanding, and trust their natural powers and common sense in the things of daily life. It is impossible to estimate the loss and damage to souls through this cause, and through neglect of that power which alone can keep them amidst the whirl, the conflict, and impurity of an evil world. The christian's house, his home, his dress, his food, are all matters in which he is a witness either for or against the Lord, and all are deemed worthy of the notice of the Spirit of God in His word. Herein is the need which we noticed at the beginning for acquaintance with and subjection to that word, which God has given us by inspiration, and which He uses now by His Spirit for the cleansing of our ways and the perfecting us in the life of faith, and in the knowledge of His will.

The Lord give us to know more of His guidance, and be meet for it with hearts kept free for, and in fellowship with, Him. If we fail, He will not fail us, and so we need not be discouraged. He is our Shepherd, who makes us to lie down, and leads us, whether beside the still waters, or in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. He

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restores the soul. He is with us, whether in the valley, or at the table He has prepared for us, with the head anointed, and the cup flowing; we may say, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. The Lord give us hearts, as the sheep of His hand, to follow such a Leader. "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass".


The apostle John sees the assembly on earth in seven phases, all existing at the time; but also each phase in succession becoming the characteristic one for the time; the four last remaining till the coming of the Lord. Philadelphia is one of these; as Thyatira sets forth Romanism, and Sardis, the reformed church, so-called, under every denomination, so does Philadelphia set forth the last revival in the assembly, when souls were awakened to the true calling of saints on earth, and were empowered to walk according to it. The assembly had long slumbered and slept, but when the cry came, there was an awakening. The last revival was, as has been always, that after all hope of restoration to the first state was impossible, there should be, though in great positional weakness, a reviving of the moral qualities which marked the first state. When the cry, "Behold, the bridegroom" awoke up the faithful, then, I conclude, Philadelphia in the characteristic phase began. The Lord then appears to the faithful, who seek Him in a threefold way, which together would afford guidance and support for souls awakened to His claim, in the midst of the ecclesiastical rules and prejudices almost sacred from antiquity. Those three were, I am "he that is holy, he that is true", and, I am "he that hath the key of David". The first two would impart the moral qualities, which would afford the awakened soul a clear path of escape from every association, and separation unto God; and this must unmistakably be the clue to get extricated from any

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religious labyrinth. Thus the Lord presented Himself, and every one, awake and seeking Him, found grace from Him to be holy and true; and in addition to this, they found what was so necessary, even that there was unfailing support from Him. I am "he that hath the key of David". Nothing can resist His power; however great the opposition, all would be surmounted.

Now those to whom this revelation of the Lord was vouchsafed, were marked by three things, "Because thou hast a little power, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". These three qualities define a Philadelphian. The first I understand to flow from abiding in Christ, according to that word "Without me ye can do nothing". There is really no power apart from Christ; and hence, to have even a little power, is evidence of abiding in Christ. When the cry had been effective in awakening hearts to Christ, there was a practical result; there was not only a little power, but they held fast His word. The great and distinguishing mark of the last revival was the diligent and exclusive way the word was studied and held to; the marvellous revolution in thought and habit, which the simple adhering to the word brought about. The most cherished and ancient theologies were renounced, and the greatest self-sacrifices were incurred, in response to the word of God. A new and unprecedented course was insisted on, as the only one befitting the bride going forth to meet her Lord; and the aim was, that everything in public and in private should be subjected to a remodelling under the light which Scripture was now found to contain. Men eminent for piety, and leaders in religious communities, severed ties that were dearer than life, that they might obey the word of the Lord; and in private life, professions, positions, and prospects, were surrendered at its dictates, and because of simple faith in it. It was seen too that not only was the word to determine and define every course of action, but that all that would tend to deny the name - the character or manner of life of our Lord Jesus Christ, all that His name

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embraced, was to be reprehended and refused; and to do so, was the simple desire of the heart, and in seeking to respond to this, the general bearing at home and abroad were the simplest and the plainest. In the midst of a slumbering assembly, here and there one and another were led to accept in faith the wondrous truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth, and because of His present help, such could speak of the things revealed in the word, apart from any ordination or divinity schools. What is now received as part of a great theory - that a man could preach the word without preparing, was then an innovation, as great as it was singular, and only known in complete dependence on the Holy Spirit; and while there was neither seeking nor accepting credentials of any kind from man, there was a reaching the ear of either believer or unbeliever by humble and patient labour; no expectancy or assumption to get an ear in any popular way; the chief work was carried on in private rooms, and small preachings in cottages. Publicity was not sought or desired, or the means to attain it made use of. The Holy Spirit was reckoned on and nothing else. The ear in any measure circumcised, that is, capable of appreciating the truth now revived, was exceedingly jealous and careful how it listened to, or received anything of a lower kind. The desire for a more perfect knowledge, both by prayer and waiting on God for it, was remarkable; and to increase in the mind and ways of the Lord was the eager and all-absorbing pursuit. Callings and employments were sought to be regulated and determined by the one question, were they according to the mind of Christ, and what He could approve of? and this more especially and strictly in those who took part in public ministry. While making the service to which they were called their chief pursuit, they retained their employments until the work of the Lord required their undivided attention; and when they were cast on the Lord for support, their moderation and self-sacrifice was an example to all.

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Now on tracing declension from this bright movement, the first step, as it appears to me, was the practical denial of the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct in the assembly; and this was so serious, that had there not been a resistance, which ended in a distinct separation, there would now be but small trace of the truths which have been recovered. This leaven, though thus mercifully arrested, has insinuated and betrayed itself in another form. With the increase of numbers and of evangelists, the testimony took a more public character. Evangelization became more general, which disarmed many of the opponents, whose general taunt heretofore had been, Why do you disturb the minds of the godly by the propagation of your opinions, instead of preaching the gospel to the unconverted? Thus popular preaching led to popularity; and not only so, but to the desire for it; and human means, public notices, public rooms, were adopted to attract the public, and to obtain large assemblies, with a view to carrying on the work more effectually, but really departing from complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. An exciting mode of preaching was found more effective, and was resorted to and adopted, and this fostered a descent to a lower order of things for instruction, instead of a constant, and persevering seeking to reach, and to discover in its integrity and purity, the way and mode of the Spirit of God. The attention of servants became pre-eminently directed to gospel preaching, and the conversion of souls, instead of the more difficult work of enlightening saints as to their true place for Christ: and this, while it led to intercourse with worldly people, could be carried on with an allowance of worldly ways and habits, which the other could not; and the ear has become less sensitive to what the word simply enjoins. All this has popularised the advocates of truths lately recovered, and now much accepted; and once the nature of their mission became characteristically evangelical, and not ecclesiastical, there was consequently less scrutiny as to the nature of the

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employments which they followed, in which links with the world were unbroken and sanctioned.

I am very far from confining the declension to one class of service, or to one class of saints. I feel it has been a wave from which all have suffered; - and that the numerous additions, though there are many of them very bright and devoted, yet the bulk have accepted the ground in the light of the word, without being laid hold of, and formed by it. I speak of the servants as being most prominent, and necessarily most exposed to attack; and it cannot be denied, that while there are many most zealous and self-sacrificing evangelists, pastors and teachers have not kept pace with them in activity, nor have these gifts proportionally increased, or been developed. Now we are not to conclude because of their non-appearance, that they have not been given for the assembly. There is no lack of gift from the Head; but from lack of devotedness, the gift has not been disclosed and expressed. I am not condemning the zeal and activity of the evangelists, further than demonstrating that they in their zeal have had recourse to other means than the Spirit of God; and hence a tinge of the world clings to them in other ways. But I do think it is a great evidence of declension that there is not a corresponding zeal in pastors and teachers, and all servants, to shepherd and feed the flock of Christ, and separate them more from everything not of Him, to Himself in heart and spirit; and I venture to account for this last, by the simple fact that no pastor or teacher can sincerely attempt to expound or press the life and ways of Christ on others, beyond the measure in which he is truly seeking to be conformed to them himself. If he cannot avow that there is power and known power in Christ to separate a man from the world, in any particular instance, how can he effectually teach it? If a servant be a part of a system or machinery of the world by office, appointment, or voluntarily ministering unto it in some form, how can he freely and fully insist on uncompromising separation

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from it? How can he urge the beauty and the joy of Christ's unique path here? It may be retorted, - what are they to do? I submit that is not a question for a Philadelphian. His only question is, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" I am accounting for the manifest declension and practical inability of the pastors and teachers to insist on the bright unsullied path of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore they often enrol themselves among the evangelists, in order to do something to escape the responsibility and demand that would be imposed on them, were they to present the word in its full and simple force to the assembly of God; so that, in my judgment, in order to counteract the declension and renovate the Philadelphian type, the pastor and teacher must be true to their gifts.

In conclusion, I would say that I believe Satan's aim and effort against us is to neutralize the effect of the great truth which has been revived in this day - the presence of the Holy Spirit. Baffled in his effort to get it denied, he then seeks to weaken its force in an insidious way. This I believe he has succeeded in doing amongst us, as to its practical power, though in point of doctrine it is fully acknowledged. But there is ever a tendency to separate the advantages of a truth from its responsibility; and so it is now. Many who rejoice in the truth of the indwelling Spirit, for their own comfort, are not alive to the responsibility which His presence on earth in testimony for Christ involves.

The Lord lead each of us to be so interested in His interests, that we may be helpers together of one another in the path of life.


For the ruined and lost there is no help except through grace. When there is nothing but guilt, everything must be given. To give where there is no desert, and no claim, where judgment for sin is due and impending, is grace.

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Thus it is that, "when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly;" "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". Man is so irretrievably lost and undone, that he can now be only a recipient. "What hast thou which thou hast not received?"

If I have had nothing, or worse than nothing, all of any good in me now must be through grace. "By the grace of God I am what I am". Hence, in every instance, God conferred advantages upon His people. There would have been no difference between them and others if He had not. But plainly, according as He made their position different from the mere world around, so was it incumbent on them, and required, faithfully and truly to acknowledge, in life and ways, the favour conferred. Nay, they were responsible to do so, for otherwise, they would make little of the great, distinctive advantages which they had received. They would fail to realize them, and as they in any measure slighted them, they would be weakening or losing their value to themselves.

It is evident, that the more faithfully and deeply I maintain and concentrate my heart on any divine favour which I have received; the more I make of it, as a singular and wonderful expression of His mercy to me, the more must I be a witness to others of His grace; and because of this power, enjoy more deeply and fully the advantages to myself. My responsibility is simply in the first instance to be true to what I have received; as I am true to the grace and the good of it, so am I true to my responsibility. The proof that I am truly sensible of the advantages of my position, is the measure of the responsibility which I attach to it; and as I maintain my responsibility, I consciously increase in the sense of my advantages. But beside this, there has been always appointed by God a testimony or course of action, descriptive or indicative of the privileges in which He had set His people; and those privileges could not be properly or fully enjoyed, but as the testimony connected with them was duly observed.

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The subtlety of Satan was successful when Eve was induced to forego what was due to God, for her own advantage; and thus man lost all. This effort of Satan, so fatal at the first, has been exerted continually, with great injury to souls, ever since.

Noah, overlooking the responsibility of his position, even to repress evil here, by the power committed to him, planted a vineyard, and eventually became unfitted for both.

Abraham, called to a pilgrim's life, in faith in God, always secured the privileges of his position, while he maintained the testimony of one simply dependent on God. Let him see a famine, or let Lot see the green fields of Sodom, and the testimony or responsibility is overlooked, and all the advantages of the position lost, enfeebled, or in abeyance.

No one who has once tasted of the advantages of grace, would willingly or easily surrender them; but the snare is, that one is induced to disregard the testimony, although fully intending to retain the advantages of it. But this, I see, is not possible, nor would it be happy if it were.

Naturally speaking, every creature has its place, and the higher the order of being, the more manifest the scope of its influence. A candle is not lighted to put it under a bed, or under a bushel, but on a candlestick, "and it giveth light unto all that are in the house".

The bird sings, itself rejoicing in the sound while gratifying others. If it did not sing aloud, it would never, like a musician, charm others; nor would it be so charmed itself. The responsibility is to charm others; but in doing so, the charmer is really charmed. The greatest heart would be ineffective, if it could not express itself. Hence it is "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation", Romans 10:10.

Jacob is restored to the land; and in the night of wrestling, he is confirmed in the power of Christ; and

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yet he settles at Shechem. He attempts to confine himself to the advantages of the great position regained; he overlooks his responsibility to God. The note of testimony is not sounded out. Though his altar expresses a full retention of his own blessings, yet all are imperilled because he is for himself only, and not pre-eminently for the Lord. He must leave Shechem and escape for his life, as he says, "I shall be destroyed, I and my house".

He goes up to Bethel, and then not only is there a true note of testimony sounded forth, but his own advantages are greatly increased and assured. Then the name of Israel is distinctly, in its true sphere, confirmed to him. The warning to Israel was that they should carefully follow the Lord in obedience in the land, in order that they might retain the blessings of it. The danger was, that they would confine themselves to the blessings selfishly, and forget what was due to the Lord; that the singing to the Lord would not be heard, and that then they would lose the good of the land. The rain would be stayed, and they would be deprived of the enjoyment which singing expresses. It is in principle, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God".

When the advantages of grace do not call forth praise to God, when God is not prominently before the soul, as the source of everything possessed, then the gifts take the place of the Giver in the heart, and must soon lose their vigour and value like flowers cut away from their roots.

Thus it was with Israel after the captivity. They had returned to the land, at great personal cost, and with great zeal they addressed themselves to the rebuilding of the temple; but when they were opposed, they suspended the work, and grew indifferent about it, while all the time they were most diligent to secure their own advantages in the land. "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.... Ye

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looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands". Haggai 1:4, 5, 9 - 11. They were endeavouring to secure their own advantages, apart from their responsibility to God, and the end was that both were lost.

Wherever there is power, there must be an expression, or testimony, commensurate with its quality, as life shews itself in health. The power to sing is disclosed in the note. Whatever God gives must have an expression corresponding to Himself in giving it, or it is not a living thing. He only could determine the form which He considered adequate to express it. The expression, or the testimony, must necessarily be the greater, because it definitely expresses what is due to God, like the fruit of the vine. The greatest glory to the tree is its fruit, and it is the fulfilment of its responsibility. If I cannot reach it, I have failed to enjoy the strength of His grace in me, or the beauty and glory in which it would set me. Thus when the Holy Spirit was given to separate us from the flesh unto Christ, there were not only the direct advantages to ourselves, but there was the positive responsibility with regard to Him, and any failure with regard to the source necessarily was with loss to the receiver. Of the Holy Spirit it is said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life", John 4:14.

The greatest advantages flow from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but besides, "If any one thirst, let him

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come to me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified", John 7:37 - 39.

Here there is another action; a stream flowing from the believer, and this the natural consequence or effect of His presence. These two actions of the Spirit are first spoken of as they are to us personally, but in John 14:26; 15: 26, they are spoken of in connection with Christ; the first, setting forth the advantages of the Holy Spirit to us, as Comforter in the absence of Christ, the other our testimony for Christ during His absence. According to the analogy of preceding times, the tendency and danger of the hour is the attempt to retain the advantages of the Holy Spirit's presence, while displacing and overlooking the Holy Spirit as the only means here to act for Christ. The Corinthians had no intention of surrendering these individual advantages from the Holy Spirit, while they allowed the flesh to remain unchecked, while there was not expression, in private or in public, of their possessing a power whose very presence is essentially opposed to the flesh. Nor, again, did the Galatians contemplate losing the power and zeal of the Spirit, because they were seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. They plainly were forfeiting all the virtues of the Spirit, because they were trying to check the flesh by the law, and not by the Spirit.

I need not multiply examples. The important thing is, to be awakened to the tendency and snare, to separate between the advantages of our calling and the responsibility.

This is the Laodicean element, the sense of importance because of the possession of great truths, but practical indifference as to their producing their true effect; the possession of them, and not the effect, the ground of extreme boastfulness.

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This betrays itself in the present day in the way the Holy Spirit is owned and assumed by souls individually, and in meetings; while in the eye of the world they adopt and use the means common among men for the testimony of Christ and the publication of the gospel. Thus the responsibility and the advantages are not derived and maintained, even in appearance, from the same source, the Spirit of God; and thus the question arises, Can a soul really enjoy the personal advantages of the Spirit of God, while the responsibility imposed by the possession of the Spirit of God is practically denied? Grace, the gift of God, must conform us in our acts and ways, into a response expressive of its own power and intent, and it could not begin merely in us, and have no controlling effect on us, without being very weak in its incipient stage. As it is in force and extent in us, it must express itself, and assert its power and qualities in manifest superiority to that which is not of God, and infinitely below it. Hence, if the Spirit of God flow out from us in rivers, it is simply evident that He has filled the affections. The expression demonstrates the extent of power enjoyed within, so that of a decided action, it can be alleged, "These men are full of new wine". The faith or the power is shewn by the works. The works are the real measure of the inherent possessed power, and when there is any dereliction or defalcation of action in the Spirit, there is evidence of defect or deficiency within; and therefore the deficiency in responsibility would indicate deficiency in the advantages, as was seen in Israel in Haggai's time, or as we see commonly now, when there is failure in the act, be it a song or a step. The lack in either is evidence of lack in internal power of some kind. You learn the power of the songster by the song. You judge of a horse's power by the test of its running or the height it can jump. The external act indicates the measure and nature of the internal power, and when there can be little externally, there must be correspondingly little internally. Therefore

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any one who cannot act in the energy of the Holy Spirit, in testimony for Christ outwardly, before the world - that man, whatever he may assert to the contrary, is defective, and wanting in divine energy and power in his soul.


Next to the salvation of our souls, through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is nothing greater than that we should be individually temples of the Holy Spirit; for His dwelling in us is the seal of our faith in Christ, confirming and assuring what has been received. It is a part of the salvation; that is, there is neither positive nor permanent corroboration or enjoyment of the work of Christ without this seal. Souls are quickened by the Holy Spirit. The disciples in John 20 were quickened, but they had not received the Holy Spirit. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is distinct from quickening. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty", which could not be in the new nature simply. It is making too little of the Spirit of God to say that quickening and indwelling are identical. When I am quickened, it is a new creation, and wondrous indeed it is; but as this creation is of Christ, there is added, "the promise of the Father". The gift of the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ and to one another, and is the power and energy of our new life in Christ. We must not reduce a gift of God to our comprehension of it, or experiences. The only true way is to accept, in all its entirety, this most wonderful gift of God; and to search and see how it is given; and then His action, which will follow, will prove the fact.

Well then, according to Scripture, after believing, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. It is the oil following the blood, as we see in Leviticus. The blood, definitely and distinctly put on, acceptance is assured,

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and then the oil superadded. The first thing then is, that it follows immediately the knowledge of the blood, and is distinct from it; and hence, there is distinctness in the benefits conferred by each. The blood has removed everything, of every kind and nature, contrary to God; and opened the door for His grace to create anew in Christ Jesus; but the oil, the Holy Spirit, distinctly leads the. renewed soul, in an entirely new life, into sonship and the ways of God. The former makes way, or prepares for the other. It is only by the Spirit that a soul can receive the knowledge of what the blood has accomplished; and it is only on the ground of it, that the Holy Spirit can take up His abode in me. They are two distinct actions, even though they be very connected, and the assured enjoyment of the first, dependent on the second. The first clears away what barred me from God, by the greatest work, and only accomplished by the Son of God, in all the power and goodness and love of God. The other is the Holy Spirit taking up His abode on the ground of accomplished redemption, and as an entirely new Guest, enabling one, not only to enjoy divine things, but to act in the mighty power of God. It is therefore very evident that there are two works of the Spirit, one quickening; the other, sealing; the one at conversion; the other, consequent on the known virtue of the blood.

The next thing to ascertain is, how and when the quickened soul is sealed. It is not necessary that there should be much or any lapse of time, beyond distinctness between the two. In the purpose of God there is no delay as to the reception of the gift. The sealing may immediately follow the quickening. With Saul of Tarsus there was an interval of three days. Once their distinctness is admitted, there will not be an attempt to settle down in the state of Romans 7, which is being conscious of a new nature, without power to subdue the flesh. But there will be a looking for the gift of the Holy Spirit from Christ. Mind it is a gift, and one that He especially

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desires to confer. But the very term 'gift' implies that it is to be received. And there is no use in a gift if I do not receive it. Hence, Paul says, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" The Lord says, "If thou knewest the gift of God... thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water", John 4:10. The Spirit is received by the hearing of faith. There is faith to receive it, otherwise the gift is of no avail. Faith lays hold of the virtue of the blood; and faith lays hold of the virtue of the oil. But, as in the faith that lays hold of the virtue of the blood, there is a sense of the need of its efficacy; and a consequent enjoyment of it, on receiving it; even so, there is a sense of the need of the living water, in the faith that lays hold of it. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink". This scripture in the simplest way tells us how one receives the Holy Spirit. All, I may say, is contained in the words, "UNTO ME". In the sense of need, of powerlessness, of want of vigour of life, the way of relief is to "Come unto me". There is first a knowledge of what Christ has done, as I have said, of the virtue of the blood. The next step which ensures the sealing, is coming to Him; not simply making prayer to Him, but the deep wondrous sense of reaching Him; as near to Him (of course by faith), as the woman who stood behind Him, weeping, washing His feet with her tears (Luke 7); or like the woman (Mark 5), who, with the most comprehensive sense of His power, and readiness to impart it to the most needy, on touching the hem of His garment - coming into the smallest contact with Him; yet after she had received the full answer to her faith, was not ready or equal to encounter Him personally. "Fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came", etc. Figuratively she was not sealed until she "fell down before him, and told him all the truth". Nor would the woman of Luke 7, however true her faith in Christ as her Saviour, have had assured peace had she not come practically to Him. Then she could "go in

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peace". In like manner, ten lepers (Luke 17) cry for mercy, and they are cleansed by Christ, but only one of them returns, to find in Jesus the sum of what the law required the leper to offer in the day of his cleansing; when he is not only pronounced clean, but made clean.

In John 7 Jesus cried and said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink... This spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive". Nothing now can connect me with Christ but the Holy Spirit. The moment I am simply in Christ, I have the Spirit. If I have not, there is in the converted soul the distress of Romans 7. But in chapter 8 it is, "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". If I have not the Spirit of Christ I am "none of his". I am not only converted, but I am consciously possessed by a new power, the Spirit of the Son, whereby I cry, "Abba, Father". A man may be spiritually in advance of his understanding, and therefore of his conscience - he may not be doctrinally clear, that his sins are all gone; but he knows that he has a new and divine affection in his heart, and that he is a child of God, and can say, "Abba, Father".

The receiving the gift then is a positive thing. It is a new power, and as it is used, so does it increase. The first great thing to insist on, in order to help on souls in grace and power is, that the Spirit is to be received, if they have not received Him. The next, that having received Him, they walk in the Spirit, and know His action. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". This I cannot do without the assured sense of possessing the Spirit. If I have not received Him, I cannot walk in Him. If I can walk in Him, He must be in me. By Him, I mortify the deeds of the body. I have in me a greater power than the flesh.

Now, I could not have received so great a power without some positive action. The action is threefold. The first action is the cry of sonship, and consequently mortifying the flesh, which is personal. Secondly, the

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action of uniting me to Christ, and to the members of His body, as also of associating me with them in Him in heaven, which is general; and finally, the action for Him in testimony here, which is service. Thus, there are three distinct actions which follow from my possessing the Holy Spirit. None of them could give me possession; but being in possession of the Spirit, these actions, like sight to the eye, exist to be fostered, but are possessed. Lastly, I become more filled with the Spirit, as I am confined to His actions. I may, as I have said, not be in conscience equal to my grace; but if I have received the Spirit, I can say, "Abba, Father"; and as I cultivate the ability, I grow into the knowledge of His power; for "he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting". So that, when one is in any measure possessed of the Spirit, as he is when he can say "Abba, Father", he can increase his knowledge of the great gift, which he possesses, by sowing to Him - making Him the One who claims his attention, and from whom he expects to know more of Christ.

There are therefore three classes of saints. First, those who are quickened, but who have not yet received the Holy Spirit. Secondly, those who have received the Holy Spirit, but who, through ignorance or carnality, do not cultivate the Spirit, do not sow to Him, and therefore they are carnal and worldly, and dull. And lastly, those who continuously and sedulously sow to the Spirit, and daily reap the blessed fruits of His power, in happy communion with Christ.


To anyone with conscious capacity for anything greater than he possesses, the subject of power, and how it is acquired, must be most interesting. The better anyone's tastes and desires are, the more must he, if he be true to them, seek how he may satisfy them; and this is power.

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Power is not the taste or the nature that needs assistance, but that which enables me to effect and reach what I desire. Satan, in tempting Eve, engendered a certain desire for an advance in knowledge; and then supplied the means or power to obtain it. If Eve had possessed divine power at the time, she would have turned a deaf ear to Satan, and have proved that she was content. When man yielded to Satan he became his servant; and now Satan, when he would lead him captive, first suggests to him something pleasing to his natural taste, the chief taste in his nature, and then lends him the power to reach it. Satan first put into the heart of Judas a way for making money, and then enticed him to accomplish it. Man is therefore a sport of Satan's power, unless he be sustained and supported by a greater than he.

If man were like a ship on a calm sea, when there was no violent wind, he could follow out his own desires according to his own power; and therefore the better his nature, or taste, the better would be his course: and if his nature were divine, there would be a true godly course; but seeing that man is exposed to fierce winds from every quarter, from which he cannot escape by any power inherent in himself, he must become either a derelict, or receive aid and support from God. Christ was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and He is stronger than he. Hence it is only in His power that I am enabled to be superior to the power and force of evil which combats or bars me. When I am borne along to the true port, in spite of every adverse wind, it is because, greater is He that is for us, than he that is against us. Man in yielding to Satan at first opened the door to his rule, and therefore man is powerless to resist Satan, unless a greater than he espouse man's cause, and overcome his enemy.

Cain had greater power than Abel, he was of the wicked one and slew his brother. Abel had the mind of the Lord, but the Lord did not see fit to give him power to escape from Cain, no more than He did to His first

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martyr, Stephen, though He gave him power to be personally above all the winds which raged against him at the time; the former began the history of God's people on the earth, and the latter closed it. The power of God is in every act which is according to God. There is the power of evil here; man's natural tastes and desires predispose him unconsciously to yield himself to Satan, though he does not, in a violent way, in a moment. Man in his simple state does not incline to the usurpation of Satan; but because of his alienation from God, Satan becomes welcome to him because he aids him to obtain the lusts of his heart, and Satan suits him, because the flesh is enmity against God. Whenever man aims at anything great himself, he discovers his inability to reach it, and when thus sensibly powerless, he readily turns to Satan, who is most ready to help, when the course is most determinedly against God.

The power of God is exerted to maintain, according to God, in every phase of life down here. We are not left to mere fruitless desires, and unsatisfied taste, but there is a new power, through Christ, working in us, and by this power we can overcome all the combined force and obstruction of Satan.

Let us now see how the power of God affects us in our varied circles here. The first, as the power comes from God, and is the gift of His grace, is necessarily displayed in reaching us through Christ, in all the depth and distance of our need. "The exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places", Ephesians 1:19, 20. The power of God, in its true and full nature, is not known until it has been known in translating us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love, or in crossing the Jordan, leaving our death behind in the consciousness of eternal life in Christ. This is the power of His resurrection.

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The first direction of the power of God is in quickening us together with Christ, and raising us up together and making us sit together in heavenly places in Christ. This is effected for all in Christ, though it is to be entered on, and enjoyed individually by each. The second direction of the power which has acted for us, is now in us. "The power that worketh in us", Ephesians 3:20. This ranges in two circles; one, the assembly, and our connection in life and service toward it; the other, my own practical walk. The third direction is outside of myself, preserving me from the opposition and malice of Satan. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might", Ephesians 6:10. When one is under the direction of the power of God, one is necessarily in power; but it begins with the first and upward direction, even the raising us up together and making us sit together in heavenly places in Christ, and one cannot be a man of power in the other directions if he is not in the first.

The great testimony to divine power, is the resurrection of Christ declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. A man living on earth, in the power of Christ's life, is a heavenly man; and there is power in everything he does as such. The way to be in power, as was shown typically by Israel in Canaan, is to be a heavenly man; then there is power on every side; and as with them, however much they had attained, there was palpable weakness, and loss, whenever they departed from the walk and ways of men set on possessing Canaan according to the word of God. So it is with us; no man is in power unless he is walking in resurrection life.

Let us now see the marks of a man of power, in each of the directions we have noticed. As I am in power Godward, which is the first, and the beginning of all, I find my hopes and joys are outside of this scene. I look not on the things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen. I joy in God; my faith and hope are in God. Thus was Abraham, ascending Mount Moriah; every step was in power. Thus were the children of the

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captivity able to face the burning fiery furnace. Thus Stephen was superior to every combination of evil force arrayed against him; and Paul, when before the Roman tribunal, deserted by his friends and exposed to all the violence of the enemy, could say, "the Lord stood with me". In each of these cases the man of God had nothing to look to here. There was nothing to expect anything from, and thus each was a man of power, because in spite of the lack of every resource, and the pressure from every quarter, he was able to walk, seeing Him who is invisible. This is power in the first direction.

The power of God in the second direction, which embraces, as we have seen, our relation and services to the assembly, is more difficult to discern and distinguish, because so much more complicated. The servant in power is one who can rise above self-consideration for the benefit of others; as Abraham going out by night, abnegating all his home comforts, and risking his own life and the life of his servants, in order to deliver his brother Lot; or like Moses choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; or when he was up in the mount to receive the pattern of the tabernacle; or like Paul breaking with Barnabas, sooner than yield to his natural wish to have Mark with them. Every servant of God is in power, according as he endures for the elect's sake; and every true servant is subjected to suffering, in order that he may be in power for service. The service is in power in proportion to the sufferings of Christ endured in prosecuting it. What is easily or naturally done is not the most effective service. The man who chooses the easy place, and the easy way for service, declines in power in it. "I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me".

Jonah refuses to go to Nineveh, and sinks in utter weakness to the lowest humiliation. Philip leaves a prosperous work at Samaria, to obey the Lord's summons to go to Gaza, and is then a man of great power. The

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man of power in service can break away from the dearest ties and claims of nature, he can let the dead bury their dead. Even a Zipporah must be left behind, if she will not understand the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. Friend, relation, fortune, comfort, all must be sacrificed by the man of power in service. He must endure the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. Now in connection with this second direction of the power, one's private life, or personal ways - with others - in business and family relations must be included. A servant is not in power in service only, but in every position. He walks in wisdom towards them that are without: his speech is always with grace, seasoned with salt; as to himself, he keeps under his body and brings it into subjection; he declares his power by the way he rules his own spirit, which is better than taking a city; he bridleth his tongue, otherwise his religion is vain; he is in his own house in, and after, the grace of Christ in every relationship. A man of power must walk in power everywhere, if he would be in power anywhere. If he fails in power in any quarter, he is sure to feel crippled in every other quarter, until he has righted himself in the spot in which he was weak; just as a man who is afflicted in any part of his system, is impeded by it in every action; so the vein of weakness runs through everything he attempts, for there is but the one Holy Spirit, and if He is hindered in any spot, if there is any dark spot, there is necessarily a hindrance, and a very characteristic one. Where the greatest defect exists, there will be distinct superiority over it, in the man of power, as with the palsied man carrying his bed.

Finally, in the third direction, the resistance of Satan is from outside. The man of power walks on unmoved though the winds rage, and the waves rise; he with his eye on Christ, is calm in the midst of tumultuous motion; in every sphere he is superior to everything which would influence him as a man: he is upheld by Christ, and is therefore in power. Beginning with God, and reaching

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out from thence into service to the saints, and to every detail of life, neither the resistance of the flesh, nor all the power of Satan, can withstand him, for however feeble in himself through the power of Christ he overcomes.


When the ruin of a beautiful order has occurred - when the ship, once perfectly trimmed, has been strained and dismasted - it is evident that all true hands on board have a very different service, and submit to a very modified order, to that at first appointed. It would be vain or foolish for anyone on board to suppose that because they had not sunk, the first order could be observed; yet no other order is right. The great question, and the only one of any value is, How are we to preserve what remains, and how, in keeping with the commission under which the ship started, are we to make for our destination?

The assembly must be comprehended under two aspects; the one, as God's house on earth; and the other, the body of Christ. Had the truth of the latter been preserved in the power of the Holy Spirit the virtues of the wise woman in Proverbs 31 would have secured order, and her Lord's honour in the house. The house is the habitation of God through the Spirit; and if the diversities of gifts, according to the administration of Christ in the body, had been maintained, the external disorder could never have occurred. But if the heart of the whole system becomes enfeebled, surely everything connected with it must indicate the lack of vigour. We must retain these two aspects of the assembly unto the end, and when there is any clinging to one, to the exclusion of the other, there is always an incorrect idea of the charge committed to us, and consequently an imperfect way of discharging our responsibility.

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The great tempest which strained every timber of the assembly was when Paul was imprisoned; and "all who are in Asia", the scene of his greatest labours there, turned away from him. The great helmsman was driven from his post. Man's power deprived the assembly of him - the apostle of the gentiles, the master-builder; consequent on this, the assembly lost the consciousness and acknowledgment of Christ's sway therein, as we see in 2 Timothy that it was not able to resist the babblings of the worst kind. The assembly was not internally in true spiritual power then, and hence outwardly it had become like a great house, with vessels to honour and dishonour. The individual in spiritual power then was to separate himself from the vessels, though he could not from the house, or external aspect of the assembly. This the apostle sets forth as the only course for service when the ruin had set in.

But evidently the majority, as in Acts 27, did not agree with the apostle in that day, nor in this; and it is this split, or difference of judgment, and consequent practice, which discloses the disunited and unsuccessful energies in the assembly, like the sailors in knots in the ship, recommending and pursuing different plans for righting the ship, which must end disastrously, because the common good is not unitedly sought and preserved. Now the section who do not see with Paul, necessarily devoted themselves, at any rate, to the maintenance of outward order, and to do this when inherent power had lapsed, from lack of faith, they assumed power and office as a substitute, and the more numerously they were supported, the more power ostensibly they acquired. They systematically assumed all the offices, from the vicar of Christ, down to the deacon; anything and everything, to give the church or ship the semblance of being in trim. Paul, as we shall see from 2 Timothy, did not lose sight of the external order which should distinguish the body of Christ on earth. The pit into which Paul's opponents fell, was that they ignored the truth of the

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body of Christ, while they aimed at order on the earth. Paul presses on Timothy the maintenance of the truth which would preserve both, as far as it was possible, when ruin had set in. How could any one expect a ship to be the same, when the mast and sails were swept away, and the hold full of water, as when it was in perfect trim and in full sail?

The apostle, in 2 Timothy, instructs the servant in the truth for the last times; but he directs his attention to the assembly, in the peculiar and singular light, in which it was only given to him; so that the servant who does not learn from 2 Timothy, must lose the course and commission of the assembly, in its innermost responsibilities. It is true Peter, Jude, and John instruct us respecting the house, or assembly building, more exclusively, while Paul alone instructs us respecting the assembly as the body of Christ. I do not say that he overlooks the house aspect, but I say he only combines both, or speaks of the body, while still keeping in view the house; while the other apostles speak of the house, and do not refer directly or indirectly to the body; and yet their instruction is essentially necessary; for if the servant confined himself only to 2 Timothy, he would only have the house as it was in connection with the body, and how it was affected by the weakness of the latter; whereas, if he were at the same time imbued with the teaching of Peter, Jude, and John, he would see how the house was damaged by the builders and he would be instructed as to his duty when the rights of Christ on earth were rudely disregarded or misrepresented.

In 2 Timothy I am instructed in the internal state and the consequent service. In the others, I am instructed in the external, in order to help souls individually. Hence the servant who is only instructed in Peter, Jude, and John, thinks exclusively of what is due to Christ on earth, claims all flesh for Him, and attempts to enforce this by the assumption of office, and the adoption of all human instrumentality, instead of accepting the ruin, and

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strengthening only the things that remain. The servant then learns in 2 Timothy, that separation from evil, and confidence in God's resources, are the only means to surmount the ruin. The truth that God has revealed, he must continue in, with his eye full on the appearing of Him who will "judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom". He is to preach the word; the whole counsel of God is to be proclaimed. He is to stand for the Lord, and the Lord will stand with him. He is not to expect countenance or co-operation from others; he must reckon rather on isolation, when he has to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine; for instead of being attracted to the truth, they will run after teachers, that suit their ears. "After their own lusts... heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears". The ship's company acknowledges no presiding power; yet the servant is to go on, making the gospel the great groundwork of all his ministry. There is defect in the foundation, when there is a defect in our walk for Christ. No one can understand how to be here for Christ, who is inadequately or imperfectly acquainted with what Christ has done; as in Exodus 29, when the consecration of the sons of Aaron was instituted, the sin-offering and the burnt-offering were presented first; every part from the very beginning was laid, and made perfectly sure and positive, before the actual consecration was brought in. So in the servants now-a-days; the gospel must be the great groundwork, and then from it, the foundation - "make full proof of thy ministry". It is not to end there, but it is to begin there; and "the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you". A very necessary benediction to the servant in the last times.

Now the truth in Peter for the last times, is more the practical side for each believer; as in the first chapter of the second epistle, giving him the "day star", as his hope, and not the light of prophecy. He regards them as living stones in the spiritual house, but we do not find in his epistles the body, in any expression, though there is

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nothing that militates against it. He warns of the false teachers in chapter 2 and as in the first chapter, the coming of the Lord is to encourage them, so in the last chapter, "the day of the Lord" is to sever them from everything; that they may "be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless".

Jude exhorts us to contend for the faith; showing the duty of the remnant to rescue and discriminate, in the midst of earthly religiousness, corrupt teachers, and clerical assumption.

Now John insists on the grace of life, as it was at the beginning; while warning of the many antichrists; the denial of the doctrine of Christ; and in the Revelation, while showing, in the seven assemblies, the house aspect on the earth, he points out that the four last would continue to the end, each having for a time a special prominence in succession; yet when the fourth, that is Laodicea, had reached its climax, the assembly would be spued out of the mouth of Christ; it would then be characteristically hopeless. When truth ceases to be operative, there is no longer any hope for the house on earth; and as this increases characteristically, the influence of Philadelphia, which is the revival of the first standing, must be visibly declining, or the spewing would not be threatened as inevitable. If there was hope of Philadelphia rising over Laodicea as it had over Sardis, then the spewing out, or summary termination of the house on earth, would not have been threatened. Now this refers to the house, yet John sees that the end is marked by the bride, who with the Spirit says, "Come" to the Lord. Then he, as I apprehend, sets forth the truth that the servant is to insist on, in a two-fold way, in the last days; the truth which will deliver from Thyatira and Sardis, and preserve or extricate from Laodicea, on the one hand; and on the other, the assembly, as it is known to Christ; the bride in company with the Holy Spirit inviting Him to come; so that there is the house and the body in John without his referring to the doctrine

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of the latter or its characteristics; for the new Jerusalem is the house aspect I suppose.

The summing up is, that the servant requires varied lines of truth in the last days; and that all these are necessary, and subserve for the disorganized state of the assembly; and the heart truly stored with them will be adequate for the exigencies of service, in the midst of assembly ruin. If Paul only be known and followed, Christ's rights on earth, as the kingdom of heaven, would be over-looked, because they would only be recognized according as there was moral power or state suited for the body; whereas if Peter, Jude, and John be exclusively adhered to, the rights of Christ locally would be fully admitted and enforced, but the corporate testimony would be lost sight of, though there would be individual state. Paul teaches the servant how to care for the house with reference to the body, mainly insisting on what he is to be for it. Peter teaches how Christ's building is to survive, in spite of false teachers, encouraged by the "day star", and severed from the earth, by the "day of the Lord". Jude teaches how the saints are to contend for and conserve the faith; to rescue and discriminate, looking unto Him who is able to keep them from falling, and present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. John teaches the utter and eventual failure of the visible building, but the disclosure of the bride to the "bright and morning star", as Rebekah, when presented to Isaac. She comes to him, and therefore is practically, with the Spirit, inviting Him to "Come".


No one was ever an infidel or atheist from birth, that is to say he was at first conscious that he was responsible to an unseen Supreme. There is no infidel nor atheist who to his own knowledge, at one time, was not an infidel; and if he is one now, he is what he once was not.

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Man naturally has a conscience, that is, he acquired at the fall the knowledge of good and evil, and according as he becomes intelligent, the claim of the great Supreme, of God, must either be acknowledged and dreaded, or violently, (as by a volcano of the mind) refused and dared. To escape responsibility is the one great cause of infidelity. As the mind of man becomes active and informed, the pressure on his conscience increases, and he fears the more, as he is made more assured that he is responsible. He finds that the more he knows and extends his knowledge, the more accountable is he for his actions - for his whole life; and hence, in this, the incipient stage, he has recourse to every sort of amusement or engrossment, in order to stifle the questions which would arise. Some time or other the question will come up, and first he evades it by amusements. The birds of the air carry away every grain of the Word which may reach his soul; this is when there is little activity of mind, and when one is not scripturally educated.

The next stage is when the mind is active and the information enlarged. There is then less ability to evade the question; and there is a fear of the light, or the presentation of truth, because it is afflicting to the conscience, to be called on to settle the question. In this state there is an avoidance of everything which would stir the question, preferring to leave it entirely unsettled, and to go on without being subjected to the conflict which must ensue before the avowal of infidelity. In this case the conscience is not hardened, but as it were, kept in the dark, and when light does come, as it often does in such a case, there is always deep distress in reaching the great moral victory - namely, full conviction in the truth of God and His revelation. The oftener the truth has been turned away from and evaded, the greater the conflict at the end; but in this case there is a desire to find revelation true. This case generally ends in either religiousness, which satisfies the natural mind, or true conversion to God.

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The third class is when there is a growing desire to be freed from all responsibility to God. Now this state arises from either an overweening vanity of mind, which is intolerant of anyone who has a right to control or claim submission, simply pride of mind in its worst form; either this I say, or from conduct which is utterly condemned by conscience, so that there is no relief but in absolute infidelity. Infidels must rank under either of these two classes. It is seldom an ignorant man is an infidel, and never, a truly conscientious man. It is knowledge suddenly acquired, giving an unexpected elevation, which for the most part emboldens a man to limit everything to his own mind, and deny the existence of God. Hence we find that it is the better educated of the artisan class who are oftenest infidel. They suddenly reach an elevation unexpected by themselves, and they become so vain in their imaginations, that while they must admit there are some circumstantially superior to them; they betray their folly in asserting that there is nothing higher than their own minds. Now if, in addition to this, they are reckless and dissolute, not only is their vanity gratified by declaring that there is no God, but it is an unspeakable relief to be freed from all the restraints of conscience, and this the more especially if they previously had been seriously under its control; so that infidelity springs from either the unbridled lust of the mind, or of the flesh. In one or other, man exalts himself audaciously above all that is called God, and makes man's mind or will the sovereign arbiter of everything. There is no greater evidence of a weak mind, however brilliant it may be, than an inability truly to estimate one's own powers. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good", Psalm 14:1.

The steps of infidelity are marked enough, and very sad. It is better and happier to observe and attend to the safeguards of faith.

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There is properly but one safeguard; but this produces two distinct effects, which must be both preserved or continued, in order that faith may grow, and infidelity be repudiated.

The one unassailable safeguard is light. God is light - and that is light which doth make manifest. It is not the love of God which convicts, or which detects the need and condition of the soul before God, but the light. The light discloses the secrets of the heart, and how little in consonance with the claims of God are its motives and intentions. There is nothing so humiliating as the light, and hence nothing the natural man more shrinks from; "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God". The disclosure that his inmost desires are not according to the holiness of God, rebukes him, he is found out, but he that loveth good, loveth that which exposes evil in him. "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did", is the utterance of the heart of one conscious of being in the light. This is the virtue of the light that it makes manifest. Many a thing passes uncondemned when one is not in the light. It is "in thy light shall we see light". The conscience is enlightened according as I am in the light, so that things which once did not distress or offend it, would now do so exceedingly, for God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things. As we approach nearer to God we feel the effects of light, as Jacob in leaving Shalem for Bethel (see Genesis 35).

Now, light being the great safeguard to faith, the next thing to be considered is how light is acquired and increased. Christ is the light; the "light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not". A soul has not light until it has found Christ. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name". Every

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believer is a child of the light. Christ in all His ways here was the expression of God; and He that followeth Him shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. You are protected from every kind of infidel notions by following Christ, and the one preserved fully, is the one earnestly following Him. Now the true follower is ever a student of the Word, for the Word is the unfolding of the mind of God, and by it the conscience is informed. "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward", Psalm 19:8 - 11. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart", Hebrews 4:12.

Following the Lord and studying the Word ever ensures the acquisition and the increase of light.

Thus we have considered light in itself and how acquired and increased; it only remains to examine its effects, to which I have referred. There is a combined effect produced by the light; on the one hand, an humble mind; and on the other, a good conscience. Light only can produce this combined effect. Either might exist without the other, as merely the effect of either society or religious education. A man accustomed to men of great learning and parts has seldom an overweening idea of his own; and one educated religiously and carefully, might preserve a good conscience; though, like Saul of Tarsus, opposed to Christ, or the doctrine of grace. Light, divine light, is what alone discloses to a man how small he is in every way; and how morally below the principles and love which rule and determine all the

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ways of God, so that no one can be in the light, or near God, but he must feel like Job; and he was a man, speaking humanly, of unblemished integrity, yet when he sees God he is sensible both of his ignorance and of his unworthiness; he says, I "uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me... I abhor myself", etc; and it is only thus that one learns most, and acquires most moral fitness, because then one is increasingly acquainted with God in all His greatness and reality, so that infidelity could no more intrude there, than darkness could into the full blaze of the sun.


The effort of evil is to reduce everything to its own level. We cannot be in a scene of evil, where the spirit of evil rules, and not be sensible of the continued effort or assault made on us to yield to the course of things here, which is the world.

The moment we recognise and are in any measure established in the great fact that we are of God, from that moment according to our progress, must we feel that there is a direct and continued opposition to us in everything around. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you". But besides this, there is often, in various ways, an assault planned and prepared by the god of this world, to reduce us from our heavenly or divine status, to the order of things where he can rule without being discovered.

Once we see the existence of this evil spirit and his designs, we are not unprepared for them: but though we are not unprepared, yet it is of deep importance that we should be able to detect how the snare is laid for each of us. We are oftener watching against the result, than against the beginning; though it is hardly necessary to say that if we were guarded against the beginning, we should be preserved from what the beginning would

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lead to, - the end. The beginning, or first false step, is of immense importance, and we must remember what the object of evil is, in guarding against it. The object is to reduce us to the level of the world. Hence the beginning is to present counsel outside or apart from the word. The first failure of a saint is rebelling against the word, and despising the counsel of God. The counsel of the ungodly is accepted, and appreciated. This is the beginning of the snare. It occurs in various ways. In a matter of business, or step of any kind, one may turn to a very prudent, far-seeing man in the world, who from one cause or another is very friendly, and naturally very dependable. His advice is sought; and when adopted, the snare is successful. A snare is an unseen mode of depriving you of the liberty of action, by pandering to your natural desires. To deprive a saint of the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free, is the master-plot of Satan.

Now once human counsel is accepted and adopted, however amiable and wise it may be, it is simply not of God. I cannot know evil, but as I know good; good is of God, and hence when I am swayed and directed by the counsel of any natural man, however wise he may be, it is not of God, nor is it therefore perfectly good. I cannot see evil but as I see good, therefore I must form my idea of evil, from my idea of good. The divine mind only can fully see evil, and it only can preserve me from it. A soul in seeking or accepting advice from a shrewd kind man of the world, never thinks or intends to drop into the world, when availing himself of his counsel, but it is evident that the counsel, when accepted, must place us on a level with the person who gives it; and if he is worldly, it must be worldly, and once you are on this level you are compromised, you are a captive in the hands of the world; the hair of your Nazariteship is shorn off.

The first advice of wisdom is "Forsake the foolish". The great effort of the enemy is to draw saints unto a common footing with the man of the world. In the

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education of our children, and in everything, the bait of the world is "Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse". "But he knoweth not that the dead are there". We sink into bad, that is to say worldly or earthly company; we imbibe the evil of it, so that "evil communications corrupt good manners". The first effect of it is that the word of God is without any conscious rebellious feeling, turned away from, and man's counsel is adopted. This is the decoy; but once the saint is here, the descent is sure, however gradual; for he is descending - and the descent is, to do as men do here, and to be as they are. When you are as one of the world here, you have lost your distinctive character for Christ; the purpose of grace is defeated, which is, that each saint should be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ in His great and wonderful path here on earth; walking in the details of daily life and service to man in the truth and wisdom of God. This is defeated when a saint drops down in anything to the ways of the world. Worldliness is when man is the object, in the use of worldly things, while a saint, while he uses things in the world, has Christ as his object in the using of them. His thought is, would it suit Christ, not himself merely. The enemy conceals his rule, while he deceives man to make himself the object in everything; but then God is shut out, and this is the end he desires. The saint, on the other hand, must insist on God being the exclusive object, and this of itself is greater glory to a man because it declares his connection with God.

It is helpful to note the way, as recorded in Scripture, that souls are drawn away from the Lord. The way in which Satan beguiled Eve, ever since has been the principle on which he acts. Setting aside the word of God to occupy the mind with what is visibly attractive - then it is that the worldly influence obtains.

Lot was drawn by natural wisdom to Sodom, and eventually he was mixed up with the inhabitants; he not only shared in their advantages, was involved in their afflictions, but also, some of his family suffered in its

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judgment, and he himself though miraculously rescued, never regained the place and path of testimony. You must be of the world if you mix in it. It is not enough to refuse or withdraw from the unconverted in assembly fellowship at stated times, if at other times you can be on a level with man naturally.

Balaam's stumbling-block was on this principle, the master-piece of iniquity. Reduce the people of God to a natural social level with the world, and their overthrow morally is complete. Hence in Revelation 2 it is called the doctrine of Balaam, and it was the great means used by Satan to reduce the assembly to a worldly level. From social intercourse they dropped in their mode of worship, etc. You descend to their moral depths.

This downward course is presented in a very striking way in Proverbs in the figure of a young man first (chapter 7: 7), until eventually he is, when on the brink of ruin, awakened to his danger. The first and chief cause of the failure of Israel in the land, as well as the evidence of their unfaithfulness, was that they did not drive out the inhabitants of the land, and they became snares to them and they learned their ways.

A believer is of Christ, and he is though once of the world, sent into the world to be the follower of Christ here: he is not to be unnatural, but he is to act with a new object here - Christ is his object. Man is the object of the world. The christian has a nature susceptible of the influences of the world; the natural man cheerfully yields to those influences; the child of God is set here to refuse those influences by insisting through the Holy Spirit on everything due to Christ. I shall never be able to know what is worldliness unless I know what suits Christ. Worldliness is what suits man. I am naturally a man, and I am ever and anon solicited by everything here to adopt and follow what suits man, and I cannot resist it unless I am clear as to the truth, and sustained by the Spirit of God in that which suits Christ. If there was no one in the world but myself, and were I in simple

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happy faith in Christ, I should determine everything by what was due to Him. I do not say that my own selfishness would not work without any example among men, but I should have no support from any fellow creature outside of myself. Among men, among one's own, the worldly thing is countenanced, my natural tastes are addressed, and it is easy and pleasing to fall in with whatever is most generally approved, which is simply 'the fashion.' I must be simple and strong in the Lord, under His rule and supported by Him, or I shall be guided in my habits and ways by the course of those around me. But if I am separate, however domesticated I am with worldly relations, separation morally will ensue if I am faithful; and this is greater than separation positionally; at any rate one who is separate where he is domesticated, would be relieved were it ordered for him to be positionally so. All worldliness proceeds from man being led on secretly by Satan, in opposition to God, and the saint who is sent into the world, to live Christ here, is caught by the world, when he first adopts its counsel or mode of acting, and the end inevitably must be, that he will learn of their ways; and like the children of Israel, lose the enjoyment of his standing in Christ. I must either have Christ for my guide in everything, or the world must influence me. It is not that every saint is out of the world, but the great point is, Am I resisting it, am I seeking to be out of it, or am I submitting to be more and more of it?


Man in innocence knew nothing but as he was instructed of God. Now when the serpent was listened to, it is clear another line of instruction came in, and man in yielding to this evil line, and eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, learned evil, by committing it; and here conscience entered. I have the sense that there is a better

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line that I am to act up to, and that I yield to one I do not approve of. Hence it is plain that from the fall there were two lines of instruction: one, which addressed the conscience, asserted the claims of God, whether declared by the works of creation, or heard of by revelation. The other, as contributing only to man. Soon, alas, it became general that man did not like to retain God in his knowledge; he preferred what ministered to his own self-exaltation, and the conscience was neglected and despised.

Let us examine, and seek to discover how, and when, we are carried away in the acquisition of knowledge without conscience. We get in the first recorded act of Adam and Eve a use of their newly acquired knowledge which did not reach to the conscience. They sewed fig leaves together to make themselves aprons. Their sensibilities demanded this. It is not that it was not perfectly right and proper to do so. Nay, the very demand for it as the only proper thing, sets forth distinctly that there can be knowledge, the most necessary, and this without conscience, without any sense of God's claim; hence, when the voice of the Lord God is heard in the garden in the cool of the day and conscience is acted on, the aprons are not deemed sufficient, they hide themselves behind the trees of the garden. Knowledge, with conscience, carries one much farther than knowledge without conscience; and the latter, however excellent, can exist without the other. Many pious people are carefully scrupulous to avoid and repudiate everything which would offend against good moral taste; and yet I have found when this was carried to an extreme, and when there was consequently an outward appearance very commendable and attractive, there was such a lack of conscience, that the holder of false doctrine, though known, was tolerated because he did not disseminate it.

I call attention to the fact that knowledge may be confined in its claims to what suits man, so that man's advance, in mind and manner, is the one aim. It is then

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a lower standard, however right and good; for, were the true standard, God's claim, insisted on, all that was proper for man's moral sensibilities would be secured and a great deal more, because what God required would be insisted on.

Now for another example of which we are warned in Scripture. They went in the way of Cain. Cain was the founder of natural religion. He labours assiduously and brings an offering of the fruits of the earth; he was guided in his act by what he judged in his own mind would meet the mind of God. There was no sense of what was due to God from one under the penalty of death. The judgment of God in His holiness he entirely disregards, or does not see. He let his own mind dictate to him how he was to restore himself to God; he was not ignorant that there was a distance between God and man, and he carefully and laboriously set himself to recover it; wherever he got his knowledge, or whatever the extent of it, it was not knowledge of God. There is a great deal apparently to commend in a man making it the first object of his life to repair his relation with God. He was sensible of the distance as a matter of fact, but not as it was according to God. The fact he knew, and he would remove it, as man regarded it, but not according to God. There is knowledge of the state of things in part, but instead of seeking God's way of removing it, man consults his own mind, and obtains great credit from himself and others for his well intended work: but yet this very man, when instructed from the mouth of God how to act and really repair the distance, not only scorns it, but kills his brother who had acted according to the mind of God. The man most earnestly set on removing the distance between himself and God, when following his own mind, is so opposed to God's way of effecting it, that he kills the one who accedes to God's way of reaching it. This is a dreadful instance of knowledge without conscience. It might be alleged that Cain was acting up to his light when he offered up the fruits of

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the earth, but when the mind of God as to it, was fully declared to him, his conscience is not touched, he does not alter his course, but opposes it in the most violent, wicked way; this proves incontestably that he had knowledge of the mind of God without conscience. Could there be a fuller or a more dreadful disclosure of the enmity of man's heart, than that a man who, at great sacrifice, had sought to secure happy relations with God according to his own mind and judgment, yet when clearly and fully instructed by the words of God, instead of accepting it, as one groping in the dark, and looking for light, would gladly accept a light, he determinedly opposed it, and killed the one who had acted according to it?

As the world began, so will the world close. There is a great interval between Adam using his knowledge to relieve human sensibilities, and Cain refusing to act above the religion of his own mind, for that which suited God. Had there been conscience he would have yielded to what was due to God. Now in this interval there are many gradations. Man uses his enlarged knowledge either to mould things to his enlightened sensibilities, or he descends, step by step, until he prefers his own religion to God's revelation, and declares it by open hostility to the people of God. In the first case the conscience was not at all addressed, in the other, it was that man's mind presumed to control it, and resented, with fierce and deadly violence, the marvellous intervention of revelation to liberate and truly direct it. From the very first, man did not like to retain God in his knowledge; but the saddest thing is, when the knowledge, even true knowledge, can be accepted and sought after, but with the predetermination not to allow it to carry one beyond a prescribed system or order of things. Thus the word of God is made of none effect, and the typical character of the last days is, A pharisee received Him into his house, or, the men of Judah insisting on carrying the prophet Jeremiah into Egypt. There is an acceptance

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and an entertainment of the highest truth, when there is no action of the conscience before God, because of it; the desire to possess it, but not to act up to it. The language of the morally deposed king Saul describes their one desire or care for truth. He desired the countenance of Samuel. "Honour me now", cried he, "before the elders of my people". The most unworthy and deadliest school in the present day is the one which encourages and promotes the acquisition of the most advanced biblical knowledge, but with the secret determination of not yielding to any of its directions, beyond an approved religion. This school may seek to vindicate itself that they are not going in the way of Cain, that is, that they have accepted the true way of salvation according to the word of God. They are entitled to the full benefit of this plea, and it is a relief to know that many are in the faith that saves; but while it is a cheer to charity that they have believed unto eternal life, yet it is very grievous to the Spirit of God that real partakers of the grace of life should persistently refuse to be led by the light of God, or beyond a certain pre-arranged limit. I can understand an unconverted Saul of Tarsus, listening unmoved to the burning words of the first martyr, Stephen, but what shall I say of the Marks, or the Demases, of the Agrippas, the Phygelluses, and the Hermogeneses; who though they had not received the truth from Paul, with any preconcerted intention of limiting its action, yet practically did so, and refused to be in conscience led by it. Their knowledge thus works positive damage, for if "the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" Do I reject or object to the circulation of truth, and the introduction of books and tracts, setting forth plainly and strikingly the truths of revelation in contrast to the misty interpretation of man? Certainly not; but I deplore and I denounce in every way I can, the school or system which proposes and advocates the acquisition of truth of the highest order, with the reservation that it shall not lead one beyond a certain

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human arrangement and line of things, previously determined upon. If teachers accept this rule what must their pupils be? It is, be assured, of the spirit of Cain: knowledge without conscience, and with this there will ever be a bitter deadly enmity towards any who, led of God, step outside of the approved religion in faith in His word, through the power of the Holy Spirit.


What is truth? must necessarily be the earnest question of every awakened conscience. The moment light enters, the truth in measure as to my state must appear; "whatsoever doth make manifest is light". The fruit of light is in all goodness, righteousness and truth. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; not grace only but truth, which discloses everything in its full reality as He only could do it. He can expose what man is in his position before God, and what God is to man. This really is the truth required by the conscience. If my state as it really is before God, is not disclosed to me, then I cannot be sensible of full mercy, because I do not see that I require it; and on the other hand, if God is not declared to me in grace and as He is towards man, and how He can be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, I am undone. To disclose to me my real state, - to bring in truth, would only increase my misery, without alleviating it. Hence Christ is the way and the truth and the life. As the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, it is evident that there can be no true progress, but as one is in the truth. If a man say he hath no sin he deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him. There is a difference between this, and the one who says he has not

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sinned: in the latter case, His word is not in him, he is not converted at all.

What is generally understood by the term truth, has reference to what is real as to the future, or as to the records of things, whereas in Scripture the idea of truth begins with man's true position before God. For if that be not ascertained, there is no advantage nor any real good in knowing anything else. Many have given themselves assiduously to find out the truth as a dogma and thus have missed it; "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth", because they did not begin with the first action of the truth of God; namely, the disclosure of one's true state in the sight of God, and therefore the fruit of His light in the soul. He that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. The knowledge of the truth begins therefore with Christ; neither grace nor truth had come until He came, though there were acts of grace, and the action of truth before He came, but He was the manifestation of both, and the soul that finds in Him grace, also finds in Him truth. "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice". The thief on the cross was in the reality of things as they are before God. The light disclosed the truth to him - his real position before God - and then he found grace. The soul must begin with Christ, or it cannot know the truth or grace either. It is only by Christ that I can see my true relation with God; my distance is disclosed at the same time, and by the same One who reveals God in grace, near or beside us - God manifest in the flesh; and therefore the true nature of man's heart now comes out; the thoughts of many hearts are revealed - and the secrets of men's hearts are to be judged by Jesus Christ. The truth must necessarily declare everything as it is, both God and man. The truth exists though I do not know it. Hence God is light, and in His light I see light. He bore witness of the truth, and as I am in the light, I see Him and know that He is the truth. All has been

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disclosed by Him whether on God's side or man's. He has declared God in His nature, and man has declared himself in his true colours, with regard to God in the rejection of Christ - the perfect Man. At any rate Christ is the One who places both in a full and true light here; He is the light of the world, and as I receive Him, I learn through Him both grace and truth. I begin thus with Christ. If there be not this beginning then we cannot reach the place and position which belongs to us as His people on the earth, but though one has begun with Christ for the relief and comfort of the soul, this is not all, one must unswervedly continue in Him, by whom grace and truth came, in order to reach to and to ascertain what we have heard from the beginning. As Christ is my only start and true beginning, so must He determine everything. Now as declension is marked by losing sight of Christ, recovery must be marked by remembering how we are fallen, and doing the first works - returning to Christ. It is the one simple rule in every darkness and difficulty. Hence that which we have heard from the beginning, from the commencement of christianity, is the only truth; as we have lapsed from it, we have fallen into error, and as we get back to it, we attain to truth. Hence our Lord in the beginning, as we find in Luke 24, instructed the two disciples going to Emmaus. They were the prototype of all educated ones during this period. The apostles were the teachers or foundation. These two disciples were the patterns of the taught ones. "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself". What a copious and interesting exposition! the revelation of that which we have heard now - the beginning. This course of instruction leads us step by step to see the purpose of God.

Like the three days of creation before the coming of the greater light which was to rule the day, so has everything been instituted and appointed, with reference to Him who was to come. Every trial of man ended in

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failure from the first, and was succeeded by another trial, and greater test to man, but a greater unfolding of God; until at last He sent His Son, and this is the truth. It is, I should say, a great and necessary instruction for the soul to begin at Moses and all the prophets, and learn God's mind concerning Christ. I am sure we imperfectly see the nature and fulness of Christ's work and place for God, because we have so imperfectly traced Him from the opening of Scripture downwards. Let anyone take only a general, and very partial survey of the striking indications in types and persons, of the Lord Jesus Christ, before He came, and such a one cannot fail to have enlarged and glorious conceptions of Him; and as this is increased, the sense of Him is increased. The heart burns within us, while He opens to us these scriptures. One has the peculiar sense of acquiring vigour of apprehension about Him whom the heart loves, as one proceeds; not that His life and ways as recorded in the gospels are less interesting to us, but in the Old Testament, I get the mind of God, disclosing Him gradually, and step by step, while in the gospels, I see the subject of all preceding Scripture, walking about as a Man. The two disciples had seen Him as a Man, and had walked beside Him, but until they had learned Him in the Scriptures, and what He was in the mind of God, their hearts had no true conception of the marvellous dignity of His person. This then is the first step. It must be borne in mind that the two disciples were converted, but they had to come to the knowledge of the truth, and we are told in this scripture, how they are made acquainted with it. The first step, as we have seen, is the knowledge of how the Scriptures refer to and set forth Christ before He came. But this is not all, for we shall find all through Scripture, that the course, right and proper for a saint at any given time, not only depends on his apprehending the manner or nature of God's revelation of Himself to him, though that is first and pre-eminently necessary; but there is another, and one

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essential, in order to arrive at the altar, or our place of worship - even our relation to God; and this is true, at the start, or at any revival.

We find, for instance, Abram when called, went forth not knowing whither he went. He had not only the knowledge of the word, but "The Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him", Genesis 12:7. Thus also to Jacob; his was a great revival; not only is the word effective in his heart, but in the night of wrestling, the new name, (typically Christ), is given to him; and this necessarily gives a character to his altar afterwards, though he failed, as to its full import, until he reached Bethel, the centre, or scene where it could be maintained unhinderedly. This only by the way, because it shows us that though the soul may have tasted of the power of His presence, yet that we might confine Him to ourselves individually, to our natural circumstances, like Jacob at Shalem, instead of looking for Him, or connecting Him with circumstances suited to Himself, which Bethel expresses.

Now the next thing made known or taught to those two learners was the fact of Christ's bodily existence in resurrection, and this was not done until they had shown earnest desire for the company of the One who had unfolded to them the Scriptures concerning One so dear to them. "He made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us... And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them", Luke 24:28 - 30. This comprises and defines the second class in the knowledge of the truth. Many in a very distinct way reach the first, who for long, and sometimes never on earth, reach the second. This second, is the Lord making Himself known to the soul by the way in which He has blessed and broken bread here on this earth, that He is alive from the dead. There is an immensity of

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blessing to the soul in the full and vivid assurance that He is a perfect Man alive from the dead, and alive for evermore.

The state of soul because of this second step is very remarkable. They not only know from the Scriptures what Christ is in the mind of God, the Man they had known in the ways, and in the likeness of a man, but now they are convinced beyond any doubt that He is risen, and superior over all the power of death, because He is as to appearance as He was before He entered the grave. This I apprehend answers to the Lord appearing in the Old Testament and really determines the character and nature of their relation to Him in worship, for surely if individually or privately, in my own house, I know the Lord risen, it follows that I can see or find Him in no lower condition in His own house or sphere. True, some after learning of Him in the Scriptures, do not go on to knowing Him personally; and when they attempt to find Him in His own sphere, they are dry and formal and not able to consider for His interests, as He in living present power would exact; that is, they do not see in their discipline in the house of God that everything is fitting and consonant with His presence and house. It is quite possible for one to accept the true position of the assembly; that is, to see that saints should be gathered to His name, and in a degree enjoy the meeting, because of His presence; and yet not know the great effect of His presence in the assembly, simply because they have not known Christ risen as their own individual experience. They may adopt and adhere to what is scripturally right but though there is a measure of comfort, it is rather that of a flower in water, than the sense and vigour of one drawing life and sustenance immediately from Christ, to whom they are united and in assured acquaintance.

The two disciples, on knowing Christ risen, the same hour of the night repair to Jerusalem, and while they are recounting how the Lord was made known to them in breaking of bread, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of

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them; and we gather from John 20: 19, the blessings then for the first time introduced and conferred; and thus they are placed in life and power in the truth: the beginning is fully made known, and all power and vigour ever since depend on our implicit adherence to what was at the beginning. Christ is the known centre and source of everything, and every revival in the assembly has been true and blessed as the saints have been taught through His mercy as these first learners were taught. Though there is the danger and snare of learning only part of their lessons, and as often partially taught, people conceive that they know all; so many who know something of the first step, imagine that they can reach the third, before they have reached the second; and assume to understand true assembly fellowship, whereas they, not knowing Christ risen for their own individual joy, cannot comprehend Him in the great sphere of His presence on earth; and hence, with much scriptural knowledge, they have not reached that which was at the beginning, and in their lack of separation from evil, and imperfect discipline, they give painful evidence of their ignorance.

The Lord give us steadily to preserve and maintain that which was from the beginning, for that is truth.


The place I am in always demands of me to be according to it. If I do not like it, I may resist, because I feel the unspoken claim it has on me; so, when it is pleasing to me, I am promoted by it in my own tastes. To a christian Christ's present place is of the greatest importance; because if my union with Christ be on earth, where I am myself, then the earth claims me, and I am required to be according to it. But if my union with Christ be outside and above the earth, even in heaven, then that place

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claims me, and as I am true to my calling, I must be according to it. The great and peculiar privilege of the saint now is, that he is united to Christ, and therefore where He is determines everything. The old association was not to be resumed, as He said to Mary Magdalene, "Touch me not... but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God", John 20:17.

Many who see clearly that we are now united to Christ by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven are not awake to the immense consequence which must ensue from being united to Him where He is. If I am united to Him where He is, then I am not in the enjoyment of my union with Him, but as I am in association with Him where He is. I am sent to act for Him where He is not, but I am in spirit where He is, because united to Him in heaven; and that place necessarily is the place of my heart, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The bare fact of being united to Christ has been received without taking into account the place where He is to whom we are united. As naturally all my associations and connections are with earth - this scene - it is essential to determine whether in any way we could be united to Christ here, and therefore whether much of the well-intentioned and devout expression of 'cleaving to Christ only' truly designates the depth and meaning of union with Him.

Let us first see that it is impossible to be united to Christ on earth, and then it will be easy to see where the lack is in those who piously assume to be united to Him but yet do not apprehend what union with Him really entails. There cannot be union with Christ but in ascension; we could not be united to Him in the flesh, because as a Man He was the Holy One of God, and entirely alone, and without a second. He was the Corn of wheat that would have continued alone had He not died. It is of all importance to be clear on this point; otherwise we assume to be united where we are not, and

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thus lose the great and untold blessings of union. There could be no union with Christ until He by His death had removed everything out of the way which would have barred union with Him. Union must be on common ground. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one".

The Holy Spirit is the bond of union, and He did not come down until Christ was at the right hand of God. "Having therefore been exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which ye behold and hear", Acts 2:33. The Holy Spirit came down only consequent on the exaltation of Jesus. "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you". If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in me, He comforts me in the absence of Christ; but to do so, He unites me to Christ where He is, because Christ must be in heaven if the Holy Spirit be in me. When Christ comes, we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. But the fact of the Holy Spirit being in me now indicates the presence of Christ at the right hand of God; and my union with Him, to be enjoyed, must be in association with Him where He is; hence He said to Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God". The Holy Spirit in me always, as is shown in the case of Stephen, leads me to heaven. "Being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus".

Because Christ is in heaven, this necessarily must be the case. All true enjoyment of my union with Christ must connect me with Him where He is: hence it is said, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". Heaven as His place, and where everything suits Him, necessarily has a most marked effect on me. I am not only united to Him by the Spirit sent down from

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heaven, but I, because of my union with Him, taste of scenes that are pure and eternal where God is. Can any one contemplate for a moment the greatness of the effect on the heart, of the simple fact of having even a fleeting association with Him in those regions of holiness and light? How entirely they must reduce everything here, even the best, to insignificance! Thus the effect of Christ's place is immense; and hence, when any one speaks of enjoying Christ, he must either find association with Him where He is, the Spirit taking of Mine, and showing it unto you, or he must give his enjoyment a higher name than it deserves.

There is a great deal of enjoyment of Christ which does not spring from association with Him. There is a sense of perfect remission of sins; there is the heart burning because of the opening of the Scriptures; and there is the action of the light, the sense that I belong to it, and am really of a divine origin; there is the knowledge of His favour in service and circumstances, yielding a very distinct joy; and yet none of these rises to the height of association with Himself; all these, however great, could be enjoyed on earth. Nothing can divert from earth but another place, and a greater, and this is one of the greatest effects arising from association with Him in heaven. Then I know my citizenship is there; I become loose to earth, because I am conscious of having real enjoyment of heart with Him in heaven where He is. If I only get heaven when I die, I retain earth till that event takes place; but if I am united to Christ there now, I taste, through the Spirit, the perfection of that place; and this diverts me from this place, which is so entirely, in the best circumstances, inferior to it. It is my union with Christ in heaven which requires of me, and enables me, to be a heavenly man on earth. If it were not so, there might be the effort, as there is sincerely in many, without the sense of being heavenly; but when I enjoy union with Him where He is, I get the sense of what it is to be heavenly; and instead of a mere effort to be heavenly,

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my delight is to be according to the exaltation and height which I have tasted of in spirit.

All through Scripture we find how much is attached to the place which the Lord shall choose to place His name there. How much more must heaven be, the dwelling-place of God! No one for a moment would make light of so great a favour as the fact of one being united to Christ in heaven, if he were to comprehend in any measure the magnitude of it. The greatest damage has arisen to souls from appropriating language which expresses a higher experience than one knows. Hence, in the present day many speak of enjoying Christ, of having communion, of making Christ everything; very interesting statements in themselves, but the practical effect of such very high experiences is wanting. I have shown that if I were associated with Christ where He is, the effect on me would be to set me here growing daily more indifferent to the brightest thing on earth; because I knew what it was to enjoy the brightness of the eternal scenes of light. This, I repeat, would be the great and distinct effect of enjoying Christ where He is, which would show itself in ten thousand ways.

But beside this, there are other very great and deep experiences which cannot be known unless the soul has been led by the Spirit to Christ in heaven.

First, there is no true and clear sense of the priesthood of Christ, unless I know Him now appearing in the presence of God for me. How could I know this perfect presentation, were I not now united to Him where He is? True, there is nothing said of union with Christ in the Hebrews; but the fact is stated, that He has entered heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. How could I enjoy the effect of this, if I were not in spirit associated with Him?

How could I know what it is to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way, which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say His flesh, unless I were associated with Christ by

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the Spirit? So that, if I am not with Christ where He is, I have neither a clear, well-assured sense of how He maintains me in the presence of God, nor have I, however great my intelligence of doctrines and truth generally, ever really tasted yet of the true place of a worshipper in the holiest of all. And this accounts for the constant reference in hymns and otherwise, by many apparently advanced saints, to the work of Christ and their need of the atonement. I believe that every one in the holiest deepens in his appreciation of the wondrous work which has procured entrance for him into that perfect scene; but I say that one there, is not seeking or reverting to the way to get in, because he is in, and he is praising and blessing because he is there.

It appears to me that any one who has not tasted of association with Christ where He is, must, however pious and devoted, be ignorant of the sense of entire separation from sin in the holiest of all; and he is rather seeking to reach this than enjoying it; like a mariner, after a long and dangerous voyage, seeing land, but not on it yet.

Next, there are many who enjoy the riches of His grace, redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, who do not enter into the glory of His grace. You cannot know the glory of His grace, but as you know you are accepted in the Beloved; and you cannot know this but as you are associated with Christ where He is in the presence of the Father. A man, according to the types in the Old Testament, might know the sin-offering, but the ram of burnt-offering is quite another thing; and, as in the offering for consecration, it was offered up whole. Christ is in the presence of God, raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and this is the nature and measure of an acceptance, of which we cannot know, unless we know Christ where He is; and if we do not know this acceptance, how can we walk acceptably here? Moses cannot set up the tabernacle until he has seen it in perfection. A gardener cannot grow an exotic, in any

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way in keeping with its beauty, unless he has seen it growing in its natural climate; and thus I account for the small and meagre representation of Christ on earth; because many of the most pious, and devoted, and intelligent are not acquainted with Him where He is, and have not tasted of their acceptance there.

In fine, a saint might have the faith of an Abraham, and not enjoy association with Christ in heaven. He might have the courage of a Daniel, and not know union with Christ in heaven. He might be assured of the forgiveness of his sins, like the woman in Luke 7, and not know that he was united to Christ in heaven. He might have the devotedness of a Mary of Bethany, and the affection of a Mary Magdalene, and be as sure of heaven as a Simeon or the thief on the cross, and yet not know the deep, wondrous effect of being united to Christ in heaven.

The Lord teach us to see that, as our standing is immensely higher than any of the saints who have preceded us, we are called to surpass them in a heavenly walk here on the earth, for His name's sake.


We must first know our true calling before we can know either the power for us, or the power against us. Satan always suits his power to the position we occupy. It is against the place into which we are set for God that he is opposed, and hence according to the progress in the true position, there is a different kind of opposing force. There is opposition all along the course; which even when overcome has not died out, for if we were in the place where it could reach us, we should suffer from it still. Progress, or the power to pass on, frees us from one form of opposition, and though we are exposed to another, yet we are more assured of the power which worketh in us - just as David was prepared to meet Goliath - the enemy in his present position, because

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he had overcome the lion and the bear in a past and lower one. It is a complete system of opposition from the beginning to the end. If it be Pharaoh at the beginning, it is the Canaanites at the end; and the one who may have triumphed over the former, Pharaoh, may have been compromised by some other form of Satanic power, or even by the latter, the Canaanites, as the Israelites were.

The great distinctive difference between the leading of God and the opposition of Satan, is, the former has little or nothing visible to assure you; while the other, sways you by the imposing aspect which it presents. Eve surrendered faith in God, because of what she saw; the visible swayed her, and perverted her heart from the unseen place which she had with God. Satan's power at first is like a net; there is every visible inducement to draw one into it. Hence the world is the great engine of it; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life is of the world: all the great avenues to our hearts naturally are besieged; and, therefore, it is only faith that overcometh the world. But when the net has been escaped, then the fire of persecution is stirred up. Satan's great object seems ever to be to conceal himself behind his visible agency, while the blessed God ever desires that we should rise above everything visible, be it great or small, and see Him who is invisible in every step of our course. Satan would deceive man by the tower of Babel. God leads Abraham by nothing visible, to leave all and go out, not knowing whither he went - looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

We are not spiritual enough to distinguish between these two powers until we are in our true calling. True, like Israel, we have many experiences before we are in happy occupation of it; that is, until one feels one is in the large place. When I am spiritual I can see, as it were, behind the scenes; and I am made sensible of contending, not merely with what is visible, whatever be its aspect, but with wicked spirits in heavenly places. There is

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never a movement or action of grace in us, that there is not a new and counteracting effort of Satan; and this redounds to our advantage, because the trying of our faith worketh patience, though it be tried by fire.

Now, as I have said, we cannot know the greatness of either power until we are in practical possession of the place to which God has called us. When we reach this - when we truly and happily accept our calling of heavenly men on the earth - we encounter Satan's power in quite a different way. Up to this it was Pharaoh, Amalek, or Balaam, not to speak of the giants and the cities walled up to heaven, which had so discouraged them that they proposed to return to Egypt, and thus proved themselves unworthy of the land. The effort of Satan, and the forms of his power up to this was to prevent their entering the land - reaching the calling of God. But once we have admitted that to be heavenly here is our only true calling, then the power of Satan is concentrated and organised, that is, everything in the world is against us. Man and every one of his works are distinctly hostile to the heavenly man. Satan makes no secret of the world's hatred, and as long as we are confronted or opposed by the mere world we are aware of our foe. But, besides the open and positive hatred and hostility of the world which is simply the first and general form of Satan's power against the heavenly man (and this Jericho represents), there are religious pretensions, or feints, if I may so call them, to seduce the true man from his standing. The open hostility of the world is always safe, because there is nothing to deceive; though there be great tribulation, there is always the manifest assurance that we are in the right; it is perdition to them, but salvation to us. (2 Thessalonians 1). In the typical Canaan the power of the world, as I have said, was the first thing distinctly presented, and opposing. The heavenly man who patiently continues in armour and prayer will eventually, through the power of God, triumph over it.

We get, I apprehend, in Joshua 6, how we are to

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combat the power of Satan, now concentrated and organised to resist our obtaining space for Christ on earth; not as some have in their zeal ignorantly supposed, that it was acquiring material space for Him, and hence have fought with carnal weapons in order to obtain it: but it is moral space, only acquired by the power of God's Spirit working in each of us.

The form of the power in Canaan is, (as Jericho sets forth), from every side. All human greatness has to be contended against, and overcome. There is nothing ostensible in it to connect it with Satan, but all that is of man's ability is there concentrated, and organised to oppose Israel, in taking possession of the land. The full force of every previous opposition is concentrated here. Satan counts largely on the visible. Hence he always displays the magnitude of the means which he uses, and this at the very moment and place where God gives no manifestation of His power, but requires of the heavenly man to walk on in patience, confronting the greatest combination of human power. This is the first form of Satanic power in Canaan; because Satan always used the world first to check the heavenly man. But the great and most important difference between the form of his power in the wilderness and in Canaan is, that in the former there is very little spiritual antagonism: while in Canaan, defeat was always connected with internal unfaithfulness; and eventually Israel lost the land, because, unable to displace the inhabitants of it, they were led into false modes of worship. And thus has it been with the assembly, even in the memory of this generation. As the truth in its simplicity was acquired, not merely were all human means arrayed against it, but there cropped up an opposition to it in a religious way. When the assembly, about fifty years ago, was awakened to the coming of the Lord, the opposition which in a peculiarly effectual way for the time, hindered the progress of it, was the assertion that we could not meet Him unless we had the Spirit of God, and that as we had not the Holy Spirit and He was

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not here, therefore, we should be entirely occupied in praying for the Spirit. This was Irvingism. Thus the heart was diverted from the great truth of the coming of the Lord. Again, ritualism was introduced by Satan, in order to check the growing desire of devotedness to the Lord, by presenting a counterfeit of it, to be attained in a natural way. And, thirdly, I need not dwell on how the assembly, the object of Christ's love, has been overlooked in the great ardour to seek souls; the enemy succeeding in diverting earnest men from the full work by engrossing them exclusively with a part of the work; a very great part I admit, but still only a part.

Still later the desire for holiness has been diverted and perverted by a new school which taught 'holiness by faith' and deceived many, because it made one's own conscience the standard, and thus satisfied it.

In fine, the peculiar characteristic of the power of God is, that it is invisible, known and reckoned on by faith. The power of Satan delights in display and in coercing us sensibly by an overwhelming force. We have at Philippi (Acts 16), a very striking way in which the two powers act. Paul is called there by the Lord; he is for some time there, and there is no appearance of the man who had been the visible agent in inviting him. Then Satan offers to countenance him in a religious way: offering him help when he evidently required it, and in a way that his conscience and his knowledge could not object to. Paul was spiritually tried by it, and at last, not satisfied with declining it in his own heart, he openly denounces the evil spirit. The religious feint is exposed, and now Satan stirs up Jericho, all the power of the world in one combined antagonism to crush the very men whom he had instigated one of his dupes, to proclaim to be servants of the Most High God. How humiliating! but the unjust knoweth no shame. Then Paul, having been thrust into prison and his feet made fast in the stocks, in prayer and song walks round Jericho in patience; and at midnight the power of God, the invisible

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power, no means, overturns everything. All is changed: the prisoners are loosed, and the jailor converted.

Thus we see that the more fully we are led of the Spirit. of God, the less visible any agency will be because there is nothing that appeals to the senses; but all to faith, while on the contrary, Satan is always seeking to divert us from faith and from the invisible, to occupy us, even be it only in a measure with the means, where he has a place, and where he can in some degree do that on which he is bent, even to damage the work of the Lord.

May the Lord keep us in simple faith counting on the unseen power, the great and grand characteristic of our present calling, and may we in heart and voice refuse every aid which is not of the Spirit of God.


The calling of the saint now is heavenly; but as he is on the earth, his experiences are necessarily how grace forms and separates him from what is simply natural to him, and enables him to be true to his new standing in a scene to which he once so entirely belonged. Hence there is first the entering into the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free, before he enjoys for himself his new calling, or can truly walk according to it here. For that very progress in grace which introduces him into heavenly joys, demands and empowers him to be true to it in his walk here. But as he is still on the earth, where the world is directly against God, the more heavenly he is, the more he feels that he is in the wilderness. The real character and nature of what the world is to the Spirit of Christ, is made known to him, so that unlike the type, Israel, as he passes out of the wilderness to Canaan, which simply represents the heavenly man on earth, he learns that the more fully and truly he is a heavenly man, the deeper and fuller experiences has he of the real character of the wilderness. The one really

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heavenly Man on the earth, was "led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil". It is only as one is really of God, and knows what good is, that one can apprehend the contrast, even the evil here, and thus one suffers more from it, though through grace one is better prepared for it.

The consequences of Israel passing out of the wilderness into Canaan to dwell altogether in the latter, led eventually to their captivity and deprivation of the land. They became so elated and independent because of the bright and pleasing circumstances of Canaan, that they forgot God, and proved themselves unworthy of the promised land. Now in the antitype there is this immense difference, that the more the saint is really in the new ground, answering to Canaan; the more is he placed in circumstances here to keep him in dependence, that is, this scene is more a wilderness to him. The wilderness means whatever are my ostensible circumstances, or occupation as a man, and is a place where nothing contributes to me, and where all my resources are in God. Many on first reaching the liberty and rest of the heavenly standing fail, and are carried away into captivity to the world, because they have not continued in dependence on God.

The great teaching of the wilderness is dependence on God. The really heavenly man must in a scene like this be the most dependent man; and whenever anyone learns his calling truly, and walks according to it conscientiously, he ever finds that new circumstances or trials occur, to keep him dependent; so that the truest heavenly man is the best wilderness man.

True, immense light with joy is made known to the heart, as it learns and advances into the portion of a heavenly man; but the saint, who because of this great moral elevation, should be deceived into the idea that he is from henceforth out of the wilderness trials, and therefore less dependent on God because of what he possesses, would become the prey either of some religious

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delusion, or heresy, or in some other way would fall into the snare of the devil. It is not after the manner of God to raise us through grace to a great moral height, and to suffer us to be less dependent on Him who has so elevated us, and less opposed by the flesh which is enmity against God.

In Scripture we find, and our own experience is corroborative of it, that the more one enters into the height to which grace has called him, the more is he subjected to trials here, if he be conscientious, in order to check the boastfulness of the flesh, because of an assured moral exaltation. The blessed Lord was the perfect heavenly Man on earth, and yet no one was so exposed to every kind of opposition and contradiction here; not, of course, that the check was needed with Him, but He was to be as perfect as a wilderness Man as He was as a heavenly Man. He was perfectly solitary here; no one could reach to His moral eminence, and yet they saw no beauty in Him, but said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him". They hated Him without a cause, refuge failed Him, no man cared for Him; indeed, all forsook Him and fled. He was alone, the Father was with Him. He was His hope from His "mother's belly". When He entered on the path of service here, He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. The greatest heavenly Man is the best wilderness Man; and hence, He replies to Satan's first temptation that He should turn the stones into bread, by quoting from Deuteronomy 8, "Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live". This described the grand result to be effected by wilderness experience. The Lord is perfectly educated as a wilderness Man, and He is invincible, for "blessed is the man that trusteth in thee".

In Deuteronomy 8 we are told the difference between the wilderness and Canaan; and we are warned against the snares which the sense of possession would expose one to; and simply because there would not be then a call

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for the dependence which was the great education of the wilderness. Hence in the type, Israel passed right out of the wilderness into Canaan; and when they were altogether in Canaan, they soon forgot the teaching of the wilderness, because there was not the same need for it. But as I have already remarked, with us the Lord takes care that the lesson of the wilderness shall never cease, and therefore the more a saint is in the spiritual Canaan, if he will hearken to the voice of the Lord, the more will he find here very unexpected trials, to ensure his dependence. Dependence is the essential characteristic of the new nature, and when the dependence is true, obedience follows because the really dependent one is absolutely guided by the word of Him on whom he depends. Hence in Deuteronomy 11 when the contrast between Egypt and Canaan is presented, and where the judgments which opened and secured the way into Canaan are detailed, we are told that if the people were not obedient to the commandments of the Lord, they would soon forfeit the blessings of the land - "the early and latter rain", and be worse off than they were in Egypt, where there was the river at any rate. The true order is dependence and obedience. Some try to be obedient without being dependent, and they are legal, and not doing the will of God from the heart; whereas when I am really dependent, I know rest of heart, in leaning absolutely on Him who cares for me, and to whom it is due; and the more I appreciate this dependence, the more carefully do I take heed to every word which He may say to me, for every word helps me and encourages my confidence in Him.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 shows us how a man after enjoying the most wondrous exaltation in which grace could set him was subjected to the most unexpected and the most afflicting trial, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, and all lest he should be puffed up above measure. The very height to which he was raised, required to be balanced by a new trial and that the severest he could

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have here. It seemed so strange to the apostle that he prayed three times, which he relates as if such a repetition were unusual, that it might depart from him. The Lord does not remove it, but tells him, "My grace is sufficient for thee". He must be kept dependent; and as he had reached higher than anyone else, his check, or the means to keep him dependent, are more unusual and severe than to anyone else. If he is unprepared for the exaltation that was given here by the revelation to him of what it was impossible for man in himself to utter or comprehend, he is (concurrently with the great revelation) subjected to a most unexpected and untoward humiliation in the flesh, which is, as it were, correspondingly distanced and blighted, as the man in Christ is exalted. It is only consistent that I should be made sensible of the workings of the old man, as I enter more into the wondrous position of the new. As I advance in the one, I am sensibly more dependent because of the other.

Now many are not preserved as Paul was from being lifted up. If Paul's flesh could have been puffed up after all he had learned of the Lord, how much more those who know so much less of the power of the Spirit of God? Everyone, according as he is enlightened, if he walks in the light, would see that he was called to new exercises and that he required help from the Lord in a way unknown before. If he becomes indifferent to these new trials; that is, if they have not the effect of continuing and promoting his dependence, he is allowed to discover his weakness by some open failure. Jacob returns to Canaan, and while he is dependent, is greatly succoured there; but as soon as he is relieved of the presence of Esau, he essays to settle down and enjoy himself, as if the rest had fully come. He is not irreligious, nor does he surrender any truth which he had learned, but he is not dependent; he loses sight of the true way for a heavenly man on the earth, which is continued dependence and not calculating that the day of trial and exercise is over, and that he can now derive everything

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from the earth. This last is not the way of a heavenly man on the earth, but Jacob so calculated, and, in consequence, he was subjected to the deepest sorrow at Shalem. The wickedness of the flesh in its worst forms was disclosed there, and the heavenly man has to exclaim, 'I shall be destroyed, I and my father's house.' From the depths of weakness and humiliation, he has to cry unto God, and when he has reached Bethel, greater sorrows, but more personal ones, await him. Thus we see, that according as we advance into the greatness of our new position in Christ, the more, as we are really honest and happy therein, are we subjected to trials here, to keep us in dependence which is the true condition for the children of God.


Everything on earth consigned to man, from the garden of Eden to the assembly, has failed. However brilliant and effective its beginning, it soon became tarnished; the bright gold became dim, until at length there was little or no trace of the original order of things. Yet in every instance there was a season of marked favour from God, before that which was marred was utterly set aside, as connected with the first man on earth; for each form of God's ways with men, from Eden to the assembly, will be re-established on the earth, by and through the Son of His love. But in each of them, after open failure, there is a reviving again, in peculiar manner, before a new order is introduced.

In Eden after the fall, man is restored to God, or rather, God renews His favour to man, in the midst of the wreck which his own unbelief had caused. And before the flood Enoch is translated; there is an expression of divine favour, enjoyed, and witnessed of, in a peculiar degree, before the old order of things is superseded. The son of Enoch must have lived to the year before the deluge.

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Thus with Noah. He fails; losing self-control, he forfeits the place of power and government, in which he was set here; but subsequent to his fall and in the very scene of it, the favour of the Lord is assured to him, and he can prophesy of the ways of God with his posterity in power and honour.

Thus also with the children of Abraham. Though Jacob falls away to the land of Syria, and there is marked defection from the standing and hope vouchsafed to Abraham, and enjoyed by him, yet Jacob again before the discipline, and entire setting aside of that order of things, tastes of the favour of God in the old order, and in a very special way.

With the children of Israel in the land the same kind of thing occurs. After the captivity, after the destruction of Jerusalem, there is a return of a remnant to the land, and the rebuilding of the temple, etc, the Lord saying, "From this day will I bless you". Great was the renewal of favour when, to this restored company, the Son of God was born of a woman among them. A wonderful revival, or recovery of truth, before the approaching hour when their house should be left desolate; when their history as a nation among men should be closed; before this mountain should be carried into the depths of the sea.

So also with the assembly; though sunk in ruins, though torn into sects through internal divisions, though covered with reproach among men, yet before it is finally set aside, before it is spued out of Christ's mouth, as no longer fit in any way to be the vessel for testimony here, there is a marked revival of the truth. The nature and mode of this reviving I desire to dwell on.

In each dispensation, after the ruin of it, there has been, as we see, a reviving of the truth before the final dissolution of it. The truth revived in each case is the greatest and most important; the one in which the people of God had specially failed; but it is restored by an act of pure grace; God visiting His people and showing them

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how He can turn the dry ground into water-springs. He recalls their hearts signally to the blessing which they had forfeited by unbelief. Thus it is with the assembly in these days; the saints are recalled to the greatest truth; that in which they had failed most, is the one revived; and the knowledge and effect of it constitutes a Philadelphian.

The truth the assembly has most failed in is with reference to Christ's relation to it, and its relation to Christ; and this has so affected the most pious souls, that for centuries this greatest of truths has not been known, and as might be supposed, with the loss of it, all the other truths were compromised or falsified; but with the recovery of it, all the others have been restored to their true and vital character. In the Lord's rebuke to the assembly for her first failure, "Thou hast left thy first love", we are prepared for all the darkness and ruin which followed; for this, because of its gravity, entailed the removal of the candlestick out of its place. Surely, if first love, the new and peculiar sense of Christ's worth, declines in the soul, the most perfect knowledge of mere doctrines will very soon become ineffectual. The revival of truth that constitutes a Philadelphian is that, by the signal favour of God, he is awakened to comprehend Christ's relation to himself individually, and to all His saints; and Christ therefore appears to the assembly of Philadelphia in the way best calculated to help on and sustain them, as thus revived in truth. The truth revived is the disclosure to the heart of the saint of Christ, in His place and relation to His people; - simply, the knowledge of Christ. The state of the Philadelphian is, "Thou hast a little power", he must abide in Christ, for "without me ye can do nothing", and "hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". This comprises the gospel of John; the word and the name, the commandment and the character. You are not a Philadelphian if you are not in this state, and if you are not a Philadelphian, you cannot avail yourself of the aspect and

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grace in which Christ appears to the church of Philadelphia. But as we have seen, in each dispensation, the leading and energy of His Spirit is to revive the greatest truth which they had in their deadness surrendered, because it is the greatest which goes first. Now in order to revive this truth, He must begin at the very beginning; He must begin at the point of departure, and, as it was about Himself personally, He must needs go back to the same course, which He adopted with the disciples at the first, who had believed on Him on earth.

We find in Luke 24 and John 20 that there were two lines of truth in which the disciples must be instructed, as necessary and essential for the new ground, in which the saints would now be set. Mary Magdalene, and the two disciples going to Emmaus, are all believers. The truth they are taught there is communicated to them after their conversion and in advance of what they had already comprehended. Mary Magdalene represents the heart mourning the absence of Christ from the earth, as we find the bride in Canticles. She learns that the Lord is risen indeed, and now she is instructed in the truth of present association with the Lord, which she is directed to communicate to the disciples. The two disciples going to Emmaus are sad because of Christ's death; they have no hope of the redemption of Israel; they are encountered by the Lord, and taught three things: First, how the Scriptures speak of Christ, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself". Secondly, He was known of them in breaking of bread. He is known in resurrection; and thirdly, He takes His place in the midst of the disciples, already instructed through these two channels, according to the varied and important truth imparted to each. After these communications had been made, the Lord appears in their midst, constituting and inaugurating the new ground which they should now occupy with relation to Him, and consequently establishing their relation with Him. As risen from the dead,

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He imparts unto them the virtue and blessedness of His own elevation. He conducts them practically into it, speaks peace to them, and breathes upon them. They are then formally and in reality introduced into entirely new ground. It has now begun, and is now known for the first time in power; established and promoted on the descent of the Holy Spirit, but now originated and propounded.

It is a wondrous scene - one of unequalled light and joy - when the soul enters into the effects of being in the presence of the risen Lord, though still in this scene, where His death was required, and where we are commemorating it.

This was THE BEGINNING, and thus only can there be a true sense of my relation to Christ or of His relation to His saints on earth. This was lost for centuries, and it is now revived, but not through the instrumentality of books. When the truth is revived, it is, as it was at the first, through channels immediately instructed by the Lord Himself. This is the revival and the manner of His grace in this day. As He taught Mary Magdalene, as He taught the two disciples, so does He in His gracious loving kindness teach in this day. The same steps have to be trodden, the same exercises have to be passed through. The church, so-called, with its writings of centuries, and its pious ministers, contribute nothing to this revival. It is entirely and absolutely effected by the Lord's instructing, and leading souls into it, as He did at the beginning; so that He can say of the Philadelphian assembly, "Thou hast a little power [no power but from abiding in Christ], and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". His word and His name are His doctrines and His character; and one who keeps this is a Philadelphian; and this is the way in which he is taught.

The Lord give us to see the nature of the great revival in the present day, and to partake of the untold blessings connected with it.

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Anything made can only be distinguished from every other thing by its form and qualities. If you lose sight of any part, or confound the parts of one with parts of another, it is evident you have lost a true idea of the thing: it is imperfectly apprehended. Anyone's knowledge is measured by the extent in which he sees and defines all things; as his acquaintance is thorough, he can nicely distinguish between two things in which there is the least difference. Knowledge of the commonest thing is determined by the clearness and accuracy of my perception of what constitutes it, and wherein it is different from every other. A definition is not a perfect one unless it sets forth the form and qualities which make it sui generis, and thus distinct from everything else.

Now if the preservation of distinctions in things is so essential to ordinary knowledge among men, how much more essential must it be in the things of God! In man's things, or things within the grasp of the natural mind, any departure from the essential form or quality, vitiates the knowledge; and if you persist in your ignorance, you expose yourself to censure and often loss.

The more comprehensive and profound any piece of knowledge is among men, the more precise, and careful and painstaking must every student be, in order to prove and establish his knowledge. Now if this care, and caution, and elaborate study, be necessary in order to secure the right definition of anything within the range of human science, how much more in the things of God, which are entirely outside the natural mind! I may be able to see what God says; that is, I can understand the words of the statement made, but the extent and nature of the truth conveyed I can very partially grasp, and that only as I am spiritual. I see what is said; I can understand that Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father: the statement is plain enough, but the great issues involved in that statement are quite

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beyond my mind. Hence in God's things, as I cannot comprehend them naturally (though I understand the propositions, so to speak, enunciated), my duty and wisdom is simply to adhere to the communication made, for surely the less I am able to understand its scope, the more incumbent it is on me persistently to maintain the full force of the words committed to me.

Paul warns Timothy to "hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me", 2 Timothy 1:13. There is a form or delineation belonging to, or contingent on, the words which the apostle had spoken.

Now, the failure of every divine commission to man has arisen from neglect or misapprehension of the form conveyed by the word.

Eve accepts a contradiction to the word, and the fall is perpetrated.

Cain will not bow to the form conveyed in God's gracious remonstrance, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door"; but, on the contrary, he seizes an opportunity to slay his brother. In these two cases we have positive rejection of the word, and they serve to show how the mischief which followed would have been averted by adhering to the course which the word prescribed. It is a great thing to see that God provided man with an unerring guide and line of action, and that as he observed it, he would be preserved from every foe.

Noah, a man of God, called to inaugurate the new order of things on the cleansed earth, fails to maintain the form of the commission conferred upon him. Instead of ruling, he loses self-control; he is drunk in his tent. One would have thought that the man's honour with which he was invested, would be the thing most carefully guarded and preserved by him. Alas, he basely surrenders it! He does not hold fast the form, and the issue is disgraceful failure. Doubtless he had no intention when he planted the vineyard, and began to drink of the fruit of it, that it would lead to such a catastrophe, but

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the very fact that one so honoured of God could be drawn into such a snare, shows us how fatal it is when we depart from the form of the truth committed to us. The greatest or main point is the one which is first compromised.

Thus with Abraham in the land. When he saw the famine (a good excuse we should say), he departed from the form of the instructions given to him, and he went down into Egypt. He probably did not intend to stay there, and he did not stay there eventually; but in surrendering the form, he forfeited the true place, and no doubt thereby entailed on his family their future bondage in the land of Egypt.

Then Jacob incurs much sorrow and shame because he fails to adhere strictly to the terms of the direction given to him to go to Bethel. It appears but a small thing that he should tarry at Shalem; and he had an altar there, which he called, "El-elohe-Israel". He was, as we speak, a pious man, yet he did not keep the form; consequently trouble, and every kind of disgrace, fell upon him. It is very striking and momentous to see that a very insignificant divergence from the form entails the most grievous suffering; while in adhering to it there is perfect safety and success.

In like manner Israel falls under the power of the nations, simply because they failed to observe fully and accurately the terms on which they were put into possession of the land.

David also is a very remarkable instance of how a man with the best purpose, and occupied with the truest service, suffers loss and incurs judgment because he does not adhere to the order prescribed of God. When he essays to bring up the ark, he borrows the idea of a cart from the Philistines, and though all proceeded well at first, at length the defect entails judgment, and Uzzah is slain. What a warning to us all!

Israel forfeited the highest blessing - the sabbatical year - in the land, because they had not faith to act

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according to the distinct meaning of the word of God, and are carried away from the land into Babylon, because they sought help from the Assyrian, and in spirit and intent had departed from the form and meaning of their call and position given of God. When the captives return to the land, there is failure from the same oversight, in a very peculiar way. Through much suffering they had returned to the land, yet because they discontinued building the temple on account of the opposition from without, all the advantages of the land were forfeited. A departure from the form involved the sacrifice of what mostly connected them with God, and hence subjected them to the loss of their greatest blessings; so that one can attain to the knowledge of a true standing, and yet fail to enjoy the blessings connected with it, because they overlook that which chiefly connects them with the Lord. I mean, one might be quite assured, through grace, of acceptance and home with God, and yet have present blessings withheld because of not making the assembly paramountly one's concern.

I must not multiply examples. But it is very important to be convicted of the danger and loss of departing from the form and intent of the truth. This was the reason for Paul's public rebuke of Peter. He says, "When I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Galatians 2:14. To circumcise Titus, or to overlook Peter's preferring the society of Jews to that of gentiles, though apparently small things in themselves, the apostle will not yield to, because he knows how dangerous it is to depart from the form of the truth, and that whenever it is surrendered, in however small a degree, it is always a breach in the fortress, and is an opening to the adversary. It was from these small beginnings that all that were in Asia turned away from Paul, and all the varieties of doctrine and church government

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date from a departure from the form of the sound words committed by Paul. At first it was hardly noticeable, but it was the leaven with which the whole was eventually leavened. Hence the only remedy is to cancel all the growth of the mustard tree, and to revert to its first bud; to learn the word of the Lord, and carefully and accurately to adhere to it.

It is an immense blessing to have an assured sense of the sufficiency of Scripture, and to tremble at God's word, and therefore to be always ready to be corrected by it; quite conscious that when there is any miscarriage or failure in the course we have adopted, it is to be discovered in the inaccurate way we have used the word of God, and not from any lack in it. It is able to make "the man of God .. . perfect, throughly furnished". It is beyond the code of the wisest nation. Cases may and do arise among men, for which there is no legislation; no such thing can ever be supposed or averred of the Scriptures. When we err in judgment or counsel, it must arise simply from our imperfect apprehension of the word of God, or from a misuse of it; and constantly I find the way one quotes Scripture, indicates either his knowledge or ignorance, and the man who is most subject to the Word is the one invariably the most ready to subject everything to the word of God, and to be canvassed by it, for he knows that if he is right he will be corroborated, and if he be wrong, he is glad to be set right.

The Lord grant that we may be more jealous in holding fast the form of sound words; like one afraid to loosen one stave of the cask, or one spoke in the wheel, lest all should be broken up.

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There is the flesh and the Spirit in every believer: Before the indwelling of the Spirit of God, there is but one energy - the flesh; but, consequent on the sealing of the Spirit, there is another energy, namely, the Spirit of God, who seeks and demands the entire rule.

Now these two energies always resist one another; "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would", Galatians 5:17. The Spirit has the sway. The great and constant aim and labour of the Spirit is to suppress and silence the flesh, while the unceasing effort of the flesh is to reoccupy the place of unquestioned sway, which it once had, and which it ever exerts, when not controlled by the Spirit. It is a new era when the Spirit dwells in the believer, for though there be not always a cessation of the flesh's strife, yet it ever grieves the Spirit, and the saint is conscious often of depression, without knowing the cause of it. The new and legitimate ruler has been hindered by the old one; and "he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption", but if we "walk in the Spirit", we "shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh". "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live", Romans 8:13. The believer, indwelt by the Spirit of God, is conscious of two things: on the one hand, that there is a new power in him stronger than the old one; and on the other, that the old one must be refused, or the new one will be hindered and grieved; that is, that the old one will not give in once and for ever, but is ever ready to seek what ministers to it. Hence the exhortation, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". Admit the right of the Spirit, and this cannot be done without refusing the will of the flesh, which is ever ready to seek countenance, and resume its former place.

Now there are certain marks given us in scripture, by

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which we can distinguish between the flesh and the Spirit. Let us look at them. First as to


The cause of distress of soul in Romans 7, is the supposed case of a converted soul in the flesh, and not in the Spirit. In the flesh, he finds that when he would do good, evil is present with him, but the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death. You really pass from the flesh as a sphere, to Christ in the Spirit, and while there was untold distress in the one, there is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the other; so that you can at once distinguish between the flesh and the Spirit, in such a case or state.

Next, as to power, the


of the Spirit are the results of being led by Him; while the works of the flesh too often indicate that one is not in the Spirit, but grieving Him who dwells in us. The works of the flesh proceed from the energy of the flesh; then man acts, and as it is from himself only, he cannot embrace anything of God. It cannot go so high, it proceeds from man, and without intention is selfish. When the Spirit is active He produces everything according to God, and this is very essentially different. The best man, if confined to himself, cannot rise above himself, and therefore necessarily thinks of himself; strives for priority where he would be displaced, and considers it righteous to revenge, and in every way to maintain and preserve his own rights and estimate of himself. The Spirit of God is quite different. He promotes the ways of God, and inculcates in the doer, the virtues and sensibilities of His nature, so that it is essentially either man or God; and this is in every way a great difference. In every act of the Spirit of God there is this double mark, the object is Christ, and a felt sense of divine virtue. Christ is as naturally before you, as the sun in the sky is to the flowers of the earth, and while He is, there is not only power to act, but a consciousness of

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fresh cheer in the heart. For instance, in the Spirit, I love my brother, but though I am occupied with him, as my duty, even to suffering for him, I have at the same time the sense of Christ's love in my heart. I have confidence towards God. But, on the contrary, while practising the works of the flesh, you are not only injurious to others, but you are vexed and unhappy in yourself. You never suppose good of anyone if there be not that good in yourself, and when an evil is working in you, you imagine that evil exists in everyone who encounters you. Hence in order to be of use to others, you must "first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye". The presence of a defect in yourself hinders you from seeing clearly, or causes you to imagine something to exist which does not exist, like a shying horse which, from defective sight, imagines there is danger where there is none; and besides this, the defect in yourself renders you unable to see the real character of that which does exist. One must always judge oneself first, before one can judge another, just as it is the clean person who applies the running water to the unclean; and this leads us to the subject of


We have briefly considered how we can distinguish between the flesh and the Spirit, first in the soul, secondly in fruits. Now let me examine how we should be able to distinguish between service in the flesh and in the Spirit. When service is in the Spirit there is one unchanging purpose, and that is to magnify Christ; no matter how small or how great the thing is. It is remarkable that in connection with every creeping thing which creepeth on the earth, it is added, "Be ye holy; for I am holy". When we are so occupied with an object as to attend to the minutest details, there is no fear that the greater ones will be overlooked, for after all, the greatest things are made up of atoms. This simple but mighty rule, at once determines whether a service is from the

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Spirit or not. The Spirit is here to glorify Christ. The only really good thing to be known or conferred is Christ, for there is none good but One, that is God. The difficulty in service is to take care that while I confine my attention to man as claiming my service, I confine myself exclusively to Christ as the only One who can effect any real good in him. The snare is, that while making man the object, which is right, I turn to things which man would like and regard as beneficial, which is 'charity,' according to the meaning popularly ascribed to the word (though not true charity); and then my service, however kind it may be, is in the flesh. Were I to visit a widow or an orphan, the person would be a right one for my service, but if I am in the Spirit, I seek to console them if they know Christ, by leading their heart to look for His sympathy, and how He would have them to lean on Him, in this dark sorrowful hour, listening for His voice and personal soothings in such an untrodden path. There is really nothing to minister to man in nature, and yet there is a consciously unspeakable solace to the breaking heart. The reality of Christ is felt and owned as Mary knew Him, when He step by step accompanied her to the grave. It is a wonderful service when Christ is truly ministered to the soul, and the after effects are very marked and beautiful, like the springtime after winter. Now service in the flesh to the same sufferers, would occupy them with something in the departed which would be a temporary balm, because occupying them with what that one was to them, and the exalting of the dead thus, indirectly exalts the bereaved, and so much the more as he was bound up in them or idolized them. Nothing comforts the bereaved ones naturally more than to be reminded of how the departed one lived for, or was devoted to, them. They find a peculiar solace in recalling how they have been loved; but this is all natural, and imparts no strength, and the sufferers, instead of being helped, and enabled to proceed on their journey with a cheerful courage, are occupied with what tends

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to sink them into the gloom of a never ending sorrow - a protracted winter.

Now in the


the distinction between the flesh and the Spirit is more marked. One who ministers in the Spirit, presents Christ ever as the one thing to be reached, and maintained. He presents Him as the source of all joy to the heart in His own cloudless light, and for this scene of trial and evil. He shows and insists that there is no lack of power for anything when one is in conscious union with Him. He portrays to the heart a living contrast to man naturally, which, while it judges and rebukes man's own ways and feelings, delights and enraptures him in the nature of Him who loved him, and gave Himself for him; and this nature - the new nature - is promoted and fed by every sight of Christ. This is a marvellous ministry - the ministry of the Holy Spirit, whether to saint or to sinner; yet the same minister, when he drops into nature, will occupy the heart or mind with the effects on itself, not to condemn nor to satisfy it, but to make it note its own feelings, and derive either pleasure from the way they are enlivened, or depression because of their insensibility. At all events, it is one's own state that furnishes either pleasure or pain, like a miser who recounts again and again his possessions or losses. Lastly, in


the unerring proof that I am in the presence of Christ, is that my flesh has no place there; it is in no way ministered to or recognized, as the apostle says, "Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell". Again, "Whether we be beside ourselves, [that is, literally outside of myself] it is to God". There is no "bread" in the presence of Christ, - nothing to sustain nature. It is "through the veil", which I have reached through the "new and living way". Now when worship is attempted in the flesh, there is excitement and enthusiasm, the feelings are

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made the centre, and the effort is to move them to a burst of expression, like a firework exploding, rather than to engross the heart with Christ in rapture so deep, that silence is imposed, until there is time enough to comprehend something for utterance.

May the Lord use this faint attempt to distinguish between the Spirit and the flesh in a day like this.


When we learn the position given us of God, it is so novel and wonderful, even to the smallest apprehension, that unless we are very subject to the word, and what is revealed therein, as the only true measure of it, we are in danger of concluding, that because we have seen a part, we have seen the whole. This has been the ever recurring check and obstacle to the most sincere. The very greatness of the thing promised with the desire awakened to possess it, has conspired to give an assurance that the part disclosed, or presented, was the whole. The earnest soul is in danger of making his idea of the divine purpose the measure of it. The thief on the cross, though bright in faith, considered that being in the kingdom of Christ would be the highest blessing; and the Lord corrects him by telling him, that that day he should be with Him in Paradise. The apostle had "great conflict" lest the saints should be satisfied with anything short of what was their calling, and it was into this snare that the two tribes and a half, who settled on this side Jordan, fell. It is very easy to understand that in the haste to secure the promised favour, there may be a too ready, or a carnal interpretation of the word of God, which would lead one to assume that the thing seen or reached was everything. There are Nathanaels now to whom the Lord would say, "Thou shalt see greater things than these".

When once we admit the tendency, from whatever cause it may arise, to accept a lower blessing than that given us of God, there will be, if there is truth of heart

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inquiry and exercise of soul to ascertain whether we have truly reached the greater things, or are we satisfied with things greatly below our calling. We may suppose that we have reached the highest, while we are merely on the border; and this misconception or assumption arises from not understanding the word of God in its fulness, and interpreting it by our own ideas of things. The young men in Ezra's time rejoiced when the temple was rebuilt, while the old men, who had seen the first temple, wept: one so pleased with the structure, and the other so sad at heart at its declension. This really arises from allowing one's own mind to define the divine purpose and calling, instead of waiting on Him to make His own word express it, so that one would see the right thing like a Moses on Mount Pisgah, however little one had yet attained to the possession of it.

The question then arises - Does every believer enjoy his right to the holiest?

As a believer he must have tasted of the work of Christ, at the brazen altar; yea, he may have enjoyed all that was prefigured by the holy place, which contained the table of shew-bread, the candlestick, and the golden altar of incense. No one enjoys beyond his faith. When a saint, or any number of saints, predetermine what they are to enjoy, they seek according to the measure of their faith; and thus, what is called a BELIEVERS' MEETING, does not profess or aim to go beyond an entrance into the holy place; Jesus on earth, the light of the Spirit, and altar of incense comprise and contain all they seek. I am not saying that these are not great and wondrous subjects which afford great and deep delight to the heart. I am quite sure that they do, but I desire to show, that however great and blessed the holy place is, there is still a much greater place, and one which confers a very much greater blessing, in a very different way. The very term 'believers' meeting' indicates that they themselves are the chief idea before the mind. When we use the term "assembly of God" a very

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marked and different idea is before the mind. Names are given in order to designate a thing truly, and it is considered that the assembly of God could not define the coming together of saints simply as such; and hence they are called 'believers' meetings.' I admit that the name does describe their object and idea correctly, and I am only pointing out that it indicates, that however great their light and enjoyment together, which I trust may abound, yet they do not in these meetings enter the holiest, because their faith does not reach to it. I do not say that this loss is confined to these meetings; on the contrary, I shall endeavour to show that any one, no matter how great his light and knowledge, may not have enjoyed the holiest. When he enters it, he knows the effect of it; that is to say, it is not possible for a saint to enter by faith and not to know that he has entered; for the effect of it is so peculiar, and so superior to everything that he has learned of grace outside, that he cannot confound any other thing with it. I admit there are babes in Christ who do not as yet seize or comprehend the depth and magnitude of God's purpose and calling, but I see very plainly in Scripture that there was no place for the prodigal, but either a "long way off" or in the Father's house; and though he was kissed when he was a great way off, and though he might expostulate at great length to his fellows on the wonders of that kiss, which is truly reconciliation, yet there was much more in store for him - even the Father's house; and that was the next step for him, and if he stopped short of this, the Father's purpose was not known nor apprehended. I admit that saints who have not entered the holiest may have a measure of happiness, but I cannot admit the lesser thing as a substitute for the greater thing. A saint outside the holiest is occupied with the effects of grace upon himself, but however varied and blessed this action may be, it cannot in any degree equal or be similar to what is known inside in the presence of Christ.

The Old Testament saints had true yearning of heart

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after the holiest, before the way was made manifest (See Psalm 63, etc.) And surely if they had, it becomes us now, who have the liberty of access, not to be less eager to enjoy it.

As we draw near, the light of His presence acts on us; and we are so sensible of it, that at times one feels it, as it were too much for one; true, this is still only the action of it, but, consequent on this action, there is, to the waiting soul, who in faith seeks His presence, the unfolding of what the holiest conveys. You are then consciously sustained by Christ, as the great Priest over the house of God, surrounded by His glory in the assured sense of your perfect right to be there. Your heart "sprinkled from an evil conscience", and your body "washed with pure water", you are consciously in the scene where all is of God; and when there, yourself is not an object in any wise; but the Lord, the one sole object before your soul; and the feeling is, as the apostle describes it, "whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God". There is the peculiar sense of being in a place where you are in full acceptance, but where there is no acknowledgment or recognition of you as a man in nature, save that there is no remembrance of your sins or iniquities. You see His power and His glory in the sanctuary, or as you get it in Psalm 73, in a very interesting detail; first, God is prominently and absorbingly before you; secondly, yourself is repudiated; thirdly, you are assured of being His object; fourthly, He is your object, whether in heaven or on earth.

Now when two or more know what the holiest is, they, when they meet together, have sensible fellowship, because it is only in His light that there can be true divine fellowship. Fellowship must be in the light (see 1 John 1:7), otherwise it would be in darkness, and of no value. And hence, any saint who does not know the holiest, is not consciously "in the light, as he is in the light"; and cannot have fellowship with those who are there; but those who are there, and have fellowship one with another

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would not speak of a 'believers' meeting,' when they meet together, but of being gathered to His name when He would be in the midst of them, because God has called us "unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord". The great Priest over the house of God, known to each of us, in the holiest, would be recognized in our midst; and though there would be other meetings, such as preachings, readings or lectures, where there may be much edification, and the action of His grace, yet the soul that had once known Him in the holiest would never be satisfied with anything short of it, nor consider any meeting in any degree like the meeting where He was in the midst, because once that the true nature of His presence is apprehended, nothing else can in any way make up for it. True He manifests Himself to those who keep His commandments, but the saint that knows most of Him in His manifestation, is sure to be the one most careful and desirous to enjoy Him in the midst of His gathered saints.

The Lord grant that we may so know what the holiest is, with all its attendant blessings, that we may feel we cannot accept any lesser blessing, however great, in lieu of this - the greatest which our God has given us.


Two things are necessary in order to insure the value and permanency of any structure, namely, material and skill. The one is that with which it is to be built; and the other, the manner in which the work is done. It is evident that any building must suffer from defects in either of these, only with this difference, that when the material is good, but there is deficiency of skill in using it, the defect will be apparent from the start. There is no good building then; but when there is skill with bad material, there will often be the appearance of good

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building, until an unexpected collapse or dilapidation discloses the badness of the material.

In order therefore to secure good building, or effective teaching, there must be two things - divine material, and divine skill; the lack of either is fatal to the building. The only good material is the word of His grace, and the only true skill is the charity or grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when either is wanting, there is a lack of real service to the saints. The best of servants may not succeed in building, but none can expect to succeed except he builds rightly. There may be the heart and purpose to serve, without the means to effect it. Moses was most genuine in his purpose to serve, and had made the greatest sacrifices in order to do so, but at first he utterly failed; he had neither material nor skill. After a lapse of forty years, he returned to Egypt with the word of the Lord, and in all the patience and grace of a true servant. Then he was efficient, though he was often baffled and almost overwhelmed. It is important to note that often the most zealous servants at first, have neither the word nor the skill or temper for using it, and therefore are like Peter, very eager, but like him cutting off the right ear in their attempt at serving.

Now in bad building, natural skill makes natural material attractive for the natural mind. Thus Aaron succeeded when he made a calf to satisfy the religious tastes of Israel.

Job is a remarkable instance of a man having the right word, but being unable to influence others by it, because of his lack of skill or the absence of unselfishness which alone commends the word of God. David in another way had the right desire to build the temple, but though it was right for him to have it in his heart, yet he was not approved of by the Lord for a builder, the character of his former services debarred him. Solomon, on the other hand, though highly endued with the wisdom to render him fully competent, loses skill because he seeks his own gratification, and his wisdom became a dead letter.

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"Much food is in the tillage of the poor; but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment", Proverbs 13:23.

It is striking and deeply interesting the pains the Lord takes to make His servants skilful. No amount of truth - material - will succeed to the credit of the servant, apart from skill or charity. A man, to be an effective teacher, must be a living transcript of the truth he insists on; if he is not, he is urging others to adopt what he has not adopted himself, and he weakens its force, in that while he asserts it will produce distinct effects on those who receive it, he cannot show perhaps a trace of them on himself. The effective teaching is when one can say, like Gideon, "As I do, so shall ye do"; or as the apostle, We were "an ensample unto you to follow us". Again, "Brethren, be followers together of me"; still more. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ".

We know that the word of God accomplishes that whereto it has been sent, and unless there was something to hinder its action in the instrument conveying it, I conclude that the action would occur, though it may not always be visible. It is plain that whenever the Lord speaks to a soul (that is, in all the recorded cases in Scripture) that where there is "good ground" there is a true and blessed effect; hence it is said to the servant, "If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth", Jeremiah. 15:19. When the word is not presented in its purity, if it were to have an effect, then it would be an injurious effect, because it is not the truth, or at least it is imperfect truth. The servant who is not careful in adhering to the word of God is so practically unsubdued in himself, where the subjection must always be first and greatest, that he must be unskilful and too self-important to be of any use to others. It is said in reference to service "Make the tree good, and his fruit good". Matthew 12:33.

Effective teaching is a very protracted laborious thing. See how the apostle speaks of his ministry at Ephesus, "Remember, that by the space of three years I ceased

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not to warn every one night and day with tears". (Acts 20:31.) The assiduity and perseverance is very remarkable. There is more heart to proceed when one is assured of ultimate success, than when nothing can be expected beyond gaining a disciple or an adherent; that is, when the growth and perfection of the saint is not the first result before the mind.

I can always count on the good soil in a saint, that is, that though he be very much carried away by present things, though slumbering and sleeping with no bodily activity for Christ, yet that he can be awakened, and aroused to a true sense of his duty. Hence the apostle writes fifteen chapters to the Corinthians, not to expose a great moral enormity then already well known, but to arouse their consciences to a sense of their complicity with evil in consequence of it. A servant has a wonderful character and amazing skill, when he gives no offence or occasion of stumbling in anything that the ministry be not blamed. How formed of God, what an exemplification of the power and greatness of grace, when he can in any measure say with the apostle, "In everything commending ourselves as God's ministers, in much endurance, in afflictions, in necessities, in straits, in stripes, in prisons, in riots, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in pureness, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; through the arms of righteousness on the right hand and left, through glory and dishonour, through evil report and good report: as deceivers, and true; as unknown, and well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as disciplined, and not put to death; as grieved, but always rejoicing; as poor, but enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things", 2 Corinthians 6:4 - 10.

It will be found that a servant with less light and knowledge, who is practically more under the power of it, because more skilled, is more effective than the one with greater light, who is not so much the exponent of it.

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It is very serious how the lack of the servant becomes aggravated in the saints. The servant said in his heart, "My lord delayeth his coming", the church slumbered and slept. The servant is held accountable for the state of the saints to whom he ministers, as John says, when exhorting the saints in his first epistle, as a motive to their faithfulness, that we may "not be ashamed before him at his coming". Do servants enter much into this? That they should be ashamed before the Lord at His coming because of the state of the saints. The anticipation of such a thing would surely urge the servants to take a deeper interest in the welfare of the saints among whom they minister; as Paul says (1 Thessalonians 2:19,20), "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". Or, as we learn from Hebrews 13:17, that the teachers watch for their souls as they that must give account, and as John says, the servant would lose his reward because of the declension of the saints. "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward". 2 John 8.

The cases and the passages I have cited must impress on every servant the grave and laborious duties of his calling, and that good building or effective teaching is a very slow, very arduous, a very continual, but a very blessed work, carrying its own reward with it. On the other hand, if any man build on the best foundation, "wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire". 1 Corinthians 3:12 - 15.

Every material which will not stand the fire is natural, and can be built up by natural means, and looks better to the natural eye, and is more acceptable to the natural

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taste, than the divine material, which is quite incomprehensible to it. The declension traceable in the seven assemblies, from Ephesus to Laodicea, is merely an aggravated, and gradually increasing departure from Christ; leaving the first love in Ephesus, while they could not bear them that are evil; literally so occupied with the dangers on many s side, that they lost their first love. While barricading the back door they left the front one open; the greatest treasure was abstracted; and thus with all their antipathy to evil, they were really unfitted to be the candlestick, until at last in Laodicea they can boast of their natural acquisition of doctrines and scriptural knowledge with great human results, and Christ Himself outside - man benefited by christianity and the new creation in Christ entirely overlooked.

May each servant of Christ who reads these lines seek grace from Him in order that he may be preserved from using natural material which natural skill can utilize in the most acceptable way to the natural mind of the mass, alas, of inquirers; but that he may be more and more careful each day, to adhere to the pure word of God, the gold, the silver, and the precious stones, learning from Him skill to use it beneficially for His people.


The existence of an active evil spirit no one with any conscience will deny, but it is important to determine when the work of the flesh becomes the work of Satan. As a rule we may say that the act of the flesh merely, as such, is simply gratification, and is marked more by eagerness to be pleased, than by the energy that works for some definite end.

The flesh properly has only the immediate before it, seeking to please itself in any and every way. In satanic acts there is purpose and design from the commencement, though it is not always disclosed to the tools;

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eventually it is disclosed to them when they are in the net, and it is too late to draw back; and this, in order that they may harden their conscience and thus be thoroughly defiled with the guilt.

Let us examine some of the instances in scripture respecting the kinds of satanic action there spoken of.

The first occasion of Satan's influence discloses to us the great marks by which we can ever discover it. The serpent in its subtilty assails the simple and unsuspecting Eve, insinuating an idea by a remark that does not awaken alarm, unless you are walking in the Spirit of holiness. If the remark interests you, and you give heed to it, the word of God is perverted; it is not denied, but explained away; the qualifying of the word of God is first entertained and then it is perverted. When this is gained, then an immediate gratification is offered to the carnal mind. Eve saw that the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eye, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. When Satan's counsel is accepted, he lends his dupe energy to act according to it. In every satanic agency there is a distinct opposition to God, be it His way or His word. Whatever is the revealed and leading desire of God for His saints at any time, is always the great object of Satan's opposition, and this I call the first class of satanic action.

Thus Noah's downfall, through drinking of the fruit of the vine, though not properly satanic, was made by Satan an opportunity for defeating the favour of God to man, and he used Canaan, Noah's own son, to be the minister of the exposure.

Now the building of the tower of Babel was satanic, and of this class. Men bound together by a common object, and with the one purpose, systematically and definitely to be independent of God, and of His judgment on the earth, which was in direct contravention to His goodness and favour to man who had just been reinstated on the earth on new and greatly improved terms.

Man is a powerless creature; hence, whenever he is in

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a strait, if he has not God and His power to turn to, he is glad of support from any quarter. Satan avails himself of this sense of want, whenever it occurs, because of the assertion of the claims of God, or the manifestation of His mercy. Thus the magicians, in Pharaoh's time, offer their help, when Pharaoh is helpless before the power of God for His people, and they continue their opposition until entirely baffled by Moses.

Whenever there is an opportunity for distinct opposition to God, though at first concealed, Satan readily lends his aid; he will entrap not only the Pharaoh, the one who rebels most against God, but the one most responsible for maintaining the truth. No eminence can preserve me from Satan's influence, when once I am disposed to adopt a departure from the divine course for which I am responsible. Hence when Aaron was inclined to pacify the people, by something outside the divine way, Satan readily made a tool of him to construct a golden calf.

The Lord's temptation in the wilderness is also of this class. Satan's attempt is to set aside and overthrow the most singular and wonderful manifestation of God's mercy to man. There are three heads in this temptation, and under one or other of these, every temptation to the saint now can be placed. The first is to act independently of God when you are in need. Secondly, to gain the world by means not of God; and thirdly, to seek eminence among men by the interposition of God on your behalf.

Whatever is the special thing with Christ at any time, that is the thing, be it great or small, which Satan attempts to contravene. Hence the Lord calls Peter "Satan" when he rebuked Him for announcing His death. The termination of man in the death of Christ was the very thing which would provoke all the opposition and force of Satan; so much so, that the man most endowed of God, as was Peter (see Matthew 16:18,19), is the one guilty of this great mistake, and this with the kindest natural feelings, out of simple personal affection to the Lord.

In a like way Satan would turn aside and spoil the

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assembly at the very start, by inducing Ananias and Sapphira to make an untrue representation of their surrender, in order that they might obtain a position and a name on false grounds, without being detected; and thus virtually and practically to deny the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is necessarily a main effort of Satan to this day. The principle of his opposition is the same under every circumstance. In Corinth he succeeded in leading the assembly to refuse the cross practically, adopting the doctrine of Peter, when he rebuked the Lord for speaking of His death; and thus, notwithstanding all the gift and knowledge they possessed, they were overrun by every carnal enormity. Now when the word of the Lord had awakened the conscience of the assembly to a sense of the defilement they were implicated in, because of the sin tolerated in their midst, and they in zeal and faithfulness had cleared themselves of it by excommunicating the wicked person, Satan then was ready to make them too severe and unyielding. Of this the apostle warns them in the words, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices". That is, he would urge them not to be unduly strict, as before they were unduly lax and indifferent.

In this first kind of satanic action must be reckoned the continued and unceasing opposition of Satan against those who claim their right to possess and enjoy the heavenly places. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places". (Ephesians 6:12.) This is never relaxed, and only experienced as one is practically insisting on being a dweller in heaven like the children of Israel in Canaan, and it is known by the varied and systematic way one is hindered and checked from occupying one's heavenly position.

We must not leave out the way Satan wrought in the latter times and works in the last days. In the former, he attempts to set aside the true faith and holiness by

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instituting another, - one of exaction and bodily exercise. Exaction acknowledges the existence and continuance of man here; while godliness insists on Christ only, and therefore man in the Adam condition must be superseded and buried. In the other it is imitation.

The second kind of satanic action is more personal, and refers to one's predisposition for it; such as natural forwardness in acting for the Lord. Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat; he had got possession of Judas. He had influenced man generally against the Lord, and now he attempts to lead the faithful ardent Peter into the pit. Grace from Christ preserves him, but it is important for us to note how Satan deceives and beguiles him. First, he leads him to act in an apparently brave, but really a rash way, in cutting off the ear of the high priest's servant; and then, led on in his desire to see the end, gratified through the intervention of a friend; and now, when his feet are made fast in the net, he exposes himself, and denies his Master. Then, convicted by the Lord's word, he retires in shame and sorrow of heart. It is amazing the craft and subtilty of Satan, and the insatiable nature of his malice. It was not enough for Satan that he had fatally duped Judas, that he had influenced all classes of men against Christ, but he must lay toils for Peter, in order that through one deeply attached to the Lord, he might exhibit the contrary, and make it appear that there was no reality in the heart. Thus, while most opposed to the setting aside of man in the cross, he does the most to disparage man, by leading him into evil and disgraceful conduct.

Satan goeth about as a roaring lion "seeking whom he may devour", so that when any one affords him an opportunity, if damage can be done to the truth, he helps him to effect his purpose; for this is the most successful device of Satan. Hence it is said, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil". When I am enraged, and allow

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enmity to work, I am ready to accept Satan to effect revenge, and he revels in the opportunity to lend his help.

David numbering the people is another example of this kind (1 Chronicles 21:1). It is individual and connected with one's own state at the time. The way of escape is resistance. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". "Whom resist stedfast in the faith".

The third kind is when God allows Satan to be His scourge; first, not for actual failure, but for progress and blessing. Thus it was with Job. Satan was allowed to afflict him in everything, but not to take away his life. Perhaps nothing can disclose more the nature and malice of Satan, than the readiness and severity with which he uses his liberty towards Job; but it was allowed of God, though fearful to the saint for the time, and calculated to overwhelm him in unbelief, which was what Satan mainly desired, for he sought to prove that Job served God because of His favours to him.

In a like way, but more continuously, Paul suffers from a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him. Could anything be more grievous or humbling, than to be exposed to the constant personal interruption by a foe, of one's desires and efforts to serve the Lord? This Paul required in order to preserve him from vain-gloriousness; and Satan was made the instrument, by afflicting him thus grievously, of effecting this great good.

There is one more class or order of satanic action which I must notice. It is when a "wicked person" is handed over to Satan, as in 1 Corinthians 5, for the destruction of the flesh; and in 1 Timothy 1, "That they may learn not to blaspheme". It is not easy to pronounce the nature and character of the afflictions to which a saint would be subjected who was consigned, though certainly with a limitation, to Satan's cruelty; only this we may be assured of, that though the process is a severe one, yet the object intended to be effected by it shall assuredly be accomplished, because it is the remedy prescribed by God Himself.

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As to the violence and wickedness of Satan with the ungodly, or as to the power which he exercises over the unbelieving, or as an angel of light, I say nothing here, save that it is of a universal systematic character. He labours to prevent anyone from accepting the grace and knowledge of God. "If also our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in those that are lost; 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... should not shine forth for them".

The Lord bless the attempt I have made to draw His people to the consideration of this great subject, for His name's sake.


The idea of love in any true sense, implies that there must be care and oversight of the objects of it; and in proportion as there is wisdom and superiority, so must this oversight become a responsibility, while as it is accepted and appreciated, with a sense of duty to obey and observe its injunctions, when the heart is not corrupted and perverse.

Adam in the garden of Eden was peculiarly under this oversight so blessed and good, which he refused and lost, when he in disobedience acted according to his own will; he disregarded the highest counsel, and the rule, which in the greatness of His love and wisdom, God had imposed. This introduced a root of evil which has ever since corrupted the nature of man. But though there be opposition to the oversight and rule, yet the superior in love and wisdom according to his relation to me, and claim upon me, is responsible to exercise both; and there is disobedience and perverseness when there is not subjection to him. Hence it is enjoined in the first commandment with promise, that children should obey their parents. "Honour thy father and thy mother". The opening and beginning of life here is subjected to

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oversight and rule where the greatest love, and superior knowledge must naturally exist. A child who would not submit to the oversight and rule of his parents suffered, under law, the punishment of death. There was a perverse heart that would not comprehend its positive duty, and present advantage from God and man.

Thus oversight and rule are the established principles of government, beginning with our earliest life here, and in the nearest relationship, and in figure and measure, it expresses and indicates the oversight and rule, which each one believing in God would enjoy and be blessed by, as he submitted to it.

I need not enter on a history of rule, but it is simply necessary that it should exist; that the one with ability and consideration, should overlook and direct his fellows; and they, as they have sense, should submit to his rule, or suffer for their disobedience.

At first Israel had no king, the fullest oversight and rule were vouchsafed to them from God Himself; but gradually they lapsed into the ways of the nations around them, and they yielded themselves to a king, or rule where there was power but not the oversight, which love dictates and imposes, a separation most fatal in its consequence.

Among men there was no reciprocal responsibility of this kind, before the death of Christ. It was enjoined as we have seen as the great bond of families, and the blessing of children, but from man to man it was not known. Cain readily said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" True the law required that man should love his neighbour as himself, but as it did not confer on him the power to do so, it only exposed his inability to fulfil a fundamental duty; and this was exemplified when both the priest and the levite left the half-dead man to perish (Luke 10). But when the love of God to man appeared, then came the new commandment, "Love one another, as I have loved you". It is therefore now the responsibility of every individual believer to love his brother as Christ has

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loved him; because there is through grace given him, the nature of Christ. Thus in the church every one was responsible to wash his brother's feet. I cannot however discharge my responsibility beyond my ability; but lack of ability never absolves the responsibility. The responsibility is, that each should by divine skill remove from his brother everything that hinders his communion with Christ.

Now as this is common to all, and incumbent on all, it is easy to see that the elder brothers should be the most competent for this great and arduous service. Of course it is not always simply elders in age, though that of itself is necessary; because a bishop or elder was not to be "a novice", and they were appointed by the Holy Spirit to the office as qualified pre-eminently for fulfilling the duties of oversight and rule. They had the grace for the office before they were appointed. They had some measure of the gift of a pastor, who by gift is a shepherd; that is, grace is given to him by the Lord to feed His sheep, and declare to them His mind suitable to their need. But though thus highly gifted, such an one would not necessarily be an overseer; because with the overseer or elder there was rule with respect to circumstantials, and the conducting of things. There was to be an overlooking of the doctrines taught; and of the manners of the saints in general. Just as the deacons directed their attention to the temporal wants of the saints, so the elders were occupied with the moral condition of the house of God. The apostles Paul and Peter were very express in their injunctions on this subject. The former, writing to Titus, says, "For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou mightest... establish elders in each city". It was of the last importance that there should be godly oversight and rule. He had written to Timothy, "if any one aspires to exercise oversight, he desires a good work"; that is, the oversight is a good work. And when at Miletus, he would communicate with the church, he does not send for the gifted men, as such; but he sends

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for the elders. I do not say that they were not gifted, but it is with regard to their local position that he selects them. An elder is local, a pastor is general, belonging to the whole church of God. The apostle's desire or injunction was that the saints should be subject to this rule and oversight. He says, "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake", 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13. Again, in Hebrews 13:17, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account", etc. Again, Peter exhorts the elders to "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof". (1 Peter 5:2.) All those passages prove that rule and oversight were inalienable prerogatives of the house of God, where all things should be done decently and in order.

Now those who exercised this rule and oversight were not the gifted men absolutely. A pastor had the spiritual powers of an elder, but he had more, and it was not as a pastor he was enjoined to oversee and rule, but as an elder. Hence when ruin came in (and through mercy the gifts remained, as given by the Head in heaven) and order was succeeded by disorder, the effort in christendom has been to connect the office of overseers or elders with the gift, and when this is done, the clerical element is assumed. When the right to oversee and rule is denied, the radical element is in the ascendant. There is in the latter the desire and purpose to do their own will, and in the former to assert the right to rule, because of being a teacher, and thus natural ambition works in the servant of Christ. These two opposite forces are often found in the same meeting, each trying to correct the other; though the only true way is by owning the responsibility to oversee and rule, in those whom Christ has given grace and qualification for it, and so separating between the office and the gift, that the teacher, unless

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qualified would not assume the place of an elder, because he was a teacher; and an elder would not assume the place of a teacher, unless he was really gifted to be one.

In a day of ruin like this it is evident that the attempt to appoint elders or overseers, and deacons, in any place assumes that the church is not broken up into sections, and that in making the selection or appointment, one has all those duly qualified before one, ready for the charge. This is not the case; and the work of gathering saints together on the ground of the one body of Christ, must precede any formal ordination of elders and deacons; but though there can be no attempt to ordain them, until the saints are on one common ground, yet it is clear that oversight and rule are fundamental principles; and though the official title cannot be appropriated by any, or conferred by any one to any one; yet there is grace given of God, so that by one or another the work should be done, and as there is true subjection of spirit, there will be an aiding of one another; the elders will be alive to their responsibility and the others ready to bow to everything of God, because expecting it. The right to oversee and rule implies a reciprocity on the part of others, if there be grace to submit to oversight and rule. And practically, where there is most oversight and godly rule, though there be little gift, there is always a happier state in the assembly than where there is much more apparent gift, and little oversight and rule. For when divine love is truly exercised, and duly received, and responded to, there must be the greatest development and manifestation of every christian grace.


It has been said that nothing can deprive the believer of eternal life, but that a very small thing can distract or hinder his communion with Christ. There is no communion but in the light. Light is the essential

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characteristic of our new existence, and that is light which doth make manifest. There may be much reality and devotedness without communion with Christ, and where there is really no part with Him. Can anything affect our hearts more than the fact that one can be really loving, true, and devoted, and yet because of some soil from some unjudged, unwashed away defilement one has no part with Him? I am sure there is no exercised soul who does not know how often he has felt there was something of reserve between him and the Lord, and that it was not removed until he was in heart and spirit freed from some false way by the ministry and power of His word. I do not here attempt to show how the reparation takes place. What I desire now to call attention to is the simple fact that when any saint has been drawn aside by any of the corruptions all around us. that he, while unwashed, that is, when not cleansed from the effects or damage of it, has no part with Christ.

A great many things harmless even in themselves would never have been engaged in, had there been communion with Christ, and there would be communion if we were under the immediate action or washing of His word. If I were detached from the evil influences here, and attached to Him through the penetrating virtue of the word in present activity, I should have part with Him, I should walk as a child of the light.

To have part with Christ is not understood in its magnitude, or it would be seen that it cannot be secured without the action of His word. Were it seen as really conducting us into the high and holy line of His position and ways, we should not only wonder at the grace which set us there, but we should be more aware of the amazing contrast between it and the best line we could invent for ourselves. I believe this ignorance lies at the root of the kind of christianity which satisfies many. It is rather desired and expected that Christ will sanction and bless our endeavours and pursuits, than that He should lead us distinctly and definitely into His. It is very seldom

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apprehended that I am to rise to the level and scope of His measures and designs, that I am to share with Him of the things which God hath ordained before the world was unto our glory. The general idea is that unless Christ blesses our undertakings they will prove abortive and useless, but there is no thought of our rising up to take part in His things, or to be agents in doing His pleasure. When we speak of consecrating a house or anything to the Lord it is for His acceptance, with the hope that He will gild it with His blessing. All this arises from not comprehending that the main truth of christianity is that Christ has not come down to man to improve him by contributing His own virtue, but that He has died and risen again, that we might be raised up, and made to sit together in Him in heavenly places. That man is transferred to Christ to be really Christ's in part with Him while walking here, and to be entirely conformed to His image by and by.

It is not that the iron (i.e. man) is either polished or gilded; many who do not think that it could be polished (that is, improved), do not hesitate to expect that it should be gilded, that is, that Christ should be an auxiliary to the works and the projects which are considered necessary for man's benefit and progress. Once the immensity of the purpose of grace is apprehended then there will be, according as there is conscience, not only a fear of the things here which would divert from Christ, and carry one into a line of things not according to His mind, but there will be watchfulness that we should be protected by His word, or washed by it, whenever contrary to it, in order that we may enjoy having part with Him.

Whatever is not light is darkness. The carnal mind in itself is enmity against God, and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. It is not so much what the thing is, but if it carries us into the flesh it deprives us for the time of a part with Christ. When I originate, I put myself foremost in my own eyes, and I have lost part with

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Christ. It is not that I am not a child of the light, but I am asleep; I am not in the activity of light. I have to be awakened and to rise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon me.

Noah considers for himself when he plants a vineyard; doubtless he had no intention of being intemperate, but he departed from God's side, and being here simply for God, to meet his own nature, and he got defiled. He lost part with the Spirit of Christ, until restored to it.

It is not the intention which we have at first, which indicates the mischief, or the fall eventually; generally at first it is something so simple and undangerous looking that no one could augur any harm from it. Why should not Lot choose the green fields of Sodom when he had the liberty to choose? But he would not have chosen had he known how it would end. Faith alone overcomes the world; the moment the visible sways, we must lose sight of the invisible; we lose sight of Jesus the Son of God.

Moses lost part with Christ when he spake unadvisedly with his lips; he lost sight of the high place in which he was set for God, and descended to the level of men. It could not have occurred to him the grave consequences of hastiness with his lips; the failure seems very small when compared with the penalty. We must see that it is not so much the greatness of the failure, as the simple fact of descending to a level where Christ is not; and when we yield to the carnal mind, allowing it, and not Christ to lead us, this is the root and essence of the step. In everything that He wills or arranges for us we have His support and counsel, as we proceed. He has a distinct path for us, but He has His own way for us therein; while we yield to His leading, He is in sympathy with us, and there is no losing part with Him in the most earthly matters, provided He is our guide in them, we are doing His will. John was called to a very natural service when the Lord said to him, "Behold thy mother"; and to her, "Behold thy son". It is not the thing in itself which causes a break between us and Christ, but it is when we

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judge for ourselves, and let the flesh guide us, instead of Christ's glory; so that whether we eat or drink, the very commonest thing of daily life, we may do all to the glory of God.

Now, as we have seen, though the thing which at first turned us away was very small in itself, and never seemed likely to grow to anything more than it was at first, yet this is the saddest thing connected with the failure. When we have lost part with Christ, by even a very small thing, as a hasty word, like Moses, or a look like Lot, or a vineyard like Noah, or a self-confidence superinduced by personal affection like Peter, or fear like Mark, or kinsmanship like Barnabas, we little know to what painful consequences it will run. When the greatest disciple loses part with Christ, he is worse off than the least; - as the largest ship when left without a pilot, incurs incomparably more loss and damage than a small boat.

When a saint has not learned the great and peculiar blessing of having part with Christ, he cannot of course know the loss of it, he has not spiritual sensibility to feel that he is not supported by Him. Such saints regulate their lives and walk by the law, and are often very respectable in the eyes of men, and often less erroneous to the outward eye. The standard is lower; they are but little boats as I might say; they are no great witnesses, and they cannot at any time, or under any circumstances, suffer much damage or loss. The saint acquainted with the blessedness of sharing with Christ in His scenes and concerns is painfully conscious when it is interrupted; he feels it in service especially, for an act always discloses the measure of power; and he feels when he is hindered, that he is not supported by the Lord. Now this is quite different from the check or discouragement which one in service encounters from the unthinking and the unspiritual. In the former case you feel you are unsupported and the words you say have no refreshment to yourself; they are not from "the belly" whence the living waters should flow out. In the other you have the cheering

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sense of how the Lord helps you, but you are checked by the want of receptiveness. I suppose that nothing can be so opposite as service of any kind done in concert with Christ, and that done without it, and yet the spiritual can only truly detect it, or really account for it. It requires a spiritual person to comprehend spiritual things, and yet the more spiritual any one is, the more must he be blessed to every soul he has to do with, though souls be not very conscious of it at the time.

With a true desire to serve like Martha, if we have not part with Christ, the service will be unspiritual, or even with the right word of blessing, like Isaac, there will be a want of divine intelligence in the use of it.

The Lord lay it on our hearts to watch against the smallest departure from Him; may we ever accept the action of His word, that we may enjoy the immense favour of sharing of His position and of His things.


The purpose of God is that we should be conformed to the image of His Son; hence all progress now depends on the measure of our vigour in His life and ways. Though we do not here attain to the measure of our calling as new creatures in Christ Jesus, yet all our growth or progress is as we approximate to the proposed end.

The simple thing necessary in order to promote progress, is a closer and more absolute appropriation of the life and ways of our Lord Jesus Christ; in a word, to do at the present moment what He would do; what the Spirit of God is doing for Him. If I am not doing what He is doing, I am adopting a modification of His life, and consequently His Spirit in me is, in some degree at all events, hindered. Once it is admitted that progress depends on my vigour in His life and ways, then it is conclusive that my present action is not an imitation of any previous act or way of His, but the very one which the Spirit of God is engaged with at the moment, and I,

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in my measure, am pursuing it as my object and interest. Nothing can be plainer than that there cannot be progress but as we are actively following in the current of His mind at every time, and the one who is progressing most is the one most vividly alive to His interest and glory. Now everything which diverts us from seeking and learning the strait and narrow path of His mind - the thing most in His mind, necessarily checks progress. A tree is hindered in its growth in the soil and the climate.

The Lord says, "I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends". Hence the greatest mark of favour is the knowledge of what He is doing; and, however true and earnest a soul may be, there can be no real progress but as one is increasing in information as to His present interests.

As it is said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" The Lord always has a defined course of action, and if I am in His Spirit I can not but be in the wake of it - some way connected with it. Nothing is more self-evident, than that however good and useful I might be outside or apart from this course of action, I could not have the support and guidance of the Spirit of God, because I am not in the line of His action, and He cannot turn out of it to adopt mine, though He does serve and minister to every saint, of the grace of life, however great his deflection from His own course.

As the Lord always has a definite design from which He changes not, until His will has been accomplished, it is essential for progress that I should be led in the current of it. Where is development but in the line projected by Him? It is not now what is essential for life, but that which is essential for progress. Nothing can be progress, but an advance in the knowledge of His will and ways at the moment.

Hence, the first great question to learn is that of Saul of Tarsus, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The order now is the same as Gideon's to his men, "As

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I do, so shall ye do". I have to find out by waiting on the Lord that with which He is occupied. There may be many substitutes. There is something that is pre-eminent with Him, and if I am one of His friends He will instruct me in it, so that I may help therein as He gives me grace, and thus my knowledge of Him increases. Many an earnest servant wearies himself in trying to promote his own projects and designs, under the name of serving Christ. Does he know what Christ is doing? Apparent and immediate success is no proof of real progress. Lot appeared to have gained at the moment an advantage over Abraham when he chose the well-watered plain, but God said unto Abram as soon as Lot was separated from him, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee". (Genesis 13:14 - 17.) Here was real progress. Abraham has grown in the mind of the Lord. Lot was apparently and immediately the one more blessed, but he had diverged from the divine course, and he makes no progress in the counsel of the Lord, while Abraham is very distinctly and blessedly instructed in it.

Progress is always marked by a deeper and fuller acquaintance with what His mind is set on. What greater favour could be conferred: or how could one receive it, unless prepared for it? You must be able to refuse what peculiarly addresses yourself, and offers present advantage, before you are fit for that great word. "Look northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward" - the range for progress.

In like manner, Jacob, after he had returned to the land, and after the night of wrestling, becomes occupied with his immediate blessing and settles at Shalem; but

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there is no progress until, shaken out of it, he repairs to Bethel. Then (for he is now in the Lord's mind) he is made acquainted with the Lord's purpose while also he is confirmed in the name "Israel", - his own personal blessing.

Again the two and a half tribes seemed to have gained a great advantage over their brethren. Their blessing was apparent and immediate, but it is evident they never made progress as to the mind and purpose of the Lord, respecting His people in the land. They were very wise naturally to secure what was suitable for their cattle and their little ones, but they entirely departed from the counsel of God. The attempt and the assumption is that one's individual blessing can be secured apart from knowing and following the Lord's chief purpose at the time. That a saint may be true and pious while ignorant of it, and outside of it, I do not deny; but I see that it is essential for progress that we should be in company with His leading purpose at the time, otherwise progress would be independent of Him, which no true heart would like.

The returned captives (see Haggai) very zealously sought their own blessings in the land; but though they were on the true ground, in the place of blessing, there was no progress simply because they were ignorant or unmindful of the thing chief in the mind of God.

It is sad to note the various ways by which true saints are diverted from the path where progress only can be acquired, always something with reference to one's self.

The most common and the most dangerous is our usefulness. No doubt we should be useful here - channels of mercy to the poor world. But when it is usefulness to one's fellows which engrosses our attention, we are too easily drawn into the Martha place, which was not acceptable to the Lord though done visibly to Himself, because it was the fruit of her own mind, and not at His suggestion. And this it is which often leavens the preaching of the gospel: the good of souls is sought without any reference to the purpose of Christ respecting

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them at this present time; so that too often we find earnest men engaged in the work, who make little or no progress in truth, and the knowledge of His mind and word, and very often show decline by departing from their special gift - the evangelist to become stationary, and the pastor deserting the flock for evangelistic work.

Next, our religious association diverts us from carefully seeking to know His mind, just as a climate unsuited to a tree hinders its growth and development. Where is development if I know not what He desires and has destined to be accomplished - in a word what He is doing?

How can one influenced by James as Peter was, progress? He is not following in the mind of the Lord, in the truth of the gospel.

How can one like Mark, who considers for himself, who returns from Pamphylia, progress? All these examples are only heads of the classes or forms by which one is turned aside from the path in which the Spirit of God leads.

Usefulness engrosses one, religious associations bar another, and self-consideration (often shown in over care for one's health) effectually checks progress.

It is what seems to be apparently and immediately good which is most deceptive. Divine wisdom always leads where there is no present attraction, because it must be of faith. Natural wisdom on the contrary looks for immediate advantages. Possibly there is no snare under the head of self-consideration more ensnaring than one's health, because it is so right to care for the body, but yet when it becomes an object as is often the case with even those who have overcome the other two, there is no progress; the essential is lost, which is simply being where the Spirit of God would have me to be, and where the Lord calls me to do His work, however feeble. I do not deprecate seeking means to amend one's health, far from it; but all I say is that when anything is made an object, the great purpose in God's mind cannot have the principal place, and there cannot be progress.

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The reality of any favour is according as it meets one's need; the greatness of it, as it places one in a condition free of that need. These two traits are pre-eminently found in every form of the grace of God. As the sense of need is necessarily the one uppermost in one's mind, the tendency is generally to limit the grace of God to the need only. It is truly wondrous that the deep needs of the soul should be entirely and fully met; and as it requires the power of God to open the eye of the soul to see the first part which is the one so much required; so in like manner, His Spirit only can convince me, that He can place me in a condition free from need. How many delight in the first verse of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want", who never even contemplate or expect the second; where one is set in a place where only abundance meets the eye, and where want is unknown. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters".

Now let me say in connection with this important subject, that it will be found that no one is solidly and confirmedly assured of the removal of his need, until he finds himself in a condition in which he is absolutely free of it; hence the knowledge of the greatness of grace is indispensable for the corroboration of the utility of grace. In order to be fully assured that I shall not want, I must know that I am out of reach of want, and set in abundance. There is many a one who, while really possessing the first, is often doubtful about it, because he, either through ignorance or want of faith, has not reached the second.

The word to the apostle was, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me". The word to Moses was, "Bring

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them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey". It is not simply a rescue from a state of sinfulness and misery, but a planting in a new position, quite apart from, and free of both.

It is well to consider the moral defect which arises from limiting the grace of God only to its utility; - that is to say, limiting it to the fact that it meets the need of man. If the forgiveness of sins was the limit or the extent of grace to man, he would simply be a forgiven man, - a child of Adam forgiven for the offences which he had committed, and the whole occupation of his conscience would be to obtain forgiveness for any sin he might commit. The state of a new man in Christ, belonging to a new sphere, with a divine nature, would be entirely unknown to him. Let us examine some of the instances in Scripture where the two sides of grace are plainly presented, and thus entail perfect blessing.

In John 1 we have the great and eventual statement, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world". Nothing could be more comprehensive regarding the sin, for it plainly embraces sin of every kind and degree. It announces the removing away from the earth the cause of all God's judgments; so that we shall have a world without sin; but this, though so great is only one side; for in the context, there is announced the further blessing, the other half of grace, "he it is who baptises with the Holy Spirit". One cannot in a moment comprehend the vastness of this addition. Sin is not only removed, but the holiness of God is brought in, in divine power, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In chapter 3: 14 - 15 we read, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life". Here we have stated the rescue and the benefit; but in chapter 4: 14 we get the other side; "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give

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him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". In chapter 3 you get the mode and the nature of the relief conferred here; but in chapter 4 you get the manner and the power by which this benefit is perpetuated, in divine fulness and vigour. If one had only the first part, there would be the sense of an unspeakable relief, with the assurance that it was for ever; but there could be no present divine sense of its inexhaustible nature, or power, which is independent of all natural feelings, were not the Holy Spirit in us, a well of water springing up into everlasting life. We find our blessed Lord presenting this side of grace first to the woman of Samaria. He desired to awaken her heart to the great fact of what He could give to a sinner on earth; and that, outside and apart from anything on the earth. True, she required to learn the other side also; hence He made her feel that she was a sinner; and that she required the first part of grace, before she could enjoy the second part; but that the second part would place her in a position where the need which had to be relieved would not occur. And there only would relief be fully assured.

Again in chapters 8 and 9. There we get the history of light. It not only relieves, as in chapter 8, where we read, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death"; but in chapter 9, the blind man has light in him; and he finds that the place of full and unbounded enjoyment is in the presence of Christ, when he is cast out by the religious man on earth. He is not only relieved by light of the terrible darkness, but he is now a child of the light, finding entire satisfaction, when outside of everything of man - in his best estate, worshipping the Son of God - the Source of light - and here only can any one learn his path for Christ on earth, or the consolation by Christ.

There can be no relief to the sin-burdened conscience but through the sacrifice of Christ; remission of sins is only through faith in the blood, but unless I see my Saviour who died for my sins, raised from the dead by

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the glory of the Father, and set at His right hand - however assured I may be of the benefit and fulness of His work - I cannot be in a position free from fear, until I can see that He is glorified. What I see of Him, I possess, and as I see Him glorified, I am conscious of my perfect acceptance before God, and I can say - as He is apart from all judgment - so am I in this world. If we look at the way grace deals with us on our course here, as well as in the start, we shall observe the same principle.

The priesthood of Christ has two parts. In all my weakness down here He is touched with the feeling of my infirmities. I can ever reckon on His sympathy as I walk here according to His word; supported and cheered by His countenance and help, who has encountered every one of them, but apart from sin; and thus able to keep me apart from it. But not this only - He is a great Priest over the house of God. He has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. So that He - blessed be His name - not only bears me up in the scene of my weakness down here; but He maintains me also in the greatness of God, in the holiest of all; and the more I know of Him in the latter, the more confiding am I in Him in my difficulties here. The soul who knows best the side of the grace which has feasted him in the Father's house is the one who most truly knows and reckons on the other side, even the services rendered by the good neighbour to the one down here. If I limit him to the earthly side, I confine Him to my need; and I lose the knowledge of Him in His own scene, where I can only know Him for my scene; but if I know Him in bright perfect scenes, as such I can count on His help and sympathy in my scene. The tendency is to reduce Him to the measure of man.

No one intelligent and interested in the assembly on earth could in any way comprehend and support the gravity of his privilege in connection with it, did he not know that he, with all saints, is united to Christ in

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heaven. The favour vouchsafed to me on earth, is assured and intensified by the other part of it, which refers to heaven. Hence, wherever a soul from imperfect teaching, or want of light, accepts the truth of the one body on earth, without seeing the other side - even how we are placed together in Christ in heaven - he is practically lame; he has not power to walk in accordance with this high calling.

One more example. The Holy Spirit is sent down, not only to comfort me (see John 14:26), but also to testify for Christ. (See John 15:26.) It is not only the Holy Spirit acting in me, but acting for Him; so that in proportion as I am in the second, I am enlarged in the first. And when any one confines, or in any way limits the Holy Spirit's action to the believer only, he correspondingly weakens the power of the Spirit for his own enjoyment; because he has curtailed or denied the side of His action where there is the greater manifestation and scope for it; as if a man would limit the light of the sun to those only who appreciate it. The principle simply rests on the great purpose of God, not only to reach us in our need, but to bring us to Himself.

May each of us more deeply and fully appreciate His grace.


There has always been some special thing before the mind of the Lord, which is His secret at the time, but which He delights to communicate to every servant walking in faith and fear, as He did to Abraham. Generally this secret is unknown, until it has fully transpired, and thus the peculiar foresight or preparation, which the knowledge of it would have imparted, has been missed or forfeited; and the servant, though he may be very zealous, is occupied with a course, however good, which is not the one uppermost and progressive in the Lord's mind, and which is about to be displaced by

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another which is on the eve of coming forth. This mistake or deprivation has a double loss. The strength is spent in attempting to sustain and animate a doomed thing, and at the same time one is diverted from the only divine one. There may be much zealous labour without light, and without that trembling at the word - that meekness which prepares for His mind the one to whom He will teach His way. Hence it behoves every servant to seek the Lord in patient dependence, in order to learn of Him in this day, what is "the thing that I do". We invariably find a tendency, even in earnest souls, to confine themselves to a dispensation or order of things which is precursory to the one they are really set in; and thus it is that the mass of christians do not go beyond the intelligence of the disciples who were with Jesus when He was on the earth. Their using the Lord's prayer, as it is called, indicates and defines their intelligence, though they may be very sincere and true. Now if there can be a clinging or a return to a state of intelligence, so far below the true one of the assembly of God, it is not to be wondered at that rarely any servant is sufficiently on his watchtower, or near enough to the Lord to comprehend or receive what is in advance of all that has yet appeared.

The great point then is that there is something peculiarly prominent in the mind of the Lord. It is plain that if we retrace His history on the earth, and all along to this hour, that at distinct epochs there was some one thing very specially before His mind; and when we apprehend this, we are, according to our devotedness, solicitous to ascertain what is the thing which He is at this moment set on. When He emerged from private life into public service, to propound the kingdom of God, and to be His servant, was the great thing before His mind. When this culminated in the holy mount, when He received an acknowledgment from the excellent glory of His worth and title, He descended with quite another thing before His mind, even His decease, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem. After He rose,

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another thing is peculiarly before His mind, even the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Before we proceed, I may notice that He ever foretold to those near Him the thing in advance, the secret. True, they did not understand Him; but still He let drop distinct intimation of the coming thing. He said for instance with regard to the mount of transfiguration, "there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power". And again, on His descent, He spake of His death and resurrection, which was quite a puzzle to His disciples. I have digressed to make this comment in order to show that the Lord does not leave us without direct instruction in His word, as to the thing He will do; and therefore we must conclude that the reason why we do not see it, is because we are not meek enough to learn His way.

Well, evidently, after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the assembly on the earth was the great thing before His mind. He had given light and instruction about it previously, but even the apostles had to be weaned from all hopes of the kingdom, before they were prepared to accept the secret of the Lord, the mystery kept secret from the foundation of the world. And alas! multitudes upon multitudes of saints, have sunk into the same groove, and remain thus unto this day.

Now consequent on the setting up of the assembly, His own return was the prominent thing, but when failure, such as we find in 2 Timothy and 2 Peter and Jude, had set in, then the Lord gives John the Revelation, when there is nothing more to be added, prior to His coming; and there we are informed of the progress of events, and the phases of things, as they are in His mind. First then He takes the place of judgment on the whole professing company, setting forth His disapproval and indignation, at the corruption and failure which had crept into the assembly. He is seen (Revelation 1, 2.) in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and thus He is

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to the end. This is His present aspect to the assembly on the earth as a whole. He disapproves of the state of it. When I see Him there, I know His mind with regard to the assembly, in its testimony or state on the earth. But besides this, I learn the mind of the Lord from the aspect in which He appears to each of the assemblies, indicating what it is characteristically at the time, and what the overcomers would gain, and this in successional order, - so that when as in Thyatira, popery is dominant, and things have come to the worst, He announces that His own return, as the Morning Star, is the only encouragement for the overcomer; and from this on to the last, His coming is the termination of the four remaining phases of the church. We get His mind at the time of the Reformation in His address to the angel of the assembly of Sardis, and therefore what it is at this moment, to any in the reformed churches. In like manner we get what is most before His mind - the thing He is doing, in the way he speaks to the angel of the assembly at Philadelphia, and it is not too much to say, that the cry, "Behold, the bridegroom" in Matthew 25 was simultaneous with the commencement of the Philadelphia phase of the church. It is evident wherever the cry was effective, that as any one answered to it, he must enter on the path of separation, going forth to meet Him. He would lead the heart to know Himself, as "he that is holy, he that is true". How else would the awakened one find out the suited way or what would please Him? and unless He were to make Himself known as such a light, at such a moment, there would be true desires, but without any knowledge how to act, or any hope of success, were He not to present Himself to every one seeking Him in the midnight as "he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth". No one could progress even of those who have answered to the cry, "Behold, the bridegroom", and trimmed their lamps, unless the Lord presented Himself in this twofold way. At every step they feel they must have Him as

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"he that is holy, he that is true", and also "he that hath the key of David". The right kind of separation had to be learned; they had to thread their way out of the great ecclesiastical labyrinth, and overcome every obstacle. Hence practically they have "kept my word, and... not denied my name", and have a little power. They are kept by the Spirit of God, according as Christ set His disciples in John's gospel, namely, in His word and in His name. One can hardly comprehend the marvellous grace vouchsafed to the saints, in order to effect this revival, the last of all and the greatest of all; but we can easily see how great it was in the mind of the Lord, and to a certain degree, so it continues to His coming, as do indeed the four last phases of the church on earth. It is necessary to travel in company with the Lord historically, in order to get any just or clear idea of that which succeeds the preceding one. I do not see how we can justly enter into or be instructed in the Lord's chief thought now, if we have no idea of that one which is, as it were, declining. I judge that the great one consequent on the cry going forth and concurrent with it, though still prominent, is giving way to another; and that is, how He will extricate His own out of Laodicea. I believe the characteristics of it are daily developing, and surely, as this phase, the last, prevails, the Lord adopts a new interest, and inculcates on His servants who are in this confidence, the nature of His interest and how to promote it. This He conveys in His words to the angel of the assembly of the Laodiceans, "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God". I believe the Lord is now especially and peculiarly delivering His own from Laodicean boastfulness and indifferentism. It is a very different work and rescue to that which was vouchsafed to Philadelphia; and as each delivered one enjoys both sympathy from Him and communion with Him, which is conveyed in the words, "I... will sup with him, and he with me", each, though individualized with Him, joins

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in company with his fellows, and thus assembly position is maintained. This necessarily runs on to His actual coming for the saints, and therefore the presentation of Himself as the bright and Morning Star is the wind-up of Laodicea; and this, the Spirit and the bride are looking at, and therefore say, "Come".

Many earnest labourers think that the Lord's present chief concern, the thing that He is doing, the secret that He communicates to them, is the conversion of souls. I do not doubt for a moment that there is much and increased blessing in conversions, and I rejoice in it, but it is properly, as I see, the tail-end of the blessing and not the lead; and when it is made the lead, as no doubt it has been made, when servants are not really in the secret of the Lord, then, though there be conversions, there will not be a rising up to that measure of answer to His heart's desire, which is expressed by the Spirit and the bride, which I believe are in the lead; but when they are so maintained, the evangelizing and consequent conversion will not be neglected. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely".

The Lord grant that the one great inquiry with each of us may be, What is the thing the Lord is doing? Let us but learn of it and pursue it, and all must be right.


In order to understand a virtue I must possess it, even when it is simply human, that is, common to man. How much more then is it necessary that I should know and enjoy divine love, before I can in any way express or return it. I can never act as the love of the Father, or the love of Christ claims of me, until I have first learned what it is, because it is as I have learned it, that I am influenced by it, and that I know how to act according to it. I shall fail in acting up to it, but I cannot mistake a

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lower feeling for it, because I have enjoyed it, and know something of its worth and greatness.

It is said of a young man (1 John 2) that he is strong, and has "overcome the wicked one", that if he "love the world, the love of the Father is not in him"; he does not enjoy the Father's love. The one superior to the power of evil is not proof against the attractions of the world. It is true that through grace he had overcome the power of evil, and the word of God abideth in him; but yet, he would love the world if the love of the Father were not in him. The love of the Father has this great effect, that when it is in me, I am so satisfied and elated with the magnitude of the love which is interested about me, that I am diverted from the world and all in it, which would captivate me.

I have tasted of that which delights me and surpasses all that I could get elsewhere. I possess what the whole world could never by any means impart to me. No one could explain to me what this love is, nor could I comprehend it, until I possess it; and its effect is to place me in the enjoyment of a love as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end. The world attracts by the things in it, which suit and gratify one's taste; but they never can inspire you with the feeling that they sought you out as an object of peculiar love and interest. If one possessed the whole world, and everything in it, one could never derive from it the sense in any degree that there was any distinct feeling or love for one; whereas in the love of the Father, the least that is tasted of it, conveys to the possessor a profounder sentiment than will ever be fully grasped by his heart, though it will be entranced by it. It is well to put this question to the heart, Is it the things which suit me naturally which interest and attract me, or is the love of the Father so known that I am engrossed and satisfied with it? Is it natural things, the greatest naturally, or love that is the greatest and most perfect, the love of One who possesses all things?

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Now the Father's love is never known until simple deliverance from all that is against us is known. This we see in Psalm 22. Christ first clears the space, by meeting wrath and every enemy that is against us; and then when He occupies the space which He has cleared, He instructs us as to the Father. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren". He, the Son of the Father, alone could declare the Father; and because we are children, God has "sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father". When we are simply in grace, we know the Father; "little children" know the Father, of whom are all things and we in Him. No one is in the simplicity and reality of a child who does not know the Father. If the relationship be unknown to me, the privileges and claims of it must be unknown. But first I know the Father, then, the privileges and claims which the knowledge of Him brings. I, the prodigal, am first kissed, and thenceforward, the one great unfolding which raises me superior to all things is the love of the Father. The Lord, the Son of the Father teaches it to me, as He says, "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them". Now the effect of the love of the Father is to set me morally above the love of the world; therefore it becomes a question between things of every kind and variety - is it the world, or is it the love of Him of whom are all things? If I do not know the Father, I am not in the reality of my true relationship, and if I love the world, the love of the Father is not in me.

Now the love of Christ must be known in some measure before we can love Him. "We love him, because he first loved us". "He that is forgiven much loveth much". I first taste of His love, in that He loved me and gave Himself for me, and as I do, I am assured of forgiveness. The woman in the Pharisee's house (Luke 7), though her acting was the result of forgiveness, never was assured of it until the Lord said to her, "Thy sins

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are forgiven". She then was assured of His love in rendering the service, as well as of the service itself. Many, like the woman who touched the hem of His garment, are sure of His service, who are not yet assured of His love in rendering it - like Joseph's brethren, who had been enjoying the services of their brother, for many a long year, and yet had never been assured of the love of his heart in rendering them. See Genesis 50:15 - 18.

There is no learning the love of Christ but in solitude; I mean when nothing else intervenes and there is no rival. It is therefore peculiarly in sorrow, when the heart is bereaved of every other object, that the love of Christ is known, as it was to Mary of Bethany, John 11, 12. "Thy love is better than wine", it "passeth knowledge". It is the love of a Person, the One who loved the assembly and gave Himself for it. It is not merely the love of the highest and greatest relation, great as that is; but it is the love of One who, out of love, gave Himself for me: who can sympathize with me, who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities;" and "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin"; and the effect is, that as I know Him, I am kept from idols, just as when the love of the Father is in me, I am proof against the world and all that is in it.

May our hearts earnestly long to abound in both, for "if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned".


It has been often said, God is both love and light. Because of His love we are born of God; and we are children of the light. As God is love He never fails in love to His children, whom of His own will He has begotten unto Himself; nay, His tender lovingkindness is renewed to them every morning, and they can count mercies and expressions of His thoughtful love by the

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hour; but if the love remains true to its nature, which it assuredly does, so does the light remain true to itself. It could not deny itself. Every saint tastes of the love of God. It was the love of God which led Him to send His Son; it was the love of the Father that made Him kiss the prodigal; that assured my poor heart that there was love in the heart of God for me. There can be no doubt of the love if we have to do with God; but light is as much His nature as love; and this the prodigal felt even after he had received the kiss; that he was not worthy - that the light checked him, while the love surprised and gratified him.

The light reproves me; it detects and discloses what I am: "whatsoever doth make manifest is light;" but it maintains itself, for God is light. In His grace He makes me suited for it. The servants are directed to bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and then he is fit for the light, and when fit for it, he enjoys the presence of the Father; he knows for the first time what it is to be inside, and that "in thy presence is fulness of joy;" and he feasts - "they began to be merry".

The love first meets me, but the more truly I taste of the love, the more consciously am I in the light, for God is both love and light; and the more I am in the light, the more am I filled with, and convinced of the love, so that there is a great reward in the separation which the light enjoins. What we have to insist on is, that we cannot enjoy the depths of the love, apart from the demands of the light, for it is impossible to separate these two great qualities of the nature of God.

There is however a snare into which souls have very commonly fallen; and that is, to think that because God shows His care and watchful interest for them in the details of life, He therefore approves of them, though they are not separated from unhallowed associations; and thus while they are more or less mixed up with the world, they can assure themselves that they have tasted

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of His grace - that they have been washed from their sins in the blood of Christ; and that in the things of everyday life He orders and provides for them.

Now the love and tender care with which the blessed God watches over all His children cannot be too distinctly admitted; nay more, the particular way in which He attends to their wants and prayers; but on the other hand it cannot be denied that all through Scripture it is pressed, that there are special blessings, which are given only to those who are separate from the ways of men, and of their own hearts - and this the light, the nature of God, makes necessary.

Every true parent cherishes, loves, and cares for his children, but he cannot show the same confidence in a foolish child as he can in a wise one. He would lower himself were he to do so, and betray that he could not appreciate what was good; and the child who would assume, because his father provided him with everything needful, and often indulged him, that therefore he sanctioned his course, would only betray that he had a very imperfect idea both of his father, and of the wishes of his father's heart concerning him. Even naturally there is a reward for separation from the follies of youth, for then a wise father can in a special way uphold his son.

In Scripture this twofold line is very fully insisted on, and with this remarkable peculiarity, that the foolish child seems to command the greatest attention, so that if one were to judge by the natural eye, one would say that he was the favoured one, while the holy and separate one is not so visibly cared for, but receives for his separate walk a reward which is quite beyond the thought of man. In judging of a saint's blessing, everything depends on the light in which we view it. If I look at Abram and Lot in a natural way, I should certainly say that Lot was more favoured than Abram. He gets the best of the land, and though he is not separate, but mixed up with the people of Sodom, who vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds, yet when he is taken captive

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and his goods, Abram has to suffer in order to effect their restoration, so that Lot seems to be the one who commands most attention, speaking naturally; but yet Scripture is careful to show the special reward which is vouchsafed to Abram for his faithful and separate course. Melchisedec, the Priest of the most high God, meets him with bread and wine, and blesses him; and thus renders him superior to all the offers and gifts of the king of Sodom. Ostensibly, and in natural things, Lot is favoured, but Abram is favoured par excellence in a spiritual way. Temporal things are vouchsafed to one child, but the Lord's presence to another. What a contrast! and yet often the Lots can parade their earthly favours, and evoke acknowledgment from natural spectators, who cannot, because not spiritual enough, see the peculiar favours vouchsafed to the Abrams.

God can and does bestow gifts on His children though they are not separate, but He does not reward them with His presence except as they are separate. We read of Isaac (Genesis 26), that when he dwelt in Gerar the Lord blessed him; he had things in abundance, he was thriving, as men speak; but the Philistines envied him, and eventually he separated from them, and then the greatest favour is conferred on him; "the Lord appeared unto him the same night". I have no doubt the blessed God will hear the prayers and vouchsafe mercies to a saint in Sodom, or in Gerar, but as far as I can gather from Scripture, I believe He will not vouchsafe His presence to anyone who is not separate. I admit fully that the light of His presence reaches every quickened soul, but I maintain that the light of His presence is not the same thing as His presence. "In thy presence is fulness of joy;" and in His presence there is no self-condemnation nor exercise, because I lose sight of myself altogether, and am only occupied with Him. As I enter into His presence there is exercise, but that is produced by the light of His presence, and before I am really in it.

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In 2 Corinthians 6 we read, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty". This was said to saints on whom the greatest spiritual gifts had been bestowed, an assembly most highly favoured, if one were to judge by what was visible; but there was something greater than that they had received, and this they could not attain to but by separation; they were the temple of the living God, they are enjoined to be separate and touch not the unclean thing, in order that they might enjoy the highest favour, even that of being received by Him. From this it is evident that there is a special blessing consequent on separation, and not to be procured otherwise. This refers to the congregation, though the principle may guide in our relations with men.

It will not do to argue that because God in His mercy does not withdraw the general or foundation principles of His grace from His people, that they are approved of by Him. When Israel forfeited by unbelief the sabbatical year, the greatest expression of His favour, He did not withdraw the shelter of His wing; their kings reigned and were upheld by the Lord for 490 years. The Corinthian assembly was the temple of the living God, but unless they were separate from unhallowed associates they would not enjoy the greatest favour of being received by God and enjoying Him. It is the (Greek word) -- the overcomers, who are thus rewarded. "Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, for ever". What is true congregationally is also true individually; and without holiness or sanctification no man shall see the Lord. A servant is not fit for the Master's use in the day of the greatest decline, unless he purges himself from the vessels to dishonour in the great house. Where do we find in Scripture anyone favoured with the presence of the Lord, or personal communication from Him, without separation being insisted on? If Moses would turn aside

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to see the bush burning with fire, yet not consumed, he is warned of God, "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground". There cannot be distinct nearness to God but apart from everything of man.

To God (Paul says) I am beside myself; that is, he is literally outside of himself, or as when in the third heaven, "whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell".

There is no real entrance into the holiest of all, but as I am outside and apart from everything of the flesh; and consequently the joys of that scene cannot be known without separation. If one were not separate, and could at the same time encounter the presence of the Lord, it would be so dreadful that one would be overwhelmed by fear, and therefore is it that really earnest souls who are not separate, when they approach the Lord, instead of being made happier, they become more distressed, because the light of His presence, the nearer they come to it, rebukes them the more, and they are rebuked instead of welcomed. Rebuke must come first when saints are not separate: "as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten".

All saints are holy in Christ before God, and holiness by faith is the simple acceptance of the truth, but besides this I am for Christ on the earth. He is for me before God, and congregationally and individually, I have to come out and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. Before God I have nothing to separate from, I am in Christ and of Christ there; but here on the earth I have to be for Christ, and God favours me in a special way - a way peculiar to separation, as I am practically separate from everything that is of the world either in the assembly or in my own person; and while He as a Father always pitieth His children, and attends to their supplications and wants, doing more apparently for the Lots than for the Abrams, yet Abram's blessings were much higher and greater, and the reward of separation unto God.

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Every saint who is subject to the word has his feet washed, but the Lord does not manifest Himself to anyone who does not keep His word; and certainly he must be separated, or washed by His word first, before he can keep it; and when we keep it, and are walking in the holy path which it defines, then our reward is the manifestation of Christ, and the abiding presence of Him and of the Father.


The principle of holiness will be admitted by every believer, but it is regarded too often as merely a personal thing. To see that it is as necessary for me in my associations as it is for myself individually, requires an enlarged sense of what holiness really is. Each believer learns holiness first in his own person, that is to say, he must learn it for himself, but he cannot arrive at true personal holiness apart from corporate holiness. If believers now were simply individuals, and each one independent of the other, then holiness would be merely personal. Thus it was with Abram, and all along until there was a habitation for God on the earth. With Abram and all the saints up to the crossing of the Red Sea, personal holiness only was required; and, according to its perfecting, it was rewarded with special acknowledgments; though even then the individual was circumscribed or limited in blessing, when there was unholiness in his own house, though he himself was personally zealous and separate; so that according as his sense of holiness increased, the more did he seek that all his house should be holy, for he was responsible for them, as well as for himself; and when there was a failure in the house, it indicated an oversight or flaw in himself. He doubtless might become enlightened, but no present faithfulness can set aside past unfaithfulness, and he

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must be a loser where he had failed. Circumcision was to teach Abraham that God would set aside the will of the flesh, in order that the righteousness which is by faith might be maintained, without any check or obstacle, and thus it was a sign of the righteousness which he had by faith.

When Jacob hearkens to the word of the Lord, "Arise, go up to Beth-el", his first act is to put away from his household all that was unclean. "Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments". (Genesis 35.) It was not that Jacob was an ungodly man at Shalem; quite the contrary, he had an altar there, and we may say in passing that an altar was always an evidence that the worshipper had separated himself unto God. We never hear of an altar in Egypt, or in Syria, and therefore the place of the altar is always connected with some interesting circumstance denoting faithfulness of heart.

However true in heart Jacob was at Shalem, and however impressed with God's goodness to himself, it is plain that he was not acting up to the mind of the Lord, in remaining anywhere short of Bethel, and hence, though he be godly himself, there is a lack of holiness in his house, which he will not tolerate nor allow when he responds to the call of God and goes to Bethel. The principle is plain enough and of immense importance. If I am walking below the call of God; if I am, however pious, not at Bethel - God's house - I am not able to detect the specious forms in which evil grows around me. I cannot know what is unholy but according as I know what is holy. Nothing is really holy but what is of God. If I do not know what suits God, I cannot be holy, and when I do know it for my own personal walk, I must necessarily insist on the same order of things in every association in which I am, and vice versa. Hence the association which I accept, indicates my own tastes, and when it is higher than I am practically, it corrects me,

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or I am unfit for it. I must get near God before I can detect in myself that which is unsuited to Him. Lot takes up his abode in Sodom, and eventually marries his daughters to citizens of it, to whom he seemed as one that mocked when he told them of the angel's message. Genesis 9:14.

When the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush, two things were set forth: one, that God would come near to man, and not consume him; the other, that if man be in God's presence it must be with his shoes off his feet, in the sense of God's holiness; so that the more you increase in nearness to Him the more you must increase in the sense of what is due to Him. When the law was given and the Lord drew near to pronounce it, there were thunderings and lightnings. "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled". Exodus 19:16. For this, Moses had sanctified the people and washed their clothes; they must be sanctified and their clothes washed, though the Lord was still in this great distance. How much more when there was nearness! He cannot surrender His holiness, and hence when He tells them of His grace ("I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee") He says, "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon", Exodus 20:25, 26. Thus was shown that both man's work and his natural state are entirely excluded from the presence of grace. They must be sanctified to encounter God in the great distance of law; and at the altar, when He comes in grace to bless, there is to be neither work nor effort, nothing of man!

Now when the tabernacle was set up (Leviticus 9, 10) the offerings as it were opened the way to the presence of God.

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There came out a fire from before the Lord and consumed the burnt-offering and the fat. Acceptance was assured; but in that great moment man's unholiness is exposed, the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire; they were unholy: and then follows not only a restriction from entering the holiest which was henceforth limited to the high priest once a year (see chapter 16), but now personal holiness is particularly enjoined, from chapters 10 to 16. As we are in nearness to God, so do we learn what suits Him, and this is holiness; and as we do, we discover how our own lives in detail will be affected and coloured by it.

Morality is not holiness, though there cannot be holiness without morality. Morality is natural religion, and this with conscientiousness is man's idea of holiness; whereas in truth God is the only measure of holiness. The question is, How do I get the right sense of it? As I am near Him. Isaiah was a godly prophet, and yet when he saw the king, the Lord of hosts, on His throne, and His glory filling the temple, he exclaimed, "I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips". (Isaiah 6) The sense of what suits God is acquired according as He places Himself in relation to me; as I have shown, He was nearer at the altar than on Mount Sinai, and the holiness learned or enjoined at the former, was greater than that at the latter.

If I do not know the relationship in which I am placed in the assembly of God I cannot have felt the nature of the holiness which He required, and then my personal ways must express a lower order of holiness, however conscientious I may be. After the failure of Nadab and Abihu, the word was "Ye shall be holy; for I... am holy". They must fit themselves for the nearness of the Lord in the tabernacle. In His house I see what suits Him, and as I learn it, the consequence and the effects are seen in my own house and ways, or I am unfit for it. If I were in heaven even once, I should be impressed with the

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character of things which suit the Lord, and which I never could acquire any true sense of by any study or imitation. The word establishes my heart as impressed with the right sense, but the sense can be acquired only by the presence of the Lord who imparts it; then the word which enjoins it is understood. No one knows any virtue but as he partakes of it. As each servant was brought near to God he learnt what suited Him, and this necessarily colours and characterizes his whole life, or he gets a bad conscience and will be chastened. Woe betide Moses after being made to feel the holiness of God in grace, if he does not circumcise his son - if he be not holy in the home circle. Thus when God dwells among His people, the sense of holiness is clearer and fuller; and now, when the assembly still more intimately or most intimately is His habitation through the Spirit, the sense of holiness is there most fully acquired when the soul is sensible of what is due to Him in such a wondrous relationship. This we learn in the epistles, where the assembly is always the first circle of practical life, and the one which colours and characterises all the others. Take Romans 12, or Ephesians or Colossians. You will find there that if you do not understand the first circle - the assembly - the corporate position in which we are placed, you are not capable of understanding holiness or truth in connection with any of the other circles; and the highest epistle, the Ephesians, therefore sets forth all our relationships in the most heavenly colours. Thus, one might be conscientious and godly, and yet be far away from the true measure of holiness, because he had not learned the right sense of it in that place of nearness in which God in His grace had placed him. Thus we see that there cannot be "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" independently of corporate holiness, because, as the saint derives a right sense of holiness from God in His own dwelling place, so must there be deficiency or lack in himself when he accepts an association or an order of things for God's house, where holiness is not the

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reigning rule in everything; requiring the same of every one connected with it, and refusing every one not able or willing to conform to it.


There are two experiences in a quickened soul; one, the assurance of a gift conferred; the other, the comprehension of the value and effect of the gift, and an ever deepening acquaintance with it. With every gift that is accepted there is a sense of possession, but in order to know the value of the gift there must be study of it, and exercise, or there will be no progress. For example, the talent was a gift, but it was not to be hidden in a napkin, but put out to interest that it might be increased. It is quite a different thing to seek a talent, and to use one. There can be no using of the gift until it be possessed; and here there is often much delay and loss to the soul. It is seeking to ascertain the assurance of possession, instead of being able to use what is assuredly possessed. The power to see that every part of God's purpose respecting us is simply grace, and as much grace as the forgiveness of sins, can be imparted only by the Spirit of God. It is not only at first that souls are legal; the legality of our hearts has to be encountered at every step. The sinner thinks he must do something to commend himself to God, and the converted soul often turns to some effort of his own to acquire rest; and so on with regard to every part of the purpose of God, instead of its being simply and heartily received as His gift. There is often merely a glimpse of it as a thing to be desired, and sometimes a real longing of heart for it, and at one time there is an assurance of one's right to it, which at another time is lost, but still nothing else can satisfy the heart; because,

+The word "fervent", or variations of it, is used five times in Scripture. Acts 26:7, "Instantly (or in intensity) serving". Luke 22:44, "He prayed more earnestly". Acts 12:5, "Prayer ... without ceasing", literally intense. 1 Peter 4:8, "Fervent charity among yourselves". 1 Peter 1:22, "With a pure heart fervently".

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through grace, it has a right to it, for it has been already conferred on it by the free grace of God.

Now this is a state of distress; and it may not arise from the question of sin not being disposed of. There may be settled assurance of that, and yet there may be distress from the heart not being assured of union with Christ in the glory which He has given us. (John 17.)

The heart, as I have said, craves it; because it is the spot of rest which alone can satisfy it, but it measures its possession and right to it by its enjoyment of it, instead of setting itself to use it because of possessing it. An Israelite in the early morning, doubtless longed for the manna, but when he possessed it, he had to make use of it in order to learn its value. Had he wandered to a part of the wilderness where it was not, he would feel that he had missed it, and be in a state of distress, because occupied with his need and loss, instead of with the advantages which he derived from it when turning it to account. The antitype of the manna is Christ. Christ is now our life. If I am occupied with seeking whether I have His life or not, I am in distress. I have in reality lost my way. I have missed the cloud as well as the manna; and though I may appear to be very devoted and earnest, it is in reality more the striving of a drowning man labouring to retain his breath, than the fervent happy toil of one using it. The difference between the two is very striking. An invalid may use every effort to acquire health, and be earnest as to the object he has in view, but it is not the earnestness of the strong man who is exerting all his energies to increase his property and resources. As an invalid has a relish for health, so has the renewed soul a relish for light; but there is always a check to its reception if there be legality, and this legality is so frequently commended for earnestness, that it is often long before it is renounced. It has to be encountered at every step, but when it gives way before the light, in the assurance that our portion in every part is simply God's gift, the soul experiences a marvellous relief, and one

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quite as great as when Israel saw that a way was made for them through the Red Sea, without any effort on their part. When the soul has got into liberty ("where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty"), there is the assured sense of possession. Like Israel entering the land, there is a joy and a quietude never known before, though much longed for. It is a land where "thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it". There is hardly any moment of one's history so peculiarly blessed, as when the heart is taught by the Spirit of God, that the glory of Christ claims me as its own, and transforms me into its order and beauty. It is such a moment of bliss, such a relief from the distress of seeking, tasting, and longing alternately; the heart pining for the joy and rest which known union with Christ can only confer; the love true, but unsatisfied and unassured. This may give one the beautiful traits of a Mary Magdalene, with all her manner of unrequited devotion, still restless and unsatisfied. But when the certainty of association with Christ, as His brethren, in relationship to His God and our God, His Father and our Father, is known, there is light inconceivable and unequalled joy. The soul is not in its true proper ground for action until it has reached this point. As the land was to Israel, so is this assurance to the soul of the saint. There can be no Gilgal, until this point has been reached - the gift of God has not been received. One must assuredly be inside with God, before one can be outside for Him in testimony or service. I must first see where the purpose of God sets me, as shown in Ephesians 1. If this be not seen, there can be no progress. But this being accepted by faith, do I stop there? No; then it is that the prayer in chapter 3 follows, that I may know the good of what I have received; and then, strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, I have to resist the assaults of Satan.

Now the certainty of possession is not without its dangers; and though it be a moment of untold blessing, Scripture connects a "beware" with it; for literally the

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saint's labour and proper assiduities do not begin until this wondrous elevation has been reached; so that, instead of its being the finish, and ultimate point, it is really the starting point. From this all the acquisitions are to spring, and from here all the conflicts with wicked spirits in heavenly places are to be fought. The duties of a man come on with manhood. If it has its glory, it has also its responsibilities and its dangers. Self-occupied distress has given way to joy unspeakable and full of glory; but now the man of undoubted might is taxed and absorbed in an intense degree, with the great issues before him. They are a double nature. He has on the one hand to learn the answer to the prayer in Ephesians 3, to comprehend the immense scope of divine purpose disclosed to him, while his heart deepens in the "love of Christ, which passeth knowledge", and is filled with the fulness of him that filleth all in all. What exercises and fervency would this side impart to one! And then on the other hand, there is in the whole armour of God, the unyielding resistance to every wile of Satan, alas, generally most successful after a distinct victory, when watchful dependence is dropped for a moment. How engrossing would be the occupation, how absorbed the manner of one progressing in these very opposite and wondrous engagements! There would not be merely the exultation of being brought to so great a place, but there would be constant jealousy over self, and fear, not of losing the place, but of not walking worthy of it.

There is no room here for a thought common to some, that if I could read my title clear, and were once in spirit in settled assurance of my portion in Christ, I should see war no more; and all exercises would be at an end. The contrary is the teaching of Scripture. This is not passing the time of our sojourning here in fear, but, as we see 2 Peter 1, when there is not adding, there is not an abundant entrance into His kingdom and glory. It is after the servant of God has reached the place of rest and assurance for himself, that his real exercises begin, that

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the full force of his life is exerted. Our blessed Lord's path on earth deepened in exercise, zeal, and suffering, as it proceeded. He endured more of every kind after the transfiguration than before. On the holy mount He reached the meed that was due to Him personally, but when He descended, and all along to the garden of Gethsemane, it was one of continued exercise and fervency, until in the garden, "being in an agony he prayed more earnestly". His sense of perfect favour with His Father did not save Him from exercise and zeal in His service and path here, but on the contrary it entailed still more upon Him.

And so it is with every servant. Moses has to be more exercised and fervent after the vision of the burning bush than before. See him before Pharaoh; see him in his plaints to God. Was ever pressure known by him in such a way before? Was he broken down by it? Was he not more and more valiant? What a moment when he descends from the mount and finds Israel turned to idolatry! What exercises and fervency are elicited from him before God in that trying juncture! What calmness before man! He faces the six hundred thousand of Israel as if they were less than one man, and pitches the tabernacle outside the camp. If he were not resting assuredly in God he never could have endured in that hour. His assured favour with God qualifies him for his deeper exercise and display of true energy. His progress entails it. I need hardly speak of others. Isaiah is fitted for the deepest suffering and the most devoted service, by being assured of his own acceptance in the glory of God. No servant is fit for work until he has found a base with God. From it he starts, but then his progress entails an exercise and an energy, commensurate with the position given him of God. If he advance in the divine side, he must also increase in the suffering side, in the expression of the vigour which has been imparted. The apostle Paul probably knew more of association with Christ in unfading light than any one, and hardly any one could

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have endured more than he did. He could say, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart". "Cast down, but not destroyed"; "pressed out of measure, above strength"; "sorrowful, yet alway-rejoicing". Progress increased his exercises as well as his devotion to the Lord's service. His elevation to heaven, and the abundance of the revelations vouchsafed to him, made it necessary that he should have a thorn in the flesh. Thus a new and unlooked-for exercise is the consequence of his progress in the things of Christ.

But it is not only what is inflicted by the hand of the Lord, or by the violence of men, that he has to surmount; he subjects himself of his own accord to what I may call soul discipline. He writes, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection lest... when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway"; and, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes".

In conclusion, as the knowledge of Christ increases, and this the apostle was as much set upon to the last as if he had never attained to any of it, there must be exercise as to what is contrary to it. The knowledge of good entails the knowledge of the contrast. "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil". The man of God as he progresses in the things of Christ, has the corresponding obligation of maintaining what he knows of Him, and resisting everything that is contrary to Him; and this must always produce more exercise, more fervency, more prayer, more conflict, more self-surrender, more zeal.

The Lord grant that our experience may be, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up;" and this will be in proportion as we know what it is, and the One to whom it belongs.

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When christianity, an entirely new thing, and of the utmost importance to man, was introduced among men; when habits of thought and modes of communication were already established, one of two things must occur; either that there would be the attempt to class this new thing among the great studies of the day, or that it should be left in its own isolated novelty and importance to speak for itself, and to be learned by the means which it would enjoin, and which it considered as alone adequate and competent to explain or to inculcate it.

At first then when christianity had made little way, it was left to its apparent insignificance, but as it took root and came into prominence, the enemy encouraged and used even its true friends, to give it expansion in a natural way. If it had been left to its own singularity, it would of course as it advanced have instilled its own ideas, and thus have preserved its new and peculiar type. Christianity was planted by God in this hostile land, and there was no way of checking or hindering its growth, but by making it like the institutions or sciences in the world. To reduce it to this level was the aim and work of Satan. The attempt or effort at first was to prevent its taking root, and this is the nature of Satan's opposition to this hour; but once it takes root, and that this his first opposition is ineffectual, then a new mode is adopted, in order to spoil and circumscribe its influence. Unless we are prepared for this second opposition we shall be often deceived and carried away by it, even though through grace we have escaped the first. The man of God has in each step he takes for the Lord to encounter this double opposition. First there is an effort to prevent his taking the right step, and after he has taken it, a force is brought to bear upon him in order to nullify or neutralise

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the effect of it; and many a one who has overcome the first, has been over-borne by the second.

The attempt to hinder the first step is generally ineffectual, because it is so direct, the object is so apparent. Abram when he was called to come out from his country, and his kindred, and his father's house, was hindered by his father, and when his father was dead, he came into the land of Canaan. The first step is taken, then every effort is used to turn him from it, the famine succeeds for a little. Eventually he returns to the land; but then in Lot the enemy succeeds, not by causing him to retire from the land, but by inducing him to resemble the people of the land, to live there as they do, to choose the best of it, and be on equal, easy terms of social life with the inhabitants. The stranger character is lost, the peculiarity which ought to have marked these new corners, these men called of God to leave everything here, and be pilgrims here, is entirely surrendered and dissipated, by sinking down to the level of the populace. The direct opposition eventually failed, but the subtle device by which Lot is induced to accommodate himself to the people of the land is, alas, but too successful.

Thus again with the children of Israel in the land. They had to encounter great and terrible opposition, in order to enter and take possession of it; the direct opposition is successfully overcome; but before long, they succumb to the ways and habits of the people of the land. They drop down to their level, having first surrendered the idea of exterminating them. Of this they are warned. "Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you".

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Joshua 23:12, 13. The successful artifice of Satan is to induce the saint to drop down to the level of man. Sad and bitter to the uttermost is the declension of Israel, descending step by step, until at last they are captives in Babylon, which was systematized independence of God, and all from this small beginning, even that they would be popular and on easy social terms with the inhabitants of the land. The principle is very simple. If God's calling and people are unique, and the light and truth superior to the man of the earth, surely we cannot reduce what is of Him to the level of man without blunting its moral effect.

The truth of God and the people of God must be of a nature and order infinitely above man, so that we cannot reduce the one to the level of a human science, or the other to a joint equality, without losing the great moral weight and claim which, because of their origin, attach to them.

Now when Christ came He instituted and maintained fully in Himself the supreme distinction between the truth of God and man's wisdom, as well as His own moral separation from man here. And yet no one could have enunciated more plainly or forcibly the duties of man, and none was ever so tenderly interested about man; no one was ever better acquainted with his need, and the nature of his trials, or more devotedly set upon removing them. The great ones of the earth made out that He was but a mere man, and that neither He nor His doctrine was of God, and they rejected Him as a blasphemer. Satan tried to tempt Him as if He were altogether like man here, and then afterwards he attempts to crush Him as if He were but a man. The great point which our blessed Lord maintained and never swerved from was that He was come from God. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do". "I receive not honour from men". John 5:19, 41. "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me". John 7:16. It was a wonderful sight on the earth to see a man

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entirely for God, and maintaining everything here according to God, so enlightened that the Jews marvelled, saying, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?"

The Lord never for a moment adopted man's mind or principle for doing anything. He came to lend, not to borrow; He descended to the lowest toil and duties of man, but ever maintained the moral height and dignity from which He descended. Eventually He stooped as a victim to the terrible distance from God in which sin had placed the children of Adam; but never to be on their level; nay, on the contrary, to extricate them from the ruin under which they lay, in order that He might raise them up to His own height. "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren", Hebrews 2:11.

Satan was entirely baffled by our Lord, and a new centre was established for God on the earth. The last Adam could say, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do". And during His absence the saints are left here, to represent Him where He is not. To defeat this is the great aim of Satan. Every circle and force of men was brought against Christ. He was disallowed of men. But the Holy Spirit is sent from heaven the witness of the perfect acceptance of Christ's work before God. He is the promise of the Father, and as Satan could not prevent His coming, he tries every device to circumscribe and neutralize His influence. Satan knows very well that the saints are still in the old Adam nature; and that the bait most likely to succeed even with those who have received grace from Christ, is to make man the object, and not Christ. If he can get the saint or the professor to trust to his own powers and not to the Spirit of God, he has succeeded in diverting from the power of the Spirit of God, and the effect of His presence here. Ananias and Sapphira, whether believers or not, practically disbelieved in the presence or government of the Spirit of God, and considered that they could gain a reputation

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among the Lord's people by false means, without being detected. Peter is careful to say to Ananias, "Why has Satan filled thy heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Spirit?" Acts 5:3. Again, Simon Magus offers the apostle money, saying, "Give to me also this power, in order that on whomsoever I may lay hands he may receive the Holy Spirit". One can easily see in these first essays by recognized converts, the modes of damaging the truth which Satan would use.

We get another form in Acts 16. At Philippi when a woman possessed with a spirit of divination cried saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation", Satan actually offers to countenance the servants of Christ; with what motive can we for a moment doubt, but to reduce them from divine ground to his own? Am I to purchase Satan's cooperation at such a price - namely, to admit that I am under obligation to him for aiding me in the work of Christ, who was here rejected and cast out? Am I thus virtually to give up Christ in order to carry out the benefits of the gospel of Christ's grace to perishing souls? because this is the question at issue.

Now when I come to the close of Paul's service in 2 Timothy, I read that not only will Jannes and Jambres seek to hinder the truth by imitation when there will be the form of godliness without the power thereof, but that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine... and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" or myths. And in Revelation 2 in the history of the church, there is first the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication; that is, mixing with the men of the world, dropping down to man's level. Next it is, "Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols". Thus we have the descending

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scale marked enough. The meal was expanded, but it was all by the leaven; the mustard grew great branches, but the fowls of the air lodged in them; the word of God made of none effect by additions. The truth has been spread out in a popular form, in a form to satisfy human reason, and to accommodate itself to man, which is quite a different thing from expressing the truth in the plainest language; and the final snare, the crowning effort of Satan, follows, which is to make man the sole object of consideration; and this in the assembly does not lead to the improvement of man in a worldly and rationalistic way, but in applying all the benefits of the gospel to man for his gain, as if he only were to be thought of; as if it were quite immaterial whether there is any testimony for Christ: just as one would appropriate and turn to one's own account the benefits derived from some great benefactor, without ever thinking it necessary or obligatory to do homage to the source of them. The benefits are appropriated, but Christ, the Benefactor, is unhonoured.

The assembly of the Laodiceans boasts of being rich and increased with goods, and having need of nothing when Christ is outside. Now they could not speak in this manner unless they had partaken of the benefits of the gospel light, etc.; but though they have received from Christ the safety which man's ruined state required, yet the abandonment of the old man for Christ is neither seen nor admitted, but the contrary, and thus the greatest and fullest expansion of the truth results in such a deterioration of the testimony, that the assembly, the organ of testimony, becomes so abhorrent to the Lord, that it will be spued out of His mouth, and will no longer be the sphere of privilege and blessing upon the earth. The wild gourds have brought death into the pot (2 Kings 4:40).

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It is plainly set forth in Scripture, that where we have failed in respect to the present calling of the saints, there is no restoration of that which has failed in our hands; and yet there is, according as there is faith, a revival, or an acquisition of fresh power, not by a return to what has failed, but by our deriving new and peculiar vigour from what is coming, and still future. We fail in our calling, when we lose sight of our hope; but when we are revived as to our hope, we become morally in keeping with it, although we do not regain the glory connected with our calling. Abram maintained the calling of a pilgrim and a stranger in the land because he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Lot lost sight of his hope, and failed in his calling. According as Jacob recovered his hope, he was morally reinstated in his calling, though he was never in it as Abraham was. When Israel had failed in maintaining their calling in the land, and were carried captive into Babylon, two things were pressed upon the faithful; one, a release from captivity, the other the hope of Christ's coming, and the future glory of Jerusalem. Now, this hope really encouraged the returning captives. The calling they had failed in was not restored. There was no revival of their glory and power as a nation, but with the prospect of a much greater blessing than that which they had ever known in their brightest days, they answered to it morally, and were faithful to that which remained. Anna the prophetess (Luke 2) sets forth the characteristics of the true remnant. She was aged and passing away, but she adhered with sedulous devotion to the things that remained. She departed not from the temple, but continued in fastings and prayers night and day. She was ready for the coming Christ, and on His first appearance in the temple, when He was eight days old, she "gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem".

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Every one must admit that the assembly has failed as the candlestick; as the witness for Christ in the world, during His absence. True, all the light there is for God on the earth is found in the assembly, but where, in any part of it, can one find even accurate fragments of the truth, as it was at the beginning, except where our future state as the bride is before the soul, imparting its moral features and power? There is no clear knowledge of what becomes the assembly on earth, or at the present moment, but as it is prepared for what it shall be. The assembly at first was both the candlestick or lampstand and the bride; the one present, the other in prospect; and it is remarkable that as soon as the future was lost sight of by the servants in their hearts and practice, so did the assembly lose its proper energy and moral influence. We read (Matthew 25:1, 5), "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom... While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept". A sleeping saint has neither the sense of life nor does he manifest the activity of life. When the assembly lost sight of the coming of the Lord, she lost the sense of internal power, and was no longer the expression of it to man. When the first love waned, when the saints were satisfied with the reception of grace, without the heart going out in the earnest desire to see the Lord, they were no longer the lampstand. Surely they had light still; there was no light elsewhere on earth, but they had forfeited the visible demonstration of the Holy Spirit, because they had failed in being in heart and practice the bride. If they were not active in heart to their absent Lord, they were not to be entrusted with the honour of the Lord on earth; nor would they be invested with His name and rights on the earth where He had been disallowed. While there was a true earnest purpose of heart in watching for His return, the assembly on earth was clothed with Christ's power, as He said, "I am glorified in them"; but when she became supine, and

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indifferent to His coming, then there was a distinct withdrawal of visible favour; the office of candlestick or lampstand was no longer entrusted to her, and thus the church went on for centuries. At length, at midnight, there was a cry heard, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him". This cry reached with power the heart of every one with oil in his vessel - with life through the Holy Spirit. The affection was really there, but it was smothered and inoperative, because not called into occupation with the only object which could feed and enliven it, even Christ Himself.

But now, being awakened, the question arises, Will they be able to regain the position in which the assembly was at first set for Christ upon the earth? I should say, Not. It is contrary to all God's ways to restore what has failed, as I have already sought to set forth in this paper. But then, if this is impossible, because of the ways of God, a new thing comes out. The cry itself was new. The assembly at first did not need a cry. Now the cry having produced its effect, there is vouchsafed a picture of the bride as she will be. This was not given before the assembly had failed as the lampstand - as the witness of Christ - as the moon to the absent Sun, reflecting His light on the earth before the eyes of men. She forfeited this distinction because she failed in lively fidelity to her absent Lord, and now, when her heart is revived to Him, though she is not reinstated in her former distinction in the eyes of men, she is encouraged and rewarded by a view of what she will be as entirely suitable to Christ. She is shown the dress she will wear in order that she may seek conformity to it now. It is the Bridegroom that makes the bride. It is only in association with Him that the assembly could ever obtain or attain to anything in correspondence with His taste and glory.

Now the first characteristic or feature of the future bride is

HAVING THE GLORY OF GOD. (Revelation 21:10)

The first thing for the saint now is the knowledge of

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his association with Christ in glory. Until he enters into this there is really no development of that glorious character which the assembly will bear by-and-by; and it is there, in the glory, that the transforming power is experienced. The law was given in glory, and man was repulsed by it (see 2 Corinthians 3); but now in answer to the accomplished work of Christ the saint is by beholding Him in glory, "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord". (verse 18.) The glory is given now, and as we are conversant with it we are formed by it; when the bride will appear fully robed, she will have the glory of God; and as we are morally transformed, we are adopting for Christ's pleasure now what we shall be in perfection hereafter.

The next characteristic is


This is not for protection or security, for that could not be needed in the future state. It indicates a defined limit or exclusiveness. It had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb - the apostolic mission on earth fully effected. The bride will include only those who "shall believe on me through their word". John 17:20. As this characteristic - holy exclusiveness - is accepted and learned now, as part of the clothing of wrought gold, the attire suitable to Christ, so is there a godly shrinking and separation from everything which is unfit for the great nuptial day.

The next characteristic is


There are twelve gates, and every several gate of one pearl; "and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel". Gates denote reception. If this figurative city is exclusive it is also receptive. If the wall determines its limits, the gates (or entrance), which are not shut at all by day, show that it is open - the reception large enough for the people of God on earth.

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The street of gold is the walk in perfect, divine righteousness. Thus will it be by-and-by, and now as our hearts are kept with Christ, so do we buy of Him gold tried in the fire; we walk here even as He walked.


All counsel and order come directly from the Lord. There is no medium; and as we are in nearness to Him now, we are led and guided without any human intervention.


"The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it". No natural light is required, "for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof". Where the church has signally failed during her wilderness journey, even in being the lampstand here, she will be pre-eminently distinguished by and by, for Christ will be the lamp in the midst of her; and now according as the heart is in communion with Christ, grace of the same kind and order is imparted. The heart is satisfied with Christ. He is the lamp of it; the saint can enjoy the sufficiency of Christ, even while there is corporately no lampstand for Him on earth.


The living waters proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb flow out from the midst of her, and she, the bride, offers them to perishing man to the utmost bounds of the earth. "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". (Revelation 22:17.) So the saint now, believing in the glorified Christ, out of his belly flow rivers of living water. The power to cheer the heart and to be ministers of blessing depends not upon the assembly's faithfulness, but upon our faith in Christ glorified and ascended to the right hand of God.

Thus I have attempted in a very imperfect way to present the picture of what the assembly will be as set

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forth in this vision, in order that our hearts, being attracted by our future appearance, as fully answering to the heart of Christ, may, while humbled at our present marred state, appropriate, by communion with Him, the moral features of the one, who, as the reflection of Himself, will be "all glorious within", and fitly attired for Him; and thus may it be with us according to the words in Ezekiel 43:10, 11, "Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them".


There are two things indispensable to ensure the believer's true happy and holy course while here. The first is the place in which through grace (because of the work of Christ) I am set with God. It is first what Christ is for me; and secondly, what I am for Him. If I have not, through the Spirit, reached by faith the place which God in His love has secured for me in Christ, I cannot have a right sense of God's purpose respecting me; and were I to attempt to be for Him here, with an untrue apprehension of the place to which He had called me, I should so far misrepresent Him in every service in which I engaged. I do not mean to say that no one can be a true and happy servant unless he has a perfect apprehension of the place in which God has set him, in grace; but I say that if a believer has not a clear idea of the nature of the place in which God has set him, he cannot truly be an exponent in life or ways of the grace of which he is practically ignorant. If a zealous Israelite were to

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attempt to serve God in the wilderness, assuming that it was the place to which God had called him, and not to Canaan, surely he would entirely misrepresent God in all his ways and works. Thus it was with James and John when they wanted to return to the days of Elias, and bring down fire from heaven. The Lord rebuked them and said, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of". It is clear then that the first thing is an assured sense by faith of the place in which God has set us with Himself, and then, as we continue true to this, there will be a ready acceptance of the only place suited to us here, and that place is outside the camp. If I have not tasted of the rest and unspeakable satisfaction to the heart, of being inside the veil, I could not see nor accept the dreary seclusion which outside the camp conveys to the natural mind. It is remarkable that in the assembly generally the meanings of those two places are entirely unknown. The place where Christ is, having been rejected by man on earth, is now the place given to us by the grace of God; we taste of its blessedness in spirit; we eat of the grapes of Eshcol; it is our assured prospect, we are going on to it; and then we are here but pilgrims and strangers, occupying the place where our Lord has suffered for us. We in spirit and by faith enjoy the full results of His sufferings while still on earth, and now while we are enjoying the fruit of all His work (He leading our praises), we, while we journey here, cleave to that spot morally which He has so endeared to us by what He endured there for us; we have joy unspeakable as the result of His suffering for us, outside the gate, and we are with Him in spirit in heaven, and hence we "go forth... unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come". Hebrews 13:13, 14.

It is not easy to arrive at the meaning of outside the camp. To limit it merely to religious systems, I apprehend is insufficient. The word "camp" is first used in Genesis 32:2: "This is God's host". I cite this to

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show that a place acknowledged by God on earth may be incompatible with man in his present state, or he may be unfit for it. Certain it is that when Israel turned to idolatry (Exodus 33:7) Moses pitched the tabernacle without the camp: far off from the camp. But what the apostle refers to in Hebrews 13 is the sin offering. Leviticus 4:12, "Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire".

We read in Numbers 5:2, "Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead". Again, in Deuteronomy 23:14, "For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee". We get here the character of the camp, and what would be the consequence of its failing in its responsibility.

In Joshua 6:18, we find a warning "Lest ye.... make the camp of Israel a curse". We learn from all these passages that the place of power and order on the earth was unsuited to man in a sinful state, because from that place all evil was to be excluded, and therefore the offering for man's sin was burnt outside the camp. Hence, our blessed Lord, in order that He might sanctify the people by His own blood, suffered without the gate. He took the place which is our only true place, as lepers and unclean, and suffered there what was due to us, that we might enjoy the presence of God with Him, and now that we have boldness by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, it is but consistent that we should, while here on earth, go forth to Him without the camp bearing His reproach. Ruth says to Naomi, "Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:" and the same kind of affection in us would lead us to go

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forth unto Jesus - unto the place where He died for us, not now to suffer anything from God; on the contrary, to rejoice before Him, but not to expect from man any other treatment than that which our Saviour received from man. As mere men in nature we are not fit for the camp where nothing defiling was permitted, and are morally outside the camp because of our sins. Jesus took that place for us, and now that He has secured a place for us in heaven, we cleave to the spot on earth where He rescued us, and where He poured out His soul an offering for sin for us. We accept His reproach from men because we have His favour and acceptance with the Father. Faith in God at all times, from Abel downward, has led to reproach from men. To be dependent on God, doing His will, and independent of man in everything, has entailed scorn and derision among men. If an Abel offers a right offering and is accepted of God, he is hated of his own brother. If a Noah prepares an ark for the saving of his house he is regarded as exclusive and peculiar. No one hearkens to his strange preachings. If an Abram would follow the Lord and separate from Babel - in dependence in faith in His word - he must break away from country, kindred, and father's house. What an amount of reproach he must have endured! If a Moses choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than the pleasures of sin for a season, he must esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; and Paul could say, "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ". Thus, in every instance of faith, and of walking in the path in which faith in God leads, there is a way and manner of life unacceptable to man, and which elicits reproach from man.

I am sure we have very little conception how the walk or ways of our blessed Lord were misunderstood, and disapproved of in the judgment of men. Though He was beautiful in the sight of God, who could ever say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight";

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man's estimate of Him was, "There is no beauty that we should desire him". Even those who followed Him, and whose hearts were bound to Him, were unable to understand or appreciate His acts or ways. The sisters at Bethany, according to their own ideas of love, chide Him for His delay in coming to them in their sorrow, which was the very way of His perfect love. Peter with the best intention attempts to rebuke Him for speaking of His death, and again with the very best natural feeling ventures to reject the Lord's services in washing his feet. If His own cannot understand Him and venture to dissent from Him, and disapprove of Him, how much more must those who have no knowledge of Him, regard everything about Him as without form and comeliness.

The Lord give us so to abide in spirit in company with Him where He is - His joys our joys - that nothing may really suit us, or interest us here, but identification with Himself, even though there be suffering connected with it. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you", and this is the greatest divine distinction that can be conferred here.


There are two services of our Lord for His people, one which He has perfectly accomplished, the other with which He is at present occupied. The first is, He has placed us in His own acceptance before God, so that the soul knows that "Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity"; the worshipper once purged hath no more conscience of sins. When he is in Christ he is made free from the law of sin and death; he has the assured sense that his sins and iniquities are remembered no more. I do not say that he never departs from this new state in which in Christ he is set by God in His grace; but the only real way of being cleansed from the

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sins and distance into which he has fallen, is to return to his only true state before God; there doubtless he will be rebuked, and he must judge himself and repent; but then he is consciously restored to his true state - the state accomplished for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the counsel and heart of God. He cannot see us again in our old state, though He sees us returning to it, and hence if we do not judge ourselves, and repent, He will judge us, because He cannot suffer that we should return to, or continue in, a state of distance and alienation from Him, after His love has so perfectly delivered us through the sacrifice and death of our Lord Jesus Christ; He also having given us life in Christ through the Spirit, to enter into and enjoy this new state. I am before God in this new perfect state which can never be lost nor improved, as it is in itself the same as Christ's acceptance. This service of Christ has been perfectly accomplished. He has glorified the Father on earth and finished His work.

Now He is occupied with another service, which I will dwell on for a little, and that is, that our walk here should resemble His own walk on earth; so that it is our state on the earth which now, blessed be His name, occupies the attention of our Lord Jesus Christ. He could not add to nor improve our state before the Father, and He ever liveth to make intercession, that grace may unhinderedly follow us in our course here. But, beside this, there is an active present ministry of our Lord with each of us personally, and the mode and object of this I shall now inquire into.

The Lord, in John 13, when He knew "his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.... He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded". In this act He sets

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forth part of the mode of His present service. He uses the word to separate our hearts and minds while we are here, and He in heaven, from everything which detaches us from Him; and in the power of it, to attach us so to Himself, that we should be in communion with Him, or as He expresses it, have "part WITH ME". Peter sets forth the two mistakes which saints make, and thus lose for the time this great service. The first is from not understanding their need of the washing and thinking it too great a thing for the Lord to do. This shows ignorance of His heart for us; and then when Peter hears that unless his feet are washed he has no part with Christ, he hastens to say, "Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head"; thus disclosing that he did not know the perfect state in which he was set before God through the washing; and this is the state of many genuine believers, when they ask the Lord to wash or cleanse their words and their thoughts, as hands and head may figuratively express. The simple blessed object of the Lord in this service is to keep our hearts in unclouded nearness to Him by association with Himself. He is in heaven, and we on earth, and He in His love makes it His business to keep us in unbroken intimacy with Himself. It is not that He may produce any special quality or conduct in us, but that which includes and ensures every quality and conduct, even "part with me". Nothing less will suit Him, and nothing less does He wash our feet for; we are beside His thoughts or object in His service when we seek or limit it to anything less, and if we are active we only show that we are not in communion with Him. Peter had practically to learn all this. He denied the Lord, was drawn away by the influence of evil doers among whom he associated. When convicted he left them, and in sorrow of heart saw how grievously he had fallen. The Lord meets him after His resurrection, and he is forgiven, and not only forgiven, but breathed upon, and sent into the world, as He Himself had been sent (John 20), and yet he is not in communion with the Lord; there is a sense

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of reserve which always warps our apprehension of His mind. Peter is active, and it is in activity in our works that we disclose the motive which has led to them; he goes a-fishing - he is not in the current of the Lord's mind; but the Lord will set him straight, He will teach him "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter". After they had dined, - after they had been socially together - after the saint is consciously near the Lord, He probes the soul, and says, "Lovest thou ME?" It is not, Are you more subdued, or are you less self-confident? Either of these is a result and not the spring; the only spring is Himself, and hence it is, "Lovest thou ME more than these?" Do you surpass all others in personal affection to Christ? Because that is the real thing to be desired, and not this or the other quality; for every right thing will follow when Christ is the mainspring. As all things in the firmament and the earth itself are kept in perfect order entirely as God would have them, because each is so distinctly and continuously attracted by the sun, so when our hearts are fully attracted by Christ, we do that which is pleasing in His sight.

The effect of Christ's ministry is that the saint may have part with Him; hence anything, however good or useful, is not in itself the effect of His ministry, though it be a consequence of it. The young ruler was a lovely character, most unexceptionable among men; he could say, "All these have I kept from my youth up", but yet he was a stranger to the effect of Christ's ministry, or the mode by which He produces it. Martha (Luke 10) receives Him into her house; in the kindest way she is occupied for Him, laboriously and sedulously; but when she complains that her sister had left her to serve alone, the Lord says, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but... Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her", Luke 10:41, 42. Mary was subject to His word, that was the mode of His ministry, and she had reached the effect

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of it, even the "good part" which should not be taken away from her, and that was simple occupation with Himself. When He is really and fully in, everything of self must be outside, and therefore the aim is not so much to exclude this or that, or to improve this or that, but to live Christ. When that which is contrary presents itself, I can say to it, "ye have not so learned Christ". If we do not know Christ, how can we know that which is not Christ?

The Galatians were making the cross of Christ of none effect; the way the apostle corrects this, is travailing in birth for them that Christ may be formed in them. I cannot know what is the right conduct for me, but as I know Christ and His grace at the moment; hence it is Christ I have before my mind, and not merely conduct. A blameless life according to the law of God may have no Christ in it; nay, such an one may go away sorrowful because asked to take up his cross and follow Him. A most energetic devoted servant, really loving Him, and valuing His company in her house, as did Martha, can miss the good part. The great thing the soul has to learn is Christ, the only man who in everything and position here on earth pleased God. Hence we read of our Lord, when instructing the two disciples going to Emmaus, "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself"; and then when He had exercised their hearts, He was made known to them in breaking of bread.

There is only one remedy for the soul in any darkness or need, and that is Christ. The undue and continual insisting of one truth has been the parent of much evil and heresy in the assembly. Christ's remedy is Himself. In the lowest state of things, to the assembly of the Laodiceans, He says, "I stand at the door, and knock: if any man... open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me;" or as He teaches the sleeping bride in Canticles, that though He arouse her by His voice and hand, and though her affections in the

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deepest way are awakened and revived, yet she does not find Him, He has withdrawn Himself and is gone, until He is portrayed to her in rapt contemplation, and then she finds out where He is, and can say, I have part with Him, "My beloved is mine, and I am his".

The Lord lead us to understand the inconceivable love of our Lord in washing our feet, that we may have part with Himself, and nothing less.


The last phase of the assembly as the vessel of testimony for God on the earth is the Laodicean; hence what that state is, and how produced, must be of great interest to us. The four latter assemblies run down to the coming of the Lord. Philadelphia is the assembly in light and power before the end. Laodicea will be spued out of Christ's mouth as entirely unfit for the testimony. In the varied phases of the assembly we find gross evil and painful departure from the truth; but it is in the assembly of the Laodiceans only, we hear of boastfulness because of their acquisitions, and yet with this intelligence Christ is not their object nor pursuit. Scriptural intelligence so great as to be a matter of boast has been attained to, but it is ineffectual to form Christ in them. They boast of great intelligence about Christ and His things, but it is not Christ Himself they seek or cultivate. The truth is shown to be powerless because it is man as he is naturally who commands their attention. If Christ is not my object, man in some form or another must be my object. The Laodicean state is when there is so much intelligence and acquisition that there are data for boastfulness with so much self-satisfaction that there is "need of nothing". When the assembly reaches this state fully, that is, boasting of its intelligence and possessions, and yet Christ not the object, then it is plainly unfitted to be the vessel of testimony, and the Lord spues it out of His mouth. In all other phases of the assembly there was at

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least no boastfulness as to their condition. It is quite true that very soon the assembly lost its true place as the witness for Christ on the earth; but there never was before boastful self-satisfaction as to intelligence and Christ literally outside. True, for centuries the assembly had lost the great truths of eternal life and the new creation, now revived; but though these truths are restored to the Laodiceans they have no real effect upon them, they do not cultivate Christ, so satisfied are they with their acquisitions, etc.

The Laodicean state may simply be defined thus: the greatest intelligence combined with self-consideration; and when this is the case, the truth has no power and its owner only subjects it to miscarriage. Beautiful garments only suit those who are worthy of them. The truth in Laodicea is but "a jewel of gold in a swine's snout", the most valuable thing reduced to the level of an unworthy possessor. No simple follower of Christ could boast of his acquisition because he would have the sense that he now only sees in part, and that he has not yet attained. When the church avowedly and characteristically promulgates a boast of the possession of truth and the advantages of it, and this coupled with indifference to Christ, then the Laodicean state has fully come.

We shall find all through Scripture that it is the intelligent person, who is not under the control of the truth which he knows, who is the one who chiefly mars the testimony for the time.

Eve had light and knowledge through the word of God, but drawn away by self-consideration, when she saw what was good for food, pleasant to the eye, and to be desired to make one wise, she took thereof and did eat, showing that self had more control over her than the word of God, and thus the first state, the state of innocence, was lost. The one who knew the truth had turned from the holy commandment delivered unto her.

Noah had light, to him was given power to rule and suppress evil, but he drinks of the fruit of the vine -

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gratifies himself, so that he is disqualified for his position; not from ignorance but because he swerved from the control of God's word, to think of his own gratification, not that he intended to unfit himself for his calling by intemperance, but once self-gratification is yielded to by one who knows better, and who is called to higher things, his fall is inevitable, and the testimony is not only marred but ignored.

Isaac had the light and truth respecting Israel's future, but he was warped in his mind because he did eat of Esau's venison, and he attempts to confer the blessing intended for Jacob upon him.

Aaron, the mouthpiece of Moses, the one who had assisted in all the wonderful deliverances which God had wrought for Israel, the one appointed to stand between the people and God, makes a calf for Israel, thus contravening the whole truth of God. The one in ability and knowledge most qualified to propound and maintain the mind of God, lends himself, in order to be popular, to disgrace himself, and defame it. He doubtless did not intend to annul it, but in attempting to reduce it to man's mind, he "changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass". (Psalm 106:20.)

Samson, the strongest of men, highly honoured of God, assured of the secret of his strength, led away by self-gratification and indulgence, became the sport of the enemy - a blind prisoner in his hands; not from ignorance, but from being wrought upon through his natural affections, by a designing and degraded woman.

Solomon, the man to whom God says "I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee", loved many strange women, "and the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other

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gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant", 1 Kings 11:9 - 11.

I might adduce other examples, but one in the New Testament will suffice. Peter, to whom at the time the greatest light was revealed, to whom the Lord says, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". Yet we find that almost in the same breath, he attempts to rebuke the Lord for speaking of His death; unwittingly he would spare man; he was possessed of the greatest truth, but he could not bear that the man, as man here, must be set aside in the cross; and this is such a subtle and pernicious error, that our Lord in the most scathing way denounces it, saying to him, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men".

In Paul's epistles the teaching is that the first man should be kept out, by the power and knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. It is not so much that the truth of the gospel is denied, but there is a continual attempt of the flesh to get some place in carrying it out. The servants of God who have most light, and who in any measure or degree sanction or make use of man naturally, in inculcating the truth, however unwittingly, promote and generate the Laodicean state; they really make the cross of none effect; that is, man is not ignored. They may argue for it their success in arresting and winning souls; but the end can never justify the means, and certainly the work of those servants bears the marks of the workmen. Though their converts have received grace from Christ there is no thought or intention of living Christ here, but they go on in the world as usual, only more morally and respectably.

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When a soul is converted or taught by one who acts on the affections by human means, the more light that preacher or teacher has, the more does he indirectly sanction the human thing, so the truth he has is proved inoperative to ignore the old man; consequently, the assembly becomes "the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me". When there is boastful self-satisfaction as to possession of light and knowledge, but all directed to the benefit of man, and when even unintentionally Christ is not the object or aim of their hearts, this is the Laodicean state; and when this state characterizes the assembly, it is evident it can no longer be used by Christ as a vessel of testimony, and then, alas! it is fit and suited for the beast to carry, in order to consummate Babylon.


Before we can rightly consider the subject of ceasing from sin, we must first understand what sin is. Sin is lawlessness. Sin is the act, or the intent to act, according to my own will. "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin". Sin entered when Eve acted in contravention of the word of God, in accordance with her own judgment and will. It was not that she did anything morally degrading; and it did not lessen the fact of its being sin, because her act would greatly contribute to her advantage, and raise her in the natural scale. It is important to see that sin is not confined to immorality, or to anything degrading; it is simply running counter to the will of God, and there may be grievous sin, where everything is nice and advantageous in a human point of view. Saul of Tarsus lived in all good conscience, and was, concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless, and yet he was the chief of sinners, because, with all his moral reputation, he was in will and act opposed to God.

The thought of foolishness is sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. In a word, "the carnal mind [or the mind of the flesh] is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be". "In me, (that

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is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing"; "the mind of the flesh is death;" "they that are in the flesh cannot please God". As there is nothing in the flesh that is good, when it is allowed to think or to act, there is sin there. Whether it be the most noble conduct, or the most degraded, it is simply independence of God, and at bottom preferring one's own way to God's; and surely, as there cannot be more than one right way, it is clear, when the flesh acts or thinks for itself, it is sin.

We must, however, distinguish between the claims of nature, such as hunger, cold, etc., as the Creator made man, and the desires of the flesh and of the mind, which are man's inventions. God made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions. Any of these inventions sought after in the will of man is sin; for though it might not be evil in itself, the fact of its being sought or enjoyed in independence of God makes it sin. Seeing, therefore, that there is no soundness in the flesh, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, how are we to cease from sin? It is evident that, as there is no good thing in the flesh, no good can come out of it; the spring is corrupt; and hence, the only way to check sin, or to cease from it, is by subjecting the sin in the flesh to death; in fact, carrying out what is termed in Scripture, "dead to sin". The point I must first arrive at is, that nothing good is in the flesh, and that if any good comes from me - anything pleasing to God - it must come apart from the flesh, even from the Spirit of God. The body with a will in it is the flesh; without a will, it is Christ's servant.

Through grace I have received pardon through Christ for my sins, but the flesh, as the principle of sin, is still in me, but as a forgiven one; accepted in Christ, with a new nature, and life in Him, the temple of the Holy Spirit, I cannot enjoy my new position unless I cease from sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves", and yet I am not true to the state in which grace has set me, unless I am dead to sin. The greatness of His grace

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is unfolded to me, in order that I should not sin, as John says, "These things write I unto you, that ye sin not". It is not enough for me to long after true holiness, or to know that I have a divine nature; I have to keep the flesh in death; I have to arm myself with "the same mind" - that is death - for "he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin". (1 Peter 4.) There is no way of correcting the flesh, it must be reckoned dead. I must learn, first, that I am crucified with Christ. God has, so to speak, judicially ended the old man in the cross, that the body of sin might be destroyed. I am therefore before God dead; "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3); but I am alive in Christ, the law of the Spirit making me free from the law of sin and death; yet the flesh is in me, and lusteth against the Spirit; still the Spirit triumphs. If I walk in the Spirit, I shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh; the lusts are there, but they are not allowed to move. If they were not there, there would be no lusting one against another, and no success of the Spirit. How could there be success, when there was no opponent? I am now at liberty to treat my flesh - nay, I am called to do so - as that to which I am no debtor; and not only so, but if I live after the flesh, I shall die; but if I through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, I shall live.

Now the first cause of great damage to souls is ignorance of what sin is; they do not know it, so as to be able to discern it, for the conscience cannot wince when there is no sense of unholiness, and yet there may be damage to the soul, though it be ignorant for the moment of the cause of the damage. We read, "If a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty". (Leviticus 5:2.) We come in contact with much that is unholy, and though there be grief thereby to the Holy Spirit in us, there is no pain to our conscience, because we are not enlightened

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about it; and hence our confidence with God continues; our hearts condemn us not. (See 1 John 2:20, 21.) A soul may be suffering from many a wilfulness, or contact with a dead person, of which it is not conscious. If it were conscious of it, and yet allowed the wilfulness to be unrebuked and unrenounced, that would be a bad conscience, and all communion would be interrupted. It is only the known sins that the conscience can take note of, but the unknown ones damage the soul, and the more spiritual any one is, the more sensitive he is to the touch of sin. The ability to see what is sin is only in proportion as I am living in the Spirit, and thus I know it too by contrast. How often has one found out that there was sin, when at the time one had no idea of it. The first step to true knowledge is to abhor oneself, as utterly vile, and unable to do or to seek anything according to God; and then, having detected a sin, to cease from it, by suffering in the flesh.

In order the better to expose the incorrect ways by which we try to cease from sin, I will specify some particular sins. There are two classes of sins - one, the lusts that are to be mortified; the other, the ways that are to be put off. Take covetousness, for instance - that is a lust, and one which includes the most common, and often most excused, sin. It is idolatry, an uncontrolled desire to obtain anything. When a soul is in this state, lust has conceived, and it is sin, though the desire may not be fulfilled or carried into effect. Now the way to cease from this, is not by simply praying, even with great resolutions, that the desire may be taken away, or avoiding the object, or order of things, which feeds it - though one cannot too distinctly own it before the Lord, or too absolutely avoid every place or circumstance where the desire would be encouraged - but this might go on year after year without there being any ceasing from it; nay, these very exercises, though right as far as they go, would give that measure of relief which lulls the conscience for the moment, but is sure to be followed by a

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deeper voluptuousness. There is no ceasing from it. Nor can there be a superiority over sin simply by faith. If this were the case, then, as there is justification by faith, there would be no exercise of life in me through the Spirit, and no bearing about the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus might be manifested in my body. The sin must be denounced as a thing not to be tolerated. The existence of its root, which is the flesh, is not to be suffered nor recognized. So that it is not merely a particular sin which I refuse, but I insist that the flesh, the soil for all sin, must be dead, as it is dead for me in the sight of God. There must be suffering in the flesh, or there will be no ceasing from sin.

If I see fruit, and feel pleasure in finding that I could take it without being detected, then, even though I have not taken it, I have sinned; lust has conceived. But if, when I see it, I have a sense of pain instead of pleasure in seeing what I might do, I suffer in the flesh, I have ceased from sin therein.

It is very evident that there is not a sense of the darkness or unholiness of lust of any kind, but as there is a ruling sense of the beauty of the contrast of the nature which was in Christ, which could not see anything to draw it aside, in the most inviting object here to which, as man, He had no right; and we know that even what He had right to He would not accept from any one but God, who only is good.

Next, as to the ways of the flesh. It is not enough to condemn them as they arise, but they must be put off, not corrected, in order that the grace of Christ may appear in their place.

Lastly, as to thoughts, which are doubtless the most tormenting and infectious of all, because the beginning of all evils; for every temptation begins with a thought. If Satan can succeed in getting attention to his suggestion, the ground is prepared for him to help you to the evil act. Hence, lust has to conceive before it is sin; the thought enters like a flash, but if you have suffered in the flesh

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you drive it away, as you would a wasp. If you entertain it, it is sin. Associations, books, stories, circumstances, tend to present thoughts of their own stamp to our minds; and hence the need of watchfulness as to all these things, because it is no use to say that the flesh is to be reckoned dead, while we minister to it in any of these ways.


In every case of energy and for all progress, there must be an aim, or a goal, before the mind. Sometimes it is undefined, something desired, though greatly in the distance; while with others, where ability and assiduity are combined, there is a certain defined point of eminence before the mind. Nothing less would satisfy it even in prospect, because there is a sense of being able to attain to it. Now with a saint it must necessarily be of this latter class. It is clearly set forth in Scripture what is his proper aim, as well as the ability or grace which he may appropriate in order to reach it. The distinct aim and goal for a saint is glory in prospect, and suffering now, but as the latter is attained to, the sense of the former is apprehended and enjoyed.

It evidently runs counter to all human feelings and desires that progress should entail suffering, that prospectively there should be no hope of a time of rest and cessation from toil where one might in retirement enjoy his hardly won acquisitions. The saint must leave this scene before he enters into rest; the work must be over; for his rest is not here. The natural feeling is that a time of rest and reward will succeed the time of energetic and successful toil, and unless we understand how the death of Christ and His rejection by man on earth have affected the relations of His own to the earth, which is the scene of His rejection, we shall never be able to apprehend the highest position for a saint now on the earth. If we admit that the blessed Lord has been disallowed of men, and this cannot be denied, there is no escaping from the

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conclusion that those who would follow Him have no option from suffering. "If any man serve me let him follow me", and this He said in reference to His death: "The servant is not greater than his lord".

The effort has been to modify the fact that Christ has been rejected from the earth or to ignore it, and according as this effort is allowed, there must, as a consequence, be a seeking for ease and honour here, and thus the true eminence of the saint is overlooked. In Scripture, as we shall see, all manner of blessing is connected with suffering. "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake". (Philippians 1:29.)

Let us look at some of the advantages of suffering. The place He occupied for us is the place we are called to occupy for Him. "Let us go forth... unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach". He suffered for us without the gate; He endured everything due to us from God; and all the enmity of man and of Satan bore down upon Him. We are in the scene where He suffered for us, and where man and Satan still retain and pursue the selfsame enmity. We are left here to manifest His life in our bodies, while we are introduced by Him into unclouded favour with God, "accepted in the beloved" in virtue of His work and suffering; and hence, as we enjoy the fruit of His suffering, and are thereby set in spirit with Him in glory, we, as a matter of consistency, take His place here with regard to man and Satan. We bear His reproach. In heaven we are in the fruition of His suffering, and we taste of it now; but while we are on earth, in the scene of His sufferings, we cannot enjoy the glory with Him, without accepting His sufferings here. There are no longer any for us from the hand of God, but now all is from the hand of man and Satan. Hence the apostle says, "that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death". Paul knew consequent on his knowing the power of Christ's resurrection

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- in superiority over death in the presence of God - righteousness for ever secured before Him. As soon as he was at home before God in full acceptance, then the course here was the sufferings of Christ, reaching on to the highest point, namely, conformity to His death.

Next: our being glorified with Him is in connection with our present suffering with Him (Romans 8:17), as also if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12); as He said to His disciples, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel". (Luke 22:28 - 30.) The passage in Romans is very interesting; the word for suffering is peculiar, meaning to be in company with one in suffering, and this qualifies one for being with Him in His glory by and by. If we have been in any measure in company with Him here, surely we shall not be the less so in His kingdom, and no one with a true heart would seek to be in company with Him in the scene of glory, and be indifferent about Him in the scene of His suffering. He is the same person in two scenes the most different and opposed. As we are with Him in the one in which we are now, so shall we be with Him in the one which is coming.

Next: all awards by and by must be determined by the way we have suffered for Christ in this present time. The "Well done, good and faithful servant" hereafter, is conferred according to the suffering service now; so much so that it is said, "that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer". (2 Thessalonians 1:5.) The principle of this is couched in the saying of Abraham to the rich man, "Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented". "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you".

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The suffering is unjustly inflicted by man; it is encountered because we follow in His path, "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth". If He suffered, so must we suffer, and that the more truly we are in His path.

Next: the greatest favour known to the soul is conferred because of suffering. "But 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. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you". (1 Peter 4:13, 14.) The sufferer not only looks forward to the day of glory, but at the present moment, he is marked with especial favour, the Spirit of God; and the Spirit of glory resteth upon him. This is known in measure by every one suffering for Christ, as his wages, if I may so say, for the present time. "He that reapeth receiveth wages"; but there is more in prospect. Thus Abraham was refreshed by Melchisedec; thus Paul was supported before the Roman tribunal; thus the children of the captivity were preserved in the burning fiery furnace. The apostles could rejoice that they were "counted worthy to suffer shame for his name". The reason for this is, that the saint is so truly in Christ's place that the Spirit of God and of glory must rest upon him; but this shows how distinctly and unmistakably suffering is the highest position for the saint on the earth. Hence it is said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven". (Luke 6:22, 23.) There is never a great work, or a bright sense of glory, but in connection with present suffering; hence "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh". (2 Corinthians 4:11.)

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It is an immense help when you see and accept that suffering for Christ is the place of the highest distinction on the earth. We may not suffer much, but the mere conviction that suffering is the highest place, and the only one of true progress will ever be healthy discipline and encouragement.

Next: as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so do our consolations by Christ. It is very evident that if testimony and faithfulness to Christ here entail suffering, and that present and future rewards are measured and conferred in proportion to the suffering, the joy and comfort of the heart must be conditional on the sufferings. If the suffering place is the path of Christ here, it is the highest place for the saint, and surely that of the deepest enjoyment, as Christ's own joy must be tasted there; as He said, "my joy fulfilled in them"; not yet in connection with glory, but in the very pathway He had trodden here.

There are two phases more of this interesting subject which I may mention. First, there is nothing which so draws the line between the true servant of Christ and the human imitation of service in any form, as suffering for Christ. Thus the apostle recounts his sufferings "as a fool" that (as he says) "I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we". (2 Corinthians 11:12.) And finally, what more distinguishes between the saint and the world than suffering? "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:)" Hebrews 11:37, 38.

The Lord give us to see and to accept the greatness of the privilege and distinction of being counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, that we may enter more fully into the blessedness of union with Him, because, as it is true, and known in one sphere, it must be true and known in any other.

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To a man without grace or Christ in his soul there would be no incentive or heart to amend, were he consciously to lose all self-respect in the eyes of others; and generally when it is so, he either becomes more reckless, or not infrequently destroys himself in despair. It cannot in any way tend to retrieve a man to convince him that he is irrevocably bad unless you can assure him of that which is infinitely good in place of that which is worthless.

We press on the unconverted their guilt and inability to meet the claims of God, and that as guilty they are lost, unless saved by Christ; and the more unflinchingly and distinctly this is pressed and received, the more is the moral distinction between Adam and Christ made known. When the conduct is bad, there is no difficulty in convincing of guilt; so much so, that the conversion of the wicked is often brighter, and more marked, than that of the blameless, though with the latter, where there is a true sense of being morally worthless, there is a deeper repudiation of oneself. I suppose a more terrible shock can never be known to the heart of man, than the discovery, that while his conduct is unimpeachable, while he is consciously entitled to a blameless reputation, yet that really and truly, in God's sight, he is morally corrupt, so much so, that bowed under the irresistible fact, he exclaims, "I abhor myself". This was the experience of Job. Through much exercise and suffering, this most amiable and blameless man is brought to this deep and true experience; an experience which is the groundwork of all divine virtue, and without which there is really no true nor divine progress. The process adopted toward Job would not have been detailed for us at such length, were it an easy thing, or a day's work, to reach truly and deeply this experience. A converted man whose conduct had been bad or unamiable, would because of grace and light in his soul admit that he had nothing to say for

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himself; but what he is required to learn is, that though all his ways may be respectable, and approved like Job's, yet were he to see Christ's beauty and nature, he would abhor himself. It is not, I repeat, that he abhors his bad conduct, but when all was invariably good, can he then, and had he then, before God, felt and said, "I abhor myself"?

The blessed God said of Job to Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" Yet Job had to learn this experience; it was not merely that he learned that God abhors the flesh in its best estate, but Job himself was brought first to a sense that he was "vile" (see chapter 40: 4), which the soul of the sinner must feel before God, but next he must learn that there is nothing in Him to suit God, so that, not only does his satisfaction in his own amiability give way, not only does he say "I am vile" but he cannot tolerate himself before God; he abhors and repudiates himself and repents in dust and ashes.

Now this experience being indispensable for the highest place with God in every line, be it for rest of heart, communion, or service, not Job only, but every saint, in order to reach to the blessedness of either, must first practically enter on this experience. There is no other road to the divine reality of any one of them. There is a moral necessity for this experience, for man has not only sinned and become alienated from God in his mind by wicked works, but after having been subjected to every trial by God, without law, under law, and by the coming of Christ, he has been proved to be utterly worthless and incapable as has often been shown. No sooner was any new responsibility committed to him than he failed, like a cup upsetting the moment it was filled, and this on every occasion and under every trial. Hence all our blessing of every kind and order being simply and entirely God's gift, and from His favour, the

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more distinctly the heart is convinced that man in his most amiable state is utterly weak and profitless, the more will it be sensibly dependent on God, acknowledging that every good thing is from and in Christ Jesus.

However clear one is as to the doctrine of grace, that is, our absolute need of receiving pardon from a holy God, through the blood of Christ, yet this sense may be partial, and may be limited to the need of forgiveness and the conviction of absolute nothingness and imperfection may not be known for a long time after. Nay, how many, after the knowledge of forgiveness, seek to keep the law, making it the rule of life, and the measure of holiness. Such are barred from a knowledge of the height, in every line, as I have stated, because they have not reached the experience of Job, even "I abhor myself".

Let us look at some examples. No one ever gets clear of Romans 7 who has not reached this experience; it is the lack of it which detains souls in the struggles of that chapter. There is, as we see there, the sense of what is right. Nay, there is delight in the law of God after the inner man, and yet no deliverance until he comes to this, "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing". However amiable you are, when you come to this, you must abhor yourself, and then you can say heartily, I have nothing more to do with myself. "I thank God through Jesus Christ". I turn over absolutely and completely to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him I get power to fulfil the desires of His nature.

It is on this principle that the Syrophenician woman obtains help from the Lord. She took the place of a dog, worthless, contemptible; and thus she became entitled to the manifestation of His power in the expulsion of the evil spirit.

Thus too, in Psalm 73. When I get into the sanctuary, one of the marks that I am there is the sense of my own nothingness, "I was as a beast before thee", and this is

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coupled with the deepest fullest sense of being an object to God; "nevertheless I am continually with thee", etc.

I adduce these examples to show how necessary and inseparable is this experience from every place of nearness or privilege with God.

Thus also for devotedness. There never was an instance of real devotedness yet until the soul had entered into the experience of being entirely indebted to Christ, concurrent with the sense of being unfit for Him. Like Peter in Luke 5, when his conduct was excellent, and when he was receiving miraculous favour from God, he exclaims, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord". In the midst of everything commendable he loses self-respect, and having found in Christ that which set him without fear in the presence of God, which evidently his own conduct and even God's favours to him had failed to do, he leaves all and follows Him.

Thus also for service. The servant is never fitted for his work until he has seen, like Moses or Isaiah, that he is nothing before God, but that being nothing, and undone, he has acceptance with God. If the servant has not reached this experience, he is self-confident; he is like Moses using his own hands in the service of the Lord (Exodus 2:12); he has no support, no base to fall back on when violently assailed. It is a moment of unparalleled blessing to the servant when these two things are concurrently known to him, the sense, that in himself there is nothing to trust in, but that with God there is perfect favour and countenance. Then is he ready for any service, but not till then.

Now in Job are set forth the stages, as I may say, which a soul passes through in learning this experience. Here is a man of the most exemplary conduct, marked with every divine favour, first deprived by Satan of all his children and all his property in the one day and as if by the one stroke, and then deprived of his health. Satan's object in all this suffering was to compel Job to turn from God, and to deny Him. Job remains true, but

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this is not enough. God subjects him to exercise of soul, first through his friends, who insist that his sufferings are retributive; and this which was not true, but man's judgment of God's discipline, only elicits from Job his confidence in his own goodness and amiability. No one was like him among men according to God's own testimony, and as long as Job viewed himself in his relation to men, he adhered to his conviction of his own righteousness; like the young man in the gospels, he could say of all the commandments relating to his fellow men, "all these have I kept from my youth up". While he remains on this legal level, to which his friends confine him, there is no altering his assured conviction of his goodness and uprightness; while this level is persevered in, there is no alteration in his sense of what he is himself. The sense of uprightness, it is evident, can be reached on this level of man merely; but the teaching of God is to lead a man, thus assured and self-satisfied, with undeniable grounds for it, in the eyes of every man, and in the most truthful conviction of his own mind, to see that he, such an one among men, and before men, and with such a laudatory feeling of himself, can arrive at the most opposite and humiliating conviction when he changes from the level of man to that of God, and is really confronted before God. When he can say, "now mine eye seeth thee", then he exclaims, "I abhor myself". And then he realises for the first time that he is in himself entitled to nothing, yet God is the one he can turn to; and he prays for his friends, in evidence that his selfishness is gone, and his dependence on God unqualified. He is thus led to the deepest, truest, happiest ground ever known to the soul - God known as everything and himself nothing.

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To know "him that is from the beginning" is the highest knowledge we can ever attain to, and it is to this knowledge that we are growing, if we are really progressing. "If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". (2 Peter 1:8.)

Every believer knows something of Christ; as He says, "I... know my sheep, and am known of mine". As a sinner, I first know Him as a Saviour, and this is knowing Him in His Jonah aspect. The Lord in Matthew 12 and Luke 11 adduces Jonah as a type of Himself in death. "As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth". As I am awakened to my distance from God and the fear of judgment, I find relief only in Him who went down into death for me, and bore the judgment of my sins in His own body on the tree. He is the ransom; He died for our sins. I cannot be relieved of the burden and judgment of my sins, but through Him who gave Himself for me. Through His death only can I get remission of my sins. By Him, "All that believe are justified from all things". There is first a clearing away of all guilt - of every charge against us. "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death". There is the felt need first of being relieved from every charge - cleared of all the darkness by knowing Him as the light of the world; all the evil atoned for. There can be no peace of conscience until I see that Christ has removed everything that was against me from the holy eye of God; and that I know Him risen from the dead. This question must necessarily first occupy the sinner. The conscience demands it, and the attempt to separate from the world, and to be superior to it, before the

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conscience has been fully relieved, is at the bottom nothing more than an effort to reach that rest, which is so essential to the conscience, but which it is impossible to reach in this way.

Jonathan cannot think of anything else until Goliath be destroyed; and it was plainly right that he should be occupied with the question of how he could be delivered from this terrible enemy, as long as that enemy was alive. But once Goliath was dead, then Jonathan was free to occupy his heart with his deliverer - with David. Thus it is with the sinner, he must first be in the sense of the forgiveness of all sins, before he can simply and heartily occupy his heart with Christ; and yet the more his heart is occupied with Christ, the more he will be confirmed in the finished work. The more I know Christ in His exaltation, the better I am assured of my acceptance with the Father. I see how my Saviour was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; I grow in the sense of His unspeakable satisfaction about me a sinner, because my Saviour glorified Him when under the weight and judgment of my sins. I am not only freed from them, but I am led by the Spirit to know my Saviour in the glory of God. Then it is, I for the first time, know Christ as Solomon, the glorified One; and now a new and wondrous scene is opened out to my soul, and with amazing effects. By His death and atonement, I have been cleared of everything against me, as a child of Adam; but now, knowing Christ as the second Adam, the head of a new creation, I begin to see that He introduces me into things far superior to anything even conferred on, or assigned to the first man; so that it is not only the evil and ruin of the first man I am clear of - but I am by the "greater than Solomon" so enriched, and in a so much higher degree that the highest and best things here are superseded; and I am practically superior to them. It is not knowing Christ thus in His Solomon character, that causes saints to be detained by things here, so as to be under the power of them. I do not speak of evil things.

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No truehearted saint would argue for the maintenance of what is morally evil, or palpably wrong or unhandsome; but how many argue, because a thing is not wrong, and really no harm in a natural point of view, that therefore they are at liberty to enjoy it And to this argument there is no answer, because all things are lawful, and there is no real way of diverting the heart from this class of things, but by engaging it with what is far higher and greater, and these can be known or participated in only as Christ in glory is known. This twofold experience of Christ is very plainly set forth and illustrated in John 8 and 9.

In chapter 8 the Lord declares Himself as the light of the world. The law condemns the guilty one, but "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life". "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death". All guilt and its penalty are cleared away; but this is not all. In chapter 9 the one who has received his sight discovers that there is nothing in man naturally in any class which can see or comprehend the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father. The neighbours own the effect produced on him by the work of Christ, and hand him over to the Pharisees, the religious class. They call his parents, but the parents decline any responsibility, alleging, "he is of age; ask him", and eventually the Jews cast him out. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" He answers, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him". Now this illustrates how not only is Christ's salvation known, but how His superiority over everything is made known to the delight and joy of the heart.

This is the practical experience of Philippians 3. There the apostle tells us, "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

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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". He sees in Christ that which supersedes man in his best condition. Paul has seen Christ in glory the "greater than Solomon", and he counts all things - the very best of man, but rubbish, that Christ may be his gain. In like manner as to the things here (verse 13), he can leave all behind, because he is pressing toward the goal. Christ in glory is the mark to which he is pressing, and in going forward to Him, he necessarily leaves all the things here behind.

Lastly, let us turn to 1 Kings 10, and learn from the Queen of Sheba, the way to attain to the knowledge of Christ as our Solomon.

First, she was intent upon reaching him; the great distance from Sheba to Jerusalem does not deter her. So there must be first purpose of heart, the honest and good heart; the seeking which is sure to find. What we really value, we are sure to receive, but we show that we value it by the way we seek it; we search for it as for hid treasure. The true heart seeks Christ, not merely as a relief but as One who is indispensable to it. This is the first step. The Queen of Sheba comes to Jerusalem. She has reached the place where Solomon is. Next she communes with him of all that is in her heart. She had come to prove him with hard questions. Christ in glory really and fully solves every question to our heart, but we must confide in Him, we must commune with Him of all that is in our heart. We must have the assured sense in our hearts, that He is the wisdom of God, a wisdom entirely different from anything known to us. "There was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not".

And now she is entranced with Solomon's surroundings. It is not with his future glory, but with the present; with all that she sees him then and there connected with, and centre of. For when she "had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of

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his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cup-bearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her". Not only is she relieved of every question that pressed upon her heart; but she is so entranced with the things of Solomon, that all other attractions lose their hold on her. The surpassing lustre and beauty of Solomon's things throw everything of her own kingdom into the shade. There is no sacrifice in the surrender because she has consciously gained so much. When there is an effort to surrender, and the feeling of sacrifice, it is an evidence that the heart has not known Christ as Solomon, has not seen Him in glory. Many a one who walks on in the assurance of the forgiveness of his sins, and even in the certainty of the Father's constant care, and the enjoyment of the Lord's tender sympathy, still cannot rise superior to the natural beauties and the attractions here; simply because he has not, like the Queen of Sheba, seen Solomon, he has not seen Christ in glory. Many a saint who truly enjoys Christ in His Jonah aspect, has not as yet learned Him in the Solomon; and until we have learned the latter, there is really no full setting aside of man, and of his things in the assured and ever deepening conviction of how immensely superior Christ is to everything - to any and everything given to the first man. But when one truly learns this, while there is a due appreciation of natural blessings there is independence of them, because of the greater and more perfect ones disclosed to the heart, through Him who secures to us all blessing, to whom be glory for evermore.

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The ideal of man is rest. The end in the mind of God, when everything will be finished according to His pleasure - His rest - is the rest which He sets before us. That the day of rest was a chief purpose in and delight to the heart of God, we gather from the fact of His resting immediately at the beginning, when He "saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good". His rest is henceforth the most prominent thing in connection with His dealings with man, as has been written: -

'First, the participation in God's rest is what distinguishes His people - their distinctive privilege. The heart of the believer holds that fast, whatever may be the sign that God has given of it (Hebrews 4). God had established it at the beginning, but there is no evidence that in fact man ever enjoyed any share of it. He did not work in the creation, nor was he set to labour or toil in the garden of Eden; he was to dress and keep it, indeed, but he had nothing to do but continually to enjoy. However, the day was hallowed from the beginning. Afterwards the sabbath was given as a memorial of deliverance out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). And the prophets especially insist on that point, that the sabbath was given as a sign of God's covenant (Ezekiel 20:12, 20; Exodus 31:13). It was plain that it was but the earnest of that word, "My presence shall go... and I will give thee rest", (Exodus 33:14; Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 19:30). It is a sign that the people are sanctified to God (Ezekiel 20:12, 13 - 16, 20; Nehemiah 9:14; compare Isaiah 56:2 - 6; Isaiah 58:13; Jeremiah 17:22; Lamentations 1:7; 2:6; Ezekiel 22:8; Ezekiel 23:38; Ezekiel 44:24). Besides these passages, we see that whenever God gives any new principle or form or relation with Himself, the sabbath is added; thus in grace to Israel (Exodus 16:23); as law (Exodus 20:10). See also, besides the verse we are occupied with, Exodus 31:13,14;

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Exodus 34:21. When they were restored afresh by the patience of God through mediation (chapter 35: 2), and in the new covenant in Deuteronomy already quoted in the passage' .

Once we are impressed with the greatness of the coming rest in the mind of God, and how His heart centres in that day when "he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing", we cannot fail to see how necessary and affecting is the exhortation, "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it". Is that day when the blessed God shall rejoice, in that He has gathered in all around Himself in the perfection of Christ, the one great day that our hearts are set on? Is every other day here a day of toil, with no thought of any rest until then? The principle of the working man who engages to work for the six days of the week, with no prospect of rest or cessation till Sunday, is the one we should inculcate and foster; that is, to engage to work, and not to look for any rest until the great day of His rest is ushered in.

We may look first at the various ways in which a soul is diverted from this prospect, and then at the Lord's way of preserving us, so that we may enter into it.

As rest is the ultimate and chief purpose of God in His relation with man, it must be at once the most appropriate and the supreme thing for man. If it be a question of his conscience, as we see in Matthew 11, rest is the first and greatest thing required; and if it be a question of his walk here, amid various hindrances and vexations, rest again is the one grand desideratum. Hence it is written, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls". There is first the rest from the intolerable burden of our sins, too heavy for us to bear; and then there is rest of heart for us in the daily circumstances of life; so that whether it be within or without, rest is the great and singular goal for the heart. These two rests,

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which in themselves prove how indispensable rest is, are present, and are to be enjoyed now. But besides these two, there is another required in a world of evil and sorrow, a complete and eternal rest - God's rest, which, as we have seen, is the great end set before us; and it is here that the temptation or the delusion obtains or occurs. The temptation is to stop short of this, and to seek a measure of rest here. Are we to seek or to accept a temporary lull, an infinitely inferior rest here; or are we so truly in the mind of the Lord that we refuse the idea of any rest until the day and hour when He rests? Is His rest the one eternal definite goal before our hearts?

As rest is such an essential, as I may say, it may be well to examine the many ways by which we are decoyed from seeking and accepting, in our wilderness journey, the true rest. The Lord in His walk of service here proposed to His disciples to "rest a while". He says in Mark 6:31, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while". The very term "a while" shows that it is only for a limited period, and indicates that it is only a temporary suspension of the toil to which one is called here. The word to Israel, "Go up and possess the land", detected their evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. First they "remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick"; and next they murmur, and are afraid of the giants and the cities, and refuse to go up. They refuse God's rest. We are therefore exhorted to labour diligently to enter into that rest, lest any fall after the same example of unbelief, of not obeying the word. All through Scripture we find that the failure or declension of every servant of God is traceable to the desire for rest before, or independently of, the one only true and divine rest. What did Cain attempt or aim at, but such a progress in the things here that there should be a cessation of toil and sorrow? And it is simply this that

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human religion aims at. If heaven, God's rest, where everything is according to God, were the only spot where one could see a true and full end of all toil and sorrow, surely philanthropic works would have little place, and there would be no thought or attempt to advance man here on the earth to a condition pleasing to God. Thus the word, "Go up", detects in a peculiar way the secret motives and intentions of the human heart - any road or pursuit but the straight one to heaven. To rest here is to turn aside, and the very desire to turn aside is exposed by pressing on the soul the word of God. On the other hand, every service to man which would tell on that day would be rendered, if the heart were in the day of God's rest. In a word, as the sense of that time and its wondrous perfection is before us, and we are impregnated with it, so does every one of our acts and purposes assume the colour of it.

The improvement of man on earth is the most subtle and successful snare of the enemy in diverting the conscientious from the rest. It is here that the popish element came in, and it is the spring of ritualism and self-culture. Timothy is warned of the first in 1 Timothy 4; the Hebrews are forewarned of the second, and the Colossians of the third.

The building of Babel set forth in principle man's mode of reaching rest; and in its climax, Babylon, we find it in its fully developed form: "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow". There is nothing of religion here. It is man setting up independently for himself; and every attempt and pursuit into which we are drawn in order to advance ourselves on the earth is a growth from this root. It would be at once exposed and condemned by the word, "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it"; or better still, "Let us therefore use diligence to enter into that rest, that no one may fall after the same example of not hearkening to the word".

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There is another head or form of deception by which saints are drawn away from His rest. Jacob furnishes us with an example of it. He, after much conflict and exercise of heart, is quietly established in the land; but instead of God's rest being the only haven for him, he stops short of it, and is induced to settle at Shalem. No doubt, after all his toil, he naturally wished for rest; but ere long he found out, as every saint bitterly learns, "This is not your rest: because it is polluted..". What is so remarkable in Jacob is that he continues to be religious; he builds an altar, and does not appear to have surrendered any of the truth which had been committed to him; but he failed, and exposed himself to the judgment on the world, because he sought his rest in it. Surely whenever we do so we shall find that the world "hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death".

Under these three heads there are innumerable subdivisions, like so many roads, one or another presenting something to draw away the heart with a promise of rest here - a cessation of toil. Many a one works on assiduously, buoyed up with the hope of being able, at some more or less distant time, to cease his labours, and retire and enjoy the fruits of his industry. Every desire and intention of the kind in the saint, when allowed, betrays that the heart is not simply and truly set on His rest.

In conclusion I would say that there are two things which keep and sustain the heart which is set for His rest. One is the word of God, which ever detects and exposes what is of the flesh, and what would detain us in the wilderness; and this by insisting on and inculcating the mind of God, which is the very opposite to man's natural mind. The other is the intercession of Christ, providing everyone led by the word with His grace, because in His sympathy He knows our need; and thus we are supported and cheered, while adhering to the

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heavenly road on which He ever walked while down here. No one then is either pursuing the right road, or receiving succour and help for the journey, who is not steadily and heartily fixed on heaven - God's rest - as his home and destination.


There can be neither a correct desire as to what I should enjoy, nor a true standard by which to judge myself, unless I know, in terms at least, the calling of God. When, after the flood, man, set afresh on favourable terms on the earth, disclosed his independence of God in the building of Babel, God for the first time called out Abram from his country and kindred and father's house, to come into the place that He would show him. This in figure set forth that the earth, as such, was not the place for God's people. Abram went forth, not knowing whither he went. Faith was the great light which directed and marked his way. It rests on the word of God and not on anything that occurs within our senses here. Into the land of Canaan they came. Canaan then is the typical place of a heavenly man. Abraham sets forth in his sojourn in Canaan the course of the heavenly man - to the eye of nature he has no inheritance there, the right by possession only to a burying-place; while Caleb, and those led on by Joshua, typify the saints sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of the inheritance. And thus, while to the eye of nature there is nothing but a burying-place, there is to one walking in the Spirit of God the joys and associations of heaven, though he is still journeying on to it, and all the while encountering unremitting opposition from the inhabitants of the land. Israel was called to the high privilege of possessing the land - typically, to be heavenly men on earth, maintained there by God, which is the principle and power of a heavenly man. From the crossing of Jordan to the

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death of Samuel, the children of Israel enjoyed the land only through the power of God. The unseen power by which the walls of Jericho fell down was the same power which delivered them out of the hands of the Philistines in answer to Samuel's prayer. Whatever the nature and extent of their failure, there was ever one source of help only, whether in the bright days at the beginning, or in the prayerful days at the close. Samuel, though weakness and failure marked the whole company, had as distinct and assured a sense of the power of God as Joshua had in his day; and this is the only succour and support of a heavenly man.

Though there were shadows and partial types of a heavenly man, no one was fully or entirely so until Christ came; He could say, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven", John 3:13. It is of immense interest and value to us that we have had a perfect heavenly Man on the earth, that we are not trusting to mere partial shadows or imperfect types or precepts for the standard of what he really is, but we see it in perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was perfectly and entirely dependent on and led by the word of God while on earth, doing His will here, as it is done in heaven. The more I look at Him and study His walk, the more I see that this great purpose is an accomplished fact. Now I learn that not only has He saved me through His death from my ruin and judgment, but that I also receive of His life, and that this is the 'heavenly thing' . "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life". It is simple and conclusive, when we believe in the fulness of grace which has reached us. We are not only saved from the misery of our own state, but we receive life in Him who has saved us. He is our life; the life of the One who comes down from heaven is ours.

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The first thing, then, that constitutes a heavenly man is that he has eternal life. This is the life "more abundantly". The Lord sets forth in John 10 how He takes His sheep out of the Jewish fold. He is the good Shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep, because they were under the judgment of death; but besides this, He adds, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish". Now eternal life leads us into an entirely new fellowship. "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ". "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". This is an entirely new capacity; there are three witnesses to establish it, the spirit and the water and the blood. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son". We are also His brethren, as He said to Mary Magdalene, "Go to my brethren", etc. Now is fulfilled the word in John 12:24, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit". The Lord can now call us brethren, and He announces where He will be, when He says, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God". It is in connection with this that the Lord breathes on His disciples. It is a life entirely outside and apart from the scene of man's ruin, and in the scene where righteousness and peace kiss each other. Hence, when the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven, He unites us with Christ our Saviour, who is in heaven; so that we not only know where He, our Life, is in scenes of boundless light and glory, and we united to Him there; but the heaven is opened to Stephen in Acts 7, as developing the true position and association of the believer now. And he is, as I may say, in the power of Christ's life here, as one with Him, so that he enters into the victory of Christ for him with regard to each and every thing against him, as detailed in Psalm 22, from sin down to the horns of the unicorn. So truly is he a heavenly man that he can persevere in his service, even

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while dying to all here. Now a truly heavenly man is really in the grace of Stephen at this moment. All hopes connected with earth have disappeared; he is becoming dead to them, but concurrently assured of his association with Christ in heaven.

Next, as we see in the apostle Paul, a heavenly man learns that, while he can entirely and happily die out of all here with the cheerful anticipation of heaven, yet he is to continue here, seeking "those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". He is a citizen of heaven, while journeying here, and waiting for the coming of the Lord, when the time of His rejection will be over. Stephen dies a heavenly man; he has the joys and testimony of one. Paul lives a heavenly man; and as his testimony is prolonged, there are greater trials, but there are also greater and fuller joys. A heavenly man in his sojourn here enjoys the special favour of God. His position on earth can be simply described by the words, "A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year", and it "drinketh water of the rain of heaven". A believer sustained here only by the rain from heaven is the only antitype to the possessor of the land; and consequently all spiritual blessings are given to him. There is really no true knowledge of the "heavenly things" but as one is in Canaan - as one is a heavenly man on earth. A believer may know the "earthly things", the work of grace in his soul, but all his associations are with earth, like a willow tree. But sonship, acceptance in the Beloved, priesthood, Christ as Head of His body the church, the One to give gifts unto man, can only be enjoyed by a heavenly man. And finally, as to testimony, no one can represent the rejected Christ in heaven, except a heavenly man, one who receives grace and power from Himself to stand for Him where He is not. So that nothing can be simpler, however humbling because of our distance from it, than that our

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calling now is heavenly, and that, while this casts us on God for grace in every step, yet it does not make us unnatural, but more truly in accordance with God's intention in the old creation in which we still are.


The testimony in a few words is, first, that all the sin, misery and judgment entailed on man through Adam's sin has been removed by the second Man, the Lord from heaven, by His death and blood-shedding; and as birth involved us in the one, so does faith obtain for us the benefits of the other. Adam and his race, as the Scriptures testify, have failed in every position in which God was pleased to put them. When this was fully disclosed, God sent His Son: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us". There was a Man on earth entirely according to the mind of God: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" - the Son of man which is in heaven. The testimony then is, first, that Christ by His work has cleared every believer of the sin of Adam, and through grace, his state before God is not now in Adam but in Christ. This, which is properly the gospel, entirely supersedes the first man, placing the believer in perfect peace and blessed acceptance in new creation before God. This, as has been said, is our ministry. The other or second part of the testimony is that each believer is now a member of the body of Christ, united to Him in heaven by the Holy Spirit sent down, and also united to one another by the same Spirit; and in the latter is completed the word of God. (Colossians 1:25)

There were three great testimonies before the coming of Christ. The first was given to Noah after the flood; he was to suppress evil, and to bring everything into subjection to his rule. The second was to Abraham, to walk outside of every natural influence in faith. The third to Moses, to maintain for God here, through the

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unseen power of God, in spite of opposition all around.

Noah failed because he could not deny himself; Abraham failed because of the famine, or the absence of resources; Moses - or the testimony - because of wilfulness, turning aside to some human means, and not simply confiding in the unseen power of God.

Our blessed Lord fulfilled all the testimonies in Himself. He pleased not Himself, and proved Himself eminently fit to rule: "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God". He ever walked in faith, counting on God in the most resourceless circumstances; and He ever maintained His name amidst universal opposition, by the unseen power of God.

As we live Christ here, we are in the virtues of His testimony. We do not please ourselves, we walk in faith, not influenced by our senses, and we have no means for doing anything but the invisible power of the Spirit of God. We are His witnesses.

If we look at the church of God as a whole, we shall not find any trace of this great testimony as to either the individual part, or the corporate. The testimony relates to what Christ is in both.

True, as to evangelisation, there is a clearer note now sounded forth as to the grace of God in the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, an advance on the way in which justification by faith was first preached, which was the first great step to recover lost ground or truth. But though the forgiveness of sins is clearly set forth as the gift of God to faith, yet there is little or no apprehension in the gospel preached of even the first part of the testimony, namely, that Christ has so set us free from the whole condition of Adam that the believer has an entirely new state in Christ. This is really the first part of the testimony now. With regard to the second part, there is generally nothing but the vaguest and most unscriptural ideas. A churchman so-called regards the church - the building - as the place and sphere of blessing, from some faint glimmer of the truth of the

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distinction belonging to the house of God; while the dissenters, who, for the most part from exercise of conscience, sought something more, regard membership with their co-religionists as a great step in advance. Thus in neither part has the testimony been preserved; and as in the type Israel failed to continue in the testimony inaugurated at Jericho, neither has the church continued in the testimony set up in Acts 2. But if the history of Israel, from Jericho to Samuel, is a moral parallel to our church history, it is replete with instruction for us. For though our failure has been greater than theirs, yet the same power to retrieve our condition morally remains with us as it did with them. They recovered the testimony sensibly in the days of Samuel, and in the same way we also can free ourselves from the oppressor. The position of Israel was very different in the days of Jericho from what it was in the days of Samuel. At first they took their stand against the inhabitants of the land; they were not under the hand of anyone. But in the days of Samuel they were oppressed and enslaved by the Philistines. It is a very different thing to encounter a foe when entirely free and ready for action, and to throw off the yoke of an oppressor in order to be free. The former was the state of things at Jericho, the latter the state of things in Samuel's time, answering very distinctly to the state of things in the church of God at this moment. But as there was a way of escape in Samuel's days, so there is now.

Let us now learn how Samuel revived the testimony, and escaped from the yoke of the oppressor.

The first great moral step in order to obtain the succour of God is separation from evil; the ear of the Lord is open to the righteous. Hence Samuel says, "If ye do return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines". We cannot really approach God unless we

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separate from evil. "Come out... and be ye separate... and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters". God is light, and we could not draw near without being challenged by the light. The perverse one will submit to any extent of religiousness in preference to the simple act of drawing near to God. The light of His presence requires that there should be no question or soil on the conscience. There must be a good conscience practically, and this necessarily, because we have a purged one. First, then, there must be separation from everything false; and false worship is the worst falsehood, because it contradicts what is truest.

The water poured out I apprehend implies that the line of separation is avowedly declared. Consequent on separation, the next thing is the offering of the burnt-offering, which expresses our acceptance in Christ - "accepted in the Beloved". We are before God in the sense of perfect favour, and though, concurrently with this sense, the power of the enemy may increase and oppress, even to the terror of the heart, yet now the cry will be heard, and deliverance will be granted; and thus Christ is increasingly to our hearts the Ebenezer, the sure guarantee that no weapon formed against us can prosper. Through prayer the yoke of the oppressor is broken. "The Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel" (1 Samuel 7:13). Samuel was the man of prayer.

Thus to the faithful remnant it is known that the Lord has not departed from us, and we are enabled to stand in Canaan, in the calling wherewith we are called, and "having done all, to stand". Through prayer the Lord sets us free with an open door in Canaan, the heavenly position. The liberty to enjoy our position is restored to the prayerful one - simply calling upon God. But this position cannot be maintained except as the characteristics

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of the true witness are preserved. There is never a step in moral power where there is not first self-denial, not pleasing ourselves. There is no real following the Lord except as the cross is borne; here is the check to all progress. It is not in things grossly wrong, but in things right and lawful in themselves, but which are fatal to the testimony when I am brought under the power of any. The second - to walk in faith - is a comfort to me when the first is accepted and observed; and the third - no power but by the Spirit of God - gives unbounded confidence to the heart which is simply guided by and dependent on the word of God.

Thus the blessed God in the lowest state of things assures us that there shall be a tenth, a remnant, "as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves". Nothing for the public eye, no leaves; but yet the substance is there, all the power of the grace given us of God.


Atheism, or the entire and absolute denial of a Supreme Being, is not the great subject to be encountered in this day, nor is it the subject controverted in the Bible. But the revelation of God according to His nature is on every hand opposed. Man has turned to his own mind for ideas and forms of the Great Unseen, instead of to God's works in creation, when there was nothing else - that is, no written revelation; and this reluctance on the part of man to learn God simply from Himself was made still more apparent when revelation came in.

The simple fact is that man in the pride of his own mind, whether he be pagan or christian by profession, prefers the creations and theories of his mind to any form of communication which is entirely independent of himself. This is the real cause of man's reluctance to learn God or to receive a revelation, and it is the source of all infidelity. Hence the closer and more definite the

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revelation, the more the natural mind is opposed to it, because it is the more distinctly compelled to accept as true what is entirely outside of itself.

Very early the worshipping of idols came in: "They... served other gods". Idols are the invention of the human mind to represent the Supreme Being, instead of acquiring a knowledge of Him from His own works: "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: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Here idolatry came in. Then came the word of God to Abram, as the only guide for him on the earth. Man is not left to the works of God to reveal Him; but the spoken word of God is the only absolute guide. Hence infidelity is not now simply a disregard of the works of God, but of the word of God; and the effort of the enemy, and ready acting of the mind, is to divert us from the greater, the word, as well as from the other, the works; and this often by corrupting it. When the word of God was given, then, I repeat, infidelity in a new and more intense form appeared. The more distinct and the more conclusive the revelation of God, the more determined was the opposition to it. It was, as it were, the struggle of desperation. In many ways the children of Abraham evaded the claims and counsels of the word of God. It was not mixed with faith in them that heard it, they believed not. They were not infidels in the full meaning of the term, but they were unbelievers. An unbeliever more aptly describes the cavillers of the present day. They do not altogether deny the existence of God, or set up idols exclusively, but they are not subject to the Scriptures, in simple faith that they are written by the inspiration of God. The infidelity is characterised by the revelation given, and

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to which it is opposed. There are three kinds of revelation - the works of creation, the word of God, and God manifest in the flesh. Infidelity is more daring in proportion as the testimony against it is greater; that is, the more distinctly man is left without excuse, the stronger the evidence, the more violent and obstinate is the resistance. So that the infidelity in the christian era is the greatest of all, for then the revelation is most palpable and inescapable, even as the Jews were more culpable in their unbelief than the heathen. The more the revelation demands credence from its very nature, the more is the natural enmity of man's heart provoked to resist it. Hence the only way to refute infidelity is to insist on the great present evidences of the greatest revelation given, namely, God manifest in the flesh. Now that God has fully revealed Himself in His Son, He, according to the greatness of Himself, subjects His grace to a test. He says, "He that believeth... hath everlasting life". Faith obtains possession of the blessing. The revelation is for man's blessing, and the man that tests it is assured of it as he does so. "When he beheld... he lived". The moment the prodigal makes trial of his father's heart, he finds it far more towards him than his necessity required.

In the gospel narrative the great theme is the evidence given by Christ that He is God manifest in the flesh, and that He reveals God by relieving man of the misery in which he is found. The way He refutes all infidelity is by setting forth the superhuman benefits He effects for man. He attracted man by the way He despoiled Satan of his armour, and the full relief He vouchsafed to man from each and every one of his sufferings here. Is it a fact that the Man Jesus did really give specimens of His power and interest in man as are recorded in the gospel narrative? The writers of the narrative must have been, as has been before alleged, extraordinary men, not to be accounted for in any way or by any rule known to us, if they, the authors and propagators of the

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most perfect morality, were basely and wantonly the most untruthful of men; for such they were if the miracles recorded by them in such minute detail were not true. What object or motive could the most moral men, who suffered death for their testimony, have in recording positive untruths with all the detail of incontrovertible facts? The simplest and the only possible solution of the question, 'Are they real?' is the answer, 'Most assuredly'; there can be no other answer. And this answer, I maintain, is confirmed, and ought to be more corroborated every day by the repetition of these selfsame miracles, not in the form in which they are recorded in the gospels, that is, not in cases of bodily suffering, but in their great moral antitypes. Cannot the power of Christ nowadays dislodge the evil spirit; exchange the fever, the natural excitement, for the calm assiduity of service; the leprosy, the outward taint, for a complete regeneration? Can it not impart to the powerless occupant of a couch, figuratively speaking, or anyone suffering from any other moral weakness, immense alleviation, perfect release and power to do all things, so that the forgiveness assured to the conscience in secret is authorised to the public by the possession and use of the greatest and most unexpected power? It is not simply by acts of power that Christ seeks to win the belief of man and refute his unbelief, but by acts of the most important service to man; and hence He never does a great act apart from some signal benefit to man. The miracles are not exhibitions of His greatness, but acts of mercy, because of the need of man. I know no act of His that was done as a proof of His power which was not connected with, or required in the first instance on account of man. That is, it was man's need that was the motive cause for the exercise of His power, and not any wish or thought of magnifying Himself. He addressed Himself to man, and set Himself to draw the heart of man back in confidence to God, and this surely He accomplished whenever the eye of the soul was enlightened.

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But He did more than use His power to relieve man of every class of misery, as is recorded in the early chapters of Mark. He places man by His power in another condition here, as we read in Mark 5; the sufferer is not only relieved, but there is a link established between Himself and the relieved one; while in the latter the most manifest change in manner and life is to be seen and read of all. The demoniac, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, besought Him that he might be with Him. The incurable invalid who had spent all her living on physicians, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, is not only completely cured, but she is received into a relationship to Himself and a condition of soul heretofore entirely unknown to her. So also, when all human hope is over, where death has occurred, He says, "Talitha cumi" (I say unto thee, Arise). Thus, in the gospel narrative, the work of Christ embraces and reaches unto the resurrection from the dead, by Him who had in detail proved His ability and readiness to remove every suffering which afflicted man, from the incursion of Satan and all the consequences of sin, unto death, the judgment of God, borne by Christ Himself. He not only proved that He could relieve man of every misery, the consequence of sin, but He was made sin for us, and bore our sins in His own body on the tree.

But this is not all. Though there are not now the same kind of miracles as testimony of the goodness of God, there are even greater works in a moral way. The grace of Christ now transforms the man in mind and heart, more distinctly and perfectly than he was relieved of disease and bodily suffering by Christ's hand when He was on earth. Hence, the greater works now, since His ascension to the right hand of the Father, are the true evidences of His power here, and by them, seen in us practically, the infidelity of the hour can be refuted. The lame beggar - morally - elevated, walking and leaping and praising God, is incontrovertible evidence

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of the mighty power of God in His goodness and grace to me, and that "there is none other name... given among men, whereby we must be saved".


"A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth", Proverbs 17:8. The possession of any good thing imparts a sense which far greater things in the most assured expectancy can never do. Hence the importance of ascertaining what is the present portion of the believer. Every believer, from Abel down, has had something specially bestowed on him through grace, which was his "precious stone", and whithersoever it turned it prospered.

Abel's was that his offering was accepted of God: this was palpably and convincingly assured to him. Let him die, this prospered; and the present was not only perfected in the future, but he had a present thing, so that he was in quite a new state to what he was before he received it.

Enoch walked with God; that was his present portion and gift, and whithersoever it turned it prospered.

Noah was saved through the ark, and blessed on the earth; that was his present portion, and he knew the good of it.

Abraham was the friend of God, with a favour so great that whithersoever it turned it prospered.

Moses, Samuel, David, and the prophets, each had special favours, like precious stones; indeed, whithersoever they turned they prospered.

Now when the Son comes and takes upon Himself the form of a servant, and is made in the likeness of men, He also receives a gift. The Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased", Luke 3:22. The greatest gift was given to the Son on earth, and in the weakness of

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manhood down here; and whithersoever it turned this great gift prospered.

But when the Lord ascended, He received the promise of His Father, the Holy Spirit, which He has sent down to us. He bore down here the judgment which lay upon us, and having glorified God when under it, in the lowest place, washing away our sins in His own blood, He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; and now from the greatest height He sends down the same Spirit that He was anointed with down here, as His gift to us, to be enjoyed even now while we walk on the earth, until He comes, and we enter fully into the purpose of God. Until Christ comes and receives us unto Himself, there is no full possession of anything, though by the Spirit dwelling in us there is a sense and an enjoyment of all. Thus there are two things to be known immediately by the believer. First, the remission of sins, so that death, the wages of sin, is annulled, and eternal life is given to him. Secondly, he is sealed by the Holy Spirit come down from heaven. So that the ascension of the Saviour into glory is the assurance of the one; and the presence of the Holy Spirit unites me to Him, and elevates me to His walk, with His mind as to the present and future, in the very place where nothing could have saved me but His death. Thus the gift of the Holy Spirit is at once the seal, the bond between Christ and the church, and the revealer of the deep things of God - a gift indeed like a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it, and it prospereth whithersoever it turneth.

The Holy Spirit, then, this new and great gift, is a portion quite beyond any ever known to any believer before. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life", John 4:14. The first great sense that marks my present portion is that I have a power in me springing up into everlasting life. I enjoy eternal life where death reigned, and where I was under the fear of

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it. Can anything be more glorious and blessed than the simple fact that I am now not merely immortal, but I have a life imparting to me a capacity to enjoy God, ever fresh and ever vigorous? "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ", John 17:3. "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life", 1 John 5:20. Thus the Spirit of God in me, like a fountain, keeps me in fresh continual enjoyment of eternal life, and this so satisfies my heart that I never thirst. My present portion is entirely dependent on the Spirit of God and His action and energy. The things that are freely given us of God are made known to us by the Spirit of God. Hence as the Spirit is active, we are consciously enjoying by foretaste the varied and immeasurable blessings which are ours in Christ. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death".

The first gift of Christ consequent on His resurrection, after announcing peace as an accomplished fact, was to breathe on His disciples, and say, "Receive the Holy Spirit", John 20:22. The first great joy, then, made known to my soul by the presence of the Holy Spirit, is that I am free of the law of sin and death, sensibly assuring my soul of life in Christ.

I breathe a perfect life, in an entirely new atmosphere, by a power entirely independent of myself. I am sensibly free of the load and pressure that lay on me as a child of Adam, and I have life in Him who is the only begotten Son of God. I am to live Him down here. I am to be the reproduction of Himself, the expression of His life. He is my daily bread for earth, the manna, and as I feed on Him, my tie and attachment to Him is ever deepening.

If my present portion were to end here, it would be a very great one indeed, even that I am entirely and sensibly clear of the state of ruin and misery in which I once lay,

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and that I am now enjoying a perfect life here on the earth, assured that when my course here ends I shall be in the undisturbed enjoyment of it for ever. Many, it is true, do not enjoy more, or even as much as this in the journey down here, and yet there is much more. If the present portion were only the enjoyment of life in Christ, in perfect freedom from the law of sin and death great and blessed as it is, where would be the sense and confidence of present favour because of my relationship? Hence it is, "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father", Galatians 4:6. Now, in addition, I know I am a child of God. I have some of the intelligence in my heart of the blessed Son. In what a sense of favour and dignity must I walk through this earth as I know this is my present portion! Hence it is said, "If any man love the world", - the visible thing - "the love of the Father" - the distinct enjoyment of relationship - "is not in him", 1 John 2:15. I learn too by the Spirit of God that I am accepted in the Beloved. What a disclosure and range of incommunicable delight does it afford me to have a sense of this as my present portion! It is indeed the great supper, the glorious provision that divine wisdom alone could form and furnish, where we have begun to be merry, where there is not only the assured right to enter the holiest, and be as a fellow of Christ there, but to worship the Father in spirit and in truth, in all consciousness of our nearness and relationship; the Spirit revealing to our hearts, with a continual increase and fulness, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, so that with God one can say, I am beside myself; "He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you", John 16:15. So that as to my present portion, "my cup runneth over".

There is still something more, so great and individual, which, though little known, we must not omit.

There are varieties in the class, but they are united. "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and

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ye in me, and I in you", John 14:20. Again, "We will come unto him, and make our abode with him", John 14:23; and lastly, "God dwelleth in him, and he in God", 1 John 4:15. No one can contemplate the possibility of enjoying any of these most blessed and wondrous elevations, without being impressed with the magnitude and dignity of the present portion of a believer. The Spirit in me is also the earnest of the inheritance. I may have no property on the earth, as man has at present, and yet I have in me the direct consciousness of title to the earth in company and heirship with my Lord and Saviour. I do not go about the world as one deprived of the earth, but as one waiting for my time and turn to have and enjoy it. I am more than an heir-apparent, because I have the earnest, and therefore a sensible participation of the property I shall enter on by and by. My position is more that of a king unknown to others than an exiled one, for I am perfectly sure and happy in my right of possession, and I have no regrets, nor am I affected by any slights, as if I were an exiled one. I could not be known, and I seek not to be known, until He comes whose right it is.

Again, I know by the Spirit that I am united to Christ in heaven, the Head of the body, the church; and by the Spirit also I am united to each one of His members down here. In every action and energy of the Spirit there is a sensible and notable addition to my present portion. Where two or three are gathered to His name, He is in our midst, for comfort, counsel, or help of any kind.

We are learning to "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of all His counsel, "and to know the love of Christ... that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God", Ephesians 3:18,19. And to this must be added that we receive gifts from our ascended Lord "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the

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faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ", Ephesians 4:12,13.

In this world, where man is a weak creature, we are called to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" (Ephesians 6:10), to resist all the wiles of the devil. I am to know assuredly that I can do all things through Him who gives me power; that is, that there is power from Him for me to do anything, so that in any or in every case I should be superior to the adverse power here; all contingent on our simple dependence. "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it", John 14:14. Hence prayers and supplications become us, as dependent ones, but they only indicate where our resources are, so that not only for ourselves or our own individual need do we pray, but "for all saints". Still more, supplications, prayers, intercessions, are made for all men.

Whether then in the light and glory of His presence, or in the obstructions and weakness of our present creaturehood, we have a present portion incomprehensible in magnitude as well as of unutterable blessedness. "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage", Psalm 16:6.


Death is a consequence in divine life; "we which live are alway delivered unto death", 2 Corinthians 4:11. It promotes progress. It is not easy to understand or accept this principle. Life comes from God, and it seems unaccountable and unreasonable that the reception and promoting of the gift of God should entail positive, sensible death here. The first idea in a believer's mind is that he has now, through grace and by faith in Christ, escaped the penalty of his sins. "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord", Romans 6:23. True, all sins are

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forgiven, and the life given is to swallow up this mortal body. This fact is the full proof of forgiveness. The resurrection of Christ, who suffered death for us, is the assuring testimony that righteousness can now be imputed to us, who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

We are not to live for ever in the body in which death once reigned. The mistake of believers is that, on the reception of eternal life, they think or suppose that they can now enjoy, perpetually and without check, all that life in the flesh enters into. The believer has received life in Christ, and eventually that life will swallow up his mortal body. But not until Christ returns. Every blessing to the saint is incomplete until Christ comes. Hence, though he is in Christ, and Christ in him, the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, the power and spring of all, he is still in the mortal body. He has been placed, by virtue of Christ's work, not only free of all sins, but the body dead. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin", Romans 8:10. The body is mortal. He who raised Christ from the dead is to quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit which dwelleth in us. We are, at the present moment, set superior, by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, to all the ills that humanity is heir to, but we have not yet come to the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. We are forgiven all that the flesh has done, but the flesh is to die. Christ had to die on account of it, and hence, when we are quickened together with Christ, and in Him, there must be an end of the flesh, because He is not in it in any sense.

If we look at Romans 6:7,8, death is there relief from a body of sin; "he that is dead is freed from sin... If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him". They that are in the flesh cannot please God. Christ has not only atoned for our sins, but He has condemned sin in the flesh. There is an idea, often unexpressed, that because we are forgiven our sins and have received eternal life, we may now expect to go on

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in the natural life and what suits it down here. True, in the millennium Christ will prolong the existence of His people here to a thousand years, but still it is a feeble state compared with that of the glorified saints.

But now, though we are continued here in the flesh, yet our calling is that Christ is our life, and when He shall appear He will change these bodies into likeness to His own glorious body. The flesh itself is weak, and there is no good in it; its will is enmity against God. Hence Christ has not only cleared us of all that was entailed on us by sin, but having done this, He has secured for us that we should bear His own image. "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly", 1 Corinthians 15:49.

Now, as I have said, death in Romans is set forth as the relief from sin; but as we are not in the grave, we are placed by the death of Christ, unto which we are baptised, in all the freedom from sin which actual death could confer. The more I appropriate by faith the death of Christ, not merely the atonement for my sins, the more I enter into the fact that I am free from that in which I was held, and that I can reckon myself to be dead, so that sin should not work in my members. Here then death is ours. I should not say that death in Romans was Jordan. It is so peculiarly and distinctly what Christ has done for a believer living here on the earth. Instead of regarding death in an obnoxious light, now, the more holy I am, the more I desire to escape from the evil and weakness of the flesh, and the more I rejoice that, though I am not out of the body, yet as I enter into Christ's death, I am sensibly free from sin. The question is, could one be so entering into his death with Christ, and his consequent freedom from the sin of the flesh, and at the same time leave the door open to natural life for natural enjoyment? It is, I think, plain that in Romans our faith is conducted no further than that Christ in His death has died unto sin; and we who believe accept the fact that we are dead with Him as

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touching the question of sin, but left alive in the world, save and except this great deliverance.

Now in 1 Corinthians, where the failure of the saints was yielding to the doctrine of Balaam, as I might say, it is not the death that frees us from sin, but the death of the Lord, entered into at the Lord's table, which is impressed on them as the solemn and distinctive mark of their condition here. They had been deluded into the idea that because they were recipients of grace, and endowed with the gift of the Spirit, therefore they might allow the flesh unrestrained liberty. The apostle shows them that in several ways they were grievously compromised through this licence. The natural mind could not enter into the things of the Spirit of God, and hence they were yet babes, unable to comprehend the things freely given to us of God. If anything not of God was brought into the building, the fire would destroy it. The ministers too were only stewards; they were of God and not of man; and practically the Corinthian saints did not resemble them, they had reigned as kings without them. Then there was the most reckless unholiness in the assembly uncondemned. They were exposed too in the public law courts. They suffered in their own family circles. They joined the convivialities in the idol's temple. They were de facto ensnared by the doctrine of Balaam. That which would have effectually preserved them from the snare was death - not simply the death of Adam, but practical identification with Christ's death on earth. Hence it is the Lord's supper which is presented in this epistle as the sure and only way for the wise to escape from the snare and delusion of Balaam. It is not enough that there is gas in a balloon to raise it far aloft, but also the chains and cords which bind it to this earth must be severed. And this comes about only by death, not now by my actual death - though that would ensure it, but then I should no longer be here to set forth the life of a heavenly man on earth - but it is effected as I truly enter into Christ's death, the complete

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end of everything on the human side, and as I am now in the communion of His blood and of His body.

Now in 2 Corinthians it is death in another way, death from outside, by persecution, or the simple fact that I could be killed. My weakness is that I have no hold on even natural life. Therefore death helps me; I carry about in my body the dying of Jesus; and by God's ordering "we which live are alway delivered unto death"

- the end of the weak thing, so that death relieves me of it - "we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal [dying] flesh", 2 Corinthians 4:11. There can really be no assertion of life if Christ died for everyone, for "if one died for all, then were all dead... that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again", 2 Corinthians 5:14,15. Hence it is as with our Lord; "he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you", 2 Corinthians 13:4. We accept His weakness in order that we may be in His strength, so that death is here again the door to greatness.

Now in Galatians, we have first that Christ died for our sins, that He might deliver us from the present evil world. When grace wrought, God revealed His Son in Paul; and now Paul can say, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me", Galatians 2:20. Now death with Christ is great gain here, for it terminates that which is not Christ, and allows indisputable sway for the life of Christ in the vessel, so much so that at the close of the epistle he writes, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing,

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nor uncircumcision, but a new creature", Galatians 6:14,15. All is gone save what he has in Christ Jesus.

In Ephesians we are never looked at as alive among men, or of man. It is the complete contrast in that respect to Romans; our blessing begins with our death; we who were dead in trespasses and sins are quickened together with Him. Death has terminated the old condition, so that there is nothing to interfere with the new, across the Jordan, and with our finding everything on the resurrection side. In Romans the highest point for a believer practically was to be a "living sacrifice". In Ephesians he is seated in Christ in heavenly places, and united to Him in heaven, the Head of the body, the church; he is never seen alive here at all. It dates from death, a death of trespasses and sins, from which every one with conscience would gladly escape. One is like the mythical phoenix, rising afresh out of one's ashes.

Colossians is the preparation for being in Ephesians; dead with Christ and risen with Him, so that death there not only clears us from our sins, and sin, as in Romans, or from ourselves as men in the flesh, as in Galatians; but holding the Head, we are dead with Him from the rudiments of the world, and are quickened together with Him; in His death the body of the flesh is put off. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Colossians 2:11); and in baptism we are placed here in a new standing where Adam is buried; and then we are fitted for the Ephesian state.

In Philippians it is practical. It is far better to depart and be with Christ. Death is regarded as a door of entrance and delight; and hence martyrdom is the highest aim of the truly heavenly man here.

The mass of christians do not go further than Romans 3, forgiveness of sins their one theme; and those in advance of this come to Romans 5 and 1 Peter - peace and godly order on the earth. Those more in advance,

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and best known for devotedness now, reach Romans 12; but in none of these cases is heaven entered, though there be a hearty and intrepid climbing up of Mount Pisgah to 'view the landscape o'er' . Some, when they have got near the edge of it, are entrapped by the doctrine of Balaam, and fall into the Corinthian state; and many who had learned the Roman faith backslide into the Galatian state, or legality, because they have not accepted that "in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Galatians 6:15), and this is only learned in "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world", Galatians 6:14. Some enjoy Ephesians in spirit, but not having entered it practically through Colossians, they do not exhibit in their lives here the walk of a heavenly man. They enjoy heavenly truth, and delight in great aspirations; but the preparation for Gilgal, the first residence in heaven, has not been reached by them, and they are not practical, they have not learned death.


Power is the ability to act right, at any moment or in any case. It is not enough for power that the thing I do is good. Though it be good, yet if it is ill-timed or out of place, it is not power. It was not power in the old prophet of Bethel, in 1 Kings 13, to press his hospitality on the prophet sent by God. It was very amiable, but it was not power, nor was it power in the latter to accept it. It was power in Abel when he offered "of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof". He did the right thing, outside and independent of anything to be seen around him. When I am in power, I am superior to natural influences, and I act for God as the occasion requires. Faith in God always ensures power, and then I act for God, irrespective of man and his judgment. Cain took more time and pains to prepare his offering

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than Abel did. It was every way at a greater cost, but there was no power in it, no rising above what his natural conscience would incline him to.

It was power in Noah to build an ark when there did not appear any need for it, and when everyone would have asserted, as year after year passed on, 'There is no more indication of a flood now than there was a hundred years ago' . The building of the tower of Babel was, as a work, a much greater one than the building of the ark, but there was no power in it. It was energy and skill combined, to construct a city and a tower which, as it grew, presented to the designers of it the very thing they wanted. Its benefit as it appeared to their minds was palpable. They were working with the stream of their own natural desires, and every foot of progress produced the very thing they desired. When Noah had the ark completed, he was, to human eyes, as far from the need of it as he was a hundred and twenty years before, and therefore only faith in God gave him power.

Abram had power when he turned from the city and the tower which man built, and came into an unknown country by an unknown way, leaving everything which was naturally dear to him - his country, his kindred, and his father's house. We could hardly find a more touching or interesting example of power than this. A very rich man breaking away from all his associations, and adopting a migratory life, not knowing whither he went. How grandly superior he was to all the susceptibilities by which man naturally is influenced here! It is exhilarating to the mere mind to see a man so superior to himself, walking in such power.

Jacob does not appear to have acted in power until he left Shalem; he had essayed to find a home there, but consequent on the sorrow and shame that befell him there, the Lord tells him to go to Bethel; and then, though doubtless depressed by self-reproach, he breaks away from the spot where he expected to rest after the lengthened toils of his chequered life.

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Joseph was a man of power; he was master of himself in divine rectitude; wherever he was, he was efficient and commended himself. With a man of power, "his leaf... shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper", Psalm 1:3. The way he restrained himself before his brethren, and controlled the deep affections of his heart until the fitting time for their expression, all testified that he was a man of power. Power is not violent; mere strength can be very violent and impulsive, but power is even, and equal to the occasion, be it great or small, but never extreme.

Moses was in power when he left Pharaoh's house and "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season", Hebrews 11:24, 25. When he slew the Egyptian, I should not say it was power; it was violence - the force of strength. He would not have attempted it in the presence of anyone, for he looked this way and that way, and when he saw there was no one, he smote him, and slew him. There may be the exerting of great force and encountering great risks, when there is not true power. It was power when he helped the women against the shepherds at the well in Midian. Had he consulted his own sorrowful feelings at the moment - expatriated, a homeless and friendless wanderer - he would have sat on disconsolate; but instead of this he succoured the helpless, and therefore he mastered his feelings and helped them to water their flocks. Moses was peculiarly a man of power. He felt his own inadequacy for the service to which God had called him, but God gave him to effect the most wondrous things.

Joshua and Caleb only of the twelve spies had power; the others endured as much, saw as much, but they had not power to rise above their natural fears. Suffering, toil, or any amount of knowledge is not power, unless there be ability to make it available for God. "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting"

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(Proverbs 12:27); even though he is very energetic, he will not turn to account that which cost him much to acquire. Joshua was a man of power at Jordan and Jericho; he counted on God, and rose above all natural prepossession. But when Israel was repulsed by the men of Ai, Joshua was without power, and he fell on his face before God; he might have known - and if he had been in power he would have known, and have acted on it - that there must be some evil in the camp, on account of which God had declined to support them. There is power when there is faith in God; the heart can say, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart", Psalm 27:14.

Samuel is remarkably a man of power. The less the ostensible means, the more manifest is the power. He trusts entirely to prayer, and he represents the remnant of the dispensation of divine intervention which began at Jericho. There was no king in Israel; but God was ever ready, as they were true to His calling, to interfere on their behalf. They soon forfeited the succour of His hand, and they were carried captive, God raising up deliverers to restore them to liberty. Samuel, more than any of them - and he was the last - avails himself of the power of God. He prays, and God helps him; he is our example in this hour; as we pray, we have power from God, so that the man of prayer is the man of power.

David is a man of power when he proposes to fight Goliath. Power is simply God brought into my circumstances. It is not measuring the difficulty, but the resources of God. I could not say it was power in David when he obtained the shewbread, and armed himself with the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21). Success in itself is not an evidence of power. God in mercy allows many a labour of ours to succeed, where there is little but our own energy and feeling; but when it is so, even in a right thing, we shall expose ourselves, and involve our friends, the servants of God, in reproach, suffering and trial, just as it was with David and Ahimelech (1 Samuel 22); while

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on the other hand, when the man of power is rejected and slighted, as David was, he will surely be vindicated, and often in the very place where it had occurred. When I act in power I give glory to God, like Paul and Silas in the prison; their liberation involved no one. Power is manifested in my act; when my act exposes me to reproach, and involves others in suffering or worse, there may have been a good intention in my act, but there was not power. Power never does a right thing in a wrong way. No one could approve of Rebekah's ways, though evidently she was labouring for a right thing in securing the blessing for Jacob according to the word of God. If she had had faith in God, power would have been vouchsafed, and guidance as to the right way of accomplishing His own word, "The elder shall serve the younger". There is no more fruitful source of loss to oneself and sorrow to others than doing a right thing in a wrong way. It was right for David to bring back the ark in 2 Samuel 6, but certainly not right to set it on a cart. And this lack of power on his part, this inability to rise above mere natural contrivances, led to the death of Uzzah, who in his turn, in attempting to keep the ark from falling, brought judgment on himself; so that David in bitterness of heart called the place Perez-uzzah. Alas! how often do we now see a Perez-uzzah, because there is not power to carry out or effect a very desirable end in simple faith!

Our blessed Lord was always in power. He was always ready for every demand. When He came down from the glorious mount, from the highest honour, He was ready to provide the tribute money when He found Himself saddled with it because of the humiliation of His nation, and He at once pointed out where it was to be got, saying, "Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up", Matthew 17:27.

Power is indeed wonderful; nothing is so sensibly magnificent in its greatness; and this the Lord teaches Peter, when He tells him to come unto Him on the water,

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Matthew 14:28, 29. There is always power when the eye is fixed on Him, as Elijah said to Elisha, "If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so", 2 Kings 2:10. The more exclusively the Lord is before my mind, the more He helps me. Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, "looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus", Acts 7:55. It is God who is before me when I am in power, and not man.

Barnabas could sell his property, and be the great friend of Saul of Tarsus; but when it became a matter of his kinsman Mark, in Acts 15, he failed; he had no power, because he considered his own natural feelings. In the former case he was in power, in the latter he was not.

Possibly in no instance do we lack power more than in that which is nearest to us naturally; and there is no case in which our weakness meets with so just a retribution as in our own family, as we see in David on account of Absalom. Paul was very different as to power at Philippi, when he concealed that he was a Roman, and at Jerusalem, when he pleaded it in order to escape suffering; and yet it is very interesting to note that relief was effected in a much more complete way at Philippi than at Jerusalem. Power is simply bringing in God, and therefore it is marked with quietness of expression and behaviour. "When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel", Hosea 13:1. "The words of wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools", Ecclesiastes 9:17. What a contrast between man and God in the sentence, "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted", Psalm 46:6.

To sum up. Surely we see that it is not only with regard to the things of God that the path of power is to act simply with reference to Him; but in everything, even in the greatest strait, as with David at Ziklag, the more simply and exclusively I turn to Him, I am not

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only strengthened with power by the might of His glory, but He interposes for me in some distinct and unexpected way. As with Paul in Acts 27, the ship may go to pieces, but I shall not only be preserved myself, but others will share in the mercy vouchsafed to me. Whereas when I trust to my own strength, I shall, like Peter at Antioch, not only expose myself to open rebuke for my manifest feebleness, but involve others through the influence of it (Galatians 2:11 - 14).

Power, then, is doing everything which is divinely appropriate, the right word and the right act; always equal to the occasion, and sensibly so, because of Christ's present grace; unswerving in the pursuit of my service, and unruffled in my manner, however aggravated. It is great, glorious, and most blessed to be set here, though encompassed with infirmity and assailed on every side, in the power of Christ. May we be found more in the great dignity of our calling!


In grace "all things are ready"; all the purpose of God has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. "Himself hath done it". Under law there is no reaching anything but by man's own work; the work is the measure of the gain or success. In grace it has all been obtained for me, though I do not enjoy any of it except as I apprehend it; but as I do apprehend it, I am assured of my right to it; and consistently with it, my manner of life must undergo a corresponding change. Once we admit that everything is now on the principle of grace, we cannot fail to see that apprehension or enjoyment of the truth must precede practice. As the practice must flow from the effect of the truth, it is evident that in order to secure practice in accordance with the truth, the truth

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must be known and enjoyed before there can be any distinct or true practice. Nay, more, if the truth be not apprehended and enjoyed correctly and distinctly, there is no rule for the conscience, and there is no correct practice. To render the practice correct, the truth has to be correctly apprehended and enjoyed. Hence defects in practice can often be traced to defective or partial apprehension of the truth. It is, as I might say, necessary in grace that the heart should first be interested in the things which grace discloses and bestows, before the walk can express the effect of possession; that is, there must be in fact a known possession, before the effect proper to or consonant with it can be attempted or produced. A man to be honest must have a possession before he assumes the way or manner of an owner of it. A bird has wings before it essays to fly. In grace everything is first consciously known in order that there may be any testimony to it; otherwise it would be clouds without rain, or wells without water. On the other hand, it is equally true that if the possession does not produce an effect - if the bird does not exert its wings - it loses its sensible value.

First, then, it is necessary that the thing conferred by grace should be known as a possession and the virtue of it apprehended, before there can be any practice in keeping with it; while in the practice the heart is more assured of its possession, and then only is progress effected. The first great thing is a correct spiritual apprehension of the things which grace confers; for if there be ignorance or misapprehension, the truer the conscience, the more defective is the practice, and the more it is insisted on, the more the doer is confirmed in what is incorrect. Hence the most fruitful source of imperfect practice is an imperfect or a natural apprehension of the grace of God.

Eve heard the promise of God that her seed should bruise the serpent's head, and she called her firstborn son Cain. Appropriating the promise of God with her

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natural mind, she failed to see the divine way by which only this great thing could be accomplished. It requires therefore the spiritual mind to comprehend spiritual things, as the apostle says, "I... could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ", 1 Corinthians 3:1. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned; it is "in thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9), but we see it before we can walk according to it.

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3), when his faith apprehended the promise of God; yet it was nearly forty years after that this scripture was fulfilled, when he offered up his son. The faith had its apprehension and enjoyment for many a year before the work of faith; the practice confirmed the faith. If the practice had not followed, the heart would have lost all that grace had conferred; and that was not possible, for it was the gift of God. In proportion as the revelation is of God, in like measure must there be an answer to it sooner or later. Effect must follow cause. If the light has been received, the day will come that it must assert and obtain an expression for itself. There is nothing hid that shall not be known with regard to light.

To Jacob was vouchsafed a vision of God's purpose when he lay a homeless stranger, with a stone for a pillow, at Bethel. The apprehension and enjoyment he had that night must one day produce its proper practice, however perverse he is. Though twenty years elapse, though he attempts to secure a Shalem short of Bethel, yet eventually he reaches in practical power the spot where he had seen and enjoyed the bright unfoldings of God's grace.

Joseph sees in a dream the place he will one day occupy among his people; he is assured of it, and tells his dream to his brethren, so that the father chides him. He has seen and enjoyed the disclosures made to him, though for many a year everything contradicted and opposed the fulfilment of it; yet it was all perfectly and

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practically accomplished. Surely in his dreariest hour he might recall the peculiar sense of the favour of God of which he was the conscious recipient in those dreams. The deep and true conviction of His mercy and purpose respecting him must often have proved a light in the darkness to him, but years of sore discipline were required to fit him for them practically. Thus many a one has deep and true apprehensions of the grace of being united to Christ in heaven, and enjoys his portion there, who has made very little way in practical heavenly walk here. Many a one, blessed be God, has entered Canaan by the Spirit of Christ, typified by Joshua, who answers in a very small degree to Abram's call, leaving his country, his kindred, and his father's house. A soul is not given to doubt his possession of the place given by grace because he so little answers to it here in walk. How truly and heartily many a one at the Lord's supper enters into the love of Christ in dying for us, who has as yet entered little into the responsibility involved in being there! The heart enjoys largely, though the practical responsibility of the fellowship of His blood and of His body is scarcely accepted. And yet to be consistent to the heart, there must be a reaching unto the other; nay, the heart is checked and limited in its enjoyment, because the answer to the heart's feeling is not more distinctly assumed here. How can I deeply and truly rejoice in Christ's love in dying for me, and not shrink from everything here on account of which He died, so that fellowship with His death is my only satisfaction connected with things here?

First there is the apprehension of the grace, and then follows the process by which we are made fit to manifest it practically. There is to everyone a knowledge of life first, before there is such an acceptance of death practically that the life is manifested in his body. Abraham enters through death - the offering up of Isaac - into the practical expression of the faith which he had enjoyed forty years before. Doubtless, it was unthought

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of and unexpected by him, that he should have to pass through so great an ordeal in order to establish his faith practically. Yet his faith bore him up, and he accepted the way appointed to him without a remonstrance, nay, with readiness of heart and perfect confidence in God.

Jacob on the contrary is refractory, and has to be urged from step to step by suffering and pressure, until he reaches Bethel, the place which in the vigour of faith he had connected with God and His glory on earth.

To Paul the portion of "a man in Christ" was revealed in great distinctness; he was in the deepest enjoyment of its blessedness before he was subjected to the buffeting of Satan, lest he should be puffed up above measure. And it was many years after, when a prisoner in Rome, that, as we learn in his epistle to the Philippians, he was fully in the walk of a heavenly man.

There is danger at times lest one should mistake his joy in apprehending his portion in Christ for power to walk according to it. Many a one, too, elated with apprehending, and trusting to his own state of feeling, and not to the Lord, has been greatly distressed at finding how little he was practically able to maintain among men and things here the complacency and peace he had enjoyed with the Lord. When the Spirit is revealing the deep things of God for me, I am lost in delight, and there is nothing to ruffle me. But when I resume my place down here, I require, like Paul, personal discipline, in order that I may not receive the grace of God in vain; because the moment I return among men, I am again in connection with the flesh, which is enmity against God. And hence I must submit to the process of dying to everything here which would stand in the way of my practically expressing the traits of the new and divine position which through grace I know is mine.

The Lord grant that we may more continuously and earnestly seek to know His thoughts and counsels about us, so that we may have a larger and fuller revelation of

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what He has prepared for them that love Him. But may we at the same time be prepared to submit to the discipline, the delivering unto death, which alone can ensure a practical manifestation of the grace which in heart we enjoy. As the hands are a long way before the feet in ascending a ladder, so is the apprehension of truth a great way before the walk according to it. The feet cannot reach where the hands are without patient continuance in the truth, and unflinching zeal to leave everything behind in order to reach it; because there is no progress except as the feet are conscientiously following the hands, neither is there any progress in the grasping of the truth, unless the feet advance as much as the hands.


The great and peculiar distinction between the church and every preceding dispensation is the gift of the Holy Spirit. True, redemption was not accomplished in any preceding dispensation, but then it was assured in hope through the Spirit to the heart of each believer; while in this period, consequent on the exaltation of the Saviour, after having in His cross brought out full reconciliation, the Holy Spirit was sent down to earth. Every believer is now entitled to enter into full reconciliation with God, all of the old man having been judicially dealt with in the cross and God having been glorified on the earth. Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and "having therefore been exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which ye behold and hear", Acts 2:33.

The first thing to be insisted on in this day is the simple undeniable fact that the Holy Spirit, a divine Person, has come down to earth to make it His sphere of action, and that consequently an entirely new order of things is established here. The Holy Spirit was always the acting One; He garnished the heavens, and was

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always the One to inspire or perform any divine act; but He has come down from heaven to abide here. It cannot be gainsaid, if we accept the plainest statements in Scripture, that the Holy Spirit has come down here, consequent on the exaltation of Christ, and that He has remained down here all these years, and that He is now in the same power, and with the same intention, as when He first came. It is momentous on the face of it to the natural mind - nay, more, it is astounding and impossible; but still it is as distinctly declared, if not more so, than any other truth in the Scriptures.

In order to understand this great gift, the first thing is to accept simply in faith what the word of God says, and then to see what His work is here, and then to note how it has been overlooked by the church for ages, and finally to seek guidance as to how we may clear ourselves of all and every part of the leaven which has so corrupted christendom.

If we believe Scripture at all, we must see that the Holy Spirit was promised to replace our blessed Lord on earth. "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you", John 16:7. "Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him", John 14:17. The Son was visible here, revealed in flesh, but the Holy Spirit who should come here in His place would not be visible. Faith alone, through divine light in the soul, could recognise or be aware of the presence of the great invisible Stranger. Distinctly and unquestionably, then, He was to come, and two distinct services would be fulfilled by Him. One is described in John 14:26. The Father would send Him, in Christ's name, to teach me. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you". The other, in John 15:26, is to testify of Christ. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". Two

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great duties, as I might say, were assigned to Him, one referring to the individual, the other to the testimony.

Now in Acts 2 we read of the manner of His coming, which is very significant as marking these two lines. "And there came suddenly a sound out of heaven as of a violent impetuous blowing, and filled all the house where they were sitting... And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit". We must note that He filled all the house first, and then sat on each of them (verse 3). Two distinct acts. The first was never discontinued, because it relates to the testimony; the second has not been enjoyed, because there was no faith to receive Him. "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Galatians 3:2. Now mark how His personal presence for testimony is spoken of as an incontrovertible fact. When Ananias lies, Peter says, "Why has Satan filled thy heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Spirit?" Acts 5:3. He speaks of Him as a Person present amongst them. Doubtless Ananias, tainted already with the sin of christendom, did not perceive nor acknowledge His presence, but he was to bow before His power. Again, in chapter 13: 2, we read that the Holy Spirit said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them". The Holy Spirit is acting there as a Person belonging to the company. Again, in verse 4 we read, "... having been sent forth by the Holy Spirit". If it be alleged that we have no instances like these in the church now, nor are they known of in church history, I reply that it is now in confusion, but that when the Holy Spirit first came down, He was regarded as a Person to direct and order the servants of God, and in all church matters. This is more striking and conclusive in chapter 15: 28. "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden" etc. Here the inspired writer speaks of Him as in partnership and co-operation with the assembly, as we should speak of the Queen and the Parliament.

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Now on the other hand it was the natural thing for every believer to receive the Holy Spirit. When He first came down, it is added to His filling all the house that "there appeared to them parted tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them", Acts 2:3. And the effect on them in the eyes of others is described: "They are full of new wine". As Peter says to the men of Israel, "be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit", Acts 2:38. This shows that the gift of the Holy Spirit was to follow on the knowledge of the remission of sins, the natural and simple sequence. Again, in choosing deacons in Acts 6, the qualification required was men full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom. A man was not fit for any office, even to distribute money, unless he were full of the Holy Spirit. And it is remarkable that when Peter was speaking to the house of Cornelius, as soon as he reached the word sins, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word; and of the gentiles he adds, "who have received the Holy Spirit as we also did", Acts 10:47.

Again in Acts 19:2 we find that the apostle puts to the disciples at Ephesus the plain and pertinent question, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye had believed?" These passages must establish beyond any question that the Holy Spirit was regarded in these two functions here - one, in testimony for Christ absent; the other, as the Comforter and portion of the believer on earth.

Now the sin of christendom was in separating from this blessed and marvellous standing, as it is said in Jude 19, "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit". This fatal separation from the control and action of the Holy Spirit has produced all the corruptions in christendom. The manner and form of the truths propounded might be retained, as it is said, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof", 2 Timothy 3:5. If there had been no retention of the form, it would at once be seen

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that they were not on christian ground at all; but the more the right thing is imitated without the reality to maintain it, the more it is invalidated, because it is an empty and shadowy assumption. Where the Holy Spirit was not believed in and insisted on as here to govern and comfort the church, then false spirits entered the field to counteract Him. They had no success so long as the flesh was refused a place; but as soon as the sensuous element was allowed a voice, then the true ground was separated from, and the seducing spirits led the mass of the professing people into a spurious sanctity; otherwise the real character of the opposition would have at once been discovered. Can anyone estimate the damage and loss the church as a whole suffered when they ignored the presence of the Holy Spirit here on the earth in both His functions, and set up a man who openly and unblushingly called himself the Vicar of Christ? The unheard minority, to their credit, refused the usurper, but alas, they were so leavened with this sensual element that they have never, as a body, recovered and returned to the only Vicar of Christ on earth - the Holy Spirit. One wonders that every believer who has been awakened to the great loss the church has sustained, and the great dishonour done to the Lord on earth, is not stirred to the heart, and in the fire and power of the Holy Spirit, does not renounce and refuse every shred of the sensual element which was the bait or decoy to the grievous sin of casting a slight on the Holy Spirit; a stigma, alas! from which none of us can ever be free while sojourning here, any more than Israel, in the best hours of its best remnant, could free itself of the blot on the nation, because they had disbelieved about the sabbatical year.

The reviving of truth, however ample, is not security against this desperate and most degrading leaven. Nothing can ever preserve from it even the most advanced and best educated in divine truth, but constant and undying horror of the sensational in religion in any and every form. The more the true form is learned, the

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more we must guard against this insidious foe; because the way he works is to deceive by the adopting and adhering to all the forms that the truth enjoins, and then, under this cover, surreptitiously to introduce the natural element in any way - no matter how, so that it be admitted - and then the province and function of the Holy Spirit is encroached on and hindered. Someone said that 'such an one has adopted the true thing in the flesh' . Surely nothing could be more delusive and dangerous, because the unwary or unspiritual see everything done after the proper form; and thus they are entrapped into an order of things that denies the power of God, while, like an artificial rose, assuming to the ignorant and general eye to be a real one.

The great thing to be dreaded and shunned in the present day, by everyone in any degree awakened to the enormity of christendom's sin, is appealing to the senses. It is not morally wrong, and it is at the same time the best vein in humanity, so that there must be great and decided power in the Spirit of God to keep clear of it. If it were either morally reprehensible or intellectually degrading, there would be no difficulty in condemning and deprecating it; but when it is the best side of man, there is no escaping from it but by the repudiation of man in toto, and this is what the Spirit of God always insists on. Go into the company gathered in the most correct order, and clearly intelligent as to the true mode of meeting, and you will find that the one who addresses the feelings, and seeks to act on the senses, either by hymns, prayer, or speaking, is not the spiritual one, and the effect of his action is to lower the tone of the meeting, though as far as zeal went he was seeking to raise it. The thing to be inculcated is the holy and continued dread of anything sensual; to have such a respect for the Holy Spirit, and deference to His action, that one is ever afraid lest anything so easy and ready naturally should be admitted to quench Him. I do not venture to say that one is not in the Spirit when speaking in a very loud

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voice, or shedding tears; but this I do say, seeing the stigma under which we labour congregationally, that there should be the utmost care and watchfulness lest we lapse in any measure into that line of things which has exposed us to so much reproach and loss. I think the respectable member of a family under public reprobation for intemperance would in every way avoid any action which would subject him to the imputation of it, where another would pass without notice. If this is so among men, and for purely natural things, how much more when I am under the reproach, and once involved, too, in this unaccountable blindness and ignorance of the presence of the Holy Spirit, the most incomparable gift of Christ to His people on earth I do say, and earnestly press, that there should be a shrinking from the very air or tinge of the sensual. But if in word and manner every believer avoids the sensual, and seeks to be led by the Spirit of God, how much more, accordingly, will he avoid any other means than the Holy Spirit for the work of Christ! The action of the truly humble and faithful in this day is described in the words, "Ye, beloved,... praying in the Holy Spirit.."., Jude 20.

This is to be our characteristic. If I am sensible of the dishonour in which I am implicated through the sin of christendom, I shrink from arrogating to myself any place of superiority, simply because I have emerged from gross and culpable darkness through the mercy of God. The sense of the great stigma resting on the church keeps me retiring and unassuming, though in every way seeking to undo the mischief which has been perpetrated, and, like the mouse, nibbling the knots of the net which still ensnares my fellow-christians on the earth. I believe any conspicuous announcement or publication of our work, or anything which tends to bring us before the public eye, is unbecoming. We must remember we are still in christendom, still within the ruins of the temple of God, desecrated by a total disregard and obdurate dullness, even in the real, to recognise

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that the transcendent glory of the house is still dwelling in it. Surely in a family of ten children, afflicted with the monomania of not believing in the existence of their father and mother, though residing among them, would it be decorous or lovely of two of them, once equally afflicted, and who had only just recovered their senses, to be perpetually posting large handbills and notices on the doors of the apartments of the other eight, announcing that they will preach or deliver lectures on the way or mode by which they were restored to their senses? Surely the parents would not support such a course in their too-ardent sons, and would prefer that they should adopt gentler and less conspicuous means under the circumstances. How much more seemly and lovely were they - in company with their parents, still unknown and lost to those insensible of their loss - suppliantly and carefully seeking to awaken them to the wondrous intelligence they had to impart! And so now, I am assured, there would be more success, and surely more comeliness, if the mode indicated in the words I have quoted were more heeded and observed. "Praying in the Holy Spirit" at once sets forth my true place of assuming nothing, bearing the sense of our humiliation, but though accepting the lowly place, yet confiding in God, and able to partake of and enjoy the present support and guidance of the Holy Spirit, once so grievously overlooked and unrecognised.

Oh may the faithful in this day be stirred up to hate even the garment spotted by the flesh, and with repentance for the church's failure and dullness, to make common cause, and uphold the great and amazing grace of the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth. Amen.

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There are in the christian infancy two distinct experiences. The first is when the soul, awaked to the impending judgment of God, sees that Christ is the propitiation through faith in His blood. This is an unspeakable relief to the sin-oppressed conscience in terror of judgment. The sense that safety is assured through the intervention of the One able to effect it, because He bore what was due to us, and that God can say, "when I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Exodus 12:13), is the first and necessary experience of the guilty soul. This must be ever the first experience.

The ruined sinner must first be assured of the grace which meets his need in the sight of God. It is when there is no hope on our side that we appreciate the greatness of the grace which clears us before Him. There is "redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins", Colossians 1:14. We are set free from judgment, because the sins which had entailed judgment have been forgiven, and I am, as it were, cured.

But in addition to this, there is another experience; there is a sense of being brought nigh to God - that we are come to Jesus. That is, we have not only received grace from Him, even as the blood intercepted the judgment impending on Israel in Egypt, but we are come to God. We come near the One who is in the bosom of the Father, and hath declared Him. In the one case the grace is made known to faith - "when he beheld... he lived"; in the other there is a coming to the One from whom the grace has come. The experience of Israel when sheltered under the blood-sprinkled lintel answered to one, and when they sang the song on the other side of the Red Sea, to the other. The first is our escape from the destroying angel, which is known as soon as accepted; the second is only reached through an exercise that

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reduces man to nothing, that God may be everything. It is very plainly and continually taught in Scripture; and while knowledge of the first confers real blessing from God, and is unquestionably conversion, there is no real knowledge of God, in assured confidence in His grace, until the second is reached and apprehended. The reason for this is very simple. In apprehending the grace of God in saving me through the blood of Christ I am an immense gainer, even as a man; but when I come to God, I must as a matter of necessity drop all that which is simply of the flesh; the ground is holy. When I reach this nearness to Him I am established, I know in whom I have believed. I joy in God.

Now there can be a long interval between these two experiences, and while there is often much devotion and zeal when the first only is known, yet there is no stability, nor a distinct true testimony in real joy of heart until the other is known. Noah is safe in the ark, shut in by God; but he has not an altar until he is enjoying the sweet savour of the burnt offering, and then it is no longer escape from judgment, but the assured favour of God, where a few months before he was rescued from judgment, through His grace, in the ark. Abram believed God when He promised him that his seed should be as the stars of the sky, but he was not confirmed in the vastness and truth of this promise until he offered up his son; and then he could speak of God as Jehovah Jireh - "in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen", Genesis 22:14. We see in these examples a distinct interval between these two experiences, simply because the first great conflict is connected with the second experience and not with the first. In the case of Noah and Abram, they each in the first received distinct and manifest grace; but in the other, they had to do with God, a blessing which they reached only after deep exercise of soul; and this I call the first great conflict, without which there can be no progress or stability. The woman who touched the hem of Christ's garment, in the clear and

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beautiful faith consequent on a divine revelation to her soul, expresses the first; but there was no confirmation of this great blessing, although it was possessed, until she submitted to the great conflict induced by coming into the presence of the Saviour. She had no reluctance nor hesitancy in appropriating the cure that grace provided and conferred on her by touching Him, but she shrank from the second. She was fearing and trembling, though knowing what was done in her, because of the conflict. In coming, she must lose sight of herself in the presence of the Lord. She "fell down before him, and told him all the truth", Mark 5:33. A soul may believe now in the virtue of Christ's blood in the eye of God, and be sensibly converted and assured of eternal safety, and still may never yet have come into the presence of Christ, now in glory. He may never have learned the gospel of the glory of Christ; never in faith been led by the Spirit into the new and living way through the veil, that is, His flesh; never been sensibly outside the Adam condition, and in the simple liberty of the Spirit of God near the Saviour - as near as the woman, the sinner, in Luke 7. She was only so naturally, but we are so now spiritually.

Saul of Tarsus at his conversion entered into both these experiences; but even then there was an interval between them. He had seen the light, and had heard the voice, but he did not pass through the first great conflict until the three days during which he did neither eat nor drink. He learned the cross then - that everything which could cause a shade of difference between him and God was removed, and that there was no place for man in the flesh before God; and now, praying, he receives the Holy Spirit. The real objection to the gospel of the glory of Christ is the conflict which is entailed on the soul in apprehending it or entering into it. To receive grace to set me free from a troubled conscience and fear of future judgment makes no exaction on the natural man; it confers an immense gain on him. Even if religious duties or sacrifices be imposed on him, he can

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cheerfully accede to them as praiseworthy, and an evidence to his own heart of the great work which doubtless has been wrought in him. But he has never passed through the first great conflict; he has never found himself in spirit beside a Saviour in glory, and learnt that no flesh could glory in His presence. This accounts for the amount of zealous works which may be done by one still ignorant of the power of resurrection. Moses was converted when he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, but he was not in divine power until, as an unshod worshipper, he listened to the voice of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush, and the bush was not consumed.

Until the second experience was reached there must be a check to progress, because though the soul, through grace, has received the grace of God averting the judgment due to us, there is yet no conscious setting aside of man in the presence of God, and hence no opportunity of adopting the manner and condition of Christ. It is not only, "When he beheld... he lived", but also, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink", John 7:37. The power and Spirit of Christ come with the second, but this is because of the displacement and refusal of the old man which must take place on one coming so near the Lord. There is often a prolonged interval between these two, and while it is so there can be no real progress, except on approaching the conflict which introduces into the divine line of things. The widow of Sarepta can enjoy for a whole year - that is, every variety of season here - an immunity from fear of death through the presence of the prophet, and all this time have no idea of his power over death. Nay, on the contrary, after a period that typifies one's whole life on earth, she was reduced to despair, because her only son had died. She had never known the prophet on the other side of death. There are souls in the present hour, happy in Christ's work in rescuing them from death, who are sheltered under His present care, as it was known to

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His disciples when He was on earth, and is now known to each believer, during His absence, through the "host" of Luke 10:35. But they may never have accepted the end of man in order to reach His presence in glory; and until this second experience is known, they cannot say, like the widow, "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth", 1 Kings 17:24. No one can ever know the Lord in His glory except concurrently with the surrender of confidence in the flesh. There is no entrance to Him in heaven but by the "new and living way"; the old way of carnal ordinances of every kind is not only abrogated, but superseded; they could not find a standing in the glory of God. As I have said, men may have much zeal and devotion in service when only the first experience is known; but until the first great conflict has put the old man aside, and placed one in the presence of Christ, there is not simple devotedness in following Him. Peter can devote his ship and his time to further the work of the Lord; he can even act in accordance with His word; but when he gets near Him as the Son of God, the screen - his flesh, which separated him from Christ, comes down; and now that he has known Him in the light, as able to remove every fear, he, with the rest, leaves all and follows Him. There is neither true light for our course, like Moses, nor assured confidence in the Lord, like the widow of Sarepta, nor out and out devotedness in following Him, until we have made His acquaintance in glory, and this cannot be without the withering up and renunciation of the flesh. The principle of this is taught when Elijah, in answer to Elisha's true-hearted request, announced to him that the double portion of his spirit could only be acquired on one condition, namely, "if thou see me... taken". Elisha saw him taken, and he exclaimed, "the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof". And then in the rending of his own clothes, he indicated that all that covered him here was now set aside, and another manner of life was

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to be adopted by him here; consequently he assumed the mantle which fell from Elijah. It is evident that Elisha was devoted in heart and purpose to Elijah, when nothing could satisfy him, as remaining behind him, but a double portion of his spirit, and that on getting it he would require no more; but yet, nothing that he had hitherto done or enjoyed would entitle him to this great boon. To obtain it he must see him taken. In this day the servant of the Lord has no greater task than the endeavour to lead believers into this second experience, or, as the apostle calls it, the excellency of the knowledge of Christ; but this excellency was only acquired at the expense of man in his best estate. "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ", Philippians 3:7. The glory of Christ is the seal of the satisfaction of God in the accomplishment of the work which He gave His Son to do. "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self", John 17:5. There can be no real progress, nor true joy of soul, until Christ in glory is known personally by the believer. For as it was through death, and the setting aside of the old man in the cross, that the glory was reached by our Lord, so no one now can reach Him there but through the same way; and this is the first great conflict known to the soul.

The servant now is often baffled and hindered by earnest and true men who, feeling their own ignorance of this great experience, and sensible of the cost it would involve, sometimes pronounce it unattainable or impossible; and again by others who say it is very high truth, instead of seeing that there cannot be progress unless the soul has consciously reached Christ in glory. Many good works can be done, and much of the scripture can be known, and yet it is plain that such an one does not date or derive from God. Man with his wants, it will be found, is the guide and measure of the walk and service of everyone who does not know Christ in glory.

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No one can get beyond his origin. If I can only date from man, whatever be the measure and extent of the blessings conferred on me, I cannot rise any higher. The more is conferred on me the more man is exalted. But when I enter the glory and approach the Lord, there in spirit, man in the flesh falls backward, and I am disencumbered. I am sensible that I am of an entirely new origin, even that I am of God, and can come into the scene in quite a new way in my feelings, tastes, and purposes. Isaiah was a greatly honoured prophet, favoured with visions, and a knowledge of the mind of God; but yet when he saw the King in glory, he felt undone. He cried, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me", Isaiah 6:5 - 8. Now mark the change in this great prophet. When the Lord says, "Whom shall I send?" he says "Send me". No one is able or ready to face all the ruin here, and testify against it, unless he has found that he belongs to God in the perfection and eternal joy of His own scene, and that he derives from Him. Then he can come down into this scene, counting all things but rubbish that Christ may be his gain, and leaving all things behind, that he might "press toward the mark" (Christ in glory) for the prize of the calling on high of God.

Unless Christ in glory be known, we can neither make the excellency of His knowledge our study, nor can we leave everything here behind, to "press toward the mark"; because unless we see and know Him there, we have no real or defined goal before our souls.

In fine, man's works and man's need, and what would

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in some way exalt man, belong to the first experience, and thus many are deceived; but only God's mind and ways are known and acquired in the second. Hence, the more one is satisfied with the first, the more check there is to progress; the first great conflict has not been entered on. I do not say that there are not anxieties about the state of one's soul, as to one's acceptance, and as to the things that trouble one's conscience, and many such like things. The experience may even go as high as that of the bride in Canticles; but then, one has never really got outside of oneself; one has never been beside oneself in the pure and absorbing light of Christ's presence, or found oneself in personal nearness to Him - a nearness greater than that of the woman, the sinner, in Luke 7.

The Lord help His servants to understand and to meet the need of His people in this day.


The wiser anything is, the more self-evident and convincing it is where there is any wisdom. The very fact of a proposition being right carries weight with it where there is conscience. When a right thing is proposed, it commends itself to everyone not destitute of moral sense. To the mere conscience there must be an immense charm in hearing and accepting what is right; and with such an one there could be no departure from the right thing if there were in man no will of the flesh, which, even when the right thing is accepted, spoils it by the manner in which it attempts to carry it out. Thus the right thing is accepted and approved, but because of the flesh it is hindered and damaged in expression; the good is evil spoken of. If one is really conscientious, one can readily and gladly adopt the right counsel; but it is the act which is the result which declares the extent of the influence of the counsel. If I am controlled by the word and counsel of God, my acts display correctly and proportionally

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the wisdom of it; I am myself the evidence of it - the body is light.

The first great fact to accept and understand is that though the heart may through grace approve and determine on the course or line of action proposed by the word of God, yet there is an antagonistic element in us; the carnal mind is not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can be. When grace is in the soul, there is of necessity a nature which has an affinity for and fellowship with the mind of God, which would lead me into simple acquiescence and practical obedience, were it not for the working of the flesh, which cannot be subject to the law of God. An immense point is reached when I am afraid of myself, because of the contrary principle that is in me. "Happy is the man that feareth alway"; so that I am not satisfied that I have heard the word, as those with whom it was sown among thorns or by the wayside, but I am careful and exercised not to entertain or sanction any suggestion outside or apart from the word or way of God. If I had no traitor in myself, all would go on quite smoothly, but here it is that the extent or measure of my real subjection to the word of God is disclosed. Many a one readily accepts the word, like him who said, "I go, sir", and went not; but the one who refused, and afterwards repented and went, discovered, and in power overcame, the insubjection of the flesh.

The first and most pernicious form of this snare is accepting the word of God in a human sense. Perhaps nothing has produced so much perversion of the word of God as the assumed interpretation of it by the natural mind. No truth has been more overlooked than that the natural mind cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. The most elaborate and learned commentators extant have for this reason failed to reach the mind of the Spirit. The attempt to understand and elucidate was right in itself, but the using of the intellect, undirected and uncontrolled by the Spirit of God, has flooded the world with a mere human solution of divine wisdom. If

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it were possible for a lower animal to attempt a solution of man's thoughts and learning, it would not have been so outrageous and inconsistent as the attempt on the part of learned men to grasp and explain the mind of God. And here assuredly the attempt of mere learning, however laudable, to produce a more correct translation of the New Testament must be a failure, because it is sought, through the means of learning and the knowledge of the Greek language only, to set forth the meaning and intent of the Spirit of God. By scholarship the meaning of the Greek word can be established, but the ability to explain the same word in different contexts and different books is something that no mere scholar can arrive at. Every book in the Bible is independent itself, and yet it is not complete without the other books; and as far as I know, the same sentence, or part of a sentence, in any two or more books, never means the same, whereas the mere scholar would make them identical. Hence by his assumed interpretation he only spoils the thing, right in intention by the wrong way.

But we individually fall into this snare. How many attach a mischievous meaning to a promise or precept by interpreting it according to their own feelings! It is very commendable to accept or cling to a promise or a precept, but if I impart my own selfishness to it I am turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. I am virtually trying to make the blessed God submit to my mind, and not His own. If I plead, as many do, that passage that God "giveth us richly all things to enjoy", in order that I may be occupied with God's gifts more than with God Himself, surely this would defeat and contravene the goodness of God, and would only expose my unfitness for His service, as the test of the water exposed the unfitness of nine thousand seven hundred of those who had followed Gideon in Judges 7; whereas if I only used and appreciated the gifts as the three hundred did the water, I could enjoy His gifts as mere contributions to help me on the road and in my service.

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Likewise if I take up Paul's words, and assert that I am to be "all things to all men", in order to be at my ease in everyone's company, it is plain that I am seeking my own comfort, and not the good of souls at such a time; and therefore I am using the right words in a wrong way.

Eve laid hold of the promise that her seed should bruise the serpent's head. It was right and good for her to have received and clung to the promise of God; but when she called her firstborn Cain, she failed fearfully, because her selfishness guided her, and the right thing was spoiled and lost in the wrong way she reckoned on its fulfilment. So it is in all cases where the flesh dictates in anything of God; there is not only poison in it, but the contrary element produces a prodigy of great moral baseness. It succeeds in raising itself up into gigantic proportions through means of, as I might say, a divine pedestal. The vapid declamations of many preachers are in the same category. Thus the love of God, the great principle of His heart, has been degraded by a rationalistic theory into an impulse and a law which overrides and acts independently of holiness and justice. The best thing sinks to the worst. The thing which is right at the start is spoilt in the development.

Again, how much do some advocates of the new commandment, "Love one another", overlook that which is due to Christ, because of the sensual meaning given to it. Under this precept they hold that christians are bound together with little or no reference to their allegiance to their Lord; that they are to be bound together in perfect amity, however incongruous their associations, and however derogatory to His glory. From the way this blessed precept has been perverted, and used as a cloak to shelter and bolster up all believers in one common brotherhood, church discipline has become almost a dead letter; so that the correction which would have so fully expressed divine love has been lost or abandoned because of the unspiritual way of applying it, and a thing so essentially right is utterly foiled. It will

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not then surprise one to discover this tendency or failure in our more individual practice, since we have seen that both the word of God and His love - His greatest attribute, and the most blessed bond between christians - have not escaped from the cankerworm of the human mind, but have been distorted into enormities destructive and contradictory of the very source from which they acquired existence.

Alas! how common it is for us to begin with a right intention, but because our own mind is allowed to dictate, it is quite lost, or it provokes the very opposite to what is sought. Thus Moses, no doubt with the most blessed intention and purpose of delivering his nation, encountered the Egyptian in his own strength. He, a most devoted man with the best and truest of purposes, was utterly and painfully defeated, because he had attempted to accomplish it in a mere natural way. Instead of succeeding, he had to fly into a foreign land, and be a stranger in the land of Midian. How many a true and ardent servant of the Lord has been subjected to the same process, not because he had not the right purpose, but because he had not learned that the flesh profiteth nothing. And it is not easy, even after one has learned this lesson, especially if one possesses anything of the flesh to boast of, to walk on in the continuous subjection of it. Where we most excel naturally, there we most need grace to preserve us from being carried away by it; and there it is that we are often humbled, in order that we should have no confidence where we naturally have the most. Moses, at the end of his course, when he smote the rock twice, had again dropped into nature. He was naturally strong and impetuous; he did the right thing in the wrong way, and he forfeited the land. Alas, how often we exclude ourselves from the place of divine testimony here by the natural way we act in a crisis. At the moment when all should be of God, when no flesh should glory, then it seeks to intrude; and if admitted, irreparable mischief ensues, so that the moment of the

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highest honour may be changed into one of perpetual reproach.

Abraham, divinely assured of an heir, is a ready prey to a natural contrivance, when tempted and under carnal influence. The assurance of a right thing gave opportunity for the tempter to inveigle him. So that the adoption of the right thing is in itself no security against failure; but unless there be increased watchfulness and walking with God, there is a greater failure than if there had been no right purpose. Where there is no right purpose, there is not the same opportunity for Satan to provoke to opposition. Hence, simply natural men are more attractive than those who have a right purpose through grace, because they are more even, following on in one unbroken course their own will and pleasure, restrained only by the natural influences which have weight with them; whereas with the latter the flesh is really in intention disallowed, and in a degree restrained; but the introduction of Christ rouses up the antagonism of the flesh, as on the festive day of the weaning of Isaac, when Ishmael mocked (Genesis 21). And if Ishmael - the flesh - be not overpowered, there is a vacillation in character and word, like the lame whose legs "are not equal". This is just what Jacob was. With a right intention, he was ever seeking to accomplish the thing desired in his own way. Consequently, though the right thing was in the long run granted him, it was connected with some mark of reproach, until at length the life-long halt, because of the sinew that shrank, proclaimed that when God grants him the right desires of his heart, He must in a marked way expose that which has obstructed their accomplishment.

In ministering, and in any service, the right purpose has often been defeated by the ungraciousness of manner in which either has been presented. Hence, charity is the more excellent way. The gift, though undeniable, is often hindered or rendered ineffective from the lack of grace in the minister. It is well known that when the

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minister seeks to inculcate what he has practically learned - that is, what has given its own effect to himself - his teaching is effective; otherwise, though the truth be clearly known and set forth, it lacks power. When the teacher is unimpressed himself, when it has not affected himself, how can it affect his hearers? It is again the right thing in the wrong way.

Lastly, in church discipline, or in essaying to wash one another's feet, there is continually a right or truly kind intention, which is not only frustrated because of the unskilful way it is done, but often the attempted remedy aggravates the evil. Uzzah meant well, but he was not the man to steady the ark, and a great sorrow ensued. It is too often considered sufficient for a man to have an honest and righteous purpose in his desire to set others right. He may most deeply feel the dishonour done to the Lord, and happily he has His ear, but he may not be at all qualified to interfere personally. A man, as we learn from the Lord's rebuke to Moses in Exodus 4:24, must be walking in circumcision in his own house, or he cannot be competent to take care of the assembly of God. The miscarriage in cases of discipline and correction is, I am consciously persuaded, to be attributed more to one's own unfitness to undertake the responsibility than to the perverseness of those we attempt to serve. At any rate we are taught painfully that the mere purpose, however right, is not enough if there be not the fitting vessel for carrying it out. If there be "no part dark", then there will be a suited vessel; "the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light", Luke 11:36.


The first and chief thing for my soul is to be assured that my sin, as it is in God's estimate, has been put away according to His mind. It is of all importance that I think of it and seek to enter into what it is in the mind of

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God. No man but one, the Lord Jesus Christ, has ever, or could ever measure or apprehend what sin is in the sight of God; and He alone therefore knew what was to be removed. So that, even if I were competent to remove it, I should be unable to do so, simply because I do not know the measure of the offence man has done against God. The moment I see and regard my sin as it is in God's sight, I am convinced that - as I cannot estimate it as He does - if it is to be removed, and I am to be placed in the sense of complete freedom from every charge and claim as a responsible being, I cannot by any means attempt it. If I am cleared perfectly according to His mind and holiness, He must have done it for me, thus establishing to my heart His perfect love, and that grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. The great delay or hindrance to quickened souls in reaching peace or deliverance is that they are occupied with sin as it is in their own judgment and feeling, but not as it is in God's; and this leads to perfectionism in one form or another.

It is often not easy to distinguish whether one regards sin as it is before God, or as it is in one's own mind. The latter I call sensibility and the former conscience. When conscience is at work the sin is felt and thought of as it is before God. "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight". When it is merely sensibility, I consider some sins worse than others, according to the measure of moral refinement I may have reached. It would be interesting - though it would disclose how we deceive ourselves - to observe how we speak and feel about sins, not as they are before God, but as they affect us socially; for instance, drunkenness is considered much worse than covetousness. Thus when man's sensibility becomes the arbiter of good and evil, there is ever an effort, according as one has a desire after holiness, to correct or modify every manner or way offending against this movable standard. I say movable because it is evident that as my sense of right or wrong

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alters and improves, so my standard must be changed and advanced. There is an attempt to reach a standard which seems possible to a man in the flesh, and the law, as of God, is adopted as that which could be kept and obeyed in the eye of man. It is of immense support to the religionist that what he seeks should be approved of God, especially if there be life in his soul. The young man in the gospel had kept, from his youth up, every law relating to man which the Lord named to him; but the Lord questioned him only with regard to five commandments, all relating to man, and which a thoroughly amiable man might have kept; but he was not examined on the four relating to God, and the tenth, "Thou shalt not covert", which would have touched the inner springs if he were quickened of God. When one is born again, if there is a work of the conscience, there must be a sense of inner depravity, a law in my members warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. The sense of this does not arise until there is a divine principle working and living in my heart, and when I delight in the law of God after the inner man.

It is clear that the conscience is truly awakened as to what is due to God, because of the sentiments of the new nature in me, that begin to find that "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing"; and I long, as seeing what would suit me, to be delivered from the body of this death - not now to improve it, but to be delivered from it. It is then that I in conscience rise in delight of heart to the full work of the cross. Nothing can afford me perfect freedom from the old Adam state but the knowledge that God has removed it entirely from His own eye in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. As soon, then, as I feel sin as it is in God's sight, and thus find that I can hardly attain in any degree to the knowledge of the measure of my offence before Him, I begin to apprehend the greatness and fulness of His grace in removing it all from His own eye according as He regards it. And when

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this is made known to me, I see that in Christ I am not only free from everything, according to the mind of God, but that as He has removed all according to its measure and extent in His sight, I am completely released in the measure and extent in which I see it myself. If the offence I have done against God can be measured only by Him, it is evident that no one could bear judgment of it in order to free me but One - His own Son, who knew the measure of it. He became a man, though the Son of God; and of Himself making Himself a sacrifice for sin, He removed it from the eye of God according to the measure it was in His mind. He was made sin and suffered for it fully, because He knew fully what it was in God's sight. Now as He has removed it according to God's estimate, it is evident that it must be gone according to mine, however much my sense of it may increase. And therefore it is of immense moment that I should believe that God has removed in the cross everything in me that could offend Him; that it is now judicially true for the believer that the end of all flesh is come before God. For then I am not only clear of it before Him through faith in Christ, but as the old man is crucified with Christ, I have nothing to work on or improve. I have only to keep it crucified, where God has placed it.

In the epistle to the Romans, Christ is first "set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood". This relieves the soul of the fear of judgment, for now God can be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. This answers to Exodus 12; there is an escape from judgment, but there is no change of place. As the Israelite was still in the land of Egypt, so is the believer, who is not beyond Exodus 12, still in the place of judgment, and his relief does not go beyond an assurance that God will not judge him. There is no sense of relationship, nor any sense of joy in God. There is a sense, and a very blessed one, that there is a full escape from judgment through the blood of Christ in the very

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place of judgment. The most a soul in this state can do is to dwell on the great fact of how Christ by His blood has sheltered and rescued us; there can never be any apprehension of a child's place or joy in God in this state. There must be a continual and exclusive occupation, for sensible relief or refreshment, with the sufferings and work of Christ, to effect and assure us of this state; and this is seen in the hymns and prayers which are its offspring. A believer can be quite true and genuine, though he has not yet learned more of the grace of God than that the blood of Christ has availed to shelter him from the judgment of God. But then he cannot turn his eyes to anything outside of Egypt; he is necessarily occupied with safety, because he is still in the place of danger, like a rescued mariner in a life-boat. The foaming sea, the scene of judgment, engrosses the attention, or at best, the One by whom the safety is secured. It is easy for anyone to discern and determine whether he has really got a knowledge of grace beyond this place and experience.

Now when a soul advances by faith to the resurrection of Christ, there is not only the assured forgiveness of sins - for He was delivered for our offences - but there is, consequent on this, the non-imputing of sin and the necessity of righteousness. This experience discloses to the soul an entirely new region. The Red Sea is passed. The death of Christ, triumphing over every adverse power, is known to the soul, and there is faith in God who raised Him from the dead. Now the soul is directly and distinctly turned to another side. It is no longer Egypt and its terrors which is before it; it is God, and our being before Him without a single disturbing element. Three great themes engage our hearts when we have come to this, namely, peace, the favour in which we stand, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. It is bright above in the assurance that we are in righteousness, so that we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the reconciliation.

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But though, as I have shown, there is righteousness and peace when I have believed in God who raised Christ from the dead, and now my heart can dwell on the advantages secured to me in the presence of God - God the source of joy to me - yet I am not consciously in Christ until I see that the old man has been judicially removed from the eye of God. While the old man remains, however intelligently and blessedly I am through grace set free from what was due to him, yet if he still continues, there must be distress as to the principle of evil working in him. The more highly favoured I am through God's grace, the more distressed I must be that "when I would do good, evil is present with me". Therefore, when I find that, for one believing in Christ, the end of all flesh is come before God in the cross, it is not now merely the safety that occupies me, nor the advantages on God's side, though these are now uninterruptedly assured to me; but I, in Christ, now know that His Father is my Father, and His God my God, and the scenes of the glory, not merely the hope of it, now open out and delight my heart. The mystery of God, in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, becomes the natural domain of my heart. If there be a true conscience, one cannot ever rise beyond his place with God. The highest and greatest object before it necessarily characterises and colours all his thoughts and expressions. The relation of God to him must ever determine his practical and enjoyable state. The utterance of the soul of one true to his relation is more striking and effective than that of one who assumes a higher state which he has not reached, however entitled to it he be.

To sum up. The first great and continual sense before the soul should be the way and measure in which everything is regarded by God. When I have this sense ever before me, I not only see how sin must be to Him, but I also see how He in His love has perfectly removed from His own eye, righteously, in the cross of His Son, everything in the believer, in act and state, which could

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again cause a distance on His side or an interruption of His love. It is only when the believer enters into the fulness of His grace that he finds, not only that he is accepted in the Beloved in the relationship of a son, but that he cannot take into account, for treatment in any form, the old man in himself, seeing that it has been removed in the sight of God. And surely if it has been set aside in the cross of Christ, in His sight, according to His measure, it must be according to man's in any and every degree.

Again, as everything of the old man has been cleared away in the cross, I am no more in the Adam state before God; "ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his". I am consequently in Christ and not in Adam, and here not only is a new state opened out to me, as I find in Romans 8, but I am in quite a new position as being in Christ, which is opened out in Colossians. So the position in Colossians cannot be apprehended until the state in Romans has been entered into, and the state in Romans cannot be reached until we know peace fully in the efficacy of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I must know that through grace I am in Christ before I can survey and apprehend the dignities of this great position; and as I do so, I begin to connect myself with the heavenly places, the place where He is, as well as with His glory. I cannot understand His glory until I have known His grace, and as I am enjoying His glory, I am in the place where it is. Thus the highest blessing is contingent on the apprehension of the fulness of grace.


I propose to take a view of christian ministry in the present day, wherever it is found. I shall consider first christian ministry with ordination, and secondly, without ordination. First, christian ministry with

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ordination embraces all christian ministers, whether episcopalian, presbyterian, or dissenters. These ministers preach the gospel - that a soul is saved not by works, but by faith in Christ, the only sacrifice and ransom for our sins. They themselves have faith in His blood, and they one and all preach this, though some do so more fervently and effectively than others. They generally have but two great objects before them in their ministry; one that the soul should be saved, the other that the converted one should be a good citizen of the world. There cannot be any higher practical life flowing from it than this; for if the sum of Christ's work is only to save me from judgment which is still future (for however truly assured I am of it by the word of God and the work of faith in my soul, yet it is future, and at best I can happily contemplate the future), the only gain I have in the present is that I am not afraid of the future, and the conscience is at rest so long as the law is kept in the eye and judgment of man. The fruit or disciples of this ministry enjoy neither Christ in heaven nor the Holy Spirit on earth. They have not His comfort and support, and but rarely the sense of the relationship which He expresses. The christians under this ministry necessarily do not go further than the Jews in the millennial day - clear of judgment, because the blood of Christ has availed to ransom them; their duty being now to walk here according to the law, the law the rule of life. Hence, according to their means, and as the providence of God has blessed them here, they are good members of society, and faithful supporters in word and deed of the church or system to which they belong, which in a great measure defines and constitutes their testimony. In a word, they are good religious worldly men; this is the fruit of the ordained christian minister.

Now the christian ministers who refuse all formal ordination, I divide into four classes. The first in simple devotedness go forth preaching the good tidings that the blood of Christ is the only means of safety, that

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he that looks lives. It is simply the greatness and freeness of the grace of God, and many are rescued from destruction through this instrumentality. But these preachers, while they earnestly and zealously rescue souls from the judgment due to sinners, have no light as to the order and edification of the saints on earth. Though beyond the ordained ministry in the matter of ordination, they have, as it were, no pasture, church order, or discipline for those converted by their means. This class, the broadest section of lay preachers, has nothing of a church or a congregational testimony with which they would connect their converts. Hence the fruit of their ministry are extremely lax respecting all forms of church order, and as a rule are quite as much mixed up with the world as the fruit of ordained ministers. It could not be otherwise, because they do not hesitate to employ and press into their service every human expedient of position and natural influence; and, in every way they can, they bring themselves and their work before the eyes and ears of the multitude, using their name and position to create an impression. They are so earnest, so true as a class, that I should not say a word to detract from their service, were it not necessary that I should do so, to give any true view of christian ministry as a whole, as we see it now.

Now the next class of unordained ministers surpasses the preceding one in knowledge, if I may so say. They understand in word the scriptural idea of the church of God; at least, they hold the fundamental truth that "where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them". This is the foundation principle which these avow, and they assert that they meet according to it; but in practice they do not support their assertion, because they do not hold themselves responsible to exclude every believer, at any and every distance, who is knowingly in contact, directly or indirectly, with doctrine or morals dishonouring to Christ. Now the ministry in this class extends beyond

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the mere gospel to sinners, though for the most part it is confined to that. There is in their meetings, besides a measure of light on Scripture, a general knowledge of the dispensations, and often zeal and earnestness in pressing faith and confidence in God, with practical brotherly love. The disciples or adherents of this class, though avowedly separate from systems and the world, are really defective in the mainspring of all godly separation. They do not understand the unity of the Spirit; they are not really in the known leading and power of the Holy Spirit; they seek and insist on the unity of believers, but the unity of the Spirit, which they must uphold were they walking in the Spirit themselves, they cannot enter into, and therefore they cannot keep it. They never understand the true place and portion of the saints on earth, and even though godly, they are not in heart and spirit weaned from the world; and their chief service, as I have intimated, is not to the saints, because they have not the truth which would edify them. Hence their zeal and energies are directed to the unconverted, and thus they relieve their consciences of the service and edification which should be rendered to the converted. They are true plants, but, like forest trees in a flowerpot, never grow to any stature, though apparently right in outline and purpose.

The next class to this are quite clear as to the unity of the Spirit, and hold in a very uncompromising way decided separation from everyone who, directly or indirectly, by contact or otherwise, is indifferent to the name and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are zealously true to the principles of the church of God on earth. But though they enjoy and help on the worship in the assembly, and delight in the saint's growth in deliverance and peace, they are more evangelical than simply for the church; and hence in the assembly their teaching has as a rule more of an individual than a corporate character. The gospel is before the church in their heart, though they know church truth; and their

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care for the saints is more as individuals than as either the house of God on earth or the body of Christ. If I am alive to the magnitude of the church as the dwelling-place of God through the Spirit sent down from heaven, then, if I labour in christendom in the gospel, I come forth to so-called christians conscious of the support and of the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. But if I do not start from this, I shall not be wholly dependent on the Holy Spirit, and shall drop into the use of means and human expedients in order to obtain a hearing; and the moment I do so, and the more I do so, I not only lose sight of the support and co-operation of the Holy Spirit, but I am sensibly diminishing my own confidence in Him and consequently my individual benefit from Him. I most freely own that God has blessed the labours of these ministers; but as there had been human means mixed up with the work, it is seldom that the fruit of their labours are led out into a decided spiritual prominence. For though the converts and disciples of this ministry accept the truth concerning the church of God, and are clear of man's systems, they rarely get clear of the human element, there is a half-and-half way about them; they are strict and correct in attending the breaking of bread, but generally indifferent to other meetings, except the preaching of the gospel. Almost all children betray the defects of their parents more conspicuously than their perfections, and so it is with the disciples of any ministry. The ministers of this class doubtless enjoy more than they speak of, but they seldom present the heavenly portion of the saints; their teachings are generally Christ's present care of His people, and how faith in Him is needed for everything here, and marvellously answered. Many of them are bright examples of the truth brought out in the epistle to the Romans. They know the truth of Ephesians, but it does not appear to be their line or aim.

Now the last class, for explanation's sake, I divide into two sections; one, the well-informed, the other,

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the spiritual. Not but that the two qualities may be, and are, found combined in the ministers of this class, but often where the former is most prominent, the other is not. This class of ministry combines the light and truth in any and all of the other classes; and however far any of us may be from it, it is only in this class of ministry that the great principles of the truth of God in the church are upheld. It is here that the presence of the Holy Spirit is insisted on as the only means of testimony for Christ on earth. The characteristically well-informed section of this class may sometimes be induced to use other means besides the distinct intervention or cooperation of the Holy Spirit; but none of the spiritual could lend themselves to any line of action which would in any way call in question the inexhaustible resources and appliances of the Holy Spirit. His hand is not shortened. He has His own mode and manner of action; and He would lead us, if subject to Him, to carry out His will. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the church on earth; union with Christ in heaven; our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit; these are truths on which the spiritual will more effectively insist. When I am spiritual, I make the most of my knowledge; when knowledge or the accuracy of it is too exclusively relied on there is less power, though there may be clear and useful instruction. These ministers, as they are gifted, preach the gospel, but in doing so they rely on the power and virtue of the word of God, instead of any accompaniments in their style and delivery; and the fruits of their preaching, though not so numerous, are characterised by a deeper though a slower work in souls, which eventuates in a greater decision for the Lord. Their teaching is marked by the presentation and unfolding of Christ, the one great central object, whatever be the subject. With the Father in heaven we are there as Christ is; and be it our walk here, or our relation to the saints or to man, the standard is to "walk, even as he walked", for our state is, "as he is, so are we in this world". It is not this

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or that particular promise or precept of Scripture which is insisted on, but Christ Himself, the ground and display of all the heart of God; Christ Himself, the impersonation and expression of every beauty in the eye of God, to Himself and to man. The disciples of this ministry have spiritual tastes, though they may grow slowly and often fail; but in the end the Spirit of God, having been honoured by these ministers, honours them by leading the souls under their care, like the Corinthians, from their unjudged levity into renewed zeal and vigour of life.


God is the only true standard and fountain of supply. When, at the serpent's suggestion, Eve was induced by another influence to turn from the influence and guidance of the word of God, then worldliness entered. The advantage or utility of present things influenced and directed her, outside and apart from God; that is, the world, be it even in its best things, supplanted God in her mind, so that as faith in God went out, the world came in. It is not the point whether the world was good or bad; but another guide or authority was accepted in lieu of the word of God. The only right one was abandoned, and therefore, whatever the other was in itself, it was not really right. Thus sin entered, and thus the world, in the hands of its prince, usurped and superseded God's place and His claim on man. Man, going on naturally at a distance from God, consults no one but the world. The world is his oracle; he determines everything by the judgment of the world. Whereas the man of faith turns his eye to God, and seeks counsel and direction from Him; and then he overcomes the world. Worldliness is the manner, habit or act suggested or recommended by the world. It may be necessary and quite right in itself, but if I measure what is necessary by man's judgment, or seek to supply it according to

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man's estimate, it is worldly. As it is necessary, if I look to God, He will supply it according to His ideas of my need.

Adam and Eve, when they knew they were naked, sewed fig leaves together to make themselves aprons. They sought the measure which would satisfy the worldly mind, the mind apart from God. Their need was patent, but they attempted to supply it according to man's ideas, and this was worldly. God knew their need, and when He supplied it, how greatly superior His supply was! God made coats of skin for them. Thus many contend that such and such things are necessary for us. Admit it. The question is whether I should be directed as to the mode and measure of meeting my need by a usurper - for such the world really is - or by Him whose love is as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end.

The sensibilities proper to man may be classed under three heads - the necessary, the pleasant, and the wise. The necessary as a matter of fact cannot be dispensed with; there are some things essential to our existence, such as food and covering. The pleasant embraces the comforts and regularities of life; and the wise, information, and the means or skill for succeeding in any line here. All these were appealed to when the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was brought temptingly before Eve. The world was made for man's use, and the things of it suit man. Hence even the "young men" in 1 John 2, who are powerful in grace and have overcome the wicked one, are told, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world". The world addresses one naturally; all the good sensibilities are provided for there, and if man had gone on with God, he would have found that everything proper to his nature had been prepared for him in the world. Now the world lieth in the wicked one; and though made by God, and for man's use originally, so that a man at once sees how suited it is to him, yet now the believer must not defer to it, nor love it. He has returned to God

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and is now in the relationship of a son to Him; and therefore he must, as the love of the Father is in him, refer to Him concerning all his wants here.

The believer, as he has faith, finds that he is not exposed to any privation, because the world is not his guide or source of supply, but his Father in heaven. Surely no one could suppose, were he to see the question clearly, that there would be less care and consideration for him from the Father than what he himself could find or appropriate from the world. "Every good gift and every perfect gift... cometh down from the Father of lights", James 1:17, and there is nothing which man naturally requires that He does not abundantly supply, unless it be denied for the sake of testimony, or in discipline; and surely, if anything were denied by the Father, I could not endeavour to obtain from the world what He has refused. The question is simply this: am I looking to the world or to the Father? He knows my frame and all that I require. He remembers that I am but dust; and He will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly. The first great point is whether I am looking to my Father or to the world. There can be no doubt in the believer that the Father cares more for him and can do more for him than the world; but the world is so ready to one's hand, and because it is so suited to man's requirements naturally, the temptation is to seek it, and to be guided by it. Man, estranged from God, is a ready prey to an order and system of things around him which at first was ordered by God, but now, in the hands of the adversary, suits and ministers to his independence; he can find what is necessary, pleasant, and wise, in the world, and remain at enmity with God. The heart of the believer is often unable to comprehend for a long time why he, blessed here through God's grace, cannot utilise and appropriate the things of the world made by God to gratify his natural taste. It is only when the love of the Father clashes with this love of the world that the disciple begins to see the place the world holds;

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and as things grow, he turns to his Father to supply him with the things he requires. The natural man clings to independence, the spiritual walks in faith; as I am natural, I turn to the world because it supports and promotes my independence, but as I am spiritual I walk in faith and turn to God for everything. When I look to the world and obtain from it, I must, as I have ability to appropriate it, represent it; according to my power I am its representative. I get all my desires answered there. I have no standard to judge anything by but the world; and hence the greater I am in mind and means, the more worldly I am. Indifferent people are the proudest, for they have a world of their own. The man of parts must be worldly, though he may choose his own line of worldliness; he has no other standard. The feebleness of a christian is that while owning and in a measure rejoicing that God is his standard and the source of everything to him, yet he is not decidedly clear of the world; he refuses the extremes of it, while he endeavours to retain as much of it as he can without open dishonour to the name of Christ. Hence we find believers in all varieties of separation from the world.

Now separating from this or that of the world does not preserve one from worldliness; as long as the world influences and suggests, there is worldliness. Mere alterations or limitations in our manner of life and appearance are not a cessation of worldliness. It is making a world of one's own. The only true way is to keep the eye on God; and this is the practical difficulty. If worldliness consisted in the limitation of the world's fashion and ways, then the poor would be unworldly; whereas a poor man with more parts may be more worldly in his small circumstances than a rich one with less calibre. If I am walking in faith, whatever my means, I determine everything by the simple question, Is this suited to the bride of a rejected Lord? And as I have a single eye and a real heart for Christ, this conviction is easily secured. A comfort may be necessary and ordered

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of the Lord for one, which would be worldly in another who seeks it for his own self-consideration or style. Sorrow is appointed of God; but it is worldly when there is a display of mourning to arrest the eye of the mass and obtain consideration. To rejoice in every good thing which God has given is right; but when there is a parade of it in order to elicit the admiration of the multitude, it is worldly.

When the heart has simple confidence in the Father's care, there will be reference to Him in everything; even as our blessed Lord would not allow the claims of nature to influence Him without the word of God. A man of the world would do anything he could to provide food when he was hungry; but our Lord is simply dependent on God, and declares that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God". If I am happily dependent on God, I rest assured that everything I require will be provided; and I scan everything in the light in which it is to Him, and not as it is to the world. I think of my house, my dress, and my everything, as they are in His eye, as He would desire for me, and not as the world would dictate or supply.

A thing might be worldly to one man which would not be to another. Saul's armour was worldly for David. His own means used in faith are adequate for the service of Christ. Again, on the other hand, a man of position and means often retains a great deal because he is used to it, which would not have attached to him were he simply following a rejected Lord and dependent on his Father's care. There is however always this great gain for him, that as he surrenders he gains; while the man who is seeking to increase in worldly things is losing ground in a double way; he is losing sight of the Father's love, and the present reward of surrendering for Christ's sake in a world which rejected Him. If Abraham refuses to look out, or be worldly like Lot, God says to him, after Lot was separated from him, "Lift up now thine

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eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever", Genesis 13:14, 15. If the majority of the spies are worldly and forfeit the land, Caleb has faith in God, and gets the very place which frightened the ten spies. If Barnabas in his worldliness chooses Mark, and thus Paul loses the company and assistance of Barnabas, in the very next verse we read of Timothy, the one like-minded to himself, being given. The world seeks and delights in the abundance of things; but God satisfies the heart. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst". "Rejoice in the Lord alway" is the word from the prison; and as to circumstances, the same servant can say, "I have learnt in those circumstances in which I am to be satisfied in myself". It is an immense thing when the heart is assured, according to John 16 and 17, that the world is overcome, and therefore not for us. The love of the Father is our rest and resource, and the more simply we refer to it, and abide under His care, the happier and really the better supplied we shall be. We may not have circumstances pleasing to the world, or as the world requires; but we shall have a "merry heart" which is "a continual feast".


In the counsel of God the believer is looked at as either in Egypt or in Canaan; either "a great way off" or in the Father's house. The interval, however, between those two places is the wilderness; and this, though not part of the counsel or purpose of God for us, is part of His ways with us. The wilderness is not properly a place; it is more a bridge, the passage between one place which has been entirely abandoned, and a new place, which is our only true one, but which is not yet fully occupied. Hence when a place is assumed or asserted, it must be either Egypt or Canaan, the world or heaven. The

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passage to heaven when I am out of the world is the wilderness, and I must be clean out of Egypt before I am in the wilderness. It is of all importance that it should be seen that there are only two places, the world and heaven. Man turned away from God on earth in the garden of Eden, and the world of sin and alienation from God began. But when man rejected the Son of God who came to relieve and rescue him from his sin and distance, the earth was no longer a place for God's people. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world", but their citizenship is in heaven. The difficulty in definitely comprehending the wilderness is that it is an experience rather than a place; and a very peculiar experience, because it belongs to the interval when I am clean out of the world, and though not resident in heaven, yet having no other place to set my foot on, like the dove in the waste of waters. It tasted truly of wilderness experience when it carried back the olive branch to Noah. It had plucked it from the new place, and in bearing the testimony of it to Noah it had the experience of the interval between the ark and the olive tree. In the same way Caleb scanned and measured the nature of the wilderness when he returned to the host of Israel with bunches of grapes taken from Eshcol, and travelled with them forty years.

The wilderness is the experience of one who has left a very terrible place, one of the greatest suffering and yet of attraction, and is journeying to a place of infinite delight, which if it were only imaginary would lend no solace or cheer to the traveller. In the wilderness I must not only be clear of Egypt, I must also know something of Christ, the hope of glory, in my new and only place; and in proportion as I know and enjoy my new place, so do I cheerfully travel on, not for an uncertainty, but with the certainty that I have been delivered from the world, and that I belong to Him who is in heaven, and that I am going to it as my home and rest for ever.

In John 20 our Lord says, "As my Father hath sent

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me, even so send I you". In chapter 17, He says, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world". The first great stage in the christian's life is the knowledge of full redemption, peace with God, the settled assurance of acceptance with Him according to His own mind. This must be known before the wilderness can be entered and known. Now with the believer it is often long before he is quite clear of Egypt, for though he sees himself sheltered by the blood of Christ, as Exodus 12 typifies, yet it is often a very protracted journey from Egypt to the other side of the Red Sea. Some are only sheltered, some again are preparing to leave, feeding on the roasted lamb, entering in some measure into the judgment Christ bore at the hand of God for their sins. Many at this spot imagine that they have secured the fullest blessings of redemption, because they are feeding in their souls on Christ as the sin-bearer. They are growing in the sense and preception of His love and grace in dying for them, and often do not seem to think of going any further. They are very pious, they are full of feeling, they bear all the appearance of men going a journey - their shoes on their feet, their staff in their hand, and their loins girded - but they have not as yet accomplished it. This is the halting-place of many. Others who do really enter on the journey reach no further than Pihahiroth, and are terribly depressed, and often continue long here, because they do not in faith enter into the resurrection. They have not seen the open way made by Him through death, overthrowing every foe. Others again are really, as to their souls, no further than in the dry way through Red Sea. They are still crossing over. This class have a true and often fine sense of the power of Christ in laying low every foe, but they are more in the battlefield than as conquerors on the shore.

Now it is evident that however pious or devoted a person might be in any of the steps before reaching the other side of the Red Sea, before entering by faith into

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the resurrection of Christ, he would not be in the wilderness. The song in Exodus 15, the jubilation of heart, conscious of full deliverance, is the necessary expression of the redeemed. There must be the knowledge that "the Lord... hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea", before I can be clear before God both of the place where I had incurred the judgment of God, and of the man - the Egyptian - on whose account I had incurred it. Christ died for our sins, "that he might deliver us from this present evil world". When I am in the knowledge and peace of this perfect work, I am clear of Egypt and the world that is under judgment, for "now is the judgment of this world". Then I really, in the experience of my soul, begin my wilderness journey as far as old things are concerned. But, besides this, it is necessary for the true pilgrim here to be assured of the inheritance reserved in heaven. In the same song in which deliverance and complete triumph over Egypt are expressed, there is also the exulting consciousness of entering heaven. "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation... Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established", Exodus 15:13, 17.

Thus the triumph of Christ over everything between us and God, and the inheritance, in earnest by the Spirit, must be first assured to my heart, before I enter the wilderness.

In 1 Peter 1, which treats exclusively of the wilderness, there is first the assured joy of heart that we are begotten again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, "to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven". The wilderness is the space which intervenes between the complete triumph in Christ over the world,

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and His coming in glory. Hence it is said, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel". The one without the other is not sufficient. As we have seen, there must be a distinct, clear, and positive deliverance from Egypt before the wilderness can be entered; and together with this, there is the Spirit, which is the earnest of the inheritance. From one place, the world, we are completely delivered; we are justified, and have peace with God. We are as Christ is in this world. The other place, though future as to full enjoyment, is ours in Christ, and the more we are in the Spirit, the more are "the things which are above" revealed to our souls; and the more we are in the assurance and enjoyment of heaven, the more thoroughly are we strangers here. It is the wilderness when we feel we are not belonging to the world, nor to earth as such, but that while really belonging to Christ in heaven, we are still on the earth during His pleasure. When Christ is in me, I am sensibly and happily apart from the world; and the more vividly and consciously I enjoy my place in Him in heaven, the more I am both a pilgrim and a stranger here, and then I am in the wilderness. It is impossible, as we have seen, to enter the wilderness, unless in the cheerful enjoyment of Christ's accomplished work. I am out of Egypt, waiting for heaven; but while waiting, I am led by the Spirit, the earnest of the inheritance, into the joy and blessedness of that state, though still future. Thus one place is abandoned, and I have done with it, and desire to have done with it, because it lieth in the wicked one, and it is not of the Father. I am through the efficacy of Christ's cross clear of the judgment entailed on me there; and even if it were only this I should be displaced from that which naturally attaches to man's heart. But besides this, my heart is enlightened to comprehend the purpose of God in giving me a place in heaven; and the more I enter into this now in spirit, the more I am strengthened in abandoning this world, and the more cheerful I am

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while remaining in a place which once suited my nature, but from which in spirit and taste I am separated. It is not necessary that I should know that I am seated in heavenly places in Christ before I could be in the wilderness; but the more I know of heaven, and the more I am consciously associated with Christ there, the better am I able cheerfully and fully to surrender the world as ministering to me naturally, and therefore the more truly am I in the wilderness. It is then that I can glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; so that an increased enjoyment of my portion in heaven produces a more absolute separation from the world, nay, a glorying in the fact that, with reference to it, both it and myself have been judicially disposed of in the death of Christ.

In the wilderness, then, the more I am in every way out of the world, and the more in the possession of heaven, the better; though in it I retain that which connects with the world. I am still in nature here, I am in the body; though I am journeying on to the place where even now in spirit I am free, be it even for a moment, of myself and my old standing altogether. Hence the wilderness is a testing place, for I am there as a man, though I am to walk there as Christ walked. In heaven I am outside of myself, nothing to interfere with my happiness; but the moment I am on earth I am in the wilderness. I bear about in my body the dying of Jesus. In heaven there is no admission of the flesh at all; the reproach of Egypt must be rolled away before one can be seated in heavenly places in Christ. And my conflict is with wicked spirits.

Now if my enjoyment of heaven increase, my place in the wilderness is not altered; but while I feel the wilderness the more, I am better prepared and enabled to bear the testing to which I am subjected there. Stephen had a brilliant and a positive assurance of belonging to heaven when he was in a pre-eminent way in the wilderness, where he had to resist on every side; and the more he was reduced to death, the more fully he entered into

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the blessedness of his true place with Christ in heaven. In like manner Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, after having the deepest enjoyment of Christ in heaven, finds here a greater strain on him than before he knew so much of heaven. That is, the wilderness was more intensely testing, the more he was actually in possession of his real, eternal home above. But after prayer and exercise of heart, he learns to accept with pleasure the wilderness in this aggravated way. He says, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong". He was weak as to that which connected him with Egypt, but strong as to that which connected him with Christ in heaven. As among men I have to refuse what savours of man, and adhere to what savours of God; and thus, as in Peter, I am either renouncing from myself, or suffering from others. And as I advance in the knowledge of my place and portion in Christ in heaven, this scene is more a wilderness to me, because the more true I am to Christ here, the less am I helped by anything here. Nay, I am opposed, because the more I know of Christ in heaven, the more I must maintain Him here. And as I do this, I must not only sink into my own weakness, when His power would rest upon me, but everyone resists me, and wicked spirits also, as I demand space morally for the name of Christ. So that the wilderness increases as a place of suffering, the suffering of Christ, as the glory of Christ is more simply my object and portion.


However abundant the resources with the most beneficent heart, they are practically of no avail unless they are suited to the state of the receiver.

The most abundant clothing is of little or no avail to a hungry man; plenty of every kind of food is of no use to a sick one. It is not enough to have supplies of every

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kind, it is necessary also to know the particular thing required at the time by those to whom the benevolence extends. The great virtue of the Lord's ministry by the word is that it supplies the lack of the soul concurrently with exposing it. Blessed be His name, He not only abounds in every resource, but He knows the state so perfectly that He supplies the very thing required, and as it is required. Thus He uses the ministry of His word, when sent by Himself through any channel. The servant who is a pastor is not only a channel for the word, but can suit the word to the state of an individual soul. It is interesting to mark the way the apostle refers to and is influenced by the state of souls; "that I might know your state" was the great anxiety of his heart in his service for the saints.

There are two parts of the grace of God to us: one, the completeness of deliverance which has been effected for us by the work of Christ; the other, the greatness of the things which God hath prepared for us. And there are two lines of teaching: one is relative to the first part of grace, the completeness of our deliverance; this must be insisted on by the servant of Christ, whatever the state in which the believer is found. This first part of God's grace is a whole in itself; though it is not satisfied without the other, it is distinct and definite in itself, just as a man's life is distinct from the place or society where it could find perfect and unceasing enjoyment. This first part of grace, I repeat, must be insisted on; however low the state of the believer, the efficacy of Christ's work to deliver him from all his ruin should be presented to him, though, like a serpent-bitten Israelite, he only lifts his eyes to the brazen serpent that he believes could relieve him. The faithful servant presses on souls the fulness of grace which awaits them. The danger is lest the servant should mistake a lesser state for the true one, and then either fail to set forth and press the true and full christian state, where only there would be vigour and health, or - as is the case with some earnest teachers - attempt to

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lead them into the second part of grace, feeding them with meat before they are able to bear it; and this is of great injury to them in many ways. It is therefore of great importance that the servant should know the effects or the characteristics of the true state.

I suggest that Exodus 15 in a very striking way defines the characteristics of the first part. It is a song. There is joy in the heart in reciting and expressing the blessed effects of the grace of God. First there is triumph, because the Lord hath triumphed gloriously. It is the Lord who is before the heart, and His triumph; the simple and assured evidence of the brightness and heartiness of faith. It discerns Him where He is, the triumphant One in glory; the heart sings in blessed consciousness of this. It is the experience of Stephen; he looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus. No eye can rest on Jesus there without the sense and assurance of triumph pervading the soul. We derive from Him who represents us there; and thus we represent Him here. "As he is, so are we in this world". This is one characteristic.

The second is that an entirely new interest now opens out to our heart. It is no longer our own distinction or concerns here; it is the glory of God. "I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him". If I have been fully and triumphantly delivered from all the consequences of sin and judgment, and all the power of evil, surely it is but meet and right that in the place of my deliverance, like David in his day, the Lord's house should commemorate the spot where His grace so blessedly reached me. If I have been gloriously cleared of all the evil, where the evil is, what less could I do than be occupied with God in that very place? "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob", Psalm 132:4, 5.

The third characteristic is the assurance and confidence of heart of entering into God's place. "Thou shalt bring

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them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established". There is the sense of unqualified supremacy over every obstruction, of which Stephen is the great pattern. "Till the people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased".

These characteristics, though very great, and most blessed, mark the only true christian state. I find several states of soul between the moment of conversion and this, but I cannot accept as the right one any other than this, however interesting and commendatory it may be. Hence, I cannot allow any state to be the true one but the one which is marked by these characteristics. I should not make light of any lesser state of soul; but as I know the state of real health, I cannot, as an honest physician, allow anyone to suppose he has reached it when he has not. I prescribe for health, and though rejoiced at any and every progress towards it, I cannot allow souls to call a lower experience by the name of a higher one. There is hardly anything more mischievous than that one should be deluded into the idea of possessing a great benefit which he does not possess; for he is thus prevented from seeking or accepting it, though all the while it is at his very hand, because he is labouring under the delusion that he already has it.

If I find a soul thankful that he is under the shelter of the blood of Christ, as Exodus 12 typifies, I have to cheer and encourage him by the fulness of grace in chapter 15. I know that he will have to pass through all the stages between chapters 12 and 15 eventually; but my service is to present to him the Lord who has triumphed gloriously, Himself crucified having cleared the ground; and I keep pressing the first part of grace in its full and perfect measure. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". I am not to deceive myself that he is in the true christian state because he

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breathes. If I deceive myself I am sure to deceive him, and many who would not be deceived in this first state might be so by some of the subsequent ones. For instance, how touching and interesting is one in real condition of soul eating of the roasted lamb, dwelling on Christ as the Sin-bearer. Such an one, though very exemplary for piety and devotion, is yet not in the deep-toned melody of Christ's triumphs. Again, I may see others bravely and persistently walking away from the world, their loins girt, their staff in their hand, and their shoes on their feet, eating the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, in their purpose to get clear of the judgment on Egypt; but they are not yet in triumph, and they have none of the characteristics I have spoken of.

Again, others can truly and rapturously speak of the manner in which salvation has been wrought out. They literally see the salvation of God; they see by faith how the blessed Lord entered into death, and they see Him combating with unchecked power all the mighty deep. They are assured of salvation and deeply affected at the manner of His grace; but yet they are not in the song that celebrates His finished work and describes the effects produced by it.

Now if it be incumbent on the servant to keep the first part of grace before the soul of the believer, and not to let him rest in anything short of life, and that in its vigour or health; it is also his duty, and of the greatest moment for the soul's blessing, not to present the other part of grace until the soul is able to bear it. Paul says of the Corinthians, "I... could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able", 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2. In the former chapter he says, with reference to wisdom, "we speak wisdom among them that are perfect". The Corinthians were babes because, though they had learned the fulness of grace as to their place before God, they had not accepted the

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cross practically; they were not consistently breaking off all connection with Egypt, and the associations pleasing to the flesh. They were drawn aside by this doctrine of Balaam. Wisdom would have been as unsuited to them as "a jewel of gold in a swine's snout". There is always a preparation of heart by various processes, to fit one for the reception of wisdom, and yet wisdom is as much the gift of God's grace as is the first part of His grace. If the earth is disquieted when a fool is filled with meat, how much more the church of God! In order to escape making shipwreck, the faith must be maintained with a good conscience. If the grace be received by faith, unless the conscience is good, unless the claim or the responsibility of the truth be observed, there will be a greater downfall than if it had never been accepted, as was the case with Lot accompanying Abram. Better for him in every way had he remained where he was conscientiously, unless when he had accepted the right ground he had answered to its responsibilities, and thus preserved a good conscience. A man of age is one whose senses are exercised to discern good and evil; such an one is ready for the second part of grace, and the servant finds that "as an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear".

Edification is the great object of the servant, and this never occurs but as the thing needed most is first supplied, as the Lord in His grace always does. Happy is the servant who is so led by Him that he always presents the measure of truth suited to the state of souls, and refuses to supply the knowledge that puffeth up, because he will not minister to the extent of his own knowledge, but what will edify and meet the state of souls. "This also we wish, even your perfection".

May the state of souls be more before the heart of each of the Lord's servants, for His name's sake.

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Happily for us, the scripture answers the question by giving us the heads of all events before us, namely, "The morning cometh, and also the night". Blessed be God, the great and leading subject is the morning, the "morning without clouds"; and the harbinger of that great moment is "the bright and morning star". The coming of our Lord, when we shall meet Him in the air, is the special hope given to us; and unless this hope forms and defines the end of all our expectation, there will be a defective way of looking at the night. It is, "in thy light shall we see light"; and it is as we have the brightness of His coming before us as our one simple, unmixed hope, that we shall be able, in the light of it, to form a true judgment of what is transpiring in the night. Unless the coming of the Lord is before me, I have not the true hope of the church before me, and all my works and services will be characterised by this defect. Without this hope I cannot have a true object for my heart, and if I have not, I cannot prevent other things from taking a place in my heart; so that the coming of the Lord, the harbinger of the day, must be my only polar star. What other hope could guide or cheer me but the return of Him who, having loved me and given Himself for me, has left me here during His absence to do His pleasure, in company with His own; and while pursuing with diligence the service that He has appointed to me, never to lose sight of that moment when I shall see Him and be like Him. Thus the morning star must be the hope of the true heart, and the way to judge of everything must be in the light of that day. The brightest moment is the one on which my heart is fixed, whatever intervenes; and because I am thus assured of it, and independent of all present things, I can truly and calmly analyse the nature of them; not to discover anything to divert me from my hope, but to ascertain anything and everything which would contribute to the name of my absent

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Lord, helping His people according to the grace given me. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely", Revelation 22:17. Here, in view of the bright and morning star, is summed up the service of the church at the close of the night.

Now in order to carry out any branch of this service I have to come in contact with the night, with the many obstructions which the prince of darkness raises up to check and suppress the light. To note these various devices, and the energies which mark the night, is incumbent also on the watchman; always bearing in mind that he must not study the current and commotions here in themselves, but as they hinder or attempt to counteract the word of the Lord. If I am really set in heart and purpose on the morning, I am in the light and service of one waiting for His Son from heaven. I discover, by the light of God's Spirit, the wiles of Satan, and thus the particular effect or pressure which the course of things here has on me and on the truth. If I study political or moral things in their own identities, I may discover the measure in which men are affected by them; I ascertain what they are in relation to man. But in order to understand them as they are in the sight of God, I must be in the power of the truth myself; for whatever is not truth or light is error and darkness, and as I know the truth, I discover the intent and place of the opposition to it. I judge and decide on what is bad by my knowledge of what is good, on the principle, "He that is not with me is against me".

Now it is a known fact that more than fifty years ago there was a distinct awakening of the church to the coming of the Lord. The cry went forth, "Behold, he cometh". The opposition to this truth by the enemy was first the attempt to weaken it by the startling and for a time uncontradicted assertion that no one was ready to meet the Lord, because we had not the Holy Spirit.

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This was refused and refuted by those who had learned that Christ in heaven was the Head of His body on earth, insisting on the truth that the wise virgins had oil in their vessels; that the right or privilege of every believer is to be sealed by the Spirit. Thus the gleam of light which had made a track for itself through the darkness of the night grew stronger and brighter. These truths as they were received greatly helped souls. The certainty of Christ's finished work placing the believer not only in assurance of safety, but in his acceptance with God, was new and incontrovertible. How could a believer have Christ as his Head in heaven, unless he was first accepted in the Beloved; and how could he be here, united to the members of the body of Christ, if he had not received the Holy Spirit, which is the seal of being established in Christ? This truth, the true and only ground for peace, or life, or church position, was opposed in many ways. The drift of Puseyism was trying in some way to quiet the conscience by bodily exercise. Alas! many were thus turned away from the light. Satan had seen further for evil than his agents; and he had prepared the hood or blind for them before the light reached them. Many were propped up and deceived by devotional exercises as the means of obtaining rest for their consciences, long before the faintest glimmer of the light reached their eyes; so that when it did, they rejected or opposed it. Justification by faith was not opposed, but the certainty of full acceptance with God in Christ was utterly refused at first, because this truth leaves no place for religion in the flesh. Another form of opposition was the doctrine that Christ by incarnation connected Himself with man, in order to raise and restore the old stock, and not, as according to Scripture, that He died for all, and that, rising again, every one in Him is a new creation. It was reformation, not transformation. It is evident that this theory, which was openly taught in print, secretly and wickedly sought to divert the souls from the light.

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On this followed from within - that is, from among those who had accepted the light - a very serious defection from it, and one of great warning. It was taught, and influence was gained by the teaching, that the church will be in the tribulation; thus indirectly, and for a time unsuspectedly, the light was ignored by its professors, which up to this had survived many an opposition, and had penetrated far and wide. If the church be in the judgment, then it is not the body of Christ, bound to Him the Head in heaven; it is simply as many would maintain, a congregation of all believers, from Abel down to the last one - and then there is no body at all. As this obtained, there was a return to form, and a practical denial of the Spirit's rule, and of the responsibility of the assembly to decide on matters of discipline; so that the principles which the light had disclosed and inculcated were rejected. Hence there was no option for the upright, for those really in the light, but distinct and absolute separation from this heresy, as it was eventually proved to be by the false doctrine which lay at the base of the system. It is to be noted here that leaven of independence which sprang up in connection with this opposition to the light has worked in many to this day, so that the very professors of the light are the great neutralisers of it - a great success to the power of darkness.

The light, having triumphed over this secret and well-constructed device, grew and increased in vigour and definiteness. Numbers received it, and there was a marked advance in intelligence, which enjoined and insisted on complete separation from the system of wickedness which had sprung up in their midst.

Now arose a new stratagem of the enemy, new in form and character. The light, as I have said, had greatly extended, and now the device or snare was to popularise it. At first this was hardly noticeable. Many earnest men went forth preaching the gospel, using every means to obtain large audiences, unintentionally and ignorantly

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departing from the great truth insisted on, when the light was simply held, that there was no power here for Christ but the Holy Spirit. However, the gospel extended, souls were saved, consciences were relieved; and that being gained, many sought no more. Salvation became the all in all, and the church, Christ's interest and glory here in His body, was less noticed and cared for. This gave rise to a very peculiar state of things. There was a large company of preachers who avowed that they only sought the salvation of souls, and had no clear idea of where they should pasture; like one wearing coloured glasses, they had not the full scope of the light. This weakening of the truth was eventually gigantically headed up in the most public and effective way by those who taught that separation from the world order was neither incumbent nor necessary for the believer, thus making the gain of the soul the only aim and desire. Concurrently it was taught that holiness by faith could be reached without separation from any of the systems thus in spirit and in effect invalidating the great moral value of the light, that we are Christ's body on the earth, and that now, with trimmed lamps, we are going forth to meet Him.

I am conscious that I could never even give an outline of the damage done to souls by this daring divorce of what God has joined together, namely, Christ's glory and my blessing; but I would just give a few results of this, the latest contravention of the power and scope of the light.

First, unknowingly and imperceptibly, the mass of those who had received the light and owned that it was of God were leavened with the notion that the salvation of the soul was everything, even while they outwardly conformed to the truth of gathering together to the name of Christ as their true church position. Undivided attention to everything connected with the gospel marked them, and this with a surrender of the manner of life and separation in every line which members of the

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body of Christ on earth would feel bound to observe. Provided that the conscience was kept quiet and at ease as to the safety of the soul, everything else was secondary; and the formal appearance at the Lord's table was more a corroboration of one's faith in Christ than an expression, in joy of heart, of His body on the earth now in the fellowship of His death. Thus, with increase of numbers, there was no increase of power. Those who avow the truth as a whole, but really reject it - except as far as their own immediate gain is concerned - hinder and deform the teaching and testimony of those consistently holding to the full requirements of the truth.

It is not that there is not an increased number of true witnesses, but their work is thwarted and shaded by many who, while avowedly in company with them, are not in fellowship. A mixed thing is never very striking or impressive; the light is clouded by its associate. Hence, where much sacrifice would be entailed, men cannot see the same vigour and power in the advocates of the truth as in former days, when they were not connected with so mixed a company which neutralised their testimony. But in addition to this, the gospel, as far as ensuring salvation, can be heard outside and apart from separation; so that in a twofold way men in the world are less moved by the truth than they used to be. All this varied opposition to the light has given greater opportunity to the caviller, the infidel. He hears of theories and of assumption, but sees very little of the power of God's Spirit putting a man in a new position here on earth, in open and manifest superiority to his former circumstances, so that all must own that it is supernatural and unprecedented in human society.

In conclusion, one word as to the line of service which would help souls in a day like this, and that which we must avoid. The one simple and eventually successful line is the maintenance of the truth in its integrity. "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast

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learned them", 2 Timothy 3:14. "Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life", etc. (verse 10). No qualifying of the truth, the light which penetrated this dark night! We accepted in the Beloved, He our Head in heaven, and we, His body on earth, waiting for Him, going forth from everything here to meet Him. We must not follow, except with counsel and prayer, those who, even in real devotedness of heart, retire into isolation of any kind. Some are so tried by the lack of a distinct and sound testimony according to their mind, that they exclaim and assert that there is no remedy, and retire into isolation for their own rest and relief. Others, again, fall into the snare of being extreme, forgetting that exaggerated statements do not promote the truth, do not sanctify, but are weapons for the enemy to hinder and obstruct it.

Lastly, we are not to follow those who are so broad that everything is satisfactory to them, and who are thus becoming deadened to the beautiful traits and qualities of the light of life, which should mark the members of Christ on earth.

The Lord give His servants to do the work of an evangelist: "Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry", 2 Timothy 4:5. Like David's mighty men, may they not only slay the enemy, but preserve the food for all Israel. We see something of what the character of the night is, but, blessed be God, the bright and morning star is our hope and cheer and guide to the end.


Before we can endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), in the only proper way, we must know what it is. The unity of the Spirit is the bond which binds into membership of the body of Christ every believer who has drunk of the same Spirit. We are

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all baptised by one Spirit into one body. We are compacted together by that which every joint supplieth. Some members are of a higher order than others, and yet no member can act independently of the body, if the unity of the Spirit is to be kept in the bond of peace. The body of Christ is to become the system which is to determine my christian activity. I can at no time absolve myself from my responsibility to act; though, when acting as the servant of the Lord - not in the assembly - I am simply responsible to Him, using the gift which He has given me. In the assembly, the most gifted man is a member; he must be under Christ the Head of the church, he must act in relation to the body, and whatever he does, if he be led of the Lord, is accepted and admitted by one and all as if it were the act and sentiment of each one. It is adopted as one's own, just as the mouth speaks of what the eye sees, and the ear hears what the mouth speaks of as having been seen by the eye, and thus the ear adopts what the eye sees and the mouth speaks. The seeing, the speaking, and the hearing are common gain to all the members. When my natural ear hears an alarm of danger, my feet move away from it. In the same way, when my mouth expresses pleasure at meeting an acquaintance, my hand acts in correspondence with it by a warm salutation. The unity of the Spirit must first be understood, before there can be any true endeavour to keep it in the bond of peace. I could not understand what I am to keep, much less the manner in which I am to keep it, if I did not know it first. The reception of the Spirit is necessarily the first thing. If a believer has not received the Spirit - that is, if he is not sealed - he could never understand the unity of the Spirit; and the acceptance of the truth without the practical knowledge of it leads to very unhappy results; a great truth held as an idea, while the deep moral effect of it is unknown. The idea of the body is accepted, but the nature of the bond is literally unknown; and hence there is neither power nor sense as

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to the way in which it is united together. They, the members, are expected to hold together, but the bond is unknown; and hence many and various devices and efforts are resorted to, to maintain a unity which has been accepted as a truth without a personal enjoyment of the Spirit who forms the unity. Hence the great thing in order to understand this great subject is the simple truth that any and every one to whom this exhortation is addressed is personally indwelt by the Spirit of God. I am, individually, not only set free through the work of Christ from all the ruin and misery under which I lay, but I am united to my Saviour where He is by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. And as this is the privilege and calling of every believer, as we have one Head, we are one body on the earth.

Now the next great truth opens out to the believer's soul. He is not only saved by Christ and united to Him where He is, but he is united to each one of His members here on earth. This is his new and distinctive position, and one he cannot at any time, or under any circumstances, forego or surrender. We shall see presently the varied positions in which a member of Christ is responsible, though not always in the same way; and, alas! how this great bond may be qualified or nullified by the working of the flesh - the opposite to grace - though it can never be fully abrogated. But as the unity of the Spirit is truly comprehended, the believer accepts and feels that he is in an entirely new position on earth, and one most difficult to insist on and maintain among men, privately as well as publicly, because there is nothing visible or perceptible in the bond. It is unseen, eternal, and invisible, but never obtaining acknowledgement from any of the human senses, in me or around me. It is an imperium in imperio, but while controlling the faithful to the utmost, it neither seeks nor obtains any succour or countenance from the human mind, so entirely is it beyond its scope and region. The believer, once acquainted with this bond, cannot but ever after be

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responsible to it. The greater privileges must have the graver responsibilities. Whatever may be his other duties, or however he may be placed by the Lord in His providence, at no time and in no place can he overlook or disregard this new and supreme bond.

We shall now notice the manner and way of the uniting bond of peace in which he is to keep it. First, in the assembly gathered as such. The existence of the bond, the unity of the Spirit, necessarily precedes the known exercise of it in the assembly. It is in the assembly that the unity of the Spirit is fully and peculiarly in its own place. In it "the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love", Ephesians 4:16. Here there cannot be any interruption in any part or member without loss to all. It is not uncommon, however, that some who take their places as really acquainted with this bond have not as yet tasted of it, and they do not enjoy what those do who are in real union or articulation. Nor, on the other hand, do they hinder or mar the fellowship as do those who are really united when grieving the Spirit. The Spirit in the assembly seeks full and unhindered action through every part. So that when one sees, everyone sees; when one speaks, everyone speaks, everyone coincides; when one speaks or prays, one and all are in accord. There is melody in the heart to the Lord. When, therefore, this first exercise of the unity is known and entered into, then this word applies: "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". Nothing can be more blessed or marvellous than any true sense of the unity of the body of Christ, and it cannot be enjoyed except in meetings simply and entirely under the rule and guidance of the Lord. I may add here that while the reality, like the anointing oil, is incomparable in excellence and virtue, the imitation is the weakest thing, and most derogatory to the name and honour of the Lord.

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While it is seen by many how it is that the assembly is the sphere of the unity of the Spirit, yet it is not clearly or distinctly held that this unity subsists and continues when we are not gathered into the one place. We therefore look now at the second place in which we find the member of Christ, namely, in individual service. In service thus the believer does not forego or overlook his great position as a member of the body of Christ. He is always under the Lord, and as he is always under Him, he must be always under the Head of the body, the church. As Christ's heart, blessed be His name, is centred in the church - He "loved the church, and gave himself for it" - so the servant subject to Him can never, in his individual service, run counter in any way to the unity of the Spirit. Nay, here also he endeavours to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. That is, in no act or manner of service is he to deviate from the great and paramount duty. It is right and proper for him as an individual to fulfil the service to which he has been called, but this, as it is done under the Lord who is the Head of the body, must be truly and strictly "in the bond of peace".

Thirdly, in my own circumstances, as I walk with the Lord, I cannot lose sight of my highest duty, though properly and righteously occupied with my lawful calling and duties in my own house. I must make my own personal interest and advantages subordinate to my first and greatest duty, and the place where through divine grace I enjoy the greatest privileges and blessings; and therefore in my family circle I study "with all lowliness and meekness" to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If I had not this great claim, which entails on me great and untold enjoyment, I might pursue my own profit and advantages without violating in any way the moral law. I feel I must do a great deal more now. "If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend", 1 Corinthians 8:13. I must not look on my

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own wealth, but on the wealth of others. I must properly - and this is real charity - though free from all, make myself the servant of all. If I found that anything I was inclined to do, however innocuous to myself, was fraught with any measure of damage to another, I should avoid it, simply that I might adhere to this great new principle of my being, which now ever overrides and surpasses all other.

Now let us turn for a moment and note the chief ways in which this great bond is disturbed or disregarded. We have seen how it must be respected in the assembly and individually, whether in service or at home. Now if in the assembly I either decline to use any functions committed to me for the good of the body, or assume a function not appointed to me by the Lord, I am not in all lowliness, but on the contrary, I am allowing flesh to rule me, and then I am not keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, I am a disturber. If I consult my own inclinations either way, I am not truly subject to the Lord, and therefore I cannot keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If I refuse to hear the voice of the Lord uttered by a member, I am quenching the Spirit, instead of keeping His unity in the bond of peace. If I impose a hymn, or any ministry which is not of the Lord, however good in itself, I am self-confident, and I am breaking the peace. If I have anything to contribute and refuse to do so, because of any selfish reason, I am checking the Spirit, not only for myself but for all present. Much of this and of a like character is often found in the assembly, as we see from the epistle to the Corinthians. But the greatest hindrance to the peace occurs most frequently and injuriously in one's individual service. It is quite true that each member has an individual and, I might say, private responsibility to the Lord; but answering to this in the fullest manner could never contravene what is incumbent on us in our higher or corporate capacity, because the Lord under whom we act is the Head of the body. But yet it is here that godly

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men, in the exercise of individual liberty, often exhibit a lack of "all lowliness and meekness" in endeavouring to keep this mutual tie in the bond of peace. It always shows itself in the manner forewarned by the apostle in Acts 20 - "to draw away disciples after them". Let it be denied or disguised as much as possible, at bottom this is always the labour and desire of everyone breaking the peace. Such an one is independent, and once he has broken away from the claim and control of this new, greatest bond, everything, every act which he does or proposes, is of the flesh, however amiable it may be, because it is apart from and in contravention of the greatest work of the Spirit. If he had never known this work, he could not have disturbed it, or himself be reduced to such spiritual poverty; as Barnabas was when he chose Mark, or worse, as Demas, who, having loved this present world, separated from the apostle, as all they in Asia had done; or as Diotrephes, loving to have the pre-eminence, and casting out of the assembly.

Lastly, I am not keeping the unity of the Spirit in the true way, "the uniting bond of peace", in my own private circumstances, when I grieve the Spirit, or do anything, such as going into an idol's temple, by which my brother is offended or made weak. I cannot in any place overlook my responsibility to preserve this new bond, and not only to acknowledge its existence, but in every way to do so in the uniting bond of peace. If I bring in a single element of disturbance anywhere, I fail in carrying out this exhortation, and fail in answering to my highest calling on earth.


There has always been, in the dealings of God with man on earth, some one special standing which was the test of the faithful for the time being. Adam failed to maintain

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the standing committed to him. Cain failed; but Enoch, the seventh from Adam, walked with God. The last one of seven generations pleased God. He "was translated that he should not see death... for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God". There was a clear and distinct return to God by faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please him". Adam by his distrust of God and His word lost the standing committed to him. But now Enoch, walking in faith, is translated, borne above all the consequences of Adam's failure, though enveloped in them. It is unspeakably cheering to see a man enabled by grace to rise from the lowest point to the highest. Adam, set in the most favourable circumstances, was not able to keep his standing, while Enoch, through grace, though placed in all the consequences of his failure, was made superior to the penalty of Adam's transgression, and was translated that he should not see death.

It is an immense comfort to be thus assured that the worst state of things, and the worst penalty itself, can be retrieved by simple faith in God. Abel, born under the penalty of sin, was killed by his brother because of his faith in God, and yet that same faith triumphed signally in the person of Enoch. There was clear evidence that the grace of God, when relied on, could carry the believer above the worst of penalties, and thus the new standing could be maintained, though impeded with the greatest difficulties. Faith in God had secured for Enoch a victory over death, the penalty which had fallen on man because of unbelief; so that faith can secure an immunity from penalty because of grace, and is more effectual, and better to man in the worst circumstances, than when everything is in his favour, and he only self-dependent.

In like manner faith secured for Noah safety from the flood, while he found eventually that everything here was put under a new covenant for his benefit. Thus faith in God enables the believer to maintain the standing to

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which at any time he may be called; he has only to ascertain the standing, and if he has faith he is sure to be able to keep it. It is as easy for God to do a great thing as a small one; and hence the moment we know our vocation, there is nothing required but faith in God, and He is sure to keep us to the standing He has assigned to us. Abraham learns this; he first declines from his calling because of the famine, but he returns to find that he need not surrender his standing because of difficulties, but simply walk on in faith. He finds that as he does so, the greatest and largest blessings are opened to him. Mount Moriah discloses to him the resources of God - Jehovah-Jireh: "in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" - so that dearth and death are as nothing if there be faith. None of these things can hinder the power of God in leading the believer triumphantly according to the path to which He has called him. What is impossible with men is possible with God; this may be proved every day now by the man of simple faith. If I but know what God has called me to, and I have faith in Him, I must be according to His pleasure.

See the same principle in the life of Moses. He was able to surmount every difficulty which, however great and unexpected, blocked his path on the line to which God had called him. There was never a check to it except as faith waned. If Aaron doubts, apostasy, misery and ruin follow; but let Moses come forth, and he not only knows the right thing to do, but in the confidence of faith, at first single-handed, he rallies the pure in heart - those on the Lord's side - and triumphantly maintains the standing to which Israel was called.

The unbelief of believers often begets unbelief in us, when one would have been proof against it if only opposed by the worldly and unbelieving. Moses never lost ground until, irritated by the murmurings of the people, he spake unadvisedly with his lips; he failed to sanctify the Lord.

In any and every time, as there was faith in God, so

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was the believer sustained according to the calling of God at the time. God always had a distinct vocation for His people in every distinct period. How fully and strikingly this is taught in the book of Judges! As there was faith there was recovery, whatever the nature of the misery into which they had fallen. And when it is simple and unmixed, as in Samuel at the close, the recovery was large and beautiful.

By faith Hezekiah can have a passover second to none since the days of Solomon, Ezra can rebuild the temple, and Nehemiah repair the walls of Jerusalem. As unbelief had led to the downfall and captivity, so faith obtains recovery and restoration. The children of the captivity and Daniel, though under the penalty of the apostasy of their nation, no longer the vessel of power on earth, are enabled by faith to maintain their proper vocation in their humiliating and circumscribed circumstances within the walls of Babylon. The same visible demonstration of power will not return, but the vocation wherewith the people of God have been called will surely be revived and restored. The same principle was in Haggai's time - the house of the Lord lay waste; and yet the moment faith accepted their calling, it was, "from this day will I bless you".

I refer to the Lord's life here only to corroborate how simple faith ever commanded the exigencies of the hour. The widow of faith, in the very decline of life clinging to the calling of God, departs not from the temple, but continuing therein in fastings and prayers night and day, comes in for our Lord's first appearance in the temple. And the widow, casting in all the living that she had for the house of God that was then, calls forth His commendation when leaving the temple for the last time to give Himself unto death. One met Him when He first entered the temple, and the other engaged His attention and called forth His commendation when He was in it for the last time. The Lord was so with Stephen that with his expiring breath he overcame evil with good.

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He rose morally to the height of his calling in spite of the intensity of his suffering.

Thus, in this imperfect review of God's ways with His people, we have seen that, as there was faith in God, the saint rose to the standing to which he was called of God. And this principle we must now apply to our own time. We are exhorted to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. Paul's doctrine sets forth this calling. There are three great facts in the apostle's doctrine. I could not in the limits of this paper go in any degree copiously into any of them. I can only state them, and beg my reader to study them for himself. The three are: heavenly citizenship; the body of Christ on earth united to Him in heaven; and the wisdom of God, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Such, as I apprehend, is Paul's doctrine or teaching, and however the church has departed or lost sight of it, it is still its calling. And according to the principle which we have traced through Scripture, the man of faith rises to the height of the calling, though there be not - as in Samuel's day, or in Hezekiah's, or in Haggai's day - a return to or a restoration of the power or outward distinction which marked the church at the first. Faith in God necessarily carries me to the standing which He has assigned to me. The first thing is to apprehend the nature of the standing; and then, as I rely on God, He by His Spirit raises me to the standing, and in a state suited to it, because all my progress is of God. Paul, baffled and confounded at Jerusalem, proceeds to Rome. He encounters great dangers on the voyage, but the word of the Lord cheers and sustains his heart in the midst of the general break-up. "God hath given thee all them that sail with thee"; a comfort to faith and a clear assurance of success and triumph to every one adhering to Paul.

In Paul's time the greatest evidence of the prosperity of souls was their faithful adherence to his doctrine. It is not that Paul is to be elevated into anything beyond the

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chosen vessel of the Lord; but he was the one appointed by Him to unfold the status of the assembly as I have attempted to define it. What marked the true restoration of the Corinthians but "your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me", 2 Corinthians 7:7. What marked the declension of the Galatians but "Am I... become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" Galatians 4:16. What marked the prosperity of the Thessalonians but "that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you... for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord", 1 Thessalonians 3:6, 8. What gave the Philippians the peculiar favour of ministering to the apostle, Philippians 4:15, 16, which was denied to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians? "For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers of my grace", Philippians 1:5 - 7.

So that as there was faith in God, there was adherence to Paul's doctrine, and this the apostle in his last words impresses on Timothy (2 Timothy 3:10), and illustrates the efficacy of faith in the most trying circumstances in himself personally. "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me". Can we conceive the distress of that moment to the master-builder of the assembly, to be deserted by all, while confronted by the full array of the power which had crucified his Lord? But he wavered not, and the Lord stood with him. Faith leads to victory; there is here a sure guarantee of divine support to maintain this calling of God under the most grievous and disheartening circumstances. No one since has been placed in circumstances in any way similar to them, who has not found that he was invested with Paul's mantle, and that the Lord who had succoured

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Paul in such an extreme moment is the same to the one who now holds fast that which he hath. Philadelphia alone, among the recusant assemblies in Asia, as set forth in Revelation 2 and 3, holds to Paul's doctrine. Though surely the one recovered out of Laodicea not only learns the comforting of the Lord's sympathy as He sups with him, entering into his trials and difficulties here; but he is carried into the highest range the saint can ever know, even to sup with Christ, that is, to be led into fellowship with His interests and engagements with His body here on the earth.

May we have faith in God; and as surely as we have, we shall rise up to His calling and do His pleasure.


The coming of the Son of God into this world disclosed the fulness of grace; "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ". Hence our Lord can say to Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" Heavenly things come from Himself. He adds, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven", John 3:13. He, though a man on earth, was always in heaven. Since the days of Babel, when man had avowed his independence of God, God had sought for the man simply and entirely dependent on Himself. Abraham was thus called. "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee". (Genesis 12:1.) He was to leave the place marked by independence, and come into a place which he could only reach or be kept in by faith. True, his posterity failed to keep the place, and went down eventually into Egypt. God then proceeded in a new way. He does not again call man to walk by faith, but He Himself undertakes to bring Israel into the land, or the place. This the book of Joshua recounts. Failure

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eventually marked this also. Abraham was a type of the walk of the heavenly man here, and Joshua that of the title and portion of the heavenly man through grace. Now when Christ came, the Man desired of God, He is here, but always in heaven, the place where everything is according to God. "Heaven is my throne". Isaiah 66:1.

It is a delight of heart to every believer to know that there was on this earth a Man who was always in heaven while here, and how much more when we see that He has died for us because of our state, that He might be able to give us of His life. Hence He says that "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life", John 3:14 - 15. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son", 1 John 5:11. What joy to the heart to know that we now partake of the life of the One who never left heaven, even while He was down here on earth, and entering into the duties and labours and services of a man among men. Now this eternal life is promoted and sustained by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". John 4:14. While eternal life extends into eternity, it is not so much duration as to time that it communicates, as the knowledge of God. It is from God and reaches to God. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". The first epistle of John was written "that ye may know that ye have eternal life". It is the life "more abundantly" of John 10:10, an immense advance of anything known or enjoyed before. Now "we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding that we should know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life", 1 John 5:20. It was first communicated

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after our Lord rose from the dead. He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". (John 20:22.) Thus it is plain, however wonderful, that we have the life of Jesus, who while on earth was always in heaven.

Now as Christ is our life, His place and position must determine ours. Many see and own that He is our life, who do not see and own that we are heavenly, and hesitate to designate a believer now as heavenly as to his standing, though in the type it is very fully set forth in the Lord's words to Moses in Exodus 3:8 - "I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey". They were brought out of the land of Egypt into the land of Canaan. The same work, the death of Christ, which has obtained my deliverance from all my ruin, has also secured a place in heaven for me. If I am out of the one, I am by title and birth in the other. Yet it might be contended that I am not in heaven yet. True, I am not there yet bodily, but I belong to it. I am here in a place to which I do not belong. If Christ had remained here on earth, He would still have been my life, and that life is heavenly in its character and tastes; but heaven as a place would not definitely have been mine. But seeing that Christ has been called away, as we see in Matthew 22:44, to sit down at God's right hand, and seeing that He has been rejected from this earth, it is now necessary, and in keeping with the grace of God, that we should be associated with Him where He is. God has "quickened us together with Christ... and has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus", Ephesians 2:5, 6. Consistent with God's purpose we could have no other place, and for our own happiness we could not be regarded as connected with the place where our Saviour is not, and from which He has been called away on account of man's rejection. Our citizenship then is in heaven; "from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that

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it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body", Philippians 3:20, 21. Not only, then, is our life in heaven, but heaven is our place; therefore our walk or practice here is heavenly. As we are heavenly both as to life and place while we are on the earth, it follows that the practice must be that not only of one going to heaven, but of one in principle, motive and object belonging to heaven. Otherwise the first prayer the Lord taught His disciples - "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" - would not have been fulfilled after all had been accomplished, and the Holy Spirit had come down from heaven. The practice of one going to heaven is set forth in Hebrews, as simply and entirely referring to God. Going on to His rest, succoured all along the road by our High Priest, with the present right of entering the holiest and of being sustained there by the "high priest over the house of God", Hebrews 10:21. We have gone forth "unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come", Hebrews 13:13 - 14. We look for "a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God", Hebrews 11:10. We are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country", Hebrews 11:13, 14. Those who are really seeking "a better country, that is, an heavenly", and looking for a city - or an organisation - whose builder and maker is God, are necessarily strangers and pilgrims here. This is their practical character and bearing here, when going to it with the eye simply on God.

Now in 1 Peter 1 it is there too a matter of one going to "an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance, reserved in the heavens for you"; but it is more with reference to one's walk and way with men on earth, and therefore in this epistle we are told how to tread our way through every kind of suffering and in every relation of life. We read in chapter 2, verses 11 and 12, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against

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the soul; having your conversation honest among the gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation". Until we reach the heavenly character, "the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you", 1 Peter 5:10. In these two epistles we have both parts of the walk of the believer on earth going on to heaven.

Again, in Colossians and Ephesians we get the practice enjoined on the believer on earth, because he belongs to heaven, and is therefore required to set forth the traits of that country here. In the limits of this paper I can barely touch on them. In Colossians the practice enjoined on us is in keeping with our nearness to heaven. In this epistle there is the answer to the first great desire of the heart, "Where dwellest thou?" He said, "Come and see". Here the believer sees and seeks the things above "where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". And the practical life down here must now be in keeping with this moral height and enjoyment.

I must not stay to particularise; but Christ is everything, and in all. "Do not lie to one another, having put off the old man with his deeds, and having put on the new, renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him that has created him; wherein there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is everything, and in all", Colossians 3:9 - 11.

Now one word on the epistle to the Ephesians. In this epistle the believer is seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and the practice incumbent on him is in keeping with this great position. I must act here in everything as belonging to God and heaven, and not to man and earth. I cannot rightly understand the great mystery, the assembly, the body of Christ, as to its construction, unless I see myself in this new and great

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position. I may accept and in measure understand the construction of the body by the Holy Spirit: but how the Jew and gentile can be one body I cannot divinely see, unless I see that heaven and not earth is the place of our present association with Christ, for on earth it could not be possible, and the attempt to obtain it on earth simply ends in socialism. Hence it is in this epistle that the exhortation is enjoined to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace - the first and greatest duty and function of the heavenly man here on the earth.

I come down to be prominently and exclusively interested in the interests of Christ. I displace the old man and all the principles which govern him, to demonstrate and exemplify in this earthen vessel His pleasure in every detail, and resist in His power all the force and devices of the power of darkness. Thus the heavenly things in life, place and practice, are my joy and portion here. May it be so to each believer more and more.


Everything we see and come in contact with has a relation to God and to men. It has a relation to man simply because he is in contact with it; and it necessarily has a relation to God because all is His. To be able to see each thing purely and simply as it is in relation to God is spirituality. To reach this there must not only be a getting clear of one's own relation to it - that is, as it affects or touches oneself, which I will call personal hindrance - but there are cases in which there may be hindrances to spirituality, even with a measure of self-renunciation and a measure of estimate of its relation to God. Correct knowledge, devotedness, godliness - any one of these, when made paramount, will so blind and engross the heart that the relation to oneself is not quite renounced; and if not, the relation it bears to God cannot be accepted, and thus there is not spirituality.

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Now it will be at once conceded that where there is personal feeling or selfishness, there cannot be spirituality; that is, when I look at anything as it relates to myself. And yet how often do we speak of and regard things and persons as they are in relation to ourselves! Surely christians would not make so many mistakes, and have so many different views about the same persons and things, if they were looked at and judged of in their relation to God, and not as they are in relation to oneself. Lot regarded the well watered plain of Sodom as the right place for him, because he saw it only in relation to himself. Barnabas maintained that Mark was the right man to accompany him in service, because he looked at him chiefly in relation to himself - he being his kinsman. The psalmist in Psalm 73 is nearly overwhelmed because he looks at all the disorganisation and consequences of sin on the earth in relation to himself. He arrives at a very different judgment when, in the sanctuary, he sees the same things in their relation to God only.

Many are, like the psalmist, greatly tried about things, simply because they are looking at them in relation to themselves. A person can be, as the psalmist was, very true and painstaking in forming an opinion, and yet, because he has himself so before his mind, he fails to see the state of things as they are in the mind of God. This is a very common hindrance to spirituality; one's own feelings so unknowingly sway one, and they are so spontaneous and at hand, that unless the soul is so near the Lord as to be bowed before Him in the greatness of His presence, and thus compelled to set oneself aside, there can be no escape from imbibing and adopting a view of things in relation to oneself. It is thus that self or selfishness is a hindrance to spirituality; and though so constant and obtrusive, yet it is the one more easily corrected than other hindrances.

Next, a correct knowledge of the letter of the word if it be too much relied on, is a great hindrance to

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spirituality. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth". One may have very correct knowledge, and use it selfishly, like the Corinthians, who were eating in an idol's temple, because they knew that an idol was nothing, and never thinking of the effect of their act on the weak consciences of their brethren. Knowledge leads in the same spirit now, though not in the same way. The very knowledge often conduces to make one practically unspiritual.

Isaac had the truth of the blessing for his son quite clearly; and yet this did not preserve him from almost committing a very grievous blunder, namely, conferring it on the wrong man, even Esau.

The knowledge of the first great promise to man led to a sad misconception on the part of Eve, which doubtless led her to call her firstborn Cain. Knowledge of the word of God, be it ever so critical, leads, if used by the natural mind, to error and confusion. I require the mind of Christ as well as a true knowledge of the Scriptures in order to be spiritual or to follow the will of God. The natural man can grasp a sense in the words of Scripture, and yet be far from the drift of them, like the disciples answering our Lord, "Here are two swords", understanding His words about buying a sword in a literal sense. Here it is that scholarship fails so much, and is so wide of spirituality. You hardly ever find that a person who relies too much on criticism is really spiritual. It is a word that governs him and not the Spirit of God. Thus the Pharisees condemned the Lord for breaking the sabbath, and those of the circumcision urged that believers could not be saved unless they were circumcised. In every way "the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life". There is no more painful or profitless attempt at service than a mere critical exposition of the Scriptures, it is but as "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal". Satan can have a verbal knowledge of the word, and of course he can help a man to what he knows himself. Balaam had a clear knowledge of the

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mind of God, but he tried in every way to evade it and escape the power of it; and therefore there may be critical knowledge which is not only a hindrance to spirituality, but is opposed to it.

Next, one might be devoted, and yet not be spiritual. A devoted saint is very interesting unless he makes devotedness everything, and measures everyone by it; for thus he is directly or indirectly calling attention to his own doings, or pressing them on others. Devotedness is simply the expression of a heart devoted to the Lord, and which is in any and every way interested in Him to the neglect of oneself. Jonathan was devoted when he "stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle". Real devotedness to one worthy of it is very attractive; but when one becomes cumbered by it, as Martha was, or when one draws attention to it in any way, its bloom is gone. There cannot be spirituality without devotedness, but there can be devotedness without spirituality. Peter was truly devoted in heart; he had left all, and he reminded the Lord of it, which is a common occurrence with many devoted people. When there is only devotedness, however true it is, the interest and energy is chiefly shown in sacrifice. In doctrine and practice it is ever on the subjective side. Jonah when restored was devoted, but he had much to learn afterwards. Devotedness is more what I do to the Lord than what I acquire from Him.

Lastly, even a godly person might not be spiritual. One young in grace is often godly, has a just sense of the holiness of God, and stands in awe of Him, which is a true check on the flesh, and a work of the Spirit; but when godliness is the great aim, most valuable and exemplary as it is, it is not by itself spirituality.

Spirituality is simply the mind of the Spirit of God, and hence "the spiritual discerns all things"; he can nicely distinguish between two things in which there is the least difference. Anything which diverts you from

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the mind of the Spirit of God hinders spirituality. "The things of God knows no one except the Spirit of God". It is evident, as I have stated, that when I regard anything in a merely natural light, I have wandered from the mind of the Spirit to my own mind. It is only when I am near the Lord that I am spiritual, and then my own mind, which is at the root of every hindrance, is set aside and silenced; and this is more easily exposed, and therefore corrected, when it is not connected with things which screen it, such as knowledge, devotion, or piety. As spirituality only lives and thrives near the Lord, the great mark of the spiritual man is that the presence of the Lord is necessary to him, and the proof of his spirituality is that he knows when he is near Him, and is very sensible of his lack when he is not. Hence, while the knowledge of the word is his great desire, it is that he may be better versed in the mind of the Lord, though he finds that it is only when near Him that the knowledge of it takes right shape in his soul. He knows that otherwise he would be like one who knows the theory of medicine, and yet is not able to adapt it to a given case, or like one well acquainted with mechanics as a science, but incapable from a lack of practical knowledge to use it aright. It is only the spiritual mind which can adapt and perceive what is the mind of the Spirit in any case, and thus be able to wield the word of God effectually therein. Hence a spiritual man can apply Scripture, and discover the mind of the Lord in figures and allegories, in a way which is quite foreign and incomprehensible to the man who has learned the Scriptures only as a science. The knowledge of the word in the most complete way, as we learn from the incident of the two disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24) is not sufficient to lead to a spiritual course, until the Lord is known (verse 31). But then they are in the very line with Himself; they do not think it too late to go to Jerusalem; and when they get there, while they are telling their tale, He stands in the midst of them. We find, as a rule, that when God communicates His

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mind to man, it is when there is no place for the flesh, like Moses at the burning bush, or Daniel, or Ezekiel. There can never be a clear and distinct apprehension of the mind of God, unless man in the flesh is displaced at the very time of communication. Hence it is in beholding the glory of the Lord now that true progress is effected. The knowledge of the word will not do without the presence of the Lord. It is not really useful to me without the model, and the only model is Christ; He only can lead me into a true spiritual use of the word. He was the living impersonation of it in everything. Again, when I am spiritual I follow the Lord; I am not occupied with doing or surrendering. I am afraid of myself; I see how zeal and the self-sacrificing character of devotedness would absorb me. Spirituality leads me to judge what appears to be devotedness, as I am near Him. If I follow Him, I must be devoted, and this is the one great delight of the spiritual: "Whither thou goest, I will go". The mind of the Spirit leads me to treat everything differently. Devotedness, as I might say, has but one rule for everything. The sons of Zeruiah were too hard to be spiritual, and yet there is no one more inflexible and self-forgetting than the one led by the Spirit of God. The difficulty is to distinguish between the act of zeal and the leading of the Spirit of God. This can only be known near Him. If I have anything prominently before me except the Lord, that thing, however good it is, becomes a screen for something of myself, and where there is any self-consideration, the region of spirituality is lost. It may be an amiable thing, but because it is of man and not of God, it is not spirituality.

May spirituality be more truly known by each of us.

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To bear in mind and set forth to the last the character and features of the testimony which has been committed to God's servants has been a matter of deep interest at all times. Moses sets it forth in a song in Deuteronomy 32. Joshua set up a great stone, and said. "This stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord, which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God", Joshua 24:27. The testimony would at all events be preserved in and by the great stone - typically our Lord Jesus Christ. It was the chief burden of the prophets not only to arouse and awaken the people to the testimony, but also to announce the true and full expression of it hereafter, by Him to whom we turn in the very close of the assembly's history here, as the "faithful and true witness". The testimony of the Lord, according to His mind, must be of paramount interest to those who at every time follow Him and love His name. Thus we find Paul, Peter, John, Jude and James, dwelling on the testimony to the very end, instructing the saints how to act in the circumstances and condition of things that will be at the end. Surely it becomes us, and it will instruct and encourage us, to trace briefly the leading subjects which engage our attention with regard to the testimony, in order that we may be better able to understand the will of our Lord for us in a day like this.

Paul, in 2 Timothy 3, specially instructs the servant in the nature of the difficult days which are to come, and how the servant is to act in such a time. Christendom - or the professing church, if we compare 2 Timothy 3 with Romans 1 - is not only as corrupt as heathendom; but the corruption of the former is more relative, that is, in relation to man, while in the latter it is more selfish, or self-gratification. There is a deeper vein of malice in christendom, though not the same immorality as in

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heathendom. Now in this time, and when things are in this state, "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof", there would be leaders after the type of Jannes and Jambres, secretly canvassing for followers, easily duped, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; all this to resist the truth. Then three things are distinctly presented, the moral state of the mass, the character of the leaders, and that of their followers. The success of the leaders for the moment would be in proportion as they were able to deceive and to resist the truth. Now the true witness in such a day would, as Timothy is exhorted, be marked by two things; first, the persistent continuance in the things which he had learned from Paul, and secondly, the knowledge of the Scriptures - in a word, Paul's doctrine or teaching, and all that God had inspired, without any limit; because "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works". A man thus furnished is the one fit and prepared to uphold the testimony in the closing hour.

Now, having been instructed in the knowledge he is to possess, we turn to the manner in which he is to act. (See 2 Timothy 4:1 - 5). It is not simply the rapture of the saints he is to have before his mind, but the appearing of the Lord. He is to be patient and labour, and not to be discouraged by the general disposition to turn away their ears from the truth, but he is to go on; and in order to make full proof of his ministry, he is, in addition to all his labours, to do the work of an evangelist. The maintenance of the truth as it had been delivered was his main duty, but he must not forget the unconverted, while he sought with persevering zeal to controvert the errors of the hour. It is, I believe, a weakness in the servant which we may often notice, to make preaching to the unconverted his chief service and interest; it is evident that it is not the line of duty prescribed and

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enjoined here. It is ever, except when the gift is purely that of an evangelist, an escape from the stern and anxious duties of a witness and a defender of the faith among those who, while possessing it, are uncertain, and ready to turn away their ears from the truth. It is plain that there must be a slipping away and a weakening of the testimony when the servant contents himself with the happy service of the gospel; and nothing has more tended in many ways to diminish or supersede the responsibility of the witness in this day than exclusive occupation with the unconverted. The gospel will not be overlooked by the man of God who is true to the testimony of the Lord, eager and earnest to maintain it, as has been said, when the apostle should be removed, to make up in any little way for the loss.

There is one thing more that the servant must be prepared for in order to be true to the testimony to the close; and that is, he is not to be discouraged or disappointed even if all the saints desert him at a crisis, because of fear and pressure from the enemy. The Lord will stand with him, and when things are apparently most against him, there will be an opportunity for proclaiming the testimony of the Lord. The witness thinks of everything and everyone with reference to the Lord. Therefore he is often a reprover and judicial, as well as a minister of grace, for we have seen that he must do the work of an evangelist. He must not cease to offer grace to the unconverted, though severe and unyielding to the professor of the truth.

Peter, in his second epistle, gives another line of instruction for the closing hour, when sin and corruption through false teachers should abound. The practical state of souls is what he first insists on. "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth", chapter 1: 12. He then presents the Lord's coming, the day star, as the hope of the heart; while in view of all the corruption promoted by false

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teachers, he sets forth that "the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men", chapter 3: 7. Thus each soul is on the one hand sustained by the coming of the Lord, and on the other dissociated from a sense of evil and temptation by the word, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?"

Now in James the coming of the Lord as the harvest-day is the one thing presented to the righteous under trial, as Israel was, scattered abroad on the earth.

In Jude there is departure and apostasy; and hence the exhortation to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Here it is more declension through laxity and unwatchfulness, for there are certain men crept in unawares. It is the effect of evil association. "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core". If we look down to the end, and see how the saints have been compromised, and their light and truth perverted, by unrebuked leaven, we are here taught the only true way to extricate ourselves. "Ye, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life". While of some we are to "have compassion, making a difference, but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh". We must note that neither in Peter, nor in James, nor in Jude, is the Spirit occupied with the unconverted, but with the state of souls under diverse, distinct, and widely different circumstances. As we have seen, the preaching of the gospel is not to be neglected, but the great and constant theme is the testimony, the light and walk of the saints in a day of darkness and difficulty.

Lastly, in John - of whom the Lord says, "If I will

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that he tarry till I come" - we are more definitely instructed as to the nature and character of the closing testimony, when Laodicea would characterise the professing church. There the Spirit and the bride of the Lord say, "Come" (Revelation 22:17); this is ever the first distinct and certain sound, always heard and always maintained. The wise virgins are awakened up and have gone forth to meet the Bridegroom. This is the great characteristic of the assembly when truly in testimony and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit come down from heaven to testify for Christ in His absence. But if one of the Lord's people is not in this testimony, there is ever directed to him, and to every one as he is, the invitation, the earnest appeal, "Let him that heareth say, Come". The more any are true to the testimony, and the more they are set on the one true desire of hearts loyal to Christ, the greater interest must they take in everyone belonging now to Christ; they cannot be overlooked. The true are not satisfied to go on persistently in company with the Holy Spirit in the one hope of the heart, but are as it were unwilling and reluctant to go on alone; they seek that all saints should be in company with the truth, and in the testimony. Hence the service is, "Let him that heareth say, Come". He that hears the sounding forth of the characteristic of the assembly's fidelity to Christ, let him join in it, let him co-operate. There is a longing for Him. And then if any is "athirst", unsatisfied, let him come. The heart of the assembly in true testimony is not content while one of Christ's is practically indifferent to the testimony, or apart from that joy of heart which is our portion here. And yet this is not enough; though all this will be the leading desire of the heart, still it is not complete unless the offer of salvation is sent forth to all. Hence it is added, "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". The preaching of the gospel, in order to gather the last members of the body of Christ, is the only fit and adequate service of one devoted to the

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Bridegroom. It is important that preaching the gospel should not monopolise the prior desires of the heart true to Christ. It cannot be neglected and slighted when the heart is true to Him, but inasmuch as it is true to Him, it must follow the course and action of His heart.

I do not speak of the evangelists now as gifted of the Lord for a special service, but I speak of the general interest of the assembly in testimony. To be in fellowship with the Lord, I must follow the order in which He places them; and it is only in that order that the Holy Spirit will help me.

The Lord grant that this little review of the testimony at the close may lead to edification, and encourage us to be more faithful to His name and interests.


No one could read John's gospel and the Acts of the Apostles without being convinced that the Holy Spirit occupies an entirely new place on the earth, and performs new and unknown services in the saints. The christian era is pre-eminently distinguished by the fact that the Holy Spirit has come down from heaven, and that His coming was to confer new and great benefits on every believer. These are recounted and declared in John's gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles. Each believer receives the Holy Spirit, not only the company gathered at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, but Peter presents this gift as the characteristic complement of divine grace. "Repent, and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit", Acts 2:38. The reception of the Holy Spirit was to crown the blessing of grace; grace would not be completed without the individual possessing the Holy Spirit; nay, possessing Him was the only finish - the end to conversion. Hence when the apostles heard of the conversions in Samaria, two of

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their number were sent there for the express purpose of imparting to them the Holy Spirit. Do we in this day feel like the apostles in that day when we hear of conversions - the need of the additional service, or the only finish to grace, even the reception of the Holy Spirit? We learn from the fact of the Holy Spirit falling on the gentiles in the house of Cornelius, that they were owned of God as in the same blessing as the Jewish converts at Jerusalem. Peter, in vindicating himself to his brethren, does not urge that the gentiles were converted, but that they had "received the Holy Spirit, as we also did". In like manner we find Paul asking the converts at Ephesus, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye had believed?" It is plain that conversion was not considered sufficient, or the whole of grace, but that the receiving of the Holy Spirit was the only true and proper finish or end of the grace of God to the believer, and that until this gift was received, he must be ignorant of his new and divine relationship, and therefore powerless to act in the life and walk of Christ.

We must see and own the great place which the Holy Spirit occupies now on the earth, and how every believer is entitled to possess Him, before our new identity can be known, or true christian practice can be performed. In a word, we are premature in asking believers to practise until they are in possession of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle founds all his arguments in Galatians on the fact that they had received the Holy Spirit. Everywhere we turn we find that the possession of the Holy Spirit was the simple and necessary proof and assurance of being in a christian state. In this day there are, through mercy, many converted, but could we say that even the majority of them had received the Holy Spirit? Or has there been care and attention to ascertain the fact, whether they have received the Holy Spirit since they believed? We cannot regard the reception of the Holy Spirit as a small or ordinary thing, or to be confounded with conversion - great and blessed as that is - by the

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power of the Holy Spirit in the soul. What language could describe the effects produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, both with oneself individually, or with regard to others? First, John 4:14: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". Gifts of any measure from without could in no way contribute to man's full happiness like the gift here spoken of; so great is it that never before nor again will he be favoured to the same extent by the blessed God. Were the nature and measure of this gift more seen and appreciated, there would be unceasing seeking to secure it, and unbounded joy in possessing it. But it is not only that this gift imparts inexhaustible resources to the believer, but it enables him, enriched beyond measure himself, to contribute to the blessing of others. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water", John 7:38.

Further, we find this great gift specified and defined in John 14:26, where the service and benefit to the believer for himself is set forth; and in chapter 15: 26, we find that by Him the testimony here was to be maintained. In the Acts we have abundant testimony of the effect and virtues of this gift. The lame man who sat and begged at the beautiful gate of the temple, when healed by the name of Jesus, characteristically set forth the personal and ostensible effect of the power of the Holy Spirit. He was "walking, and leaping, and praising God"; while his outward circumstances were not in the least altered, he was conscious in himself of the power of God, and this so delighted him that he was exclusively occupied with God's great favour to him.

Now when we compare this with the present time and the experience of believers, we are forced to the conclusion that there are some distinct causes for the present restricted action of the Holy Spirit.

The first cause, in my judgment, is ignorance - ignorance of the grace of our God, and that the Holy

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Spirit has been sent down to crown in the soul the efficacy of the work of Christ. If many of the servants of God were not ignorant of this great truth, surely they would more earnestly and continually press it on their hearers. The mass are very much like the Ephesians, who had not heard whether there were any Holy Spirit. Doubtless the mere doctrine is admitted, but the value and importance of possessing the Holy Spirit is not seen or comprehended. Now if one of the plainest of revealed truths can be overlooked, and not learned or seen in the word of God, it is obvious that the Spirit must be restricted in His action. The Spirit Himself is the power by which we understand the word which reveals His service. Hence when the saints fail to see the marked place which He holds in the New Testament, there is surely evidence of the spiritually dull and inaccurate way in which the Scriptures are read, and the little real acceptance there is of the plainest statements of the word of God.

We have heard of animals which cannot see in the sun. In like manner many believers now have some light; but the power of all light residing here on earth they do not own; and as they do not honour the Lord, they are not honoured of Him. For what can be done for those who cannot see the meaning of the plainest scriptures? They in a way resist the Holy Spirit; and hence, like Israel, they are left very much to their own devices, without the aid or comfort of the Holy Spirit. Thus He is restricted in His action, though He waits to be gracious, and to not a few He ministers the grace of Christ, though they are ignorant of the manner in which they are served.

Next to ignorance is what I may call an insensibility to this great truth. While it is formally accepted, there seems little or no consciousness of the magnitude of it. They can even adopt the order and rule of the Spirit of God, and yet all the time the heart is far from the sense of His presence and power. If the ignorant are so

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deceived that they cannot comprehend a truth most plainly revealed and pronounced in Scripture, whereby the Spirit of God is hindered and checked, how much more when the truth is formally and doctrinally received, but there is so much indifference about it that only a few are really interested and awakened in any measure to the reality of what they profess to know. They see the better, but follow the worse. They have received the grace of God in vain. They are forgetful hearers. Their talent is hid in a napkin. Nay, it had been better that they had not known, than after they had known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. These be they who leave the ground of the assembly, sensual, having not the Spirit; and practically they betray their own departure by their association with things unsuited to a christian. Under this head the Spirit is restricted in His action by the insensibility and want of sincerity of heart of those who profess to have received the truth as to His present functions and services.

But there is yet another cause for the restricted action of the Holy Spirit in this day, and possibly the most grievous to the Spirit of God. It is unbelief. Several would affirm in the most confident way that they possess the Holy Spirit, that they are the greatest living wonders ever seen on this earth - temples of the Holy Spirit, that in so small and feeble a tenement as the human body there dwells and is enjoyed the greatest gift and state God ever conferred on man. Yet many, who would unhesitatingly declare that they are thus favoured, have so little faith in the reality of the power of God that they condescend to ways and means of doing the Lord's work, not to speak of their own, as if they were as other men, who never heard or believed that the Holy Spirit has come down from heaven, not only to be here, but to be in the believer. If I really believe that the Holy Spirit was here, that not only was all the power of God invisibly beside me, but He also dwelling in me, how could I dare or venture to do anything but at His

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bidding? I must feel and own that I am His vessel, and therefore everything that I do would be an expression of His rule. He would certainly lead and help me to speak for the Lord, but would He use mere contrivances or means for obtaining publicity for His communications? The very statement of it sounds profane, and one might say it was too trifling to be noticed one way or another, were it not an indication of the lack of faith in the great Being owned as here, and assumed to dwell in our bodies. If I am the vessel of the Holy Spirit, and if I believe that He garnished the heavens, and that He drew together immense crowds at Jerusalem and at other places, then I must rest assured that if I am led by Him to a place for a purpose, He can and does, as He pleases, declare His purpose and lead me to fulfil it, not by any human co-operation, but by the same mighty force by which He has led me. Nothing indicates more painful disrespect to the Spirit than the means to which His vessels resort; as if He were but a good influence and not God the Holy Spirit. Alas, alas, the action of the Holy Spirit must be restricted, when those who honestly and conscientiously profess to be His vessels have no faith in His power and presence.


Once sin entered, and man was governed by his own will, with Satan ever ready to aid him, to stand for God was a conflict, and opposed to all around. The man of God had no resource but in faith; neither to himself, nor to any other man, must he look for succour. He can only endure as seeing Him who is invisible. Where the opposition is open and avowed, the man of God has less difficulty in seeing his course. But when there is the profession by the many of doing what is right, and yet not according to God, the true path is more difficult, and attended with more suffering. Nay, the nearer the mass

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approach in terms or form to the revelation of God, the more arduous and exacting is it for the faithful. If Cain had made no profession or attempt to be accepted of God, it would not have been fatal to Abel to have offered what was simply true. Cain, frustrated in his attempt to secure a desired end in his own wilful way, slew his brother, who in faith, seeing Him who is invisible, acted according to the mind of God. Abel acted in faith, and having God before his mind, did not think of consequences, he thought only of what was due to God. There was no effort on his part to effect a compromise with Cain. He presented the right thing; God accepted him and was on his side, though his own brother, in deadly hate, rose up against him.

That which occurred at the very beginning, between only two brothers, depicts the two lines which have coursed the earth from that day to this. It is not only that all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, but the more divinely anyone adheres to the call of God, the more will he at the same time suffer, not only from the ignorant unbeliever, but from those who hold the truth avowedly, but unspiritually. It is a great help to the man of God to see that his greatest opponent and enemy is the brother who dippeth in the same dish with him, and with whom he has gone in company to the house of the Lord, if he be not really and truly in the place he has taken. It was God's accepting Abel's offering which awoke all the diabolical rage of Cain. And so it has been ever since; the favour of God in communicating His mind to the faithful has evoked the deadliest opposition from those who considered themselves entitled to it. It was the grace and goodness of our Lord on the earth which woke up the bitter, unrelenting hate of the great professors of the hour. It was not the cavillers or indifferent who were His chief enemies, but those who assumed to be leaders and guides of God's people on earth. To any reflecting mind it must be clear that there is a deeper opposition from those who accept

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the truth in form, against those who seek to hold it spiritually, than from those quite ignorant of it. Moses suffered more from his own immediate relations and associates than from any. The men Paul had a right to count on were the ones who most openly deserted him and damaged the truth. If you accept the truth, and are not in true exercise of soul in the maintenance of it, you neither gain anything by the profession of it, nor by any step you may have taken on account of it; while on the other hand there is a repugnance in your heart (though often concealed) to those who, however little, are eager before God to reach on to the greatness of the blessing ensured by the truth they have accepted, and of which in mercy they taste.

Now having seen, in some measure, the quarter from which the deadliest opposition will come, let us examine what would be the only true course for the man of God with regard to those from whom he will suffer most. His course will, I apprehend, be marked by a twofold action; the first, more of a negative character - no temporising; the other aggressive. By no temporising I mean no concession of any principle, in theory or in practice. Abel best considered for Cain when he kept fully and distinctly before his mind that which was due from a sinner to God. True, Abel did not live to practise the aggressive part, but God followed it up, and Cain was a marked man on the earth. Thus with Moses; he not only resisted the envy of his brother and sister, but Aaron has to entreat of him that the judgment of God might be removed from Miriam. (Numbers 12.) In like manner Moses does not yield at all to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, but he is aggressive, he seeks judgment from God upon their heads. It was in this spirit, too, that he charged the sons of Levi, when he "stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them... Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and

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out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour", Exodus 32:26,27.

Thus our blessed Lord, the true Israelite, not only did not in any way temporise with the religious leaders of the people, but He eventually denounced and exposed them as blind guides, etc. We see the same with the apostle Paul; he was not content with the most distinct line with regard to them, but while he consigned Hymenaeus and Philetus to the judgment of God, he openly warns of Alexander, and looks to God to reward him according to his works.

The instruction I gather from all these examples is that a time may come when one is not to think so much of the congregation as of God. The truth and glory of Christ must be considered far more than the feelings of any; nay, the best way to ensure the true and solid blessing of every believer is by the most decided maintenance of the truth in its integrity. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments", 1 John 5:1, 2. It is the man who gives the uncertain sound who does the real mischief. "But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand", Ezekiel 33:6.

But besides this, while there will, I trust, be an interest in and care for the poor of the flock who seek the Lord, there will be less seeking after numbers as there is a deeper sense of the responsibility of the hour. Numbers impede when they are not whole-hearted. Hence Gideon's thirty-two thousand were reduced first to ten thousand and eventually to three hundred. He did not strive to retain the many; he sought, as faithfulness

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would seek now, those who would do as the Lord directed. The gravity of the hour spiritually has not been understood, or there would never have been the godless haste, or urging believers to take a step for which they were not in heart prepared. There has been a time, and there is a time now, when it is true and proper, because of the demoralised condition of the congregation of God's people, to inquire, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Any on His side are called to distinct and peculiar faithfulness, involving not only separation from others, but aggression. It is a delusion to urge that the terms of Acts 2 must be the terms now. Of course there can be no other terms for reception at the Lord's table, any more than there could be any other but the one circumcision, entitling the children of Israel to the blessings of the covenant. But the circumstances are morally lower now than they were in Moses' day; and if it was necessary in that day to invite those who were on the Lord's side to act irrespectively of natural feelings, how much more so in this day? Timothy is exhorted not only to purge himself from the vessels to dishonour, but to "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart", 2 Timothy 2:22. Does not the term "a pure heart" imply that there must be something in addition to the terms in Acts 2? Is it just or true to accept anyone ignorant of the responsibilities to which he is called? I do not advocate mere intelligence, but I press the necessity of faith; and if a believer, however young or ignorant, has simple faith in the Lord, he will be led of Him to contend valiantly, like Ittai, in a day like this. Can everyone assuming to be on the ground of the assembly of God, and in the unity of the Spirit, while outwardly connected with the testimony, be said to be faithful in refusing and condemning the worldliness and unholy association into which members of his own family descend? If the children of Levi were required to declare their faithfulness by their unsparing cutting of their nearest relations, how much now, when

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the uniting bond of peace is disturbed by every one persisting in a course painful to the Spirit of God?

Alas! if parents wink at children, and children yield to parents, in their ways and manner of life, how can we expect the manifest interposition of God on our behalf?