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In our own circumstances, and in the church, there is a 'needs be' for straits or the trying of our faith. To this end "tribulation worketh patience", and we are to count it all joy when we fall into divers trials, because the trying of our faith worketh patience, or endurance; and in the church there must be heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest. Straits then are to be expected and looked for, as in the circle of the year the winter is looked for. The ant not only provides for the winter, but also knows what are its resources or helps at such a time, and what its hindrances. Now this is just our wisdom, to ascertain what are our helps and hindrances in our winter or strait. It is said of the ant that it displays its wisdom by providing in summer for the winter. This teaches us that it is the joy and confidence we have in the Lord in the bright day, or the summer, which we are to use and call up afresh to our hearts in the dark day, or the winter. In a word, we are to be supplied with the good things of summer in the depth of winter. The same Lord is to comfort and sustain our hearts in the dark day, as He has done in the bright day. The one help then is the Lord. I do not say that help may not be given by others, but if it is it must be because of their faith. Faith in God is the one simple help. Now though this is not only known, but also acted on in a measure, yet we are constantly exposed to hindrances from those who should have helped us by their faith.

Let us trace how the two are presented in Scripture. Adam in the moment of his wife's apostasy is beguiled by her; she who should have helped him is his hindrance, and simply because she has fallen herself, she drags him into the same depths. But he rises in faith out of it when he calls her Eve, "the mother of all living". He is alone

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in his faith; and this is the great principle taught in Scripture, that in faith one must act alone, and the hindrances come from persons whose coalescence or cooperation we seek, either indirectly or directly. Here Abraham was hampered and hindered. Lot was not a help, but a hindrance, from which he only extricated himself by acting in simple faith, surrendering his natural rights in confidence in God. At another time Sarah hindered him in the path and blessing of faith (Genesis 16), but God restored him to it in the circumcision (chapter 17).

Moses began in faith, 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"; yet his confidence in God failed when he said, "I am not eloquent". In too much confidence in his own power he had attempted by his own hand to deliver his people. But now, though self-distrusting, he did not reckon fully on God as able to act independently and in spite of his slowness of speech. His brother Aaron was given to help him; but more than once he was his greatest hindrance in the hour of trial. In his absence he made the golden calf, and made the people naked to their shame. So much for the one whom Moses had accepted to help him in lieu of the Lord, or in lack of faith; and this very brother afterwards joined with his sister Miriam in disparaging Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married (Numbers 12). He was also hindered by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. However, when he took the ground of simple faith alone, and from thence invited and called to those "on the Lord's side", the children of the house of Levi gathered themselves unto him. Faith is the one real help, and as we walk distinctly in it we encourage and promote the faith of any who have it. It is of all importance to see that this help is from the Lord only, and though co-operation and countenance from our fellows are not to be refused or disregarded, yet any help we receive through them must

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come to them from the Lord; for if not, their support, however well intended, will be a hindrance. How often was Joab a hindrance to David; and eventually he died by the sword -- the necessary penalty of those who assume to do God's work after their own devices. It is refreshing to see how David succeeded when he walked alone in faith, whether in the matter of Goliath, Ziklag, or Mount Moriah. Surely he could in the depth of his heart say, "blessed is the man that trusteth in thee". When the man of faith has recourse to man's ways, and accepts the help even of the best disposed, there is sure to be a Perez-Uzzah, as David found to his sorrow when he submitted to the influences around him, and sanctioned that the ark of the Lord should be carried on a cart.

Thus in times of difficulty there is less danger of being hindered, when there is no apparent help at all, than when one or more offer their assistance. We do well to watch and examine every proffer of help in every strait. Anything or any one who turns us from faith, however promising or enterprising, is really hindering. We get full and clear instruction as to this in the walk of our blessed Lord. When He had come down from the mount and was journeying to Jerusalem to die, even John, by his natural jealousy on His behalf, hinders Him. "We saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us", Luke 9:49. The great significance and warning in this incident is that the best natural feeling leads one astray in divine things. Hence in verse 54 we have John and James praying the Lord to command fire to come down from heaven to destroy those who did not receive Him; which drew forth from the Lord the well-merited and sharp rebuke, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of". It is here that all the error arises, and the consequent hindrance to the man of faith. The most loving or the most devoted may suggest or adopt some natural course which is not of God, and there is necessarily a check and breach. If there were not, it would prove that God could sanction what He

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disallows, namely, sowing your field with divers seeds, or plowing with an ox and an ass. If these helps were proffered by any one whose friendship were in any way questionable, there would not be so much danger from them, because one would be more wary in accepting them; but when they come from those who are not only most deeply attached, but truly devoted to their Lord, then there is a greater probability of being drawn away by them. No one, thank God, could turn our Lord from the path of simple faith. The suggestion or counsel of the most loving disciple was as unheeded and as sharply rebuked by Him as the worst and most inveterate effort of an enemy. Thus when Peter, in real consideration for Him, said, with reference to His death, "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee", the Lord indignantly replied, "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". It is here that the man of faith is so often hindered; natural affection suggests some easy path instead of the path of testimony and suffering; and if one has not his heart fixed on the Lord, he will be hindered by the very one who may at the same moment have the most light and the most of nature, as it was with Peter, for his counsel was most inopportune and inadequate in that trying moment. He errs in the same way when he cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant. Daring zeal or extreme acts in the attempt to accomplish a desired end are often more hindering than slackness or cowardice. How entirely Peter misunderstood the mind and path of the Lord at the time; and instead of being in fellowship with Him in it, he in his eager haste had done a wrong which nothing but the immediate mercy of the Lord could rectify or remove.

In Paul's history we are taught how he was helped in times of difficulty, and how he was hindered. Peter, having shown how fully he agreed with him by eating with the gentiles, withdrew when certain came from James, fearing them of the circumcision. The one whose

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approbation and countenance had for a moment most helped him was the one who by his unfaithfulness or fear most hindered him; so much so that his chief friend and companion Barnabas was carried away by their dissimulation. When Paul refused to take with them John, whose surname was Mark, Barnabas betrayed the damage he had sustained, and acted unfaithfully; he took Mark and sailed unto Cyprus. When one assents to another's departure from principle, he is sure to depart from it himself when the pressure comes upon him. Barnabas yields to Peter, and he at length is foremost and violent in opposing the faithfulness of the apostle Paul. In like manner at Jerusalem James hindered Paul by his well-intentioned prudence, involving him in troubles from which he escaped through human means and contrivances more than by direct interposition. Paul learned in the ship (Acts 27), that his help came from the Lord; that when everything on which man could count would be wrecked, God was mighty to save. His word was, "God hath given thee all them that sail with thee". We find afterwards that when all in Asia had turned away from him, when those he might have reckoned on had slid away, yea, when all men forsook him, he surmounted each and all of these hindrances. He is not discouraged, his sure resource is in God. At the most trying moment he can testify, "the Lord stood with me... and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion"; an example and a witness to us that, however hindered and unsupported by man, the solitary saint dependent on the Lord will be supported by Him.


The one immutable law of good and evil is progress; each by its very existence demands and promotes increase. The good becomes very good, and the evil very evil. Hence it is a most serious question whether I

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am engaged with that which is really good, or with that which is evil in God's judgment.

In the passage in Jeremiah the words at the head of this paper were applied, not to some particular works, or to mere conduct, but to the course adopted by each. Those who were good adopted and adhered to the path approved of by God, and those who did not bow to His ways were evil, very evil. It is the principle of which I speak here, and it is important to seize it -- that I am "good" when I follow and adhere to that which God marks out for me, however small and humiliating it may be in the eyes of man; and that it is "evil" when, contrary to God's counsel, I cleave to things now prohibited because of man's failure, refused and forbidden.

In the day of Israel's captivity those who recognised the ruin of Israel accepted the captivity, and they were good, very good. "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart", Jeremiah 24:5 - 7. While, on the contrary, those who would not bow, but would remain in the land as if nothing had happened to disqualify them, were evil, very evil.

Very amiable, highly moral men might have been among the latter, but whatever they were in their immediate behaviour, they were, as to testimony to God, evil, very evil; while those who had accepted the place of littleness in man's eye, and who were wholly cast on God, were, however naturally unattractive, good, very good. However one may be influenced by another to a certain point, no one can, in simple faith, enter on or

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continue in the lowly path approved of by God in a day of failure, unless he is walking in grace. He cannot be really in faith if he is not walking with God, for faith is seeing Him who is invisible. If often happens that there is more genuine faith in a Jacob -- one who has learned something of the plague of his own heart -- than there is in an amiable Isaac; for when he is walking in faith, he is in grace superior to his own waywardness.

Having seen that it is the course one pursues which really determines whether one is good or evil, let us next examine how each respectively increases, so that the good becomes very good and the evil very evil. Continuance under any governing power must necessarily increase its rule and influence over us. The more we are under it, the more we shall be under it. Thus habits are called 'second nature'. Cain may have intended well when he began, but he was wrong in his course from the first; hence he was evil, and in the end proved to be very evil. Thus Lot, possibly exemplary in all the relations of life, took a wrong course when he chose the well-watered plains; he, by degrees, became more and more identified with this wrong course; he dwelt in Sodom, and sat in the gate of it. Even though his righteous soul was vexed from day to day with their unlawful deeds, he was more under the control of a wrong influence, and hence the evil was very evil.

When one has been carried away by an evil influence, he can never estimate the extent of his departure until, by the good hand of the Lord, he seeks to return to the ground which he has abandoned. So it was with Lot; until he was aroused by God's mercy he had no idea of the depth of the wickedness there, or its power to render his sons-in-law insensible to his exhortation, though angels authorised and corroborated it. It is one of the terrible characteristics of an evil influence, that one never knows the depth he has sunk to until he tries to rise out of it. It is a delusion all the way down, and therefore the repentance or recovery is also gradual, and for this

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reason deeper, as there is advance to restoration. What a morning it was to Lot when he began his departure, his deliverance, out of Sodom; but if his repentance had been full, he would not have tarried anywhere short of the place of faith. Aaron and those who acted with him may not have offended against any natural order. They may have been, and doubtless were, greatly esteemed by the congregation; and yet by their course they proved themselves evil, very evil, and made the people naked unto their shame among their enemies. It is important to see that a wrong course adopted by the best of men is evil, and increases in evil, so that the evil spread like a plague through the whole congregation. "The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play". And they found, to their sorrow, that it was easier to fall into a snare than to get out of it.

In like manner with the spies; ten of them did not fail in conduct, so called, but having lost faith in God, and having been terrified by the giants in Canaan, and the cities walled up to heaven, they not only took a wrong course for themselves, but they discouraged the people -- the evil became very evil. They might have pleaded their honesty, and their care for the people too, but they lost sight of the Lord, and started aside like a deceitful bow, and thus promoted a universal defection; it was the "day of provocation". Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, were the "good", who became more distinctly good every day, and were increasingly bright in their testimony to that great truth, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit", Jeremiah 17:7, 8.

Thus also the two-and-a-half tribes were wrong in their course, and the more they adhered to it the worse it became, so that they were the first to be overpowered by

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the enemy. It is more than probable that, as men, they were most amiable and commendable in daily life, but they were so interested in their own immediate advantages that they adopted and pursued a course at variance with the true one. The more they continued in it the more distinct was their departure. Now in a good course, the more I walk in it, the more I am upheld by the Lord, and I become "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus". "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day", Proverbs 4:18. There is, as I might say, just the opposite feeling to what there is in a wrong course. In the wrong, I slip as down a precipice, and have no idea of the rapidity with which I am descending. I feel at ease, or succeeding in my desires, and therefore I am more pleased than alarmed, until the dart strikes through my liver; and then, alas! I know I have been deluded. When I pursue a right course there is a sense of ascending; I am conscious that I must be self-denying, that the knowledge of the holy is paramountly necessary. It is a conflict, but there is a sense of present help and light arising in the darkness.

Jonah, in another day, ran counter to the path prescribed for him by the Lord as a servant. However personally amiable he might be, yet in following his own will in contravention of the Lord's directions he was evil, and every step he took in that course was increasingly evil. It is not so much the particular act which I do which determines its character, as whether it is of God or of man. If the former, it is good; if the latter, it is evil. An act might be very evil with regard to God, which as far as man sees, did not inflict any injury on man. When man is injured, everyone can see the evil, and reprobate it; but this is an evil in the sight of God, and very grievous too, when man thinks of himself only, and slights the will and mind of God. Peter, in following the Lord to the high priest's house, was doing his own will; it was evil, and soon became very evil. The apostle Paul, though most exemplary in life and morals,

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"touching... the law, blameless", found his course had been evil, very evil -- the worst, or, as he calls himself, "the chief of sinners", simply because he was using all his abilities to damage and cripple the church, which is God's great centre of interest and love on the earth. It is striking that he condemns himself, not for anything immoral, but simply and solely for running in direct opposition to, and contravention of, God's main concern and object on the earth at the present time. Thus the man who, through grace, was beyond all others to uphold and suffer even to death in his care for the church, the one who pre-eminently was good, very good, in his course to the end, was the one who had in his own person, when following his own will, represented the course that was evil, very evil.

When Paul contended for the truth of the gospel, the good was very good, and if Peter had not repented, the evil would have been very evil. As it was, Barnabas was carried away by their dissimulation. The way to check the evil is by strictly and unswervingly insisting on the right course; and as this is insisted on, the good becomes apparent, and established, and then it is very good. But if the wrong course be not at once renounced and repented of, it will increase, according to its evil, to more ungodliness. For as the good is brought out into distinctness, there will be less excuse for the wrong one, and the folly shall be "made manifest unto all", though the leaders may not repent but wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

In conclusion, may we be warned and encouraged to refuse any course which is not of God; may we have such simple faith in Him that we can, like the faithful in Israel in that day, accept the place of confessed weakness, without place or name on the earth, confident in heart that the Lord is sufficient for us, and that though there be no bread in the ship, nothing to minister to or prop up the man or his resources, the Lord is adequate for every exigency. To advocate and adhere to the use

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of human means in any way whatever, with respect to service or position, is giving the first man a place, and is like the Israelites who refused to accept the captivity; while if we accept and acknowledge that we have no power but of God, that we are captives among men, and our strength is only as we are upheld and led by the Spirit of God, He will enable us, though diminished in the eyes of men, to maintain His name in the midst of our enemies, so that there may still be a bright testimony for Him on the earth, even as there was in Babylon the great.


"Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life". According as anything approaches in value to one's life, so is it tenaciously grasped and persistently retained. The sure evidence that the truth we have learned is of real value to us is the tenacity and inviolability with which we hold to it. If I believe it is the mind of God revealed to me, it must be dearer to me than my natural life, which is in itself terminable, while the other is not. The very fact of the warning, "Hold that fast which thou hast", shows that there would be an attempt to deprive the saints of the truth they had received.

In our warfare the devil always aims at the secret of our strength. In one day it was the ark of the covenant that he aimed at; in this day it is the truth to which the church has been awakened. To deprive us of this truth is his one aim. He concentrates all his force and craft upon this one point, and if this be surrendered, we shall easily be his prey. Seeing then that we know that the force of the enemy is directed to this end, namely, to deprive us of this truth, let us first ascertain what it is, and secondly, what is the only true way of holding it fast.

The truth which has been given consists of two parts. One relates to the Lord as He is intrinsically in His nature and being "he that is holy, he that is true"; the other refers to His power -- "He that hath the key

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of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth". Let us meditate on them in detail. The first, that He is holy and true, strikes a believer at once as a very simple fact that could in no wise be gainsaid or qualified. In a word, any attempt to contravene such a fundamental truth must meet with instant and indignant denial. And yet, strange as it may sound, all the confusion in christendom, and all the variance between the Lord's people, arises from an inaccurate and insensible way of holding this truth. Things and associations are suffered and sanctioned which could never have been tolerated if there had been any true sense of His holiness and truth. The lack of godly discipline in the congregation, even where there is a pious, painstaking minister, has driven many a godly soul out of a congregation. There was a sense that in this association they had not respect to His holiness; and if I do not respect His holiness, I cannot acknowledge His truth. This sense of His holiness is only acquired by nearness to Him. He is now walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and no one who is mixed up in the corruption of christendom can draw near Him without being alarmed at His aspect there. Nearness to the Lord, when I am associated with evil, distresses me instead of cheering me, though the distress be the means of awakening me to the unsuitability of my position.

We are never really aware of the holiness of the Lord until we are near Him. Jacob could allow many things at Shalem which he found to be wholly inexcusable and unfit for Bethel. Nearness to the Lord declares at once what is fit for Him and what is not. "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light". "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God". When I am awake to His holiness, I see clearly that nothing else is fit for Him in His own house but what He is in Himself. The queen's daughter, in prophetic language, is suited to Him. She is "all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold". All

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that is evil or false is utterly at variance with Him. It is a great day for the soul when it hears this from His own lips, and accepts it in its greatness and reality. It exacts full and unqualified separation from everything and everyone unsuited to Christ. There is an exaction, a line of demarcation, a reiteration of the words, "come out from among them, and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean thing". It is a separation to the highest standard; as my heart turns and cleaves to Him, I am sensible of the only terms on which I can enjoy Him, even that He is holy, and that He is true. Much of His grace can be known, and there may be true faith in Him, without there being nearness enough to feel the exaction which His presence entails. "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground". Then, however graciously He comes to us -- as in a bush, and it is not consumed -- we must feel and know, as Moses did, that it is holy ground. One is simply at a distance from the Lord when he does not enter into this, the first and the greatest point because the moral one, that He is the holy and the true. It is said of a blind man that he can form no conception of what light is until he sees it. Can any one comprehend holiness but near the Lord? and how can he be near Him if mixed up with the corruption of christendom? If he draws near to Him, he must encounter His eyes like a flame of fire, for He is indignant at the state of the church. On the other hand great influence controls us -- "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure".

But as this is the great moral stay for us at the present time, we must be prepared for its being assailed in many various and violent ways. The effort of the adversary is to get the faithful to slacken this principle, or even to modify it, and thus to forfeit nearness to the Lord, and consequently all that He is. To "hold that fast which thou hast" is the only road to success. The more corrupt and leavened everything is around us, the more separate it becomes us to be, holding fast without any

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compromise this fact, that He is holy and that He is true. Every saint would own that it is unquestionably true of Him, but it is necessary in a day like this to press it on every one true to Him, who seeks to follow Him in these last days. He presents Himself to such in these two essential principles, for it is only in this connection, that is in holiness and truth, that He can declare the boundlessness of His power to the few besieged and almost overborne by the power of evil here.

Now as when grace was announced to Moses the holiness of God was insisted on, so when to Joshua it is power, very nearly the same words are used -- "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy". It is from this, and in this connection only, that the power of God can be used in our behalf. As with the Nazarite, power was forfeited when separation or holiness was compromised, so is it every day and every hour. If any one be surrounded with evil and mixed up with it, the first thing he will do, if exercised after a godly manner and by the Spirit of God, is to draw near the Lord; and there he learns of His holiness and truth, he has a little power, has kept His word, and not denied His name, and he survives in spite of the terrible flood around. He is, as it were, worth helping, and therefore to such the Lord presents Himself as He is in nature and greatness. Wherever we turn in Scripture, the one unalterable rule is that when you walk with God in true separation, you are invincible. When you deviate from this, you are shorn of your strength, however great it may have been. Joseph, a man of holiness, was the man of power. Aaron and the people failed when they forgot God, but Moses came from God and was in the power of God equal to the occasion. Lose holiness and you are like Samson when shorn, "as another man". "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you". Thus Isaiah found that, as soon as he was placed by grace at ease in the holiness of God's presence, he was equal for any service on which he might be sent; he could say, "Here am I;

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send me". If one is not without fear in the highest holiness, he will not be without fear in the face of man's wickedness. Hence glory is now the measure of our acceptance and of our power -- in a word, the measure of all God's ways with us. "Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies... He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat", etc. (Psalm 81).

Joshua is admonished when he cries to the Lord because of Israel's defeat. The Lord said unto Joshua, "Wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned", etc. The remedy is "Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow". When we fail and are overcome in any degree here, it should at once occur to us that the failure is not with the Lord, but because we are not separate from evil; we are connected with something unclean, otherwise He would espouse us and act for us. When the Lord is the only One before us, He is on our right hand, we shall not be moved. We learn in everything, "who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" It is a truth of the greatest value that if I walk in obedience to His word, He will uphold me with all His power. "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him", John 14:23. In a word, just as I keep close to Him, He will keep close to me and make my cause His own; so that I am not to be occupied with opposition, but in truth and holiness to cleave unto the Lord. Then it shall be, "no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you", Joshua 23:9, 10.

The lack of power or support can always be traced to some departure or turning aside on our part. In everything we shall find that true separation or nazariteship

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ensures the present and parental care and protection of our God -- "come out from among them, and be ye separate", etc. (2 Corinthians 6:17.)


The evil first occurring in the church was not only the most vicious, but because the chief, it is one that is ever recurring, Satan ever seeking an opportunity to do the worst. When we know the manner and intent of this chief evil, we are watchful and prepared in faith to resist it. The evil, in whatever form it may show itself, has the one uniform design, namely to slight or tempt the Spirit of the Lord, to call in question and ignore His presence in the church. To contravene the authority and claims of God has been the great aim of Satan from the beginning. Whatever was the chief or most important thing with God at any time, this it is that man has been urged to disown or to spoil. In the garden of Eden the word of God is daringly perverted, and Eve is induced to do the very thing which was strictly forbidden of God. Note that it was not openly to Adam that the serpent addressed himself, but to Eve -- the easier way to succeed.

In like manner, when fire came down from God to consume the sacrifice, Aaron's sons offered strange fire. They procured fire for themselves, as if their fire was as good as God's fire -- the most effectual way to undermine, like the magicians, the glory due to Him, and to tempt the Spirit of the Lord. One can hardly believe that the sons of Aaron could have been so duped and foolish; but these things are written for our admonition.

Again, was there not "the day of temptation", when because of fear, because of the giants, and the cities "walled up to heaven", they turned back and tempted God?

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Again, in the very moment of success and the overthrow of Jericho, one man, unknown to everyone else, secreted a Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, in his tent. It was done quite secretly, no one was implicated in it, there was no poisoning of the minds of many by a conspiracy, but Achan was led on by Satan to tempt the Spirit of the Lord. Evil has no idea of anything but evil. The attempt was made to call in question the presence of the Lord with His people, and through one individual, in the most secret way, unknown to anyone else in the whole nation, to involve all in a violation of the most stringent injunction, and one primarily affecting the strength and glory of their position at the time. Nothing could seem more unlikely than that the secret act of an individual in a great army should be taken notice of, or that there should be any possibility of discovering the offender. Though the covetousness of man was the means Satan used, the real way to account for this act is that the malice of Satan would tempt the Spirit of the Lord; and the more securely, because secretly, he would contravene the counsels of God.

It is of the deepest moment that we should understand that the aim of Satan is to lead souls to act in defiance of God's eye and word. They say, "The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it", Psalm 94:7.

If in every preceding dispensation this has been the aim of Satan, if in Eden, if when priesthood was established, and if even in the promised land, there was an immediate effort to disturb the favour of God at its brightest moment, how much more must it be the aim of Satan to interrupt and ignore the greatest manifestation of God to His people by the presence of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven? We read in Acts 5 that immediately on the setting up of the church on the earth, when the devotedness of the saints was marked by their surrender of their earthly property, two, a man and his wife, were led by Satan to agree together to deceive the

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church by laying only part of the money realised by the sale of their lands at the apostles' feet, retaining the remainder for themselves. They sought to obtain thus an undeserved and untrue reputation, and at the same time to enjoy for themselves the property they had represented as surrendered. There was an evil gain in a double way, namely, reputation among the saints for a surrender, which at the same time they meant to use for themselves. Such a scheme as it was! The wickedness and disregard of God in such an act, by professing christians, was amazing. What was their object in coming into the church at all? They had joined the church, no very popular company in Jerusalem at the time. They desired and determined to be considered eminent and devoted by this company, and yet they were not satisfied with the meed of credit which their false representation secured for them, but they must also have a personal benefit in that which they have dishonestly retained. The deceit and evil motive which underlay all this act proves the extent to which one will go for the attainment of his own ends when he does not believe in the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit; for if He had been believed in, how could they imagine that such fraudulent pretension would be undiscovered? Thus in the very beginning of the church's history on the earth this fearful slight is offered to the Holy Spirit. They did not believe that a divine Person was in this company which they had deceived for their own exaltation and gratification. Now from this grievous outbreak we are taught the characteristics of the first and foremost form of evil in the church. Anything which obtains for me a reputation which I do not deserve, and ministers to my own selfishness, is a direct slight to the Spirit of God, a tempting of the Spirit of the Lord, gaining credit falsely from others; and thus gratification to myself would be an utter and entire denial of the presence of the Holy Spirit. And yet in how many and various ways might this occur now! A man might get credit for a knowledge of Scripture

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which he did not deserve, while in private, instead of refusing it, he might be gratified at his success. It is not so much the kind of act as the motive and object of it.

If the motive be self-consideration, and the object be self-exaltation, then the act, whatever it is, is a slight to the Spirit of God, and it is tempting the Spirit of the Lord. As the Holy Spirit is present on the earth to testify of Christ, every time I attempt to obtain distinction for myself -- whether with the best plausible reasons, openly, like the priests, offering strange fire, that is, fire of their own, or secretly, like Achan, to acquire something for myself, I am tempting the Spirit of the Lord. I am always tempting Him when I am acting so as to question the fact of His presence, because it is evident that if I were simply sure that He was present, I neither could nor would seek myself. I should be at once rebuked and controlled. The fact that, at the very moment of the greatest demonstration of the Holy Spirit's presence on earth, any two could be found to seek their own importance in God's assembly, is unquestionable evidence that the great aim of Satan is to ignore the presence of the Holy Spirit, and to lead souls to act as if He were not here. Therefore Peter says, "Why has Satan filled thy heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Spirit"? As afterwards, to Sapphira, "Why is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?" Anything which is done by the flesh, or dictated by man's mind, it may be unintentionally, denies the presence of the Holy Spirit. The sons of Aaron might have alleged that their only object was to increase the amount of fire; but the attempt to add to God's fire and supply any, implied that God's was not enough. Surely that was tempting the Spirit of the Lord, because it assumed that He would not take notice of it, though they were detracting from God to honour themselves. Achan's act was secret, and he was led to expect it would never be discovered, though he tempted the Lord in appropriating to his own advantage what was devoted to Him. Would the Lord

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suffer it? He put it to proof, at any rate. Now in the case of Ananias there is no excuse; of all the instances which had occurred previously, not one was in nature and motive so bad as his. It is recorded for us as characteristic of the way in which souls, received as most devoted, may be induced to act in order to gain reputation, by pretending to surrender what they were still enjoying, so that there was a gain on a supposed loss. Now any act which is done in the flesh, especially ministry, presumes that the Holy Spirit is not here, and tempts the Spirit of the Lord in seeking prominence for the doer of it. If the question can be raised, "Is the Lord among us, or not?" there is, by the act which suggests the question, a tempting of the Spirit of the Lord. Could a believer, assured of the presence of the Spirit of God, have resort to any human means? And if he did, would he not either sin like the priests in attempting to supplement the fire, or like Achan, in appropriating what was exclusively the Lord's to his own exaltation? And thus the first great evil that sprang up in the church would be touched, and there would be the tempting of the Spirit of the Lord.

There are three ways in which the Spirit can be tempted in this day, one in the assembly, another in service, the third in private life.

In the first, the assembly, any ministry not of the Spirit's leading must be of the flesh, and thus the Spirit is hindered and tempted, because there is the self-confidence of acting in His presence as if He were not there. Who can apprehend how the Spirit must be grieved by this, even in well-intentioned souls, not to speak of those who openly seek to gain reputation for themselves in the church. Yet where the springs of this evil are exposed in the case of both Achan and Ananias, their object is simply their own exaltation.

Secondly, as to service; I tempt the Spirit whenever I seek by human means to supplement His power in any form, or by any means outside and apart from the human vessel. And even then, when I allow the natural mind or

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natural energy to take the lead, I am tempting Him, for He is here to testify for Christ, and is fully adequate to obtain and provide means as He deems fit Himself. Whether it be from plausible intention, like the sons of Aaron, or to exalt oneself, like Ananias, one or the other is the fruitful source of weakness in the church, because the Spirit is dishonoured, however ignorantly it be done. The Lord is careful to record for us the specious way by which, in another day, David, full of fervour and delight of heart in restoring the ark to its place, and zealous for the testimony of the Lord in that day, spoiled all, and defeated his own desires, by using a cart. Uzzah's well-intentioned offer to help was rebuked by terrible judgment. We may be sure, however we are deceived, that whenever we depart from the way of the Lord, and in any way regard the Spirit of God as insufficient, reputation for ourselves is the motive. Though one would shrink from the conduct and course of Ananias in its bold reality, yet in the secret of the heart, when the Spirit is not honoured, there is no alternative but that the motive betrayed by Ananias and Sapphira must be at work. It may be better concealed, and the conscience not so hardened as theirs was, but still, if the Spirit of the Lord be tempted by being overlooked and unrespected, in character the same evil, the first and the worst, is working.

Lastly, in daily life, the believer can, in the way he expresses himself, grieve the Spirit of God. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying... And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption", Ephesians 4:29, 30. Again, in the way one acts as to others, "He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit", 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

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To the question, Why is evil permitted? I believe the true answer is, That the greater good may be declared. It is very interesting to note that for every evil expressed there is a good manifested to supersede it. That is, the one great purpose with God is to bring out the good. Hence, whenever evil intrudes and forces its way, He makes this inroad only a fresh occasion for setting forth the good, so that the evil becomes a foil for the good. The good becomes more distinct by the very distinctness of the evil.

The more we study and are acquainted with all the ways of God with man, the more we see that the existence of evil gave occasion for the declaration of good. A man of full age, or matured, is one who has his senses exercised to discern good and evil; he knows that whenever there is an evil there must be a good to supersede it, and he can always determine an evil by, and according to, his knowledge of the good. The existence of evil is trying to each one according as he is led of God, for God is good and doeth good, but though he will be tried by it, he is not to be overcome by it, but to overcome evil with good, for this is God's way. Nothing tries the God-fearing soul more than that one professing the same faith as himself, and apparently enlightened by the same truth, should perversely insist on and maintain his own mind contrary to the mind of the Lord; yet this very great trial -- which is a heresy, we read -- is necessary, that the approved may be made manifest. The fact that heresies are necessary for this end, while on the one hand it supplies a balm to the godly one tried by the heresy, is on the other hand of great warning; for when the testing comes, it is only those equal to the test who shall be manifested. The approved must not remain unseen. It is the gracious purpose of God that the good must come abroad; He that sees in secret rewards openly. The disciples were

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exhorted not to conceal what they were, for there was nothing secret which should not come abroad; it is thus evidently good. On the one hand it humbles that there is so little open reward, for if there had been more to be approved of, there would have been more open reward; while, on the other hand, if I have simple faith, I can go on with the Lord, assured in heart that He will in His own time openly reward what He has approved of, for "not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth". Abram, the man of faith, might appear to be surpassed by Lot when the latter chose the best part of the land, but this very act not only declared the faith of Abram, but was used of God to raise him to a higher position -- to reward him openly. "And the Lord said unto Abram, after that 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. And much more so afterwards, Abram the approved one is made manifest, when after having delivered his brother Lot, he was met by Melchizedek, and blessed in the name of "the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth". The wilfulness in even natural things became an occasion for the manifestation of the virtue and grace of the approved one.

Even the wickedness of this world, as we see in Pharaoh, only brought into clearer and brighter light the power and resources of God in the person of Moses; Moses as approved was more and more manifested. It would be an immense cheer to our hearts if we were more confirmed in this great principle, that nothing can be done against the truth, but for the truth; that good

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must result, and if one is faithful and approved, the opposition and wilfulness of man, either in the world or in the church, will but promote our testimony.

The examples in Scripture are numerous and of various shades. If Lot is selfish the faith of Abram is the more declared. Aaron's weakness and unbelief in making the calf become the occasion for setting forth in a very brilliant way the grace and power of Moses, the man approved of God. A great opportunity was afforded by Aaron's heresy for manifesting the way and course of the man of God in the most corrupt state of things. If Aaron had not been so pliable, yielding to the will of the people instead of being led by the word of the Lord, if there had not been this breakdown in such a responsible person, there would not have been the same glorious vindication of God in the person of Moses. There is a time, be assured, that this unrebuked weakness or unbelief in each of us will be exposed. It will sooner or later influence us if we have not silenced it; while if there be grace and faith in our hearts, the very event which will expose and bring dishonour on this one, will be the occasion of great moral distinction to the others. We have to do with the living God.

In the case of Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12, it was simply rivalry, confined, as one might say, to their own family. But even thus the heresy -- for every act is heresy which is in wilful opposition to the mind of the Lord -- brought out from God the fullest declaration of His approval of Moses: "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" Numbers 12:7, 8.

Now in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, it is very different. The heresy there was calling in question and opposing God's right to choose and appoint His own servants. The "gainsaying of Core" was the denial

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of God's special grace to Moses and Aaron, a refusing to own it, and the assumption that they were as competent themselves. There is no greater evidence of grace in anyone than the ability to recognise and own the grace given of God to another; while there can be no greater proof of the smallness and absence of grace than the inability to recognise it according to the divine measure. This is the heresy most current in the present day everywhere. Men are gifted of God, and the mass of believers cannot recognise the gift of God, but assume they can have as good by their own appointment; and the leaven of this works far and wide. But the opposition or the heresy is only an occasion for God to own and manifest more fully those who are approved of Him; and all those who are in concert with Him will also be manifested; their rod will blossom and bud, and bring forth almonds. Blessed be God, He will prepare a table for the approved in the presence of their enemies; He will anoint their head with oil, their cup will run over!

Now we also get in the church various shades of man's perverseness, opposing or running counter to the mind of the Lord, from the weakness of Peter and Barnabas down to the defection of "all who are in Asia" and of Demas, the hatred of Alexander, the blasphemy of Hymenaeus and Philetus. Each of these in their varied ways only gave an occasion for the approved to become manifest; so that we find the apostle more distinctly succoured of the Lord in the day of the greatest outward decline than ever before; and he was manifested more than ever as His servant in faithfulness and truth.

The Lord give unto each of us to walk in such true self-judgment, rebuking the smallest working of unbelief and self-consideration, that we may not yield when the testing time comes; for surely it must come, and then the unrebuked weakness betrays us. However strong the chain may be in every link but one, it will fail then, if the pressure be great, proving there must have been a flaw allowed, or we should not fail in the day of trial; while

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the man of true and faithful purpose will only come out the brighter because of a test, like the diligent well-prepared youth from his examination.


In the believer there is the natural mind, and there is the spiritual, or "the mind of Christ". Now it is as each is addressed that the ministry is spiritual or carnal. When the theme in the mind of the speaker is simply Christ in His divine reality, the ministry is spiritual; but when man, or his acceptance of the subject, is the attempt or desire before the mind, it is not so.

My speaking, says the apostle, was not in the persuasive words of man's wisdom, but "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God". It is not here a question of having the truth but of how it is presented.

The same truth might be held by two men, and one would press it in the wisdom of man, and the other in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. The true servant, the more active his own mind, and the more he naturally values mind in itself, will seek the more sedulously to keep it under the control of the Spirit of God. This is in character the exercise which occurs in every godly soul daily, I might say hourly, whether I am led by the Spirit of God or by my own inclinations. We are set by grace with a divine nature, the nature of a Man new to us; and in His Spirit we are to act and behave ourselves, in the scene of our former self, as it were, in the way and manner of Christ. It is not that the old is annihilated, but while it still exists, and where it has existed without interference, there it is to be superseded by and contrasted with the life of the One who has pleased God in every path and line of life down here.

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This is the daily exercise of every true christian. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh", Galatians 5:25, 16.

Now this true daily exercise, common to and incumbent on every saint, is par excellence to be observed by the minister. If I minister to that which should be repressed and supplanted, I am defeating the very object of ministry; for instead of really helping souls, I am, by the wisdom of men, in some form ministering to the flesh. In every case, whether in myself, or in ministering to others, the one great thing is that the Spirit should be heard. Hence, if I were speaking to the unconverted, the one great thing I should seek would be that he should hear the voice of the Lord. I do not seek so much to convince him of anything as to bring his conscience under the eye of God. It is God I seek to present. It is His coming near in grace, detecting man's distance in the words, "Where art thou?" that I insist on as led by the Spirit of God. It is how God would speak, and not how man might be convinced. It is evident that it must be in intelligible language, for the conscience cannot be addressed if the words used are not comprehended. But as I carefully avoid, in my own private walk and course, the counsel or dictation of my natural mind, so do I refuse and avoid every mere natural means, in language or manner, which would recognise and minister to the natural mind which is enmity to God. The one aim is to bring God's voice close to man's conscience. It is not man's voice, nor man's arguments, for then it is all man; but it is to be the messenger of God, and that man's conscience may own it. As Manoah said, "we have seen God".

It is more difficult, though not less necessary, in speaking to the unconverted, to avoid and refuse the wisdom of men, because they have no spiritual mind to reach, and, therefore, if I am not very truly and simply in the Spirit, I am not really coming from God to this

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dark soul. In speaking to quickened souls, one thing must be borne in mind, that anything that is not of the Spirit of God will not really cleave to the new man in the believer; hence there is loss of time on both sides when the wisdom of men is resorted to, instead of the demonstration of the Spirit and power, and it is here that bad building occurs (1 Corinthians 3:10 - 15). Once the servant of God enters into the impossibility of the flesh and the Spirit being in any concert, he is on his guard, fearing the intrusion of the flesh, for the latter is not only labour in vain, but it damages souls. A tower begun in that crumbling material will not stand, like the house built on the sand.

The more I am in the Spirit, the more closely do I adhere to the pure mind or revelation of God in His word; and the more this is insisted on, the more the flesh is repelled and subdued by it. The wisdom of men excites and arouses the natural mind, and countenances the flesh, even though it provokes controversy and opposition. If the flesh, in its mind, is absolutely and continuously refused in ministry, there will be deepening in the soul as it is conscious of the incongruity of its being acknowledged and indulged in one's course and manner of life. But if in the ministry the flesh in any way gets a place, it will surely follow that in practical life there is a manifest admission of the tastes and ruling of the flesh. Whenever you see forwardness or timidity in one in natural life, there is surely an element of the flesh answering to it in that man's ministry, and if it had been refused in the ministry, it would have been rebuked in daily life. If not excluded from the pulpit, so to speak, it will be sure to be very prominent at one's fireside. If permitted and sanctioned in the house of God, it will almost reign in my own. The failure from the first has been that the Spirit of God has not been maintained in His proper place. He is here to testify of Christ, and to maintain Him in vigour and power in the believer's soul. When the servant loses sight of the Spirit as the sole power and

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aid in ministry, he is sure to enfeeble His activity or rule in his own heart, and thus a place is given to worldliness and the desires of the flesh. Surely if a place or recognition be given it in our services for God, there can be no escape from it in our own things; and it is here that the chief damage has resulted from carnal ministry. "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them", 1 John 4:5. Those who first withdrew from the church were not simply worldly, but the Spirit of God designates them as "sensual, having not the Spirit". They were of the natural mind, and could not brook the things of the Spirit of God. What gave the false teachers an acceptance denied to Paul, but that they in their ministry addressed the natural man? They desired to make a fair show in the flesh, that they might glory in your flesh; then would the offence of the cross cease. The carnal ministry gave countenance to the flesh, and with it the compound of ritualism and rationalism in Colossians 2. Man will accept to be a religious being, when allowed and claimed in the natural state. Christianity was nominally embraced under a ministry which virtually denied it. The one hindrance on every side was the wisdom of men, and yet the great testimony of christianity is that man is no longer to live in the flesh; for if we live after the flesh we shall die, but if we through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live. The great thing now is to be in the body and yet neither to live in the flesh nor walk after it. The false teacher is the one who in some way spares the flesh, and then, however great may be the apparent effect of his words, it stands in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God. Nothing can be plainer than that if I use carnal weapons I must, in some shape or degree, give the flesh a place, and whenever this is the case, I am allowing, nay, promoting, an element contradictory to and subversive of the truth I enunciate. Broadly, every enlightened servant would agree with this, but many would diverge from it in practice. The most

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spiritual may fail at times, but then, like Paul, he is afraid, he is in weakness and fear and much trembling, he eschews the wisdom of men, seeking only the power of God.

Let us come to detail, and examine how and when we are drawn away from what is simply spiritual to human efforts or the wisdom of men. Often in gospel preaching, when the danger of souls is vividly pressed on one's heart, simultaneously with the perfect grace and mercy in God to avert it, one is rightly almost overwhelmed, and words would fail to express the yearnings of the heart. This might be quite of the Spirit, and when truly so, there would be a deeper sense of how ineffectually anything the wisdom of men would suggest would meet the demand. And then this deep yearning of the heart would be expressed, not coldly and languidly surely, but in solemn words of divine teaching, in such a sense of the gravity of the subject that there would be increase of fear lest anything not of God might intrude. Every one who has ever known the vigour of fresh light breaking in on the soul must know the desire for an ardent utterance. Often this is impossible to convey, but when possible, it affords an opportunity for vehement utterance with an excited manner. But then the power is lost in the display which would have been repressed if the Lord's presence were more before one, and thus depth of feeling would have been produced. For the deeper the feeling, the less possible is it to convey it, and the less necessary is it for God's glory that it should be conveyed through human means. So that when Paul came down from the third heaven, though his heart was stored with the deepest things, yet in a natural way he was less fitted to communicate them than before he was acquainted with them. The vessel is the Lord's, and He made it. Our care is that He uses us, and that our own feelings, or the wisdom of men, do not sway us in our service; for whenever the flesh is allowed in ministry, it ministers to flesh, and the end of ministry is defeated by itself.

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It is, however, clear that there can be demonstration if it be in a right way. Paul exhorted with tears. They were the expression of his genuine sorrow at the moment, and not with any object of promoting the same demonstration in others; and then he was mindful of Timothy's tears. Tears as the expression of sorrow give no warrant for the histrionic appeals or persuasive words which seek to establish faith by the wisdom of men and not by the power of God.

Let us begin at Romans and study every book to the end of Revelation, and we shall find that the element of hindrance in souls is the flesh in some form. Whenever and however it was admitted, there mischief was introduced, and when it was by the teacher, then a taint of leaven and a carnal appetite was established which nothing could satisfy but carnal ministry after its own type. Thus we read, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears". Carnal people like carnal teaching. The stern, elevating demands of truth are unpalatable to those who walk as men, for invariably the less spiritual any are, the more readily and cheerfully they listen to an appeal to their senses, unless it offends against their peculiar ideas of good taste.

In conclusion, surely every faithful servant will heartily admit that his one and only duty is to promote the spiritual welfare of souls, and that Christ only, and nothing else, can effect this. If we all truly and before God adhere to this, there will be more spiritual ministry, and therefore more practical unworldliness; whereas whenever we give a place to the flesh before God, it will insist on and enlarge its place before man.

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There is a great sameness in man. It has been said that history repeats itself. The nature of the human race is one and the same, and it betrays itself in a like way when in contact with similar circumstances. Surely every conscientious disciple knows well that in some particular tendency of his nature he is most in danger. True, he may have so learned his frailty, and so truly repented of it, that he dreads to trust himself, and shrinks from it, as a burnt child from the fire; but he does so because it is fire to him, and he knows his safety is only in the Lord. It is not that it never recurs, for the thing that has been he finds is the thing that is; but he has learned the wretchedness of his flesh, and the security there is from it in the Lord; so that, when walking with Him, there is nothing he is so safe from as his peculiar snare, because he is in the light, where he not only sees it, but is in armour to preserve him from it.

Now what is true with the individual is, on the same principle, true of the people of God in their collective character on the earth. Thus we find the things that were written aforetime were written for our ensamples. Man collectively for God, as well as individually, is the same in every age; and when we know what has occurred, that is the very thing we may be assured will recur. The sins of Israel, God's nation, forecast the sins of the church, His house on earth. If the first sin with that nation was idolatry, the first with the church is idolatry, the first ever to be dreaded, as John says, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols". These last words forewarn of the greatest and most probable danger. The thing that has been is the thing that shall be. Individually or collectively, the most ready tendency of man, in a religious way, is to depart from God as He has been revealed, and substitute something of his own devising in His stead. If I hold to God, I must deny myself, and therefore the effort and the attempt is to quiet the

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conscience by asserting that God is acknowledged in form, or image, while the power of His word and name is lost, or diverted from the soul. This is the real object and effect of idolatry. Israel fell into the snare of the calf when they lost sight of the power and rule of God in their midst. The Corinthians, though so marvellously endowed by the Spirit of God, lost sight of the presence and power of our Lord Jesus Christ in their midst. They were corrupted by their evil associations. They had not apprehended that there could not be communion between light and darkness, nor concord between Christ and Belial. Their lack of divine sensibility in the house of God was evidence enough that they were corrupted by idolatry, or by independency, which better expresses man's attempts to maintain an orthodox religious form without God's word. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof"; and with this there is always an effort to appear powerful and influential in the eyes of the populace. How much we see of this in the present day in the public reports of works and progress!

Independency occurs when God is displaced, and thus it began in the garden of Eden. No one would question but that Cain was independent. It is not necessary that I should engage in something unhandsome or unamiable in order to be independent. I might be independent, although laboriously pursuing works apparently the most commendable. Anything that is not of God in that which refers to Himself is independency. If I am not subject to the word of God for the occasion, I am independent. Lot was an independent man, though he did not leave the promised land, because he did not abide there according to God's word. The independent consider for the present advantage; there is not faith. Abraham falls into independency in the matter of Ishmael. Very often it is in attempting to secure some divine benefit that one has recourse to one's own means; and this is pure independency. Jacob, led on by his mother to secure his father's blessing, was independent, seeking

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to obtain a right thing in a corrupt way. It is not so much the immorality of the act or the course which is independency, as the pretension to act for God when led by my own will, without any authority from Him or leading of His Spirit.

Now as in the law there was the duty towards God first, before the duty towards one's neighbour, so there is a double responsibility on the believer now to act in reference to and subjection to Christ, as well as to be right and good in one's relation to man. The first is, of course, the greatest; but as it is more outside natural comprehension, it is the more often overlooked, or independency is substituted for it; while the other is easily preserved according to a natural standard, because man is ready enough to exact and require of his fellow everything which contributes to his own comfort and advantage, which is the principle on which good society exists. A man might, in the mind of the sagest of men, be most moral and exemplary in daily life, and yet entirely independent in his course with regard to the Lord. The very propriety and good order in which one walks according to the judgment of man often hinders and prevents his independency from being detected and condemned. Conduct which relates to man is easily seen and soon judged of; but it requires a spiritual mind, one acquainted with the mind of the Lord, to detect the acts or course which, assuming to be for God, are quite obnoxious to Him, because they are a self-will offering, where one's own glory is sought, and not the Lord's. Thus an immoral, or a low moral man is detected at once, and denounced; while the independent man, who in the spirit of his mind is more alienated from God, is often approved of and applauded, at least by the unspiritual. The most effective, and therefore the most dangerous, independents are the most moral. Their external character lends weight to them. The immoral

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would have little influence with any sincere soul; but the independent might, except where there is spirituality enough to detect his aberration.

Independency, then, is that I act independently of the word of God, and therefore without the leading of the Spirit of God. No end will justify the means. Saul acted independently, however true or justifiable his reasons were, when he offered the sacrifice before the coming of Samuel. Better that all Israel should have been scattered, than that he should offer to God anything out of his own mind; for it must be out of my own mind, if not from God. And this is simply the source and origin of independency. I act for God, officiously and arrogantly, according as my mind suggests to me, and not as His word would suggest were I waiting upon Him. Our Lord, in the first temptation, would not consider for Himself, though He had the power, and His need was a true and proper one, because He had not the word of God for it; and still more, when He might have prayed for twelve legions of angels, He would not be independent, though He had the right, but with unreserved devotedness of heart, says, "not my will, but thine, be done". He could not act independently. The virtue of the act is gone when man attempts to subject God to anything of his dictating; as if man could, out of his own mind, fathom or grasp in the least particular what would suit God. Here Mary surpassed Martha; she could not dare to offer anything until she had learned something of His mind.

In this time, the church time distinctly, there is no place for the flesh. Whenever or however I act in the flesh with relation to God, I am independent; I am simply outside of faith, and am not led by the Spirit of God. When a believer walks in the flesh, he will soon betray himself even to his fellow. In the first days of the church men did walk in the flesh. That which has been is the thing that is. There were bad morals, and there were bad doctrines. I need hardly say the second was the

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more grievous, and in them the true character of independency transpired, because they were avowedly in reference to God, yet, while assuming to be for Him, were virtually dishonouring His name, and undermining the truth. Hence, as the church declined -- as we see in 2 Timothy, or Jude, or Revelation 2 and 3 -- there was open and undisguised independency, man asserting and assuming to do things in the name of God for which there was no warrant or countenance in the word of God. Of the elders at Ephesus, the most fully enlightened assembly, should men arise, speaking perverse things; not doing immoral acts, though I doubt not that where there is independency, there is at best but a spurious and unwholesome observance of the relative duties. Saul of Tarsus was most moral, and yet he was the chief of sinners because of independency, choosing his own way to serve God. What does the history of the church reveal but that repeatedly men of zeal and piety, in endeavouring to correct patent abuses, instead of waiting on God to show what His mind was, separated from this thing or that, according as it was felt by their own consciences? They assuredly meant well, but they were independent, because they were prescribing what was suitable for God, instead of consulting His word, and adhering simply and solely to it; and if they had done so, there could not have been the numerous sects now in existence. Many of them seem to have done service and good to souls in their day, but the effect of their independency has in every instance survived their service, so that mischief and not good is now the record of their memories. What is a Wesleyan or a Quaker but a record of mischief, and the posterity of independency? No matter how good the character of the act done by the best of men for God, if it be not according to His word and Spirit, that act is not only an abomination to Him, but if it takes effect, and obtains followers, it becomes a weed in the church which will never be extirpated. Hence, in the last times, Paul's teaching and the Scriptures are our only guide.

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The readiness of man to use his own mind with regard to the things of God renders it now more than ever necessary that there should be close and unvarying adherence to the word of God. If a man has not the authority of this for any action, or any course which he may adopt, however good he be personally, he is independent, he has travelled outside the mind of the Lord, and has laid the foundation of a lasting shame and a stumbling-block to the saints of God.


As we read that "the time shall be when they will not bear sound teaching", it is of the utmost importance that we should be assured of what sound teaching is. The word 'sound' is also translated 'wholesome'; it simply means healthy. The warning indicates that the truth would not be absolutely rejected, but that only a measure of it would be acceptable, and that measure would not be sound or healthy, contributing to health, life in full effect.

Any limitation of the truth must therefore be guarded against.

When we review the state of the church as a whole, we must be aware that the names of the great truths are accepted; but when we come to analyse the meaning attached to the names, they are widely apart from the teaching of Scripture. It is clear that a believer would not accept what is called the gospel and the church in Romanism. Others would not be satisfied with the teaching under those names in the Reformed Church. And it is possible that those sufficiently enlightened to reject the teaching of all the teachers in the above order of things, might themselves be very deficient as to the scriptural teaching concerning the Holy Spirit, the gospel and the church, the three subjects I propose to examine in this paper.

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Some believers do not see that the Holy Spirit has come down from heaven in an entirely new and distinct way since the exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ. They regard Him as the power by which they were converted, and believe that He by His influence comforts and directs them; but they have no idea of His presence on the earth as dwelling in the house of God, nor as dwelling in themselves. This class, though very numerous, every one who is scripturally taught must, alas! pronounce mistaken and untaught. But there are others who believe in the descent of the Holy Spirit, but have no apprehension of His dwelling in the house of God, though they see that the body has been formed by Him. They thus limit Him in His services, and do not see the great place He holds here in the absence of Christ; and therefore they must deprive themselves of much, for the greater the position He holds here, the greater He is to me in the place, so that the place itself is thus superseded by One in the place who is in every way above it.

Any limitation of the truth is not sound teaching. Truth makes free. I need not dwell on the darkness of those who do not see the descent of the Holy Spirit; their lack and loss must be at once apparent. But it is very necessary that we should see the lack and loss from which they suffer, who, while admitting the descent of the Holy Spirit, do not see Him in His full position.

The Holy Spirit is here, I may say, for two services, one to the individual directly, the other more indirectly as to the individual, but directly for Christ: "He shall testify of me". Now those who confine the Holy Spirit to one branch, though unintentionally, must necessarily lose much, and the teaching connected with this limitation cannot be "sound".

When one avows that he believes in the descent and consequent presence of the Holy Spirit, he may imagine

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that he accepts Him in both services. And he will not be convinced that he limits Him until he has been convicted of acting contrary to his profession or creed. To convince him that he does limit His services is therefore of the greatest importance, and my desire is to help to this end. One may seem to be clear as to the more individual service, but when it comes to the question of practical acceptance of the second part, the defect is disclosed, which we must trace to its source.

A believer, though accepting the truth of the Holy Spirit's descent, cannot apprehend the nature of His mission beyond his practical faith in His presence. Of course he could never have an adequate sense of it; but if he has not tasted of the almighty resources and supplies of the Holy Spirit to himself, how can he form any estimate of what He can do? I can speak of power when I am a partaker of it. "Whereas I was blind, now I see", justified the blind man in declaring that Jesus was of God.

If I say that the Holy Spirit has come, and that I have received Him, I Can only speak of Him according to the nature of the effect He has had upon me. I limit Him in the first service if I do not see the resources and supplies which Christ has given me here (John 4:14 and 7: 37), for the Spirit comes to me in His name, to reproduce to me what He was on earth, otherwise His name would not be truly exemplified. The Holy Spirit has been sent by the Father in Christ's name (John 14:26), to comfort the heart in its loneliness and in the absence of Christ. But He is also sent by Christ from the Father to testify of Himself, and to be the stay and support of His own in the face of the opposition and hatred of this world. If we do not feel our need of Him we do not enjoy Him. If I have the sense that the might and eternal power of God has come nigh directly to me, and has thus ensured to my heart, in the absence of my Lord, inexhaustible resources, that I shall never thirst (John 4:14), and that from me shall flow "rivers of living water"

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(John 7:38), I am then alive to the nature and character of His power in testifying of Christ where He is.

The Holy Spirit has come to me directly in Christ's name, and He testifies of Him, not only as He was on earth, but as He is now in glory. The "name" embraced all that was revealed of Him, but the testimony would be as He is now in glory. The believer who had in any measure enjoyed the first service would appreciate and delight in being a vessel of the Holy Spirit in His testimony to us of Christ in glory; on the one hand to enable us to bear up in our loneliness in the absence of Christ, and on the other to support us, as Stephen was supported against all the combined force and hostility of the world. The one who feels the hostility of this world to Christ finds no cheer except in the fact that He is in glory; and therefore Paul longs for "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus" as He is in glory.

The believer who accepts the truth of the Holy Spirit's descent may not deny that He is here to testify of Christ, but there will be a limiting of the nature and greatness of this testimony if in the Holy Spirit's direct service to the soul there has not been a true idea or estimate of His power and value. If I cannot apprehend, and have not the sense of, the magnitude of the Spirit's dwelling in myself, how can I form any estimate of the greatness of the effect in His testifying of Christ? But as I grow in apprehension of the magnitude of the blessing conferred on myself, I comprehend more fully the immensity of His work and place in testimony, not apart from the believer, but using him to carry it out, so that I am not a spectator of a great operation, but an actual agent in it. But if I am, I do not lead or suggest; I could not venture to do so, but rejoice that I am led of Him to do according to His pleasure.

I could admit the simple fact that He was here to testify of Christ, and all the time, because dark as to the great effect of His presence, be led to adopt what I had not seen must be far better secured by the Holy

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Spirit if He were really recognised and apprehended as the living God. Can any one, at all alive to the fact that the living God is here, attempt to contribute to His work except as He would lead the way? What would have been thought of Moses or Joshua if either had attempted, by some canal or other means, to carry away the water which was impeding the advance of the armies of Israel?

Now if the teaching be not "sound" there must be glaringly defective practice. Where the practice is defective, either the teaching is unsound, or there is a bad conscience, that is, it is not true in its answer to the truth accepted.

The manner and the mode in which the testimony has been carried out by many in this day indicates that the teaching on the presence of the Holy Spirit has not been "sound". If it had been, very different effects would have been produced.

First, if the testimony of the Holy Spirit had been truly seen, Christ in glory would have been the great and continued subject, as also the support of the soul. "He shall testify of me" is as He was in glory, because that only would express "me" when He was there.

It is not only that there are few who are, in even a small measure, agents in this testimony, but many accepted ministers are dark about it, and some deny or oppose it. They do not deny the presence of the Holy Spirit, or the fact that He is here to testify of Christ, but the teaching is not "sound", and manifest feebleness as to the truth must be the result. And I feel constrained to add that every one who does not grasp the magnitude of the Holy Spirit's work here for Christ, has not found Him in His magnitude in his own heart; how could he? He necessarily considers His action in testimony must be similar as to power to what he has himself experienced. Such an one cannot be His agent to carry out truth quite beyond his faith. He cannot speak of a glorified

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Christ unless he has had his eyes opened by the Holy Spirit to behold Him there.

If I have not seen Him there I cannot know the way I am to be supported here in the teeth of the world's opposition. This empowered Elisha in another day, as it had done Abram; also Isaiah "when he saw his glory, and spake of him".

The believer now led by the Spirit, according to the pattern of Stephen, derives power from Christ in glory as his eye is set upon Him there. And this testimony by the Holy Spirit enables him to be here more than conqueror through Him that loved him. He stands for Christ in glory, and as he does so, he neither seeks nor uses any means but the Holy Spirit's to bear witness of Him here. This enables me to stand here invincibly for Christ. I cannot use the world, because it is on account of the world's opposition that the Spirit testifies to me of Christ in glory; and as I receive His testimony I am myself, according to my measure, a vessel of it. For as I am in fellowship of the Holy Spirit, so am I as He is, convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. I am characteristically doing so. I am, according to my measure of grace, demonstrating these three things to the world. I am in the wake of the Spirit of God. He is distinct and apart from the world, declarative of three things, which put the world in its true light to every anointed eye, and therefore most entirely distinct from the world. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world"; but while in the world, they are in the same distinctness from the world as light is from darkness.

There is the glorifying of Christ which enables the one in the testimony to set Him forth worthily to believers and unbelievers, as Paul had done. The more He is glorified to me, the better can I present Him to every one, while at the same time heavenly things are shown to me. I am manifestly unworldly, but I am enjoying heavenly things. Every one in the fellowship of the Holy

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Spirit will be characterised in this two-fold way, he will be unworldly and heavenly instructed; while the merely zealous labourer will be occupied with his work and his usefulness, adopting and approving of every kind of human help which would not be an outrage on the world's conscience, and such assuredly cannot assume to be unworldly. Many of these have got on in the world since they were converted, and they as a rule are not unworldly and heavenly instructed. Their teaching and preaching is popular because it is not "sound"; it has not the whole demand on the conscience that the full truth has.

Next let us inquire as to the truth of


The gospel is the good tidings of God's grace to man.

Every believer in Christ receives this grace. The measure and scope of it is only known to God, and springs entirely and absolutely from Him. Doubtless it covers our need, but our need is not the measure of it. The measure is only in any degree grasped as the purpose of His heart is apprehended. He sends His Son, who comes to do His will, and thus He is enabled in righteousness to set forth the full volume of His grace.

Now there are two parts in the work of Christ. One is that He died for our sins. "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree", 1 Peter 2:24. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood ... that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus", Romans 3:25, 26. "And by him all that believe are justified from all things", Acts 13:39. "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin", Romans 4:7, 8. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ", Romans 5:1. Not only are sins forgiven, but righteousness is imputed. "The

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law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death", Romans 8:2. I am "accepted in the beloved", Ephesians 1:6. I am placed before the eye and heart of God through the sacrifice, perfected for ever, so that He can say, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more", Hebrews 10:17. And "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world", 1 John 4:17. It does not say that the believer will never sin again, but it is distinct that Christ's death and resurrection place the believer for ever justified to the eye and heart of God. Then there is no more offering for sin. This is the first part of the work of Christ.

The other part is that He baptises with the Holy Spirit. "But 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", Romans 8:9. He has not only cleared me of everything that offended against God, but He sets me up again in the very spot where I was deplorably ruined and undone, in quite a new way, in a style and power entirely new.

"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.

This the Lord announces to the woman of Samaria, who, ruined and abandoned here, had nothing at all. He proposes in His infinite grace to set her up again in the spot, in the very city, where she had spent all that she had naturally, and was now reduced to the lowest moral point; to set her up in new, unknown, and inexhaustible resources, not from without or outside of her, but from within.

Who can estimate or measure the magnificence of the portion now offered for her acceptance! "Never thirst ... shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". The Lord arrests her heart by the

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suitability and grandeur of His gift. Before she understands it she values it, and therefore responds, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw". She has not yet learnt that her sins are forgiven, and this must come first. Hence the Lord now addresses her conscience. The blood must be on us before the oil can be put on.

But lest one should think that this wondrous gift is only when one is utterly reduced like the woman of Samaria, we read in John 7:37, 38, that in the very hour of harvest, the joy celebrating the flow of earthly blessings, He challenges every heart present by the invitation, "If any one thirst, let him 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". He can surpass to the heart the greatest concentration of earthly blessings. He can prove Himself better than the best, in the very noontide a light above the brightness of the sun -- truly the brightest thing in the brightest day here, because the Spirit comes to us here from Him in glory. So, instead of seeking contribution from outside, we contribute, because of His gift, rivers of living water. We have in ourselves enough and to spare.

Now this latter part of Christ's work is rarely insisted on in this day, but while the fulness and freeness of forgiveness is largely preached, there is a limitation of the truth in not equally declaring and insisting on this, the other part of His work. There is not the true and effective testimony to His grace as there was with the lame man, who, having received new strength, was walking, and leaping, and praising God. There is, because of this limitation, an unsoundness in the teaching, and the lack is apparent in truly converted souls. There is not now the lame man walking, and leaping, and praising God, or the palsied man carrying his bed; the people

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running together, greatly wondering and glorifying God, or declaring, "We never saw it on this fashion".

If the gospel is not truly and fully presented, there can be no right apprehension of the church. Souls are safe, but they are not here for Christ.


The church is the new structure here on the earth, consequent on Christ's rejection, which is entirely outside of and apart from judaism -- which it supersedes -- and the world. Every living stone, every one built by Christ, is given a knowledge of Him qualifying him for this new structure -- though he may not have entered into it -- in addition to the joys of salvation, not only for the future, but in the present. Hence, when it is first named in Matthew 16 it is in connection with the Lord's preparing and educating His disciples for it. The mass of those in this building now, even living stones, are not prepared or educated for it. They are in it, but though truly there, they do not know what they have gained by this new position. It is a structure outside of and apart from everything here, for which the true soul obtains a new and peculiar knowledge of Christ, one only to be known and enjoyed on this earth. The Lord in figure conveys what this knowledge is when He says to His disciples, "Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?" Matthew 16:9, 10. By these two miracles the Lord had been educating His disciples as to the nature and extent of their resources in Himself on the earth, in the very place of His rejection. He would feed and support them in one case, in spite of all the power of evil arrayed against them; and in the other, in spite of all the assaults of the enemy within, or the crippling effects of them. New resources, entirely unknown before, are now the portion of His

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people in the new structure in which He places them. In chapter 14: 13 the subject begins, and it is in connection with His rejection, which is indicated very positively by the murder of John the baptist. The Lord then retires into the desert, characteristically apart from this world, and there He heals the sick and feeds the poor of the flock who seek Him in the desert. And this He has done for the last eighteen hundred years, through His chosen ministers, irrespective of the power of evil which refused Him a place here and put Him to death. He Himself takes a new position with relation to this world. He has gone into heaven; He walks above the winds and waves, and the man of faith with his eye on Him can leave the ship, which was made for water, and walk by Christ's power on the water to go to Him, as Stephen did in a very distinct way; and that without bread, that is, without any natural means or resource. When the believer knows Christ after this manner, he knows one part of the great gain of being a living stone -- of what has been given him. He is not dependent on man or human resources in any form. There is "no bread", nothing to sustain nature, but Christ is all-sufficient.

Now in Matthew 15 the other part is presented and inculcated in figure. There it is power of evil assaulting more from within. It is from within that all defilement springs (verse 11). But besides this, from which the soul finds deliverance in Jesus Christ our Lord (see Romans 7:24, 25) there are the assaults of Satan, as with Paul who had the messenger of Satan to buffet him. Man is reduced and crippled in consequence, but here also the sufficiency of Christ is proved to faith. The Syrophenician is the example given here. She has no title. She has no claim as the children had, she has "no bread"; but she has faith, and faith accepts her true place as a dog, and counts on the Lord's goodness even to such as she is. To this the Lord immediately responds, "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt". Thus He taught Paul in another day, "My grace is

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sufficient for thee"; and so assured was he of it that he could say, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore 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", 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. Christ so feeds His people, He is so all-sufficient for the maimed, and the blind, and the halt, the ones crippled through Satan's power, that one can say, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me".

In a word, in the church I am introduced into an entirely new order of power. Here God dwells. But I speak not now of that part, but of the acquisition, the birthright of every one built by Christ into this new structure. If this is not known, though one is in the church, there is no fitness for the place nor sense of the grace conferred, and consequently no ability for walk and testimony, as alas! we too often see, even with those whose reality cannot be questioned, because they do not know nor experience, to the joy of their heart, these great resources given them for this new structure.

How the blessed Lord taught and prepared His disciples for their new position as living stones in the new structure built by Him, is little understood or taught now. No wonder, therefore, that so few know, or are in any degree aware of, the position they occupy in the church, so absolutely apart from the world, where their resources are entirely new and divine.


The surest proof of real devotedness to Christ is when the heart studies and clings to the desires of His heart. To do a service or a kindness is the delight of any friend; but to study the mind of another, however superior to oneself, until one has acquired some certain idea of the

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leading desires there, in order to devote oneself to the promotion and accomplishment of them, is the act of unselfish devotedness. Here Mary altogether surpassed Martha. The general character of zealous service is that one is much cumbered, earnestly promoting what he thinks is the best work; he has consulted his own mind, and not, in reality, the Lord's mind. He does not intend to be independent, but he really is. He thinks for the Lord, and this comes easily to one, in contrast to the holy seclusion and separation in heart and ways which are necessary in order to ensure a present and distinct acquaintance with His desires. True, as we read the Scriptures we cannot overlook the desires of His heart expressed in John 17; but though we may well know these desires as to the letter, we require to be in communion with Him to be assured of His mind and its leading desire at the moment.

There is immense cheer and encouragement to every true heart in this chapter, because it was given to the church after 2 Timothy, after the breakdown of the testimony committed to it. Here I read not only the inalienable gifts of Christ to His people, namely, eternal life, the words, and the glory, but I learn here His desires for His people to the close. However disunited and painfully opposed, His desire that they may be all one overrides all the din of strife and all the religious warfare.

Miserable sight indeed it is, christian contending with christian for what is called truth, when often each contending party is defective in knowledge as to the truth itself. No conflict among men has ever presented anything equal to the ludicrous, if not impious, contentions among christians about the greatest thing communicated to man. Yet, high above all this babel, in the clear sunshine of unfailing light, as the heart is near Him, then one hears His crowning desire, "THAT THEY MAY BE ALL ONE", in spite of all that is so contrary to its fulfilment down here. Oh, that many hearts might be so

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near Him, and hear from Himself His own words, with His own voice, that they might take up their position here for Him, as Moses did in another day, when he came from the glorious mount to vindicate God as He had been seen in His own sphere, in the midst of His people wholly given to idolatry!

Many have been the cries which have been raised for unity or oneness among the Lord's people; but, though the intention was good, they have always failed to draw together in one the truly faithful and enlightened. The cause for this failure -- for it has been oft repeated -- is of paramount consequence to ascertain. Romanism imitates oneness by insisting on the same prayers, in the same language, being used by its communicants all over the globe. This is plainly untenable and unsound to any godly exercised soul. But there are other and more specious attempts at oneness, which have attracted the true but unspiritual, simply because the divine way to reach and secure this great end was not observed.

There is no more dangerous snare than the adoption of a promise or a precept as one's object; for in proportion as it is the magnifying of a gift or a responsibility into a platform for personal distinction, so I must lose sight of the Lord in my pursuit; and when I do, every attainment or acquisition, however right and good in word, must be human, and effected by carnal means. Thus the farther I advance, the less I commend my efforts to the godly or the spiritual. Here the Evangelical Alliance failed. Many an earnest one was drawn into it, but as the heart grew nearer the Lord, it discovered that there was no real bond, no divine oneness mutually controlling them.

The adoption of the Lord's desire as an object to even the more enlightened -- those who professed to see the body -- has also proved a failure. Many, to be sure, are to be found in their circle, but the most devoted and spiritual have either escaped from it, or have refused to be connected with it.

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It is not the programme which obtains the greatest number of true-hearted adherents which can be assumed to be the right one. That which obtains the sanction and support of the most spiritual, though numerically less than any other, is without question the one most according to God. Paul, in 2 Timothy 4, very distinctly defines the state of those who would adhere to the testimony, though few in contrast to the many. But we have to consider now why the great and unique desire of our Lord has so often been frustrated, and so little practically responded to; and why the attempt to produce oneness among the Lord's people has so often miscarried. The answer to this inquiry is, Because it has not been sought in a truly divine way. Before our Lord gives expression to His crowning desire, "That they may be all one", He states two other desires, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me", and "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth". Now it is plain that if these two desires are not attended to and observed, the third cannot be attained. There is a moral order in His desires, and the more spiritual I am, the more I am led and taught by the Spirit of God, the more truly shall I learn and follow His desires according to their order.

The attempt and the effort to attain a great result without submitting to the only true and right steps to reach it is not uncommon; but however this may sometimes succeed among men, it can never succeed in God's things. No believer can contribute to or promote the oneness of all saints, who is not kept of the Father in His own name, and who is not sanctified.

In Romanism, and more or less in all the other attempts at unity in this day, it is unity at any price. Holiness is not made an essential attribute; the first two desires of the Lord are overlooked. If they were observed and responded to, in order, by those who clamour for the unity expressed by evangelical alliance, there could not be such a nondescript confederation representing all

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shades and peculiarities of religious opinion or differences. To call such a company an expression of oneness, and a fulfilment of the Lord's desire, is simply preposterous, and indicates ignorance of the Lord's meaning when He desires "that they may be all one". How could any, kept in the Father's name, sanctified from this world both by the truth and by Christ's dissociation from everything here, have differences of judgment as to the things of the Lord? or if they had, how could they retain them when they assumed to be all one? It is simply a mockery and a glaring ignorance of the Lord's desire to profess outwardly to be all one, and at the same time for each to retain his own peculiar opinions in the greatest discrepancy one from the other.

Again, and here the difficulty increases, there are many who professedly hold church truth, so-called, who, while they advocate the oneness of all saints, do not command the co-operation of those who have Christ's desires simply before them, because they are not in careful separation from doctrinal taints, or the partisans of the authors of them. Though often well taught and much enlightened, they do not seem to seize the new ground, and holiness, by which only they can reach or in any degree secure, "that they may be all one".

In the limits of this paper it is not possible for me to point out the various ways by which this oneness is prevented by true and earnest souls, while at the very moment they are conscientiously seeking it. Often among the most enlightened and the greatest advocates for unity are found two things which are subversive to godly unity in its most incipient stage, namely, worldliness and religiousness. For if I allow the world to influence me, and if I sanction religiousness in any form, in singing, praying, or preaching, I am fostering and upholding the barrier between me and every spiritual one. If those dear people were awakened to see that the religious element, the human energy, and the natural feelings were not in the Father's name or sanctification

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by the truth, and that all connection with the world, in its mind or things, prevented and barred them from this desired oneness, there would be continued prayer and real exercise before the Lord, not so much for oneness, as that each of us might be fully and distinctly cleared of that which stands in the way of this oneness. Surely we should be "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" if we were entirely unconformed to this world. Then we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds, to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God". If we were according to God, and perfectly separate from the world, we could have no difference of opinion; and as there are differences we must deplore them, and seek, each of us personally, to be clearer of everything which, either in ourselves or in others, causes or promotes these differences.

Finally, we may rest assured that the nearer we approach to the spiritual condition where oneness can be assured, the more will the more spiritual be drawn together in company, and the more will the Lord honour them with His gifts, so that they may be able to promote His desire, on the principle that "unto every one that hath shall be given". May the Lord stir our hearts to answer to His desires!


In a day of confusion, opposition, and difficulty, it is of the utmost importance to learn who succeeds. Who is the one to surmount the various and accumulating obstructions in the path? I believe the true answer is the devoted one. By devotedness I mean the purpose to follow the Lord at any cost, so that the one thing before the heart is not the measure or extent of the surrender, but the intent of it, in every way to set forth the name and honour of our Lord.

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The Lord has ordained that the action most gratifying to the true heart and the highest practice should be one and the same. "If any man serve me, let him follow me". There could be nothing more gratifying to the heart than to follow the Lord. If a dog has such real delight in following its master, how much more the heart, touched and taught in His perfect love!

If I follow the Lord, I cannot but go where He has gone, and this is obedience in its simplest and truest order. Hence He says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words". How could you tell where His path lay without the word? Therefore, the one following must be governed by the word. The word is, if I may so express myself, the scent which assures the spiritual soul that he is on the right track. The one thought of devotedness is, "Whither thou goest, I will go"; hence in any difficulty or strait the one simple inquiry is, Which way went the Lord? And surely if I am in His way I must succeed. But it is not for success that I am seeking, but to be where He is, for as I follow Him, "where I am, there shall also my servant be". If it be mere success or present advantage that I seek, I shall be deceived; it is then not the word which determines my course, but the weight of circumstances; like one retreating, as it were, into a certain creek where he could reckon on safety and escape. But the way of the Lord, in which the word directs me, is one always at first arduous and apparently impossible. It is a path which the keenest natural eye cannot detect, and it is one that is so superhuman in its character that the power of Christ could alone uphold us in it. But once I am in it, on the scent, I am like Peter on the water, surprised and entranced at the wonders His grace can effect for me, and have the sense that I am in His path.

The devoted one, like Ruth, says, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee". When the devotedness is not simple and true, then there is soon a turning aside, even though with tears like

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Orpah, or like the young man in Mark 10. Invariably there is an easier and surer way of success for the natural man than the way enjoined by the word; and if there be not devotedness to seek and adhere to the leading of the word, and through faith to accept and be prepared for every difficulty, there will not be success according to God; so that in every case it is the measure of devotedness which decides and determines one's course.

Another thing must be noted. Devotedness is called to act on the moment. There is no prolonged scheme which is eventually to issue in success. Devotedness is ready in a moment to take the field, to be in action. Abram went forth not knowing whither he went; "Get thee ... unto a land that I will shew thee" was enough for him. However devoted one is, he will have to learn the treachery of his own heart in his course. It is not that Abram never fails, but through his devotedness he at length succeeds; while the one who, by natural sagacity, had at first gained every advantage gradually fell from his acquired height to the lowest point. The path of faith is not easy, but the more difficult it is to enter on, the brighter will the end be. Here we find that the devoted man succeeds when the sagacious one, who at first seizes every advantage, is eventually degraded.

Again, many are characterised more by zeal than by devotedness. The zealous man is occupied with his works and his own doings, very interesting and valuable in their place; but it will be found that zeal does not ensure success. Moses was zealous when he sought to liberate his people by his own hand. How different his way and course after he had learned to follow the Lord wholly! Peter was zealous when he gave up his time and his ship for the service, but the Lord led him on from that to leave all and follow Him. It is a great thing to be started in devotedness, for though there may arise distraction and consequent delays, yet assuredly the desire and purpose in the heart to follow the Lord, as in Moses and Peter, will eventually triumph; and the more decided

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the devotedness, the more signal the success. We have seen that the sharp-sighted cleverness of Lot to seize and appropriate present gain is not really a success, while the slow and often baffled or hindered faith of the devoted Abram proves in the end a real success. We have seen that great zeal, as with Moses, eventually fails, if not superseded by devotedness, and we shall see the same with regard to intelligence. The real lack in the man who knew his Lord's will and did it not was devotedness. What is the charge against Israel? "They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not", Ezekiel 33:31, 32. They are intelligent, but not devoted. What is the good seed among the thorns but that there was not that devotedness which gained everything for Mary Magdalene? she outstripped the ardent Peter, and the intelligent disciple whom Jesus loved; she succeeded. By simple devotedness she attained to the highest honour and intelligence.

Devotedness, then, succeeds when intelligence in the morally highest does not. A nazarite was the figurative representation of a thoroughly devoted soul; the true nazarite scrupulously adhered to the terms of his vow. Thus Samson illustrates how devotedness succeeds, and what failure there is in departure from it. As long as he was true to this rigid separation he was singularly successful; when he diverged from it his failure was most marked.

Now while Samson shows us how success follows strict righteousness and separation, yet we do not see the success proper to devotedness till we come to Samuel. There is an occasional success in the rigid legalist, but when his heart is detached from the Lord by the things

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in the world, his failure is inevitable. Now Samuel's heart is in it; he follows the Lord, and depends only on Him, and he succeeds in a surpassing degree beyond Samson. In adhering to strict rule and order there is often success, but then it is more of the conscience than the heart; and hence with Samson, when the allurement for his heart was strong enough, he declined from the true course. But true devotedness finds its delight in following the Lord, just as Joshua and Caleb did in another day. Their comfort and stay was in the fact that "if the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land". Devotedness is not overborne by numbers any more than by the prospect of danger. Devotedness follows the Lord wholly. What difficulties would be overcome in this day, what questions solved, if there were more devotedness, more of that simplicity of eye that cannot be diverted from one object! When we examine the hindrances or delays now to the settlement of any contention between the Lord's people, we shall find that it is one or other of these activities which interferes with and obstructs devotedness. The quick ready sagacity of a Lot in seizing and appropriating a desired advantage, instead of pursuing the unhasty path of faith, carries away many at this moment. But success eventually is with the one who, like Abram, pursues the path of faith, though he has nothing to point to.

Again, how ready is one to be carried away by zeal, as Jehu said, "Come ... and see my zeal for the Lord". No doubt it is good to be zealously affected in a good matter; but zeal is like the life of a hunter, it lives on its own spoils; it declines as the excitement declines. Whereas devotedness feeds the heart more intensely when there is nothing to be gained from around; as Ruth in following Naomi, or David's mighty men in fetching water for him from the well of Bethlehem. Devotedness survives when everything else has succumbed and disappeared. "Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried".

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Because of zeal many obtain a credit and place for which they have not moral power and many are characterised by this leadership; like master, like man. The only true leader is the devoted one, the one who can say like Gideon, "As I do, so shall ye do", or in some degree as the apostle said, "To make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us". "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ".

In the present state of christendom nothing -- neither sagacity, nor zeal, nor intelligence, nor the best of rules -- can influence morally the conscience and hearts of the people of God mixed up in the world, nothing but devotedness. Devotedness declares that the heart has got someone worth losing all for in the present, and the life and ways of such an one speak attractively and convincingly to every awakened soul. Let anyone inquire, and it will be found that, as with Gideon in another day, the real leader is the devoted one, and the real power to lead and to win is devotedness; whereas nothing has so tended to weaken and neutralise the testimony as the prominence and leadership of those who attract more by other qualities, however good, than by their devotedness. How is it possible for those who have advanced in the world, since they are called of God, to lead in a day like this? And if they do, surely, as devotedness cannot be their characteristic, there cannot be a clear testimony. The world may be given up politically, as it is in many instances, but the things of the world are sought after for comfort in the world. I need not add more; but I thank God that there is a way, and one the most gratifying to the heart, to rise up and triumph for the Lord, even in an evil day like this.

May He lead many of us heartily to do so.

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The greatest object to the mind is its centre. That is the point from which every action springs, and to which all actions turn. If self be my greatest object, everything I do refers and relates to it, whether it be in physics or in ethics. This is evident enough in the unconverted man, even when he is religious, that is, answering to a natural conscience, as in the case of Cain. His centre was himself, and hence, when he would be accepted by God, he sought it in a way commendatory to himself in bringing the fruits, not only of his own labour, but of the earth which had been cursed by God on man's account. If I myself am my greatest object, everything I do and every judgment I form must be with reference to myself. I am the central point in connection with everything. Here the natural man necessarily must be, he cannot have any object greater than himself. However affectionate he may be in the relations of life, or however attached to any object, he makes himself the centre and judges and acts with reference to himself in all his likings and services.

Now when a soul is converted, there is at least some sense of One immensely superior to oneself; and according as this true fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, obtains and rules in the soul, there is an entirely new centre, and things are looked at and done in relation to it. Hence we shall find in Scripture that as the relation to God is apprehended, and according to the measure of faith in that relation, so there is a new centre, and everything is necessarily characterised by it. Abel's faith leads him to see what is due to God; and his life and ways give evidence of the new centre he has found. He finds and enjoys a new relation with God: he is accepted, and he suffers at the hand of Cain for his new position. Accepted of God, he learns that he is rejected of man. His new centre is his only cheer and support in

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his suffering path down here, but it discloses the truth and character of the centre which he had found. He dated from it and he returned to it; but he was hated here because his works were righteous, and his brother's evil. Thus we find a great principle, that acceptance with God entails rejection from man; and this new centre imparts a characteristic singular to itself to every one possessing it. The soul simply and truly presenting and giving clear evidence of being accepted with God would be consequently marked by rejection by man. Every circle of one's life here would be marked by the brilliancy of the one, and by the envy and darkness of the other.

Enoch's centre was very marked, and he walked with God three hundred years; before his translation, he had this testimony, that he pleased God. He was translated that he should not see death. He had but the one object, to which he referred everything, and by which he was governed in everything. No wonder that "he was not; for God took him". He was in his walk the sample of the Man who was entirely to retrieve the distance and alienation into which man had fallen. I need not multiply examples; once we discover a principle in Scripture we shall easily and continually find examples of it. Thus Abram, Moses, Joshua, and the prophets, all corroborate this truth, that according to their faith and apprehension of God, so, as they were faithful, they were characterised by it in everything.

It is interesting to note that to almost each of the Old Testament witnesses the Lord was revealed in a different and special way, and this was the centre or pivot on which that witness's life afterwards revolved. The Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush; the Man with the drawn sword in His hand appeared to Joshua, the seraphim with the live coal to Isaiah. These revelations of God in His grace gave a colour in everything to the lives of those favoured. They were bright and useful

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while they adhered and were true to their centre, whereas they were feeble and failing when they diverged from it.

Let us now carry all we have gathered as to this great principle to New Testament times, and let us endeavour to ascertain the cause for the differences in testimony by true and faithful men with regard to christianity.

There is no ground or permission now, as there was in Old Testament times, for different revelations of God. The saints then were individually blest, even though on Israel there was national blessing. Now every believer belongs to the one and selfsame structure, the church of God. There is but one Head, one chief corner stone; and though there be a different apprehension of Him by each, and consequent effect, yet it is ignorance or want of faith which limits Christ to any position less than His real one. And if this be the case, even though the heart be true to Him, the testimony is inaccurate. Christianity is not really apprehended if Christ be not seen and accepted by faith in His true place. I do not say souls are not true and sincere, but if they have an incorrect centre, every circle and effort to be practical here must be inaccurate. Must we not make allowances for growth? Certainly, but growth is properly a fuller knowledge of Christ. Of this there are endless measures; I speak now of the simple fact of one's faith and apprehension of Christ's own place. I am not slighting or denying the fact that there are babes as well as young men, but I submit that the testimony of each must be according to his faith respecting Christ. If a babe did not see Him in His true place, then the babe's testimony as to the truth and walk of a babe would be inaccurate and incorrect, because the babe had not a true centre from which he started, and to which he turned, deriving all from it and referring all to it.

Now as to testimony, one is hardly fit to be a witness until he knows what he is to testify of. The Lord says of the Holy Spirit, "He shall testify of me". Surely this was that He testified of Christ, not as He was on earth, but

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as He is at God's right hand; and hence I venture to say that no one can testify of Him now or be in the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit who does not see Him by faith sitting down at the right hand of God. There can be no question as to the differences in the mode and subject of testimony, and these differences cannot arise merely from a feeble apprehension of a truth common to all. The testimonies are too varied and conflicting for this. As I have already said, it is as necessary for a babe to have a true centre to define and determine what is good and right in a babe, as it is for a father in Christ. If this centre is wrong he cannot be right in anything however sincere he might be.

I shall now try to set forth, as well as I can, some of the testimonies in the present day, and attempt to discover the centre of each from their course of action and manner of life.

There is a very pious class, the most numerous, who really love the Saviour, and who are simple in this faith that He came into the world to die for sinners. They do not go much farther, and the prayer called the Lord's prayer very much describes the measure and extent of their spiritual state. They believe in the Saviour and a future salvation, but they expect that now God will order and provide blessings and advantages for them on the earth, and they regard every earthly advantage or position in this light. A Saviour on earth is their centre, and all their conceptions and expectations are in keeping with this, that a Saviour has come, and they look for a reign of blessing here. There are others in advance of them, who, as it were, see Christ offered up, the blood on the lintel and doorposts. They know they are quite safe from the judgment due to sinners; they are like the rescued in a lifeboat. They are like Abel, they know they are accepted through the offering of Jesus once for all. Yet they are not really out of Egypt, though in heart turning away from it and preparing to leave it. They are exclusively occupied with their escape, and they are

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very eloquent upon it. They have never accepted the wilderness; I suppose they are not ready for it, though they have in a way turned their backs on Egypt. They can enjoy the honours and position of this world with their own christian confederates. It is easily seen what is their divine centre.

Next to these are those who see Christ risen, the triumphant One. They are set free from all fear of judgment, and they have peace with God; but they regard the resurrection of Christ only as to its effect upon themselves, as it is sometimes said, as the receipt in full for all their sins. They are so cleared by the work of Christ that they do look for the wilderness here, and for the Shepherd's care in carrying them through it, and are often like exiles in a strange country, entirely dissociated from the politics of the country, but very glad to enjoy the naturally good things in the country; and their acceptance and use of natural means in the Lord's service declare that they are not quite dissociated from the world.

The last are those who date and refer everything to Christ at the right hand of God. They have no home but there, and the things of this world are no solace or enjoyment to them from whom the Bridegroom has been taken away. Their one and only business and joy here is to proclaim the goodness and greatness of the only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. When my centre is at God's right hand I derive everything from my Lord there, and I refer everything to Him there.

May each of us learn to do so more and more!


There has always been a testimony. The expression "the testimony" is of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament, "the ark of the testimony", "the tabernacle of the testimony", and "... gave him the testimony". From the constant repetition of the word, it is very

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evident that the testimony was of the greatest importance. It is not necessary to add more to establish this great fact. Let us then first ascertain the testimony proper to the church, which now, even when general declension has set in, the faithful are called to maintain. There having always been a testimony, it varied according to the revelation God gave of Himself. The testimony could not go beyond the revelation, but necessarily must be in keeping with it. There was always, at every time, a feebleness or a declension in maintaining the testimony, or a surrender of it, when personal consideration weighed with the Lord's people; that is, if those who were called to witness were uncertain as to their own relation with God, or were indifferent to it, they forgot what was due to God, and considered only for themselves.

The testimony now is, "He shall testify of me". God sent His Son into this world "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"; and He is now at God's right hand, the Head of His body the church, which is down here as the real tabernacle of testimony. In the limits of this paper it is not possible to set forth fully the terms of the testimony. Suffice it to say that the testimony proper to the church is that all believers now have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, and are set up in the life and Spirit of Christ, a new man, the "church, which is his body". This testimony gave no place for man under the law, or in any way recognised the old man, save to insist and enforce that he should be in every position and relationship here as God had created him. The relative natural duties were to be fulfilled in divine power; he was to be subject to the powers that be. But the testimony declared that the Man at God's right hand was the Man of His purpose, and that now, through divine grace, we were of Him, and not only enjoying the efficacy of His work in our souls, but that we were through the Holy Spirit in conscious and abiding union with Him, so that His interests and concerns were ours. We testify of Him.

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The second prayer in Ephesians describes the occupation and delight of the heart which is truly in the calling of God. This testimony was of so high and superhuman a character that all they that were in Asia turned away from Paul as the teacher of it. The snare to which the Lord's people in every time have been exposed is to surrender the testimony to which they were called.

As the testimony is of God, it is plain that nothing but divine power can enable a man to maintain it. Hence the moment the heart is diverted from allegiance to Him, and faith wavers, there must be a declension or surrender of the testimony. From a sense of fear there is constantly great reluctance openly to admit that the testimony has been surrendered or dimmed; and many, because of this reluctance, degenerate into mere hypocrites, assuming and demanding acknowledgment for a status they desire to have, because it is true, but to which they have no claim on any other ground. It was so with the scribes and Pharisees in the Lord's day.

No one is in the testimony who, though converted, is not at peace with God, though I trust there are those in this state who desire to follow on and to know the purpose of His grace more fully. I merely assert that in their present state they could not be in the testimony. The little ones in Israel were not involved in their fathers' forfeiture of the land, when they had abandoned the calling of God or their proper testimony. But they were not competent witnesses; only Caleb and Joshua were in the testimony in that day.

The most devoted preacher of the gospel might not be in the testimony, and always when this great service becomes the one object, then the testimony is either overlooked, or is of little interest. When the benefit of man is paramountly before the servant, he often, unintentionally but assuredly, judges of everything in relation to it, and though he might not say in so many words, 'What is the good of the testimony to the lost

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soul?' yet the habit of his mind, and his practical feeling, is to this effect: 'It is no good for a perishing soul, and therefore I cannot lose my time with it; I have weightier subjects to occupy me.' The practical effect of such a conclusion would be that anything and everything which would not be a bar to conversion can be retained or allowed. There is really no exercise as to what is consistent with the testimony, nor a growing abnegation of the world in keeping with it. James could tell of the many thousands of Jews there were which believed, but they were not in the testimony.

Let us look wider. Do we not find many christians whose one idea in serving the Lord is the conversion of souls? And when it is so, I ask again, can the heart exclusively set on the serving of man consider for, or be consistent in any way with, the testimony of the Lord? They may have light as to the blessing of believers meeting together to remember the Lord in His death, but if they do, this is for their own or the christian's benefit, as the other service is for the unconverted, so that these two embrace all that is required for a true and a full profession on earth. Alas! this approaches very closely to the idea of the church in christendom, that it is the congregation of the faithful, where the gospel is faithfully preached, and the sacraments duly administered. The testimony is entirely lost sight of. It is plain to be seen how a doctrine of this kind, however tacitly accepted, must allow or excuse the enjoyment of worldly things.

A believer is not in the testimony because he retires from the outer or political world, while he accepts and indulges in the things of the world which exalt him personally. The testimony is so unique, so distinctly characteristic of the rejected Lord, that any one in the testimony would refuse everything which would tend to his distinction here. The comforts of food and covering he would thankfully accept as absolutely necessary, but the dress or the furniture which would connect him with the fashion of the hour he would

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absolutely refuse. Consequently, however true a man is in his conduct and doctrine, yet as he is identified with the course of this world he is not in the testimony. Nothing can be plainer. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world". And it is to those hated by the world that the Holy Spirit was sent by Him to "testify of me". The testimony is of Christ in glory. It is not only a man like Noah, carried away by self-indulgence, who is not in the testimony. Abram drops out of the testimony when there is a famine in the land. David is not in the testimony when he retreats into the country of the Philistines under the fear that he should die one day by the hand of Saul. Paul was in the testimony, though forsaken by the saints. "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 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", 2 Timothy 4:16, 17.

In conclusion, we must distinguish between those who are earnestly seeking to be true to the christian calling, really growing into the testimony, however slowly, and those who, while professing to be in it, are insensible to the nature of the practice which it demands. The seller of jewellery might be pressing on in true and rapid strides to the testimony, but he cannot be in it. He who seeks a livelihood by selling things for man's glory is surely not in the testimony, however he may approve of it in heart and long to be in it. If he has a true sense of what becomes a follower of Christ now, he could not make a gain by inducing any professor to adopt what was wholly inconsistent to the testimony. Some then may exclaim, 'Who then is in the testimony?' I answer that though they are few, we are not for that reason to lower the standard. That, as I have said at the beginning, has ever been the snare of the adversary. 'As it is so hard to keep it up', he would say, 'let us reduce

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it or surrender it altogether. Let us turn back again into Egypt' . Nay, let us accept the gravity and blessedness of our calling, and look to the Lord that we may cleave the more to Him, and then by the Holy Spirit we shall be enabled to be really in the testimony, the only path or course suited or satisfactory to the devoted heart on the earth. The more we love Him, the more we are in every particular like Him, and unlike the world that would not have Him. When I lose sight of Him, I lose sight of the testimony, and lose the power to carry it out.


"The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it". One great mark is the way in which the word -- not any particular system of theology, but some definite word from Himself -- is spread abroad. There will be concurrent with this an effort of the enemy to hinder the Lord's work by setting up an energetic publication of something professedly christian, but really "tares", something to interfere with and embarrass the Lord's work. The evidence that there is a word from the Lord is that it is light. He said, "Let there be light: and there was light". "There is nothing ... hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops", Luke 12: 2, 3. It will come out fully -- the truth, the light. It will be baffled in many a way, and in no way more effectually than by a spurious or merely natural way of echoing the word which the Lord hath given.

When the Lord sent the gospel first, "their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world". If there be a word from God, if there be light from Him, surely it must spread, and instruments are raised up to be the bearers of it.

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The Lord demonstrates His purpose by the instruments which He prepares for Himself. Noah's building the ark for a hundred and twenty years must have sounded out wide and far. Doubtless there were many objectors, and they were more successful in obtaining followers than the great preacher of righteousness. The number of adherents is not an evidence of where the Lord's word is, but the power with which His mind is declared is. The way of faith is always the narrow path, and "few there be that find it". In our own remembrance it is remarkable -- and we do well to take it to heart -- that the crowd went one way, and the gifts, as it was popularly said, went the other. What did this indicate, but that the Lord had chosen His own instruments? and they as a rule went in the line of the truths which had been committed to them, while the congregation, as in the days of Caleb, went the very opposite way.

When the Lord gives the word there is markedly a full clear sound, as the trumpets sounded for battle. Abram's call, though so very individual, entailed on him such a marked and peculiar course that it could not fail to be well known, and, as it were, in every way to come abroad. It is true many novelties and vanities are ever occurring, therefore it is the more needful for us to be able to distinguish what is really of the Lord. Now one thing is very certain. Satan imitates in order to spoil the real thing by a counterfeit. Lot may be in part a companion of Abram, but before long he is lost in his own worldliness, and there is no sound for the Lord from him, while Abram is heard more distinctly and effectively than ever. Lot may break away from Abram; and the ten spies can take up the opposite ground to Caleb and Joshua, but they have not the sound or the weight, nor do they succeed as Caleb and Joshua. One man, led of the Lord, gives great publicity to His mind at the time. If I am in His mind, and His word has been entrusted to me, some day it will be heard abroad. It will not be hid in a corner. David was hunted as a partridge on the mountains,

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and yet, as with Joseph, his time came. "Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance", Psalm 105:19 - 21. That which was spoken in the ear in closets was proclaimed on the housetops. Whoever expected that either Joseph or David would be heard in the highest housetops of Egypt and Israel? Saul might have boasted of the numbers of Israel who followed him, while few comparatively followed David; but the most distinguished in Israel, together with the poor of the flock, attached themselves to him; and David, in his brightest day in the kingdom, could recall in thankfulness and encouragement his mighty men. The gifts -- to speak in the language of our day -- were with him.

In reviewing the ways of our God, the one great impression made on us is this, that He will bring into full light, with very positive evidence, what is His mind at the time; so that if I have His word, I may rest assured that it will obtain a hearing in one way or another. In every instance we see that if there is not simple faith in God, and unwavering integrity in adhering to it, the ways and influence of those we might have counted on will surely hinder us. If we have the word of the Lord, we must be satisfied to find that our help is only from Him. Daniel and his three friends would have utterly failed, even though they had the word of the Lord, the truth for the moment, if they had not had faith in God. How could it be possible that in Babylon, with the greatest power on earth arrayed against them, they could be heard? They were so convinced that there was no help from man that in everything they turned to God only, be it in declining the king's bread and the king's wine, or in enduring the fiery furnace; and the result was that the effort of the enemy to extirpate or silence the word of the Lord was the very means used to proclaim it; and all Babylon rang with it.

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In Esther's time it was still more hopeless for Mordecai. He had the word of the Lord; and when it seemed as if he had, by strict undeviating persistence in maintaining it, imperilled the existence of Israel, when to human sight all was lost, and when only God could help, here again, succour came in the most signal way, and the word of the Lord was triumphantly established.

If I have the word of the Lord, He will surely cause it to triumph. I may be baffled and hindered, but if I am instructed by the Lord, I am not discouraged; I have His truth and it must prevail.

When the Lord came into the world, the light appeared in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. He did not discontinue the proclamation of His grace because of opposition and rejection. Nay, on the contrary, He first sent the twelve, by two and two -- six streams of testimony through the country; and afterwards He sent seventy. And Paul can say afterwards, "their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world". Can any one enter into the patient faith of our Lord Jesus Christ? He knew that He was the Word; and though baffled and rejected, He pursued His course to death, well knowing that when to man's eye it would appear to be extinguished, at that very moment the darkness was passing away and the true light shining. He can tell His disciples, as I have already noted, that there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed. The truth may be greatly opposed, there may be no prospect of its being listened to or proclaimed; yet faith can reckon assuredly on God, that because it is His word, and sent by Him, it must accomplish that whereunto He has sent it.

When the truth of the Lord's return was revived, at midnight there was a cry made. "Behold, the bridegroom; go forth to meet him". And surely any believer who remembers for fifty years, can testify how largely and fully that truth has been proclaimed. The great truth to be assured of is that I have the word of the Lord; and if I

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have, He not only gives me power to declare it, but I must be prepared to find help from no other quarter. I may find help from many; but often where I might most expect it I may be disappointed, like Abram with Lot, or Caleb and Joshua with their fellow spies, or David with Absalom and Ahithophel, or Paul with all that were in Asia, where he had laboured most. I must not calculate that those to whom I have taught the truth will be the defenders of the truth. I must not in any way go outside faith. The word is from God, and only God can support it; and if I lose faith in Him as supporting it, the truth will be reduced to a mere science in my soul. Paul never had more courage than in 2 Timothy. He directs Timothy to commit the truth to faithful men who shall teach others also. This was given after his first answer, when all the saints forsook him; but he adds, "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", 2 Timothy 4:17. Remark how he insists that the preaching or proclamation should be fully known, and that all the gentiles should hear. Though single-handed he had no fear for the truth of God, for the Lord was with him.

The Lord grant that, however opposed or however nearly overwhelmed, we may never swerve from the truth committed to us. And may our faith in God to defend His own only increase as we are deserted by those on whom we might have counted; assured that as our Lord left this earth from a Bethany, He on His coming again will find a Bethany here to meet and greet Him. Let us therefore quit ourselves like men and be strong. "He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast".

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As light is only from God, and it makes manifest, so darkness is unable to comprehend the light and loves concealment.

The word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It is by His word that every believing soul is enlightened; and as he walks in it with integrity of heart, he finds it is a path of shining light which shines more and more unto the perfect day. As we walk in the light we advance in it; but if we accept it, and then grow insensible as to God's claims upon us because of it, and end by refusing it, we become blinded. Concerning faith we have put away conscience and we are wrecked. It is to be noted the readiness there is to receive truth, while there is no purpose of being controlled by it. Thus we see in each of the first three examples of the effects of the word in Mark 4, that even when it was received with joy there was no real work in the conscience. The reason of this is that the truth has been received as mere information and as human learning, instead of as light from God to direct one how to walk and behave oneself on the earth according to God. If the word of God is accepted, ignorance cannot be pleaded; and if it does not act on the conscience and walk, there must be either dullness, perverseness, or blindness. When there is dullness, it is because the word has not been received in power. It is in the hearing that the dullness really is, as the apostle says, "dull of hearing". Consequently he expounds the word more fully to them. But when it is blindness, it is marked by stumbling, like a man losing his way in a fog. The cause of this necessarily is that when one accepts truth in any measure, it leads him into a new path, in which he endures only for a time; he loses his way, like the man who began to build the tower and had not sufficient to finish. Lot accepted the path of faith for a little time, but when he was diverted from it by seeking a present advantage, he became blind, and he

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never recovered his former position. Abraham was weak in faith when he went down to Egypt, but when he returned to the land, he was proved to be truly restored, because he was more in faith than ever. When I am truly restored I am morally stronger than before my fall. Lot surely returned with Abraham to the land, but present advantage, the course of this world, was too strong for him, as it was for Demas in another day; and he pitches his tent toward Sodom. A believer is not morally blinded because of a fall. A just man falleth seven times, but he riseth again, whereas in the case of moral blindness there is a deliberate surrender of what has been accepted as the truth of God. I have known instances when one has, when challenged as to the truth of the church and its heavenly position, answered that he had given it up as untenable; that man was morally blinded. It is of very solemn interest to us at this moment. Now why is it that many who had accepted the truth as to the church's union with Christ in heaven are now, if not avowedly, indirectly teaching that it is impracticable and impossible? And be it noted that every one who refuses or is satisfied with his ignorance as to this side of truth is incapable or unwilling to be set right as to any question of importance before the minds of the Lord's people.

The intention of light is to give light; hence the candle of the body is the eye, and if the eye be single the whole body is light itself; when there is not light from a man's walk and ways there is not a single eye there. The true place of every christian here is to be a light of the world, and in order to be a light there must be a conformity to the mind of the Lord with relation to everything, for wherever there is not, the body is not light. Light is at first sweet, the eye delights in it; but it is the path indicated by the light which tests the measure of faith in the soul. The one who sees delights in seeing; but when I see as it were too much, when what I see imposes on me a path of abnegation and suffering, and when I find

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that another is open to me which offers present ease without the forfeiture of any christian standing then, if my faith is weak and my heart not fully devoted, I choose the latter; but in doing so, I allow a dark part, and there is no bright shining of a candle in consequence of it. Such a person has not forfeited the place and portion which grace had conferred on him, and which his heart enjoys, but there is an end to his progress and usefulness as an example. If the light I have received does not correct and dispel the dark spot in myself, surely I cannot be a witness of it, for it is not morally effective in myself. He that hath, to him shall be given; but when I see a truth and do not set myself to act in keeping with it, but rather shrink from it because it would disturb and disarrange any cherished or preconcerted course, surely no more light will be given to me. I do not necessarily lose all I have had, but there is no advance, and if I persist I become blinded, I begin before very long not even to see what once I had accepted.

Lot does not cease to be a righteous soul in Sodom, but he seems entirely to have lost the light in which he first started from Mesopotamia. The ten spies had seen and had eaten of the grapes of Eshcol as fully as Caleb and Joshua, but because of men and their works, the giants and the cities walled up to heaven, they despised the pleasant land, and led the whole congregation of Israel into their apostasy. They had the clearest and fullest evidence of the good of the land, and they testified, "surely it floweth with milk and honey"; and yet they promoted the rejection of the light of which they were the best expositors, and in doing so, they became blind, for they end in saying it is "a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof". Caleb and Joshua were faithful to the light; and they became a light, though, alas! an unheeded one, to all at that time in Israel.

Mark, in a moment of fear, and from want of faith, departed from Pamphylia, but most probably he had not in faith accepted the course which was only then

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opening out to the apostle Paul. But he repented, and returned to aid the apostle in a darker and more difficult hour (2 Timothy 4:11). Barnabas dropped out of the light because led by his natural feelings; but in neither of these cases do we find that they reject the light they have received, by advocating -- like Lot, or the spies, or Demas -- a course entirely outside and apart from what they once held. It is one thing to be afraid of the path which light opens out to me, and another, after accepting it, to embrace and advocate one quite opposed to it.

The two and a half tribes saw full well the path of testimony, but they were drawn aside by the things which suited them on this side Jordan. They exonerated themselves by offering to send over their armed men. They would, as it were, preach the truth and write about it and be known as defenders of it, but practically in their own lives and homes they determined to renounce it, and, as is always the case, they suffered sooner from the enemy than the dwellers in the land.

Jonah, Samson, and David were each, in a distinct way, perverse, and fell grievously; but they were not blinded, they yielded to their own passions; it was not to go contrary to the truth, but to please themselves. They had not been reproved like Lot to no purpose. "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy". The perverse one is bent on something distinctly selfish. The blinded one always keeps up the name or position which morally he has abandoned, like Israel in Ezekiel 33:31, 32. "They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not". The conscience retains the form long after the heart has departed from the truth.

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One is 'dull' when inattentive, which ends in sleeping, complete inactivity. Such an one requires to be awaked: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light". This state is quite distinct from blindness, because while there is no activity in the dull, there is plenty of it in a wrong direction in the one blinded.

One mark more. The one morally blinded knows not at what he stumbles. He does not seem to have a sound judgment about anything. Everything he undertakes generally proves a failure, and he takes the wrong side of everything, as the scribes and Pharisees had done in our Lord's day. And as in the Laodicean state, there is a boastfulness, when "thou ... knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked".

The Lord in His rich mercy preserve His people from moral blindness.


There have always been, as far as we know, two lights, since the call of Abram, or since a definite path was prescribed for the people of God on the earth, one of faith, and the other of sense. There have been two companies, both professing to follow the one path or rule; but one, however feeble, clung to it in faith, while the other, though professing to adhere to it, yet continually betrayed that they were doing so because they considered it the right thing, without any exercise of faith as to it. Let us then gather from Scripture how these two companies are distinguished the one from the other, the traits and eventualities which mark them. In faith, Abram answers to the call of God. It does not say that Lot had faith, for faith is counting upon God, but he went with Abram. These two were types of the two lines which, as far as we know, have continued ever since. Abram counted on God, and though he turned

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into Egypt because of the famine, he was restored, and entered on the path of faith again. Lot accompanied Abram into Egypt, and returned again with him to Canaan; he evidently thought it the right course. But when it came to be a question which side he was to go, we see a marked difference between these two, the man of faith and the man of sense. Abram, though the senior, and the one naturally entitled to make an election, surrenders it, and Lot avails himself of it, and chooses the well-watered plain, which his good sense told him was the best place.

Faith looks to God, and waits for Him; this marks one. The other, while accepting the path, grasps everything which natural wisdom or good sense can lay hold of or utilise, without openly and distinctly abandoning the path. The fact that it is sense, and not faith, which influences is more apparent at every step. The wonder is what could have induced a man without faith to enter on such a course. But it is this, the judgment may be convinced of the rightness of a course, without the faith which counts on God. In this way, many a christian has been induced to leave the establishment for some sect which promised to secure him the field or liberty his intelligence demanded. What really was the difference between Moses and Aaron, two brothers bound together by all natural ties, and now appointed by the Lord to the same service, and both largely acquainted with the work of the Lord? Truly Moses derived everything directly from the Lord, and then shared His communications with Aaron, who was the public expounder and herald of them. Both were in the same path; but Moses, as it was shown eventually, was in it in simple dependence on God, while Aaron, who was the more prominently connected with it, in the moment of difficulty gave way entirely to the dictates of his senses, and declared that he had no faith in the nature of the God whose word, accompanied with great signs and mighty wonders, he had so often proclaimed. Could any divergence as to

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judgment and acts be greater and more marked than that between these two brothers, when one, Moses, came from the mount to vindicate God, and Aaron quieted the people with a molten calf, before which they proclaimed, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt"!

One could hardly believe that such an unaccountable and painful breach could arise between two brothers so closely bound together in the work of the Lord. Alas, the fact proves to us that there are two guides where one might least expect to find them, and that no amount of light, or co-operation of work or service, can prevent the great moral gulf between them; for one has faith in God, and the other, in the hour of trial, turns to his senses and the exercise of his natural ingenuity. The man of sense in the right path will command a greater company of followers, because the natural mind is swayed by natural force. The man of faith can only address the faith of others, and he influences only in proportion as there is faith.

We are taught a similar lesson in connection with the twelve spies. They all had the same service; they had the same opportunities and the same light and knowledge; and yet, when it came to definite practice, ten of them, while dilating on the good of the land and its unquestionable excellencies, had no faith in God. They brought up an evil report of the land, declared that it was "a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature". They had plenty of natural sense and judgment, they observed things as they are on earth and with man, as natural sense must do -- the keener it is, the more so. Faith counts on God, and sees Him above and beyond all that man is; and hence Caleb can say, "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land". The great instruction for us is that one can see the good and beauty of the truth, in company too with those who have simple faith in God, and yet not only have no heart for it, but actually become

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hinderers of it to many, by their fear and want of faith. At all events, it is very evident that association in the same service and the profession of similar ideas about truth do not ensure divine union and co-operation; but though thus openly and avowedly found together, yet there are two companies, one treading the path of faith, it may be weakly, and numerically less than the other one that judges of everything by natural sense. A judgment by natural sense is good and influential, as the variety of circumstances are skilfully combined and gauged in order that one might utilise them. Faith views the circumstances just as clearly, but rests in the assurance that God will effect His pleasure in spite of them.

All Israel were appointed to cross the Jordan and possess the land of Canaan. Two and a half tribes diverged from the rest. They had the same calling and the same inheritance, and yet there were two companies. One, led by prudence and present gain, desired to settle on this side Jordan, though they consented and promised to go over and fight and secure Canaan for their brethren. They are on the same path and in the same service with their brethren, but their hearts and homes are elsewhere. They will suffer, even at the risk of their lives, to obtain the promised land for their brethren; but they are fixed in their purpose not to reside there, nor to enjoy it themselves. One is painfully reminded of their course in this day, when the heavenly portion is contended for by those who in life and practice declare that they have no intention of being practically dwellers there. What, we may well ask, beguiled them into such a strange inconsistent course? Why sacrifice so much for no gain? Simply because, guided by sense, they considered they had a better thing on this side Jordan.

Further on we see, in a still more painful and solemn way, disunion between those in one path, and belonging to one people, to Israel as a nation. Jeroboam, acting on his natural sense, set up calves in Bethel and in Dan, thinking by this cleverness to secure the kingdom to himself.

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He disregarded and lost sight of what was due to God, in order to secure his own interests, and by his lack of faith precipitated the very thing he dreaded.

I need not trace this, as we might, all through the history of Israel; but it has been the same in the church. We get a remarkable instance of the two even in the same person in the case of Peter in Matthew 16, when he dropped from faith to sense. At one moment he had the clearest and fullest light: "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". And shortly after, the Lord reproves him in the strongest terms: "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". Here is the real cause of departure from the path of faith oneself, and of difference or divergence one from one another in the path avowedly common to both. Every one can understand the difference between one sect or denomination and another; but that Paul and Barnabas, once close companions, and advocates together of the same course, should differ and diverge from another, while retaining the common faith, is very painful and humbling. It must be traced to this, that one acted in faith, pleasing the Lord; the other was swayed by his feelings, by sense, and acted accordingly. The dissension which led to this unhappy breach sprang up between Paul and Peter, two apostles who were appointed to the one common work, co-builders together with God. What a warning voice it is to us when a Peter can be so under the influence of others as to swerve from the truth. "He withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision"; sense governed him, and not faith in God.

The last writing of the apostle Paul, 2 Timothy, tells of these two forces in a very marked way. He writes, "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me". Doubtless they still held to the same ecclesiastical order as before. They did not set up any new form. They

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were not in any sense openly dissenters; but while accepting and avowing the same path as the apostle, they had turned away from the truth so specially committed to him. They doubtless considered it untenable, too high, utopian, and so on. Now this is the form of opposition and hindrance for which we are to be prepared in this day; the light accepted, the path approved of, but one part of the company struggling on as they have faith, the other part using every means within the reach of their senses to support the cause they are committed to. Both are assured that there is no other path or order for the church of God. They are clear as to light. Even those under the guidance of sense are as sure of the rightness of their profession as a Lot, or the ten spies, or the two and a half tribes; but, like them, they do not reach to the mind and purpose of God as to their calling. They are not spiritually in it. Their natural minds have been convinced that there is nothing so right and correct. Hence these two companies, like Moses and Aaron, go on together in great unanimity until a difficulty occurs which tests them, and then they are marked off; one has recourse to God in faith, the other turns to his natural resources; and then it is soon seen that one is of God, and the other of man.

One thing more. We have seen in our day, and we suffer from it on all sides, the lack of cohesion because of those two guides. If in the company or remnant there were only a simple purpose of heart to walk by faith, though its feebleness were apparent, yet there would be strength within, and true co-operation one with another, and a marked advance in the knowledge of God. Whereas now, those who seek to lay hold by faith of God's purpose and calling are baffled and hindered by their companions, who cannot accept or engage in anything beyond the range of their senses. In heart, if not in word, they ridicule the idea of being a heavenly people; they regard the church more as an enclosure for converted souls than as the vessel of testimony in the earth, and

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consequently hold that evangelising is the one great work on which all the energies of every believer ought to be expended; and thus the great aim and testimony for the believer now is overlooked and supplanted. There is no opportunity or time, as it were, to teach and lead on souls to maintain that the state Christ is in is our state in this world, and the place He is in is our place, though we are still on earth; that the one simple calling of the church is that by each member of Christ's body here He should be set forth and magnified where He is not.


The church testimony is so entirely new, so distinct from and unconnected with any of God's previous dealings with man, that there can be no departure from its principles without a surrender of it, either from ignorance or from unbelief. The testimony, which embodies the completion of the word of God, and is consequent on the rejection of the Son of God, must be so unique that only the Spirit of God can lead or keep one in accordance with it. Hence any independent action must hinder or subvert it. In all previous testimonies there was a trial of man in some measure, without law, or under law. But man has condemned himself in rejecting Christ. The Jews said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours". They said, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God". God's rule and claim on them they turned against His Son. The gentiles crucified Him. The power God gave into man's hand to repress evil, they turned against the Son of God. They had no cloak for their sin. Man sinned in the garden of Eden, doing his own will, and thus death came upon all men; but in rejecting God's Son, another guilt attaches to man. So when God was pleased to have a testimony here among men, it must necessarily be entirely outside of and apart from man. Man cannot be allowed to have any recognised part in the present

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testimony. Where man utterly failed and convicted himself of worthlessness was in not accepting and magnifying God's Son come into the world, He with wicked hands having been crucified and slain. In glorious contrast to all this God declares the secret, kept secret from the foundation of the world, that Christ's body is on the earth. Here, where He was rejected, "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ... and have been all made to drink into one Spirit", so that Christ's name should be maintained here in a scene where He is not. It is a wondrous testimony, exceeding in divine beauty and power any that preceded it. The heavenly Man, the Head of His body the church, was to be maintained here on the earth by a body composed of many members, all bound together by a greater and more perfect bond than that ever known to a natural body and its members.

As we see from John's gospel, His name was to determine, command, and characterise everything. The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father in His name. Peter and John begin by asserting the greatness of His name where He was not. Paul connects all power with His name: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ", 1 Corinthians 5:4. So in Colossians 3:17: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him". Again, it is said of the church in Philadelphia, "thou hast ... kept my word, and hast not denied my name". I need not add more. I have sought to place in true prominence the testimony for the present time, in order that each one, being enlightened as to the true character of it, may refuse and reject any course of action which would at all weaken it.

Now in John 17 we are taught the resources we have in Christ through all time to enable us to maintain His name here in His absence, to be His representative; not that one or two could be His representative, but that if

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all were according to His mind here, they would present Him to the world; for already we are presented as He is to the Father, and when love is perfected in us we know that as He is, so are we in this world. In this wonderful chapter, John 17, there are three great parts -- what He has given us, what He has done or is doing for us, and what He desires. The first two, as we appropriate and enter into them by faith, enable us to answer to the last, namely, to be kept from the evil in the world, to be sanctified, and to be in unity. They are given in their moral order. You could not have the third but according to the measure in which the two preceding ones were practised. The nature of sanctification cannot be possessed unless one understands the truth that we are children of the Father, born of God, and that our Lord has severed Himself entirely from this scene. It is the attempt to answer to the desire of our Lord that we should be one, that has often led the well-intentioned into a laxity subversive of the testimony, because thereby they fail to set forth Christ's name truly here. The observance of the same creed, the maintenance of a fraternity, or anything short of His name -- what in truth is a representation of Him -- is not only not the testimony, but falsifies it. This is the real evil of church laxity. Timothy, while at Ephesus (see 1 Timothy 4), is warned by the apostle of the rise of Romanism, when a carnal sanctity would be introduced to supersede the only true one derived from God manifest in flesh. Now when the sanctity is compromised and perverted, the laxity is fatal. Thus in Romanism there has been a despotic unity, a common creed, a common language, and a common rule; yet any one with the truth, or even a correct knowledge of the Scriptures, discovers the gross laxity there, and the utter surrender of the testimony. But in our own day there has been an attempt to bring all christians together, of every creed and denomination, each waiving his particular sentiments for a few days, in order that they might be in manifest unity. To any spiritual mind it must be

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plain that the convulsive effort to reach a desired end for a limited period only the more distinctly declares the lack of the Spirit's leading, and of faith in the truth which they had thus initiated. How could they have dropped their conscientious differences for an hour, without incurring a laxity or looseness which they must honestly have condemned?

Again, almost every one interested in the church has heard of the laxity which is known by the name of Bethesda. This is the most subtle; for while as a rule the truth of the church as the body of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, will be owned, there is a general laxity, only one thing being insisted on, and that without almost any limitation -- that there should be unity; and almost everything is tolerated to preserve it. An apparent unity is the great desideratum. The name of Christ is not the one standard. If a visible unity be acknowledged, if there be the works and conduct to gain commendation outside, almost any measure of worldliness will be suffered or overlooked. The divine gradation or steps to unity are not enjoined and enforced. I admit there is separation from the open evil of the world. The Pharisee would have had no weight if he were not reputable in the eyes of the religious; but with all that he neglected the "weightier matters". And so it is now; there is reputation with the religious world, but under the cloak of approved usefulness and interest in the welfare of souls, there is an indifference to the weightier matters of sanctification and devotedness; at least the former usefulness seems to be more earnestly sought after and prized than the latter. No laxity can be more pernicious than that which, with the adoption and profession of the fullest truth, permits and sanctions practical indifference to the name of Christ. While credit is sought and obtained for singular devotedness to the cause, because of an acknowledged usefulness, unity is the aim, and usefulness the certificate of commendation. Will any one say that there is not laxity as to the world and sanctification?

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If this is confessed and mourned over, I must own my share in it; but if it is glossed over and un-condemned, in order that the unity which is its aim may not be impugned, is it to be accepted as a sort of set-off for the other desires of the Lord for His people on the earth? I can fully sympathise with the earnest servant who presses that believers should be all together, to worship God after the one manner, and to seek the wealth of one another, that there may be a growth in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In plain words, as has been often said, get them in, that is, to a common ground first, and then teach them their calling and responsibility. This, as formally stated, could not be objected to, if there was a purpose, expressed in word and practice, to lead them on to the full truth. If they were like trees in a nursery, in the stages of growth from the seedling to the matured tree, then the newcomer would at least see and be apprised of the maturity that would be expected of him, and to which he was called. But if, on the other hand, there be not a full and plain intimation, either verbally or morally, the person is committed to a thing in which unity is everything, and this is hardly fair or creditable. When a seedling enters the nursery, there is no need to tell it what is expected of it, there are plenty of examples to testify of that; but if the seedling come to a nursery where they are all seedlings, or dwarfs, then its calling is limited to a common ground of unity, and not Christ.

I wish to put the question plainly: Is unity possible without unworldliness and sanctification? I see there are distinct steps leading up to unity. I believe we should desire unity above all things, as the only effectual way to maintain His name, but I do not believe any spiritual person would support a unity which overlooked sanctification, or which required of me only to accept a common ground, without presenting, in word or practice, the holy nature of the fellowship. Why make unity the one aim, if it be not to ensure a greater company? And

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this greater company exists because they can accept being together on a ground not morally high, and yet commendatory; but a ground which they would in conscience and heart hesitate to take were the holy, unworldly path necessary to unity presented to them. Under this laxity, too, the testimony is entirely lost sight of. If unity be made the aim, without insisting on the holy nature of it, all divine practice is overlooked, and as the moral power is not in the foreground, the name of Christ is not maintained. A further and deeper consequence of this laxity is that men are accepted and sanctioned as leaders or guides because they are earnest promoters of this unity, men who are not distinguished for unworldliness and sanctification. Of course they are men of repute, or they would have no weight at all. But as the apostle always gave himself as the model of what he taught, these recognised guides cannot lead souls beyond their own practical ways; and thus, unintentionally at times, worldliness is promoted.

The way to obviate the effects of this laxity is, by deed and ways, to insist on the only true testimony, namely, that the one united company of believers, the body of Christ, is called to maintain His name here. And His name cannot be maintained except as one walks in His Spirit, the greatest of bonds, but yet the one most easily disturbed. If I am in any way worldly and unsanctified, I am a hindrance to the unity in which each member of His body should be found here, in divine co-operation, to represent Him where He is not. Hence the great characteristics of the faithful company to the end are, "thou hast ... kept my word, and hast not denied my name". Let there be every encouragement for the Lord's people to be on the same ground, with a view to unity, for they are united; but let not laxity or grieving of the Spirit of God be sheltered under the plea of unity; that would be to make it an engine wherewith to destroy itself, and really to prevent the very thing which is proposed to be attained.

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There is nothing more generally admitted than that the right way to do anything is not as ready to hand as the wrong; that we do the wrong way very naturally, as it were, but that it requires education and experience to secure the right way in the most ordinary matters of life. Now if it be necessary for man's own things that the prudent should look well to his way, how much more must it be in things of God! We can never forget that the knowledge of good came in by doing evil. This has introduced into human society a priority of evil. It takes the lead. No doubt there is a good to overcome it, but the evil is first with man, and the nature of it is not discovered except as good is acquired. No one knows the nature of evil except as he knows good. In natural things man, according to his cultivation and ability, has sought to attain to a standard of his own. His ideal was what he called 'good', and hence as the ideal was increased, the contrary to it was refused. This is really human refinement founded on conscience and progress; it does not reach beyond man's conscience. Yet it discloses that evil is the dominant thing here, and that there is only progress as evil is overcome, even to the measure of man's sensibility; as when Adam and Eve were first aware that evil had not only overpowered them, but that they must be screened from the sense of it. A measure of good must be acquired. If it be admitted that evil is dominant, and that in everything there must be time, application, and sense, to secure an escape from it, how much more in the things of God, the goodness of which must be infinitely higher! Hence in every age arises the question, an anxious one to the man of God, "where shall wisdom be found?" The answer is, seek and acquire God's mind, and then you can determine what suits Him, but do not expect to reach or catch a glimpse of His mind by studying your own mind or sensibility. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways.

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In every renewed soul there is necessarily a desire to overcome the evil, and to find the good, and according as the knowledge of the good increases, so is it desired. The real spirit of the fall is man seeking for himself independently of God; whereas, when God is simply before the soul, when the centre and source of all good is before the heart, then only can real good be obtained for every one from the highest downwards. The only way, then, to find wisdom at any time, or on any question, is by beginning with God. Hence it is said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding", Proverbs 9:10. That is its beginning. It is a great thing to find the beginning. If I do not know the beginning, if that is not right, there must be a defect in the whole course. "That which is crooked cannot be made straight". When the nazarite failed, he had to begin all over again, he was not permitted to weld on a new bit. It is of the utmost importance that souls should be convinced that wisdom has no beginning but with God, and in the sense, too, of what is due to Him. If I have begun aright, I have always something to refer to and by which I correct my progress; for if I deviate from my beginning, or the great moral nature of it, it is no doubt a wandering. I have lost the light, and I must ascertain whether I am in keeping with my beginning.

Now having ascertained where wisdom begins, let us look at the examples in Scripture, how those who began with a just sense of God at the time were helped on, and how those who had another object failed and were confounded, whatever their zeal.

The way of Cain was adopted generally in christendom. Nothing commends itself more to the natural religionist than that he should obtain the favour of God because of his offerings which he has procured at much personal cost. This was not beginning with God. It was beginning with himself, and from his own mind devising what he considered would affect God in his behalf. He

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had not the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom. Abel found out wisdom. The fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, at once dictated to him what was just and right. He began with God. How could a man under the sentence of death appear before God except with an offering corresponding to the penalty, a victim not rightly chargeable with his offence bearing the judgment of it. The greater the confusion, and the greater the influence that surroundings exert, the more distinctly will the man of God seek Him apart from and above all that would usurp His place here.

Abram failed because of the force of circumstances; but when he was restored, and a strife ensued between his herdmen and Lot's herdmen, he was equal to the test, though it came in such an unexpected way. God was before him, and not the mere advantage of the moment. A very small thing tests whether one's eye is on God or on one's own interests. The water tested Gideon's army. They did not think it was a test, or that such important issues would be connected with the manner in which they drank of the water that Providence had vouchsafed. If the heart be not habitually turned to God, the way of wisdom is lost sight of; one is not under divine control for an ordinary event unless one is walking in the fear of the Lord. We must begin with God; this is the great thing to insist on, for when we do not, there cannot be a reaching up to God. True, one may begin again, but like the nazarite, all that went before goes for nothing. Abram had to return to the altar he had at the beginning (Genesis 13:3, 4).

In private life, and in the church, the point of departure is the same as Eve's in principle. Something influences me with regard to myself, and God is not simply before me. "Which ... putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face", Ezekiel 14:7. There will not be perplexity as to where wisdom shall be found if I have set the Lord always before me, because I find Him at my right hand. A believer habitually seeking

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his own interest cannot easily disentangle himself from the meshes of worldliness when a test comes, as we have seen in the case of Lot.

Barnabas had been wrongly influenced by Peter before Mark became the test between him and Paul, and he failed to see the path of wisdom; while Paul, who stood for the truth against Peter, had no difficulty to discover his true course, and he was, as we find, recommended by the brethren to the grace of God. A worldly saint, like Lot, or a man of natural softness, like Barnabas, may exclaim, "Where shall wisdom be found?" But they cannot find it, and the test is sure to come, to disclose the net in which they are taken.

See a man in personal difficulties like David at Ziklag. All seemed hopeless; everything was gone; even his friends spoke of stoning him. But he "encouraged himself in the Lord his God". That was his beginning, and soon he found out wisdom. In promoting the recovery of a half-dead Egyptian, he acquired a pioneer to effect the end desired. There is one thing very marked, the apparently insignificant events which lead to the right way. The test, as I have remarked, can only be seen or accepted by the man of faith. A man with his eye on God is a man of faith. How beautifully Moses corroborates this! What anguish there must have been in his heart when he learned of the sad apostasy of Israel! He was with God, and as he came from Him, he first, without any direction, considered for God. He pitched the tabernacle very far outside the camp, "and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp", Exodus 33:7. If I really fear God, my eye is upon Him, and I consider for Him first, and if I do so I am in the path of wisdom. Surely if I look at things the way God does, I must be in His wisdom. And this is not simply following by rote a passage of Scripture, or even the highest truth; but it is having His mind formed

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by the word, not enforcing it like a Pharisee or a legal advocate, to support a judgment of my own, but being so imbued with the mind of God that without any immediate text I am able, because I am under the power of God and His word, to decide at once for Him apart from misconception, as Moses did with respect to Israel's idolatry, or Paul with respect to Barnabas. The Pharisee relied on the text of the law to support his opposition to Christ. I must use the word to convince the gainsayers; but I expect, if I am walking with the Lord, and as taught by His word, to be able to act according to Him at any juncture, without being able to give a distinct text for what I do. I remark that those who determine and exact obedience only as a precept enjoins are more or less legal, and as is the case with all legalists, they allow themselves great latitude where there are not injunctions to the contrary. They are not really enjoying Christ's injunctions as those loving Him. They are merely satisfying a restless conscience, and are like the man who binds himself to give a tithe of his property to the Lord, in order that he may with an easy conscience spend the rest as he likes. The obedient man of this order never finds out wisdom, for he has made obedience a work, and not the way of light.

Finally, if I do not make God's interests here my interests, I cannot find wisdom; for surely His wisdom is connected with the present centre of His interests in the earth. Surely if God is simply and happily before my heart, I cannot but be interested in the sphere and scope of His interests here. It would be vain to assert that He was truly before the heart, and at the same time to be unmindful of what concerned Him primarily at my very door. Our Lord could say, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up". Surely the heart is away from God when His interests are not paramount. It is a moral impossibility for a soul to progress in divine things and privileges, and at the same time to overlook or be indifferent to the place or sphere of them here on earth.

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It would be like enjoying the gifts apart from the giver, or the mansion apart from the owner and his connection with it. Thus it was with the remnant of Israel who sought diligently their own blessings in the land, but sought them apart and disconnected from God and His house, the source of all blessing to them. They did not find wisdom until they began to build, and made God's interests first and paramount. In like manner in this day we see that those who are not alive to Christ's interests in the church are never able to find wisdom. They may be very useful and zealous, but as their heart is not where Christ's heart is, He cannot show them His way. It is remarkable that one might seek the conversion of souls, and their progress also, regarding them more as they are in themselves than as they are to Christ, as one might care for my family without consulting my interest for them. If we love Him we must love what is nearest to Him here, and then the word is verified to us, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me". Anna, who departed not from the temple, but served with fastings and prayers night and day, came in at the right moment to see the Lord, and gave thanks unto Him, and spake of Him unto all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. The widow who consecrated all her living for the temple was recognised and commended by Him above all the others who "of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God", Luke 21:4. If I am where His heart is, I must find out wisdom's ways. The Lord give us the devotedness that says, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried".

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The people of God in every age have been tried and worried by the enemy. All that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. The more faithfully any one maintains the testimony of God for the time, the more he will be opposed; but inasmuch as it is God's testimony, it can only be defended by His power. No one could deny that the blessed God would defend His own, yet oftentimes His people are as powerless in their attempts to do so as if God had forsaken them. As Gideon said in his day, "Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" Judges 6:13. There is a readiness in the truly zealous to assert that God has withdrawn His support when the enemy has done wickedly in the sanctuary, and is succeeding on every side; and as this is accepted, there is necessarily a hanging down of the hands and the cry, "O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!" and finally, "what wilt thou do unto thy great name?" There is an implied doubt as to God's power to preserve the testimony, and indirectly the impression is that the power is no longer available. There is therefore often a contentedness to go on in this state of reproach, like Israel in the days of Haggai, when they said, "The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built". They were contented to let the house of the Lord lie waste. Joshua and Gideon ascribe the cause of their weakness to the absence of God's help, as if He had ceased to be on the behalf of His people. They do not attach blame to themselves. They expostulate with the Lord as if He had left them uncared for, and they have to be told that the cause is entirely with themselves; in a word, that God's power is available if they are in a state to receive it. Light is sown for the righteous. There are two fundamental principles which

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we must always maintain: first, that the power of God is always at hand, but secondly, that it is only available to those who are in a state to receive it. How could God lend His power to support the wrong? On the other hand, His eyes are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; "Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken"; "the righteous Lord loveth righteousness".

There is, alas, evidence enough everywhere of the absence of power on behalf of the people of the Lord in this day. The Joshuas and the Gideons who do not see the church, supplicate and mourn before God as if He were to blame, and as if the Holy Spirit had departed like the cloud from the house of God. Prayer meetings and humiliation meetings are proposed as if God required to be entreated to support the name of Christ on the earth. The real cause of the suspension or abeyance of the Holy Spirit is that He cannot countenance those who are defiled; and hence what is required is not prayer -- calling upon God to help us -- but self-examination -- "great searchings of heart". The moment that there is a mistake or any departure from God's order, whether individually or in the assembly, then we should at once conclude that the lack is not at all on God's part, but that there is something on our side which hinders the Holy Spirit from supporting us.

It is the same in the individual. If I grieve the Spirit He will not help me until I have renounced and repented of the defilement which I have contracted. Christendom has imbibed the idea that the Holy Spirit is not here because there is no evidence of His presence and power. If we are not decidedly assured of the presence of the Holy Spirit we have lost faith in the plainest scripture. The Holy Spirit was sent here consequent on the departure of Christ. "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you". We must start, then, with the undeniable fact that the Holy Spirit is here, sent from the Father in

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Christ's name to comfort and support the saints here, and also sent by Christ, as He said, to "testify of me". The Holy Spirit being here for these two services, it is clear that if either of them is in any degree not fulfilled or in abeyance, we cannot ascribe the cause of the restriction or lack to the Holy Spirit. He cannot deny Himself. The cause, then, must be on our side, if we do not know His power and comfort in both services. The sun shines, and if I cannot avail myself of it the cause is in my eye and not in the sun. The believer who does not enjoy the Holy Spirit, sent of the Father in Christ's name, must evidently be at fault, and suffers unspeakable loss; and surely, when by his unbelief or unrighteousness he has been refused the cheer of the Holy Spirit in this blessed way, he must also be unfit to be helped by Him in His other service, namely, to "testify of me".

The question, then, which should arise whenever there is any withdrawal of His power and comfort is, How have I (or we) grieved or hindered the Spirit of God? The fault is not on His side, but on mine. I believe every mistake we make is to be attributed to our being out of communion. We have grieved the Spirit of God, and He will not help us, and often we are not conscious of His being in abeyance, (for He does not leave us) until, like Samson, we have no power to act on generally the very next occasion. Samson "wist not that the Lord was departed from him". He had been unrighteous; how could the Lord help him? The more distinctly we are in the path of faith, the more promptly and manifestly will He refuse to aid us when we err from it, in order to expose to us our declension and induce us to search out the cause of His reserve. Whether it be an individual believer or an assembly, assuredly it will be found that the more faithful they were, the more openly and painfully were they exposed when they lacked integrity of heart. We see Lot saved as by fire, but we see his daughters, who had married in Sodom, and his wife, who looked back, consumed. God is not a respecter of

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persons. He judges according to every man's work and "the way of the righteous is made plain". If one were walking in communion the snare would be detected at once. "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird". But if it is not detected before we are taken in it, the Lord leaves us to find out our own helplessness without Him. And in the interval, before we discover the root, Peter-like -- however the heart is drawn out or restored to the Lord, as his was -- we are out of communion; we are not in the current of His will. This is the most marked evidence of the Spirit's abeyance. Like Peter, there may be a curious mixture -- real confidence in Christ's love, and immense energy in work not according to His mind.

We do not sufficiently regard the rewarding openly. If I grieve the Spirit in secret by promoting, say, worldliness in my family, while seeking to get the credit of the opposite, surely the Lord will reward me openly. He will answer me according to the idol in my heart. (Ezekiel 14:4.) The more we accept unqualified dependence on the Lord, the more are we openly exposed if we depart from it. For instance, if a man undertakes to serve the Lord, counting upon Him for support, if there be simple faith he may have trying moments, yet he will have a blessed time. But if he wavers and looks to man, the Spirit will not help him and he will be exposed. If a man desires to be acknowledged as one prominent in service, while secretly indulging in any worldliness which if known would disparage him as a servant, his way will surely not be made plain, and there will be a lack of confidence, though possibly no one can say why. The Lord does not support him. Not only will one's sin find one out, but the darkness of soul, the intemperance of manner, the rashness, the lack of power in prayer and every ministry, is traceable to a grieving of the Spirit and a departure from communion which has never been judged. I know nothing that I am more assured of or that keeps me in more fear than the simple fact that if

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by any kind of levity I check the Spirit, generally in the very next act I shall betray myself; I am reaping what I had sown. It is to be noted that it is in the quality for which you have been most esteemed that you will fail most when out of communion. Moses speaks unadvisedly with his lips. David numbers the people. If I have a distinct gift of grace, in that very gift I shall fail most if I grieve the Spirit. If a man has any special or remarkable gift, in and by that will he be most exposed. Thus the man of faith may use his faith entirely and altogether for the world; and the man gifted to teach -- as has occurred, alas, hundreds of times -- may use his gift to the hindrance of the truth. Often we find a reputedly honest man baffled, and his way not plain, because God sees the latent defect, that with a great deal of open honesty there is not candour of heart. Perhaps there is nothing so hard as not to appear anything but what you are. If you do so to your advantage, you will some day be found out; but if to your disadvantage, there is no doubt that He who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins will one day vindicate you.

I have dwelt long and largely on the individual exercises and discipline, because I see there is no use proposing to an assembly to examine itself. The individual must do so. Joshua has to cast lots until at length man by man is taken. No believer is really better naturally than his brother; but the one who lives in continual self-judgment, and is afraid of the plague of his own heart, will be kept in righteousness; and he will see his way when others are tossed to and fro, and are as perverse, if not as staggering, as a drunken man. The man who sees his way walks out boldly and firmly on it. And the path of the just, or righteous, shineth more and more unto the perfect day. God stands by him also. "I have not seen the righteous forsaken". "The Lord stood with me", said the apostle at the close, when all forsook him; "the righteous are bold as a lion". The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and Satan is frustrated

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before the breastplate of righteousness. "So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth".


It is of the deepest interest to ascertain the cause of the defection from Paul of "all who are in Asia", where he had laboured much; for surely in turning away from him they had turned away from the truth which was specially communicated by him and identified with him. To Paul was committed the mystery; and though it was revealed to God's holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, yet to the apostle Paul this great truth was specially committed, as we see from Ephesians 3:7, 8. "Of which I am become minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me, according to the working of his power. To me, less than the least of all saints, has this grace been given, to announce among the nations the glad tidings of the unsearchable riches of the Christ". Accordingly we find Peter, in his second epistle, acknowledging the peculiar light given to Paul. "According as our beloved brother Paul also has written to you according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; among which some things are hard to be understood, which the untaught and ill-established wrest, as also the other scriptures, to their own destruction". The truth, then, that those in Asia had turned away from was the mystery. It has been alleged by some that you cannot be in a similar state to those in Asia unless you have previously received the truth of the mystery, and then, subsequently have turned away from it. Plainly it is more grievous when one turns away from the mystery after having received it, yet the one who would resolutely refuse to receive it would not be clear of the charge of turning away from it. No conscientious person would like to

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avow that he had turned away from a distinct truth; yet if he were opposed to it, he would turn away from the man who was identified with it in his ministry, because the teacher, according to his effectiveness, gives life and moral power to the doctrine which he inculcates. The mystery was the great truth with which Paul was identified. He himself calls it "my doctrine" in 2 Timothy 3:10 and it was from this that they had turned away. Now every one who has been taught this truth, and has turned away from it, or has refused to receive it, is in the state of those in Asia. The mystery is that the church is the body of Christ, and that He is "the head, the Christ: from whom the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to the working in its measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love", Ephesians 4:15, 16. "The head, from whom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God", Colossians 2:19. The nature of the relationship of all believers to Christ is "a great mystery", but it is respecting Christ and the church (Ephesians. 5:32). But without going into the profound blessedness of this relationship, the simple fact that the church is the body of Christ entails a dissociation from things on earth because of an association with Christ in heaven. If the church be Christ's body, it is impossible that it could have a locality assigned to it different from the Lord's own place. He is at God's right hand in the heavenly places; hence, necessarily in keeping with the grace which has made the saints now the body of Christ, we are all raised up together, and made to sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. The moment I accept the mystery, then I must admit that Christ's body could not have a different place from Himself. It is true that His body is on the earth to maintain His name where He is not, but the earth is not its place. Its place and hopes are in heaven, and all its support is from heaven by the Holy Spirit sent down

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from heaven. Many a one receives the truth of the church verbally, and even sees that there is no true way for the Lord's people now but meeting together as members of one body; but a truth is often honestly accepted when the responsibility and duties connected with it are not at all apprehended. Who enters into the grave nature of the bond which binds together the several members into one body? And if any one, in any measure, enters into it by faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he sees at one and the same moment, not only that he is under the greatest bond to all believers here, which he must most carefully respect as supreme to all others, but that heaven is his place too, though he is still on the earth. He feels displaced here, not because he was refused a place here, but by an assured sense of right to an entirely new and different place; and as this is seen, he honestly disconnects himself from a place no longer his, in order that he may extend his interest, and acquire the advantages which belong to his true place. I believe the one unmistakable mark of the believer who sees the mystery is that he sets his mind on things above, not on things on the earth, and that when any one is earthly, however great his knowledge of the church may be in theory, he has not by the Spirit of God grasped in his soul the church in its relationship to Christ. And as heavenly citizenship marks the genuine disciple, so does clinging to earth and advocating it (the earth, not so much the world), mark those who have not the light about the church which they at one time professed to have received. It will be found almost invariably that those who oppose the present heavenly position of the church are those who have got on in the world since they were called of God and enlightened as to their true church ground, or those who have never broken with their worldly associations; for there is no holding it in power, except by continual surrender. They, like those in Asia, accepted the truth of the church as to the mere order of assembling together and the like, but when it came to be

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insisted on, in a time of general declension and more open hostility of the enemy, that the heavenly places were the only true home of the church, that it had neither a title to earth nor a place on earth, then those who had their interests on earth would not surrender them, but lapsed into an earthly people, a state which characterised the Corinthians, as it does christendom in this day. Every christian retires in some degree from the grosser world, and some retire almost absolutely from the world as to its positions and pursuits, and yet they are quite earthly. One must be earthly if he is not heavenly. If he is heavenly, it is not that he despises the earth, but simply that he resigns it as not his place; and not with regrets, because he knows he has and enjoys an infinitely better place, even heaven. The man who holds the mystery in power is sensible of his great duty here in relation to the members of Christ's body, and he cheerfully surrenders everything which would bind him to earth, because of his place in heaven, and also because the more free he is from the earth, and the more heavenly he is, the better he can help the church.

There is another great effect from the knowledge of the mystery. The apostle's great desire for the Colossians was that they might comprehend the mystery. They were exemplary for their faith in Christ Jesus, and love to all the saints; but he saw that they would not be preserved from religiousness -- the effort to have sanctity in the flesh, which has eventuated in the spurious sanctity of Romanism -- unless they understood the mystery in divine power. It requires very little discernment to detect the buddings of this effort in those who, though settled in the blessed effects of the gospel, have not yet learned the ministry of the church. All perfectionism is traceable to this snare. Broadly, baptism, both by the ritualist and the avowed dissenter, is regarded as affecting the state of the recipient. That it is an ordinance of great importance I need not add, but its meaning is with relation to the place where it sets the recipient, and not as to its effect on

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him. I only adduce this as an example, because I bring to the same religious sentiment those who differ most widely as to the proper recipients of baptism. The ritualist would have every one in the parish, young and old, baptised. The dissenter would baptise only those who had made a true confession. One believes baptism is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; the other, that you are to be buried and raised in figure because you already are so in fact. Their doctrine is one and the same, and their thought is to impart some sanctity to the mere man. I desire to point out that unless the mystery be known there is no safeguard from the snare of religiousness, and that one is taken in it in the most unexpected way, one in his singing, another in his praying, or joining in prayer, while another considers that addressing the natural feelings is right and proper.

Occupation with, or the formal observance of, religious appearance, sanctimonious manner, and so on, are all from one and the selfsame root. If the mystery be understood, Christ is everything. His Spirit may affect my body as He pleases. I speak, or I sing, or I weep, as He leads, but when I seek to make myself an expression of sanctity, it is will-worship, from which the knowledge of the mystery alone can save me. While a soul is learning the ministry of the gospel, it is not exposed to the snare of religiousness; that is, supposing that the simple gospel of God has been presented to it. It is after it has found rest in Christ's finished work that it is exposed to the snare of religiousness, from which only the knowledge of the mystery can preserve it.

Surely we can see how great the inducement was to those in Asia to turn away from Paul. The very same prevails in this day. The man who seeks to acquire or enjoy on earth must find the mystery very unsuited to him. When he refuses to surrender -- and the gain now is in proportion to the surrender -- according as he has conscience, he relieves it by religiousness, the fervent activities of the natural feelings in one form or another;

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so that at times Christ Himself is addressed and approached in human affection, and not in the love of the Spirit, at once so deep, so absorbing, as to exceed and distance the warmest conceptions of the natural heart. If you will not surrender, and will be religious, you must turn away from Paul, like those in Asia. Alas for those who do so, and still more for those who lead them into -- as the ten spies thought -- an easier path! Alas, they had erred greatly, and swift destruction came upon them. "The men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord", Numbers 14:36, 37.


No one can be truly right in service who does not understand the interests of his Lord. If a servant does as the Lord has directed him, he is working according to His mind, even though the servant may not know it himself. It is, however, a great loss to the servant not to know his master's interests, because if he does not, he is ever liable to be drawn away from the direct call to service which he has received, and he becomes influenced by the need of man, or by his own feelings in various ways.

The great truth after that of being sealed by the Spirit of God is the construction of the church. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body". The one who enjoys the Spirit of adoption has, even though ignorant, an undefined sense of belonging to a company -- that he is not an isolated unit. In Israel there was a national tie, and this gave each a common right or interest which was damaged or advanced by the conduct of any; but there was no spiritual tie which, like the nervous system in the human body, is instantly affected over the whole frame, however distant one part may be

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from the part where the sensation originated. "If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it". There is individual blessing first, conversion and sealing, but there is no true or intelligent service until one understands one's relationship to Christ and His people. If a believer is only one of a company to whom special rights and privileges are committed, he loses if he in any way forfeits them; and he can mar the honour of any band of them if he is associated with them in any special service, as in the case of Achan at Jericho; but then the damage or gain is external, affecting their natural position, and not spiritual, affecting their moral state. When I apprehend the greatness and sensibility of the bond by which we are all united together, every one sealed by the Holy Spirit, then, the more I walk in the Spirit, the more I shall be conscious, even though I may not be able to ascertain the cause of it, how I am affected by that which affects the Spirit of God. For I am not only bound by Him to every member in this bond, but I have also drunk of Him myself. As I know that if one member suffers, all suffer with it, I seek, as my heart truly desires to help the church, that it should not suffer by me, nor indeed any one else. I am jealous over it with a godly jealousy, that I may present it a chaste virgin to Christ. This enjoins separation from every kind of evil, everything that would grieve the Spirit or hinder Him. Under this head all contact with the unclean, and all association with that which defiles, is of necessity placed. No one can help the church while he is connected with anything unholy, even in association. Unless I am personally separate, I cannot have the cheering sense of my Father's favour and care. "Wherefore come out from the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord, and touch not what is unclean, and I will receive you; and I will be to you for a Father, and ye shall be to me for sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty". And if I have not done so, how could I help the church?

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On the contrary, the church suffers on my account. But it is not enough, in order to help the church, that it does not suffer, or that it should be preserved from suffering; though were it so, there would be undisturbed health, which would conduce to its edifying itself in love. Each member can promote positive help to the church, which in a day of feebleness and dislocation is very encouraging, "If one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it"; one solitary unit following the Lord faithfully, and receiving honour of God -- "if any man serve me, him will my Father honour" -- this member is the means of contributing cheer to the whole body. Thus we might say that there are two classes who help the church, one who does not cause it to suffer, the other who really contributes to it.

Let us now see how the latter must act in order to effect this help. While this service is open to any solitary unit, the advantage gained by such an one is not confined to himself, but is contributed to the whole body. Every act or step of individual devotedness helps the church. Hence the one who seeks to help it must not confine his service to the ministry of the truth, but must be a model in himself of the doctrine which he advocates. If the word is not of faith in power, there is not a fresh energy of the Spirit. It is this fresh energy of the Spirit which glorifies the unit, and thus obtains cheer for the whole body. It is not only faithfulness at the beginning, but an unbroken course of faithfulness and surrender. Possibly nothing has so hindered blessing as a great start. The tendency of it has been to lead the person to rest in what he had done, and whenever one refers to what he had done, it is very evident that he is not in the same energy now. The man who helps the church must be like Caleb after forty-five years. "And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore

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and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fenced; if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said. And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel", Joshua 14:10 - 14.

Where there is real help there is no resting on former devotedness or conquests. David had indeed waxed faint when one of the sons of the giant, being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain him (2 Samuel 21:15 - 17). The man who would help the church must extend to preserve. Each day there must be greater faithfulness, and fresh victory by the Spirit, if real help would be rendered. The Lord alone can measure and estimate any devotedness to Him, and He assigns manifold more in this present time for every surrender in faithfulness to Him. Every true surrender is a fresh energy of the Spirit, and this imparts vigour to all. Sometimes, as I have remarked above, very earnest souls have not advanced as they gave promise at the beginning, and thus have not been the help they were at first, because they have limited their devotedness to the surrender of the world. Now the world is generally regarded as the sphere for man's distinction, and it is thought that if he has retired from it at every point, and neither has nor seeks any status there, he has reached the greatest of surrenders. Of course, to a man possessing or able to acquire any position among his fellows, it is no small power which enables him to surrender it at every point -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Naturally the man who has most seeks more, and we cannot

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estimate how much it costs a man of even ordinary ambition to surrender his prospects. Very often, especially with the young and ardent, it is not the difficulty or the labour to attain that is before the eager mind, but the prize itself. Doubtless every surrender which is the effect of the Spirit's power in me helps the church. "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do", the apostle could say, "and the God of peace shall be with you". When the surrender ceases, the fresh energy of the Spirit ceases. I have observed that where there had been a very remarkable surrender of position in the world, there was still a cleaving to the comforts of life, which not only hindered the progress of the person, but he was no help to the church. The mere ordinary comforts of those in a good position are very often the coveted treasure of those in low life; and while there is decided help to all in the first surrender, there is not a continuance of it unless there be a renouncing of the comforts of life, as well as one's position in the world. Abram, when he went into service in Genesis 14, surrendered all that his wealth had surrounded him with. He put his life in his hand, and went out by night. To help the church fully there must be abnegation; there must not only be a continued surrender, but the abnegation in one's own circumstances of that which might awaken a covetous desire in another. We were "an ensample unto you to follow us", said Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, when correcting idlers working not at all. Any one can test what I say by a little observation as to how far he himself, or others, leads on souls. I cannot own anything to be a help which does not lead one on in the way of the Lord. If I am getting on in the world, or seeking to do so, my influence over souls must be to lead them in the same course. Accordingly, as I am turning my back on the world, I am influencing them to their advantage. If comfort here be my study, I am like Israel in the wilderness, not exactly worldly, but longing after the pleasant

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things of Egypt; and wherein I indulge myself I fail to help the church. Thus many a one who had helped the church by surrendering his position, as Jonathan in his first devotedness to David, has not continued to help the church because he could not abnegate the ease and comforts of private life. He could not, like Ruth, follow the Lord unto death.

Now while devotedness continues increasing, every believer can help the church. There is also a more special way, though not a more effective one. It is by ministry in the word. The believer who has Christ as his one object, whatever be the nature of his gift, helps the church. If he be an evangelist, he has been sent by Christ, and as he works for Him he edifies the body. He searches everywhere for souls to add to the church which is Christ's body. An evangelist does not help the church if he does not know what it is to Christ. Hence in Ephesians 4 the gifts are not spoken of until after the church, as it is set by the grace and gift of God, has been unfolded. Possibly there has been no greater check and hindrance to the church as Christ's body, than the evangelist who, knowing nothing of Christ's circle of interest, uses his gift simply for rescuing souls from judgment, but knows nothing of present relationship to Christ. It may be said, Is it not a blessing that they are converted, at any rate? Surely, but why should the work be spoiled, or the heart of Christ unanswered to, by the darkness in which it has been done? The work bears the mark of the workman. It is easier to prove a positive in Scripture, and anything that departs from the right must be imperfect and entailing loss. It is plain that if the evangelist knows the one object of Christ's interest here, he works at his calling to promote it, and thus he must help the church. The evangelist who reduces his work to merely rescuing souls from judgment, makes this service according to his zeal the one great aim of his life, and endeavours to interest everyone in this service. All energy and means are devoted to gospel work. There is a new centre of

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interest, the more pernicious because, while avowedly for the Lord and supported by His own gifts, it sets up, though often unintentionally, a rival to supersede the circle of interest most dear to Himself. Thus we find, in this day, that the evangelicals are, as a rule, contented with their work, and in heart uninterested in the church; and hence when anything of a church question arises among them in any form, they never can see it as Christ sees it. They can see nothing except as it affects their own special work, and without any intention they are as ignorant of what the church really is, and as dissociated in heart from it, as the two and a half tribes were from the land, though professedly supporting those really determined to settle there. Their professions and their advocacy while their heart is elsewhere, cause a moral breach which cannot be repaired, and the church is not helped but hindered. If Christ's one circle of interest on earth is not mine, I cannot help it, and if not helping, I am not helped. The Lord give us to lay these things to heart.


With any great or central truth, such as the mystery, Christ and the church, a light must be acquired which could not be so in any other way. Every truth has its own light and special practical effect. Many a one aims at a practice to which he does not attain, because the truth, and the power of it, which could guide and help him into it, is not in his heart. In the same way one betrays his ignorance of a truth when he acts in contravention of it. At all events the truth is not really there, or the conscience would have been soiled by a distinct departure from it. Now there is a manifold light connected with the mystery which cannot be acquired in any other way but by the knowledge of it.

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If I do not comprehend the mystery, I cannot understand the corporate position of the saints now on the earth. If I do not see that the church is the body of Christ -- that He is "the head, from whom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God" (Colossians 2:19) -- I do not see, and cannot act up to, the true and divine relationship which subsists between one and the other members of His body. If I grasp in faith this great truth, I can never assume an isolated position. I am never a unit again. I am a member of the body of Christ. I can never detach myself from this great structure. True, I may be gifted of the Lord, and called to act in my individual responsibility, but this is never antagonistic to my corporate position; on the contrary, as it is by the direction of the Head, it must be for the help and benefit of His body, the church. This, however, refers peculiarly to service; but ordinarily I can never see a step good for myself that is not equally good for every believer who has not taken it. If I judge that I should take an isolated position, then I do not understand the mystery, for each believer should take it also, and my teaching and my example, to be effective, should conduce to this. I might rightly be alone in taking a step which had been disregarded and unseen by the saints, but it cannot be one which would place me in an entirely new position. To adopt a course neglected or forgotten would be of the Lord; and if through divine grace I have been led to see it, and I take it, it is to be like one sheep crossing over a fence, only to encourage all the rest. The true servant can always say we are "an ensample unto you to follow us". It is impossible for one who is under the power of the truth of the mystery to say that while separation becomes him, so absolute that he can have no fellowship at the Lord's table with any one in the place, yet he can still have meetings with them for edification and the like. If I

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consider my brethren so defiled that I must stand apart from them in calling to mind the death of my Lord, how can I be on terms of intimacy and communion with them in service? Certainly not if I consider that they are members of the same body as myself, for what is defiling to me is defiling to them, and I must refuse to go to them, though ready to receive all who would come to me. For a man to separate from a company of christians, and yet be found, by sufferance or acceptance, their accepted teacher, is the worst form of church laxity. For it is evident that if the company which holds the truth and is on right ground connives at error, or allies itself with that which is morally unsound, it is more to be avoided, and more to be separated from, than a system with no light and no assertion of being on the right ground. The most dangerous falsity is that which comes nearest to the truth, because it deceives by its approximation to the truth. Better not to have known the way of righteousness than to deviate from it. The ten unfaithful spies were more to be dreaded and avoided than any other in Israel.

If I understand the mystery, and if I have been connected with a company of christians who professed to see the truth of the church in its relationship to Christ, and if they would ally themselves with others who would compromise the testimony, and defile them, and thus hinder the Spirit of God, I should, after long and patiently expostulating with them, retire and stand alone, and look for the grace which had led me into a solitary place to lead them. But I could not, as understanding the nature of the bond which subsisted between me and them, return to them in any way except to give each of them separately help to renounce his defiled position, so morally bad and grieving to the Spirit that I could not stay there. And therefore the more I care for them, and apprehend the holiness and sensibility of the bond of the Holy Spirit, the more I must insist on total and absolute separation. It is incongruous, it is unholy,

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if I separate myself from a leprous house, at the same time to offer or attempt to promote the health of the inmates who remain in it. In so doing I take care of my own conscience by separating, but I foster laxity and indifference to evil, because I do not see that what is good and necessary for myself as one member, is so for every member. I act like one of a nation like Joshua, and not as one of a body like Paul. Joshua can return into the small circle of his own family when he loses hope in Israel. Paul never separates himself from the church, and he counts on God's faithfulness to the last, that the body of Christ will be maintained on earth till He come.


This cannot be apprehended if the mystery be not known. It is on this account that the apostle was so exercised about the Colossians. They were in danger of being carried away by a system of religion which addressed both mind and body, and the apostle knew that only the truth of the mystery could save them from the snare. They had learned the gospel. They had faith in Christ Jesus, and love toward all the saints, but yet they were in danger, and to preserve them from this danger he presses on them the truth of the mystery, because when it is really known, it enlightens the heart as to the nature of our relationship to Christ. He is the Head of the body, and as I understand it, though only a member, I am complete in Him, and I participate in all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If I have any sense of the magnitude of this relationship, I could not have any standard lower than Christ Himself. If I do not understand the nature of this relationship, I am exposed to the snare of making something religiously of myself, but when I know I am a member of the body of Christ, it is plain that His body could have no lower standard for walk and practice than Himself.

In Colossians 3 we see how the practice begins. It first leads up to where He is, and then insists on everything

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here being abandoned for Him, for Christ is everything and in all, and everything is to be done in His name. That is easy and simply consistent when I know the mystery, but only an imaginary desire or an effort when I do not know it. In Ephesians, consequent on the same truth, and as having experienced the power which is to usward who believe, from the first circle, the unity of the Spirit, down to the smallest domestic duty, everything is to be done in His grace and by His power.


Next, if I comprehend the mystery, I must see that though the church, the body of Christ, is on the earth, yet it can have no other place but the place where Christ is. There is no truth more resisted or questioned, even by the more conscientious and intelligent, than that the place of the saints now is in heaven. They argue, and justly, 'How can we be in heaven and on earth at the same time?' Any who argue after this manner evidently do not see the mystery. How could Christ and His body have in reality two different places? Admit the truth that His body's place is in heaven, and then we can see how it has been sent by Him to maintain His name, or His testimony, here on the earth. It is impossible to accept that the church is in the closest alliance to Christ, and not to see that though it can be absent from His place, as one set on a mission -- as indeed it is, yet that it cannot own or belong to any other place but the place where He is, and as He is, in heaven. When any one intelligently sees the mystery, he acknowledges that heaven is the church's present place, and from it come all its proper joys, though it be here for a season to do its Lord's will. In a word, I know no simpler test of one's knowledge of the mystery than this: is the church heavenly or earthly? The Lord Himself was on the earth and worked at a trade here, but He was always heavenly; and be assured you do

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not see the nature of the relationship subsisting between Christ and the church, if you do not see that His place is its place, though for a season it is here to testify of Him.


The peculiar nature of the testimony of this present time cannot be understood or grasped if one does not see the calling of the church. True, Peter, James, and Jude, do not speak of the mystery; but they, writing to Jews, insist on the new course of things, and the practical life consequent on their new calling. Paul adds to this what the calling is, and John sets forth the divine character of the saint now. John insists on "the name" as the sum and substance of the testimony as much as Paul; the one, that all our gain is derived from "the name"; the other, that all our acting for Him must be in His name. Now the more I comprehend the magnitude of this calling, the more I see that no single person could accomplish it. He could surely act his part efficiently, but then it would be only a part; and hence the more interested I am in this great testimony, the more zealous I am that I should have the co-operation of all saints in it; because the more the members are acting according to their specific qualifications, the better will His name be maintained here on earth. Only His body could truly in any degree effectively set forth His name here. If I understand the mystery, I see how only it can be done, and the more I see it, the less I shall like or tolerate isolation.


Lastly, now, as to our future. If I do not see the mystery, I cannot recognise the position the church will hold with regard to Christ hereafter. As the church is His body now, so will it ever retain, but in a perfect way, this relationship to Him. "The fulness of him who fills all in all", Ephesians 1:23. We see and know, alas,

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how inadequately the church now performs its great mission, and sets forth Christ in the scene where He has been refused. But in the future, to endless ages, when she comes down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband, she shall set forth His glory in perfection of beauty and without diminution, herself all glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, ever united to Him, and holding thus a position pre-eminently greater than any of the other saints. While all are of one, so that He is not ashamed to call them brethren, only the church is united to Him, and connected with Him as His body for ever and ever.


There is only one right way, though there may be many modifications of it. Unless this be admitted, christianity in itself has not been truly accepted. A perfectly divine path from the infant's weakest hour up to the strength of manhood, and in service to God fully on this earth, was traced out by the Son of God, the perfect Man. He was always right, and no one is right now who does not follow in the spirit of His steps. To open this out, and to expose the varied ways by which the man of God may be diverted from the path, is the object of this paper.

What especially marked our blessed Lord, who was always right, was that God was with Him, and He could say, "Thou hearest me always". "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him". One great mark is always attached to the one fully right, even this, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world". God was always with Christ. He "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him". The other mark is the assured sense of having the ear of God. His eyes "are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers". The one who is right is sure to have

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these two marks. One is more visible, the other is exclusively for the comfort of his own heart.

Now in order to be right, one must follow the Lord, one must walk here as He walked. He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. This is the first thing; for I conclude that every one would agree that no one could be right unless he was following the Lord. But as every one at all conscientious seeks to do so and considers that he is truly following the Lord, though inadequately, it is necessary to expose the various ways by which even the true-hearted are diverted from the right way.

Our blessed Lord had but one thought before Him in everything; indeed only He could say, "I do always those things that please him". He had no one before His mind but God. He considered only for Him in everything. Thus man could not be overlooked, because He was here to commend the love of God. This would have a peculiar effect on us, and a much greater one than is supposed; and if it were more simply and continually before our mind, it would influence us in a way quite unexpected and unforeseen.

The great thing then, in order to determine who is right, is to ascertain whether such an one is in his course considering for God only. Is he really walking in the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ? Whenever he fails in this he is not right, and he has neither of the marks, neither the visible nor the invisible. With man naturally, himself must be uppermost, for that is the characteristic of the fall. Hence it is only as you are kept by the strong hand of God and the power of His Spirit that you could make God the first and only object of consideration. If God be simply before me, I cannot neglect any duty to which He has appointed me. If I am considering only for God in everything, I must be in the path of Christ on earth, for from this He never diverged. Now no man can consider for God only, in a scene where everything distracts him and warps his judgment, except as he is

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walking by faith through the power of the Spirit. It is only faith that overcomes the world, and "who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" I cannot consider for God except as I am walking by faith. A man who has not faith as to the small things of daily life, proportionately has not faith as to anything. Faith is a power which is available in one thing as well as in another. There may be a doubt as to the place and duty God has called me to, and then I may lack faith; but I could not be consciously in the way to which God had called me, and then doubt Him, if I had faith at all as a practical power. It is clear that the only right way cannot be found or retained but as God is simply before me. If He be so, I am walking in dependence upon Him. Whenever I deviate from faith, which is seeing Him who is invisible, I am declining from the right way. Going to law for my legal right is an evidence that I have not faith, and do not consider for Him only! Abel was right, because he considered simply and distinctly for God, and what was due to Him. Cain was extremely zealous and hardworking to attain a good position, but he did not consider for God; he did not begin there, for that would have been faith. God testified of Abel's gifts; he had the marks of being right. God heard him, and in a distinct way declared his acceptance. The great thing is, from whence does the action spring, and to whom does it refer in its origin? Enoch walked with God; his course here was directed by God. It was not seeking God's countenance on his course, but identifying himself with God; and hence he looked upon everything here as it was in the eye of God. He could foresee, "The Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment", etc. He was in the right way; he had the ear of God, and God was with him; and "he was not; for God took him". The more we study the course of men of God, as recorded in the Scriptures, the more we see that as God was simply the object before the heart, they were right;

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and they had the marks of being right. Abram went out not knowing whither he went; he was happy and helped of God. But when the famine in the land influenced him, and he went down into Egypt, all that he had previously gained in the land was lost, for when he returned he went to the place where his tent had been at the beginning. It might be pleaded that it was very excusable for a man to abandon a place where there was imminent danger to himself and his family; but nothing, however necessary, can determine the right way for the man of God but God Himself. "If ... thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light". When Abram afterwards was in the path of faith, how distinctly the Lord confirmed to him that he was in the right. We read that after Lot was separated from him, the Lord said unto 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". Thus he was confirmed in the right way. Lot had much to present to his followers to assure them that he was in the right way; but you will remark that he could only point to what was for their immediate advantage. In the same way, in chapter 14, though in quite a different scene, as to the results of the victory gained by Abram, Lot apparently was the one most favoured. He was not only rescued, but his property was recovered; and to the natural eye he appears to be the one specially if not entirely considered for. But to Abram there was granted one unparalleled favour, and one which distinctly assured him that he was in the right way. Melchisedec, God's messenger, cheers and blesses him. One can hardly conceive the cheer and confirmation Abram received from God on each of these occasions. In the one the

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scope of his blessing was unfolded to him; in the other the Lord unfolds Himself in blessing; each, I suppose, characteristic of the nature of the devotedness in Abram's act.

It is very encouraging to see from the word that if I am in the right way, God will assure my heart by a favour distinctly from Himself, giving me a greater unfolding of His truth, and enlarging my soul in the blessedness of Himself. I shall have more light and truth, and every spiritual person can observe these marks because they are peculiarly and essentially of God, and they themselves are helped thereby. Moses was opposed and condemned by his own brother and sister, but as he was right, God not only vindicated him, but in answer to his prayer restored Miriam. It is helpful to the godly soul to ponder thus the manner of God's dealings. There may be an apparent ground for censure, but if the censure is only to lower me, and afford my accusers an opportunity of exalting themselves, as it was with Aaron and Miriam, the Lord is sure to appear for me in some signal way visibly affecting my opposers, and in His grace using me for their relief.

Again, when Israel had sunk to idolatry, Moses comes forth for God; he considers for Him, places the tabernacle very far outside the camp, and by faithfulness secures blessing for those whose course he so distinctly repudiated. The people were plagued; Moses was the intercessor, and he was heard on their behalf; and he himself was favoured with such a sight of the glory that his face shone.

In this meditation, there is one thing which is very distinctly impressed upon us: even that the one outwardly favoured and accredited is not the one who is right, while the one who is right, like David in Saul's time, gets no public place. Yet in private, as in Adullam's cave, he has both prophet and priest there, and eventually all the mighty men. What a gracious and happy assurance to the heart of David in all the opposition which

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pursued him on every side, that he was right! God was with him, and he had the ear of God.

In times of profession, as in Israel, and much more now in christendom, it is of great moment to know who is right and what is right. If there were only christendom and judaism or heathendom to decide between, it would be easy enough, but when there is the profession of the same truth by the many it becomes a very serious question who is right. In the conflict between Paul and Barnabas, every one swayed by natural feeling would assuredly have sided with Barnabas. Paul considered only for the Lord, and all the spiritual supported him; and in the very next verses we read that he was given a very remarkable help for the work in the person of Timothy.

What a solitary and singular path was our blessed Lord's! He considered for God in everything, and thus He, and He only, fully and effectually served man.

The defect in those who desire to be right in the present day is that it is not simply for the Lord they are considering. Generally it is something of especial usefulness which determines their course, and not the Lord simply; and while the Lord blesses every true service, He cannot support, as He did Abraham, with increased light and blessing, any but those who are in the path simply and wholly for Him. Like Caleb in another day, one may have to contend against great odds, but as he acted in faith for God, he was right; and God in a very marked way assured his own heart, even if others were not convinced. He was not only promised Hebron, but when the plague slew his colleagues, he and Joshua were preserved.

The apostle says, "I ... will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power". This was the way that he would determine whether God was with them. Now there is often with those who are not walking by faith, and not simply considering for God, a great effort to convince others that God in a special way countenances them. Results are largely paraded, as with James,

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when he said, "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law", Acts 21:20. This influenced Paul; he had put himself in a position to be influenced, and we find that he had none of the special interference of God on his behalf in Jerusalem that was vouchsafed to him at Philippi; yet, his heart being right, the Lord came to him in the hour of suffering to cheer him, but this was not because of what he did at Jerusalem, but because of his faithfulness before he came there.

It is most encouraging that if, like the children of the captivity in Babylon, I am set for God here, He will give me an open door -- a door open to faith. It is not one that every natural eye can see, but according as it is to God I am looking, He sheds the light of His own eye on the path for me. I am assured by Himself that I am right, and He enables me by His light to help His own and even my opposers, as Abraham did Lot, or Moses Miriam; and thus to work conviction in them that there is a right path, and that I am in it, for God is with me and I have His ear.


The Apostle Paul constantly gives himself as the model of the truth which he inculcates. "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:9), is the language of a true ensample to the flock. To be an ensample is not confined to a gifted teacher, but it refers to every one interested in the welfare of the people of God. All who, from love to the Lord, addict themselves to the ministry of the saints are required to be ensamples, or types, in order that their services may be effectual. The guide or type must be in advance of those whom he desires to lead, otherwise there is no value or advantage in the leading, for there is no true leading. In this world of misery the greatest

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among you is he that serveth, but I cannot serve when I am practically contrary to what I advocate.

It is important to see that it is only as one is brought practically under the power of the word that one can insist on its reality. Thus the unbelieving husband can be won by the effect of the word on his wife, without the word. How else can its reality be proved? It is quite different from angelic ministry. The angels delivered a message which related to man, another and different class of being to themselves. The guide or type now is of identically the same order; and hence if he does not represent the truth he avows and desires others to accept and maintain, he would not only fail in being a type of it, but he would contradict it. He would convey this the more vigorously he advocates it, that it is not effectual, simply because it has not an effect on himself.

Let us admit our responsibility. We are called to be lights in this world, holding forth the word of life. This is general, but the moment we, by act or word, take any place of prominence, most blessed when in true interest for the well-being of the flock, it is ineffectual or worse if not supported, and our title to it assured, by moral weight. By moral weight I mean the effect of the word of God on me, and how I am governed by it. If it does not govern myself, who avow that I have accepted it, how can I expect it to sway those whom I desire to accept it?

The real thing which constitutes a leader or type is that he is more practically under the power of the word than the rest. If this be wanting in a guide, then he is not a type or ensample, and he has assumed a position which misrepresents the truth, and those who attach themselves to him declare very plainly that he is the type they value; like priest like people. Alas, very often the congregation too plainly indicate the character of their chosen guides, but then the guides suit them naturally. There are the guides or leaders for the most part in all the denominations. Once you know the leader, you can describe the tenets and general practice of his followers.

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There is this tendency everywhere. But when the Lord is working, He raises up here and there guides who are types or ensamples, men so under the power of the word of God that their manner of life is the real corroboration of the truth which they advocate, and who can really say practically to their brethren around them, "As I do, so shall ye do". In 2 Timothy 3, Paul adds to his "doctrine" his "manner of life". As I have said, to be a guide, a man should be morally in advance. The man of the greatest surrender in the company, and the one most ready to suffer for his brethren is the leader, or ensample, in the true sense of the word.

It is interesting to notice how one can become a type or example. The only way is, that the least shall be greatest. Many have sought it in other ways, and consequently have failed. Some, like Ananias and Sapphira, have sought prominence by untrue representations of their sacrifices for the Lord. Others again, like Simon, hoped to obtain it by paying for it. These in their varied modifications are the springs of all the natural leaders in christendom. The one who can bear to be reduced most, to be the servant of all, is the real type, and this man will not be accepted and followed by any who have no taste for the heavenly path. How did the apostle when he suffered from the false guides in his day confound and supersede them? By showing that he suffered in every way more than they had done. It is the very opposite way in christendom. The more a man advances among men, and the more approved he is because of his natural gifts, the more he is placed in the front, for honour, not for suffering. The leader can never lead beyond himself. A man may press his idea very vigorously, but in his own mind he is not beyond it, and he cannot lead any one beyond it. Hence the leader according to God is only so in proportion to his separation from the world which suits man, while seeking and cultivating what suits God according to His word. The body is not light unless there be no dark part (see Luke 11). If there be a dark part,

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it is a refracting medium to the fullest truth, most fervently received, at once baulking and diverting it, as when Isaac, because he loved venison, would have diverted the blessing from Jacob to Esau. Hence the apostle says in 1 Corinthians 13, that though he had everything, and had not charity -- self-government according to Christ, it would profit him nothing. It is only thus that one is "as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light". No one can really be a type or ensample in this scene of darkness, but as he is a body of light. The great evidence or proof of grace is that it has mastered me, and has routed the dark part, the particular hold or citadel of my nature, where my idol is; and if that has not been conquered, and its place occupied by the stronger man, there is a lack of moral weight about me. I am not governed by grace where I most need it; how then can I guide others when I am not ruled myself?

Here Noah betrayed his inability to rule others, when he was overcome by wine. If I am strong in the Lord, I can say, "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any". The way leaders or guides are tolerated and followed while marked by some glaring inconsistency only declares the sort of leader that suits their followers. The terrible anomaly is that men are recognised as leaders because of natural power, and hence truly they are the type of those who follow them, but are not guides according to God. It is easy to discover the lack in a congregation or company by acquaintance with those who lead them. In critical times especially, great responsibility rests on those who assume to lead. See how Timothy was exhorted to be an example. "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine". And Titus, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity,

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sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you" (chapter 2: 7, 8).

Some will ask what is to be done when saints are led wrongly. How can you prevent it, or how can you help them? The answer is plain. The man of real self-sacrifice, like David's mighty men, will come to the rescue; or the solitary one, like Moses, who confides in God, will arrest the apostasy; or, like Phinehas, a priest with a javelin, zealous for his God, will stay the plague. No man can really help the church in a day of difficulty who is not a man of self-sacrifice and abnegation of the world. A man who cannot refuse the king's meat when within his reach will never be able to face the burning fiery furnace. It is simply impossible for the man advancing in the world, or retaining his status in it, to be an ensample to the flock. Is it not plain that if he be accepted as one, and alas such often are, he is imitated in that which mostly characterises himself, and the judgment of the Lord must overtake him? "Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened", Zechariah 11:17. In the day of battle, and surely this is one, the enemies are many, every soldier is called to the front, and the true ensample, the one who counts not his life dear to himself, is the safest and most useful. But the great moral abnegation necessary for this is not the growth of a moment. "There separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains", 1 Chronicles 12:8. May every man in the front be thus in heart and purpose for the Lord in this day, for His name's sake!

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We must see and hold in faith our calling before we can understand a division. A division is a breaking away from our calling, and it must be known and followed in order to mark those who cause divisions and offences among you contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned. We shall look at our calling first in its varied phases.


Individually, by grace, through the work of Christ, "as he is, so are we in this world", and because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, "Abba, Father". In the eye of the Father I am in this world as His own Son is at His right hand, and in my own heart enjoying the greatness of my relationship. This is the true standing of each believer individually, while corporately we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body, and we have been quickened together with Christ, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.


His body. The great mystery. He the Head in heaven while His body is here on the earth. The members of a natural body are not more dependent on, or connected with their head than the members of Christ's body are dependent on and connected with Him, though He is in heaven. Besides, we are the habitation of God through the Spirit; the Holy Spirit not only dwells in each believer, and forms the unity between one and all, but He dwells in the company who form God's house, as it is said, He "filled all the house where they were sitting".

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First, to gather to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For though the Holy Spirit dwells in the house and each believer is His temple, there is a very important addition to this -- "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them". As the ark of the covenant or as the Urim and Thummim were essential to Israel in the days of their faithfulness, so is the presence of the Lord to those in any measure true to Him. Thus each one would be under His ordering, and worship and edification would be the result of coming together. Then everything unsuited to His house, every one practically unfit to be recognised as a member of Christ's body, would be put away, or in the event, as alas! it has happened, that 'canker' was tolerated in the house of God, then there would be no option but to purge oneself from the vessels to dishonour, while following with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart, so that still there might be, as it were, a spot in the house according to the mind of God; and every one acting faithfully to Christ in separating, would really conduce to the blessing of those from whom they had thus separated.


"As lights in the world". Each a body full of light "as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light". This is universal, common, and incumbent on all; and any lack in this, the manner of life, affects every other branch of service.

Next, good works; showing mercy with cheerfulness, according as one has opportunity; doing good unto all, especially to them that are of the household of faith; and lastly, gifts which are given by the ascended Lord; and each gifted one is bound to take heed to the ministry which he has received of the Lord, that he fulfil it.

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Pilgrims, those who are journeying to their home; strangers, because not at home. Subject to the powers that be, but not of them, or of the world even as Christ was not of it, though sent into it by Him.


The return of the Lord, and we going forth to meet Him. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come", and this desire is assured and corroborated when the heart according to its ability seeks to gather out of the world every one belonging to Christ, and have them ready and fit for Him.


This is very simple and attractive to the devoted heart, but very exacting and arduous to human feelings. It is comprehensively expressed in the words, "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus". Nothing could be more gratifying to a heart true to an absent one than the obligation to do everything in His name; yet it involves so much, that maintaining His name in any measure evokes every evil force against us, even the wicked spirits in heavenly places, because it insists on the life and ways of a heavenly man on earth, to walk even as He walked.

Having given this very brief sketch of our calling, I now turn to note how divisions occur. It must be plain to every godly soul, when the calling in all its parts is so entirely new and outside of man's tastes, that unless he walks in the Spirit he is in danger of being as is described in 1 Corinthians 3:3, "For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" Now the first division on record was caused by Ananias and Sapphira seeking to obtain credit

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in the church by falsely representing the amount of property they had surrendered. It may be contended no true person would dissimulate after this fashion. True, but the man who does not see the calling of the church, and yet assumes the position of one seeing it, though not in heart opposed to it, while there is no question as to his right and duty to be there, yet, though not in conscience implicated in Ananias' deception, he is deceiving himself and others. He is not in a truthful position; he may, like Lot in another day, accompany the man of faith, but if he has not faith, sooner or later he must cause division. This form of deception was not so probable in the earlier days of the church as now. There was then but one company known as the church of God. There was in it a present power to rebuke the carnality of any one opposed to the calling to which he had avowedly attached himself. In this day of weakness and ruin, the judgment of God is much slower, and hence as there is less fear of Him in His own house, so should there be more holy watchfulness lest any should be induced to obtain credit by accepting a standing which does not truly represent him, because like Lot, though he be in it, he has really no faith regarding it. It may be retorted that every believer belongs to the church, and is bound to take his place as such. With this I heartily concur. But I contend only that there must be faith in adopting your true place if you would have any power for continuance in that place.

I do not want to debar any one, even the feeblest, from entering on his true place; but while it is simply and positively incumbent on each one, I believe the more I understand the grace of the Lord in awakening His people to their calling and to a sense of their failure in departing from it, the more would I fear to press any one into a position owning the calling, though I would press on him the responsibility of it as a member of Christ; labouring by word, by example, and by prayer, to lead every one of Christ's into it truly, for it is their only true

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standing. The man who takes a position for which he has not faith cannot be in practical unity of the Spirit, and the seed of division is there. The moment I act according to the flesh, there is a breach of the unity of the Spirit. Mark breaks it in returning to Jerusalem, and Barnabas breaks it in acting according to his natural feeling in choosing Mark as his companion for the work.

Thus we see divisions may occur morally by souls assuming a position, even a true one, beyond their faith; and though the division be not open and patent, yet there is as great a moral distance as if openly avowed. There are divisions, as with Mark, which arise from fear, and again divisions, as with Barnabas, from giving way to natural affection.

Lastly, we are bound to "mark them which cause divisions ... contrary to the doctrine what ye have learned; and avoid them". The ten spies who brought up an evil report of the land and discouraged the people are of this class, and in the righteous judgment of God they died by the plague before the Lord. Caleb and Joshua were very distinctly separated from them. When acknowledged leaders inculcate by word and deed a course subversive of the truth of the calling, there is division which demands a practical separation on every one that names the name of Christ. Indeed, any line of teaching which is damaging to the testimony must be classed under this head; and the godly have no option but to come out and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. Such divisions as these must always entail separation; the Spirit of God is grieved until we are in dissociation from them. We must purge ourselves. There are, as we have seen, divisions where a right position is assumed without faith; and there it is the duty of all to bear with and heal, as Paul did with both the Corinthians and Galatians. But there are divisions contrary to the doctrine we have learned, and then there is no option but to "avoid them".

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When two profess to see the same truth, and one pursues a course quite different from that adopted by the other, the judgment is, that as the truth cannot produce two different effects, there must be some great discrepancy as to the way in which the truth has been received, and in this, as in everything else, the natural mind is enmity against God. The apostle evidently conveys that there are two ways in which truth can be received. He tells us how carefully he avoided the excellency of speech, in his ministry to the Corinthians, "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God".

Nothing is more calculated to weaken the testimony, and subvert the truth, than that the professors of the same thing, avowedly, should act quite differently, and be practically estranged from one another; so that there is a way of receiving a doctrine which unintentionally creates a marked opposition to it, like the Pharisees in our Lord's day. That this is the case no one can deny. Hence it is incumbent on us to ascertain the cause of it. Now as the carnal mind can accept a divine truth formally, beyond one's faith, and as this is at an immeasurable distance from faith in the power of God, which alone grasps the truth of God in its divinity, it becomes plain that the effect of truth depends on the way in which it has been received. How could the natural mind entertain any idea beyond itself? It must confine everything it grasps within its own range. The moment it travels beyond the human ken, it has passed the limit of man's apprehension. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned", 1 Corinthians 2:14. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God

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knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God". When a man thinks he comprehends a truth, it is merely the grasp of the natural mind. If a man thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. It is quite true the truth is presented to the natural understanding, but when it is by the Spirit of God, it is mixed with faith, though the statement of it is within the natural perception, yet it is always with the conviction that there is a vastness behind which it does not enter into. The natural mind can grasp that which relates to itself, but though it is called by the Spirit to understand what is communicated, it is more that the conscience may be bound by it, while faith accepts it, than that the natural mind could say, I see the scope and range of that truth. The spiritual mind always, however fully it enters into a truth, is conscious how far beyond man it is, and how infinitely great, because of God. It is necessary, in order to reach the conscience, that the truth should be intelligently stated; but unless faith lays hold of the truth as of God, and from Him, there is no more power in it than in any ordinary science, where knowledge is power to exalt man. The faith is in the wisdom of men, not in the power of God.

God shews Abram the sky lighted up with stars, and tells him, "So shall thy seed be". Abram very clearly sees what is announced to him, but if his faith were not in the power of God, he would not see, nor would he have any clue from what was presented to him as to the fulfilment of the promise. His faith was in the power of God. He believed, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. Many great truths are presented to the understanding in shadows and types in the Old Testament, but however clearly they may be seen, unless there be faith in the power of God, there is no divine sense in the soul of the value of the revelation. One might see very clearly, and believe in the fact, that every serpent-bitten Israelite who looked at the brazen serpent was cured, who as yet would not have in his soul the efficacy of the death of

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Christ, if his faith was not in the power of God. He might see by faith that God had sent Christ to rescue him, and so far his faith is in the power of God; but often there is more accepted by the natural mind than has been appropriated by faith, and then there must be, some day, a cloud on the soul, to make known to it the hollowness of any apprehension of truth which is not in the power of God. Many of the cases of distress of soul, I am persuaded, arise from this. They had built on their natural conviction; and in the hour of trial it has no power, a stronger influence supersedes it. It is really attempting to build with natural material, instead of Christ only. There can be no finish there. "This man began to build, and was not able to finish". He is an opposer.

There is ever a trying of our faith and this discloses the real measure of the faith. I may have thought that I had seen it clearly, but now when my faith is proved I am found out, and I descend to the real measure of my faith. The natural conviction is clear and exhilarating, because it does not reach beyond its own sphere, but the work of faith in power is always with the sense 'it is high, I cannot attain unto it; such knowledge is too wonderful for me'; it clings to the soul with divine tenacity, continually expanding and making room for itself. "Your faith groweth exceedingly".

Again, the deepest truth committed to the church is the mystery, and though completely outside of the grasp of the human mind, because it is the mystery of God, yet pre-eminently has there been an attempt to grasp it by the human intellect. It is not necessary that a man be unconverted when he attempts to seize this deep truth with his natural mind. Generally it is converted men who desire to grasp this great truth, though mere professors may follow in their wake. My conscience is not good unless I adhere to a truth of God according as I see it. This is God's claim on me, and this I feel morally incumbent on me. Now it is comparatively easy to

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adhere to the claims of a truth which I have, for the most part at any rate, grasped only with my natural intellect, because this cannot go beyond man, his powers and sensibilities. Hence the Romanist says with great effect, and with all common sense on his side, that the real way to expound this great mystery is by having the same religious service, in the same language, and under one arbiter for doctrine and practice, all over the universe. This is so broad and sweeping that it satisfies the natural conscience. A converted soul may have originated this common-sense explanation of the mystery, but converted souls, walking conscientiously, soon see that there is really no Christ in this system. A man is put in the place of the Holy Spirit on earth. In later years the godly have sought to arrive at the same end in another way; they have devised that all christians should meet together for mutual edification for one week, and drop all their differences as to church government, etc. This was specious, but it disclosed to exercised consciences that a great good could be possible for a week, but after that, each one could return to his present course as if there was no power to keep them right and together continually, a distinct denial of the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth. This gave opportunity, and paved the way for a class of christians called 'the open brethren', whose idea of the one body is that all christians agreeing as to essentials and the same order of meeting together, without appointed ministers, express the unity of the body, though they be not responsible for, nor constitutionally affected by the associations and disorders which occur outside of any given assembly, each assembly being independent of all the others, though they are affiliated. This is the greatest opposition to the truth. Thus has the human mind, in proportion to the brightness of the testimony, sought to grasp this great truth, and in the very attempt as far as it had succeeded, to oppose the work of the Spirit at the time. To carry us beyond man's mind into the things of God is the work of the

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Holy Spirit, and then only is there faith in power respecting the truth which has been accepted.

Evidences of its value are not sufficient to ensure faith in the power of God. The ten spies saw that the land was good. "They ... came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it", Numbers 13:26, 27. They had evidence enough of the goodness of the land, but as they had not faith in the power of God, they (through fear of difficulties) discourage the people, and decline to go up.

It is very remarkable that coincident with the church's decline there has been, as we have seen, an attempt to seize the truth of the mystery in a human way. Thus the unique importance of it is admitted, and therefore it is the more necessary that we should ascertain what it is when received by faith, in the power of God. The first step of faith in the power of God, with regard to the mystery, is that the Holy Spirit has come down from heaven to testify of Christ in heaven. There are two great marks to this testimony; one, that the world is rebuked, and therefore its countenance not accepted. The other, that Christ is glorified, and His things, heavenly things, are revealed and disclosed. The more distinctly and profoundly this great truth is held in the power of God, the more surely and correctly will be seen how the saints on the earth are by Him baptized into one body. It is always from not apprehending this great fact that there has been error, and a mere human reception of the mystery. No natural intellect could grasp the nature and effect of the Holy Spirit's residing here, and hence no one can in his intellect grasp the unity of the body; but if my faith is in the power of God, as to this first step, the second follows, that, beyond all human

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conception, I know that every believer is baptised by one Spirit into one body, and that if one member suffer, all suffer with it, and if one be honoured, all rejoice with it; and hence every one walking in the power that works in us, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love, is endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Be it remarked that it is not the unity of christians, or unity of doctrine, it is not any unity but the unity of the Spirit. Breaking the unity is not a mere differing from one or more. All might be wrong, but one is either in the unity of the Spirit, or breaking it, and this can never be understood but as there is faith in the power of God. The Lord awaken each of His people everywhere to the gravity of this subject, even that the worst opposer of any truth is the intellectual apprehender of it.


The nearer we come to the Bridegroom, the better are we prepared for Him. "She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework". The cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" awoke up the slumbering virgins. A great reviving of souls, and recovery of truth followed from this cry; and surely to testify of Him until He comes must characterise the bride as she apprehends the advent of the Bridegroom. Affection is kindled as the hope of seeing Him increases, and as the heart is fixed on the bright and morning star, the more do we drop the things of the night, and are really with trimmed lamps, coming forth to meet Him. Much light and truth, we know, have been vouchsafed consequent on this cry, but the end and object of the cry must not be lost sight of on account of anything, however great, conferred in connection with it. The cry has produced the revival. It occupies the heart with its one true Object, and the One who not only satisfies it, but, as He is its object, furnishes it with grace to be more fully

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so. If the cry, then, be overlooked for some of the great truths restored to those who have answered to the cry, the result would be as if one were occupied with a fine flower, or the great branch of a tree, severed from its root. Light and truth would then monopolise the place of the Person of our Lord. If the beauty of our apparel were to pre-occupy us, it would be with us as with Israel in another day, when the very riches of the country diverted their hearts from the Lord, the Giver. The testimony now can never be any other than that for which the Holy Spirit was sent: "He shall testify of me". "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept". The wise virgins had oil in their vessels; but whatever the measure of love to Christ in their hearts, they were inactive -- they were apparently in a dead state. They might assert that their hearts were awake, yet as to walk and ways they were asleep. "At midnight", in the deepest darkness, unexpectedly, there was a cry made, "Behold, the bridegroom". This cry turned the heart on the Lord -- the only true object for it -- and then the lamps were trimmed. Everything was changed. There was a zealous activity to be "ready" for the Lord.

Now, coincident with this awakening, there was an opening of the word and the counsels of God, not to supersede this revived hope, but to help it on in a perfectly divine way. Knowledge does not give heart, but it helps the heart, because it instructs it in the best way to suit the One it seeks. As the heart of the saint is set on the Lord, it is of the greatest interest to him to learn that the oil in their vessels was the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. This great fact stands at the head of all truth for the believer, and if not held in simple and assured faith, no item of the truth is in power in the soul. Then our acceptance is, "as he is, so are we in this world"; thus is truth so utterly lost in man's theology, that even to this day few have fully laid hold of it in faith. Following on this great truth came its companion, the nature of our relationship to Christ; He the Head of the

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church, and we the members, all baptised by one Spirit into one body, for we "have been all made to drink into one Spirit". One was the ministry of the gospel, the other the ministry of the church. Though each is distinct from the other, the truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit is essential to the understanding of either. Neither has been apprehended by christians who do not believe that the Holy Spirit has been sent down from heaven. Hence the first important truth in connection with the coming of the Lord was the fact that the Holy Spirit was here. The effort of the enemy at first was to divert the minds of those awakened to the coming of the Lord, from it to the gift of the Spirit, praying for Him to come, in fact denying His presence, which plainly was unbelief in the word of God; and hence those who fell into this delusion, becoming more and more ensnared and entangled by the enemy, surrendered every truth, while those who believed the word, not only enjoyed forgiveness of sins, but were sealed by the Holy Spirit, and then began to understand and seek after the nature of their relationship to Christ, and how they were to be fit for Him as His bride at His coming. The blessedness of greeting Him has been too much supplanted by the great truths which God has been pleased to unfold, in order that, knowing our calling, we might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Paul teaches us the nature of our relationship to Christ in a double way: what the church is to Him, and what He is to the church. John dwells on His love to us, so that our love is drawn out to Him; still, with each apostle, the coming of the Lord is the hope and goal. When Paul speaks of the Lord's completed desire for the church, it is "that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish", Ephesians 5:27. When it is the acme of blessing to the saints, it is "the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and

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with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord", 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. It is the great aim and incentive to his service to present them as a chaste virgin to Christ. When grace worked with power, they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven", 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10. John, on the other hand, exemplifies how love begets love, "We love him, because he first loved us". If the Lord goes away to prepare a place for us, it is only that He may come again and receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. If he looks forward to the brightest day on earth, it is when the bride descends from heaven "adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2), when she shall be displayed here in perfect suitability to her Lord. If he speaks of his own service to the saints at one time it is that he "may ... not be ashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28); and at another "that we receive full reward", 2 John 8. And when the church was hopelessly marred, and in ruin, one thing pre-eminently remained for the saints, "I will give him the morning star", Revelation 2:28. So that the coming of the Lord is the hope of the church to the end, a bright, attractive light in the darkness, a beacon and an unfailing cheer in the darkest hour.

But while it imparts the deepest joy to the devoted heart, it at the same time insists on a divine suitability. "Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty", Psalm 45:10, 11. The great truths which have been unfolded and to which we have referred, when learned by the Spirit, invest us with this suitability. Is it not then, very evident that the present testimony must be greatly characterised by an eager looking-out for His coming, so much so that the book of Revelation closes with the Spirit and the bride inviting Him to come? The Holy Spirit, who is

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here to testify of Christ, and who has opened out to us all the great truths respecting us individually and corporately, declares Himself by one very distinct utterance, "Come", in answer to the announcement, "I am ... the bright and morning star". Hence the bride -- the personal identity of every saint -- cannot do otherwise. If she be in the Spirit, she must do so, and openly she must say, "Come", -- more glad of heart to greet Him than the family of Bethany if they heard He was crossing the road to their house. The more thoroughly she is suited for Him, walking according to His word, and not denying His name, the more she is in real concord with the Holy Spirit in saying, "Come", and the very nature of the invitation promotes in her the affection to repeat it, and to be in every way prepared for His coming, so that by her the testimony would be, as to practical walk, fully maintained, while no part of true service would be overlooked, but attended to the better the more He was expected, like Elijah working indefatigably his last day on earth.

We cannot conceive anything more attractive to the heart than the bride in company with the Holy Spirit inviting the Lord to come. I do not refer to the sense of delight it must impart to the saints, but it is the testimony then set forth that I desire to describe. The Holy Spirit has been sent by Christ to testify of Himself. His testimony must ever remain the same, and the two great marks of it, namely, to reprove the world, and to glorify Christ. "He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you", must ever remain, man and his sphere exposed, but the rejected Lord glorified, and His things revealed.

Now in company with this blessed One in this exclusive service is the bride, taught and led by Him and in the delight of her heart saying, "Come". It is a most beautiful spectacle, a brilliant testimony, because it is not only that the great moral lines are maintained, but the deep affections of the heart are drawn out in the

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expectation of greeting the Lord. Surely we want this much in this day, the simple sense of delight in the anticipation of seeing Him. It is of deep importance that we apprehend the force and value of the Spirit's saying, "Come". He is set on it, and every one led by Him joins in it. Hence the bride says, "Come". Every saint may not say it, but one is not in his true state if he, led by the Holy Spirit, does not say it. It is important to note that a person says it; all the members of this one person may not be alive to the value of the word, but yet that which is only true is expressed. Consequently, the bride not only says, "Come", but "let him that heareth say, Come". She represents the only true sentiment of every believer, not merely those in this true state; therefore she seeks all round, that everything belonging to Christ may be prepared and ready for His coming. "Let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". There is the eager persistent service that all may be ready and prepared for the Lord.


The Lord has said, "Behold, I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age", Matthew 28:20. It becomes us to ascertain from Scripture the way in which He declares this.

In the broken-up state of the church, and the varied divisions, there is little or no demonstration of His being with us. Yet surely His being with us would be in so marked a manner that those with any spiritual sight would recognise it. In every time of failure on the part of God's people, the first and unequivocal evidence of His presence with them (for this I regard more as power exercised by Him in His own house, not His presence in the midst of His gathered people) is the disclosing of

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hitherto secreted evil. The more the Lord connects Himself with His people, or with a servant of His, at any time, the more severely does He expose and condemn the hitherto unobserved or unconfessed iniquity. This must be the first effect of the presence of Him who is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity", Habakkuk 1:13. The Lord cares for and loves each one of His own, but if any persist in his own course, like Ephraim, the word or dealing of the Lord practically with him is, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone", Hosea 4:17. Samson must grind in the prison-house, which his own unfaithfulness has plunged him into (Judges 16:21). The Lord either keeps aloof, like the sun in winter, or, if near, His countenance is "as the sun shineth in his strength" (Revelation 1:16), and this to scrutinise the condition of His people.

With an erring individual, the moment the soul is subject, He is near to wash the feet, in order to restore him to communion, but this cannot be effected without discovering the stain and evil which created the moral distance, though this discovery be made by the very action to remove it. This must be the first effect of the Lord's presence with any one out of communion. Now if it be so with an individual, it surely must be so with the assembly. The first effect of His connecting Himself with any company of His people in a day of failure like this must be to expose the evil that has been, in some instances, long covered up, and in others, from obtuseness of conscience, neither felt by the delinquents themselves nor the effect of their association or leaven felt by the assembly.

Now when the Lord begins to work in any place, or with any company of His people, the first mark of it will be that not will only evil hitherto unknown be brought to light, but troublers, as I may call them, men continually a trial to God's people, and from whom there seemed to be no escape, will, by a suicidal act of their own, become detached from the assembly. There is no

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principle in Scripture more universally insisted on than that which is of the flesh cannot glory in the presence of the Lord, and now more than ever, because "we preach Christ crucified ... Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God", 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24. It is well to bear in mind the double action of light, because of His being with us, not only to expose the concealed evil, and bring it to the surface, but also to cause, by the increased devotedness of some, that the lukewarm and worldly, who are not sincere, in His eyes, in the profession they make, should voluntarily part company, as did Lot, or "all ... which are in Asia", in another day. It was the godly decision of Abram which led to the separation of Lot from him, and in his separation he betrayed the regnant principles of his heart, and he ate of the fruit of his own lusts.

We see from the Acts of the Apostles a confirmation of the principle. Wherever the Lord was working, there was, together with the blessing of souls, the immediate discovery of evil, and, therefore, I should say, the two marks of the presence of the Lord with His people now are the disclosure of evil, and this concurrent with help to souls. I have dwelt on the former, because, in our present broken state, the correction of evil must appear before the blessing, though they work simultaneously. Faithfulness to Christ, which really means honest purpose of heart to follow Him, is rewarded by some distinct excision of a long tolerated hindrance, or the fruit of unfaithfulness. Thus Ishmael was cast out on the great festive day when Isaac was weaned. Thus Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, dies at Bethel. Thus Moses after being commissioned of God for the deliverance of Israel, is well-nigh destroyed because he had not circumcised his son. There is a clearance of old carnal association. The Lord is more acknowledged in His own place. Thus the uncrucified judaism of such a man as Barnabas was exposed, and Paul was set free from his influence, consequent on the great conference at

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Jerusalem, when the light of the truth as to Jew and gentile had come out in the clearest way.

What is true of an individual is true of the assembly. Joshua learns what he ought to have known, that the Lord would have fought for Israel if something had not happened among them which hindered him. There must be the exposure of the evil first. Thus, with Gideon, the altar of Baal must be broken down before there is any demonstration of the Lord's support. The more we meditate on these two marks of the Lord's being with His people, the more we shall see how united they are. When He draws near to bless, when He leads the beloved to build up themselves in their most holy faith, the very action of His power must expose those who will not; as the onward movement of the wise virgins discovered the unreality of the foolish ones. God is light, and His light is the pioneer of His love, because His love could not rest where His light could not be. Hence our blessed Lord exposes while He helps. "He told me all that ever I did", John 4:39. The Lord cleared Gideon's army of the cowardly element, and also of the worldly element, before He used them. It was the energy of faithfulness on the one hand which precipitated the exposure of the real condition of the others. It cannot be otherwise. When the Lord is near, He increases the faith and purpose of the truly honest. Paul's faithfulness at Rome drove all those in Asia to turn away from him. If they had not had an incipient disloyalty, the persecution and imprisonment of the apostle would not have been the occasion for them to abandon the truth he specially had taught them, and with which he was identified. The hour of suffering which proved the apostle's faithfulness, exposed their insincerity in faith and purpose. The test which brought to light the truth of the apostle, exposed the lack of it in them.

The moment the ground is cleared, there is active blessing. Souls are not only converted, that has been going on always; but any revival in the house of God,

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the greater it is, the greater the sifting. The man untaught of God, or worldly, like Demas, sinks to his level; but the honest and true, however errant he has been, in that hour comes forth valiant for the truth, like Mark, who had departed in the brightest hour, but now, being true of heart, returns as "profitable ... for the ministry" in the darkest.

The man that is honest and conscientious in his course, though with small knowledge of dispensational truth, is sure to be led of the Lord. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him", Psalm 25:14. But when a man has set up idols in his heart, the Lord will answer him according to those idols (Ezekiel 14:4). When the strain comes, as we all know, the chain breaks in the weakest link, and that, after all, was the real measure of its strength. The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ, and as each one is led by Him, he is in the testimony, and as he is, he must discard the traditions of men, as well as every element of the world. Conversion or the happiness of souls, is not the testimony, though in proportion as the testimony is maintained, so is the Lord blessing, on every side, according to His pleasure.

Most assuredly the Lord is not unmindful of the errant and indifferent of His own; but at the same time He honours those who honour Him; and as in the time of the judges ending with Samuel, He empowers even one faithful man to effect rescue and deliverance for all the Israel of God, if they will avail themselves of it; so is it now. I mean that though the Lord cares for every weak and failing one, yet that He loves the true disciple, and makes him His friend, in order that the truth of the gospel might be rescued from the corruptions which have darkened it, and that the name of Christ may be better acknowledged in the scene of His rejection. Nothing is dearer to the loyal heart than allegiance to Him, and any revival that is genuine cannot fall short of this testimony, and, in a day of failure like this, it cannot be obtained but with the exposure of every hindering element, in

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proportion to the faithfulness of the energy. Then the true are declared; hinderers detached, on the principle, "there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you", 1 Corinthians 11:19. The watchword and assurance for every man of faith and courage in this day, is the same as in another day, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour".


Since God called out Abram, there has been a testimony by His people on the earth. To weaken or frustrate that testimony has been the great effort of the enemy; and though every testimony has degenerated from its original power and beauty, yet God has always preserved it; and specially at the close of a dispensation, or a period, there was a remnant who maintained the great leading characteristics of the period; so that though the mid-day was clouded, yet that the same sun which had introduced the day should close it. If the sunrise was brilliant, the sunset would be beautiful. The last moment would be characteristic of the beginning. This is especially true with regard to the church, because we find from Revelation 3:7 that Philadelphia was to continue to the coming of the Lord -- that there is a faithful company to the end. The great thing that we are assured of is the existence of this faithful company. One might assert that he has not found it, and that he does not know where it is. Still, God must be true, though every man a liar, and it is plain from this passage that the faithful company exists whether one can find it or not. In a similar way Timothy is told to purge himself from vessels to dishonour, and to follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. He was bound to find them; and they were in existence, or he would not have been enjoined to find them.

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When God called out a people for Himself on the earth, it was that they should testify of Him here. Abram was called to be a pilgrim in the land. He was to be in the land, not only a pilgrim in it, but looking for a city which hath "foundations, whose builder and maker is God". This, as I understand, was the first testimony. If the present testimony be maintained by us, all the previous testimonies are embraced and fulfilled. A heavenly man on earth is the real pilgrim, but this can be maintained only in faith. No testimony can be maintained but by faith; there is nothing here to aid one with regard to it, because it is a divine course, but the very reverse where everything most of God is most opposed. When Abram falters in faith he is out of the testimony. My personal relationship with God remains unaltered, though I have slipped from the testimony; but I am not in the current of His mind, nor in the line where His power moves; for wherever is His testimony, there, like the trade winds, His power pre-eminently continually is. The more Abram is in the testimony, the more is he freed from every one who would be a clog to him in it; and the larger the blessings conferred upon him. The declension, from Abram's time to the close of Jacob's life, was very painful, and yet Jacob died a real pilgrim. Worshipping God -- predicting future blessings for Joseph's sons -- he could say, "And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem". Thus there is a streak of the same beautiful light, which shone out in Abram at the beginning, illuminating Jacob's death-bed. That dispensation was ended.

The next testimony properly begins with Joshua and ends with Samuel. The testimony now was possession of the land by the power of God. God had brought them in, typical of our being seated in heavenly places in Christ. Soon the brilliant morning at Jericho seemed to

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fade away into the darkness of night, though according as there was any one faithful, the Lord used him for the deliverance of His people. We have not, in what we are meditating on now, so much to do with the alternations of cloud and sunshine in that stormy day, as with the faithful company at the close. Samuel represents this. He believes that God is as much to be reckoned on as ever He was, as the support of His people in the testimony. Of course if I do not know His testimony I cannot count on His support, but if I do know that there is testimony for Him now here, and that He has called me to maintain it, I am assured that all His power will be at my disposal to support me in it. Samuel reckons on the intervention of God as much as Joshua had done, simply because it is His testimony; yet in Samuel's time Israel was in the most deplorable state. The Philistines had overwhelmed them like a flood. They were in the place for testimony, but were so embarrassed by the incubus of the Philistines that to all intents and purposes they had not possession of the land; they were not then for God, a most grievous state, strangely resembling that of many in this day, who hold the truth avowedly but who have not the power to testify of it. Samuel first insists on SEPARATION which necessarily must be the prelude to all help from the holy God. And this many acknowledge and adopt, but stop there and do not accompany the separation with FASTING or practical abnegation of all human support, and a retirement from ministering to the flesh by the positive silencing of it. Then follows a marvellous interference of God on their behalf. Ebenezer is set up and the Philistines come no more into the land all the days of Samuel. There is as beautiful a light at the close of this dispensation as at the beginning, though amid a general decay, and complete national disorganisation.

With the kings a different testimony came in: the temple and the city. So much so, that, when the faithful company returned after a long captivity, their great

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work was re-building the temple and the city; and it was predicted that the glory of the latter house would be greater than that of the former one. Hence our blessed Lord when here supported this testimony, as it was written of Him "the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up". And when He was leaving the temple for the last time, He commended the faithful company of that day -- the poor widow who cast the two mites, even all her living, into the treasury of God. Surely this was great zeal for God's testimony, so that one might well prefer to be like her -- the very last of that dispensation (or faithful company) -- than even to be Solomon, the most honoured builder, for there was a devotedness about her, which was not surpassed in the glorious day when Solomon completed the temple. True, there was a great declaration to the world in Solomon's day, and there was none in the poor widow's act, yet surely in the latter there was a tribute to the Lord's interest never surpassed by the other.

Now consequent on the rejection of our Lord and His sitting down at the right hand of God, another testimony came in; and that is comprised in the words "he shall testify of me", which characterised the mission of the Holy Spirit sent by Christ. This is the church's testimony, and we learn from the seven churches in Revelation that there will be a faithful company to the end, as described in Philadelphia. The candlestick was in existence when the book was given to John, and ever since, though historically unknown to the church generally, this faithful company existed, and will to the end, even though, like short-sighted Elijah in another day, one is ready to say as he did, "I am left, I alone", while the Lord sees seven thousand that have not bowed the knee to Baal. It might be like the widow in the temple, unseen and unknown, but still it was before the eye of God. And the Lord grant that a great number of His people may be found in this faithful company as we draw nearer to His coming. However, one great thing

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is that it exists. A man might say that he could not find it, but that would be because of his own spiritual short-sightedness. Many a one was near our Lord when on the earth, and yet could not recognise Him.

Next, our Lord has a special interest in this company. His aspect has none of the inquisitorial character that we read of in the first chapter. It is an aspect fraught with the greatest support: I am "he that is holy, he that is true ... that hath the key of David", and so on. There is no 'and' in this description. It is cumulative, that is, these three qualities make up one thing; they are parts of a whole, not several things, but one thing. Holiness and truth with power -- one combination -- a most important thing, that there cannot be this aspect, unless all the three parts are combined. Hence He gives to this faithful company an open door that no man can shut, because they have a little power, and have "kept my word, and ... not denied my name". They hold to the beginning. They have nothing of the ostensible greatness of the church at the first, but they retain the characteristic trait. They have a little power, the power flowing from union with Christ, for that is power by the Spirit of God. They are for Christ here; they keep His word, and they do not deny His name. They bear up against all odds. They very much resemble Samuel in his day; though on the right ground they are hindered and embarrassed by the Philistines, yet they rise in faith in God; they know that He will support them if they are in a condition for it, and as they are true, they would not expect it otherwise. Therefore they separate from all false worship, and prove their faithful dependence on Him by fasting, that is, positively refusing any human power. The lack and consequent failure of many in the present day has been, that while separating very truly from systems of religion so-called, which separation has been magnified into the testimony, they have not abnegated (as must those in the testimony -- the faithful company) all resources that are not of the Spirit

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of God, who, here on earth, is the only One able and qualified to carry them on in the testimony. The faithful company must always be characterised by the devoted maintenance of that which peculiarly distinguishes the testimony now from every other. The testimony now embraces all the previous ones, because our blessed Lord on the earth fulfilled every one of the previous ones, and now, He being rejected, the testimony is Himself, and the Holy Spirit is sent here to maintain it; and hence the faithful company are necessarily under the leading of the Spirit of God, and every member is necessary, though we must, like Gideon, refuse to be kept back by the cowardly or the worldly. And as the faithful continue, the testimony prospers in their hands, because He opens the door, and no man can shut.

It will be remarked the more faithful the people of the Lord are, the more He causes them to be owned by others, even as Isaac was owned by Abimelech when he got to Beersheba.


In order to be able to determine who is a dissenter it is necessary first to know what the right thing is from which he dissents or has departed.

Ever since the course of faith began there have been dissenters, or those who had not faith to adhere to the course. Hence the course must be known before you can condemn or accuse any one for abandoning it.

I suppose every one will admit that since the call of Abram, since election came in, God has had a distinct calling, or course of action, in which every faithful one was upheld as he clung to it. God always has had a defined course of action to which His power and resources were committed, and every one, however feebly, following in that course was supported therein like a ship in the line of the trade winds.

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Lot then, I may say, was the first dissenter. lie departed from the course laid down by God, and though he had not left the land, nor had he ceased to be a righteous man, he was no longer in the course of God's action; he sought advantages for himself, and reaped the consequences; while the man in the divine course, though stumbling, is set up again to walk on more vigorously than before. We see remarkably in Jacob the tendency to dissent, the insubjection of the natural mind to the course of faith. After he returned from Syria, after the night of wrestling, when we might hope that he was established, he drops out of the path he was called to; he buys a parcel of a field at Shalem. It is not that land as a property is worse than any other, but in buying the field Jacob became a dissenter; he dropped out of the calling wherewith he was called of God, and yet, like all godly dissenters, he had his altar; and this described his real state. El-elohe-Israel betrayed the fact that he was occupied with himself as the object of blessing, instead of with Him who had blessed him; as one who in his delight with the suns rays would limit them to his own garden.

The more distinctly we ascertain God's course at any time, in which all the weight of His power and grace are moving, the better we shall detect the variety of phases in which dissent shows itself. How sadly, more than once, Aaron dissents from the path in which his brother Moses was borne along by God. With, I might say, equal advantages, how the dissenter comes out in the one, while the other is carried on and above all the opposition, to the glory of God. Again, we see the same carnal working in the twelve spies; and it is to be noted that it is after they had the clearest evidence of the goodness of the land, and had been in it, and had brought of the fruits of it, that the unbelief of their hearts came out. They were then dissenters; they could not follow in the course to which God had called them. Caleb and Joshua only could believe that God's power was available in all its might in the course appointed by Him.

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As we think of them we may be ready to be amazed at their unbelief, and their dissent from the true path, but the more we know our own hearts, and observe the dissent in our own day, the more tolerant we shall be. Doubtless the ten dissenters were specially deluded, and they were therefore signally judged; they were slain. They "died by the plague before the Lord".

I need not speak of the two and a half tribes who settled on this side Jordan. They were dissenters if they adopted any other place but Jerusalem for the observance of the feasts of the Lord. In a word, a dissenter is one who adopts another line, however blameless in itself, instead of the one appointed by God. Hence Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, was an arch-dissenter; he deliberately invented an order contrary to God, while accepting the word of God as it had been given. A dissenter proper is not by any means an avowed unbeliever in the word of God; on the contrary, he declares that he is a true believer, but he supplements the word of God to suit his own views of things, or the necessity of the times.

The returned captives in Haggai's time were dissenters. They had, at great risk to themselves and after many sacrifices, returned to the true place. For a while they went on laboriously maintaining the name of the Lord, rebuilding His house; but when the opposition became very great, they discontinued, and devoted themselves to their own personal blessings, and thus they were dissenters. They forfeited the support and countenance of the Lord when they departed from His course; they lost the trade winds, and instead of their own blessings increasing, they were declining.

Now in our Lord's own time we find some who "walked no more with him"; they were dissenters. We find the germs of future dissenters in the contention between Paul and Peter. Peter walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel -- -- a solemn warning

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to us, for if this chief of the apostles could depart under pressure from the course of God's action at the time, and become a dissenter, how necessary for us to have no confidence in ourselves! Barnabas also was carried away at a moment when one would have least expected it. It was a peculiarly bright moment for the church -- a settling of the decrees. Then the judaising flaw was exposed in this man of God, and he took his own course (see Acts 15:39), and that is always the way of the dissenter. The apostle, in Acts 20, warns the elders of Ephesus -- the church the most highly endowed with divine light -- that of themselves should men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. There would be dissenters. The apostle reminds them of what he had taught them, and his own life among them -- two things which must ever go together if there be divine power with the teacher.

Now in the epistles to the Corinthians we see the formation of sects; there were contentions among them. (1 Corinthians 1:11). "It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you". It is not so much the matter of contention as the fact. Further on in the epistle he says "there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest" -- a remarkable statement -- so that the dissenter would become a foil for the display of the perfectness of the truth in the approved. The one great thing is to "continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them", 2 Timothy 3:14. "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning", 1 John 2:24. To adhere to the course of God as it was at the beginning when it first came from His hand, before it had suffered from any human intermixture, is the path in which the Spirit of God leads, and where all the resources of His power are, for it is His own course. That is the way in which He is going, and where else could there be

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His power but where He is moving Himself? Many a one becomes a dissenter in his attempt to reform the state of things with which he is connected. Here Luther failed, and many others. The one simple thing is first to learn Christ as He is revealed in Scripture, then as consciously united to him in glory, so will His CIRCLE OF INTEREST become ours, and any deflection from the order or manner which He set forth at the beginning will be refused, simply because He is the same now as He was then, to carry on with two or three what He introduced at the beginning. The dissent in the present hour resembles very much in character the dissent as spoken of in Scripture. I do not speak of the systems of men and the dissenters from them, but the character of dissent which one comes in contact with where there has been at least a profession of the truths revived amongst us. The dissenter of the Lot character is, alas! sometimes met with: one here and there turns away from the course of God's Spirit to the good things of this world, and he is taught some day what a fool he has been. The dissenter of the Jacob type is more common, and though it brings less reproach, it is not less dishonouring to the Lord. With a great deal of piety the testimony is overlooked in the attempt to secure a little rest in this world. These dilute the truth, both in their writings and speakings, and obtain a popularity in consequence, which is not a real furtherance of the gospel of God. Lot's dissent was open; this is disguised because of the retention of the true ground and the right truth. Very many are here, but their sin is sure to find them out; in this dissent the world socially is admitted, to the great damage of the family, as detailed in Genesis 34.

The dissenter after the character of the ten spies is rare, I am happy to say, but is to be found when one, after having clearly seen the heavenly truth, departs from it, and promotes in others the same unbelief,

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running directly contrary to the course of the Spirit; but they meet with signal judgment.

One class more only I shall allude to, even to that represented by Israel in the days of Haggai. Here the dissenter is one who had been diligently engaged in the testimony -- the house of God in that day; now the church of the living God in which the only vital thing is the body of Christ: but because of the power of the enemy he has abandoned it, and devoted himself to his own spiritual gain and acquisition. The consequences will be with him as with Israel in that day, "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes", Haggai 1:6. To what a melancholy diminutive the most ardent and advanced may be reduced!

Finally, let us note that of whatever type the dissenter may be, the underlying principle of dissent is self-will. It may be more patent in some forms than in others, but in one and all it is the will of man causing a divergence from the course marked out by God; and the only preservative from it is faith. Faith in God keeps one in dependence on Him, and preserves from the independence from which dissent springs, and ensures the feeblest being led by the Spirit of God in the path which is pleasing to Him.

May the Lord preserve us from dissent and keep us true to Himself according to the beginning.


In a day of profession it is an immense help that there is an unmistakable way by which we can discern between good and bad speaking. In the judgment of the Lord a speaker is either a good tree or a bad one. And in a day of profession as it was in Israel in the time of the Lord, He announces this unfailing test, that "by their fruits ye

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shall know them". He had warned them that the false prophets would come in sheep's clothing, that their outside assumption was quite the opposite to what they were in heart. It would seem almost uncharitable to suppose that one was quite contrary to his profession, hence our blessed Lord gives us this test, "by their fruits ye shall know them". The fruit indicates the real nature of the tree. You cannot gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil". The moment a man speaks he declares himself. If there be wickedness in his utterances, the wickedness was in his heart before he gave utterance to it: just as the braying of the ass covered with the lion's skin betrayed him. Even in common things a great point is gained when a man declares himself, for the effort of the wicked to conceal his malice, very often awakens suspicion. If there had been simplicity there would not be the same amount of effort and elocution to conceal the motive underneath; consequently "The tongue is fire, the world of unrighteousness". Thus is the tongue set in our members, the defiler of the whole body, and which sets fire to the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell. It is not that the tongue itself is the origin of the mischief, but it is the organ to express it; if the evil had not existed it could not have been expressed, and if there were godly rule, the tongue would not have expressed the evil, and hence its guilt because it had expressed it. Once expressed, there is no recalling it; you may repent of it, but you have made the wound, however you may try to heal it. Here hasty people damage themselves irretrievably. You may extract the sting, but the poison remains, and confidence is destroyed. Hence in religious controversies, where personal recriminations are allowed, there is seldom any true reconciliation. Remember if a man can rule his tongue he can rule his whole body. The license of the tongue betrays the real lack in grace.

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It is very necessary for the saints in this day to apply our Lord's test to the multitudinous utterances which reach us from all sides. When any publication comes within our reach, the first question should be, Is this good fruit? If it be not good fruit it comes from a bad tree -- the flesh; a very simple and very effectual way of determining the value of every composition. If I am jealous for the church with a godly jealousy, I seek in every way to edify the saints; and as they are simple, they soon discover and acknowledge those really interested in their welfare. The man occupied with points, such as elders, or baptism, or some one doctrine, declares the ruling thing in his own mind, instead of feeding the soul with the whole truth -- Christ -- the centre and source of all; nothing hid from the light and heat thereof, so that the whole circle and range would be communicated, and not one part of the grand whole left out. If I am dark on any subject there is a lack of light in my heart, like a room where there is not light enough to reach all the corners. The true remedy is to increase the light. If any one will take the trouble to study the history of a heretic, he will find that as a rule he began on some right point, but this so absorbed his mind, and so controlled his thoughts, that he eventually gave it an undue place, and the moment you give any one truth an undue place, you have deprived it of its actual verity. It has been perverted by you, and when a particular subject becomes thus unduly prominent, it indicates that there is a greater desire to establish one's own opinion than to feed souls, or to supply the true remedy for every lack. In a day like this, the godly soul should take to heart the warning of our blessed Lord, "By their fruits ye shall know them". And when any publication is presented to him, he should immediately subject it to the test -- is this good fruit? "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good ... for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh".

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It is comparatively easy to detect the grosser forms of this wide-spreading evil, and the object for which it comes. For example, Paul warns the Ephesian elders that of their own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things (Acts 20:30). And again Colossians 2:4, "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words". I refer to this as showing the purposes for which language would be used. There was at first, when there was but one language, a confounding of tongues, but now when there is but one doctrine or truth, the attempt has been to confound it by language.

Again in 2 Timothy, "Shun profane and vain babblings". These indicate the corrupt fountain from which they emanate. Again there is another not so deeply unsound, but equally destructive because less open, in chapter 4: 4, "They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables". If one were truly walking in the fear of the Lord, the fruit or the nature of the food would be at once examined. Surely if one were cast on an unknown land, one of the first inquiries would be which of the vegetables or fruits were fit for food. Does the question come as anxiously in divine conscientiousness before us as if we were eating the fruit of an unknown tree? Is this really good? will it minister grace to me?

There is another class of speaking of which we must be on our guard. There are false teachers who through covetousness shall with feigned words make merchandise of you. The apostle declares in 1 Thessalonians 2:5 that he was free from anything of the kind: "Neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness". I adduce this to prove how important is the test "By their fruits ye shall know them", that is, that we were to be of a sound mind, that we might be able to detect whether there was divine nutriment or not in any speaking or writing.

Many through mercy have been preserved from the evil fruits which I have commented on, yet there remains

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another which I must not overlook, and that is speaking slightingly or opposingly of those who have been the ministers of Christ to the church, as Paul censures Alexander the coppersmith, "of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words". And John writes of Diotrephes, "Babbling against us with wicked words". Now it may be alleged in extenuation of those who fall into this evil in the present day, that it is not as grave as it was in the apostle's day, for then it was against the inspired teacher. This is in a measure true, but the malice that would disparage any faithful servant is of the same order. Have not some availed themselves of the service and labour of valued teachers who in the heat of controversy have not hesitated to depreciate them? I need not add more; I hope I have said enough to awaken the truehearted to the importance of the Lord's warning, and I now would say a word on the marks of ministry which is really helpful to souls.

There are two characters in the real servant of the church -- the nurse and the father. "We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children". This is a very peculiar ministry, whether in writing or speaking; the child of God very soon appreciates this servant. You feel that he has your interest at heart, and that he is thinking of serving you just as the nurse thinks of the child, and what suits it, and not what she is able to offer it; for often a true servant is too much taken up with the truth or food which he can present; instead of the state and capacity of the child. The child's interest is the peculiar characteristic of the nurse; and the child is sure to be won by it, if simple and honest. The other mark is that of a father. Here it is not so much cherishing, fostering, or promoting health, as with the nurse, which is displayed in many ways, feeding, shielding you from the cold, and everything which would expose you to danger, or overtax your strength, a touch of consideration which though quite comprehensible, yet cannot be described. Now a father exhorts, comforts, and testifies;

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he would lead on souls as if they were his own children, that they should walk worthy of God, who has called us to His kingdom and glory. Where these characters are wholly lacking in any ministry, the spiritual mind will turn from it as not good fruit; for if there be any interest in the welfare of souls, one or both of these characters will be found in some measure in the ministry, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and in this day of pretentious writing and speaking every one faithful to Christ is bound to subject everything to the test the Lord has given, remembering that He repeated it with emphasis: "By their fruits then surely ye shall know them".


Is the body of Christ on the earth? is a question of the greatest interest to every true-hearted christian. I suppose no one would deny the doctrine. That it is in some way on the earth is part of the christian creed. Romanism admits the doctrine by imitating it. The church in some form or other is held to be one whole, part of it militant and part triumphant. The idea that all christians are one company never has been denied by any believer. There have been very erroneous views as to the formation of this one company, and forms for its government; but the idea remains that there is but one church, and that though the saints are not now of one accord and of one mind they will be so hereafter. It is clear Romanism, the consummation of ecclesiastical assumption and failure, insists on universality and indivisibility. Rome in its assumption and imitation, at least transmits to us the human apprehension of the church's calling. Nothing can be plainer in Scripture than that the church -- that which is His own building -- is His body. But as it is the house of God on the earth where it is in testimony, each one acts in his

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individual capacity (practice is always individual), and as it is there in responsibility. Many have been allowed to enter the house who are not in the body, though the members of the body are the only vital thing in the house. If Christ's body is not on the earth, the church is not on the earth, and if the body is not here, what is here? And what has become of all the statements in Scripture on the subject? I may be told saints are here, but to what family do they belong?

The great central purpose of God before the foundation of the world, was the church -- the body of Christ. In the garden of Eden it came out in type, when Eve was formed out of Adam, and he said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh", and so all along the course of God's dealings with man, until the secret was divulged. Rebekah conducted across the desert by Eliezer was a gleam of it in Abraham's day, when he had turned his back on man's city, in the plains of Shinar, to look for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And God has prepared for them a city, and that city is the bride, the Lamb's wife. Joseph finding a wife in Egypt is another type of it in his day; while Moses marrying a Midianite was the type of it in his day. Thus Ruth in another day, and Solomon's wife was an Egyptian. The great central company, the body of Christ, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all, must cast its light on every time and dispensation, though forming no part of it. Hence, when our Lord comes, He speaks in parables of this great circle; the treasure hid in the field and the pearl of great price. As soon, then, as our Lord was completely rejected -- first, in His humiliation; and secondly, from glory -- then the great secret was divulged. In Acts 9:4 it is for the first time told out in the words, "Why persecutest thou me?" the Christ was here on earth in His body. Was this ever true, and is it not now true? Has God given up His purposes? Has Satan succeeded? Satan's great effort has been directed against Christ being here on earth.

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Herod the king sacrificed every feeling of kindness and humanity, in order to cut off Christ from the earth. What a sorrow he entailed! Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not. But when the Lord was definitely rejected, then the time was come for the declaration of the secret, when every power had combined to prevent His being here bodily, then God had ordained and brought to pass that His body should be here; and any one who refuses and ignores this fact that Christ's body is here, falls into the grievous snare that Satan has set for the feet of every believer. God only can preserve one from it. All Satan's force and machinations have been from the beginning directed against Christ being on the earth; and since God has signally defeated him in calling out from the man who rejected Him under the influence of Satan, members of His body on the earth, Satan's effort all along has been to frustrate it. True, in Romanism, it was imitated, but there is no surer way of lessening the value of a real thing than by counterfeiting it, so much so, that the simple truth of Christ's body being here was unknown for centuries to christian writers, until about the last half century, when God in His grace has been pleased to revive the truth to His people; but the opposition to it has not ceased, and the effort of the enemy to ignore it is as great this day as ever it was. But, blessed be God, He is as able to protect His own counsel, and preserve it to His dependent people in this day, as ever He was.

Many are the ways that it has been opposed in my remembrance, and in some cases by those who outwardly professed the truth as received among us. One party of disaffection, great in numbers and social influence, held that the church would pass through the judgments, and that it had not a heavenly position. They soon betrayed that they were not led by the Holy Spirit in His acknowledged place in the assembly, and as the One by whom all were baptised into one body. They

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became independent, and thus declared that they were not practically in the truths of the one body and the one Spirit. Heresy of the worst kind eventually exposed the evil of this system. Independency must be the result of not seeing that Christ's body, one great whole, is on the earth. The art of Satan to blind saints as to this great central truth is very marked and continual. A system called 'Holiness by faith' diverted some from it. This so engrossed one with one's own state, that there was no time nor inclination to apprehend the great reality of union with Christ. Then again, the gospel so exclusively occupied the minds of saints that the ministry of the church was entirely overlooked. This has wrought an indifference and disregard of the body of Christ in a very strange, but yet distinct way. A company of saints gathered by an evangelist seldom is sound in principle. The success of interest in this work has tended to exalt those engaged in it, at the expense of those who, interested in the church, had little or nothing to show for their labours, and hence even those who professedly had accepted and embraced the truth of the body of Christ on earth (they had in heart slighted it) came out in their true colours when a question arose which could not be solved but by a member (however unintelligent) of the body of Christ. A member has a spiritual sense. It requires no profound information, but simple faith, and the consequences flowing from it, of being by the Spirit united to Christ and to one another. When a saint pretends to be what he is not, some day or other he will be found out, and his real state exposed. Thus it is with many now whose want of faith was concealed by the position they occupied, while greatly commended because of their zeal in gospel work; and they are now only discovered as not only ignorant of being on the ground of the one body, but in some instances they actually assert that it is untenable and impracticable to meet now on that ground, and surely this is tantamount to saying that the body of Christ is not on the earth.

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This class seem never to get beyond the truths which minister to their affections. Hence what Christ suffered and wrought for us is their only theme. Everything to feed the affections, and this is most necessary; but when exclusively so there is no progress, and very often only relieving the conscience of indulged inconsistencies.

Another variety of opposition to this great truth has yet more recently arisen. It comes from those who profess to see the heavenly position of the saints. They assume to be led by the Spirit in their meetings and teaching, in fact, every truth connected with the body of Christ, and yet they deny that they can meet on the ground of the one body -- that everything of a corporate character has passed away, that there are disjecta membra, twos and threes here and there, but no witness to the fact that Christ's body is here. Of course, men might be deluded enough to say the sun was not here while they were walking in the light of it. These assert that they are in the enjoyment of the properties and privileges of the body, but that the body is not here, and that the Holy Spirit does not keep any number of the members in the principle and order of it on the earth because of failure and dislocation. Could not part of a natural body be released from paralysis to the great and solid benefit of the rest of the body? If the body be not here, how do these religionists reach a heavenly association with Christ, which is their great aim and teaching? If the body be not here there is no union with Christ, for that is corporate, and though it is quite true that the ministry of the gospel does confer heavenly hope and heavenly joys on the believer, yet there is no union with Christ in the ministry of the gospel; and hence if this association with Christ be sought for as a matter of attainment, which (though never spoken of in Scripture) it must be, if not by union with Christ, and it cannot be by union, if as they say, there is an end to the corporate thing; well, if it be so, this association so much spoken of and pressed cannot be enjoyed at all and is simply a

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myth as they teach it, and it is still more evident that they are not enjoying union, for if they were they would have the unmistakable mark of union, that is, identity of interest with Christ, where both the affections are deepened and full association is known, and this identity of interest cannot be acquired in any other way, because it is from our union with Him -- a consequence of relationship.

In conclusion let me add the statements in Scripture establishing beyond question that the body of Christ is here. Where is the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now made known to all the nations for the obedience of faith? (see Romans 16:25, 26). If the body of Christ be not here, where is the ministry of the church in Colossians 1, "the mystery of God" (chapter 2: 2) which the apostle so earnestly sought should be understood by the saints? To what purpose is Christ the Head in heaven, "from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God", if the body be not here? How do we obtain association or place with Christ in heaven, if it be that as His body we are all raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him, if the body be not here? How can Jews and gentiles be one if there be not one body? "That he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby", Ephesians 2:16. What is the work of the Holy Spirit on this earth if there be no body? How are saints bound to one another if they be not baptised by one Spirit into one body? "All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ", 1 Corinthians 12:11, 12. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular". For what purpose are the gifts, if there be no body to edify? "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some,

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pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ", Ephesians 4:11, 12. And lastly, how can the body edify itself which it is required to do if it be not in existence? "From whom 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.

Can anything more surely establish the inability of the human mind to comprehend a spiritual fact, than that a subject so distinctly and variously presented and insisted on in Scripture, should by even zealous and devoted christians be opposed and denied, while in simple faith apprehended by the youngest? The Lord anoint their eyes with eye-salve that they may see.


When the believer is in the simple enjoyment of union with Christ, which he is as he walks in communion, he necessarily is interested in the things that are Jesus Christ's. It is a mere consequence of realised relationship. It is however painfully evident that many now, as in the apostle's day, "seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's". It is important, therefore, to cultivate an advance from our own things to the things that are Jesus Christ's, and to see the gain which flows from seeking the latter. There is a great deal in christianity which is one's own, and until I am in assured enjoyment of my own, I am not free to give myself to the things of Christ. I have first to learn the certainty of my salvation, next my portion on earth, as a son enjoying 'home comforts' in a foreign land, the heavenly joys conveyed to my soul by the Spirit of God come down from heaven. Now so long as I am occupied at this side Jordan, I must be occupied with my own things. I have not merely

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escaped from Egypt, but I have the trials and difficulties of the wilderness to encounter. I need the throne of grace where I obtain mercy, and find grace for every needful time. I am safe from judgment first, then singing at the other side of the Red sea. Then finding Marah in the wilderness, and how the cross which has secured my peace with God, is now the power to turn the bitter water into sweet. Then there is the manna, and the rock that followed them -- Christ's daily support; but at the same time there is the effort of Satan in Amalek, to check my progress, as it is said of Peter, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat". I do not speak of the lusting after Egypt, and the provocation, for I confine myself only to the things proper to the christian. There is then on leaving the wilderness, the learning that there is nothing good in man (Numbers 21); and then the entrance through faith into an entirely new state -- life in Christ and the Spirit given -- finding their antitypes in John 3 and 4. Then there are the conquests of Sihon and Og. followed by Balaam's successful assault. One and all of these are our own things. There is not full and satisfied deliverance until I have learned that I am over Jordan, until death that we brought in on ourselves has been accepted and left behind; and we do not leave Jordan behind, until we, by conscious union with Christ, rise from our own death with Him into the cloudless light in which He is, in heavenly places. Here I consider Christ's things begin, while my own continue during my course.

Now when we are seeking our own things, they are the things prominently before us, and we can detect it in everything we say and do. It is very evident that we cannot devote ourselves to Christ's things until we are in simple rest of heart touching our own. In every case we see this, as, for instance, under the law we find in Deuteronomy that a man was not required to go to battle when he had newly built a house, or planted a vineyard, or married. "And the officers shall speak unto

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the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her", Deuteronomy 20:5 - 7. There is a preparation for the battle-field as I might say. We eat of the passover and we eat of the corn of the land before the conflict, before we take an open stand for the Lord.

John 13 and 14 precede in moral order chapter 15. The heart of the believer is prepared by the Lord within, before he can come forth without as it were, to stand for Him here as His friend. You must be in the Spirit, in heavenly places, before you can engage the enemy in all his force and opposition. You have to put on the whole armour of God before you can resist the wiles of the devil, and you must know your vocation, before you can walk according to it. A soul must be in the peace of God before he can be free to engage in "whatsoever things are lovely". The battle for Christ must be carried on in His name and by the Spirit only. It is not a warfare visible to the human eye. The success may be visible, but the conflict is not a visible one; therefore we must be over Jordan, in the liberty of the Spirit, before we can engage the enemy in seeking the things of Jesus Christ; insisting on and obtaining increased space morally for Christ among men.

Our blessed Lord, in John 15:12, sets His disciples on the earth characteristically as Himself. They are to love one another as He had loved them. They were His friends; as He had loved, they were to love. His interests were to be theirs in the same degree as they were to Himself. The wise woman in Proverbs 31 sets forth the true nature of the service -- she has the full confidence

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of her lord. "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her ... she will do him good and not evil" (as Eve had done). As there are two kinds of service in the Lord's ministry to the church -- nourishing and cherishing (Ephesians 5:29) -- so the true servant, devoted to His things pre-eminently, feeds and clothes the household. The apostle gives a very large circle of works in Philippians 4:8. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things". But he sums up, saying, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you". He was absolutely devoted to Christ's interests here. As the church will, to the earth hereafter -- as the bride, the new Jerusalem -- be the full untiring expression and display of all Christ's interests, so now, as any heart is conscious of the nearness of the relationship in which we stand to Him, the more readily and truly will His things be its delight and interest: it could not be otherwise, it is the very consequence of the relationship where there is any sense of it. There can never be the same kind of joy in the greatest blessing conferred on myself, and that my case required, as when, in the smallest measure of His confidence, I can enter into His things. There is a great distance between what His grace has done for us, and what I share as belonging to Him, as the Queen of Sheba in her interview with Solomon, though only a spectator, sets forth. It is in His things my heart learns, not only the depths of His love, but how His heart acts for its object; so that then I find that His love passes knowledge, and it is then I know that all the resources of God are my support. What a moment of surpassing blessing it is when my heart is in its deepest joy, and I am conscious of all His power aiding me in that which interests my heart, because it is His things!

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The Comforter is sent from the Father by Christ -- the exalted Man the Head of the body -- to testify of Him: as He says, "he shall testify of me". While then we seek His things, we are in the fellowship and strength of the Spirit of truth, so that the world, on the one hand, is marked off in a very distinct way. As John 16 says, "When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more"; while on the other hand, He -- the Object of the heart -- is glorified. Communications, present and future -- His things -- are shown to you, as Solomon's were to the Queen of Sheba, so that the deepest joy to the heart, and the fullest sense of God's support, are known only as His things are sought by me, and there must therefore be a distinct lack where they are not.

We have looked at the true preparation, and the immense gain of seeking Christ's interests; we may now note the loss, suffering, and judgment entailed on those who either refuse the line of God's interests at any time, or depart from it when once in it.

We must admit that since the call of Abraham the blessed God has had a distinct line of interest which He committed to a man. I do not speak here now of His own testimony to His counsels, etc., but of that which was committed to man; and as those called of Him walked in true observance of it, they were singularly blessed by Him, but as they diverged from it, they were correspondingly the victims of the things which drew them aside. When Abraham diverged, he always suffered; and when he faithfully and persistently adhered to it he was greatly blessed.

When Isaac diverged (Genesis 26) he had to deny the very relationship which his heart delighted in, just as a christian now, when he drops from the line of testimony, denies his relationship to Christ, though the affection that he delights in is in his heart. Isaac suffers there and

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has to withdraw, and as soon as he does, he receives marked favour from the Lord. "And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed", etc. (verse 24.) And he had also a very signal instance of acknowledgment from man in the person of king Abimelech. Jacob abandons the line first because of his evil course, -- deception at home: and surely he suffered much on account of it. He on his return to it was beguiled from it at Shalem, and as he dropped down to the level of man he suffered at the hands of man. In like manner from Joshua to Samuel. As Israel failed to be possessors of the land, they were carried captives, or oppressed where they would have ruled had they been faithful to the line of God's interest at the time.

Surely we see in the Acts, and in the history of the church on the earth, and very markedly in our own day, and as it will be till the coming of the Lord, that those who are led by the Spirit of God devotedly in the line of His interests, are helped, not only by increased light and support from Him, but also by increased joy and usefulness, because they are seeking His things. And surely there could not be found on earth any path with greater or more perfect blessings.

The Lord lead all our hearts more into it, for His name's sake.


It is the strain that tests the strength of every one. The trying of our faith is the fruit of our sufferings, and hence "blessed is the man that endureth". "The proving of your faith works endurance". We understand very little of our history here if we do not observe that we are subjected to a trial by fire, with regard to every advance, or new activity of faith. If we stand the test, the faith is

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assured, and there is decided progress. There is another step in advance; another round of the ladder is reached; so that "your faith groweth exceedingly". The stability of our gain must be tested. Satan is opposed, and at every new step he has new toils and obstructions to hinder and throw us back. When we are defeated, and if we do not recover ourselves, the step we had taken was not in faith; and when it is so, the check we have received too often suggests a retreat, and that to more than one step backwards, in order to reach some point where we think rest can be assured, because we have become disheartened and weary of the conflict. However, even when there is faith, there is often much self-confidence, as with Peter, and the self-confidence having been exposed by the test, the danger then is that we drop to the rear, discouraged, instead of going on with more distrust of self, but more dependence on God. Hence the Lord says to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not".

There were two great marks of progress in Israel's history, which is typical of ours: one was growing in dependence as pilgrims in the wilderness; the other was going on and possessing the land. We reverse this order, because it is as we are enjoying possession in heaven, that we are more really pilgrims on the earth; but we shall find that progress is ever marked by this twofold action: one, relating to what we need; the other, relating to God or His calling. Now these two act and re-act on one another. As I am enjoying the wealthy place, so am I the more unfeignedly dependent on God in the place where I have nothing -- the wilderness. I am braving the wilderness because I am a possessor of heaven. If I recall the leeks and onions, or lust after quails, I am neither in dependence, nor am I feeding on the corn of the land.

As it was with Israel, so it is with us; the chief opposition was to hinder them from entering the land. With us it is not a mere place, but the place where our

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Saviour, our Head is; and unless we are in spirit with Him there, we have no sense of His power enabling us to act for Him here where He is not. Now the ten spies lacked faith; they had with their natural mind surveyed the glory of the land, just as many now admit the excellency of a truth, but they had not faith to encounter the difficulties in the way. This is one sure mark of declension. Not to admit the truth would be regarded as simply ignorance; but to say, We see it, and yet from natural wisdom and prudence to refrain from acting on it, is like Israel appending to their intelligence the fatal warning, "We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we". Judicious advice! but utterly without faith; and this is the worst kind of declension. On the other hand, Caleb counts upon God, rises above all the discouraging counsel, and declares, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome".

Where there is faith there is always progress; and also an apprehension that "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world". The cautiousness of the fearful is regarded by the unbelieving as great prudence, whereas faith proposes that we should go up at once. No difficulty is too great for faith, and in the power of it we press on till we reach the proffered blessing. The more sure I am of attaining anything, the more steadily and unflinchingly I persevere until I reach it. Lose the hope of attaining it, and then the hands will hang down, and the knees become feeble. And not only so, the effect of this discouragement is to make one retreat backward into the world, and to awaken the desire in the heart to return to Egypt. God's ways with His people now are the same in principle as they were with Israel. There are many believers now who are not clear out of Egypt, real and true it may be, but still occupied with the work of deliverance, and not in the sense of full justification, not yet joying "in God through our Lord Jesus Christ". There are others again who are happy in their deliverance,

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and have accepted their responsibility to be here for Christ, but who, though in a measure seeing God's calling, have not faith in the possibility of reaching it here in any degree. But there are also some, though alas! in the minority, who, counting upon God, can say like Caleb, "Let us go up at once, and possess it". With these there is progress, while with those who stop short of it the marks of declension are continually manifest. The Caleb now is the one who is in the mind of God and whose heart is in the course of His action. He is in the company and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, who is here to testify of Christ. Difficulties disappear before the faith of the christian Caleb; he enters into the heart of Christ; he is consciously one with all saints in heavenly places in Him; he knows that Christ's one central interest is here, that it is as dear to Him as ever. I may be able to describe with great clearness the glories of the church's calling, and yet from want of faith be so taken up with the difficulties of reaching it, that I discourage many, and in the long run disclose my own unbelief in what I had in word commended; and this is the case with many. But if I am truly a Caleb, I prefer Christ, the perfect One in the perfect place, to all else; and as I progress I count all things but rubbish, that I may win Christ; and the more I know of Him, the more do I enter into His interests; so that Paul could say that he was ready to be offered upon the sacrifice and service of the church's faith. If Christ retains the same love that He had at the first (and who would dare to deny that He does?) surely it is a surpassing favour to be entrusted in any measure with His confidence respecting it. His love has not waned because so many have not answered to it. The one who presses on is sure to be favoured with some of His thoughts about it, for "no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church". If one is not in His confidence there are no communications from Him as to His present thought about the church.

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We must begin with Christ. If I do not come from Him in heaven, I am not qualified to maintain suitably for Him here. It is by His power only, and as I am consciously in heavenly places in Him that I can keep the unity of the Spirit. The church cannot be my object but as Christ is my object. Hence I must be in spirit where He is, and learn Him there, before I can be here for Him according to His mind, or before I can make His interest -- the church -- my interest. According as I am His friend He will instruct me as to His interests here; and the saints, the first circle of His interest, must be the paramount circle to me.

An unfailing mark of declension is a renouncing of the truths which at one time were owned and advocated. All that were in Asia went back. Demas went back. They renounced the truth they once held, and we invariably find that the most advanced truth is the one first surrendered, or if not wholly surrendered, there is a timidity in the advocacy of it, which discloses that it is not held in the courage of faith which divine light always gives. If it were the brightest thing known to the soul, it would be the one most insisted on, as we see it was with Stephen and with others. A man cannot repress the brightest light that fills his soul, and therefore the babe with the unction can soon discover where there is real food. There can be no better proof of progress than there being food in due season for those dear to the heart of Christ, and every one may be tested by the nature and character of his supply for the saints. The soul that is progressing is invariably occupied with Christ; the old man is increasingly superseded; consequently the things that are behind are forgotten.

Now as Christ is known in glory, there must be a marked devotedness to His interests here in keeping with the purpose of His heart to present us to Himself a glorious church. It is by learning Christ in glory that I learn what the church must be to suit Him; and this is a great step in advance. The step in advance is the one

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most opposed, the one beset with the fiercest trials; the one where the unbelief is found out, but where the man of faith proves the goodness of God. Thus the measure of everyone's faith is disclosed sooner or later. If my heart is growing in the knowledge of the Lord's present interests, I am, while more devoted to them here, looking out more eagerly each day for the goal. The better I am running in the race here, the more the end of it is before my heart. I am cheerful in the present, because of His favour and support, and I am buoyed with the prospect of soon seeing Him face to face. When there is a secret cry, 'Who shall show us any good?' while openly asserting that the desolation is complete, there is at the bottom a desire that it should be so, that there may be a good excuse for retreating from the conflict. For in progress, as I have said, every fresh step is the one where your faith is tested; and if my heart is not simply with Christ, I say it is impossible to go on, and there is the wish to return to Egypt. It is remarkable how dispensational platitudes or criticisms will be embraced and be discussed while the conscience shrinks from the sight of the onward step which, if accepted, must necessitate an increased forgetting of the things behind. One may speak of anything but of the Man of God's purpose. What He did for us, or what we shall be in heaven hereafter, will be listened to and welcomed, but what is refused is that He is the One to supplant the old man, and thus connect us with Himself where He is; so that I am to live here in the scene of my own natural life, in the manner of His life, entirely for Him, and His interests. This only is true progress.

May the Lord lead us all fully into it.


There are two places in which God blessed and blesses His people: at one time on the earth; at another, in heaven. Israel was blessed on the earth in Canaan. The

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saints now are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. The earth suits the natural man; it was given to the sons of men. The spiritual only could enjoy heaven; hence there is an identity between the spiritual and the heavenly. Every conscientious person knows how readily he is attracted by the pleasing things on earth; and how entirely distinct and at variance they are from heavenly things. We now are a heavenly people; but we are set on earth, and the exercise to our faith is to walk in consistency with our calling.

If it be not accepted that we are heavenly, there must be endless confusion in the attempt to regulate the church according to the calling and principles of an earthly people. The incongruous size of the mustard tree sprang from appropriating what was peculiar to Israel as an earthly people. The distinctiveness of the church calling has not been preserved. Imitating and adopting what belongs singularly to another always destroys individuality and makes one unreal, and unfit for everything. Let it first be admitted that the church is heavenly, and not earthly; and then let us ascertain how a company altogether heavenly, can be on the earth.

There are abundant passages to prove that the church is heavenly, both as to life, hope, and possession. Let us look at a few of them.

The Lord says in John 3, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven". The eternal life is heavenly in its nature. Again in verse 31, "He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all". So far we have a heavenly life on the earth; and in chapter 14 the Lord tells His own that He goes to prepare a place for them. "In my Father's house are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you ... I will come again, and receive

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you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also". So far we have a heavenly life, and a place prepared for us in heaven.

In 1 Peter 1:3, 4 we read, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you". This was now the hope of the Israel of God. They were looking for heaven now, as their fathers had looked for Canaan. Their prospects were connected with heaven, and not with earth, for here they suffered, and they were not to think it strange, the fiery trial that was to try them, as if some strange thing had happened to them.

So also Paul in writing to the Colossians, prays for them touching "the hope which is laid up for you in heaven"; while he warns the Hebrews of the day of provocation, lest there should be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. They were partakers of the heavenly calling, and their danger or snare was that they would sink to the old earthly standing in which Israel had been, and which christendom, to its loss and confusion, has adopted. These Hebrews had already proved the practical power of the heavenly hope. "For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance". The food of heaven was known to them on earth, like the grapes of Eshcol, before they got there. In my judgment Peter refers to the persistent way in which Paul presses heaven as our only place when he writes, "Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their

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own destruction". While Paul in all his epistles had pressed that heaven was the only place, Peter speaks of all things on earth being burned up.

In Colossians 3 we are told to "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth". And again "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth". Finally in Ephesians we are not only "blessed ... with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ", but we His body, are raised up, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him. Thus there can be no question but that the saints arc heavenly in life, with a heavenly destination, and even now, blessed and seated in heavenly places in spirit. If the earthly be condemned nothing remains but the heavenly. Even James refuses the earthly and connects it with "sensual" and "devilish". In one sentence Paul determines the matter, "as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly".

Now it is not a mere contention whether we are an earthly people now, or a heavenly people, but it is of deepest importance to ascertain and to adhere to the character of our calling. Ignorance or indifference as to this great truth has been a bitter loss to souls individually, and has sadly obstructed the testimony committed to us.

I see in the gospels how carefully our Lord sets forth that His work was not only to deliver from human misery, but that He might give heavenly joy in the very spot where the misery is. The teaching of Luke 14 -- the great supper -- sets forth this, and contrasts heavenly joys with human joys. It is not that land, or oxen, or a wife are sinful, but they are earthly, and not the joys proper to the gospel. The fatted calf is peculiarly heavenly, and belongs to the Father's house. The ransomed soul is brought to joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The soul that is filled with the earthly thing has no taste for the heavenly. "The full soul loatheth an honeycomb". Surely we all know if we study our own history that, while there has been much

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exercise of soul to reach the joy of salvation, which is called peace, there has not been persistent seeking for or sole expectation of heavenly joys, or feasting on the fatted calf, while we journey here. How little has even the matured believer grasped that the condition on earth of the saved soul is that he should never thirst, that there should be in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life! A perfect redemption through the blood of Christ, and an unclouded assurance of eternal acceptance are, thank God, enjoyed by many; but how many can say that they are in such practical enjoyment of this heavenly gift that they never thirst? and that they are so replete with it that out of them flow rivers of living water?

Now if the convert, like the young shoot, is not directed aright from his infancy, it is not possible, without beginning again, to lead him into the region of the church, which is absolutely heavenly. If he has not learned that only heavenly joys are given to him here, he, in seeking for or preferring earthly ones, will forfeit his own true happiness, and be subjected to vexations and many disappointments, besides being practically unfitted for the testimony. If, as I have said, the christian has been reared up wrongly, if he has grown up undirected, and untaught to joy in God, he is quite unprepared for the church's portion in heavenly places. If he has never heard that the "fatted calf", the joys of the Father's house, are his present portion, made known to him by the Spirit come down from heaven, how can he desire to rise up to heavenly places, where Christ is, and enjoy them there as his right? If I do not know the taste of the grapes of Eshcol before I enter Canaan, I cannot long to be in the land, that I may eat them where they grow. We may well wonder, as we learn God's calling for the church, that so few really enjoy the position of being united to Christ; that so few are in the enjoyment of being over Jordan, after the experience of Gilgal, remembering Christ in His death, because they

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are in spirit in the full efficacy of His accomplished work; and then feeding on Himself in glory -- the corn of the land.

Now one way to account for this great lack is that there has been a defect in the christian education and calling from the beginning. God's thought even, as set forth in type, was never merely to deliver His people from misery, or to find them a home in the scene of their former misery, but to translate them into the blessings of another place, as it is written, "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", Exodus 3:8. The hankering that Israel had after Egypt, and their reluctance to enter into Canaan lamentably depicts the career of saints now-a-days, only that Israel, better taught than the many in this day, knew that Canaan was their true destination on earth; and well it would be for souls, however behindhand they are, were they looking to reach here the enjoyment of 'home comforts' before they get home. The consequence of this ignorance or unbelief, as I have noticed, is twofold: first, an immense loss to the individual soul, and secondly, a complete barrier to the understanding of our corporate position and testimony. It is an immense loss to the believer if he has not learned that not only has the work of Christ delivered him from the misery in which sin has plunged him, but that now through the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, he has "joy unspeakable and full of glory"; for if he does not know this latter part, he is drawn away by the attractions of this present life. Hence the word even to young men who are strong is "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him". In ignorance of the portion that has been given him, he hews out to himself cisterns that hold no water; he compasses himself with sparks of his own kindling; his righteous soul is often

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vexed, and everything is disappointing to him; for he has been looking in the wrong place for his happiness.

But that is not all: how can the saint who is seeking his pleasure in earthly favours, even of the best kind which nature, art, or science can produce, apprehend the mystery of God -- the church -- the body of a risen Head in heaven? How can one who has not turned to heaven as the sphere of his own joys, be prepared for the truth that he is one of a company united to Christ in heaven, raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ? The doctrine of the church as a heavenly company representing Christ here on earth is perfectly inscrutable to him. He has been looking for manifestation of divine favour on the earth; hence, though he has heard and read of the church, he regards it only in its earthly aspect. He has not known it as united to Christ, in the region where nothing could interfere with it. I may believe that the Holy Spirit is here, and that He dwells in me, and that He forms the body; but if I do not see and enjoy the fact that I am raised in company with all saints to the place where He is, I have no assured sense of union either with Him or with all saints; and the church is to me really an earthly thing, and not a heavenly, sent by Christ into the world.

In conclusion, it is impossible for any one who is not heavenly in taste, association, and hope, to comprehend the church as the body of Christ. There is union to begin with, but it is union in resurrection; hence the first action of one holding the Head is, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". Many a one, through grace, enters into the gospel as delivering him from his misery as man on the earth, and assuring him an eternal home in heaven, who cannot grasp the church in its real character; because, though on earth, it is of a heavenly order.

One word I must add in order to explain how in things natural a heavenly man is to conduct himself here.

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While I am heavenly in nature, I am here a child of Adam -- the first creation. My Lord is the Creator, and as I am subject to Him, He disposes of me, according to His own pleasure, as He made me; so that under His rule, in my own person, I am in millennial favour, though not in millennial circumstances.

There is much accepted and owned in this day of the Spirit's presence and indwelling; hence, it is necessary to insist that He does not lead to earthly joys. He leads to, and imparts, heavenly ones, and when the heart of the believer goes after natural gratification, a strange god, He is hindered and checked. It is not that He would lead us to despise or disregard the comforts which our Father's care so continually provides for us in our path here; and He is ever ready to succour, and to console, and to help us in our infirmities: but while most effectually strengthening with all power according to the might of His glory unto all patience, He would satisfy our hearts with heavenly joys, so that even if we were deprived of all the comforts here, we should still have "joy unspeakable and full of glory".


It is plain, from Colossians 1:23 - 29, that there are two ministries; the ministry of the gospel, and the ministry of the church. It is most interesting and important to ascertain the scope of each; where the first ends, and where the other begins.

The ministry of the gospel is universal, "proclaimed in the whole creation which is under heaven". And in Acts 17:30, the apostle says, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent". The gospel in its aspect is addressed to every one; as we read, "They went forth, and preached every where". Our Saviour God desires that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. The more vigour of life there is in any

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saint, the more, according to the leading of the Spirit, does such an one, man or woman, seek to make known Christ to sinner or saint. And I suppose there could not be any reviving in the church without a very marked energy in evangelistic work. The vitality of the body politic, the church, is declared by the force and effect with which Christ's deputed messengers, gifted by Him for the purpose, carry each part of the truth suited to every ear. The blessed God is evangelistic. He so loved this world that He sent His Son. Our Lord's most affecting work on earth was in leading a sinner (the woman of Samaria) into a knowledge of the grace of God. Of this He could say, par excellence, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of". "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work". The angels were the first evangelists; and the apostle of the gentiles, to whom was peculiarly confided the mystery of the gospel, was without question the greatest of evangelists. The prominence of this ministry then is evident enough.

Now the gospel, according to the instructions given to Paul (Acts 26:18), transfers the believer from one state to another, and the state to which he is transferred has a twofold blessing: one, the remission of sins; and the other, "inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me". The Son comes to do the will of God. He dies, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God". "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood ... for the remission of sins", thus to release us from the misery and judgment in which by nature we are plunged; and not this only, but to set us, by the Holy Spirit given to Christ on high, in heavenly joys, in the blessedness of Christ's life here; so that we have not to wait for those joys, but in the very spot of our misery, we have an earnest of the inheritance which is ours now by faith in Him. The gospel sets the believer free before God, from all that was against him as belonging to Adam, and as to state in this world, as Christ is now in glory. He

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is as to standing as Christ is -- "Because as he is, so are we in this world", 1 John 4:17. Nothing less could satisfy the Father's heart, and nothing less could the Son undertake, in bringing many sons unto glory, but that the believing sinner should be transferred by His work from the misery under which he lay, into a divine contrast in that very spot; not only rescued from misery with a perfectly assured home in heaven, but the joys of the Father's house made known to him by the Spirit before he gets home, home comforts before he reaches home. This is the fatted calf in Luke 15 before we go home, while in John 14:3 we have got home. I am through the gospel a child of God, saying, "Abba, Father", with the Spirit of the Son, and an heir of heaven; tasting while still down here, in the old vessel, of its joys through the Spirit, before I go there; this vile body a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Now, as far as I know, all I have written relates to the gospel, and I believe it may be enjoyed by one who is ignorant of the other ministry -- the mystery -- or the ministry of the church. I am quite sure he is acquiring untold blessing from it, even though he were ignorant of it; but it is clear much more would be revealed to him; for though his position (for he is a son) cannot be greater, yet, when he understands the ministry of the church, his full portion will be made known to him.

The more attentively we study the epistles, the clearer we shall see that churches or assemblies were formed before they were fully enlightened as to the ministry of the church. It is evident that at Corinth there was an assembly, and yet the apostle writes to them in the most elementary way, respecting the body, and the manner of its formation, and its corporate responsibilities; while to the Ephesians, whom he commends for their faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints, he prays that their eyes may be enlightened to understand the mystery, or the ministry of the church. And as for the Colossians, though commending them for their faith in Christ, and

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love to all the saints, he tells them, "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you", in his zeal of heart that they should be in rich possession of the truth of the ministry of the church. In the other epistles it is equally evident that though they were assemblies gathered to the name of the Lord, and in communion with one another, yet they were not in full apprehension of the ministry of the church. They had been gathered to the Lord in the power of the Spirit; and as in the first days before the mystery had been revealed, the assembly at Jerusalem were in full corporate sentiment and service, so were the assemblies among the gentiles planted, and in godly corporate relationship, before the knowledge of the mystery was doctrinally possessed.

In pattern, the Lord qualified His disciples for the assembly in John 20:19, before there was any revelation of the mystery. The presence of the Holy Spirit and being gathered together to the name of the Lord, ensured a corporate order, though the mystery was not as yet known. This is very important; that the church should be in divine order, and in the unity of the Spirit, before the truth was known which would have made the order still more obligatory (see Acts 2:46, 47).

In a word, the church as the house of God on earth was known before the body was revealed; and when discipline was necessary the apostle recalls the Corinthians to the ground they were on as the assembly. They were to come together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ -- "holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever" -- yet he afterwards in chapter 12 enforces this responsibility by insisting on their corporate relation to one another. The knowledge of the one body, and that this body is the body of Christ, is the mystery, or the ministry of the church.

In the ministry of the gospel we learn the immeasurable blessedness of all that Christ has done for us, but in the ministry of the church we are taught that we are related

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to Him to whom we owe so much in the closest way. It is the great mystery. He is Head of the body, the church, and from Him "all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God". Christ being rejected in His humiliation while on earth, and being refused when in glory, the great secret was then divulged, that His body was on the earth, and that this body would be the fulness, or complement of Him that filleth all in all. With regard to the church it can be said paramountly, What could have been done for you that I have not done? but to this is added the closest and most intimate relationship; we are united to Christ by the Holy Spirit, and thus brought into participation with Him of His things and glory.

It is not only now a company of christians with Christ in the midst, the Holy Spirit leading each into his proper and appointed allegiance and service, doing His pleasure, as that which is binding on all, and in every place, because it is His will; but that all are members of the body of Christ, each one united to Him, and to one another, and deriving from Him, like each single feather in the plumage of a bird which declares its beauty.

If the Holy Spirit be not seen on earth, there never can be any just or true apprehension of this mystery; but if I accept the truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit, I then can apprehend the baptism by which we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body; and this surely is followed by, "And have been all made to drink into one Spirit"; that is, that the unity of the Spirit is a necessary consequence of this baptism. It could not be otherwise. There can be no leading of the Spirit in one place, but what must be the same in every other. The members have but one Head; and they are His body, united together by the Holy Spirit. Therefore the mind of the Lord is one and the same, with every member of His body who is in simple concert with Him; and all who are in concert with Him are in concert with one another.

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The question is, What is the mind of the Spirit? There is but one for the youngest and for the most instructed. It could not be otherwise, if the church be the body of Christ; and hence it is the first duty or work of the heavenly man, of the man invested with the power which is in consequence of his union with Christ, to rise above all the natural influences in his purpose to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Whether we dwell on the church as the body of Christ now on the earth, or contemplate it as His fulness, we cannot but be deeply affected by the grace which has set us in so great a relationship to the very One to whom we are so attached already, on account of all He has done for us. How it consolidates everything to our hearts! Blessed be His name! We belong to, we are given to our Saviour; we are His own -- His body.


Every christian will admit that the Holy Spirit acted on this earth before the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Consequent on Christ's ascension the Holy Spirit descended and took up a new place on the earth. He came to abide; to remain with you and be in you, John 14:16, 17. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you". It is the effects from His new position which we have to learn, and to keep in mind. His power was necessarily always the same. But as He has come to remain with and to be in us, He must rule in a twofold way. His very greatness necessitates His ruling; that is, ordering all things according to Christ, according to the purpose for which He has come. Before He took this new place, He acted in everything according to the

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divine pleasure, but now having come definitely to remain with and be in us, He sways according to His own infinite greatness. Thus is there an entirely new government in the midst of the old existing one. All the government that was given to man remains. The power given to Noah, then to Israel, and lastly transferred to the gentiles, remains as it was given, but there is now on the earth an entirely new order of government invisible, but it is as real and as great as the presence of the Holy Spirit can render it.

Now the dwelling and rule of the Holy Spirit is twofold; there is the individual temple, as we see in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do ye not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God?" and there is the collective temple, according to 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are". Truly "the world ... seeth him not, neither knoweth him", but yet His rule is known by those who are capable of apprehending Him. No man knows the things of God but the Spirit of God. The first great thing to accept in faith is that the Holy Spirit is here; and then, as a simple consequence, whether in the church where He dwells, or in the individual, He must exercise His own sway, entirely distinct and apart from man's ideas; and after His own mind and good pleasure. When this new though invisible government is accepted, it must be by the Spirit. No one could instruct us as to the Spirit but the Spirit. Only the man indwelt by the Spirit, and knowing the rule of the Spirit in himself, could comprehend the rule of the Spirit in the house of God. I should be unable to see that the Spirit was residing here to testify of Christ, if I had not first learned by His dwelling in me, as sent by the Father in Christ's name, how new and distinct His rule in me is; and then, from my personal knowledge of His

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presence, I can apprehend Him in the wider sphere of the church.

It is plain from John 14:26 and 15: 26, that He is here for two services: one, to the individual; the other, for testimony. If these two services are not believed in and counted on concurrently, there is sure to be, however unwittingly, a failure or deficiency with regard to both.

In the great ecclesiastical system, it was assumed that there must be a person here for Christ -- His vicar. The idea was borrowed from Scripture. Thus the office of the Holy Spirit, as here for Christ, was admitted; but the office was filled up by a man, the Pope. It is important to trace this falling away, because, as we see, it began by admitting that there was a vicar of Christ here; but instead of by faith owning the Holy Spirit as the only one able to fill the office, they, having lost faith in the presence of the Holy Spirit, assigned it to a man. Hence with such a vicar, such a pivot, it is easy to see what the Romish system came to, and, of course, all idea of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit was lost. The conscientious faithful could not bow to a system thus formed; but as they had not faith to lay hold of the true Vicar, their efforts to reach a truly spiritual state were singularly baffled; so that while the Romanist who owned a vicar, but one of his own choosing, was deprived of the joy of the Holy Spirit for himself personally, the Protestant, though he rejected the Roman pretender, failed to grasp the true work and service of the Holy Spirit even with respect to himself, because he did not see Him in His office here as come down from heaven. I feel it will be found that whenever or wherever there is unbelief, or a limitation of the Spirit's office or service for Christ on earth, there is always great lack of apprehension as to His service and place in the individual saint.

It is remarkable that at the descent of the Holy Spirit, the house "where they were sitting" was filled first (Acts 2:2), and then He sat upon each one of them.

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That is, that the Holy Spirit, on coming down, first connected Himself with Christ's own; and then filled them individually -- "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit".

Surely Ananias and Sapphira betrayed that they were not under the rule of the Spirit in themselves, or they would have recognised His presence in the assembly. Peter convicts them on this ground. "Why has Satan filled thy heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Spirit?" I need not add more on this part of our subject, but I press the importance of implicitly owning the Spirit's office here for Christ, if the believer would preserve, and advance in, His own personal enjoyment of Him. I submit it will always be found that any limitation of His power and efficacy for testimony is accompanied by a corresponding lack and limitation as to His power in the individual, or rather that it has originated there. Hence it is not a mere question of the use of this or that means, but whether the Spirit is sufficient in His own way, and by His own instruments, to carry out the pleasure of Christ. If I limit Him for Christ I must limit Him for myself, and vice versa. He has an entirely new government, and entirely new modes of maintaining the rule that He has undertaken for Christ. Truly He uses the members of Christ, but it is He who uses them, and He only can tell them how they are to be used by Him. If the Spirit of God were depended on, either in the individual or in the assembly, every difficulty would be solved, and the true course would be defined by Him. We learn from the Acts of the Apostles the various ways in which the Spirit's presence was overlooked, and also the singular way He helped them, when they were in simple faith as to His presence. One thing is evident, that all through the Acts the Spirit of God is regarded as being here, so that whether it be the suppression of evil, or the support of the testimony, through the servants of the Lord, or the comfort and establishment of souls, He is always referred to as present.

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Many christians know that they could not say "Abba, Father" but by the Spirit of the Son in their heart; but neither can they enjoy any other of His activities. I have not space now to refer to them all. Communion, association with Christ, and all divine communications are known only through the Spirit, who is the seal of our present blessing, and the earnest of our inheritance. Surely it would add considerably to our sense of the magnitude of His indwelling in us, if we were in simple assurance of His habitation being here. The twofold dwelling would act and react on one another. If I should fear to grieve the Spirit in myself, I should correspondingly fear to quench the Spirit in the assembly, and vice versa. The Spirit not only gathers to Christ, for Christ is always His centre, but He only can give power and efficacy to any ministry, dividing to every man severally as He will; and He only, a greater than Eliezer, can conduct the bride to the Bridegroom.

The Lord awaken each heart to apprehend the solemn blessedness of the Spirit's presence in these two offices or service.


It is matter of the deepest interest, the way in which the blessed God has effected the decree, that the end of all flesh had come before Him, a decree which He declared just previous to the deluge. It is of the utmost importance to accept His decree absolutely; nay, more, the enlightened soul can rejoice that there is a complete end to a state in him which cannot please God. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God". There are then two things at the very start of our inquiry, which impart to it the greatest value: one, that it is God's own decree; the other, that it is the greatest relief to the renewed soul. This great and comprehensive decree was typically fulfilled at the deluge. There was a moment

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when there was nothing of the flesh to be seen anywhere in the whole universe. It was either covered in the ark, or drowned in the waters; as now man is either saved through Christ's death, or lost in judgment. If I know that my flesh is repugnant to God, I must surely desire to see it removed, in order that I may meet His mind, as well as to be free myself from that state which so distances me from Him.

God made a trial of the first man in Eden, and man failed. He then left him to himself till the flood. Corruption and violence filled the earth. Then, after the flood, man was given another trial. Again there was a still more grievous departure, manifested in the building of Babel, and in the worshipping of idols. Then God called out Abraham -- He would have a chosen people. They went down into Egypt, but He brought them out, and dwelt among them. Eventually He had to retire from them, and they were carried into captivity, so that His name was blasphemed among the gentiles. When He restored them to their land, and sent His Son, they said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours". Under every trial man has failed, and the result has been, the Lord would not commit Himself unto man, even when he believed on Him, "for he knew what was in man". (John 2:25).

Every believer owns that his sins could not be remitted but through the blood of Christ. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission"; but there is a want of clearness in almost every one as to the way in which the flesh -- its will, the actual principle that works it -- is set aside. Every conscientious person admits that not an atom of the offensive thing can go into the Father's house; and strange and numerous are the expedients adopted to get rid of, or eliminate this troubler. From purgatory up to devotional efforts, there is the avowed desire to get clear of the man of sin. The conscientious must desire, as I have already said, for a twofold reason (though he might not be able to say so), to get rid of the

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rule of the flesh. Every believer owns that he has committed, and does commit, sins; that "the thought of foolishness is sin"; but while he seeks to have an untroubled conscience with regard to himself, he has not real freedom before God; because he does not see how the sin that is in him in the root has been removed righteously from the eye of God. Hence, as I have observed, he must, according to his light, resort to some method by which this grievous thing in him may be extinguished. A Romanist thinks he can reach that by penance here, and purgatory hereafter, and this is in itself an admission that there is no use in being forgiven the fruit of the flesh, unless the root of it be reached. I only refer to the Romanist, because there is with him such an imitation, or counterfeit, of the real thing; for the truly conscientious is not merely satisfied that there is forgiveness of his actual sins, but he requires that there should be judgment on the parent flesh itself; and this is where repentance comes in. I am not only forgiven, but I see the enormity of my transgression in the ashes -- the token of the accomplished judgment which Christ bore on the cross. The remembrance of this judgment is brought to me by the Spirit of God.

Another looks for perfection in the flesh, so that with him forgiveness is not enough; but he expects, through the work of the Spirit, to be improved, which really means to convert the bad into good; and this is called sanctification. But with this doctrine, as a necessity, it is held that if the flesh break out again, there is no conversion at all; and that the one who was regarded as a child of God today, is, when he sins, no longer so, but a child of the devil. The ritualist proposes to propagate, through the elements of Christ's death, an altered nature in himself. Holiness by faith is another form in which some believers seek to escape from the flesh in its principle, after they have received forgiveness of sins. The doctrine of surrender of the will is an offshoot of this; while another form, very specious, but more

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disguised and pernicious, in proportion to its secrecy, is the sentimental delight which leads one to think that the less earthly he is, the more spiritual he is.

I have touched on these varied shades, arising from the same imperfect vision, or apprehension of how the end of the first man has come. In the fulness of time God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. John's announcement of Him was, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world". Mark here, it is the sin, not merely the sins; and hence, in another place, it is said "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself". Now the epistle to the Romans details the whole work for the sinner believing in Christ. In chapter 3 we find, "whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood ... for the remission of sins ... that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus". Hence follow Romans 4:7, 8: "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin". Not only are the evil deeds forgiven, but the sin is not imputed; and this is assured, because righteousness is imputed, consequent on the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Thus the sinner is brought to God in perfect peace -- all Christ's work -- and he is set in a new region, the other side of death, on the new ground, through the resurrection of Christ, where righteousness reigns, and consequently peace.

But now arises the question of sin in us. If grace abounds where sin abounded, does not that encourage one to sin? Surely it would, if sin in its root were allowed to be still uncondemned. Hence, in Romans 6, comes out the truth, that the old man is crucified with Christ. It has been righteously set aside in the cross, because Christ has endured the judgment on it. The judgment was death, and He bore it on the cross. There it has been righteously put away. "In that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto

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God". The judgment on the first man has been borne by the second Man; we are dead to that wherein we were held, and now we are free to be for another, even Christ; so that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh". It is now the expulsive power of a new Person -- "not I, but Christ liveth in me".

"In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing". This is an immense advance on admitting that sin is in me. Thus the flesh, the principle of sin -- its will -- is no longer to be owned by the believer as alive. It has been met, not by pardon, but by death. Sin is condemned in the flesh. True, he often feels that it is alive; but he is to reckon himself dead to it, and has no right to return to it, because it has been set aside in the cross for God, and He -- God -- never reverts to it again with regard to any one in Christ, for every one in Christ is a new creation. The old man is dead in Christ, or rather through Him. In Christ I am free from it; hence, "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". God, in His grace, has placed the believer in Christ, and it is his privilege now to say, "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". The old man having been removed righteously in judgment, the blessed God has translated us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love; and now, in His life and nature, we have put on the new man, which after God is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who has created him. We are now not debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh. I am crucified with Christ; that is, the old man is. If I return to the flesh now in any measure, I return to that which has been judicially terminated in the death of Christ. It has

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been removed from the eye of God, and if I return to it, I return not only to a thing that cannot please God, but to that for which Christ bore judgment. Hence, though the blessed God never sees me again in the flesh (for I am not in it before Him, I am in Christ), yet He sees me returning to it, and that it is in me, and if I do not judge it, and repudiate, and consign it to the same moral distance from myself as He has put it from Himself, He will judge it in me; that is to say, He will discipline me for returning to it. "Our God is a consuming fire".

There is an end to the old man for the believer absolutely. When he crosses the Jordan in spirit, none of the old order remains. The will of the flesh ruled me as a natural man; the Spirit of Christ now rules this body, uses my mind and strength for Christ; for it is my reasonable service, that this body, freed from its old master, the flesh, should now be absolutely under the rule of Him who bought it, and was its Creator. That sin in its root is in the flesh, I entirely admit; but my position now is, that I have the Spirit dwelling in me, to rule me for Christ; and He refuses the leadings of the flesh, seeing that it cannot have any rightful place, any more than could Ishmael be suffered to remain in the house with Isaac. Once the true seed is acknowledged, nothing less than casting out the son of the bondwoman is real liberty. We find that Christ, according to the will of God, has brought to an end, judicially, in His own death, the old man, and hence he does not exist for the believer in Christ before God; and thus the believer is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit: and Christ is the delight and object of his heart, now governed by the Spirit of God, and not by the will of the flesh. The believer is in liberty when he enters by faith into entire removal of the old man in the cross, and he can say, "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".

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There are only two ways of arriving at anything; either by one's own work, or by pure gift. While man was under trial, he was required to work to reach any advantage. It was thus every offer, however good, became a greater trial of him; and continually exposed his inability, unless he had faith in God. "The violent take it by force", Matthew 11:12.

After the fall, and until grace reigned, everything was on the ground of work. Abel offers the firstling of his flock; it is his work, no doubt a work of faith; faith in God led him to do the right thing, but it was his act. Through faith he had done well, while Cain, who had no faith, had not done well.

But now the light of grace does not lead the awakened soul to offer, but to accept the fulness of the offering which has been made. However effectual the type or shadow was, it in no respect reached to the antitype; in neither scope nor dimension. The man who had faith in God, acted, and gained accordingly. The act was required, though it was done through the power of God. Thus by faith Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his house. Thus Abram by faith went out, not knowing whither he went. The man was called to do an act, and if he had faith in God, the act secured a certain blessing for him. Thus Israel had to go in and possess the land; truly it was God who brought them in, but they had to do an act in order to secure the benefit.

Now gift or grace is in quite a different way. Each blessing is provided, and the believer is required to accept in faith, not do any act to secure it.

Let us look at three great acts which typify the blessing of the believer under grace. I have already referred to them, but let us examine them a little in detail. The first had to do with approach to God. There was the slain lamb; the sinner brought it himself; and as he had

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faith, he received a certain sense that he had done what was required, and he was relieved for the moment; hut this necessarily required repetition, for the blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sins. Still, as there was conscience before God, there was a recurrence to the mode which He had enjoined for effecting relief for it. The man of faith then did a work, and gained a limited blessing; while in grace the gift transcends immeasurably any and every idea conveyed by the type where work was necessary for attainment.

The Son of God comes into this world, and He is the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. He comes from God's side. The man under trial, and seeking to attain, comes from his own side. When God acts from His own side, only His Son could clear everything away from fallen man, worthily of God; so that the believing sinner is brought to God. He really has nothing to do but to rest the eye of faith on Him who has removed from the eye of God for ever all that offended. It is not only forgiveness of sins; and hence sin is not imputed, but there is a judicial termination of the body of sin in the cross, and the believer is perfected for ever by the offering of the body of Jesus once.

Many a believer in this day, though knowing that salvation is only through the work of Christ, is unconsciously on the ground of work or attainment, and he seeks relief for his conscience, by bringing Jesus as an all-sufficient offering to God: but as the relief is not permanent, he is obliged to recur to this act again, and he really does not see that God has come forth in gift; that where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound; and that the grace does not merely cover the ruin, but has greatly abounded over it. "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ", Romans 5:17.

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Now if there be simple faith in the grace of God, there is a divine sense in the soul of the perfection in which God has placed the believer through the work of Christ. The worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sins. This is the work of Christ for me according to God's pleasure. If I sin, I return to that which God has judicially put away in the cross; and if I do not judge it, and repent, as consigning it to the distance in the cross in which God has placed it, God will discipline me on account of it. There must be the renunciation of the flesh, just because we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, for the old man has been crucified in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Little place would there be for effort, if this truth in its full blessedness were seen, though the exercise of faith is needed every moment; and here diligence comes in. "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of". "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity", 2 Peter 1:5 - 7. This is the diligence which turns to the best account what we already possess; as in Matthew 25, the talents were advanced by trading, and the servant gained according to his faithfulness. "By the grace of God I am what I am ... but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me".

It is not now, exert yourself to the utmost to acquire it. That was the day of attainment, and then the impotent man was supplanted -- a stronger than he could step down before him (John 5). But when the day of grace began, the one needing it most was the first relieved, because he had the greater claim on grace. There is an immense difference in the state of soul of the one who is using the sacrifice of Christ as an attainment by faith in the virtue of it; and the one who sees that it is all gift, from beginning to end, effected according to the love

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and goodness of God. I have no space here to attempt to delineate the characteristics of each; there is one trait, however, distinct enough. When it is attainment, it is from man's side I see things, but when it is gift, I see them from God's side; and the consequences are characteristic of their origin. Where there is attainment the man is allowed a place, and the measure of the attainment is really the measure or sense of grace; whereas, when it is from God's side, the sense or measure of grace is ever boundless; and the more enjoyed, the more there is to be enjoyed. The one is occupied with man's poverty, the other with divine blessedness. The former, though he obtains real relief respecting his guilt, yet does not enter into the love of God, nor the satisfaction which God has in the work of Christ, which is an ever-increasing satisfaction to the one who sees that it is all done according to God; and yet he does not lose any of the blessings enjoyed by the one who only appropriates Christ from the sinner's side (as the sin-offering typifies). On the contrary, he enters more fully and deeply into it.

Secondly, let us note the difference between the heavenly stranger as typified by Abram, in the work of faith, and one who is the heavenly stranger by the gift of grace. Abram was called out to be a stranger in the land of promise, but he got nothing but as he acted in faith. There was a certain reward attached to a certain act. Hence he was always succeeding, when in faith; but if he failed in faith, he lost everything previously gained, as for instance, when he went down into Egypt, and which was in a sorrowful and full degree exemplified in Lot. But the heavenly stranger now possesses everything before he is a stranger in act. As he accepts in faith what is his, he is in the enjoyment of it, and this throws him into strangership here, but his enjoyment does not make it his, nor can he lose it because of unbelief, though he be as destitute morally as one who has plenty of treasure in his house but lives in penury. Hence there

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must be a great difference between a heavenly stranger who owns nothing but as he acts in faith, and the one who owned everything before he had faith about it. The one measures by his acquisition, while the other is encouraged by the greatness of the gift to delight in the Giver. The heavenly possessor is necessarily the heavenly stranger on earth. The more fully I enter into my home in heaven, the more distinctly do I feel and act on earth as a stranger, which I really am. It is quite true that as I am a stranger I receive the rewards of stranger-ship, but I am not trying to be a stranger to secure these benefits; but by being true to what grace has made me. And here responsibility comes in; here the "ifs" in the New Testament come in: If I continue, and if I do so-and-so, I enjoy the portion which through grace is mine. I have been faithful in that which is my own. If I sow to the Spirit, I of the Spirit reap life everlasting; but this is very different from obtaining title or right to a blessing, in consequence of an act, even be that act one of faith. The responsibility is greater if I do not accept or keep to what has been given me, and obtained for me at so much cost by my Saviour. In the one case, I lose my attainments; in the other, I have made light of the gift.

Thirdly, let us look at the difference between Israel entering the land, and the man in Christ. Everything depended on their act. They must go in and possess the land. True, God brought them in, but they had to act in order to possess, and those who went in without faith did not remain possessors. Now the believer is united to Christ, and is in full title and ownership of the heavenly places before he enjoys any of it. True, as he accepts in faith the portion which grace has given him, the greater is his sense of possession and consequently of his enjoyment. In the one case the act was necessary in order to obtain possession; in the other, there was as much title before enjoying possession, as there was consequent on possession. If I only possess heaven in proportion to my act of faith, as was the case with

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Israel respecting Canaan, I have no right of possession but as I secure it; my sense of owning the land is only as I set my foot on it. Hence I am necessarily anxious as to my progress; my possession depends on it; whereas with a believer now, he has full title before he lays hold of any of it, and every apprehension of his portion only stimulates him the more to advance, and to be in association with Him who is there. It is the vastness of the blessing which he has in association with Christ, which makes him long to apprehend it more, as Paul says, "that I may apprehend that for which ... I am apprehended of Christ Jesus". It is the breadth and length, and depth and height, which occupy him who has Christ dwelling in his heart by faith. He does not depend on his own progress for assurance of possession, but he is so assured of the unsearchable riches of Christ, as his portion, that he dwells on it in faith; and thus, as the greatness of his possession is realised, he longs to enter still more into what he is sure of is his.

We all know the tendency there is in our hearts, and often in proportion to our earnestness, to be on the line of attainment, instead of being simple recipients; and it is well for us to note the difference in state which the effort to attain produces, from that which grace or the acceptance of gift produces. One who is in the former is never even; he is elated at any sense of his progress, and depressed if he becomes conscious of his losing ground, though generally he is too well pleased with his own engrossment of desire to advance, and obtain more. In the other, in proportion as the grace is simply held, there is great evenness. There is ever a sense of being far behind in enjoying the vastness of what has been conferred; and there is the greatest thankfulness for a sight of it, while with each new acquisition, there is the sense that 'the draught which lulls our thirsting awakes our thirst anew' . The one is like a man making a fortune; while the other is exploring the vastness of the gift bestowed on him; one necessarily is occupied with

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what he is doing; the other is praising the Lord for all that He has shared with him.

One word in conclusion. It would be sad indeed if the man of effort could in any way practically surpass the man in Christ. I have no doubt but that the soul walking in grace will, as the antitype does to the type, exceed in every moral way the man of effort. It would be sad indeed if the man of unbounded property should not in every way surpass the man acquiring it. I am sure the soul in any true sense of the vastness of the gift will surpass in diligence and labour the one who, in his misguided earnestness, imagines that it is all attainment. Surely the one with boundless resources in Christ, and with any fidelity of heart for Him, must surpass the most devoted heart that does not know its portion in its object. The Queen of Sheba is after all only an enraptured spectator, while the church is united to Christ and participates with Him in His things: and surely the latter must, because of intuitive or intrinsic grace, surpass the former.


No one acquainted with the history of God's people on the earth but knows that though there have been continual declensions, yet in His goodness they have been succeeded by revivals. It is interesting and helpful to note the way He revives His work.

The first great fact is that He continues to work among the people, or line of testimony, where the failure occurred. When man's sin brought on the flood, God did not revive His work outside of Seth's line. The line of testimony, Noah, was the one chosen to revive His work. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord". When failure ensued at Babel, God called out Abram, though Shem's family was involved in the common

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failure; yet the blessed God called out one of his offspring -- one in the line of testimony, in order that through him He might revive His work; and however great the failure afterwards, God never gave up Abraham's family, until they, as a nation, gave Him up. In like manner, God has never given up the church though her failures and declensions have been manifold, but He continually has revived His work in their midst. But though God continues to work with the same line, I do not find that He works in the place where the failure has occurred; for instance Bethel becomes Bethaven, and the candlestick was taken from Ephesus. At all events, we see that He continued in spite of every failure with Israel, until they had no cloke for their sin; until they had sinned against the Holy Spirit. And He is still reviving His work in the church, until it becomes so nauseous that He must spue it out of His mouth. Though Jacob's deceitful course led to the break-up in Isaac's time, yet it was through Jacob, when he was broken down, and not any one else, that the revival came. And when Jacob's sons sinned, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites, it was through Joseph, the dearest to Jacob, that the revival came. I deduce from this that it was the one next to Jacob, and the one most in the mind of God, and in the testimony, who was used of God, when really cast upon Him.

Again, when Israel had been many years in bondage, God revived His work. Where did it begin? In Moses' parents, where there was godliness, and faith in God. All Israel is to be blessed and relieved, but the revival begins in the faith of the parents, who hid their son because they "saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment". Now this is the second mark. The first, we have seen, is that God continues with one line, until it has been proved utterly reprobate. The second is, that He works where there is faith in Him that He will effect His own purpose in contradiction to the world's sway and dictum all around.

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Again in the day of provocation, the Lord did not cast away Israel, but Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb of Judah, who stilled the people, were the chosen of God to revive His work. They were small in the eyes of men, but true to God's purpose, which is always indispensable in the man for the crisis; and it is interesting to note that Joshua was of the favoured family, the house of Joseph. Through all the history of the kings we find the same principle. God did not forsake David's line, but He revived His work, where there was faith, and true purpose to maintain the testimony of the time. When Christ came, though the wise men acknowledged Him, He connected Himself with the poor, lowly and faithful ones in Israel who sought Him. Simeon and Anna, in the temple, true to the testimony, are the beginning of the revival of that hour. He did not forsake Israel even when they said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him", and cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him", until the nation had condemned itself in the stoning of Stephen. And then the Lord imparted the light, inaugurated by Stephen, to Saul of Tarsus who was consenting to his death. I mean He carries on the light.

When a breach occurred between Paul and Barnabas, through the dissimulation of Peter, the Lord went on with Paul, because he was faithful to His glory, and the light which he had received. Silas accompanied him, and Timotheus is given to him at the moment to fill the blank occasioned by the departure of Barnabas. Thus in the history of the church at any time, it will be found that the Lord succours and supports those who follow on in faith, in the line of His highest interests, or testimony at the time; to the end it is "he that hath an ear, let him hear". A hidden sin may lead to the discomfiture of the whole company, as it was with Israel in the case of Achan; but God still used Joshua, because he was true to His highest interests; and thus every break-up, sad for the moment, clears the company of the troubling element; and leaves the blessed God at

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liberty to go on with those who are true to the testimony to which He has called them and who swerve not from the light which He has committed to them.


In this world of darkness the light has shined; an entirely new thing. A Person, the Son of the Father, was "made flesh, and dwelt among us". He is the Light. Everything of Him ranges on His side, and everything of darkness ranges on the side of the world. There is now a complete distinction. There is no communion between light and darkness. As the eye is single, as Christ Himself is the one object before the heart, the body is light. There is a receiving of light from Him which places one apart, and outside, and in contradistinction to every one and to everything here. His light must have this effect. The more light any one has, the more must this be the effect. Every addition to one's light will necessarily increase this effect. Light not only opposes darkness, but according to its power supplants it; there is no other way to overcome darkness but by light. "Let your light so shine before men" is our true power of testimony. If there is light, there must be a space created by it for itself, "as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light". "Light is sown for the righteous", and "in thy light ... we see light". The man of light assumes nothing. He is not aware of his moral influence; he has been controlled by the light himself, and it sheds its influence around him, without his seeking it or attempting it. The genuine effect of all truth is declared in the light which it imparts. "The fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth".

Light, then, cannot be too much valued; and as there is faithfulness to it, there must be a space for it. It cannot be hid. It is not to be put "under a bushel", nor "under a bed": that is, it is not to be hid either designedly, or suddenly, but to be in such a position "that they

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which come in may see the light". It is hypocrisy to try to hide it. It is the greatest favour to be given any light. I consider when the Lord sheds any fresh light into my soul, and opens out His word more clearly on any point, that I have received the greatest favour that He can confer; while on the other hand, I find that each additional ray of it places me, without even knowing why, more distinctly outside, and entirely apart from the order of things here. "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light". And I am not only set free, and in a new path for myself, but as I am faithful to my light, I am a real help to my fellow christians, shining "as lights in the world". Thus there are two things connected with light. The first -- the greatness of the Lord's favour in imparting it to me. Our true sphere now is the light. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another". "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all". It is there I am "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord". What can be more blessed than the sensible impartation of His light, which His own word by the Spirit makes intelligible to me? When I understand the Lord of glory in His own sphere, and I am in any degree transformed into the glory, I read things here in that light; and the Scriptures open out to me as setting forth the counsel and purpose of God to head up all things in this blessed One, my Saviour.

The second thing is, that it is only in the measure that I am faithful to this light, that I can be any real help to His own, in leading them on. I must avoid the "bushel" and the "bed" in order that I may duly set forth, for the benefit of the saints, the grace the Lord hath shown me; even though it exposes me, as it surely will, to the opposition of the darkness all around. My comfort is, that the effectual way to overcome darkness is by the persistent maintenance of the light. Like Noah in his day; God had shown him great favour in giving him light, and in faith he adhered to it. He "prepared an ark to the

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saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world", who would not accept the light. Noah had no encouragement from his fellow men; yet he made no secret of his light. Day by day for many a year he persisted in setting forth what he had been led to see. He was singular to a degree, without any popular acceptance; and yet, though approved of by none, he boldly declared it. He was the light in the world at the time. The greater the faithfulness to the light at any time, the less human eminence is obtained. There is no beauty in the light in man's eyes. The holders of it must expect no countenance from man. "Not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth".

Thus was it with Joseph in his day. He had the light; man did not value it, but he held on; and after many a year of suffering, he could say, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive", Genesis 50:20. He had the light; it was from God. It gave him no position among men; but as he was true to it, God made him to prosper; and a great service was rendered by him to the people of God in an hour of the last extremity. It is not in the day of prosperity that the effect of the light is so manifest. It is when there is, as it were, no more hope, that the man of light holding on to it, in faith in God, is used by Him to help His people; even as it was in Gideon's day, when the sudden burst of light from three hundred broken pitchers, secured a great deliverance for Israel.

The more I believe that the light is from God, and the more faithfully I adhere to it, though it throws me, as one unknown and peculiar, into a narrow path, separate from my fellows, the more service shall I render in the end to those who had turned away from me. Hence, as I have said, it is continually in the time of the greatest feebleness and hopelessness, that the man of light comes to the rescue. Who could read the history of

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Moses, and not see how he, as the man of light, was again and again the saviour of the people, when they were on the very verge of ruin! When they had turned to idolatry, and had Aaron for their supporter, who marked out the way of deliverance but Moses? Fresh from the presence and glory of God, he knew the right thing to do: he took the tabernacle of the congregation, and pitched it very far outside the camp. The thousands of Israel might have disapproved, and certainly they did not understand the act. Moses acted alone; he acted for God; and service was rendered to all Israel. The man of light must look for no countenance from man; but as he has faith in God, he is borne on and eventually the light cannot be hid. It is ever the sovereign pleasure of the blessed God, that the light which He has given should not be hid; however it may be refused, and however the holders of it may be tried and disregarded; yet in the end, it must come abroad.

The great thing to be dreaded is the Esau spirit; the readiness in a moment of pressure to say, What good is it to me? When the light is in any degree surrendered, that soul can make no more progress for the Lord. There may be the adoption of many an imposing service, or an affecting course of life; but, assuredly, when the light that has been given has been in any way lost, there is no additional light given to that person. While on the other hand, if I am faithful to the light God has given me, though all men may turn away from me, yet the day will come, when the Lord will be glorified, and His own will be helped on and encouraged, in the face of the enemy; and there shall be a great recovery, a "light ... out of darkness".

Samuel in his day, in a very peculiar way, in simple dependence on God, from the days of his childhood to the end, held on to the light which he had received. In 1 Samuel 7 we learn how fully he counted on God, and how he was used to help God's people, in their very low estate, in that dark day. Samuel has as much confidence

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in God in Israel's darkest day, as Joshua had in their brightest day. Samuel's stone, Ebenezer, is a more glorious tribute to God than Joshua's.

Thus the man of light, however ignored or disregarded, eventually comes forth as a bright morning to a long dark night. And though, like Samuel, he may have to retreat to Ramah, because of the disobedience of King Saul, the day will come when David will seek him at Ramah. The light may long be refused and slighted, but if there is faithfulness to it, it will eventually be acknowledged as of God.

Look at Daniel in Babylon; or at Ezra and Nehemiah, with the returned captives; the one great thing that marks them is their simple, undeviating adherence to the light given them. Expose them, as it might, to unheard-of trials and opposition of every kind, yet in the end God made it to prosper. Glory was brought to Himself, and success and gain to His people.

In the pathway of our blessed Lord, the One who could say, "walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you" (John 12:35), who could describe that wonderful track of unfailing light? And though baffled, and hindered by man on every hand; misunderstood, and misconstrued by every one; relentlessly opposed, and in the end crucified; yet He could declare to His disciples that the time would come when "that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops". The light given of God may indeed be refracted, because of the dense medium here, but it cannot be destroyed; and if there is simple faithfulness to it, the blessed God will assuredly grant it space, for His own glory, and the service of His people.

Paul, as we see, held on to the light, even more vigorously, when there were surrenders of it almost enough to discourage him. All in Asia, where he had laboured chiefly, had turned away from him. Was there any good then in persisting in a light which had proved to be so ineffectual? Yes; certainly. The light was of

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God; and hence he urges on Timothy, "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned"; as he says, "Thou hast ... known my doctrine", and "from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures". No one, I am persuaded, can interpret the Old Testament Scriptures unless he knows Paul's doctrine.

And what marks the closing hour? "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". Who could portray the beautiful radiance of heavenly light which will be displayed by the church in the aggregate on the earth, as the true Rebekah moves on to the meeting of the Bridegroom? It is not only her beauty that distinguishes her ("forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty"); but as Rebekah cast a veil over herself when she saw Isaac, so shall the bride cast into oblivion every trace of herself; "One Lord, and his name one", evermore for her heart. To this great and glorious finish will the Lord use the light which He has recovered to the church, as there is simple faithfulness in maintaining it. "But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him".

The Lord give us grace to answer to His word, -- "hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown".


The end before us in anything necessarily gives a character to everything we do. I may be very far distant from my aim, and I may advance very slowly towards it, and yet as I advance, I become more coloured by, and more stimulated to advance. Hence it is of all importance to the believer to know what is the end of all teaching and warfare. The simple soul would at once answer, It is Christ. This is quite true; but while He is the end and aim of all teaching and warfare, it is of the deepest interest to ascertain how this end is to be reached; for

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here it is, I am persuaded, so many fail. The aim may be the only right one, but this is not enough; we must learn how it is to be effected. One is not crowned unless he contend lawfully. A man would not become a great linguist by studying mathematics. If the aim is the acquisition of languages, the only course to pursue, in order to reach this end, is the study of languages. Now as Christ is the only true end, as will be admitted on all hands, it is plain that it is only as He is displayed and developed, that the end is attained.

The only true end for the christian is to set forth Christ. The momentous question then is, What is the way to do this? It is here where divergence of opinion occurs, and failure as a rule ensues. Each earnest believer would assert his desire to pursue this great aim; but while in conscience it is so, many evidently have not learned the only way of ensuring it. The greater the aim, the greater and the more peculiar must be the way to secure it. Christ is the end. We know that the blessed God will head up all things in the Christ, "which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate", 1 Timothy 6:15. This is future. He will shew Christ Jesus to all as His faithful Servant here on earth. Christ himself is here (verse 13) viewed as the faithful man, whom God will manifest in glory before all creatures, at the time ordained in his counsels. The more firmly and assuredly we hold that the blessed God will yet set Christ on the earth as the Man of His purpose, the more shall we see that in the counsel of God, He should be presented here in the time of His rejection by His body, the church, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ". Surely this is the end of all teaching; the true edification of the body of Christ. While, as we read in Ephesians 6, the great result to be attained through all warfare is that there may be boldness of utterance "to make known the mystery of the gospel".

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We have now arrived at two things: one, that the aim of all teaching and warfare is that Christ should be glorified here. Secondly, that through His body only can this be accomplished. The teaching would reach on to this; and the warfare is effective when we can open our mouth boldly to declare "the mystery of the gospel". Now then, we come to the course of action by which this can be secured.

The first thing that bursts in with a light above the brightness of the sun, on the soul established in grace, is that his Saviour is not here, and that being rejected by the world -- not only by Jew, but by Jew and gentile, the blessed God has called Him to His own right hand, a glorified Man in heaven. Hence every believer here, when restful in grace as to his perfect acceptance with God, and escape from the man here under judgment, enters on a new day when he learns that the man with whom he was connected, and utterly ruined, has been judicially set aside in the cross, so that it is a relief to say, "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". In a word, that I am morally apart from the man on earth, who has rejected my Saviour -- the Son of God; but that I am now of the stock and lineage, as I may say, of the Man at God's right hand, whom God has glorified. "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren". While Christ, the Man of God's purpose, is absent in rejection, there is not any divine dealing with the man here, save and except to set him aside altogether. Not only cleared of judgment, but he must die, leave this earth; he must cross the Jordan in Christ's death to be where Christ is, or he would have to remain here, where He is not, with the man, that is, the world, who with wicked hands crucified and slew Him. In the millennium Christ will be reigning here; then the man here will be taught to acknowledge Him in His rightful position, and they

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shall know the Lord. Now Christ is rejected here, and is set at God's right hand, in heavenly places, and all who believe in Him are no longer connected with the man here, nor with the earth, but with Him -- the Man whom God has glorified, and who is in heaven. This is the first great thing to accept in faith, and to hold to as the truth of God. Sealed by the Spirit, who is the earnest of the inheritance, we have the Spirit of Christ, and enjoy His life, for He is in us. We are thus on the earth after a new order. It may be contended that we have as mortals to pass through this world. Quite true. Our blessed Lord was in our circumstances, and yet was always the Son of man who is in heaven. I do not forget that we are in Hebrews, while I press that the calling of God for us is set forth in Ephesians.

It is admitted that Christ is the only true end; and that He cannot be expressed here but by His body, the church; and now we are seeing how the believers are qualified for this great service. No sooner has the established soul -- the one able to say, "Abba Father", with the right through the blood to enter the holiest -- learned that he is joined by one Spirit to Christ in heaven, than he not only feels bound to glorify Him here, in his body, which is His, but he rejoices that he is in association with Him where He is. who is the Head, to whom he has to grow up in all things, in common with all saints, all raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. Then he learns that he is introduced as a member of Christ's body into an acquaintance with an enjoyment of Him which must surpass all the types given as the brides, more especially the brides elect, in the Old Testament. The type gives the phase or character of the affection. Thus the word educates the heart into the sentiments proper to the bride. There must be the knowledge of His love before the exercise of His power. If Eve was filled with rapture and surprise as she stood before the only man who would claim her as his own, how much more must each believer

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be entranced, as he learns the nature of his relationship to Him as a member of His body; and this is the great mystery; and the practical enjoyment of it, of which there is no type, is that we are not only raised up to the place where He is, and in union with Him by the Holy Spirit, but He dwells in our hearts by faith.

Then there is a worship only typified, as it appears to me, by Deuteronomy 26. We are educated into the affections of the bride-elect in Canticles, but the Spirit now leads us into a restfulness of heart unknown to her; even the confidingness of real union, as has been said, 'What is complete in glory, is wrought into the soul now, by the Spirit operating with the word'. I only turn to types to point out how immensely we are beyond any of them, though, as I have said, I get divine suggestions from the type, as to the incipient sentiments proper to me. We should remember that a bride-elect is not united at all. There is affection; and, as I have said, we derive a very great help to our affections from the types; but we are placed far beyond, in our union with Christ, of which there can be no type, because it could only be by the Holy Spirit sent down from an exalted Christ; and this "was kept secret since the world began".

I have referred to Eve to point out her unrivalled position; so entirely unique, and therefore setting forth the wondrously new position which the church now occupies with regard to Christ. But the sense the church should have of her portion for heart and life is far beyond anything that Eve had.

I also refer to Rebekah, as setting forth the practical walk of one truly bound in heart to Christ. She presents the phase of one who, previous to seeing him, having heard of him, determines to surrender every natural association in place and relationship, in order to come to THE PLACE where Isaac is. Truly she had heard of him, and had received his gifts; yet how feebly do these things represent the church, of whom in the wilderness it can be said, "whom having not seen, ye love; in

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whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" -- the joy belonging to glory. The church has thus an immense advantage over Rebekah, who had not known Isaac before she saw him; for each one in the church now, by the Spirit, is given to know Christ in the same kind of intimacy which subsists between the Father and the Son (see John 10:14, 15). Yet Rebekah left all for Isaac. Christ is our Head. We know our wondrous place in Him; so it would ill become us not to leave every relation here, and this place, for His place. This is the proof of whole-heartedness -- "Whither thou goest, I will go". We are "raised ... up together, and made ... sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". "Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty". As my heart grows into a deeper knowledge of His love in the place where He is (Ephesians 3:19) -- though His work for us was on the earth, I am qualified to be the vessel of His power that worketh in us on the earth. Like as the branches of a tree "planted in the house of the Lord", so the ways and life of the heavenly Man are displayed on earth by His own body, the only way in which they could be truly displayed. It is not possible to represent any one personally but by himself. Surely no one could in any way represent Christ but His own body. To exemplify the traits and features of the heavenly Man, you must come in His power, with Himself dwelling in your heart; filled with the knowledge of His love, which passeth knowledge; here there is the filling unto the fulness of God, the making increase unto God, and we "grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom 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".

Beside all this, which all teaching works up to, so that the church may be according to God's calling here, and

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made ready for her Lord's coming, there is the warfare, when we each, as we are placed by God's ordinance, refuse to withdraw from our heavenly position, or to make any terms with the enemy. The whole force of Satan's power is waged against the reproduction of the Man Christ Jesus here, whom God had glorified when He was rejected here. It must be so. When Satan had worked up man to reject Christ, and when it was accomplished, then the blessed God divulged His secret, that the body of Christ was on the earth (formed by the Spirit of those who believe on Him), and though they have not entered, save in spirit, into their future portion, they are already united to Him; and as they are true in heart to Him, they stand here against all the wiles of the devil for Him; in armour resisting Satan, and in dependence on God, in "supplication for all saints", they reach this great end, that in all boldness (the more so because the apostle has been cut off) they "make known the mystery of the gospel".


There is no truth more distinctly insisted on by the apostle Paul than "the mystery of the gospel", the relationship which believers now bear to Christ, as he says, "This is a great mystery", that the church is the body of Christ, and all believers now are the members of His body. The first great truth to accept in faith is that the church is the body of Christ. If this is held in simple faith, there can be no question as to the fact of union. The church could not be Christ's body if it were not united to Him. It would be only a figure of speech, and not a "great mystery". The apostle adduces the type of Adam and Eve in order to show that as they were one flesh, so there is a unity now, but of a much greater order. At all events there is a great point gained when one accepts in faith that the church is Christ's body; and therefore it is

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as absolutely united to Him as my body is to my head, or it would not be His body. This is of all importance; because it is here the most pernicious leaven of the day works. It has been covertly maintained, and speciously taught, that an offence to the body is of quite a different character from an offence to the Head. If this were true, it would be to separate the Head from the body: of course this is not openly stated, but the inference is evident, and it is the corrupting effect of such an idea that I deprecate. If the thought be once admitted that the body is not a component part of the Christ, all true apprehension of the church's union to Christ has vanished, and to accomplish this has been the main point of Satan's opposition, so that for many centuries the truth was completely lost.

The church is Christ's body and it is in purpose, "the fulness of him that filleth all in all". Romanism made the church everything, and left out the Head; hence in that system, another head was introduced; but the more truly the church is regarded as Christ's body, the more faithfully will every movement of it be viewed absolutely in relation to Him; and consequently the church comes to no decision but when gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is from the Head that all the body, by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, makes increase unto God. A body can do nothing without its head. It is from the head all counsel and direction comes. If it is so in the natural body, how much more so in the great mystery! It is not competent for any number of christians, majority or not, to act apart from Christ; but any number, however small, directed by Him, determines that which is binding on all, as at the conference in Jerusalem (Acts 15).

First, then, we have arrived at this, that the church is Christ's body; and that there cannot be any distinction between one part of Christ and another. Paul's first lesson is conclusive on this point: the Lord regards his

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persecution of the church as personal -- as done to Himself: "Why persecutest thou me?" No room here for the error that there is a difference between an offence done to the church, and one done to the Head, as if they were two parts of a great whole, which can exist separately. Now it being admitted that the church is Christ's body, and that its relation to Him is more complete and continual than that of the natural body to its head, we may ascertain the nature of the union. While the union of man and wife sets forth the nature of the relationship, it does not adequately express the nature of the union. In the types in the Old Testament the great fact indicated is the satisfaction of heart the bride-elect has in prospect; so that in Canticles she has no delight apart from the company of the Bridegroom. Affection is set forth and fostered on both sides, as preliminary to union. Union without affection would be contrary to all order, but affection is not union, though it is essential to it. "We love him, because he first loved us", and this historically before union is known or enjoyed. Rebekah can leave everything naturally dear to her for Isaac, before she is united to him; no doubt union was in prospect, and the steward's account of him had won her heart. I merely adduce this type to show that affection exists before union; but then there cannot be less affection after union, but rather an affection of a deeper kind. There are links in the chain of love. The first is when the soul apprehends the perfection of Christ's work, as Jonathan to David, when Goliath was dead. "Jonathan loved him as his own soul". As the woman in Luke 7"her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much". This apprehension of Christ's love is the first, and attaches the heart to Him always, because the sense of His love must ever come before the soul, as it enters into its new and eternal place, because of His love. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". This is the first link, and this is characterised by surrender. I make much of the object of my heart at

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my own expense. The next is, I learn what Christ is to me. Like Ruth with Naomi, I cannot do without Him. It is His company now I seek; in trials or difficulties here, I cannot do without Him. I want Him here each hour of need. His sympathy is my only cheer. Like Mary in John 11, He is the only One to comfort me, but it is His personal nearness to me that I seek and require. Like Mary Magdalene, I feel desolate here without Him. This is the second link; not only preparing for union, but making the knowledge of union the deepest joy of the heart. For as He is absent in heaven, even though He ministers to me of His grace, in blessed sympathy, in my path down here; yet I am not in the place where He is. Longings for it are ineffectual or worse, because longings when unsatisfied, if they are true, the more they are baffled the more they increase; and thus the longings become an engrossment, and one's own feelings the centre. Now to one with this affection the knowledge of union is an immense relief and favour; he is ready for it. This in a measure Mary Magdalene found, when the Lord told her of His ascension. His words had a wondrously soothing effect on her, for she went away from Him without reluctance to do His bidding. As surrendering for Him marks the first apprehension of His love, so does seeking His company and subjection to Him mark the second. Hence our Lord could say to His disciples, that if they loved Him, they would keep His commandments; and that if they did, He would come and manifest Himself to them. Surely we do not lose the first, because we have the second: no, but on the contrary, they mutually contribute to one another. Now to the one inconsolable because of Christ's absence, it is an unspeakable relief and cheer to learn that through the Holy Spirit we are members of His body, and can thus reach Him in the place where He is. Practically this is not known or enjoyed but in communion: as affection precedes, and is the preparation of the heart for, union, so does communion fit me morally for the union. "If

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I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me". Peter had a great deal of affection, but with the root of the sin unjudged, he had not communion; and we all know that union without communion, would be only a title without companionship. If it is so naturally, how much more with us! Our union is by the Holy Spirit. It is here where the unity of the Spirit may be apprehended, one Spirit uniting the Head and the members, the counsel and direction of the Head alone valid, and claiming the attention of every member of His body, now united by the one Spirit to the Head in the place where He is. This then is another link or growth; each succeeding growth increasing the preceding ones. It is growth in the apprehension of His love, consequent on the knowledge of union with Him, by which we are introduced into a scene of unclouded bliss, where everything is in divine harmony, which in every way suits our Lord. Here His love from the beginning, and the depth of it in dying for us, comes before us in the fullest way. The very nature of the place demands it. I am in such consciousness of being "blessed ... with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ", that I revert to the whole history of His love. Hence in type, the beginning, the first thing in the new place after Gilgal, is the passover; the heart celebrating its remembrance of the death of Christ, of all He went through, to bring me to this wondrous position. The Lord in a measure led His own into this great moral elevation, on rising from the dead, when He appeared in their midst. And in John 13 at the supper table, He begins His new service from heaven, to secure our companionship with Him in heaven. It is as washed by Him, separated by the action of His word, in true circumcision, from the root of every offence, not only forgiven but the root judged, and thus all reserve between Him and me removed, that I am free to enjoy the scene where He is, and in which we are set, through union with Him. Hence as affection makes the knowledge of union desirable, so is communion necessary in order

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that I may be suitable for it. Affection leads me, at all cost, to leave the place that naturally suits me, for the place that suits Him; and as I approach that place, I am myself transformed into suitability to it. The word detaches me from every working of the flesh, that had caused any moral distance, and consequently the more I am in His place, the more is my heart drawn out to dwell on His love, in effecting so much for me. It is when I am dwelling in heaven, as set forth in type in Deuteronomy 26, that I am enabled to have the best sense of His love; "to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge;" and then to advance into being filled unto "the fulness of God". It is when I am in the place that suits Him, to which union entitles me, to which affection leads me, and communion fits me for the enjoyment of, that I enter into the effects of union with Him. I am in the spot where it began. The power that wrought in Christ has brought us there; and now, not only in the domain of glory interminable; not only in the love, passing knowledge, that I do know something of, but I am invited to be "filled ... to all the fulness of God". Deep, momentous effects flowing out from union, and beyond it!

This is the consequence of union Godward. But there is also on the earth among men another effect. The great mark of the one enjoying union, for all are united, is that he is occupied with Christ's interests in His own. Where Christ's heart is, his heart is. "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her", is applicable to him; and therefore in Ephesians, from the church down to the slave, everything is done in every circle as Christ would do it. Moreover it is impossible for any one to enjoy union and not be essentially corporate in all his labours. lie is devoted to the church of God. If an evangelist, he seeks for the lost as sent by Christ. If he learns any truth, like the true bee, it is his one business to bring it to the hive. So in everything, however feebly, the care of the body of Christ here is his unceasing toil. If only with

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two, he labours to set forth and maintain what is due to the house of God on earth, the edification of the body of Christ. The man who advocates and sanctions isolation assuredly does not know union. It is simply impossible for any member of my body to isolate itself, and surely it must be so for a member of the body of Christ.


To every believer at peace with God, through the work of Christ, it must be a question of paramount interest, What is the church in which he is, and where and how is he to meet according to the mind of the Lord? If one is not assured by the Holy Spirit of favour with God, into which we have access through our Lord Jesus Christ, one has no real leisure of heart to ascertain which of the many denominations, if any, is owned of the Lord. But when he is at rest, in the assurance of God's love shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit, he will inquire diligently what is the true way for christians to meet together. The answer to this interesting question is "For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them", Matthew 18:20. Now this is the simple and unalterable ground for an assembly meeting. It is the beginning. The smallest congregation is sufficient to secure the presence of the Lord. There can be no church meeting which has not this as its basis, for if it has not this, it is, in spirit and nature, independent. Man acting for God, without the leading of the Holy Spirit, is independency.

Now, to be gathered to His name involves a great deal. There must be nothing consciously allowed unfit for Him; and there must not be any rule or form which would hamper or limit the action of the Holy Spirit in the company. If Christ could not be present where anything was allowed (as far as the consciences of the two or three went) which would in any way compromise

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His name, He could not be present where there was any rule or form to define His action; for if He were, the rule would be greater than He, which is impossible. This condition must be faithfully fulfilled, in order to obtain the great favour of His presence. He will come to any company, avowedly and conscientiously gathered according to this condition. If professors, or those out of communion, join in that assembly, they do not enjoy the blessing of His presence. It is possible, and soon became common, that there were those present in the assembly who were not in faith there -- they were mere imitators of the truth; so that, in this first step in the knowledge of the church, mere professors were found; but the presence of the Lord would be there, so long as the assembly was gathered to His name.

Surely we may regard John 20:19 - 23 as a pattern of the assembly in its first stage -- the risen Jesus fitting the disciples for the august position they were now constituted to hold. They were to exercise discipline; thus the assembly would be kept pure. Acting in concurrence with the Lord, they admitted or excluded:

"Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained". This was the scope of their discipline, which they were qualified to carry out, without knowing more than that they were gathered to His name. Discipline dated from this point. The more truly I understand what is due to the Lord's presence, the better do I comprehend the discipline incumbent on the assembly. Lose sight of the Lord's presence, and you can form no adequate idea of the discipline to be observed. It is a point of great importance, that the strictest discipline dates and springs from the first great step in the knowledge of the church. I can grow into a fuller apprehension of what the church is; but as my first step is to be gathered to the name of Christ, so is my sense of discipline to be ever connected with my very beginning in the assembly. The breaking of bread marked the meetings of the first disciples, and

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"the Lord added to the assembly ... those that were to be saved". Consequently in 1 Corinthians 5:4 we find that when there was a case for excision, the assembly is described, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Lord would come to the Corinthian assembly, though there was evil still in their midst, when they were gathered to His name. The apostle, according to the grace of God, awakens their conscience to put away the evil, by ministering the word, and thus preserves them from the miserable condition in which christendom is now found -- namely, many saints among the many denominations, without the presence of their Lord in the midst, and hence without true discipline.

If the believer had not learned more about the church than this, he would be where the disciples were in Acts 2:47, and he would be able to understand the holiness and order which became such an assembly. Every new step only increases in every way, and deepens the sense of the preceding step. This is always the case with truth. When he has come thus far, he knows that not only is the Holy Spirit residing in himself, but that he is joined to the Lord -- is one Spirit with Him; and then the next step -- even that he is one of the living stones of Christ's building, would, I conclude, be very easy to him. This step would open out to him much more about the church; he would see that though there is much hollow profession, yet that there is Christ's own building in the midst of it. Also, while he had learned from the first step the nature of the discipline to be observed, and how plainly incumbent it is on him to be dissociated from everything unsuited to His name, he now knows that there is a building (Christ's own work) which is growing unto a holy temple in the Lord, and then he understands that the church is God's habitation through the Spirit. He understands now that the Spirit of God resides in the whole church, and that He is the

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only power there. Of course, to the one gathered simply to His name, the Spirit's leading is known; but when he apprehends that the church is the house of God, he is filled with reverence for His dwelling-place, and seeks to behave himself in the house of God, and keep it clear from everything unsuited to God. But when evil is dominant in the assembly, he knows that he must purge himself from vessels to dishonour, and thus be sanctified, and meet for the Master's use; while he cleaves to the clean corner of the house, where those are who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. He also bears in mind that he must be preserved fit for the Master's use. Christ's place in the assembly must ever be remembered and respected.

We have seen that it is possible for mere professors to join the assembly by tacitly accepting the condition of its constitution; but we have also noted that, if they betray themselves, they will either leave us, or, if they gain the upper hand, we must leave them. We read, "They went out from us, but they were not of us". They must have been in, or they could not have gone out; as also, "These be they that separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith ..". so that we are in this step of our knowledge of the church let into the true way of acting with regard to the saints in christendom, and our relation to them; as we had learned in the first step, what holds good for ever, that the great source of all our strength and blessing is the Lord's presence in the midst of us.

I might enlarge much on the privileges and responsibilities of being in the house of God, but I pass on to the next step in knowledge; and that I should say is, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, when we learn that we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body; that it is not only that the Spirit of God is dwelling in each believer, and that each one in the house is under the claim and care of the Spirit of God (He "filled all the house

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where they were sitting"), but that each believer is joined to all other believers by the Spirit of God, as each member of the natural body is united to all the other members. Now this step opens out quite a new responsibility to one. We are in the assembly as members of the one body; we must have the same respect for the one as for the other. The weakest member is necessary, and whatever would injure me spiritually, would injure every member of the body. I cannot isolate myself. I cannot allow myself a licence of any kind which would grieve the Spirit, for the loss is not confined to myself:

"If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it". Hence I must take care that no member be connected with anything that could damage it, because if one suffer, all suffer. I seek not my own wealth, but the wealth of others. "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others". As a man would suffer from poison wherever it had entered into his system, and hence could not suffer its introduction anywhere, so is the believer who is intelligent in this step, careful and watchful that every member, no matter where, should be preserved from any spiritual poison. There would be a great lack in my knowledge of the church, if I did not apprehend this step. As I do, I learn how the body of Christ is formed, which ever remains true, though the house externally is in ruins. An immense flood of light pours in on the soul when this step in the truth has been laid hold of. I must see that I either help or hinder every one in the assembly, and that each member does the same to me. I am therefore not only very careful as to my own course, but I am very jealous as to the course of every member; and as this relates to the actual meeting together, I cannot accept or co-operate with any one who in any deliberate way disregards the leading of the Holy Spirit; for this is independency. As the Holy Spirit is the bond, and as it refers here to the assembly meeting, there must be no sanction of the wilfulness that sets aside the Spirit of God. This step in knowledge of the church

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enables us to see the responsibility we are placed in towards one another in meeting together; and in a day of confusion like this, it is extremely important.

One step more in this great knowledge, even that of the church as the mystery, as taught in Ephesians and Colossians. I do not here enlarge on this step, but I commend these scriptures to my readers, as opening out the power of the Head in connection with His body on the earth; and surely no one can have a true apprehension of the greatness of the church, and what it is in the counsels of God, and how it is the fulness of Christ, who has not in faith grasped the mystery. In Ephesians we are taught the power by the Holy Spirit in which each member of the church is to set forth the mind and life of Christ. Through this power the unity of the Spirit is to be kept, and so on in every detail here. In Colossians we are taught the nature and state in which we enter into this great power. I must not add more now, but it is a subject of the deepest interest, and as we enter into it, the greatness of the church becomes known to us. I trust I have said enough to awaken a more careful inquiry, in this day of imitation, as to what the church is in the mind of God.


At every time God has had a definite purpose. The man in His fear had His secret; and the more he was devoted to God's purpose for the time being, the more did the enemy oppose him; even as an angel of light, when other weapons or forces failed. The effort of the enemy has ever been to frustrate the purpose of God. It is helpful to learn from Scripture the various ways in which the opposition is carried on. When man was set in the garden of Eden, the one thing required was that while he had everything that he could use, he should be dependent on God. Hence it is against this one thing that Satan directs all his attack. It is as a serpent he comes; he would have been detected and shunned had he

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come as a fallen angel; and he addresses the woman and not the man; he first tampers with and deteriorates the word of God, then he allures by false representation, and succeeds. Consequent on the fall the purpose of God was that man should find the way of return to Him. Cain attempted to defeat it. The false thing had the start. Abel, on the other hand, set forth God's purpose for the time, and was cut off; while Enoch, the seventh from Adam, maintained it, and was translated that he should not see death. It is cheering to be assured that God's purpose, however opposed, will be maintained in spite of every opposition. In Noah's time it was to awaken man to the impending judgment. Only eight persons, however, entered the ark. The rest were entirely indifferent; "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all", Luke 17:27. There was a general and widespread disregard of God's purpose, though Noah was proclaiming it for many years; a painful instance of man's inveterate opposition to God. After the flood it was that man should occupy a new position on the earth, introduced by the altar. "And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord... and the Lord smelled a sweet savour" (Genesis 8:20 - 22.) This was a beautiful beginning, but man failed to maintain it. "Noah ... planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken". He turned the favours of God to his own loss; he failed to rule himself, and therefore he could not maintain the new place to which he was called. When God's purpose was not maintained by Noah, we can hardly be surprised that there was general and entire disregard of it; and the building of the tower of Babel was man's perversion of God's new favours to him on the earth. How utterly the mind of man is opposed to the desire of God to bless him, and how the ways in which he acts for himself, while proposing to secure great advantages for himself, really end in his forfeiture of all!

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Then God calls out Abram. His purpose now is that he should, in dependence on Him, be a living testimony against the builders of Babel. It is cheering to see Abram answering to the word of God. But see how opposition arises; first, no doubt, from his father Terah who delayed his entrance into the land; and next from the famine in the land, which beguiles him into leaving it. We need not pursue his history here: but no one can read it without seeing the varied and unrelenting opposition to which he and his were exposed. Indeed God told him in a vision that his seed would be in bondage 400 years. And as we read the histories of Isaac and Jacob we cannot fail to be impressed with the undeviating aim of the opposition to drive them from the land, and from simple dependence on God. At length they left Canaan, and into the land of Egypt they came. The enemy has for the moment appeared successful, yet it is to be noted that the frustration of the divine purpose is only temporary; and when apparently there seems to have been defeat, it is only that it should be propounded and effected in a better way. The purpose of God comes out in a greater way when He says to Moses, "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; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites", Exodus 3:8. Now the opposition is increased tenfold. God brings out His people with signs and mighty wonders. The power of the enemy is fully overcome; but the people, after they are brought out, are led by the same enmity to provoke God in the wilderness. In their hearts they turned back into Egypt. They despised the pleasant land. Can any one read the account of their journeyings, and not be astonished at their perversity, and suicidal conduct? It would seem impossible, if one did not know the incorrigible opposition that there is in the human heart to every object of God's

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heart. At any rate as we ponder it, we must be impressed with the conviction that the opposition is a more inveterate thing than is ordinarily supposed; and that it is not from the avowed enemies that we meet with the greatest opposition, but it is from those who are fighting against their own interests -- the people of God themselves. This is really the worst part of it. As long as the opposition is confined to the avowed enemies, God always makes His people more than conquerors: but when we lend a hand to the enemy ourselves, which is Satan's great object, then the Lord does not support us, and we are left to taste the evil of our ways.

At length Israel in a new generation was brought into the land. The purpose of God then was that they should possess it, and dwell therein, and have a dwelling-place for Himself there. What a history of failure follows! First when they had no king -- when God was their immediate support, they were subjugated over and over again. They never would learn what an evil thing it is to depart from the living God. They might have alleged the opposition was too strong for them; but over and over again the gracious God sent judges, and delivered them out of the hands of those who ruled over them; notwithstanding they soon forgot Him, and turned to their own lusts. Then came the times of the kings, and the temple in Jerusalem. God's purpose was still more unfolded, but only to be more opposed, and as far as man could, frustrated. At length Israelis carried in captivity to Babylon -- the very power that in Abram they were called out to testify against in the beginning. To that power they are now in captivity. Prophet after prophet is sent to awaken them to a sense of the blessing they had forfeited by their unbelief and rebellion; and, after a while, a remnant is restored to the land. God had not abandoned His purpose to have a people there under the king after His own heart, and a house in Jerusalem. The Jews are in the land when Christ is born. He is now par excellence God's object, the centre of all His purposes. The nature

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of their opposition to God's purpose declared by His Son was novel and wicked to a degree. It was the assertion and assumption of extreme righteousness according to the law. It was Pharisaism; Satan transforming himself into an angel of light -- the worst form of opposition, because the simple and unsuspecting are liable to be deceived and drawn aside by it. It would not be easy for any pen to convey the range of the opposition arrayed against our blessed Lord, accumulating in force and bitterness according as He disclosed the purpose of His heart not only to die for that nation, but to gather together in one the children of God which are scattered abroad. Eventually, by wicked hands He was crucified and slain. The Jews had delivered Him to the gentiles. Now being rejected from the earth, and received up into glory, the blessed Lord divulges the secret hid from the foundation of the world, that His body is here on the earth, formed of those whom He loved and had given Himself for, united together by the Holy Spirit. This is God's object on earth now -- the church, Christ's body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. Amongst the multitude of believers how few they are who are steadily standing up for the church -- the body of Christ! It was revealed to Paul, and it was made known to the apostles and prophets, as well as more generally by the writings of the prophets of that day; and though none of the apostles writes of the body of Christ except Paul, their writings prepare souls for that truth. Though John does not touch on the church as the body of Christ, he does so write of "his own", that it is conclusive that none else but the members of His body could hold in nature and nearness such a place. "His own" of Israel had rejected Him. No doubt there was continued and earnest labour to lead the Jews to Christ, which was the first step; but it was not all. The opposition was violent and determined enough against this first step. Paul says he persecuted the church of God, because he slaughtered the disciples of the Lord. They

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were the materials for His body, and therefore the Lord says to Saul of Tarsus, "Why persecutest thou me?" And Paul himself admits that he wasted the church of God, though at the time there was no revelation of the mystery. Every one who wins a soul to Christ is sub-serving, though it may be ignorantly, to the object of God, though, alas! often with christians in the present day, there is an opposition to "the mystery of the gospel", because they are blinded by religious prejudices against

it. Before the truth of the mystery had been revealed, we are prepared to find even the apostles unaffected by it in their work. It had not come. But it does surprise us to find James in Jerusalem using as a plea the thousands of the converted Jews, all zealous of the law, for Paul to retire from the great platform on which the mystery had placed us, when the middle wall of partition was broken down; and when both Jew and gentile had been reconciled in one body to God by the cross. We cannot but be impressed at the slow and casual way in which the great object of God in this period was accepted by the saints. It seems every opposition was thrown in the way of the one who was devoted to it. It is, however, to be borne in mind that there is a state of soul which fits one for the reception of the mystery. Evidently the Corinthians were not advanced enough. "I ... could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto ... babes in Christ"; and yet they were instructed in the one body, as to their responsibility in the assembly. The truth of the mystery is alluded to, but not explained, as to its magnitude, until we come to Ephesians. There we get the body as a whole, and what it is because of its Head. This is the mystery, and the present object of God on earth. And the apostle writes, "After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints", I "cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him ...".

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They were in the state for this great knowledge. It is interesting and encouraging to see the great desire of the apostle to lead them into this knowledge. He tells them his prayer for them as in Colossians 2, "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you", and all that they might be led to apprehend this great truth. He evidently had more hope for the Ephesians among whom he had laboured, and to whom he had not shrunk to declare the whole counsel of God, than he had for those whom he had not seen in the flesh. At all events the great object of God was his object. And mark how he was opposed on every hand; not only imprisoned himself, but "all they which are in Asia", where he had worked chiefly, had turned away from him. In turning away from Paul, the appointed minister of the mystery, they had surrendered it. It is quite possible to slip away from the great thought of God's heart, that Christ's body is here on earth, and He the Head in heaven, without giving up the grace of God to sinners, or denying that He is their Saviour. When I only see Him as my Saviour, I can only see Him on the earth where He suffered for me; but when I see Him as Head of His body, the church, I must see Him in heaven in His own place. The apostle, though so opposed on all sides, and deserted by the saints, has unfailing confidence in God, because he is devoted to His purpose and object; and therefore encourages Timothy, in the face of all this opposition, to commit "the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses ... to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also". He knows, God grant that we may know it, that where the heart of God is, all His power, with all the blessedness of Himself, is available. Where God is most, there is most of God.

Finally, though the Spirit may be hindered and thwarted by the power of evil, He cannot be prevented eventually from carrying out the purpose of God, which no opposition can frustrate. That shall stand, and happy is the one who is in the line of it.

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No one can understand the course of God's action in this time, who does not apprehend in faith that while our blessed Lord has left this scene where we are, for heaven, the Holy Spirit has come to us from heaven. We must hold these truths definitely. We must not consider first what would be the effect consequent on such an exchange, as we might say -- even that the Lord, who had resided here, has been received up into heaven, and the Holy Spirit, who hitherto had never resided here, has come down from heaven to reside here. The truth is simple and obvious enough; but the more distinctly it is adhered to, the better shall we be able to grasp and delineate the new thing, entirely unprecedented, which is now God's work on the earth.

Every believer understands something about Jesus being on the earth, when, in unspeakable grace, He effected our salvation. He died for our sins, and rose again according to the Scriptures. Every believer shares in this grace; but believers now are called to know more than this great truth. Unless they understand that Jesus has been exalted to God's right hand, and that from there He sent down the Holy Spirit, they never can arrive at the new and peculiar position to which the assembly is called. None but saved souls could take any interest in this exchange of places by Christ and the Spirit. It is evident that if much had been effected before this exchange occurred, something very new, and hitherto unknown, must arise from it; and it is our duty and interest to search fully, not only into the intention of God in this exchange, but into the nature and scope of the new blessings to us which are consequent on it. Without controversy the blessings are new, and as they are consequent on, and derived from, this remarkable

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exchange -- the Lord going away, and the Spirit coming in His place -- we must confine our inquiry, as to the nature of the blessings, to this change from which they originated.

It is evident that salvation through the work of Christ could be preached and received, without this great change to which I have referred being known. Hence we must ascertain what would be the effect of it on a soul already assured of his salvation, through faith in Christ dead and risen. Cleared of judgment in the place of judgment, and from the old man which had exposed him to judgment, he is in the wilderness, with the hope of heaven surely, but not there in present possession. In saying so much, I have conceded to believers much more than they generally enjoy. The evangelist or the teacher who has not learned the consequence of the exchange I have spoken of cannot place or instruct souls beyond the wilderness. It is vain for either to affect to lead any before their own faith. It may be urged, as to the evangelist, that his work is the safety of the soul. I admit this; but if the evangelist were to trace his gift to its source, he would find that he had received his commission in heaven from an ascended Christ. Certainly everything derives its character from its source, and seeing the source of his gift could not lessen, but greatly add to, its value and use. But how many gifted men really believe that they have received their gifts in heaven, and from a Saviour who, when He had ascended, and had led captivity captive, gave gifts unto men? I might be asked, What mark would they bear when they do trace their ordination from the Lord in heaven? This is not the place for me to try to give any marks. What I desire now is, to press the great consequences which would accrue from either an evangelist or teacher accepting that the gift is from heaven, while the sphere where he is to use it is the earth. To my mind it is even more marked in the teacher, according to his devotedness, the self-denying walk on earth, of one he inculcates

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in doctrine and practice delivered from his sins, just as we find in Romans. Surely, one might retort, when this is lacking, there is no use in proposing any advance. This is but too true; but what we are engaged with now is the difference in the scope of the teaching of the one who knows he has come from heaven to teach, and the man who has only seen his deliverance from judgment, and necessarily Christ's claim on him not to be conformed to this world. The better way is not to expose defects, but to present as fully as possible the true; and thus to show that any one not in keeping with it is defective. If no part of christianity were previous to the ascension of Christ, it would be comparatively easy, for then christianity would not be connected with anything prior to Christ's ascension. Christianity, as I have already stated, dates from Christ's death and resurrection, though the entirely new thing which was to characterise it, dates from Christ's exaltation to God's right hand in heaven, and the consequent descent of the Holy Spirit. The salvation of every believer was secured before He sat down at God's right hand, but it is from that date that the believers of this present time are, by God, called into a new and hitherto unknown relationship to Christ, altogether dependent on, and originating from, the new place taken by Him and the Spirit. If this change of places be not maintained in living power in our souls, we shall never truly understand the wondrous consequences to us from it; an entirely new order of blessing, which did not precede, and which will be completed during the present places of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Hence everything must be circumscribed and confined to the effects which arise from Their present places. I dwell long on this, because a main point is gained when we see that the singular character of the blessing depends on it.

Let us now try and trace some of the effects derived from Their present places. Christ having gone to heaven, and the Holy Spirit having come down, all the work here must relate to Christ, the Head in heaven, and must be

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effected by the Holy Spirit. We cannot diverge from this course.

The evangelist, enlightened as to God's calling, sets forth with heavenly power, because he is heavenly both by calling and gift, the perfect efficacy of the work of Christ to free every believer from the judgment lying on him here, with the zeal and fervour of one who knows that all the way to the Saviour in heaven is clear. He can declare even more than the angel to the shepherds, who was the first evangelist coming from heaven, -- "I bring you good tidings of great joy". The higher a man is morally, the better can he remove the darkness that obstructs and is too remote for a lesser power. The sun frays away many a darkness that no star can reach. So the evangelist, controlled by the truth of Christ's present place, and the Spirit's, would doubtless present the gospel as one who, in a peculiar way, is under the immediate counsel and direction of his ascended Lord, who is the Head of the body, and has given him to be an evangelist, to gather out a people for His name. He is absolutely dependent on the Spirit sent down from heaven; he feels that he cannot swerve from the Head, on the one hand, nor, on the other, from the Spirit sent down by Him to testify of Him: for it is evident that it is only the heavenly man who can be in the line of the Spirit's testimony of a glorified Christ. True his work might be very unseen, and much unknown, but that is of small account, if he is in the line marked out by the One in heaven, and carried out through him by the One down here I feel I cannot convey the distinct, singular, and circumscribed course of an evangelist accepting and adhering to the true nature of his commission. He might have to go a long distance for a soul, as Philip to Gaza; or suffer much as Paul for the jailor, but they would be well-finished cases -- his "joy, or crown of rejoicing" in the day of the Lord.

Well, then, what shall I say of the teacher, or how describe the character of his teaching? Oh! if saints

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throughout christendom could be awakened to the poverty of the food in the present day, they would be in constant supplication to the Lord that He would raise up faithful men who would learn the things taught by Paul (2 Timothy 2:2); and surely no one can venture to say that the teaching current in the present day contemplates, in its best range, anything beyond the wilderness. Of course, the teacher knows the gospel; he must begin where he finds souls, but this much he must remember, that however he may lead them on, and however they may advance, like the growth of a tree, the truth first received, the very rudiments of the gospel, always advances with every additional growth. The teacher who comes from the Lord, and is altogether supported by the Spirit, not only supplies what souls require, but awakens desires in them for more; for his heart yearns to lead them up to Him from whom he has come. He feels he has plants to cultivate here, which are not of man, but of God, and that nothing but Christ can really serve them. It is an entirely new man, and therefore it is neither by man, nor from man. Not only is the Corinthian levity denounced, but also the Galatian legality; while the Colossian religiousness will be most carefully guarded against, and refused. It is here that the teacher proves himself heavenly, or rather that he is truly from Christ, and for Him only. The Colossian error is the snare that the more advanced fall into -- the attempt to conform the old man to the new thing. In several specious ways this has been attempted. Perfectionism, of one kind or another, holiness by faith, and so on, extending into natural feeling, in manner and expression. Thus baptism became the mode of introducing the old man into the christian position, on the ground that it was to bear the mark of what was inwardly possessed -- the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. The old was to be introduced into the standing of the new. The teacher from Christ desires in his heart that every believer should come to a "perfect man, unto the measure

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of the stature of the fulness of Christ". He might not see any up to it, but the counsel of the Lord is in his heart. As a parent bird tends its offspring, not only until it is matured, but until it can fly and explore for itself; so is the teacher, according to his faithfulness, in great conflict for the saints, that they should reach up in apprehension to the mystery of God. There is before his mind the body of which Christ is the Head, united together by the Spirit, through whom all nourishment comes from the Head. He looks not at anything seen or done among men; he has through faith, an apprehension of what the church is in the mind of God. Much obstruction may be in his path, and hinder his service; but undeviatingly he pursues his course, knowing the counsel of the Lord, and that it shall stand. Christ pre-eminently occupies him, or, to make it clearer, faith in Christ. I feel we do not sufficiently apprehend the value of faith in Christ. Many dwell with much interest on faith in God, but faith in Christ would produce a result of a very different kind; for while the former would secure for one the help of God, the latter would separate me practically from man's hopes and ways, the rudiments of the world, and so on. The acme of his labour is that each should be perfect in Christ, and that His life may be expressed in every detail of daily life. The life of a wilderness man, however unimpeachable or unblemished, is not enough for him; he seeks to have Christ seen in everything.

In Romans there is nothing said of a man's family. In Peter there is nothing said of one's children. In Colossians, where one is going to heaven, they are spoken of; but it is only in Ephesians that there are specific directions about them. It is only the one who has gone up to the source who has power or capacity to touch divinely the extremities, if I may so call the domestic duties; hence such a teacher as this proposes a practice of the highest order.

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I must conclude, though I feel I have not conveyed in any measure to my satisfaction, what the stature of the fulness of Christ is, which can only be apprehended as we seize by faith Christ's present place, and the Spirit's place; for as soon as they change from their present places, Christ's body will no longer be here, for then comes the rapture. The Lord awaken us to the greatness of God's calling.


There are two great elements in prayer: one, that I have the sense of my own need; and the other, that the blessed God has the goodness and power to help me. These two elements can never be absent from prayer, though a great many other benefits are acquired in prayer. Thus, the proof that Saul of Tarsus was converted, is, "Behold, he prayeth" -- the opposite of self-reliance, which was engendered at the fall. It is the language of conversion; a confidence is awakened in the blessed God, a sense that there is good in Him, and thus "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". The sight of Jesus on the cross awakened confidence in the thief, and he prayed unto Him, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom". It is as there is confidence in God awakened in my soul, and a sense of inability to cope with my difficulties, that I turn to God.

Now when there is a real turning to God, I not only get help as to the matter which led me to turn to Him, but, because I am nigh unto Him, I am enlightened by the mere fact of drawing nigh. The cause for my prayer may bear no resemblance to the gain acquired in praying. The prodigal comes to ask much less than grace gives; and this he learns on coming. In like manner the thief prays for a much less blessing than that which he received. It is the one who has received, coming to the Blessed One who has everything to give. The distance between me

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and God, as to greatness in every way, is immeasurable, and therefore my coming to Him must in itself confer on me untold advantages. His grace is, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you". "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" Hence, the very coming to Him ensures the greatest gain -- the sense of what He is.

We may divide prayer into three parts: first, private prayer, or prayer for oneself; second, prayer for others, or the Lord's work; and third, prayer in the assembly.



Here, the greater our confidence in God, the more fully and minutely do we make known all our requests. The more I am sensible of my inability to do anything, and am at the same time assured that He cares for me, the more do I submit everything to Him. And as this is truly done there is a very marked effect. The more I feel my powerlessness about things, the more distracted I should be; but when I make known to God all my requests, a very marked effect ensues: The peace of God which passes all understanding keeps my heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Thus, as I have already stated, there is an unspeakable gain in drawing near to God, and consciously making Him the depositary of one's cares -- "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you". It is because He cares for us; and when there is a full sense in the heart of this, with the sense also of my own inability, I rejoice in the access to Him with which I am favoured. Every soil on my conscience, and every assertion of my own powers, hinders me from this unqualified unburdening of my anxieties to God. When there is a soil, I hesitate to draw near; and when there has been an assertion of my own strength, I am necessarily less confiding in Him. It is, however, to be remembered that the cry of the needy one is heard, as we are taught in Psalm 107, that however far away from the Lord the believer may be, yet, when he cries, he is heard.

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The turning to God in the hour of distress is rewarded. Many a child of God, pursuing his own pleasure, and quite outside the testimony of God at the time, has found help from Him when he prayed. Nay, things are given him, because he has asked them, as it were, to encourage him to ask more. But the believer out of communion, though he has been often heard and succoured, does not get near enough to God to acquire the peace of God that passes all understanding, keeping his heart and mind through Christ Jesus. If I have not peace with God, I cannot draw near unto Him so as to be assimilated to Him in state -- that is to say, to get His peace -- a truly wonderful effect; as it is said, "We ... beholding ... the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord".

There is also in private prayer the Spirit helping our infirmities, because we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but He makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He who searches the hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, for He makes intercession according to God. In my private praying, I am assured that the Spirit of God dwelling in me, has such an interest in me, that He is interceding for me most earnestly, and God, who searches my heart, ascertains, not from my words, but from the Spirit's intercession, what is really fit for me. It is an amazing thing that I am now, through grace, on such terms with the blessed God, that I can speak freely to Him, as it is said that every creature is sanctified by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:5) -- as it has been explained, (New Translation note) -- God speaking to me, and I to Him -- 'one person speaking personally to another' . Now it is as we are in the Spirit that we learn what the Spirit desires for us, and it is then, as I judge, that we obtain the knowledge of God's will about anything we have on our hearts before Him. It is then we have faith for one thing, while we have it not for another. It is, as I might say, typified by the Urim and Thummim. I

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come to the Lord about everything; in every case I receive the peace of God; but, besides this, I can know that a certain thing is according to His will. "If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us ... we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him". I cannot know the Lord's mind about anything until I go to Him. On my own or man's level I am influenced by natural feelings, but it is only when I am shut in with Him, free from the strife of tongues, that I become impressed with His mind; not from something said to me, but from the effect of the association. Here I find the effect of the great supper, wisdom's feast. I eat of her bread, and drink of her wine (see Proverbs 9:1 - 5). I am in the sanctuary of God, nurtured there into fellowship with His mind. All my own wisdom vanishes in presence of His, and I am so influenced and transformed, that I see things according to His pleasure. Therefore, when praying about anything in particular, I not only come to Him, confiding in His love, but I also seek His opinion, as I might say, about it, I have to do with a greater than Solomon. Thus one may pray in faith, in simple confidence that He will hear, as the apostles when they returned to their own company (Acts 4:23); or one may be corrected as to one's desire, as Paul was, after he had prayed three times for the removal of the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8, etc.). In the former case they were in the full current of the Lord's mind; but in the latter, the Lord's mind was not in accordance with the apostle's desire; but as soon as he heard His mind, he was quite happy, and his own mind was in perfect concert with the Lord's mind. I believe, when there is simple waiting on the Lord, one is influenced in simple conformity to His mind, without, as it were, feeling it. Moses so learned in the mount what suited God, that when he was called to take his place among Israel turned to idolatry, he knew how to act for God. Just as the bewildered psalmist sees everything the opposite way, when he is in the sanctuary,

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to what he did when outside it. I need not add more on private prayer, except that it is in private that God is learned; and it is from it one can only usefully enter on prayer for others, either in private or in public.


The twelve proposed to give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4.) It is interesting to note how these two are connected, as we see in the close of Luke 10 and beginning of chapter 11. The more I know of God's purposes for His people, the more I know of the heart of Christ for His own, the more must I turn to Him, that He would open their hearts to receive what He has communicated. Thus we find the apostles praying for the saints; and very remarkably, we see the apostle Paul in his prayers -- in Ephesians especially -- combining both together -- that is, he is praying for them to apprehend the truth which he communicates in his prayer. This conveys much to us. Though no one can attain to the apostle's place, yet we can all learn a lesson from his prayers. I cannot here refer to all his prayers, but there is, if I might so say, a marked individuality about them.

We are enjoined to make supplications and prayers for all saints, and surely there is something peculiar to be desired for each one known to us. I do not say that it is always expressed, but one is conscious of seeking the Lord peculiarly for each, not only for the testimony to His name, where there is a company of His own, but you feel that you can commend a brother to One who knows him far better than you do, and loves him infinitely more. There is thus great gain to one self in praying for others. As you are near the Lord, you share of His interest and care; and these rivulets of His love coursing through your heart not only refresh you, but engender such a variety of divine sentiments in your heart, that you are like a land fertilised, more and more productive. Surely every one of us should be able to say heartily the words of Samuel,

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"Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you", 1 Samuel. 12:23. Praying is at once the position of dependence and confidence, and the sense of my own powerlessness, with the assurance of succour from God. If the brightest day -- the day of the greatest demonstration of God's power on behalf of His people -- was marked by prayer, how much more should it mark the day of our weakness; and this paramountly characterised Samuel, the last of the period which typifies our time. The period began with Joshua, and ended with Samuel. Every one knows how differently he can minister in any way to the saint for whom he prays, and the one for whom he has not acquired that interest.

There are two special cases to which I must allude -- the sick, and the sinner. For the sick I may have faith that he will be restored; but this is assigned to the elders, which, I judge, at least designates the characters of those who are fitted, in judgment and experience, to undertake this blessed service (James 5:14, 15). As a rule, we may conclude that the Lord would raise up, unless the patient had either finished hi course, or was morally unfitted to remain here; and this last is the other class -- the sinner. See 1 John 5:16: "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it". Here we are enjoined to make a difference between sins one being not unto death; for this we may pray; but for the sin unto death we are not to pray. I conclude the latter to be an inveterate cleaving to any evil habit. I know nothing, in the way of grace, more trying to one's spirit than to pray for a highhanded backslider, one admitting his guilt, but unbroken by it. But here, as in every other case, the nearer we are to the Lord, the better we should know His mind as to such an one. There is a peculiar encouragement in praying for those going

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on well; as it is said, "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly".

I may now try to add a word on


It appears that any brother has liberty to pray in public: "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Timothy 2:8); and I believe it will always be found that the man who is becoming the most fitted to speak the word of God to man, in preaching or teaching, is the one who has first tried his wings in prayer to God in public -- that is, his public service has begun at the prayer-meeting. I fear the man who would preach, but whose voice is never heard in prayer. I believe that the one most fervent at the prayer-meeting is the one who will most persuasively arrest man.

Now, in the prayer-meeting, we come together to wait upon God that we may be led to act here for His glory, and that the interests of Christ, in the fullest way, may command our attention; the state of souls in every instance, in sorrow, sickness, and sin, with the deepening sense on our hearts of our responsibility to make known the truth of the gospel, not in part only, but the whole truth, the mystery of the gospel. I believe that when there is a full heart in the prayer-meeting, there must be an earnest entreaty to God that souls may be blessed, and that the good pleasure of His will may be known and followed by the saints; as is said of Epaphras, "Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God", Colossians 4:12. I cannot pray in the assembly beyond my knowledge, but it is a very serious mistake when I think there is nothing to be desired beyond the measure of my knowledge. I can understand the pastor confining his attention in prayer to the state of souls for whom he is interested; and the teacher to the subjects most on his heart for the saints; and that the evangelist would pray

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for the conversion of souls. Each is right, and doing true service; but surely, if one would assert that his interest was enough, and final, there would a quenching of the Spirit. On the contrary, the servant most true to his own work is the one who would delight to see prosperity in every other work, because it is his Lord's; and he is ever longing to know more fully the counsel of the Lord, for that shall stand. It is always a good prayer-meeting when souls are carried, as it were, like Moses, to Mount Pisgah, to see the scope of God's purposes, "able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God"; for then surely there will be a greater conflict that the saints should know the mystery of God, as Paul exhorts, "and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel". The Lord grant it. Amen.


Every believer is a child of war from his conversion. The first gleam of light was resisted in his soul. "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them". The blessed God through His power opened our eyes, and turned us from darkness to light. This is a time of no ordinary conflict. Satan, like Pharaoh, tries every expedient to divert the soul from the salvation of God. The awakened soul sees the impending judgment, like Israel in that terrible night of death, when there was not a house in which there was not one dead; and when the shelter of the blood is an unspeakable relief to the burdened soul. After this ensues an entirely new exercise, if there be true progress. The convert, though relieved

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of the fear of judgment, still suffers from fear of the enemy's power. The power of death is not annulled. The Spirit of God leads this soul to feed within on the lamb roast with fire, and eaten with bitter herbs.

This is the real groundwork in the soul's peace, but it is not assured until the resurrection of Christ is laid hold of by faith; justification is not known till then. Then there is not only a rescue from judgment, but a new sphere, even righteousness, and where judgment cannot come, is entered on. A great deal of conflict is endured before the believer reaches that happy place, where he has peace with God, and where there is not a disturbing element to arise to shade the perfection of the grace wherein he stands. I believe we do not distinguish enough between one conflict and another, and that very often we may imagine we are in a conflict farther on, when we really are only in one very early in our history. It would help souls much to ascertain the nature of the conflict to which each is exposed in the different stages of their history.

If I am not clear of Egypt, my conflict is with its power. The stage a soul has arrived at can be discovered by that which it dwells upon. The light just received in the progressing soul is newest to it, and is that which most occupies it. What is known is considered secure; what is new must be made so. Thus invariably the one on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, while in a measure rejoicing in the shelter of the blood of Christ, feels the pressure of Egypt's power by which his soul is continually darkened. His conflict is with the darkness which clouds his soul. It is not God as a Judge he dreads, but the power of the enemy to condemn him, because of the sin in him. When he is bright he is clear, and in speaking to others is often very vigorous and useful in dwelling on the efficacy of the blood, which he does really enjoy. Romans 3 describes his state. If any one is really out of Egypt, he must be in the wilderness. The general state of souls, even where the gospel is truly preached, is on

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the Egyptian side of the Red Sea. They see the way over; they rejoice that they see the salvation of God, but they are not over in faith. It is the most difficult stage in the believer's history. I mean by difficult, that it is the one where most are detained. They hold in doctrine, it may be clearly enough, the truth that the way has been cleared by the Lord Jesus Christ; but notwithstanding, they are not so sensibly over, as to know that sin has been condemned in the flesh; that the Egyptians will be seen again no more for ever and that not one of them is left.

If one is on the resurrection side, he is brought to God, and an entirely new conflict engages him. The knowledge of being brought to God in divine righteousness must precede any true sense of the wilderness. I am not really out of Egypt until I know that I am brought to God, and when I do know this, I know that His love is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit which He has given me, and I "joy in God". One who is out of Egypt, dwells on the bright side, but one who is not, dwells on the suffering side; for as a rule, a soul is not beyond what mostly occupies it. When we are really delivered from this present evil world, it becomes a wilderness to us, and we can be no longer conformed to it. We drink death (Marah) to our natural lusts. We abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin". The manna in the present energy of the Spirit is our daily support. Its having been received as a theological truth that a devoted christian should turn his back on the world, led eventually, through the enemy's perversion, to monasticism.

In the history of a believer, no sooner does he seek to walk here in simple dependence on God, than the enemy in a new form confronts him, to turn him from the wilderness. Very few have resisted Amalek. Many, who through divine light have learned to rejoice in being

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brought to God, and have really desired to be unhindered in their new joys, have been deterred from the wilderness by the power of the enemy. Are they to deny themselves when they have the opportunity to gratify themselves? Will the grace of Christ and the supply of the Spirit be enough for them? Why should they then immolate themselves? Such are the suggestions of the enemy. A famine was too much for Abraham; a Shalem mastered Israel. If the wilderness be not accepted in the fulness of the grace which is provided for us, we must be subjected to the discipline of the wilderness to learn the desperate depravity of our own hearts. No one is really broken until he has learned that "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing". Many have learned that there is sin in them, and that our old man is crucified with Christ, who have not yet learned to have no confidence in the flesh. The discipline of the wilderness leads to this, so that one could not boast or feel elated with anything one has done.

In Numbers 21, just as Israel was leaving the wilderness, they betray the alienation of their hearts from God. They spake against God and against Moses. The fiery serpents indicate their unaltered state from the days of Eden; but God comes in, in the fulness of His grace, and confers new life (verse 9), and the power of the Spirit (verses 16 - 18), now a gift (Mattanah). A new day opens on my soul when I know that I have an entirely new state, with a life I had never enjoyed before, and with the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, springing up into this new eternal life. Quite a new conflict now is encountered. A being with a heavenly life, and a heavenly power, must necessarily contend for a heavenly place. Historically now the wilderness has been left for Canaan. Hence the battles with Og. king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites, ensue. This is the power of the enemy arrayed against a man heavenly in nature, but still encumbered by the flesh and its hindrances. The direct opposition is vanquished by divine intervention, but

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then follows Balaam, the enemy in another form, who beguiles and ensnares them, casts a stumbling-block before them. Through his counsel the Moabites draw them into social intimacy, and thus they become morally deteriorated and corrupted. The flesh ministered to, they sink lower than ever before. If Israel had learned in their early history that without faith in God they could not face the giants of Canaan, now they learn that though they had left the wilderness, and had conquered Og. king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites, yet they were not superior to the susceptibilities of their nature. Alas! how many after learning the great truths in Romans 8, and after being more than conquerors through Him who loved them, have been drawn aside by allurements of the world, in some form or another; and sink lower than those who had not enjoyed the same measure of truth. Every conscientious believer must be aware how continually he is invited, like the Corinthians, by the world. When he is opposed by the world God intervenes for him, but if he yields to its invitation, eats of the king's bread, or drinks of the king's wine, making himself at home with the Moabite socially, he is overcome and degraded. It is quite a new order of opposition when I am invited, when my tastes are appealed to, when I become an object of attention and not of opposition.

Thus Balaam threw a stumbling-block in the way of Israel. If we are taken in this snare, we are every way corrupted. Whenever we are induced to gratify the flesh, we are sure to adopt a religion which suits the flesh; and this is the key to the religious systems in christendom. If the flesh were treated as dead, a religion which acknowledges and works on it could not be accepted; and no one can ever give up a religious system truly until he first learns that the flesh has now no place before God. We enter now the holiest, through the blood and the rent veil -- Christ's flesh -- and hence there is no admission for ours. If the flesh be acknowledged, there must be a

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worldly sanctuary; and as with Israel, a turning aside to man's religion. Hence the real remedy for, or prevention of, this snare is the acceptance of death with Christ, that which Jordan typifies.

This being accepted, and Jordan crossed in spirit, a new man in a new place, a new conflict has to be encountered. This is the Lord's battle par excellence. Once having entered on heavenly ground in spirit, you are prepared for the conflict before it is engaged in, prepared with the Lord inside before you contend with the enemy outside. The fighting hitherto has been to reach the spot where the real contention Lakes place. All the way from Egypt to Canaan there has been fighting; but now on heavenly ground, the contention is Christ, to set forth Him, the heavenly Man whom God has glorified, in the very place where He has been rejected. It is not now divine life and ways in our own circumstances, but to reproduce the heavenly Man superior to our own circumstances in every detail down here, as it relates to God and ourselves. Hence the practice in Ephesians ranges from the church, the centre of Christ's interest, to our own domestic circle. We have to be above our own natural feelings and circumstances in every detail of these circles. In Ephesians we have not only entered heavenly places, and are in possession, but we are dwelling there; that is our place, and hence the practice does not come until after the prayer in chapter 3, which expresses our blessings, when seated there; and this, I judge, is typified in Deuteronomy 26. Having entered into the blessedness of our new position, as really united to Christ, the conflict now is to set forth the heavenly and exalted Man in every detail down here. Hence all Satan's power of every character, though concealed in wiles, is arrayed against us. But through the armour of God (His power as it were personally investing us) and unswerving dependence, we can maintain our high position here, and reproduce Christ as the glorified One in the spot where He was rejected and refused. The

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power invisible to man's eye, acts for us when we have proved our faith in God by our patience.

Nothing is more striking than the great issues which have sprung from apparently the most trifling occurrences. Peter changing his companions (Galatians 2:12), led to Barnabas' separation from Paul. No doubt Paul's imprisonment in Rome led to the defection of those in Asia, and in our own day the greatest opposition has arisen through the accepted teacher, unobservedly at first, leading in a line foreign and apart from the heavenly truth. The chief and highest conflict then is to set forth the exalted Christ in every detail, in relation to God, His people, and ourselves. The conflict never ceases, at least we are not to be unprepared at any moment for it, either in the wilderness race, our daily life, or an assault on the Christ for whom we stand. The Lord give us grace to "stand", and "having done all to stand". The better we stand for Christ, the better shall we behave, in His grace, in our own circumstances.


The more distinctly we are here for the Lord, the more absolutely must we be separate from everything unsuited to Him. There are two characteristics for the heavenly warfare, namely, armour and prayer (see Ephesians 6): one is practical superiority to evil, Satan baffled by one's conduct; and the other is our assured confidence in God for His people on the earth. The real preparation for battle is above with Christ, and then we are here suitably for Him. In a day like this, surely every true heart will hail any light which would help him to be more for the Lord here.

The first great principle is, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate.., and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you". Invariably we shall find that, where there is spiritual zeal, the man of God is marked by the distinctness of his separation from mere natural influences, in the first instance. This is his

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beauty: "Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty". No one can really stand for Christ here until he has left his own place for Christ's place; and then, because he has been detached from things here, he can resume here really for Him. The true heart, like Rebekah, cannot help itself, but leaves home and country for His place; and then, formed by association with Him in heaven, resumes here, in armour and prayer, for Him. He has sanctified Himself, taken His place in heaven, outside everything here, that we may be sanctified through the truth. We can give no true expression beyond the impression made on us; we cannot lead to sanctification beyond our own practical sanctification; and, as with the nazarite, "if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head". So with us; when one suffers from any defilement, even a sudden one, or a touch, he fails in testimony.

Now let us look at the various ways in which this sanctification is lost, and through mercy, restored. Jacob, after the night of wrestling, and after he had reached the land -- the true ground, as we might say, the right truth and the right ground -- settles at Shalem; he would seek a rest here, would consider for himself, and not for God only; and though he had his altar -- Elelohe-Israel -- he regarded the blessed God too exclusively in relation to himself. There was not that nearness to God which would have fitted him for God; on the contrary, many a corruption was tolerated in his house. The oak at Shechem testifies that without sanctification no man shall see the Lord. The idols must be got rid of before he can go to Bethel. The moment one moves nearer to God, things tolerated before must now be absolutely renounced. It is the advancing towards Him that divests us of them. It is approximation to Him, blessed be His name, which makes us suitable to Him; beholding the Lord's glory, we are transformed;

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self disappears. Like Rebekah when she saw Isaac, and came near, she lighted off the camel, and threw a veil over herself. It is not merely the worldliness in the family circle that is checked and discountenanced, but the ear so sanctified by the blood and the oil, that there would be no taste for the writings or utterances of those opposed to the testimony. This is a very serious and common form of defilement. The clear evidence that the Corinthians were defiled, was that they went to law one with another before the ungodly. Their conduct in their own affairs betrayed that there was not simple faith in God. To have faith, one must be faithful. There is surely a lack in sanctification when one has recourse to the world which has rejected Christ, for any help. We see how once earnest men are hindered and warped when they are drawn into the world's ways for obtaining their legal rights. There must be separation before there is suitability. Surely the nearer I come to the light, the more am I separated from the darkness; the more I am sanctified, partaking of the Lord's sanctification, the more shall I be apart from everything not of Him, and thus able to stand here for Him. In the new notion, called holiness by faith, the error is that one is constituted holy by an effort of the mind, called faith, without any separation from the world. Hence it is most dangerous, because it assumes to supply what the awakened conscience deems absolutely necessary, and at the same time weakens the sense of sin in the conscience, because, as no separation from the world is enjoined, the sense of its defilement is unknown. According to this, one can touch the unclean thing with impunity, and in order to give consistency to this, the practical result would be to consider only as sin what comes out in an act. Hence there is no judgment of sin within; to such the thought of foolishness is not sin, because there is no outward breach. The external evil is not dreaded, and separated from, because the secret lust is excused. Thus one is invested with a Pharisaic sense of holiness, while the spring of unholiness

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within is unchecked and tolerated. If I am walking in the fear of God, I am so aware of the proneness of my flesh to please itself, that I avoid that which would make provision for it -- I "look not ... upon the wine when it is red" -- I seek to keep myself pure. I am not satisfied with only ceasing from sin, but I shrink from am contact which would defile me, and render me, even for a moment, unfit for the Lord. Even a clean person is rendered unclean (see Numbers 19) by his service in cleansing an unclean person. It is this divine sensibility which we require so much to cultivate, in order that we may have part with Christ (see John 13) in the new place in which He is.

So far I have confined myself chiefly to personal sanctification. I now turn to look at it in the house of God. If the cardinal truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst of those gathered to His name, be preserved, sanctification is a necessary consequence. "Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever". True, as we see at Corinth, there was a great lack of holiness in the assembly. Each one indulged himself, and the Lord in their midst was not paramountly before them; yet the conscience of the assembly was not dead as to His place; and hence the apostle calls upon them, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ", to act for Him. But their indifference to holiness in the assembly was exposed very painfully in every circle of life and society, whether in the public law courts, or in their private circle. The apostle says to them, "Ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren"; while there was a case of immorality among them, "not so much as named among the Gentiles".

We have seen, from Hebrews 10:19, that the very first step for a believer is to enter the holiest, where nothing defiling can enter, for, if it could, it would no longer be the holiest. This is the first resting-place of the redeemed soul, and there it has an assured sense of

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how entirely it has been cleared of everything unsuited to that place, both as to conscience (the heart purged from an evil conscience, nothing on the conscience), and the body washed with pure water, nothing defiling in our own personal associations. There can be no worship except in the holiest. There cannot otherwise be any drawing nigh unto God. When this is lost in the assembly, it is plain that individual holiness must be lacking. Surely the individual who is enjoying communion with Christ in His new place will feel acutely when there is not in the assembly a right sense of what is due to the presence of the Lord. If I believe that the Lord comes there, the better I know that it is only with feet washed from every soil that I myself can have part with Him where He is, the more incumbent I feel it is that we all there should be suited to Him. I cannot know people's secret ways, but I am bound to refuse the company of those who would in any way divert me from my allegiance to Him.

The first thing enjoined on the Corinthians was to use the power of Christ (they still were gathered to His name) to set aside, in a very distinct way, the guilty man. The evil has to be cleared away first. It was evident that the Lord was not countenancing them. They were a reproach everywhere. In private and public life their conduct as christians was reprehensible. In the assembly, going to law with one another before the ungodly; domestic unhappiness; frequenting idols' temples; and intoxicated at the Lord's supper. Surely it was evident the Lord was not with them. If we are overcome in every circle of society, it is very evident that we have grieved the Lord, and that He will not help us. Bad, however, as the Corinthian state was, there was ground for recovery; they had not as yet lost their allegiance to Christ. The apostle exhorts them, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ", to clear away the evil. It is important to note that it was

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after Israel came into the land, and were peculiarly set for the Lord, that they were required to sanctify themselves (Joshua 7:13): and it was then that the unknown trespass, or unfaithfulness, of one individual was found to be enough to hinder the Lord from helping them, so that their weakness was exposed, and they were routed by the men of Ai.

I must add a word as to the way holiness is to be secured when there is independency -- that is, open insubjection to Christ in the assembly. We get an example of this in 2 Timothy 2. So long as the assembly, though in as bad a state as that of Corinth, has a conscience to respect and to own the presence of Christ, we may always look for recovery; but when the general spirit of the company is lawless, as in 2 Timothy 2, the Lord does not get His place, there is no respect for Him, there is simple insubordination, the most grievous state to which any company of believers can be reduced, when the Lord cannot be there, and every one seeking holiness is to purge himself from vessels to dishonour, not merely from their doctrines, but from themselves, and follow righteousness, etc., with "them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart".

Thus we have seen that, whether in our own house, or in the house of God, the lack of holiness, if allowed to go on unjudged, is sure to result, sooner or later, in open departure from the ways of God, or the testimony at the time; and the more advanced one is, the greater will be the exposure. The reason is self-evident: we grieve the Spirit of God by conniving at what is spurious, or defective, for some supposed advantage; consequently He will not help us, and we become a prey to the enemy in some form or other, generally in the one most to our taste naturally.

It remains for us now to see how the servant is hindered in his work by unhallowed association, and defilement of any kind, either in the church, or in his own personal walk. The more true I am to the Lord's glory, the more

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must I, as His servant, be dissociated from vessels to dishonour -- not, I repeat, merely from their doctrines, but from the vessels. All my prosperity in His service depends on the "cleanness of my hands in his eyesight". I am not to partake of other men's sins, and I am to be watchful that there is no dark part in myself. The apostle can say, "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe". If we had no part dark, our bodies would be full of light, there would be no check to the action of the Spirit within us. The dark part is some positive hindrance, and if it be unchecked it will, however secreted, expose itself some day. Barnabas had not merely determined to take Mark on account of his being his kinsman, but the Jewish tendency, which he had not set aside, as a dark part, now betrayed him. Every one is exposed here, if he is not perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. The servant cannot effectively present the grace which he knows not the power of himself. How can the man with the beam in his own eye, propose to take a mote out of another's eye? He must remove the beam from his own eye, and then he will see clearly to remove the mote from his brother's eye. The servant is not deprived of his gift because he has grieved the Holy Spirit by his ways or association, but the Lord must deal with him about it, be he an Isaac or a Moses. One was influenced by his son's venison -- small things can warp us -- and the other had neglected to circumcise his son, possibly influenced by his wife, and God sought to kill him when he went forth as His servant. James warns us not to be many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. I believe every servant is exposed to the world when he persists in any unholiness unjudged, and that the leaven of it will render him markedly defective in his ministry, though, if he had judged it, he would have had greater power there.

The Lord lead our hearts to accept the word of exhortation -- "Sanctify yourselves".

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The terms objective and subjective are used to express on the one hand what God has done in His grace, and on the other what we are in consequence, or the effect produced by what He has done or given us. His gift is intended to produce an effect, but it exists before anything is produced by it. It was objective when God made man in His own image, and, in addition to this, placed him in the garden of Eden, and surrounded him with gifts suited to his nature. Adam accepted the gifts, but, because he was not subject to what was appointed for him, he forfeited all. This is the case always with man when set in responsibility; when he does not answer to the gifts conferred on him, he forfeits them. A believer now does not forfeit the gifts when he receives them in vain, because they are ensured in Christ; but if the gifts do not produce their proper effect, the believer is as if he had forfeited them, for his responsibility is to enjoy them.

It was objective when God brought Israel into Canaan, and they were warned that they should forfeit it if they did not retain what had been given to them, on the terms that it had been given. Hence, though they were set in the land manifestly by the power of God, they did not retain it. They did not continue in possession in the way in which they were put into possession, consequently they were driven out of it. A saint now cannot be dispossessed of anything that God has conferred, but if the possession of any of His grace be not retained in the very way in which it was given, the enjoyment will be lost, and he will be as if he had never had it; nay, more, if he ever returns to the enjoyment of it again, it will be with something of the experience of the captives of Israel, returning to the land from Babylon. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Receive not the grace of God in vain".

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Thus we have seen how the responsible man suffered when the subjective was not in keeping with the objective; that is, when the recipient of divine favour was not correspondingly affected by it. In principle now the self-same scope of grace (like the one pound in Luke 19) is given to each believer, and he who does not turn it to good account, is like the man who laid up his pound in a napkin; he admitted and accepted the objective, but he refused the subjective; he took a carnal view of God's grace. God can say to His people, "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" The objective was perfect, but the subjective was deplorable; they brought forth wild grapes.

The first great thing for us to own is that God has done everything for us according to His own pleasure. This is the objective. The next is, that I really possess and turn to good account what He has given me. Can anything be more marvellous than that the blessed God should have conferred, out of His own heart, the most inconceivable blessing? And as I know of this blessing, as the Spirit of Christ is in me, I cannot but cling to it as far as it is made known to me. Can we suppose any dereliction more unworthy than that I should know that He, out of His own heart, has conferred a great blessing on His people, and that I should treat it with indifference? Could anything more betray the low state of a soul than that one should admit that a certain grace had been conferred on him, but that he had not in reality given it a place. If he had in faith accepted it, it must speak for himself -- "a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee". I do not understand the heart of God if I do not see the vast range of grace in which He has placed me; and if I can say, I accept it, and am not correspondingly affected by it, I am practically in the flesh, and not in the Spirit. How could I accept what God had given me, and not be formed by it, if I were in His Spirit? "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God". If there be not the subjective in

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answer to the objective; that is, if the one right effect has not been produced, the gift has not been received in the Spirit, who only could maintain it. It has been received by the carnal mind, and there is no power to hold it.

The gospel is objective -- "himself hath done it". He "laid help upon one that is mighty". His "own arm brought salvation". "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth". "When I see the blood, I will pass over you". And of the Egyptians "there remained not even one of them". That is the objective. The subjective is, that faith appropriates what God has provided. The work has been perfectly done. "Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father". "He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God". Is it accepted? "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" If it be accepted by His own grace working in me, it must be the spiritual with the spiritual. I have, or rather I enjoy, the most wonderful effect. I am turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, and I have forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith that is in me. All this I enjoy, and I advance in enjoyment. It arises from what I have been given; I do not see the full measure of the gift at first, but it is the same gift that I am finding out more and more of. There is nothing added to the thing given to me, though I take a long time to find out all that is in it; I know that I have received it, and it is this great gift of God which confers such new and unspeakable benefits on me, and imparts to me a new life, and a new power to adopt new interests and new modes of action, which is the subjective side.

In the Romans you get first what God has done. Speaking of Christ, the apostle says, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, ... that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus"; again, righteousness

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"shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification". Now, one might allege that before conversion one could not accept anything. This is quite true; but I am not offered in the gospel a thing partially finished, or a thing in parts, that could be separated the one from the other; I am offered a whole; and on believing, this whole of inconceivable proportions is given to me, though I may take a long time to get acquainted with it, even partially. This great gift is objective, and my reception of it is subjective. Now when I receive the gift in the Spirit, which is the only power and way in which I can receive it (faith is the gift of God), I find that the more I apprehend and enjoy the gift, the more I require to know it in its entirety. Otherwise it is not complete to me. All the parts, like the mechanism of a watch, are so connected that they are necessary to one another; and I long for the gift, or the objective, to be opened or unfolded to me, in order that I may, in the power of grace, enjoy it and be subject to it.

Thus when in faith I believe, and find that my sins are forgiven me, I do not stop there, but I grow into the additional truth that I am justified; and though this was true of me when I first believed, I did not know it; though the more I entered into the blessedness of forgiveness, the more I must have longed to know more, because more was necessary to complete to me the objective; and my getting more was really that the gift was more unfolded to me, not that I received a new gift, but that I am discovering more of the one and self-same gift of grace in the gospel which I had as yet only learned in one of its parts. This part had made me ready and eager for the next; even justification.

Now justified, my knowledge of the objective has increased, and I am in the gain of it; and as I am, the better am I prepared for the additional parts of this great whole; even that the old man has been set aside

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judicially in the cross; the old man has been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed. I also learn that there is no good in me, and I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord; and I find "there is ... no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus", but that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". My state is an entirely new one, even as by grace I had been placed in an entirely new standing. The standing is the objective, and the state the subjective. If I had not the standing I could not have the state. The state is but the consequence of the standing -- the effect to the gift; and advance in the state always depends on the measure in which the gift is known, provided that it is known in the Spirit, by whom it is given. When the gift is intellectually accepted, there is no effect from it; but this is always marked by a cold adhesion to the objective, without any reference to the effect, or any of those divine outbursts which characterise the minister of God, who is sensibly alive to the greatness of the favour which God has conferred. While on the other hand, when a teacher dwells too much on the effect, or subjective side, he generally sinks to human effort; he is vainly trying to make a part produce the effect that the whole only could produce; he is like one pressing a man to make his feet serve for his hands, or vice versa.

There is a state produced by every distinct part of the whole. When I am not assured of the grace which I require to place me nigh unto God, I am not free to manifest the effects of it. The subjective or effect cannot really receive my attention until I am settled and assured in the gift which produces it. This is self-evident. How could I, if I have any conscience, which is the sense of God's claims on me, attempt to act as one who had accepted the gift, and the benefits of it, before I had it? Jonathan could not really love David, and make him his one absorbing object, while there was any fear of the giant. In most cases it is because there is

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such an imperfect apprehension of the objective, that there is so little of the subjective. Generally when a believer is defective in state, the cause is that he is defective in the apprehension of the gift which would have fitted him for it.

What we have seen with reference to the gospel, applies still more to the church. Unless I see the scope of God's purpose in the church, how can I, in any degree, answer to it? Unless it be apprehended by faith in some of its vast proportions, I am, in demanding subjection to it, like one asking a child to be a man, something which is imaginary to it. True the grace of God has raised me to the highest stature, but I have not apprehended it, though when I do, I am only what He made me.

The church is the great mystery; and while many can be interested about it, yet it has not the same momentous interest to them that the gospel has. It is only as my heart deepens in affection to Christ, that the church becomes of the greatest interest to me. When He is so known, that He is indispensable to me, union to Him is a crown of glory to my heart, and ineffable satisfaction. Oh! that it were better known!

Now, it is as much God's grace that the church is united to Christ in heaven, as that by grace we are saved. And as, in arriving at the great benefit of the gospel, the word that cheered and established us most was, that "himself hath done it", the objective. So, in arriving at the great blessedness of being raised up together and being seated together in the heavenlies in Christ, the word that will best cheer and assure the heart is, too, that "himself hath done it". I cannot have the subjective, however much I may desire it, until I am at rest about the objective; and as I know the power that wrought in Christ, I am in possession of the gift, which empowers me to act in quite a new way. It worketh in us.

I need not pursue the subject further, but we may rest assured that wherever there is a defect in the subjective, that is, when there is not a true answer to the

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gift, that the defect really is in the apprehension of the gift; just as when there is not a good impression from a seal, there must have been some defect either in the seal or in the way it was used. The beauty of a seal is disclosed by the impression which it makes. When the apostle feared the Colossians might slip, his way to confirm them was by insisting on the objective. When he would establish the Hebrews, he revived, with renewed depth, the objective; and thus he reminded the Corinthians, when their eyes were opened to their state, of the scope and magnitude of the grace which he now beseeches them not to receive in vain.


The first allusion to the church is in Matthew 16, where our Lord says to Peter, on his confession that He was "the Christ, the Son of the living God", "Thou art Peter [a stone], and upon this rock [what Peter had said] I will build my church", or assembly. The word assembly is not a new word, but the structure the Lord would now build is entirely a new one -- one that never existed before. The Rock on which this new assembly was to be built had only now come. Here we have the important truth, that the construction of this new assembly would be Christ's own work. Thus Peter's name -- a stone -- suited the statement that he would be material for the new structure; because a stone is of the same order of material as a rock, therefore he would be of this new assembly. Thus we have, as the Lord's work, not only that He Himself would be the Builder, but that the material would be of the same order as Himself. Just as, in another place, it is said, "both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one".

Now, in John 20:19, the first assembly of this order is set forth in pattern. The disciples are constituted for this assembly on the earth. The Lord, risen from the

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dead, leads them into peace and sends them forth into the world as thus gifted, imparting to them the "life ... more abundantly", in the power of the Holy Spirit. And thus He entrusts them with the solemn privilege, on the one hand, of admitting into this blessed enclosure; and, on the other, the grave duty of excluding from it. "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained". The assembly, as first established by the Lord Himself, is seen in pattern; while, in Acts 2, on the descent of the Holy Spirit to the very same company as were gathered in John 20:19, we have further insight into the order and power of this new company. Here the Holy Spirit descends, and He first "filled all the house where they were sitting". He limits Himself to the congregation, and in an external way fills all the house. This is the way He began, and this is the way He continues in the house; externally holding together all those of it. We read, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit". He fills all those who are born of God.

So far we see that the church, or assembly, is here as the house of God -- the Holy Spirit with all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord; and He also dwells in saints individually, so that there is an easy response from the Spirit in the individual temple, to the Spirit in the collective temple. In every one filled with the Spirit we have Christ's own building.

The next light we get on the church, after Acts 2, is in Acts 9, when our blessed Lord says to Saul of Tarsus, referring to the church, "why persecutest thou me?" thus identifying the church with Himself, and speaking of it as Himself. Thus, His first word to the one whom He subsequently appointed to be a minister and a witness of the things he had seen, and "of those things in the which I will appear unto thee", related to the mystery of the church. We must turn to Paul's writings to obtain a correct idea of the church, the body of Christ. Alas! there is no correct idea of it retained in christendom.

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There has been some meagre light of the gospel, but the true idea of the church has been entirely lost, and it is very imperfectly recovered in this day.

In Romans 12 we find an allusion to the body of Christ, as if the truth were known, but no unfolding of the mystery, though, in the last three verses of the epistle, it is referred to as something specially commended to them for their benefit. Now, in 1 Corinthians 12:12: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ", we have the body of Christ referred to as a subject well known, on the ground of which the apostle would correct the disorders at Corinth. The clause, "so also is Christ", would be very indefinite, were it not explained elsewhere. Doubtless they had heard before that the church was one body, but we could not comprehend the meaning of "so also is Christ", from this allusion, were it not explained to us in Ephesians, where we read, that He is "head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all". In Corinthians we learn that there is one body, and that we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body; but from Ephesians we learn that Christ is the Head of His body -- His complement, that which completes Him -- that we are placed in Him in the place where He is, and that we have to grow up to Him in all things, who is the Head. In Ephesians we have the full mystery -- Christ the Head over all things to the church, which is His body, and therefore united to Him -- His fulness. As we had the new and privileged position of the body in Corinthians, here we have the marvellous dignity of our position, united to the exalted One in heaven, and in His power down here, where He had been rejected; and the greatness of the Head is further opened out to us in Colossians, in order that we may know our great gain; for in this mystery are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. These treasures are not from the saints, in any number, by themselves,

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but from the Head of the body, from whom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God. So that we arrive at this -- that not only is the blessed Lord the Builder, as He says at the beginning, but He is the Head, the almighty Source of all blessing and power, in the nearest and closest relationship which the word Head conveys.

I now turn to the varied ways in which the truth of the church has been perverted.

Doubtless, at first, through carelessness, many unconverted crept in; those were admitted who were not of Christ's building. There was man's building, as we find in 1 Corinthians 3; but so long as Christ's place was owned and submitted to, He came, as we find in 1 Corinthians 5:4, though the saints there had forfeited His open support and countenance, like Israel at Ai; yet He would still come and help them to get rid of the known evil in their midst. But when the assembly had sunk into the ungodliness and disorder described in 2 Timothy 2:16, His place then was not owned, and the true-hearted were to purge themselves from the vessels to dishonour.

As difficult times grew on and existed, there was not a purging from the vessels to dishonour; though it is to be noted that whenever there was any reviving in the church, it was marked by a measure of separation from the existing corruptions and corrupted state of things.

Romanism, in principle, disclosed the great evil working in the church; and that was leaving out the Head, while the assembly was presumptuously invested with the divine prerogative of binding and loosing for heaven. The power entrusted to the first assembly by the Lord, in John 20, was binding and loosing for earth -- administrative forgiveness; but romanism assumed that the church was invested with power to bind and loose for heaven. A human rule was substituted for the Spirit of God, and when this obtained, when the only One who could order according to the mind of Christ was

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ignored, then Christ's headship of His body, and place in the assembly, was disowned.

Now, in protestantism, the effort was to correct this enormity, by simply returning to Christ as Saviour, which had been lost in romanism. Thus real good was done at the reformation; the way of salvation was brought to light; but the church, as it is in the mind of God, and revealed in Scripture, was not at all apprehended. Hence, in the reformed church, various denominations arose, each one aiming at a recognised membership, which was not part of the order of the reformed church at first. We can see in this movement (the membership of a church) a vague idea of the body; but there was really no approach to it, but a lulling of the conscience as to the real thing, from accepting a human mode instead of the divine one.

Later on arose the proposal, hailed by some, that all christians should lay aside all the peculiarities of their church arrangements, and come together for mutual prayer and edification, apart from any prescribed rule. This did not satisfy the more godly, because they naturally asked, If it were possible to come together for one week, why not for many weeks -- why not for our whole time here? No doubt, many were prepared in this way for the light which the Lord was pleased to make known some sixty years since, which was hailed as an unspeakable boon by them. The Lord led one of His servants to see that believers in Christ have a Head in heaven, and thus that one Head makes one body. Thus the truth of the great mystery was restored to the church, and what could not be found in the books of the most godly for eighteen hundred years, from that time was in writing, and viva voce proclaimed to the people of God. If there had been no divergence from this great truth, or rather, if it had been held in simple faith in its integrity, there would have been no divisions among those who professed to hold it; but when the test came, those who really had not the truth of the mystery, that is,

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the greatness of the Head, and in consequence the unbounded measure of the church's resources and power, were betrayed; while the really sorrowful part of the division was that each section claimed to be gathered on the truth of the church. Christ is the Head of the church always in the eye of God. There is one body, fitly joined and compacted together, however scattered and distant one from another the integral parts. The fact is, that many were gathered on the truth that we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body. This had been accepted as thoroughly satisfying hearts that longed for the true membership of saints, but it is evident they had not faith in the Head, and therefore they really had not by faith accepted the mystery; because, when independence broke out, they had no power to resist it; and they could not see that they were as responsible to rebuke an offence done to the Head by those who were a thousand miles off, as if it had occurred in their own company. The bond had been accepted, but the power to maintain them divinely in this bond had not been laid hold of by faith. Hence division ensued. Those who had some faith in the Christ remained faithful to Him; the others, while professing to hold the same truth, were apart, and really on different ground.

There are besides this, other ways in which the truth of the church as the Christ is practically ignored, even by those still retaining professedly the right ground. The first, and most common, is, when Christ, for one's own individual blessing, is exclusively before the soul. When this is the case, the service never goes beyond the gospel; and in evangelical ardour, one feels excused or exonerated, for inattention to or ignorance of, the church.

Again, there is another form, even more deceptive, where one is so engrossed with one's own feelings, that there is a continued effort to be self-commended as a christian. This is often marked with great fervency and feeling, which is mere religiousness, and from which, as we see in Colossians the earnest believer, at rest about

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his soul, is preserved only by the truth of the church being laid hold of by faith, which leads him to know Christ in him as everything, and in all. Thus it was that holiness by faith had its origin, and it is generally betrayed by the way the feelings are acted on.

I might enlarge on these various ways in which the truth of the church is lost, but I merely notice them, and close by referring to another which is more specious, and therefore the more dangerous; I mean when the truth of the Ephesians is held intellectually, which is always the case when the position in which God has set us is exclusively spoken of, leaving out the great power which, in His grace, He has attached to this great position.

I need not add more than the assured belief, that if the mystery, as it is in the mind of God -- "the Christ" -- were, even in a little measure, the centre of all service, there would be the deepest joy of heart, and power for usefulness.

We should be better evangelists, better teachers, better pastors, better in everything, ever rising to the worship that ascribes to Him "glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen".


The first state, and ever the one increasing in depth and fulness in the soul, is what is called conversion -- my eyes opened, turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God. The work of Christ in His death and resurrection must be known before there can be any advance in stature or growth. Often years are spent in reaching the state of the babe. Babes know the Father. There is no lower stage, historically, than a babe. Saul of Tarsus reached it in three days; but the deepest exercise is necessarily endured in the translation, by the mighty power of God, from the power of Satan unto God. Israel's deliverance out of Egypt typifies the history of this stage. The conversion often seems quick and sure;

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yet, sooner or later, there must be a known sense in the soul of how God has wrought; that He has loosened all the cords with which the enemy had bound us; that He has broken his power on every side. There is not a ray of hope left, there is not a straw for the ruined soul to cling to. The thief on the cross, or the Philippian jailer, or Saul of Tarsus, or any one, is brought to a point where the interminable darkness of eternal judgment stares him fully in the face. "Refuge failed me"; "No man gave unto him". The better I learn this part of my history, the stronger babe I am, and the better shall I be able to advance; therefore much depends on this period of one's history.

The first great relief to the soul is the deep, everlasting assurance that the blood of Christ shelters me from the judgment of God. Now, if, consequent on this relief, I enter into the judgment that Christ bore for me at the hand of God, if I feed on the lamb roast with fire, and with bitter herbs, a deep repentance, an utter sense of judgment deserved -- "we indeed justly", as the thief on the cross expresses it -- I am, in heart and purpose, on my way out of Egypt, my loins girded, and my shoes on my feet, and my staff in my hand.

Here, I am persuaded, the first snare after conversion occurs. The grandeur of God's goodness and power in breaking down the enemy all around me -- "not a house where there was not one dead" -- in order that I might seek to be sheltered by the blood of His own Son, is beyond my power to describe . But I am sure some who have enjoyed the shelter of that blood have not really left Egypt. They have not fed on the roasted lamb with bitter herbs. They have not entered into what Saul passed through, the three days when he neither ate nor drank. If I have not a sense of the terrible judgment that awaited me, and that I deserved, I do not appreciate the greatness of the work of Christ in bearing my judgment; for if I had done so, I must make haste indeed to leave the place where I had incurred the judgment of God.

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"Now is the judgment of this world". One is converted when he rests by faith in God's estimate of the blood of Christ; one is not in the consciousness of a child -- does not know the Father, until he has learned the grace which has placed him on entirely new ground outside Egypt. The mark of the soul not out of Egypt is that his religion is to make what is sure still more sure -- that he is clear of judgment. He does not really fear it, but every work and religious exercise is appreciated in proportion as his sense of security is increased. The feeling that he is really safe is his chief joy; and every blessing he receives, and every good done, is valued as it conduces to increased assurance. Often there is much comfort derived from the feeling that one is more holy, and this in itself weakens the work of grace, while it lends a certain cheer to the soul which is not yet at peace with God. Many, with much injury to souls, have pressed that a soul has peace when it knows forgiveness. This is not true. There is assurance of escape from judgment; an assurance, too, that may never be lost, even though that soul may never leave the world where the judgment is. I have dwelt long on this period, but it is of immense importance. Hence, in the type, from Exodus 12 to 15, we learn in detail what those three days were to Saul of Tarsus. He so learned the death and resurrection of Christ in those three days, after enduring in soul much more than Israel in that desperate time, he found that Christ had so cleared everything of the Egyptian, or, in other words, of the man under judgment, that he could be at home in the glory, where his Saviour was. He was justified, he was at peace with God, and the Holy Spirit assured him of his freedom from the law of sin and death. He was a babe of an entirely new race. Now the mark of a babe is delighting in relationship, like the prodigal in the father's house. I am in favour; the love of God is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit given unto me. I am saved now by my Saviour's life, and I joy in God; this is a great era in my history.

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Now in the history of some souls there is faith as to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and thus a sense of justification, yet without full liberty. Saul, I might say, had arrived at this before the Holy Spirit came; it is He who makes me free from the law of sin and death. I am not only counted righteous, placed, through grace, before God, as Christ is, raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, but I am in a new state -- "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". The order of history is, that it is the law of this new life made known to me by the Spirit, which assures me of deliverance from the law of sin and death. In the type we see that Israel was over the Red Sea long before they had learned, in connection with their utter depravity, the boundless grace of God. Israel, after thirty-nine years of unparalleled favour, from day to day, now spake against Him and His servant. They prove they are totally irreparable, not a good feeling in them. Then the brazen serpent is put on a pole, and not only a new life given by faith to every sufferer, but also water is given them. Thus, in type, there is life in Christ, and the Spirit given to maintain us in the enjoyment of that life. It is thus that liberty is known -- "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty".

Now, when there is a sense of peace because of being justified by faith, and yet not full liberty or deliverance, it is because the Spirit is not the acknowledged power, the distinct opponent to the flesh; so that we have not only to live in the Spirit, but also to walk in the Spirit. When, historically, a soul has reached justification, and yet is not in liberty, while there is a rejoicing in the glorious work of Christ, and, as prefigured in Exodus 15, a desire to see God honoured on the earth, with a sure prospect of reaching heaven in time, there is more or less return to the law, and one's trials are all connected with the wilderness. It is things of earth which engross one, a longing for the leeks and onions of Egypt, even though there be not a return to Egypt openly. Alas! this is a very

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common case. But when liberty is known, there is then a full entrance into the gain of justification; and there is an abiding sense of being in the Spirit, as born of God, and the blessedness of passing through everything here led by the Spirit -- a new state, and really destined for the glory. It is then that the dependence, which is the true education of the wilderness, characterises me. I am, through the Spirit, heavenly in hope and purpose, whether I encounter the violence of persecution from Amalek, or the deceitful decoys of Balaam. I find God is for me; the opposition is overcome; as with Israel, Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites. But the snare is, seeking a place for myself where I have through grace triumphed; and this leads to settling down on the wilderness side of the land, and my course here is marked by efforts to improve the world, religiously and politically.

Rightly, I am here but a pilgrim and a stranger, looking out for the inheritance laid up for me in heaven. This part of the history is most interesting, because it is when I really enter, in my new life and power, because of the Spirit dwelling in me, that I feel I do not belong to the man here -- that I am in Christ, of a new order, and that I have a new power; not only can I swim, like the newly-hatched water-fowl -- that is, rise above the element that would swallow me up -- but I can now escape from it, and, in the Spirit, rise superior to it. I am daily more and more sensible of the consolations that are in Christ, and how He supports me in all my trials and sorrows here. He is more and more endeared to me; "My beloved is mine, and I am his". In this period of my history I learn His priesthood and the value of His intercession. He becomes so personally known to me in my need here, that I literally feel I cannot do without Him. I believe it is then that I enter into what is conveyed by "faith in the Lord Jesus". It is not the man here, but the One who is not here, who holds and satisfies my heart.

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The snare, or danger, at this stage of my history is lest, as we read in Colossians, I should be beguiled by enticing words. It is evident that in such a case the natural mind would be acted on, and the consequence, as we see there, would be that a mixture of rationalism and ritualism is adopted, or a religiousness, giving some place to the man in the flesh. It is amazing the variety of shades in which this evil appears and at this stage. Intellectualism at one time, and excited fervency at another time; always something mental or sentimental; nothing in itself immoral, but so absorbed with my own feelings and ministering to them, that I am not subject to the word of the Lord, and thus I am not divested of any hindrance that crops up in me from having "part" with Him in the new place whither He has gone, and to which He leads me, when I am freed by Him of the soil which would unfit me for it. If I do not rise to conscious enjoyment of Christ in the place where He is, after I have reached this stage, it is because my feet are not washed. But when I do, I learn that I am united to Him, and thus only can I be preserved from the religiousness of the flesh; and the same Holy Spirit who has shed abroad in my heart the love of God, now unites me to my Saviour where He is, making known to me that I am indeed a member of His body, of which He is, over all things, the Head. I am not only transported with joy, but I begin to realise the immensity of the position which I, through grace, now occupy. I do not see how any human language could convey the blessedness of the stature in which my history culminates. I am now to grow up to Him in all things, who is the Head -- the Christ.

Thus a divine stature is before me of immeasurable moral beauty and power, of which the duties and interests are unique and heavenly. My delight and my occupation now are to know more of Christ -- of "him that is from the beginning". I am in the world, not with the interests of man, but altogether in the interests of Christ. A

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new motive in me, and a new way of doing everything that is my duty to do, with the deepening consciousness that all my springs are in Him; that I am a man from God's world, in man's world, and out of my belly flow rivers of living water. The church, Christ's own circle of interest here, is my circle; while my own interests are adapted, by His grace, to this great central interest.

Yet I am not without snares and dangers -- nay, I am opposed in the most unrelenting way, and by a power disguised as well as open; and, as Israel had to contend against seven nations for possession of the land, I have now to contend against all the accumulated force of Satan, to maintain practically the position which has been given to me. As it was with Israel in their day, many forfeited the blessings of the land; so now, alas! after reaching this state, where more than the blessings of the utmost bound of the everlasting hills are known, after having seen the wonderful new place of a man in Christ, the influence of the inhabitants of the land who have not been entirely driven out so leaven and degrade me, that I, in the long run, may even be carried away a captive into Babylon. The fall, or declension, in power from this, the greatest moral height, is generally marked by the sin of Achan -- the wedge of gold and the Babylonish garment -- not an avowed renunciation of the truth, but a holding on verbally to it, while the course and manner of life are not now Egyptian, but Babylonish; that is, the world is not sought after merely for its comforts, but as a place where one can be independent of God. May our God keep us walking humbly.


"The day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". The judgment of God was on the body. "They knew that they were naked". We can hardly conceive what the consequence of sin was in the mind of Adam when the voice of Jehovah was heard and they hid themselves

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among the trees of the garden. "The wages of sin is death". All are under the sentence of it, and as there is conscience there is a proportionate fear of it. The resurrection of Christ is the proof that the grace of God has found a way of deliverance for the condemned sinner. "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead". Unless we understand that a sinner is naked under the judgment of God, we shall never be able to comprehend the scope of His grace. If any one die under judgment he must remain under it, and at the great white throne the judgment is pronounced. Hence in the gospel the first thing assured to the soul is perfect escape from judgment through the blood of Christ; and next, that through His resurrection, the believer is justified through faith in God who raised Christ from the dead; "by whom we have also access by faith into this favour in which we stand". That is, that I am not only sheltered by the atoning blood of Christ, but where I was under judgment, I am in the favour of God at this moment. Who can describe or conceive the magnificence of the translation from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love

Now as I am saved from future judgment, and set up by God in the Spirit of Christ in the very spot of my ruin, it is plain that the body, which was under the judgment of God before grace was known, must now be, par excellence, the medium through which the greatness of His favour will be known and demonstrated. Hence in Romans 8 2, I learn that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". I am in the Spirit free from the principle of sin and death in the body, and hence I am then called upon in Romans 12 to present my body "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service".

This is of the greatest importance, because we see on every hand that the lack of grace, of the power of Christ in every saint, is betrayed in some way in the body.

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"The shew of their countenance doth witness against them". There is a dark part. It is of the deepest interest and beautifully consistent that the body on which rested the judgment of God, but which now in Christ is redeemed through His blood, should be the index, here in the sphere of its former ruin, of the power and effectiveness of His grace.

It has been said that the first thing God did for fallen man was to clothe him with skins, thus indicating that the grace of God would address itself first to the deepest need; so the apostle, when he refers to the eternal day, says, "If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked".

We are consequently prepared to find that from the moment the light of God enters a soul, there is, according to its power, a distinct trait of it in the body of the believer. It is not a thing exclusively inside. When the prodigal came to himself he said, "I will arise". His body indicates that there is a new power within him. In the same way the woman of Samaria leaves her water-pot, and goes to call her townspeople whom she had avoided in the morning. The children of Israel expressed their value of the shed blood and their need of it, when with loins girt, and shoes on their feet, and their staves in their hands, they ate the passover. When there is a defect in my act, there is a proportionate lack in me of the grace to produce it. There is a stone before the wheel, there is a dark part. This accounts for the partial way in which believers leave the world, where judgment lay on them. They have not a true sense of the judgment to which they were exposed; and therefore they have not a true appreciation of the blood shed by which they are sheltered. If they had, there would be a manifest separation from the place of judgment. Wherever there is not a true sense of the judgment, there cannot be a full escape from it. One may, like Peter in Luke 5, be drawn to Christ, and that even with a measure of devotedness, but the first great step was not learned, until he fell

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down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord".

The sense of death and the fear of judgment are the first fruits of the light of God in the soul. There must be the agonizing cry, "What must I do to be saved?" before there is a real sense of what His grace effects through the work of Christ. The greater the distress, the greater the delight. They bear a relation to each other. As the light engrosses me, I am controlled by it. When there is a check, the darkness is not overcome. The light made the prodigal move towards the father, and then he received the father's kiss; he is then at a stand until the clothes, etc., are put on him, and he can enter into the house. The dark part is the hindrance. The light effects or produces the move. Hence the work of the Spirit in conversion is represented by a woman who lights a candle, and sweeps the house. And as light begins the work, light only can complete it. It is light which leads the soul to God; it is light which introduces it into its new place with Him through grace. If I do not enter into the holiest, I am obstructed by the darkness -- I cry out, 'I am not fit', 'I am not worthy', and so forth; but really the dark part hinders, and I do not enter into my true place. This one might confine to the soul inwardly; but the fact is, the more I know the place where grace sets me, the more am I personally affected by it. The blind man (John 9) had not only the light in him, but this light soon placed him before all men, as the one who had the light, until he gets outside everyone, worshipping the Son of God in the fulness of light. When I am controlled by light I am characterised by it. It is a great thing to see that a defect inwardly is betrayed outwardly; as it is written, "He setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil". One cannot penetrate into the heart and see the defect, or lack of grace there, but every defect is sure to transpire externally. I may try to excuse myself for a hasty word, or for an uncourteous manner, but the real defect is within.

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If we study the Corinthians we shall see how they betrayed the grievous lack within in their outward ways and behaviour. They had never truly received Romans 6, that as having died with Christ they must reckon themselves dead. The flesh thus unjudged was exposed in various ways, and this is very much what we see now in christendom. They exalted human wisdom, accepted one teacher to the prejudice of another. They had no sense of defilement from the presence of a wicked person in the assembly. Their outward conduct betrayed their inward state, they appeared at the world's law courts against one another. In their hearts they had no divine apprehension of God's building, or that they were the temple of God. They had reigned as kings in their outward life. Now the truth which the Spirit uses to correct their unholiness was that the body was the Lord's -- "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit ... do ye not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God; and ye are not your own? for ye have been bought with a price: glorify now then God in your body". The apostle adduces his own manner of life as an example for them: "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway".

Hence also when the chastening of the Lord is spoken of, it is altogether with reference to the body: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep". Many believers might be able to say that they have not gone to the extremes that the Corinthians had sunk to. But all evil has a beginning, and if the dark part had been judged in time, they never would have departed so widely from the truth.

But mark now the good side! How strikingly the body is the exponent of the grace, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body". The inward thing was the glory, the outward was the life of

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Jesus in my body. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body". We do well to bear in mind the colour-blindness from which one suffers when there is not a true reckoning of oneself dead, because the old man has been judicially terminated in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the measure of the grace actually received is indicated in the manner of life of each believer.

Now the Galatians were legal. They thus betrayed their dark part. They had not practically learned Romans 7. Having begun in the Spirit, they were seeking to be perfect in the flesh. There can be no progress until the dark part which is the immediate hindrance be removed. It is, as I have said, the stone before the wheel. This state shows that they had not learned "that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing ... but how to perform that which is good I find not"; that my body is in itself a body of death, no power in it to do good. My power is the Spirit dwelling in me, my body is His temple, and He only can overcome the dark part in me, and lead me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Hence it is not a legally righteous man who can restore a wanderer, but the spiritual. It is only in the Spirit that I am out of bondage, and through the Spirit I may not do the things that I would, and it is then that His fruit is seen in me. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance". First the inward points are enumerated, and then the outward; and the latter are more in number than the former. The flesh overcome, the Spirit has His own way in His temple, -- my body.

Again, in Colossians, the apostle apprehending the dark part from which they were likely to suffer, presents the mystery of God, as the only truth which could preserve them from it. The dark part with the Corinthians was betrayed in self-indulgence; in the Galatians, in being circumcised; but the snare in the Colossians was

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the possibility of working the old man into a christian state. Hence both mind and body were addressed, and they were in danger of being beguiled by the enticing words of man's wisdom. From this snare nothing could save them but the knowledge of the mystery; which, as it is Christ in us, would necessarily supplant everything of man. Christ would be everything. The old man would be entirely supplanted. The full antitype to Gilgal would be known, as in Colossians 3:12 - 14. All of the old man was to be left behind, for "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God"; consequently, the external character declares the magnitude of the inward change. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another ... even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful". Almost all these are visible.

It is plain from the scriptures I have quoted, that as the dark part is removed, so is there a demonstration outwardly of the grace within which has affected it; and that when this great work is hindered there is an indication in the manner of life that is outside, of the defect inside. We can often notice defects in the manner of life; but it is not easy to ascertain the lack of grace inside, to which we are to attribute it. The stronghold of one's nature is of course the last to surrender. It may sustain many an assault, and there is often a desire to conceal it, as the parent bird will endanger its own life, to save the nest. There may be a distinct sense that the Lord is directing His word to the removal of this dark part, and at the same time I may feel that I am subjected to discipline, in order to lay low this only son -- this last link to the old man. There is, as is evident, a hindrance to testimony, and to sanctification, while any

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dark part exists. If there were no dark part, the whole body would be light. As in the heavenly experience, we should be "lights in the world". The light in a christian is unseen when he is not actively in the power of light. Scripture calls this condition sleep; hence it is said, "Wake up, thou that sleepest, and arise up from among the dead, and the Christ shall shine upon thee". Sleep is bodily inactivity. The virgins slumbered and slept. There is light from the body when there is no fear of those who kill it (Luke 12), and when there is no taking thought for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, and no doubtful mind. So that one's greatest moral height is that "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death".

Now, when this is the simple purpose of the heart, there is no thought of any progress in holiness or testimony, but by supplanting the natural darkness in me; for I was darkness, but I am now light in the Lord, and the more the darkness is superseded by the light in me, the more sanctified I am, and the more the dark part is reduced the more the light shines forth in practical testimony. Thus the two things most desired by every true christian, holiness and testimony, are produced in me at one and the same moment.


The beginning of everything necessarily refers to its finish or completion. If the beginning is not right, the end cannot be right; "That which is crooked cannot be made straight". Hence the nazarite, when he failed, had to begin over again. From the hand of God everything has had a good beginning, and if there had been no obstruction to its full development, each thing would have reached perfection of its kind. But everything here has suffered through the perverseness of man. Hence in every period when there was real reviving of the heart to God, there was a return to the beginning, as God has first presented it; but the return to the beginning was

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not with the intention of continuing at the beginning, but of going on to perfection. It is but too evident that if the beginning is the limit to one's aim, then that which was necessary as a true start becomes a snare; and the immatured beginning is a dwarf or reproach, instead of a testimony to the praise of God.

Joshua felt this with regard to Israel when they were discomfited before their enemies, lest the nations should say that God was not able to bring them in. Even as it is said of men; "This man began to build, and was not able to finish".

When the beginning is of God, the same power which produced the beginning can alone effect maturity; and when the Lord is not hindered, it must be so. It is no new thing to be said, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you ...?"

In every time the greatest favour from God was when He led one or more of His people to return to the old paths; and surely it has been an unequalled favour that He has been pleased to revive the truth of the church in these closing days. But the greater the blessing, the more should we be on our guard lest we should lose it, as it has happened to many aforetime; and these things "are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come". Through the grace of God there are thousands who can with thankfulness own that they have been led to see the right beginning; therefore the question now is, Are we maturing? Are we advancing from this right beginning? Or are we contenting ourselves with having started aright, as if that was enough without making any further advance. If we are, we shall be, as it were, spiritually petrified, while boastful of our beginning! Like Israel, of whom it is said, "The temple of the Lord, are these", when they were not able to lift up their heads before their conquerors.

The danger now is, as there has been through the goodness of God a good beginning, that through the artifice of the enemy we should not mature or go on to

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perfection. If there be no advance from the right beginning, there is not only no power, but the continuance in a state without any maturing is a pitiable reproach, instead of a testimony to the glory of God.

In reading through the Scriptures how frequently it must strike us that men of God began well, but did not go on to perfection. Noah begins well, but is unintentionally overpowered by the product of his own hands. It may be alleged that he had departed from his beginning; that is true, but the departure was in consequence of his not having gone on advancing in the line and manner of his beginning, just as it was with Lot, who having started aright, was led away by the green fields of Sodom. But the greatest danger is when we content ourselves with our beginning, or with the recovery of a lost standing, as Jacob did at Shalem. He had returned to the land. It was a great favour from God to bring him back; and he had learned in the morning after the night of wrestling the great truth that his name was Israel. But he did not go on from that. He was so contented after his return to the land with this good beginning that he stops there, and settles at Shalem. There is no thought in his mind to fulfil his promise, or to go on to the completion of it, which was Bethel. This is our great danger, and here hundreds have failed. The beginning has not been surrendered; the truth of the church, the distinctive one for this period has not been given up, but there has been no advance. There has not been in many cases any growth in the knowledge of it as it is in the mind of God. There has been a settling at Shalem. The truths revived at the beginning are not denied, but there is no divine advancement. Souls are as practically ignorant of what the church is as the mystery of God, as if they had never accepted the truth of it. If we look around, how rare it is generally to see any maturing in the knowledge of the mystery of God! It is a comfort that those who desire to grow are sure to do so, but those who content themselves with the mere truth, are

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like Jacob at Shalem; they are not maturing, and they will become as he did, a reproach instead of a testimony to the name of the Lord. It is common with man, when his power is less than his position, to fall back on the latter, in order to obtain for himself what the former would have secured to him; and thus the man of God who rests on his position betrays himself, he has not power; he is not walking with God; and he seeks to obtain a relief for his conscience by asserting his position, when he has not power to maintain it; for there is never power where there is not the activity of life; when one is not adding according to 2 Peter 1; when one does not "add to your faith virtue", and so on.

We see continually in Israel's history how they began well but, failing to complete their undertaking, were reduced to impotency and reproach. They were saved from death, and ate the passover and went up out of Egypt; but before they were delivered from Egypt's power, they said unto Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?" Is there no parallel to this in our day? Do we not see many accepting with satisfaction the truth of the gospel, but even before deliverance, before holy separation from the scene of judgment is known, there is repining in the heart which is really reluctant to leave the world; for nothing but resurrection power can lead us outside it. They had begun well, and were placed by the grace of God in perfect safety in the scene of judgment; but alas! when they were thus favoured they became a spectacle of unbelief, because they had not faith in God to reach the finish. An unfinished act always indicates imbecility, and is a reproach; and it is the reproach that remains, and not the power which marked the beginning.

On almost every new start there was a recurrence of this lamentable tendency. Soon after the song on the other side of the Red Sea, they murmured. Again, they

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came to the borders of the land, and would not go in because discouraged by the evil report of the spies. Further on they were placed in the land, but were overpowered in it, because they did not complete what they had undertaken. "They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel ... They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt"; for "they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word ... but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works". Everything of God must meet with opposition in a world of evil; but His power, the same which enables us to begin, is able to ensure a completion of His will. When the eye has been diverted from God, discomfiture and failure must ensue. The blessed God cannot allow that His calling should be only partially entered on. When we stop, or permit ourselves to be hindered, we lose His support; and we soon disclose that we are worse off than when we never had it. A great elevation suddenly lost, leaves one in a more abject condition than if one never had it.

Ezra in his day, and the remnant of Israel, with great purpose of heart, confiding in the Lord, journeyed from Babylon to Jerusalem, and commenced the rebuilding of the temple. As long as they bravely defied the enemy they succeeded, but when they yielded to the pressure and contented themselves with their position in the land -- with their good beginning, they forfeited even personal blessing; they sowed much, but it came to little (see Haggai 1:9 - 11). They lost the support of God on every side when they ceased to advance in order to complete the undertaking they were called to. They might have contended that they were in the land; that they were on the right ground; all true, but they were not maturing; and hence they were reduced to a miserable condition in the land -- in their high position. Nothing is so sad or humiliating as misery in a high position. The moment any one is content with his progress, or his measure of light, then he is resting in what he is or has,

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and not in God; and there is neither freshness in his soul nor vigour in his testimony. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. We cannot lose what we have entered on, because the whole is ours through grace, though we surely lose enjoyment in it. Israel did not lose the land because they had declined from their proper work; neither do we lose the measure of the truth we have reached because we are not growing up unto Him in all things, who is the Head, even the Christ; but it is important to see that when we limit ourselves to what we have, and do not press on to the finish of it, the Lord does not give us more. He does not confide His mind to us, He does not give us any fresh opening of the word as to the great circle of His interest. There may be given words of comfort and instruction for the daily need of souls, but the things that He would disclose to His friends -- His present interest as Head of His body the church -- are not communicated. If the chief subject in the heart of Christ is hardly ever referred to, and when referred to is as something unknown, surely there must be very little intimacy between us and the Lord; and I feel convinced that there is no surer test than the extent in which Christ's interests in the church is in one's mind and affection. If the church be the dearest object to Christ's heart, how could I be near Him without becoming interested in what He is interested in, and how could I fix as a limit for myself, that I am on the true ground -- that I believe in Matthew 18:20, and that is enough?

Can any one read the Acts and not see how the apostles themselves lost ground by continuing at Jerusalem, and how James and the great company with him were eventually behind the testimony, because they had confined themselves to the measure of christianity that suited Jerusalem? Would Paul place a limit to the saints when he writes: "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the

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stature of the fulness of Christ"? There is to be no limit. The effect of a limit is to check the power of God. Thus it was at the reformation. To secure justification by faith was the one thing proposed, and all was limited to this. And in this day the danger has been, that having found the right ground for christian fellowship this should be the limit, and that progress from this is not necessary. Is this good beginning the finish? Certainly not. Why then limit it? If we do not mature, we shall not only lose the power to mature, but we shall sink into reproach and impotent disorder; the very opposite to the beautiful beginning which God favoured us with.

If we mark the course of every good beginning, we shall see there was prosperity and power -- the faith sounding out, as long as there was progress or maturing in the truth; and surely for every anointed eye in the present century, there is abundant evidence of the verity of this statement. Joy and strength marked those who were advancing in the line they had entered on. Very ignorant at first, they gradually got more light, and as the light came they walked according to it; so that there was a remarkable alteration in one thing or another, and an abandoning of things once admitted or sanctioned, for ways consonant with their increased light. Many at the present hour have more light than the first great pioneers had at the beginning. And if one would shelter himself for not walking up to it, under the subterfuge that he is the same as those at the beginning, he ignores the light which has been given during the last sixty years, and lands himself in a company of believers more or less encumbered by human rules.

God grant that His own may be awakened to see that no limit, however good, can in any way make up for the completion in the mind of God; and that they may see that if we content or shelter ourselves with a good beginning -- the right ground -- we shall infallibly lose our power in testimony, and ere long will be an open reproach where there once was a bright beginning.

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Our blessed Lord, taking His place in the midst of His own on the day of His resurrection, and there and then forming the assembly for the first time on the earth, would of itself convey to us the gravity and importance of it. The disciples (the eleven, and they that were with them), were gathered into a room, with closed doors, the Lord Himself the one paramount Object before their hearts. He comes into their midst, and He now forms the assembly. He first fits the disciples for it, assures them of peace -- the state belonging to the new ground -- that of divine righteousness, in which He now sets them. He confers life in the power of the Holy Spirit. He sends them as missionaries into the world, and He announces to them their responsibility, in the words, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained".

The assembly is now shown in pattern. I do not say that it commenced then, but I submit that the pattern of it was given then. The value of a pattern is that we have in it the essential parts of the thing described. The Lord, on the first day of the week, when everything is new, places the disciples, both as to their own state and responsibility, as He desired to have them, in assembly order. No soul, unless in the spiritual mind, which is life and peace, is really qualified to fulfil his part in the assembly. It is plain that if my own soul's interests are not assured, and that I am not in real restfulness of heart about myself, I cannot truly take an interest in Christ's interests in the assembly. But being settled, as to myself, before God, now I am called to act for Christ in the assembly. Invigorated in heart by His presence, His death prominently before me, I travel through remembrance of His death to the great fact that I am beside Him, that He is in the midst; while absorbed by His presence, I learn from Him that I am sent by Him into the world, and that our responsibility is set forth in

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the words, "whose soever sins", etc. So that the present position of every one is determined by the assembly receiving or refusing. If we apprehend, in any measure, that the object of the assembly was to care for the interests of Christ on earth, we at once see how much it has departed from its object and use, while it is our blessing to seek from Scripture how we may return, in purpose and practice, to the mind of the Lord. We may lay down, then, that the Lord's presence, and its effect, is necessarily the first object and use of it. Secondly, the way He directs and sends forth from there for His service; and thirdly, responsibility as to remitting and retaining sins.

Now, seeing that the assembly is here for objects so deeply interesting, let us gather from Scripture more about it. In Matthew 18:20 we read, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them". Here we have the basis of the assembly. Two or three would be as nothing without the Lord, but He in our midst -- everything must be rightly determined. From the context it is evident there was a sense of powerlessness, and this led to prayer; but we were not to be despondent, for where two or three were gathered to His name, He would be in the midst; that is, He, in His grace, would form one of the company, when they were simply gathered to His name. The Spirit only could gather to His name, and He, the blessed Lord, will then come Himself. This is the basis of every meeting on divine ground. There is no power otherwise, and thus, in Luke 24 and John 20, the Lord is in the midst of His gathered ones, then only to form in pattern that assembly which is now in existence. We see in Matthew 18:17 that the assembly was the last place for appeal in personal difficulties with one another, in our wilderness journey; and this affords evidence of the use and object of the assembly.

Now, in Acts 2 the disciples were in company when the Holy Spirit descended, and filled the house where

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they were sitting; and, besides, each individual was filled by the same Spirit who had filled all the house where they were sitting. The assembly, so to speak, was then established in true power; surely Christ was in the midst. It is a great thing to apprehend the nature of the assembly which is the habitation of God through the Spirit, as here begun. It was there each individual at first received the Spirit. The greatest blessing of the time is connected with the assembly. If we bear in mind that the descent of the Holy Spirit was not on one here, and another there, scattered abroad, but first to the assembly, possibly the same number as in John 20:19, we must be impressed with the august nature of it; and that a manifestation of the Lord would occur there which would not occur elsewhere.

Now a very important fact, which is entirely lost in christendom, must be added here -- namely, that once in the assembly, I am always in it. I cannot properly say that I am going into the church, or that I am going to church. It is quite true the assembly meets, or it may be convened; but I am a constituent part of the assembly, at my work, as well as at the convened meeting. In Israel an assembly was called by trumpets, which I conclude has given rise to bells in the christian era; but the assembly meeting there was in order to provide for some apprehended difficulty. With christians the assembly is convened also, according to the necessity of the times; and, I conclude, also with the twofold intention of receiving comfort and help to the saints, and guidance and wisdom, under the circumstances, from the Lord. Surely thus it was in the beginning. "They continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers". "All that believed were together". "And being let go, they went to their own company". "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God

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with boldness". It is important to note how blessing is connected with the assembled saints. It would appear also that Ananias and Sapphira came to the place where the assembly was gathered. Ananias had come in first, and in three hours after, his wife, "not knowing what was done, came in". The Holy Spirit was connected with the assembly, and hence Peter can say to Ananias, "Why has Satan filled thy heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Spirit?" Again, we read in Acts 6 that when there was a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration, then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them. Thus we grow into some apprehension of the use and object of the assembly. The interests of the Lord were to be secured there.

Now, in Acts 13:1, 2 we get a very interesting use of the assembly. "As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me now Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them". This occurred in the assembly, and it recalls to us one of the great things connected with the first assembly, in pattern (John 20: 21) when our blessed Lord said, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you". That is, that servants were appointed to definite services in the assembly; as it is said of Timothy, "the gift that is in thee, which has been given to thee through prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the elderhood". This, doubtless, occurred in the assembly.

We get another interesting statement in Acts 15:4: "And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them". The assembly is evidently here the central object, and not the apostles and elders; and we find in the same chapter, after the apostles and elders had discussed the question of circumcision, and had arrived at the Lord's mind about it, the assembly endorsed it. "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole

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church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren".

Again, in 1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light". Here we get the twofold use of the assembly; one to God, offering up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ; the other, setting forth the excellencies of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.

To this I must add the counsel to Timothy, "that thou mayest know how one ought to conduct oneself in God's house, which is the assembly of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth". Surely a godly soul, on reading the above quotations from the Scripture, will be impressed with the august nature of the assembly. It may be alleged, and truly, that the assembly now has, to man's eye, lost all trace of its primitive greatness. This will be readily admitted, but, at the same time, we must remember that its object, and the use for which it was formed, are the same as ever, though there be a marked inability in answering to them. No creature of God can lose its responsibility as to the object and use for which God formed it; however, from injuries or internal weakness, it may become incapable of conducting itself as it ought; still, the responsibility remains, and this is all I would press; while I am encouraged by the assurance that, however powerless the assembly has become, to any heart which is really set for instruction as to the interests of Christ, there will be given now, as surely as to Nehemiah or Daniel in another day, both light and

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opportunity for promoting them according to the mind of the Lord.

I must add a few remarks on the assembly as the body of Christ. We must bear in mind that every believer in the assembly is a member of the body of Christ, and that, when convened as in 1 Corinthians 12, because of the intimate connection between each, that if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. They are there gathered by the Spirit to the name of Christ, in whose name He (the Spirit) was sent by the Father; and consequently each member, in faith holding the Head, which he must do to be true to his responsibility, is really led by the Lord to behave himself in the house of God, and to carry out the mind of the Head there and then. The apostle adduces the truth of the one body to the Corinthians, to awaken them to their responsibility, and to deter them from merely doing their own pleasure in the assembly. Now mark, that not only are the saints edified in the meeting, but, "if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all", 1 Corinthians 14:24. This great blessing was not effected by the assembly being the habitation of God through the Spirit, but by the present energy of the Spirit, through the members of the body of Christ.

The Lord grant that we may apprehend a little more clearly the use and object of the assembly as it is in His mind.

One word more as to the mystery -- the church as one great structure on the earth, of which Christ is the Head in heaven. I speak of it now, not merely convened, as in 1 Corinthians 12, but as we get in Ephesians 4:15, 16:

"But, holding the truth in love, we may grow up to him in all things, who is the head, the Christ: from whom the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to the working in its measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body

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to its self-building up in love". Each one of us, however apart, is called to promote the benefit and progress of the whole body; and to effect this there are two great ministries; one -- gifts from the ascended Head in heaven, which are exercised in relation to His members here (the evangelists to pick them as diamonds out of the mire, and the pastors and teachers to set them in their proper settings, to the glory of God); and the other -- the joints, the individual exercise in the Spirit to promote the health and vigour of one another, unto the edifying of itself in love.


The christian standing is where the blessed God puts the believer. The measure and greatness of it can be found out only in proportion as God Himself is known. The knowledge of God is necessary in order to form any idea of the standing in which He sets the believer. The believer may know that he is justified -- that he is in liberty -- but he has no idea of the measure or greatness of it but as he knows the One who has put him in this nearness to Himself. This is the first thing. The next is, that no amount of relief or satisfaction to my own heart can define or describe the nature of my standing. A child has a standing with his parent, but he cannot define or measure it by his own satisfaction with it. The parent has placed him in it, and no one but the parent himself can define the measure of his will. If I place myself in relation to any one superior to myself, I am assured of my success by the way I am received by him; but if my superior places me in any standing in relation to himself, then it is he who only can tell the measure in which he has placed me. If I owe a man a debt, and if I pay him, I know the nature of my standing with him. I have effected it myself. But if he forgives me, he must explain, above and beyond my own relief, his motive, or the nature of his act, in for

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giving me. When there is a breach between any two, it makes all the difference whether it is the offender who repairs it or the offended one. If it be the former, he has the feeling that he has justified himself; but if the offended undertakes to repair the breach, the offender can form no just measure of the nature of the reparation, beyond the position in which he finds himself. The offended one, who of himself repaired the breach, alone could explain what was involved in his act. True, the offender knows that the breach is repaired, but he cannot tell what is the measure of the reparation; that rests with him who effects it, and is in keeping with his own sense of the offence done to him. But if the man whom I have offended loves me, and I am unable to make reparation, if he effects reconciliation for me, it must be according to what his love requires. He cannot bear that the distance should continue; it is my offence that causes the distance; it is love which makes him wish for it to be removed, while, with me, it is the distance of an offender who has wronged the one whom he was bound to love and honour. In order to remove the distance, and place me where his love desires, he must remove the cause of the distance; and when he does, the distance cannot continue, and his love rejoices in the reconciliation which he has effected; but the nature of the standing of the reconciled one with him, no one can define or explain but himself; though the reconciled one grows in apprehension of the range and measure of the intention in effecting the reconciliation, as the knowledge of the love is known.

Now, when we come to God and the sinner, the latter is the offender, and at enmity irreconcilable, because not sensible of the enormity of his offence. If he is to be reconciled, God Himself must effect it. The sinner is not like a debtor who longs to make amends to pay his debt, but he is like one who owes so much that the very sight of his creditor is a terror to him. The sinner has an innate sense that he has injured implacably, as far as

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desert goes, the One to whom he owes most; but there is no inclination to own the extent of the distance in which he has placed himself, and still less to accept the fact that it is impossible to remove the distance from his own side. To begin with, he does not see the nature of the distance, and if he did see it, it would only aggravate his misery, because he is incapable, or resourceless, to remove it. "The redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever". There would be no use in his giving the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul (Micah 6:7).

First, then, the sinner, though suffering from his sinful distance from God, does not want to see the full nature of that distance because the more he sees it, and the real nature of it in the sight of God, the more oppressed he must be under the conviction that he could not avert the judgment of God, though the more sensible of deserving it. Consequently, a sinner in his state towards God differs from the ordinary debtor towards his fellow-man. The ordinary debtor would at least like to rid himself of an intolerable load. He looks carefully into his accounts, and sets himself steadily to accept the best terms he can get for liquidating his debt; he would like to know the full extent of the claim, and he longs to be clear of it. The sinner knows that there is a claim, and a just one; but he does not like to investigate closely its full extent, and still less to open his eyes to the startling fact, that he has "nothing to pay". Hence the way of grace is entirely unknown among men; for if one forgives his fellow, or a parent a child, or a sovereign a subject, it is preceded by a petition to that effect from the offender. The offender admits his guilt, and seeks pardon and restoration to his former position, whatever that might have been. The sinner hates to own his guilt, or to look in the face the judgment so justly imposed on him. He hates to touch the question at all, as to its real character; and even though religious, he declines to see himself beyond what his own good works would effect for him.

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If he had any true idea of God and His judgment, he would at once own that he was irretrievably lost, except through the intervention of another, not chargeable with his guilt, bearing the judgment due to him, and at the time of bearing it, presenting a full personal excellency. The natural man is enmity against God; he is "not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be". When, through a blinded conscience, he would, like Cain, better his relations with God, he entirely denies the nature of God, and the holiness of His judgment. This is the state of the unawakened conscience; while the state of the awakened one, as we see in Adam, is to hide from the Lord among the trees of the garden, because he knew that he was naked -- that he had, by his sin, reduced himself to this condition.

If we do not see the immense difference between the sinner, with respect to God, and any ordinary debtor, with respect to his creditor, we cannot understand the course and action of the grace of God. It is an unknown thing among men that any creditor should cancel the debt, when there is no wish for it on the part of the offender. Again, we must bear in mind that no one could be under the same penalty to his fellow as the sinner is to God. I might murder my neighbour, and the law would in justice, require my life; but though that is the most any man could require from me, for that is my all, yet, with regard to God, though I die, I do not by my death set myself right with Him, and cancel the sin on account of which I have incurred death, because I remain under the judgment when I fall under it. Unless my relations with God are re-established before death overtakes me, I must remain under the doom which has come upon me, through death.

Let us remember, then, before we enter on the nature of the christian standing, that we must first see that the sinner is an offender irreconcilable in his very nature, and that the wages of his sin exceed anything and everything known or heard of among men. Well. Bearing

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these two great facts in mind, we now come to see how God, in His grace, places the believer before Himself.

It is plain He must not only save him from judgment, in some divine way -- for no ordinary way could effect it; but He must produce an appreciation in the heart of the sinner, even faith in the work which has been done. The blessed God must not only remove the sinner s distance from His own side, and according to His own satisfaction, but He must awaken and enlighten the sinner as to the real nature of His goodness and love.

We start, then, with the amazing fact, that it is God -- the One who has been offended and abandoned -- who is the only One that moves in the salvation of the sinner. The sinner will not move. God follows Adam! Let the heart conceive the magnitude of that, of the love that follows a beloved fallen creature, in order to save him, and to bring him into the happiest relations with Himself. Can we understand the love of God, the manner of that love, which is the greatest, deepest governing principle, when there is goodness, seeking to obtain all it desires, when sin is in the object of the love? This is perfect love in perfect holiness. The love is determined to reach and recover its object, while holiness insists that it cannot be done but in perfect holiness. The holiness is divine, as well as the love. The love could not enjoy itself if it secured anything at the expense of the holiness. But now, in order to secure holiness, there must be first righteousness for the guilty. Holiness gives stability to the love; every expression of it is in perfect holiness, and therefore there can be no deviation from any expression of it.

The subject for our contemplation is how the blessed God can place the sons of men, now under judgment because of sin, and alienated from Him by wicked works, according to His delight. There are plainly two great works to be effected ere this great consummation can be attained. The first is, that He is able, through the intervention of Another, to regard the sinner quite clear,

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according to His own idea of clearness; that is, that He can justify him. The other work is in the sinner, so that he surrenders his enmity, and, in an entirely new feeling, draws near, and accepts the grace of God that brings salvation. Until this consummation is reached in this twofold way, we cannot seize or understand christian standing. The blessed God -- as we see in the garden of Eden -- resolves, according to His nature, to retrieve man's lost condition in His own way, and we are told at the outset how it is to be effected. When Adam admits his transgression, God not only announces the way He will effect salvation for man, but, as a significant expression of His heart, He clothes both of them with skins, necessarily procured by the death of the animals; that is, setting forth figuratively that God will recover man, through sacrifice, from the ruin of judgment under which he is placed. His holiness is inexorable; they are driven out, but thus clothed, they wear the significant token of divine grace.

How little do we enter into the way the blessed God has sought to express His heart compatibly with His glory; that is, with all His attributes; to express His heart towards man who had sinned, and come short of His glory, and had thus distanced himself from Him. In the way God treated Adam and Eve, the great principles which governed Him came out. His purpose was to save. They carry the assurance of this with them in a twofold way. God had, in a figure, commended His love to them. The purpose of God is, not merely to rescue from judgment, as benevolence would do to a great sufferer, but to place him in the happiest relation to Himself. It is not as a sovereign seeking to effect an amnesty and full pardon for his rebellious subjects, but God, who follows man to his hiding place, and calls to him, "Where art thou?" This is not even a father's heart going out after an erring child, but the eternal God, not ashamed, as I might say, to declare that He willeth not the death of a sinner; that it is not merely the comfort or gain of the

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sufferer that sways Him, but the positive delight it is to Himself to see him not only saved, but happy.

Let us briefly review God's dealings with man. For fifteen hundred years after the fall man was left to himself. God was not unmindful, for before the seventh fell under the judgment of death, He arrested it in the person of Enoch; and this man, the seventh from Adam, was not only the trophy of grace as to salvation, but he was also a sample of the man restored to God -- not merely acquitted and justified, placed without a charge before the great Executive, but he walked with God; and "he was not; for God took him". We are told he "pleased God". Here you have a man, before the judgment on man was confirmed by a complete number, "translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.... He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him". Enoch not only believed, but he believed in God's nature. Now this is a main point, because it is the very reversal of the act of the first man in the garden of Eden, who would not give God credit for His nature, even that He is the Rewarder -- not a Saviour merely, not merely justifying the ungodly, but a Rewarder (mark the word!) and a Rewarder, not for good works, but for an acknowledgment of a verity, even what God is in Himself.

Now when violence covered the earth, God brought a flood of waters upon it. It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart: "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth". Noah and his house are saved in the ark; all the rest died. "All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man", Genesis 7:21.

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Here is a great crisis. Man in the flesh has proved an utter failure, but grace comes in, and Noah and his house are saved -- covered in the ark (figuratively the death of Christ) -- so that there is no flesh to be seen on this universe. All flesh was either drowned in the waters of judgment, or covered in the ark, and we may safely conclude that it is a type of the far greater salvation and judgment, when our Lord says, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". But Noah, saved from judgment finds access to God through the altar of burnt-offering. Noah enters on a new history on the earth where he was a few months ago, not only saved from judgment by the ark, but now, out of judgment, he is in the favour of God, and he is His central object of interest here on the earth, though as a man he was nothing better, "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth". The great thing we learn from Noah's history is, that God not only saves, but that He secures man's happiness and prosperity in the very spot where he had failed; and this, not only for man's own sake, but because it is a matter of interest to Himself. The more one dwells on this, the more is the heart filled with adoration to Him for making us objects of His interest.

Again, when Babel was the outcome of man's independence of God, He calls out Abram. I cannot enter minutely into the way in which God blessed Abraham, and what an object of interest he was to Him, so that he was called the friend of God; but I must refer to the new ground in which God sets him before he became the father of many nations. He "believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness". The natural unbelief of man's heart, and self-reliance, were displaced by faith in God. God had His own perfect way to reach the sinner, and this Abraham learns as soon as he, in the spirit of his mind, turns to God, and has faith in Him. Surely the desire of God is not merely to justify Abraham.

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in order that he might escape judgment, that he might stand clear, or justified, before the great Executive; but that He might have him for Himself, and use him as His friend here, in the very scene of man's sin and departure from God.

Now we come to law. It is not possible to understand the value of the law, or the necessity for its introduction, if we do not bear in mind that there is a determined unwillingness in man to own himself a lost, guilty sinner; and, were it not for the law, many would persist in their boast, that they had done nothing wrong. "By the law is the knowledge of sin". Man generally must admit that he has broken the law in some way or another; and he that offends in one point is guilty of all (James 2:10). Breaking the law is not the entrance of sin, it is the exposure of what exists there already. True, in a case like Saul of Tarsus, there was no self-condemnation, because his own conscience was his only judge. He had not come before God. As soon as the light of God's presence shone round about him, he fell to the earth -- he had no standing before God; he finds "the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin". The law set forth what God required of man, if he were to live here on the earth according to His pleasure. There could be no proper order here on earth, unless the righteousness of the law was maintained; but as by the deeds of the law should no flesh be justified in His sight, the very moment the law was given, and in the same scripture (Exodus 20), the altar is given, where it is said, "In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee".

Now the believing thief on the cross in his own person combined these two experiences. Irretrievably under the judgment of the law one minute -- so irretrievably, that, up to that moment, God had no way to rescue him from its inexorable demands; he must be cast out from the earth, because he had broken the law; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and now "where sin abounded,

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grace did much more abound". Not only is there the sin-offering there in the Person of Christ, taking the sinner's place, but what the altar sets forth -- the burnt-offering and peace-offering are there also. He does not return to an earthly paradise, but he is suited in taste and condition for the paradise of God -- companion there of the Son of God. It is not only safety, and that even of the most perfect order, but it is the enjoyment of the highest place in nearness to God, where Paul heard "unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter"; translated, indeed, from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love -- from the darkest, deepest, most inconceivable misery and distance from God, to the brightest, holiest, and happiest scene in nearness to God; an unspeakable joy to him, and a delight to God which is to us incomprehensible; and that was his standing.

I would add a word, in passing, as to the day of atonement. In those sacrifices there was a remembrance of sins every year. There is the Lord's lot, and there is the scape-goat, as well as the sin-offering for Aaron and his household. I merely call attention to it, in order to corroborate what I have already advanced -- the twofold object and value of Christ's work, how He has cleared everything perfectly, up to the virtue of His blood sprinkled seven times on the mercy-seat, not merely to effect an escape from judgment for the believer, but to establish a positive right of entrance into the holiest. He has entered into heaven itself with His own blood, there to appear in the presence of God for us, so that the worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sins. "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more". Now where there is remission of these, there is no more offering for sin. The sins confessed over the head of the scape-goat are carried into the land of forgetfulness. The believer is placed by the blood of Jesus in a nearness to God beyond any possible expectation; where sin abounded, grace has much more

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abounded. The high priest could not enter into the figure of the true but once a year with the blood of others, but now the believer has an established right of entrance, and an inalienable place in the holiest of all, in the brightest, holiest place. The prodigal has not only returned to the land, but, through grace, he finds that his home now for ever is in the Father's house -- not only to his own unspeakable delight, but to the gladness of the Father. Who can find words great enough to speak of this? its meaning is more than we can ever comprehend. "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found". This is christian standing.

I would now turn to the gospels, and gather from them the nature and measure of the new place, or standing, which the blessed Lord set forth in pattern -- the result and object of his work. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the Lord first shows how He can lift off every pressure that lay on man. There are, I might say, three great sections in His work: first, that of relieving the sufferers of their sufferings. People were greatly attracted to Him, until He, by sending the swine into the deep, indirectly condemns their surreptitious way of evading the law, by making merchandise of swine which they must not eat. Then they prayed Him to depart out of their coasts. There was, first, then, the simple relief of the actual suffering, irrespective of the moral state of the sufferer. Next, the sufferer is not only relieved, but he is in heart attracted to the Lord. See the Legion -- he was not only relieved, but he desired to be with Him. Thirdly, the woman in the Pharisee's house was forgiven her sins. This is moral. The man that fell among thieves not only finds a Saviour, but is set on His own beast, and cared for at His expense for evermore. The prodigal is brought to the Father's house; forecast of what was to come. And, lastly, through His death, the thief, from the lowest place with man is brought to the highest place with God, where the blessed Lord Himself is. Could anything

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surpass the position in which the believer is placed? And it is still more full in John's gospel. There he has perfect divine happiness from inexhaustible resources in him, a well of water springing up into eternal life; and this, moreover, is outwardly demonstrated, for "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". Believers are transferred, while on earth, from the deepest misery to divine joys, by the Spirit dwelling in them; and from the most painful helplessness to the mighty power of God. And, consequent on Christ's death, they are "all of one" with Him -- His brethren; and because in community of relationship with His Father and His God, they are necessarily in common nature and position with Him. "As he is, so are we in this world". This, great as it is, is the true and only christian standing.

I must now add a little on the doctrine of our standing as I find it in Romans and Ephesians. In the one it is essentially the gospel, and in the other the church. Our standing is unfolded more particularly in the former, while our relation to Christ, whose work has placed us in our standing, is opened out in the latter; and thus the standing is in full relief, in order to set forth how positionally qualified we are for the most intimate association.

In Romans it is the gospel of God -- God's good tidings. They come from Him; they are entirely the offspring of His own love. He satisfies His love. Hence it is not only the blood of the sin offering brought into the holiest, as was typified in the day of atonement; but the carcase, as execrable, burnt without the camp. This was the sin-offering. But there is also the burnt-offering. Christ who had glorified God here on earth, not only in private life manwise, but displaying the Father's heart toward man, doing good, so that on the mount of transfiguration He was saluted by the glory. The glory of God had been vindicated on the earth by a Man; hence they saw His glory. They were eye-witnesses of His majesty. But He does not accept it save

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for a moment, then He comes down to die for us under the judgment of God, not merely death, but death under judgment, the old man crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be destroyed. It is gone in judgment. Consequently He is the propitiation or mercy-seat through faith in His blood, and then, too, were fulfilled our Lord's words when Judas went out: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him". The blessed Lord goes down into death -- offers Himself. Willingly in heart He undertakes to secure the glory of God, where there is judgment on man who came short of it. He undertakes, not merely to bear the judgment and to save man, but to glorify God. The main thing before His mind was the perfect satisfying of the glory of God at the greatest judicial distance from it; so that He was raised from death, the deepest mark of man's distance from God. And thus He has not only placed us as believers in a condition of safety, or exemption from judgment, as completely as if the judgment had never existed, but He has placed us so that God could justify us; we are made the righteousness of God in Him; what Christ is, is the measure of our justification; it introduces us into God's presence as Christ stands there, so that we are not only clear but in the fullest acceptance. "As he is, so are we in this world", and therefore there is peace to us -- peace in which there is not a single disturbing element, while the love of God, the spring of all the grace, is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. It is not only that the love has acted for us, and God Himself commends it to us, but the Holy Spirit is given to us to shed it abroad in our hearts. The highest subject is proclaimed in our hearts by the greatest power. Then indeed we know that we are the sons of God, "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God". The results tell how great our standing is, for we are not only at peace with God, but

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His love is the theme of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; so that, as His sons, we begin our new history here on the earth. In the very highest relationship to God -- His sons, we sojourn in a groaning creation; and we groan in ourselves; but we are borne up by His Spirit, and nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. All this is the effect of christian standing; thus expounding its magnitude.

One word on the Ephesians, and I must bring this paper to a close. I have pointed out the magnitude of the standing of Romans, which is proved by the state which is consequent on it; and now I have only to add, that the one in the highest standing is, in company with all saints, the body of Christ. Each and all by the mighty power of God are incorporated into this wonderful structure, of which He is the Head. And hence our standing there is that we are quickened together with Christ, raised up together, Jew and Greek, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. Our place then is in the heavenlies in Christ. There is no meaning in being His body unless the same power which raised Him from the dead has raised us. And though our position as to nature and rank could not be higher than it was already, because we are His brethren -- the sons of God, yet, as Sarah, though as to personal nature and life as high as Abraham her brother, obtained a place of the closest intimacy when she was united to him, so the church, by union with Christ, does not obtain any position as to nature higher than had already been bestowed as sons of God, which the Spirit recounts in the early part of Ephesians 1; but as His body and bride she is brought into the closest union and participation with Christ in all that is His. In a word, if we had not the great standing which we have through Christ, we should not be in any way suitable for Christ as His complement, we should not be a real antitype of Eve, who was formed out of Adam and to be a help meet for him. Christ, I may say, has not been united to one who is in

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any sense incapable of communion with Him, for she has His nature. The very nature which He is as man, though Son of God, is that of which we each are, through new creation. But being this, we are advanced to the closest intimacy and co-partnership with Him in all that He is as the last Adam; and the church is thus His completion. So that to see "the Christ", or Christ complete, you must see the church united to Christ -- His body. And as such (invested with immeasurable power as to our apprehension) we give glory to God (see Ephesians. 3:18, 20). "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen". There is thus glory in the church even now; even as the new Jerusalem shall descend from God out of heaven having the glory of God. We not only through grace have come to His glory, but we are the vessel and witness of His glory here on the earth. Blessed and eternal God! Thy salutation to man, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men", has been responded to here, and the least and the lowest have been, through Thy grace, made to inherit the throne of glory; and in the Spirit of Thy Son to echo and swell it in the deepest praise and worship.

To sum up: Jesus as the sin-offering suffered without the gate -- terrible moment, beyond all human conception! And His blood is sprinkled on the mercy-seat, which was the first thing Moses was directed to make, thus indicating that the first and chief object in the heart of God -- Christ Himself, is the place His people will occupy. Christ, as the burnt offering, was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. Hence the believer is now in Him according to all His value and acceptance -- a sweet-smelling savour; and thus justified, the Holy Spirit is given to us; we are not in the flesh, we are in the Spirit -- sons of God. This is christian standing.

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Once in the far country, now in the Father's house. Once at the distance of exceedingly fearing; now in the holiest. Once dead; now quickened together with Christ and raised to heaven in Christ. These, one and all, corroborate the magnitude of the believer's standing.


Christianity began when the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, but was not established until the Holy Spirit came down from Him glorified at God's right hand. The nature of it had many foreshadowings, dating from the fall of man, and the beauty and power of it were exhibited by Jesus, the Son of God, on the earth. In order to understand christianity, we must begin with the counsel of God. Before the world was, the blessed God had purposed to head up all things in Him who is the Christ. The first thing for us to apprehend is that God had a Man in His purpose -- as we read in Proverbs 8 -- "always before him". The Man, according to this purpose was in His mind before Adam was created, in the likeness and image of God. It is of the utmost importance to be assured that God had a Man in His purpose before Adam was created, or before there was any failure of that order.

Now, this being admitted, we shall see that, as soon as Adam fails, God has a Man to fall back on, not only to repair the ruin effectually, but to "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil", by whose instrumentality the ruin of man was caused. It is a very remarkable coincidence that Jesus, in effecting the redemption of man, would utterly annul the power of evil, by which the man had fallen. Hence the words of the Lord God to Adam, after his fall, are of the deepest significance. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. In death, in the judgment, when the Man in reserve should have His own heel bruised in the suffering of death, He should bruise the serpent's head;

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and this last was not merely suffering; but the extinction of his power. Hence Adam and Eve were clothed with skins before they were driven out, in figure to assure them that God would clothe them with bodies fashioned according to His own mind, and thus they should not be found naked.

We must bear in mind now, that, during the entire interval of man's probation, the servant of God, who was in His secret, looked forward to the Man of God's purpose. Wherein any servant, through the work of the Spirit, acted for God outside, and independently of man on the earth, then, as recorded in Scripture, he was a type of Jesus, the Man who was to come, who was to bear the judgment of the first man -- bring him historically to an end in judgment, and institute a man of an entirely new order. You get in Enoch a type of Jesus Christ as He was to God. He walked with God, and "before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God". This prefigured what He was personally to God; while in Noah there is the judgment of all flesh, and he and his house only saved. That is, you get the other side -- man's ruined state, and grace coming in through one Man. I need not pursue this most interesting study, tracing the features of the coming Man -- Christ Jesus -- feebly prefigured in every servant of God, according as he was faithful. It is enough to say that the Old Testament abounds with types of the coming One; be it an Isaac received from the dead by Abraham; a Joseph, by Jacob, after having accounted him dead for years. No doubt Moses longed for this Man, when he cried, "Shew me thy glory". It could not have been shewn then, except the "back parts", but it was to come in the One in whose FACE it would beam in divine and perennial brilliancy. Solomon, in figure, was this Man to David, and hence from Psalms 16 and 110, Peter can unfold in Acts 2 the history of this, the second Man. The evidence of His coming is not only conclusive, but overwhelming, as one reads down Scripture; for though the

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house of Israel may look for Him only as their Messiah, yet it is plain that He was to clear away sin -- the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world; and that His personal dignity as Son of God was infinitely beyond that of any created intelligence, as He was the Creator Himself, as recounted in Hebrews 1; but His position as a Man is set forth in Hebrews 2, as beyond everything belonging to the first man. It might seem unnecessary to insist on the sui generis dignity of Jesus as a Man, as well as that He was, without controversy, the Son of God; but we shall never understand christianity unless we apprehend in this divine light the nature and being of Him who introduced it.

The first man had utterly failed under every trial. Innocence, without law, under law, without a king, and with a king -- so that the real King was rejected, "and by wicked hands ... crucified and slain". Now when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. This blessed One humbles Himself, and becomes a Man. The heavenly host, with the glory of God, which had left the earth from Ezekiel's day, has now returned, to celebrate the Man of God's purpose, coming in on the earth to vindicate God, where the first man had failed. In flesh and blood the Son now comes Himself; a "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger"; "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God". The Son of God, the Creator of all things -- a Babe! Wonder of wonders! He begins at the weakest point. He introduces into the world what is entirely new and unknown. He is a Babe, but entirely above and beyond any other babe. He derives instruction for everything from God. He says what no other babe could say: "I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly". He taught, instead of being taught. He always had more understanding than all His teachers, yet He has taken a creature's place, and therefore He never acts according to His own will,

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though His will was a perfect one. When, at twelve years of age, He longed to be about His Father's business, He submitted, and retired when His parents, who had a natural right over Him, required Him to return to their home. Thus He grew "in favour with God and man". He has come to vindicate God in the very order of man in which the first man had failed; not, indeed, to resuscitate and perpetuate that order, but to remove it, by bearing Himself the judgment resting on it, and then rising out of it, to inaugurate an entirely new order -- one that had never existed before.

Before we continue our review of the life of Jesus on the earth, let us try to arrive at the nature and measure of the blessing, through divine grace known to saints previous to the coming of Christ. After we have traced His life on earth, we can seek to arrive at the advance, or measure of grace known to His disciples; and lastly, we shall arrive at christianity itself. Now I feel it very difficult to state the nature and measure of the divine work in souls before the coming of Christ. It is quite clear that there was a divine work in them, but it is easier to determine what they had not, than what they had. It is quite evident they had not peace. Dependence on God was known to them. His goodness and mercy was known to them, and therefore their language was, "Hope thou in God"; He "is the health of my countenance, and my God"; but peace was not known, because it could not be until righteousness was brought in. It was not possible for them to reckon themselves dead to sin, because the old man was not as yet crucified. Therefore the flesh was alive and active; nay, it was right to use it. Abraham was to slay his son; Rahab, to sacrifice her country; Jael, to serve God's people by being a deceiver, and so on. The weapons of their warfare were carnal, and they not only had not peace, but they had no abiding assurance of future happiness. There was a work of God in their hearts, and they had faith in God, but there was nothing revealed, save in type, of the

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second Man -- the One who was to supplant and replace the old one, which, as yet, held its ground. Though doomed, the day of its judgment had not come. Before Jesus had come, and had finished the work which was given Him to do, the Spirit of God, even though acting on believers, could not assure or acquaint them with what, as yet, had not existed, even peace, and the judicial end of the first man. He could not declare to them what was not, unless prophetically, and that would not constitute a state. A thing cannot be known until it exists. Until the resurrection of Christ, the grain of wheat had not brought forth its fruit, for there could be no one of the new order until the old man was annulled in the cross, and peace established in righteousness. Then righteousness and peace "kissed each other". Christ was the first-fruits of His own order. The blessed God will make perfect "the spirits of just men", but they -- the saints before Christ came -- could not know new creation. They were born again, quickened by the Spirit, but they could not be in a state which had never existed. Until Christ, the Eternal Life, had come, and had finished the work, the new order could not come out, nor could the more abundant life be communicated. They had life, but not of that order which the risen Christ confers, for it had not come in a man until Christ came, and was not conferred on any one until Christ, as the last Adam, conferred it. If anything definitely of the new order had come before Christ, it would be priority to Christ. He must be pre-eminent. There was a divine work in their souls to turn to God, and by the Spirit this was sustained, and acted on, though He did not, and could not, dwell until sins were put away, and the efficacy of the blood had preceded Him in the soul.

We must now return to look at our Lord's life on the earth. He introduced an entirely new thing among men; not new to Him, but absolutely new to us. After thirty years in private life, He was led "of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil". He, a full-grown

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Man, now comes forward to encounter Satan. Hungry, the devil dares to ask Him to use His own power to turn the stones into bread -- to leave the place of the dependent Man; but He was not to be moved, nor would He accept of His rights from any one but God, nor exhibit Himself as an object of God's care for His own credit. Satan cannot divert this second Man from His dependence on God. And now, acknowledged from heaven by the Holy Spirit having descended on Him in the bodily shape of a dove, He enters on His public ministry. He sets forth the heart of God to man, so that He can say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". This ministry culminates in the mount of transfiguration. The second Man is saluted by the glory of God. Now was manifested "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". Peter says, "We were eyewitnesses of his majesty". This unique Man was claimed by the glory -- they saw his glory; but He does not accept it. He then comes down to die. He was the solitary grain, and alone He must abide, unless He die; but if He die, He will bring forth much fruit. He has to bring the first man to an end judicially, before He can have brethren after His own order. The Son of man must "be lifted up"; man must go on the one side in Him, that every believer may receive His life -- eternal life -- on the other side. These must be concurrent. We cannot be for Christ until we are released from the old man under God's judgment. Both these blessings -- the going out of the old, and the bringing in of the new -- come to us through Him; blessed be His name. He brings to an utter end man exhibited by Him, in the most beautiful way, from a Babe to the cross. He gives it up in judgment: "In that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God". The old is judicially removed before the new can come to us. The old man goes in judgment; Jesus rises; and no believer in Him can be in the old man, for he is in Christ risen from among the dead. Christianity is begun.

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Let us now briefly see the measure of the grace known to His disciples up to His resurrection, and then we can the more apprehend what they acquired after His resurrection. The power of God had drawn the disciples to Jesus. A Man come from God laid hold of their hearts. They were bound to Him. His very company charmed them, and they could say of their time with Him in all His penury and temptations what was said of Solomon's brightest day -- that they lacked nothing. They felt they could not live without Him. It was no empty boast of Peter when he said, "I will lay down my life for thy sake". Love begets superhuman acts for its object. Mary can say, "Tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away". Love is never weak. But what was their measure spiritually at this time? The prayer, commonly called the Lord's prayer, furnishes us with the answer. No one is ever beyond his prayers. I cannot be beyond what I am to God, or rather what I know of Him to myself. The blessed Lord surely taught them a prayer that fully expressed their present measure, and from it we can gather that though they said "our Father", there was no sense of adoption. They ought to say "Father", because they had seen Him in Jesus, but they have no assured hope. The forgiveness of their sins is only conditional, and they are here seeking for the kingdom, greatly tried by their own state and circumstances.

They were drawn in heart to Jesus, personally and divinely attached to Him. "To whom shall we go?" they could say, "Thou hast the words of eternal life". The controlling power of God in the person of Christ kept them "in thy name". But He anticipated their condition on His leaving them, when He warned them, "he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one"; so utterly unprotected they should be. They did not understand His death, nor His resurrection, and certainly not the effects which would flow from either. Hence, when He rose from the dead, He at once introduces

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them into the new relationship which now for the first time subsists between them and Him, in community of relationship with His Father and His God, and which never before could have been the portion of any believer, simply because it did not exist. God as He pleases can foretell a thing, but He would not lead a soul to accept as a fact what was not a fact. God knew all of His people who were "under tutors and governors", but while He opened hearts to delight in His mercy and goodness, and gave them real joy in foreseeing things and days to come, they could not be led into peace until peace was accomplished; nor, until the first man was ended in judgment by the Man of God's purpose, could the breath of eternal life be breathed into them by the risen Christ. "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit". No believer before that time could have possessed what the disciples were given in John 20; though, as I have said, they were born again, but they could not be acquainted with a thing that was not done. The Spirit of God could foretell that it would be done, but He could not place a soul in the actual position consequent on an accomplished work, before the work was accomplished; and if it were possible, which I deny, it would have given the first man a priority over the second Man. The great thing, the all-important truth that is insidiously, but doubtless unintentionally, set aside in the attempt to give the saints before Christ's resurrection a position similar to christians, is that when the second Man takes His place after His own order, it is completely new. When Jesus rose from the dead, He said, "Touch me not". He was apart from everything with which, because of the children being partakers of flesh and blood, He had connected Himself. He was always from a Babe an entirely new thing here, entirely divine in every detail; but now "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more". The Lord Jesus Christ is the same in nature and life risen from the dead

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as He was before it, but (though He has flesh and bones) He is no longer after the flesh. He is now no longer straitened, no longer in humiliation. He is glorified, raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. All power is given unto Him in heaven and on earth, and authority over all flesh that He might "give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him". Hence every believer now is a "new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new"; he is of the second Man through whom he was severed in the cross from the first man. And now in the life of Christ risen, and in the power of the Spirit, sent down from the glorified Christ, he enters on a new history here, though still encompassed with this earthly tabernacle; but as he walks in the Spirit, he is superior to its influence; and so far, he is walking here as Christ walked. We are before God according to His glory, so that glory is now His measure for everything in relation to us. It is impossible to convey the greatness of our position as being according to His glory. No angel nor archangel can ever rise to it. All God's nature and attributes are displayed and concentrated in His Son, our Saviour, so that as we behold His glory we are transformed into the same image; we who once had "come short of the glory of God" are now metamorphosed into it. We are in it through our Saviour; even to be to the satisfaction of God according to His nature and attributes. Thus it is that we here tread our way, 'through scenes of strife', indeed, 'and desert life'; for He left "us an example, that ye should follow his steps".

And not this alone, great and glorious as it is. As individuals we are here on earth walking in the Spirit, and learning the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is when we enter into our new place in heaven, as members of His body, that we sensibly enter into the actualities of the new man; and here there is a new order of works and the practical life of a heavenly man, entirely apart from flesh and blood. Everything is of a new order,

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and of a heavenly character, derived from our Head, the exalted Man in heaven -- (and here christianity is fully displayed) an order unknown, save in the church. May we have grace to walk according to it.


Christian state is the consequence of christian standing. My standing is a place, or position, given me by God; and my state is the result of this; while my practice is my manner of life, contingent on my state. The standing describes where I am placed, while the state, which results from and corresponds to it, discloses the real nature and value of the standing.

In Romans there is a twofold state -- the state consequent on justification, and the state consequent on the knowledge of deliverance; they are properly concurrent. The full state in Romans belongs to the believer on earth, going on to glory. When the position is higher -- that is, heavenly, as in Ephesians -- the state is accordingly of another order; and both these together constitute christian state. The state in Romans would be incomplete without the state in Ephesians, and vice versa: one is the state of a justified man on earth, and the other is the state of a heavenly man, only that the latter could not be known without the former, though the former might be known without the latter.

Now the state consequent on being justified is detailed in Romans 5:1 - 11. Placed in the righteousness of God, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God". The first great effect of being justified, which is my standing, is, that I have "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". Now peace is not simply forgiveness, though it is included in it; nor is it merely a relief from the fear of judgment. It is more; it is that every disturbing element has been removed from the eye of God. There is nothing offensive remaining; all has been judicially set aside in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

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and through Him risen there is therefore peace for the believer; as the Lord announced to His disciples when He rose from the dead (John 20:19), "Peace be unto you". All the enemies are silenced; all that barred, and hindered, and was offensive, has been removed in the cross; and the believer is now, and for evermore, in divine righteousness, in the acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of God. And there never can be any disturbance there. "Righteousness and peace have kissed each other"; they are, from henceforth, in profound and perfect amity.

If a believer has not peace, he has not accepted in faith the standing of a justified man, and occupation with his state will not help him to peace. His state is imperfect, because he has imperfectly apprehended his standing, and the state can be rectified only by reverting to the standing. If he has not accepted the ground on which God has set him -- that of divine righteousness, his state cannot be according to God. I have dwelt long on this part of the state, because if the beginning be not known, the parts which succeed cannot be known. Peace is the greatest possession for a man on this earth: the blessed Lord's legacy to His disciples. "Peace I leave with you"; and, in our own circumstances, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding". Now, without controversy, the peace of God cannot be known by any one not having peace with God.

Next, through our Lord Jesus Christ we have "access by faith into this grace [or favour] wherein we stand". We are in the favour of God, as Noah was at the altar of burnt-offering, after he came out of the ark. Saved from judgment, now in favour. Christ's death effected the one, and Christ risen places us in the other.

Next, we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God". As children of Adam, we were "short of the glory of God"; now our Saviour, who went under our judgment, is in glory, and we can look up into glory, and we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God". What a wonderful change!

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Next, "not only so, but we glory in tribulations also"; suffering from the world, knowing that this suffering works endurance. The more we suffer, the better able are we to suffer, like the tree, the bark of which gets thickened on the windy side; endurance leads to "experience" -- experience of God -- learning Him; "and experience, hope; and hope does not make ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us".

The greatest thing, the nature of God -- love, proclaimed in our hearts by the greatest power -- the Spirit of God! This closes this part of the state of the justified man. It has two parts in these eleven verses: 1 - 5 is from God to him, and higher it could not go: "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us"; and from verses 6 - 11 it is from him (the believer) to God; how, when we were without strength, Christ died for the ungodly; how God has commended His love to us; how, when enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life; culminating in, "and not only that, but we are making our boast in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom now we have received the reconciliation". This is the state flowing from being justified, the consequence of what God has done for us. It is what I may call the ascending state.

Now we have to consider the state consequent on deliverance. I may remark that deliverance is an experience necessarily connected with being justified. In Romans we are instructed in the state of a righteous man on earth, hence he needs to have deliverance; that is, to be free from the body of sin and death. He requires liberty; he is still in the body of sin and death, but he is not to be under it, but free from the law of sin and death; and this is deliverance. The state consequent on deliverance is very marked, and is of a descending order; the effect of the deliverance is enjoyed in the details of

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life here on earth. The state in Romans 5:1 - 11 is of the ascending order, while the state from Romans 8:12 to the end of the chapter is of the descending order. Now, being made free from that in which we were held (as detailed in chapters 5 and 7), "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death", let us consider the state consequent thereon (chapter 8:12). As delivered, we begin with, "we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh". This is a great beginning for one still in flesh and blood. "For 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". Then comes the great truth: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God". If one is ever led (it does not say, always led), he is a son of God. Mark, it is not that God is his Father, but that he knows he is a son of God. Like a great prince in the bush, he is, though in this poor world where all is against him, a great personage -- a son of God. It is a wonderful state, when one can say, "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together". We are co-partners with Him in suffering, in order that we may be co-partners with Him in glory. We are in this suffering scene where Christ suffered, but we are the sons of God in all these uncongenial circumstances: our dignity is assured to us by the Spirit of God dwelling in us. He who assures us of our freedom from the old man of sin and death, assures us of our new dignity as sons of God; our circumstances are every way against us, but "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us". Everything waits, or looks out for, "the manifestation of the sons of God". "The creature itself also shall be set free from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God". It is not only that

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creation groans, but we "ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body". This will be the consummation: our present dignity established, personally and circumstantially, for we have been "saved in hope". We do not get beyond hope in our state here.

Now, in verse 26, we come to another part, or item, of our state. Up to this, we have seen that the state of the delivered one is one of great dignity, but in suffering circumstances, yet buoyed up by the brightest prospects -- "saved in hope". Now we come to the way this great being, a son of God, is maintained in the most untoward circumstances. For he is not only in trying circumstances, but he is encompassed with infirmity, and opposed on every hand; in a word, like the widow with an adversary (Luke 18). The Holy Spirit who dwells in us, lends us His help in our infirmity: "We do not know what we should pray for as is fitting", but the Spirit itself, so identifying Himself with us, "makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered", so intense is His interest. In our great feebleness we have this great Manager, or Paraclete, so interested in all our affairs, and "he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit", who seeks the thing most suited for us, because He intercedes "according to God".

In the first part of the state the greatness of our dignity was dwelt on; next, the suffering, in consequence of the nature of the scene we are in; next, our own infirmity, so blessedly provided for by the Spirit's interest and help, touching all our need; next, "but we do know that all things work together for good to those who love God". Every event and combination of circumstances -- "all things work together for good to those who love God" -- every occurrence, even the most adverse, apparently, is working to our advantage. We have only to be simple in our faith and leave results to God, as the parents of Moses had done. They did all they could to preserve

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their child's life, and when they could not conceal him any longer, they placed him in an ark of bulrushes -- the utmost they could do -- and set his sister to watch him; and we know how all worked together for their good. The Lord give us to enter more into this: though very powerless as to our own resources, in the midst of contrary circumstances, yet restful, because assured that "all things work together for good to those who love God".

"Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified". It is interesting to note how we have in this passage the highest thing in the present -- being "justified", as well as the greatest thing in the future -- "glorified". Blessed be His name! He has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son.

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" What divine restfulness it is to be assured in heart that the blessed God would give us everything with Christ; and truly we can say, we desire nothing apart from Him. Every opposer can now be challenged, because it is "God that justifieth". This part of the state refers to the attempts of the enemy to accuse and condemn, even to one's own conscience. Whoever accuses? It is God who justifies. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us". All has been accomplished for us by the work of Christ, who is also at the right hand, in all power; who also intercedes for us. Hence, the next link in this great chain, is, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Shall any of the sufferings which overpower man ordinarily? Shall "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or

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sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us". Victory -- yea, more than victory -- is secured to us through Him who loved us; so that, in the fullest confidence in the love which has been "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit", we can say, that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Thus the state of the one in deliverance coalesces with the state of the justified one. The state is twofold, but the two parts are concurrent -- the two are one.

So far I have been endeavouring to describe the state of a justified man -- a believer on the earth; now I desire to set forth, as I am able, the state of a heavenly man, though down here. It is evident that no believer could be the latter, if he were not the former; but it is possible to be the former, though not yet the latter as to experience. That is, it is possible to be in the state of the justified man, though not yet in the state of the heavenly man.

The vocation and portion of the believer, in Ephesians, is detailed in chapter 2. First, we are "raised ... up together, and made ... sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". Second, "created in Christ Jesus unto good works". Third, "one new man". Fourth, "one body". Fifth, "access by one Spirit unto the Father". Sixth, growing "unto an holy temple in the Lord". Seventh, "an habitation of God through the Spirit". This is the position of the believer united to Christ, having learned his corporate place, that he is a member of the body of Christ. We have seen the happy and exalted state he has here on the earth as justified by God. Now we have to apprehend his union with Christ -- a member of His body. If he had not been fitted to be a companion of Christ, union would have been out of

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place; but, fitted by grace to be His companion, as to nature and life -- one of His brethren, a son of God -- he now finds that he is united to Him, and as he enters into this new position, he tastes of the state consequent thereon. It is very evident that, though I am, through grace, of the nature and life of Christ, able to say, "Abba, Father" in His Spirit; yet, as united to Him who is in heaven, I enter on a new state. I could not be so closely associated with Him, identified with Him in all that is His, without a state in keeping with this elevation resulting from it. Therefore the second prayer in Ephesians unfolds the state of the heavenly man. Having entered on the knowledge of "his power to us-ward who believe", the prayer now is, that you may be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell [or domicile] in your hearts by faith". This is the first great part of your state as a heavenly man, Christ dwelling in your heart through faith. It is not here that you are led up to God in consequence of your standing as a justified one; but that now Christ can have a dwelling-place in your heart through faith. What a blessed state! that not merely you can reach up to Him -- the One dearest to your heart -- where He is, which union has effected, but that He Himself can now dwell in your heart through faith.

Next, being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to apprehend with all saints (no one left out here) the breadth and length and depth and height. The scope, or domain, of God's purposes spread out before you; like Abram, looking "northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward". First, the Person, who brought you to heaven; and then the view -- the scene of glory.

Then, the love that is best known, and yet it "passeth knowledge". How blessed that it is in heaven, where there is no need for the activity of love, that the heart can enter into it best, and delight fully in it, and know its effect, "filled even to all the fulness of God". What a state!

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Then, finally, worship. "But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen". It is not in weakness now, but in the sense that God is able, in us, to do far exceedingly above all that we ask or think, according to the power which works in us. It is not simply that He acts by the power in Himself; that would be no wonder; but "according to the power which works in us". To be in the sense of this great power is part of the state of the heavenly man; how else could he stand for the exalted Christ in the scene of His rejection? And it is in the consciousness of this power that he worships, as follows: "To him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen".

It is the worshipper (as we see in type in Deuteronomy 26) who can render unto the Lord the tithes; so it is only as the believer is the worshipper, in the sense of what God is able to do with him, according to the power that works in him, that he is qualified to act as a heavenly man for the Lord on the earth, according to the practice in the following chapters in Ephesians.

The Lord grant that we may so enjoy the blessedness of the state which is ours, through grace, that we may be here in practical life according to His pleasure.


It is plain enough to every one that, naturally, we are in Adam, and the consequences of being in him we have all experienced. The question of deepest interest is, When is the believer in Christ? and, When, in the work of divine grace, is he in Christ? It is evident, at the start, that, so long as Adam is responsibly before God, no one in Adam can be in Christ; that is, that Adam must historically have come to an end before any one of us can cease to be in him, and really to be in Christ.

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This, plainly, is one part of our subject, even that the first man's history is closed; the other part is, that the One with whom we are dead, is our life. The Son of man must be lifted up, "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". Hence in the sin-offering the carcase was burnt outside the camp, figuratively setting forth that the old man was crucified with Christ; the man that was under judgment was judicially set aside; but Jesus, who thus suffered without the gate, so glorified God under the judgment due to us, that, though forsaken of God because of taking our place, yet He "was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father". He was both the sin-offering, the blood of which was brought into the holiest; He entered heaven by His own blood: and, at the same time, He was the burnt-offering of sweet-smelling savour to God -- the glorified One.

The termination of the first man in judgment has cleared the ground for "the second man" -- "the last Adam".

But the question remains, When is the converted soul not in Adam, but in Christ? I confine myself, at first, to the question, when the transition takes place; next, I hope to dwell on the advantages of being in Christ; and, finally, the knowledge which I acquire from being in Him, and how I acquire it.

We have to distinguish between when God, in His grace, sees us in Christ, and when we are conscious of our transition from Adam to Christ. God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world; that was before Adam existed; and this helps us much, for if God had chosen us in Christ before the existence of Adam, then we must, when His purpose is accomplished, be in Christ, as if we had never been in Adam, or as if Adam had never existed. Hence it is evident that the elect of God ceased, in His eye, to be in Adam the moment the old man was judicially terminated in the cross. But it is not only that the elect were seen by God in Christ in purpose before the foundation of the world, before

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Adam was, but now, in fact, every convert is in Christ, in the eye of God, the moment he turns to God.

But when does the convert himself experimentally pass out of Adam, as no longer in him, but in Christ? The prodigal clearly was not experimentally in Christ, even when he was kissed. While fear exists, and God's love is not perfected, then one is not in Christ, as to one's own side. And not only so; I may be in the blissful enjoyment of God's reception of me, in the value of Christ's work, and yet not have appropriated my place in Christ.

Here I must explain. There is a distinction of no small moment between the faith that apprehends how God can receive me because of what Christ has effected by His death and resurrection, and my own deliverance from the body of sin and death. When I am justified, I have peace with God. I have by faith entered into Christ antitypically as the sin-offering and the burnt-offering. My heart and conscience bear witness, not only that God had chosen me in Christ before the foundation of the world, but as to my own enjoyment in His reception of me. In Christ dead and risen the believer enjoys the blessed fact that he is justified; your "sins and iniquities will I remember no more". He is in the full favour of God.

Still, there is another experience which he has to pass through, and one often more protracted, and fraught with a depth of suffering unknown before. It is unquestionable, not only that many a converted soul does not feel fit for God's presence, but that, even after he does feel fit for it, and has enjoyed the holiest of all, he has not the sense of freedom, as to himself, from the law of sin and death; that is, he experimentally is not in Christ. I can have the sense of the value of Christ's work to God, as the priest under the law, in offering the burnt-offering, knew when the offering was accomplished. I may believe that He has been "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father", and I may believe in my heart that "God hath raised him from the dead", and yet, all the time, I

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may not have appropriated for myself the fact of being in Christ; and this the Spirit opens out to us, with much care, from Romans 5:11 to 8: 12. What has been already true to God, and even borne witness to by my heart and conscience before God, has to be learned, in the bitterness of death, as true also for myself.

In arriving at the effect of the work of Christ before God, faith is paramount, -- faith in His blood, and, again, faith in God who raised Him from the dead. This faith, while concentrated mainly on the work of Christ, necessarily engages the soul with the death of Christ and the power of God; the passover in Egypt typifies the one, and the Red Sea, the other. But this is, I might say, exclusively what Christ suffered on our account, and how God, to His own glory, raised Him from the dead; and thus believing, I am fit for God, because of His perfect grace to me. The light and joy of His salvation spring up in my soul; I am in the state of it; and if I had then left everything here, like the thief on the cross, no other question would arise. But though this burst of eternal sunshine has shone in on my soul, and I have tasted of being before God in the very righteousness in which Christ is -- yet, in the life here I find that I am encompassed with the body of sin and death; and then I have to learn how I am also free from the law of both.

Of course, I could not arrive at any freedom from myself greater than or beyond what God sees me through grace. I am in the blessed result of what is true of me before God; but I have to learn it experimentally: and the deepest suffering in our christian history is learning ourselves. It was my sins, but it is now the sin that is in me. Though I have the joy of forgiveness, I have not deliverance without this experience. I say we have to learn it, and it cannot be learned but in deep suffering. Can I drink the water of the Red Sea, typically the death of Christ, without suffering? This is practically Marah. Knowledge is the pastime of the mind, but learning that our old man is crucified with Christ is sensibly entering

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into its death, and persisting in it, for unspeakable relief. "Arm yourselves ... with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin". Blessed liberty! Saul of Tarsus neither ate nor drank for three days, learning the cross. To be crucified with Christ is a terrible thing, but it is a suffering for the greatest gain, a blessed reality. "I am crucified with Christ". "By whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world". Paul was "in Christ" when he could say this; but I say he had to learn it. Surely it is very deep suffering when I enter into the simple fact, that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing -- the night before the bright morning when I find that the body of sin has been judicially terminated in the cross; and this, not only in order that I should be placed in divine righteousness, but in order that I should be sensibly free of it.

It is no small suffering to learn that the man who had exposed me to the wrath of God is still alive, and then there is not peace. But there is more than this. Israel had not only to see the destruction of the Egyptian, but after having been thirty-nine years in the wilderness, they had to learn that there was no good in them. They had made no moral progress; fiery serpents being sent indicate this; they bit the people. Israel's journey from Egypt to Canaan typifies the sufferings from himself of the christian ere he enters into "the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free". I believe much of the shallowness among us arises from this, that many who have comparative rest of conscience before God, in the joy of His salvation, have not learned that they are free from that wherein they were held; that they are alive unto God in Christ Jesus; that they are in another life, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This ground I cannot truly occupy unless I have found that the body of sin has been annulled in the cross, and that in the bitterness of death I part company from myself, and am on the shore of eternal liberty. I pass from the wretched man -- the

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body of death, into the life and power of the Lord Jesus Christ; and there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. I am now blessedly in possession of the skin of the burnt-offering. When God clothed Adam and Eve, He foreshadowed His purpose of substituting for man's nakedness the beauty of Christ. This doubtless was set forth in the skin of the burnt-offering being the portion of the priest that offered it; and mark, it was an abiding, personal possession.

I am now able to reckon myself dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus. I can "thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord". I am at liberty; and the Spirit of God dwelling in me is my guide and power, and not the flesh.

Thus far I have only treated of being in Christ as to my standing; and secondly, my own deliverance "from the law of sin and death", that I may enjoy it. I have not travelled outside Romans.

I must now dwell on the gain of being "in Christ", as set forth in Ephesians. There it begins with being chosen "in him before the foundation of the world"; and I believe it is in keeping with this purpose that "in him" is always used in Ephesians, whether it be "heavenly places in Christ", or "accepted in the beloved", or "in whom", or "purposed in himself", or "all things in Christ", or "even in him". In fact, wherever it occurs the idea is that nothing interferes or interposes now to hinder His purpose. We are simply and solely "in Christ"; just as it is said elsewhere, "if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation".

Now, in Colossians, I apprehend it is to reach up to this; -- to "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus"; "stedfastness of your faith in Christ"; "rooted and built up in him"; "complete in him", in order that Christ should be in you "the hope of glory"; in a word, everything and in everything. To the thoughtful soul, the way "in Christ" is spoken of in Colossians opens out the deep and blessed truth of Christ in us; and this leads to

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what may properly be described as knowledge; that is, what we acquire, or come to know, as being in Him, and how we acquire it.

It is plainly by the Spirit of God that I become acquainted with the great gain of being in Christ. No man knows the things of a man, but the spirit of the man that is in him; and no man knows the things of God, but the Spirit of God. "In that day", in the Spirit's day, "ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". It is not here how I am in Him, but that I may know the greatness of the life and nature which I have in Him; as it is said, "these things have I written unto you ... that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God", 1 John 5:13. We know the greatness of it; and it is thus that "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you", John 15:7. Thus we arrive at a full knowledge of the mystery of God. Thus we "may be fully able to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge; that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God", Ephesians 3:18, 19. I need not add more. The Lord lead us more and more into this vast field of glory and beauty.


It is essential both for testimony and for our own happiness that deliverance should be possessed. If I am not "free from the law of sin and death", I cannot be in any practical power. I am free from it when I am sensibly in the life of Christ, free and apart from the rule of the flesh which I loathe and abhor. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". Until then I am neither happy within, nor to the glory of God in my walk. It is not enough for me that I can look up, and by faith in God that

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raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, have the assurance that the morning of everlasting life has broken in on me; but I require to be free from myself, and this I can only be in the life of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Unless I am free, I am hampered, and being hampered, I am necessarily occupied with that which hampers me. So long as I am occupied with my old self, with any hope of correcting it, I am not free from it. In fact, I am not free until I am distinctly in the power of a new life, and that the life of the One with whom I have died, for if I had not died with Him I could not be free. "He that is dead is freed from sin". By faith I can reckon myself to be dead, for I am really in the life of the One with whom I have died.

The first mark then of deliverance is that as I am free from that wherein I was held, I am not occupied with it, but with sowing to the Spirit, who maintains me in Christ's life, the life wherein I have my freedom. This is very important, because if we do not walk in the Spirit, we shall wander to the flesh, and there is never liberty when walking in the flesh. This result (we shall find as we proceed) must never be departed from, for if it be, there is then no progress. The Spirit is always for progress, and He preserves me from the intrusion of the flesh, which once did enslave me. A delivered soul is characterised by the paramount place the life of Christ holds in him. Romans 8, from verse 12, describes his state: "we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh". "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God". I need not here recite all the untold blessedness of a son of God on earth in the midst of the most incongruous circumstances, while he himself is weak personally, and opposed; and all because of the Spirit of Christ who dwells in him.

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Now the practical result consequent on this is, as we see in chapter 12, that the body is the Lord's; presented a "living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service". This can be true only of a delivered soul. If there be not freedom from the old master -- the flesh, in the power of the Spirit, there will not be a real true surrender of the body to the Lord. It is easy to see that if I have a new Master, I am, according to my renewed mind, glad to be governed by Him; and no longer to be in the fashion of this world, but totally transformed according to "that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God". This result can never be reached apart from deliverance.

It is sorrowful the varied attempts which are made to attain to the manner of life proper to one really free. Many who know well that no amount of good works could secure their salvation, find satisfaction for their consciences in what they do, in seeking to walk acceptably to God, according to their idea of His requirement. Now it is the real thing that alone fully exposes the counterfeit. The saint really free, does not seek by his own works to commend himself to God, but in liberty, he walks in the Spirit, and is supported by Him in every step here, whether in trial, weakness, or opposition; and as he does, he is a light in the world for the Lord; he is not trying to be so, as an ascetic, but, set free from himself, he in divine power overcomes evil with good. If there be not deliverance there cannot be its true results. One might know much, and be much endowed, like the Corinthians; and yet not be in deliverance. One who can indulge himself like a Corinthian is not walking in deliverance, even though he may once have experienced it; but if he were walking in the liberty wherewith Christ had made him free, he would shrink from every intrusion of the flesh, whether to indulge it, or to improve it. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". I might surrender property and position for the Lord, and yet not have this liberty; and unless I have it, I cannot progress into what He would lead me to.

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Now this liberty, as I have already pointed out, has a twofold effect; one inside -- the believer's inward life; and the other, his outward or practical life. And mark how one progresses when there is this liberty. If I am in it, I look up at the Lord's glory. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord", 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18. I am at home there and transformed into the same image; and then I can accept that the dying of Jesus shall determine everything in my body. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body", 2 Corinthians 4:10. It is now, not only that I am free from the law of sin and death, but I approve of practical death to everything in me for which Christ died; and God helps us when this is our fixed purpose. Hence -- "we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake". I am not only set free from the flesh which had dominion over me, but I now deny it when it would arise or intrude. Now unless deliverance be known, one cannot come to this result. How could I be free to look at the Lord's glory, and be sensibly affected by its power, if I were not in liberty? and, as I behold His glory, my deliverance is more assured; for in it I am transformed, and there is no recognition of the flesh there; I am sensibly in a new and divine order.

Now while, on the one hand when we are in liberty because of the ministration of righteousness, we can look at the Lord's glory and partake of its blessed effects, another confirmation of deliverance is, that we can enter the holiest. We have boldness to enter, and we come in, a consecrated priesthood. In the one, the ministration of righteousness, I find the liberty in which I can approach, and that the glory, instead of repelling me, transforms me into the Lord's image; and in the other, the holiest, I enter into my place with God. One

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assures me of my full acceptance, the other of nearness to God according to His nature.

The effect of deliverance is very apparent in service. I admit that there may be gift when there is not deliverance. But probably a gifted man not in deliverance will do one of two things; either keep wide of the subjective side of the truth he presents, or present it in a legal way. In the former case he may never have had the sense of needing deliverance; in the latter he has, and his conscience is not at ease. It is always a refuge to the conscience to exact what it does not possess. What is possessed is presented as the outcome of grace, and not as a mere demand. One who feels it right to be heavenly makes an effort to be so; but the one who really enjoys his heavenly portion, knows and presents the great gain of it; one dwells on the obligation, and the other on the gain.

Well now, I trust we have arrived at this, that if there be not deliverance there is no advance. The Spirit is ever for growing up into Christ. There may have been the sense of justification, but the flesh is ever ready to intrude, as at Corinth, or in Galatia, or at Colosse; and if I am not walking in the Spirit there is no progress.

I believe the brazen serpent to Israel in Numbers 21 in type sets forth to us deliverance; that is, freedom from the old man in whom the poison of sin is, who has been condemned in the cross. No one is really subdued until he learns in himself that "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing". Nothing but the sense of sin in me, of what my nature really is before God, can produce this; no amount of trial or sorrow; and therefore it is only as I have the sense of this poison of my nature, that I either seek deliverance, or could appreciate it. Thus, in the type, when the people were bitten of the fiery serpents after betraying the incorrigible evil of their hearts, there is the sense of receiving life in that he that looked lived; and there it was that they drank of the water given to them; typically, in the power of the Spirit, they entered on a new path, even onward to Canaan.

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And further; as I enjoy freedom, I shall like, not only to be dead to sin, but also to be dead to the world. It is impossible for one to be in the sense of freedom from the flesh, and not to seek to avoid everything which would minister to it, which all of the world does, not its evil only. The delivered one sows to the Spirit, seeking the things that are above. It is remarkable how one finds these two characteristics in every spiritual person, every one truly walking in the Spirit; even that he dreads the flesh with ever increasing intolerance of it, and at the same time he seeks to enter more and more into the things of God; "for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God".

Now, as in the type, Israel entered on a new journey from BEER, where they sang, "Spring up, O well", so we, in the power of the Spirit, enter on a new day, and a heavenward journey, when we have learned that we are "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord". Then it is that we are in heavenly life and power ready for Jordan, when deliverance is fully known. We can then in spirit part company from all here; we are dead to the world, to God we are beside ourselves. There is no feeling of deprivation, for we are in more enjoyment of the Lord personally. There is no spirit in us while we are entranced with the association with which we are favoured. We are first free from the law of sin and death, and the more we enjoy our freedom, the more we shrink from everything which would bring us into bondage; and then, led of the Spirit, we travel through Jordan. Death to everything here becomes easy to one thus led, for

"... the Spirit's power
Has ope'd the heav'nly door,
Has brought us to that favoured hour
When toil shall all be o'er" (Hymn 74)

Freedom from the law of sin and death must advance to this, because in this freedom I have reached righteousness in glory (the ministration of righteousness exceeds in

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glory), and holiness in the presence of God; the one, where everything has been done suited to God, the other where every association is according to God. One who is in this liberty ascends to heaven, crosses the Jordan, realises that liberation from everything in this world is not a loss but a distinct gain; deliverance is then fully entered on and enjoyed; he is, through the power of the Spirit, sensibly detached from all connection with man's things; he is led into this experience to enjoy his liberty and to become fitted to act more independently of the old master, the flesh, here on earth in every relation of life. Hence Gilgal follows. The old man is now to be rolled off in practical circumcision. It is not now only freedom from the law of sin and death, it is absolute mortification of the passions, and putting off of the old habits, in order that the new man may be expressed in everything, "Christ is everything, and in all".

The full result follows. As a worshipper inside, I render the tithes, the heavenly tribute here on earth; and as a soldier, I am "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might", to stand against the wiles of the devil. So that full deliverance is not only that I am free from the law of sin and death, but I am across the Jordan. I have died with Christ in spiritual experience; and now I am enabled to maintain for Him in heavenly regions, growing up into Him in all things, so that He should be expressed down here where He had been rejected, in His heavenly beauty. When I am walking in full deliverance, a heavenly man, the old man is supplanted, and Satan's power is overborne; and then, and then only, am I in true testimony, and in real happiness.


"In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". The judgment of death fell on man when he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. "By man came death". But because of the evil and violence of men on

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the earth, it is written, "The end of all flesh is come before me". "It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth". Hence he was not only doomed to die, but because of his wicked works there must be an end of man in the flesh. Thus we have man the sinner under the doom of death, and as in the flesh intolerable to God.

We have now to see how the blessed God can approach him, and how man can approach God. Abel in faith saw a victim not chargeable with his offence bearing the judgment of it and at the time of bearing it having a personal excellency. Therefore he "brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof". Enoch in another day set forth the faith that pleases God; not only believing in His existence, but in His nature as a rewarder of them that seek Him, the distinct contrast to what Eve had done. Noah is practically saved, and begins a new history in divine favour in the place where he had been under judgment. In Abraham, righteousness by faith is declared. I need not pursue the expressions of faith recorded, as it were, in a chain in Hebrews 11, until Rahab, by faith, is in the land, typically the gentile in heavenly places. I adduce these witnesses of the true nature of approach, for it is helpful to see that God never left Himself without a witness, and in this way the history of their testimony is very interesting.

The law did not really offer an approach to the sinner. It expressed God's righteous demand, and thus it became to fallen man "the ministration of condemnation". But consequent on Israel's idolatry -- practical apostasy from God, before the law was given the offerings were appointed by the Lord from the tabernacle of testimony.

Now the offerings did set forth in type the manner and nature of our approach to God, and the ground of it; but in none of them was there definitely set forth the nature and scope of His approach to us. The offerings are of extreme interest, because they open out in detail the nature of our approach, when as yet there was no real

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ground for it. So much so, that if we had only the book of Leviticus, or if we were confined to our own approach to God, we should measure our acceptance with God by the measure of our growth in apprehension of what Christ, the true offering, is. For instance, a godly Jew after offering his burnt-offering went away with the sense in his soul, a true one too, that he was accepted by God; "God testifying of his gifts". An enjoyable sense, I admit, but exclusively confined to himself as the offerer. It was all on his own side, even that he was formally accepted through that offering being accepted of God. There was nothing beyond the sense that he stood well with God at the moment. There was no idea that God could approach him. So that if a christian limits the work and offering of Christ to the types, however fully they may set forth his acceptance, it is still merely an atom in comparison with the measure in which the blessed God can approach him. This latter is not set forth in the types. In the offerings from Abel down, the one great thing is that the offerer may obtain acceptance with God. He may, as I have said, be assured through grace of acceptance, as were Abel, Noah, Abram, Manoah and others; but in none of these is it set forth that the initiative is on God's side. It is on the side of the man, either without law or under law.

There is, however, distinct intimation on the part of God that He desires the approach of man and rejoices in it. Numerous passages in the Old Testament express it. "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings", Jeremiah 3:22. "Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him", Jeremiah 31:20. "And I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord", Jeremiah 30:21. "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts", Psalm 65:4. We also find

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several instances in the Old Testament scriptures of the measure in which He could approach to man. "The Lord appeared" we read continually. "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abram". To Moses He appeared in the burning bush, and still more in the mount; as also to the prophets. But while all these cases evince desire on the part of God to come near to man, He had as yet no ground to come near so as to have man before Him without fear. True, there are reassuring utterances to the prophets and others, to be at ease in the presence of God's glory; in most cases it was like Daniel, who though told to stand upon his standing, only "stood trembling"; while in the manner in which God drew near to Abram, or placed Moses in the presence of His glory, we are taught His desire and purpose to have us near Him in love.

But it is evident that there was as yet no way in which God could draw near, so as entirely to disarm man of fear because of the gracious loving way He approached him. He could not approach in His love until He had a perfect warrant for the expression of it in righteousness. David failed in receiving to favour his rebellious son without any due expiation or atonement for his guilt. God loved, but He could not receive back the sinner, even if the sinner were willing to come, until He could be just and a justifier. This is the light which shines forth when Jesus Christ comes, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God". God so loved the world that He sent His Son. He came to bear the judgment on man, to remove that which hindered God's approach to man. He is the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. The blessed God has found a way in which Lie can approach the sinner in the most touching manner. The Father ran to meet the prodigal, pronouncing in the most affecting way that there is nothing but love on His side; that is, that He can come to the sinner, having so secured His majesty, righteousness and glory in His love, that His love is in full sway in all its

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delight, and is, as it were, backed up and supported by all that He is. It is not only that there is grace where there was judgment, as with Isaiah, who when sensibly undone before the throne, was relieved by the activity of grace, and placed before the throne entirely consistent with it; but the prodigal in Luke 15 was approached by the Father in the tenderness of His love. The one was set free before the throne, the other was introduced to the heart of God in that full perfect way in which He can now approach the returning sinner. "God is love". And to reach the sinner in this, His nature, is what His love delights in. He could not reach him to make known His love in anything but love. God is light, and in His light He discloses the sinner's need of His grace, and at the same time the fulness of His grace. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". He came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. It is not the sinner that seeks God, but Jesus has come "to seek and to save that which was lost". The love of God rules Him and He gives the Son. He obtains through Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, a way in which He can come to the sinner in all His love, in all its fulness and delight. Love delights in doing its best for its object. The sinner is God's object, blessed be His name! and cost Him what it may, He not only reaches him, but does for him not only all that he needs, but all that His love desires to do for him. Who can tell what the Father's love does for the prodigal? Love must satisfy itself according to its power or ability. No one could effect this for God but the Son of His love, and He could say, "How am I straitened till it [death] be accomplished!" Once the obstruction was removed, what a volume of eternal blessing would flow forth to the sinner!

In considering God's approach to the sinner, we must bear in mind that it is God's love that is acting. It is not merely His mercy. True, there is mercy, but His mercy is because of "his great love wherewith he loved

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us". Jesus is the only One who ever knew the love of God to the sinner, and He undertakes to remove everything resting on man which bars him from the love of God; but He affords that love a full warrant in righteousness to come to the sinner, and enfold him for ever in the arms of everlasting love. Jesus is not only the sin-offering, He is also the burnt-offering. God is glorified in a Man; He delights in a Man. And now He can come to every one believing in that Man -- in Jesus. He can come in the delight of His love, in the full satisfaction of His heart, and fall on his neck and kiss him. While we must not lose sight of the unspeakable gain and endless delight to a sinner to be brought to God, we must keep prominently before us the source from which it all comes. It all comes from the love of God. What God delighted to effect has been accomplished by His Son, and He can now come to the weakest and youngest believer in all the delight of His heart, His righteousness, glory, and every attribute of His nature giving strength and support to His love. The ground for His approach is perfect, and therefore His approach is as full and complete at His first expression of it to the sinner as it ever will be.

Now, on our side it is quite different; we are not only at a distance, but we are alienated from God by wicked works, and unless God in His grace compelled us to come in, we should have remained at a distance, only hardening our hearts, like Pharaoh, after every fresh conviction produced by a manifestation of His power. But God in His grace seeks the sinner. He commends His love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Our eyes are opened, we are turned "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God". We are compelled to come in, while on God's side, "all things are ready".

When I am awakened, I am sensible of the danger that I am in -- that I am on the verge of everlasting misery, and that I deserve it. "We indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds". I see myself guilty, and as

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such, inevitably lost. It is a moment of unequalled distress, but it only enhances to my soul the greatness of the grace which beams on me through faith in the blood of Christ. I can "arise and go". I begin to know that through the blood I am safe from judgment. Like Israel in Exodus 12, I am sheltered by the blood. This is my first positive step. When I feed, and as I feed, on what Christ suffered on my account when bearing my judgment, as Saul of Tarsus did during the three days when he was "without sight, and neither did eat nor drink", so I can draw near to God. My approach to Him is increasing, while His to me could not be any greater; it is already commensurate with His own nature. Every step of my advance is marked by a distinct break from the flesh so offensive to Him. As a convicted sinner, like the thief or the leper, I condemn myself while I in wonder enjoy His grace. But like the prodigal, though His love is expressed to me in the most touching way, I cannot enjoy it, because I am so sensibly occupied with my unworthiness. I feel I am not worthy. It is repentance and contrition with me; and it is only as He invests me with garments suited to Himself, superseding what I am in myself, that I can enter into His house. Every believer who enjoys through the Spirit this new home knows very well the gradual way in which he has approached to God, and what exercises and bitter suffering he has passed through in breaking away from the flesh and losing all confidence in it. What is expressed in a few words with reference to the prodigal may have taken days of bitterness as with Saul of Tarsus, or even years; but be it long or short, suffering it must be.

God has wrought from Himself, and He can now not only work in the sinner, but He can approach in His glory, and in all the acceptance in which man is placed before Him, in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. But then man is righteously detached from that in himself which has been set aside in judgment in the cross. How could I retain what Jesus in His death removed from

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the eye of God? The grace could not flow out until He, the Just, suffered for the unjust, to bring us to God. Hence, in the history of souls, there is always a repudiation of the flesh according as there is nearness to God. If, as with Israel, there was an escape from judgment because of the blood, there was in connection with it, and as it were in evidence of it, a distinct intimation in their manner and appearance that they were leaving Egypt. Their loins girt, shoes on their feet, staff in hand, they declared a break from the place where they were under judgment. But they were not clear of the Egyptian, the one who had involved them in judgment, until they had passed through the Red Sea. Until I have in faith reached to the reality of Christ being raised, I am not really at liberty before God. I could not say that I was brought to Him. I am not in the joy of the song of redemption. Thus my approach to God, as it advances, does not define the measure of His approach to me. But the nearer I come to Him, the more convinced I am that His estimate of Christ's work is immeasurable; and therefore the vastness of my acceptance with Him in consequence is more and more assured to my heart. In proportion as I enter into the acceptance, I apprehend the magnitude of it. It increases in its moral greatness as I grow acquainted with it; but this certainly with a corresponding severance and distance from the flesh, which has come to an end before God in the very One in whom I am accepted. ___


"The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us", 1 John 1:2. The first point is that the eternal life has been manifested unto us by the Son. He became a Man, and it was manifested in Him; it was never manifested in a man till the Son came. It is in the eternal life only that we could have fellowship with the Father and the Son.

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It is every way of the deepest importance that we should see the eternal life is an entirely new existence, never possible among men until the Son came, and then for the first time it was manifested. The nature and measure of the life which the saints had before the coming of Christ, I cannot determine; all I can insist on is that the eternal life which was with the Father as the very term, "with the Father", shows -- could not be manifested unto us until the Son came. The Son, a Man down here, manifested unto us the life that He had in common with the Father, and He then, as the "last Adam", gives us this eternal life (John 17:2).

We start, then, with the simple fact that the eternal life was never manifested in a man until the Son came, and that He was the virtual and actual expression of that life down here. No man ever had precedence of Him.

Next we have to learn that this life was an entirely new one on the earth. Men of God acted for Him here in divine power, according to the measure in which He was pleased to reveal Himself. He was never declared to any of them as Father; until the Son came, this could not be. "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him". The life of God is manifested by a Man on this earth. Hence after stating what had ever been true, that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God", our blessed 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? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven. And 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". The Son of man is to be lifted up, crucified, made an offering for sin, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. This life is heavenly in its nature, tastes and interests. The blessed Son humbled Himself,

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and became a Man. He came to do His Father's will. He freely offered Himself. He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us. He vindicated God on our side, that every one believing in Him might be in His life; not reinstated in the condition which man lost in judgment but in the life of the One who bore our judgment, so that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. This life is consequently entirely outside the ken of man. The natural man understands not the things of the Spirit of God. "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God".

From Adam to Christ, the work of grace in every man of God was to be faithful to God in the circumstances in which he was placed, God acting by him, and for him; but when the Son became a Man, the very nature and ways of God were manifested in the Son of man down here. Nothing of the sort could ever have been seen in a man before. There was One now here who always did the things that pleased God. He was not trying to stand for God on this or that occasion, but He was in Himself a contradiction to everything that was not of God, as the light in the darkness. He was the exhibition of every divine beauty in every detail of His life. The life with the Father was manifested unto us; and that in the One who, because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, "likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". There is no reinstating of the first man; there is no attempt, as with servants of God up to this, to take the kingdom by violence; now the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than any who had preceded. Hence, in John 4:14, our blessed Lord announces to the woman of Samaria, one who was reduced to the most pitiable condition, that through the gift of God she should have a new wonderful history in the very scene of her former misery. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall

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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". These words describe the state of existence that is to be enjoyed now, and which was not possible to be known by any one until the Son had come, and had Himself removed by His death everything which barred the full expression of the love of God. Where in the whole range of the Old Testament do we find any anticipation even of the blessedness propounded by our blessed Lord to that pitiable woman? The very magnitude of it, I have no doubt, leads many to pass it by as an impossibility, or as meaning something not within the range of human comprehension. Where else is there set forth anywhere such a state as never thirsting, but having in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life? Moses, David, and the prophets had deep, earnest longings, but when was any one of them in possession of what is offered to this desolate woman of Samaria?

But that is not all. As this chapter describes the believer's state within, so chapter 5 reaches to the outward state, -- the body superior to infirmities now, and the resurrection of life assured; while in chapter 6. it is food of life that is presented. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, there is no life in you. No one could have done this before Christ came; and, mark, it is by feeding on His death that we enter practically into the enjoyment of His life.

Chapter 7 is the Holy Spirit given to us from a glorified Christ. We feed on Christ's death and we are in the power of the Holy Spirit here from Christ glorified. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" -- never known before, because "the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified".

Chapters 8 and 9 tell us of the light, how it exposes the secrets of men's hearts, but discloses His grace, though not to condemn. But when it was possessed, as in the case of the blind man, the momentous fact was disclosed

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that no man -- however near, like the neighbours; or however religious, as the Pharisees; or however naturally related, as the parents; or even God's people on the earth, as the Jews, could grasp the source of the light; and not only this, but they cast out the man who was the recipient of it. When, or how, could any such thing have happened to a man before? The new standing of this man is described in chapter 10; out of everything Jewish, and into everything of Christ. In chapters 14 to 17 our present portion and power, consequent on the rejection of Christ, are declared to us -- impossible, as well as unknown, to any saint previous to His rejection.

I have only to add that it is evident from John's epistle that very soon the church lost the true idea of eternal life; so much so that the apostle tells us, that these things are written "that ye may know that ye have eternal life". Let any one read 1 John, and in any degree apprehend the fellowship "with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (impossible to be enjoyed until the Son had come), and surely he will admit that the eternal life is an existence entirely apart from human ken. Many believers have no idea of this life. They are assured, through grace, that their immortal souls will be happy in heaven -- which they surely will -- but they have no idea of possessing a new existence, capable of enjoying God, answering to His nature, and sharing in His thoughts and interests; one, too, in which we have fellowship with one another, and in which we come out in the obedience and walk of our Lord Jesus Christ on the earth.

In this new existence we can, through the Spirit's power, reach Him in heavenly places where He is; we can be "beside ourselves", and break from everything here, cross the Jordan, and enjoy the scene of light above; again to resume, with a deeper apprehension of His grace, our duties down here, as He has been pleased to set us here; but always with an increasing sense of the ineffable delight that He is our life, and that when He shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory.

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The apostle writes, "I ... will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power". Power was thus the virtue which would determine their proper value. Power, divine power in helpless men, must easily be seen. The power of God in the earthen vessel must make a very distinct mark. The nature of that power is our present inquiry.

With reference to the apostles it was spoken of when our Lord said, "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high". That was the power of the Holy Spirit. We read of Stephen, "a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit". And a little further on it is said that Stephen was "full of grace and power". The power was literally that of the Holy Spirit. It was the power of God, not something that a man could do. Everything done by the Spirit of God is power. Thus power is in advance of faith. Faith counts on God and reckons on His intervention, but power enables me to be something that otherwise I should not be; an act divine in its character and not merely human. Divine power is known by the way in which it enables a man to be divinely above his own immediate circumstances. Elisha, when he received power from Elijah as he went up, immediately took hold of his own clothes (typically his natural surroundings) and rent them in two pieces. This is the first mark of the power of God, at least in the eyes of others. A soul can have gleams of peace through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, but when there is power through walking in the Spirit, there is a distinct practical freedom "from the law of sin and death". It is a wonderful day when I am able to put Christ before me instead of myself. It is not only that Christ suffered for me, and that I have faith in God to interfere for me, but "I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, I, but Christ lives in me".

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Unless I am at liberty from myself, I cannot be in power. Here the christian differs from all who went before him. The men of God aforetime continually so counted on God in their acts that He interfered for them. Samson slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. David killed Goliath with a smooth stone from the brook. When faith counts on God, He manifests Himself on behalf of His servant; but power sets me in practical superiority to the circumstances in which I am. It is not deliverance out of them, but I have superiority to them.

When David indited Psalm 34 he was in the sense of power, because he was with God above the circumstances, though he did nothing. Samuel was in power when he retired to Ramah. Power must begin with that which is nearest to me, or there would be no virtue in it. In faith I am supported by God, and things are granted to me, but when I am in His power I am solely dependent on Him, and conscious of His sustainment, though nothing be done on my behalf. Our blessed Lord slept in the storm because He was in power; He rebuked the storm in faith.

When I am in the Spirit's power I have liberty from myself, and I can devote to Christ the things I would have ministered to myself; like the woman in the Pharisee's house in Luke 7 who expended the alabaster box of ointment on Him. This is only an illustration, but power is marked by a delight to make much of Christ at my own expense. I gladly put Him in the place of myself, and where this power is, it is apparent to every Pharisee.

But power advances. There was still greater power in Mary's act. She anoints the Lord's body for His burial. I mean that the power to surrender one's personal honours for Christ grows into a greater and a deeper thing -- even to bury them with Him -- as there is an advance from reckoning oneself dead to sin to being dead to the world, which orders of power are known in Romans and in Colossians respectively. And though it is not the highest order, still if you were to meet a man of

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this order you could not fail to perceive his power. He would not only think of Christ instead of himself, but he would be markedly weaned from this scene where Christ had died. The one in this power, while in no way monastic, would give no uncertain sound; however great in mind or means he would 'carry his bed' in the circle of daily life. A practical pilgrim, this earth could not be the scene of his interest, for he would be an entire stranger to it. He would not use natural means in mere self-consideration, and none of the embellishments of things here would interest him. His house and the ordering of his family would bear witness that he was a man of power. Truly it humbles us to find how little we are in power -- the Spirit's power -- as we walk down here. No man is in power if he is not in faith, and as I am in power so I am in faith. The more I am practically superior to everything around me, which is power, the more do I reckon on God to do His will in spite of all opposition, seeing that through His grace I am not opposing His will but concurring with it.

We may indeed feel how little we have this power in effect, yet it is what can be known on this side Jordan, and not the highest order of power which is ours through grace; and in considering the subject of power I must endeavour to set forth what is the highest order.

The apostle says, "that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection", and the latter part of the prayer in Ephesians 1 is that we may know "the surpassing greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of the might of his strength, in which he wrought in the Christ in raising him from among the dead". The power which brought Christ up from the dead is the same power which has brought up each of His members, so that now one can say,

"... the Spirit's power
Has ope'd the heav'nly door,
Has brought us to that favoured hour
When toil shall all be o'er". (Hymn 74)

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When I know this power, I am sensibly enjoying Christ's life in the sphere where Christ is. I am in a region of light, detached for the moment from everything connected with this present life. And when I resume my connection with it and my duties here, I do so with the assured sense in my heart that I belong to another sphere, which in the power of the Spirit I have entered into. I resume my duties here with cheerful alacrity, not as a small-minded man suddenly elevated to supreme distinction might scorn to enter on the small duties and works he was engaged in and bound to do before his elevation. On the contrary, as the christian enjoys divine power first for his own blessing and joy in company with the Lord, so does he earnestly and truly use the power in which he was elevated for doing everything here, whether it be with reference to the church, the circle of Christ's interest on earth, or his own domestic circle. It is in this twofold way that the man of power is fully declared. First, and above everything else, the church as a whole is his concern, both as to the preservation of the unity of the Spirit, and its edification by gifts and joints. A man in whom the power of God works will have as his paramount interest the church, which is Christ's treasure and pearl here. This is the service which peculiarly and singularly distinguishes the man of power at this present time. Difficulties are great, but he is greater, because of the power that works in him; and it is true of him, as Paul writes to Timothy, that he has "fully known my doctrine".

If a man has not power at the lower level, of course he cannot have it at the highest; but if he has it at the highest, one unmistakeable trait of it is that he devotes himself to preserve the church in its unity, and to seek its edification. He has no concern prior to this. He regards everything as it affects the church, be it leaven or gangrene. He has one simple motto "Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever". His own individual conduct among the saints as Ephesians 4:1 to 5 21 enjoins, testifies that

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he practically upholds what he advocates; and he can truly say with regard to discipline cases, "... not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you"; and "commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God". Every act for the church by the man of power is plain and convincing to every man's conscience in the sight of God. All the godly will readily approve. Woe betide the servant of God who attempts to act beyond his faith or power! Nothing is more grievous than any assumption in the church of God, assuming to have faith or power which one has not. Not only is the Lord dishonoured by the miscarriage, but the servant is disqualified from prominence afterwards in the matter in which he has failed.

But in connection with this trait of power, marked devotedness to the interests of Christ here, there is besides the beautiful walk among the saints to which I have referred, another sphere where the man of power is pre-eminently distinguished. I refer now to his own domestic circle. As to spiritual oversight in the church, we know that "if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" But it is more general here. A man of power, heavenly power, is to behave in the ordinary relations of life in quite an unknown way. He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, he is to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He may say that he fails, that everyone fails, but this only proves that he is not a man of power. "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" When branches wither, there is a failure of vigour in the tree; when we fail in the domestic circle we may rest assured that we are not in true vigour in the circle where all Christ's great interests are and which is, par excellence, the one nearest to His heart.

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It would be discouraging to be made aware of the little power we have if it were not through grace as much within our reach as ever it has been, and the real benefit of being awakened to our lack is to stimulate us to accept that power which through grace is ours.


In order to care for the church, we must first be in simple rest of heart in the Lord as to our own place with Him. We can never understand what the church is to Him until we have learned individually the nature of His love to us and consequent interest in us.

The order of growth to this is very interesting. We first know His love in dying for us; and then, like Jonathan, whose soul "was knit with the soul of David", we are in heart bound to Him for the great and eternal service which He has rendered to us by His death for us.

Next, in all our trials and difficulties He is so necessary to us, and He becomes so endeared to us, that, like Ruth, we can leave our natural place to follow Him to His place; we cannot live without Him. Then we are ready for the truth that we are united to Him, and entranced with it. Then at length we are fully settled, restful; all our own interests perfectly secured, and now communion is the crown of joy to our hearts.

Our union to Him would be only a title if we were not in communion with Him to enjoy the reality and closeness of our alliance. In communion with Him we share in His interests, and are occupied with them as He pleases. It is only as we are in His secret, His "friends", that we can truly understand how to care for the church. We learn, as I have said, in our own individual experience, the nature and depth of His love and interest in the church, and then we find that His heart "doth safely trust" in us. We are called to share in His interest and care for the church according to the ability which He gives.

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There is, I may say, preliminary to any right service, a measure of knowledge of two things with regard to the church: one, as to what it is in the mind of God, and the other, what it is now in the hands of man. If we do not know what it is in the mind of God, and how it came forth from His hand, of course we cannot see how much it has suffered in the hands of man; but if we only see the church as it is in the mind of God, we are unable rightly to care for it now in its ruin.

Here I must remind my reader that the church is spoken of in a twofold way in Scripture, namely, as the house of God, and as the body of Christ; and it is very essential that we should comprehend it in these two aspects. In the house aspect it is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and as such it was committed to man's responsibility. It was the sphere where sins were remitted. The true building is Christ's own work. He says in Matthew 16, "I will build my church". Each living stone is put into its true place by Christ Himself. This is the church or assembly in its executive character here on earth; and as such, it was committed to the hands of His people here, "the pillar and ground of the truth". But on the other hand, the house of God has become like "a great house", where there are vessels, "some to honour, and some to dishonour", 2 Timothy 2. Through the subtlety of Satan and the remissness of the saints, "there are certain men crept in unawares". It is still the house, but when it has reached the state of a "great house", the one caring for the church purges himself from the vessels to dishonour, not to pursue a solitary or isolated path, but to "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart". Thus it is here intimated that there would always be in the house those who preserve what is due to God in His own house; and any one who does not comprehend this course, and act according to it, could not truly care for the church. Further on, I hope to refer to the twofold character of the Shepherd's care for the

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flock, but before entering on that part of my subject, it is needful to say a little on the church in its aspect as the body of Christ.

In its essential state the church is baptised by one Spirit into one body. Christ is the Head of it. But as the house of God, there is individual responsibility, though that action, when of the Spirit, cannot be independent of the other members of the body. The body is never visible, the act of the individual is. Therefore the assembly, as a habitation of God, is the place where the concerns of Christ in connection with this scene are determined; while the essential state (that of the body) upholds and strengthens each individual in acting for the Lord, though visibly he is only a unit. The house is Christ's council during His absence; and every one built thereon by Himself is a member of His body, and has essentially a corporate position of the highest order, to which each individual, as he is in the Spirit, must defer; because Christ is the Head, and one cannot defer to the Head without embracing every member of the body for its good. In like manner, when he fails, he disregards the Head, and all the members suffer. If a saint does not understand the church in these two aspects, he cannot on the one hand see it in its unchangeable nearness and value to the Lord Jesus Christ, as God's present object on the earth; and on the other hand, if he does not see how it has become like a "great house", and how the name of God has been dishonoured in His own house, as it was in Israel of old, he cannot rightly care for it, because he does not apprehend the nature of the position which the faithful must adopt in such a crisis. In the one case he does not see the unceasing interminable flow of grace from the Head to the body, ever and always, whenever and wherever the members of His body seek Him, and own His rightful and natural place in relation to them. It is an unfailing consolation to everyone caring for the church, that Christ's heart is the same towards it now as it was when He uttered John 17, and

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that He is the same Head to it as ever He was. If one did not know this, where would one's resource be in a day like this? While if one did not see the house, though in ruins, to be God's dwelling, how could one rightly consider for His glory, or promote the holiness which "becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever"?

Having learned what the church is in the mind of God, there are next two things in many varied branches which will engage the one who cares for the church, as directed by Him, and in communion with Him. The first is food, or teaching; the second, discipline. We cannot fail to see that these two are closely connected, and that the growth and blessing of our brethren is the one object common to both. We start with this, that we arc to love one another as Christ has loved us, and "this also we wish, even your perfection". Once we ascertain the great principles which are to guide us in caring for the church, it will be comparatively easy to determine the special service of each.

"Meat in due season" is necessary for growth. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby"; and discipline in its full scope is necessary to check the budding or activities of the flesh. The one is to promote the advancement of the newborn babe, the other to remove the leaven or the snare which interferes with and hinders progress. To the servant who cares for the church it is simple and easy, if led of the Lord, to feed the saints with "food convenient" for them. As he is in communion he is sure to be instructed; "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water"; that is, the Lord's mind, and the truth suited to their state, will be supplied to him from the word, often from the same chapter. He will be led to dwell on one part at one time, and on another part at another time, according to the need of souls. The Spirit leads him to supply through the word the particular instruction which the Lord would impart. Now, though everyone is not a teacher, everyone, as he is walking in communion in word

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and ways, helps and promotes the new nature in each one with whom he is in contact. Here let me say that one caring for the church will not only be watchful in the congregation not to grieve the Spirit, and thus make all to suffer, but he will remember that wherever he is, he is a member; and if the joint be hindered, there is damage to the whole body, though the members may be scattered all over the universe.

It only remains now to add a word on discipline. The aim of all discipline is the welfare of the church, while at the same time it seeks to effect the welfare of the offender. If I care for the church, I must seek to purge out all leaven. So long as the Lord retains His place in an assembly, my duty is to urge on the assembly to look for His help to put away the one who leavens, when there is no possibility of eradicating it. When the Lord has been displaced in an assembly, which is generally when evil doctrine (or gangrene) has been taught and countenanced, then there is no option but to purge oneself from the vessels to dishonour. The necessity for this indicates the disordered state of the house, but also declares the ability of every believer to preserve a space in it suited to God in His dwelling-place; and such a company is ever, thank God, to be found.

So far I have dwelt on what is generally called church discipline, where we can see the principle of it in the clearest way. But besides this, it is incumbent on every saint to exercise discipline towards his fellows with whom he associates. There are some so bad that he is to "turn away" from them; "do not receive him into the house, and greet him not". There are others whom he must not receive socially; "have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother". Then, finally, each one is responsible to "wash one another's feet"; that is, that in love I am charged to remove from my brother the soil on his conscience which interrupts his communion with the Lord, a most blessed service and an endless one.

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Every check to his joy and blessing claims my attention, in order that I may co-operate in helping him to his proper and happy place with the Lord. The ministry of the word, when effectual, is the means by which the cloud is cleared away, and then the word becomes food through the grace of Christ to nurture and cherish.

May each of us enter more into the blessedness of caring for the church for the Lord's sake.


Every truth has its own proper effect. Our blessed Lord was "the truth"; the fruit of it was fully seen in Him. As we receive the truth we are sanctified; we are set free from what we are naturally, and introduced into an entirely new order of being. It is therefore very interesting to note the separate and distinct effects produced, according to the measure or the nature of the truth apprehended in faith. Each truth has its own effect, and no truth would produce the effect of another truth. There is no confusion. If the desired effect is not possessed, the truth that would produce it is not apprehended in faith.

It is very evident that the truth of the death and resurrection of Christ, laid hold of by faith, could alone produce peace. But then, consequent on justification, I have to reach deliverance; that is, that I am free in the life of Christ from the law of sin and death. I am not only cleared from all guilt, but alive in the One who cleared me, because not only did He die for my sins, but "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, ... condemned sin in the flesh". I do not reach to the proper effect of justification until I have deliverance. Any one can notice that if justification be known, and yet deliverance -- the practical experience that I am free from the law of sin and death -- be not reached, the believer, in so far as he is conscientious, is occupied with his own state, and does not come up to the proper effect of justification.

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The proper effect of one dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ is the absolute surrender of the body to the Lord. It may be objected that many are very clear about the efficacy of the work of Christ, who do not present their bodies a living sacrifice. True, but if the proper effect of the truth has not been produced, it is plain that it is not the truth that is at fault, but the way it has been received. It is impossible that one should be clear from all sins by the blood of Christ, and free from the law of sin and death in the life of Him in whose death God condemned sin in the flesh, and not feel that truly the only reasonable service is that the body should be a living sacrifice to the Lord. The effect of a truth always defines the measure of it that one has apprehended in faith. One might scan the whole range of revealed truth, but the exact measure of it that has been received in faith will be defined by the effect that it has produced.

Hence, when there is any limitation of the grace that justifies us and sets us up free in the life of Him through whom we are justified, there must necessarily always be a corresponding lack in self-surrender to the Lord. We too often expect to find souls clear as to a truth, though in practice we see that they are far from it; and we arc often too much occupied with their acceptance of the truth verbally, instead of judging by its effect on them how far the acceptance is in faith. It is quite true that if there is defect in the knowledge of a truth, there must be a defect in its effect; though it is better, and conduces more to prosperity, when the effect of truth is in a measure beyond one's knowledge of it.

If the truth of Romans produces such a very marked and blessed effect -- that is, if the knowledge of justification and deliverance produces the effect of my body being presented to the Lord a living sacrifice, let us now see what would be the effect produced by learning our approach to God as set forth in Hebrews, where we have the right of entrance into the holiest, (the brightest spot

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with God) through the blood of Christ. In Romans I am clear of all sins, and in the life of Him in whom sin was condemned in the flesh. There can be no deliverance if this latter be not known; but in Hebrews I can, through the blood, approach God, my heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and my body washed with pure water. The two parts of Roman truth are thus assured. The effect of this nearness is that I am running on to heaven in the power of faith; while here on earth, and visibly, as in chapter 13, we express the characteristics of God's people on the earth, from "brotherly love" up to "obey your leaders" -- the proper expression of christians on the earth, and the effect of the truth that they have approach to God, in the holiest, unseen by man, where the Lord Jesus is the great Antitype of the ark of the covenant, which was all that ever was in that place. His blood entitles us to be there; and He is there Himself, the concentration of the glory of God, "crowned with glory and honour". He is there as the burnt-offering -- glorified. Thus there is now the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In Colossians we find a remarkable confirmation of how a particular truth has its own and peculiar effect. The Colossians were simple and earnest, noted for their faith in Christ, and love to all the saints, but they were in danger of being carried away by religiousness. Now the truth which would preserve them from this was the mystery of God, even that the church is the body of Christ, and that from the Head everything flows, "from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God". There is no one who, when clear as to Romans -- dead to sin and alive to God -- does not incline in some degree to religiousness and devotionalism, unless he apprehends the mystery; then he values nothing but Christ who is his life. "Christ is everything, and in all". He is not only dead to sin but dead to the world.

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Again, surely we can easily admit that no one is heavenly in power and practice who does not enjoy in spirit that he is heavenly. Many desire to be apart from the ways and influences here, but no one can come forth in the tastes and power of a heavenly man here, who has not first the truth that through grace his place is in heaven; that in spirit he has crossed the Jordan, and is in association with Christ where He is, a member of His body, in the sense and possession of the power which led him up there; so that he can come forth here to act in all the marvellous practice detailed in Ephesians 4, 5 and 6. Many try to be unearthly and unworldly, but nothing will produce the true type of a heavenly man in practice but the truth that we are heavenly, that our citizenship is there. And assuredly if the Holy Spirit has not led us there, as Stephen was led up there, we cannot have Christ's power here, to act for Him and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. We cannot have the works if we have not the faith; and it is by our works that we show our faith.

I may add that when the Lord's supper is apprehended in faith there is a manifest effect. How could I really call to mind the death of Christ for me in the place where it occurred, without being in heart dissociated from that place? How could the scene where He died be the scene of self-gratification or distinction for me, when His death was, according to my faith, vividly before my eyes? Must I not, as I enter into what He endured for me, long to be apart from all that in myself and around, for which He died? The more my heart is drawn to Him, because of His great love for me, the more do I shrink from all that is of man and seek to walk in His ways and for His glory.

One example more. Could any one in faith hold that the Lord is in the midst where two or three are gathered together to His name, and not have a very sensible effect from this truth, an effect that no other truth could produce? No one can define or imitate the influence of the

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presence of a loved one; how much more when that Person is the greatest and the dearest to us! The effect of His presence cannot be defined, but one is very conscious of it, and according to the measure of faith, He sways and controls every act and sentiment. Could I truly believe that the Lord was present, and not be controlled and influenced by Him, in conscious happy subjection to His will, and yet in gladness of heart, that while the One most loved is so near me, His light which cheers my heart so keeps my flesh in check that I am enabled to wait on Him without distraction?

I need hardly give more instances, because once a principle is apprehended the verity of it will continually be corroborated. If one has the truth of the kingdom of heaven in his heart, he regards everything on this earth as it is in the mind of God according to the effect of His word. His word becomes his rule for everything. Thus his faith in the kingdom is proved, and all that concerns the Lord here on earth and in that relation is before him. The word of God is the sovereign authority to him for everything. The maxims and wisdom of man are refused; he is here as a pilgrim and stranger, in a land from which the King, his Lord, has been rejected; and he will not be swayed in anything by principles in vogue here, even though the abrogation, as it surely will, should expose him to suffering. So also, if I hold in faith the truth of the Lord's coming, I am becoming more and more separate from everything here; I am going forth to meet the Bridegroom.

May each of our hearts be exercised, not only in ascertaining whether we hold this or that truth, but whether we so hold it that its effect is demonstrated by us as "doers of the word". May the truth in all its parts be more and more endeared to our hearts, rejoicing that as we hear His voice, some new and distinct effect is produced; for surely He has His own way of forming us into likeness to Himself. Amen.

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Differences amongst christians exist to such a lamentable extent that every true-hearted one would gladly hail any attempt to account for their existence. It is plain that if all were walking in the Spirit we should be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. It is not necessary for agreement about any given thing that each should look at the same side of it. For example, one might dwell on the beauty of a bird's feathers, another on its song, another on its power of flight, while another might confine his attention to its usefulness; but each, in a varied way, is occupied with the one object, and co-operating to a common end. Each star in the sky has its own distinct light and mission, and yet there is no clashing with one another -- all work together for a common object. Christ and the church might engage many, and though there would be a variety of apprehensions, there would not necessarily be strife, if the one object were common to them all. Each of the apostles wrote on subjects diverse from the others, and yet they were in perfect concord.

If, then, a common object ensures a common interest, how is it that there is not concord between christians who have Christ and the church as their object? If they have one common interest, we might conclude that there would be no discord. But we do not find it so. Many have Christ as the one common interest who are not agreed, but who, on the contrary, disagree much as to the way and mode in which this interest is to be expressed. This was the case with Martha and Mary. They had one common interest; but one sought to please the Lord according to her natural mind, while the other waited on Him for the unfolding of His own mind; and this was really the "good part" which should not be taken away. Hence it is evident that there is something more required than a common object of interest, even though it is the

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greatest. There cannot be a common interest without a common object; but when, as in the christian, there are really two powers in deadly opposition to each other, it is necessary for agreement that each should co-operate in the same power; that is, in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. The real cause of the disagreement between the two sisters was, that one was occupied with the Lord in man's way, and the other was learning from the Lord His way.

Now this is the great cause of all the differences amongst us. There is far more real love to Christ amongst christians than is generally allowed by one denomination to another; but the strife is often bitterest where there is most zeal. When the flesh is countenanced, and its means adopted, there must be direct collision with every one walking in the Spirit of God, for the more the aim of each is the Lord, the more openly must the contrariety in their modes of action appear; and thus they are manifestly distanced. The purpose is right in a multitude of cases, but the way the purpose is carried out discloses whether one is carnal or spiritual. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other". There must be strife when flesh and Spirit come in contact. All the mistakes of the disciples, while personally attached to the Lord, arose from this. He was their Object, but they, regarding Him with their natural mind, misapprehended everything. Thus Peter proposed to build three tabernacles on the mount of transfiguration, and at another time rebuked the Lord for speaking of His death, which drew from Him the severe censure, "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".

Now in this lies the root of our strife in general; that is, man's feeling or judgment sways, and not the Spirit of God. Every one walking conscientiously can see how easily he can slip into his own judgment or feeling with

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regard to the Lord, and thus be at the very antipodes of the spiritual mind with reference to the matter in hand; and as a rule, the natural counsel has many more approvers than the spiritual, because it addresses the natural mind, which in its judgment always makes man prominent; and hence every natural mind in the audience is in sympathy with it. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God"; on the other hand, the Spirit of God considers absolutely for God. The collision, in every case, is really between God and man. Is it for man you are considering, or for God? From what arose all the distress and exercise of heart to the psalmist, in Psalm 73, but that he had made himself paramount in his review of all that was passing around him; for when he was in the sanctuary, where God was paramount, everything appeared quite differently? The greatest contrariety existed between the psalmist when he was outside the sanctuary, and when he was inside. There was not one single point of agreement between the two.

Let us learn from Isaac how a natural thing can influence us. He did eat of his son's venison, and hence he determined to bless him, entirely forgetting the word of the Lord, "the elder shall serve the younger". But he was delivered. It is a terrible moment when we have to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed".

If we are not walking in the Spirit, it is as natural to us as is the air we breathe to give self prominence, even in the things of God. A thorn in the flesh was inflicted on Paul, lest he should be exalted above measure, because of revelations which were given him where there was no recognition of him as a man in the flesh. Hence we find that almost every servant of God makes mistakes when he is off his guard; as Moses, speaking unadvisedly with his lips, or Paul, denouncing the high priest. Self is

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ready to be uppermost, and when it is so it is in collision with the Spirit of God.

Constantly we find in Scripture that when two or more of the people of God are engaged in any service, the man of faith, the man resting on God, is hindered in his service, and strife ensues, because his companion, or companions, seek to serve according to their own thoughts. Thus the greatest strife may ensue between the closest friends. Abraham suffered most from Lot. Lot followed his natural tastes, and, doubtless at the time, encouraged himself with the feeling that he was more prosperous than Abraham. See the unhappy collision of Aaron and Miriam with Moses; the two former seemed, to all natural sense, contending for what was right and proper; but, alas! envy was at the bottom of it, and it was really with the intent of exalting themselves that they cast this reproach on their own brother, and God's most honoured servant. David was sore distressed by the sons of Zeruiah. In like manner there is strife between Paul and Barnabas, two men who had long worked together in the Lord's service in the most blessed way. And why? Because Barnabas considered for his kinsman, and Paul for the Lord only. Barnabas evidently did not think that the Jewish tendencies of Mark were of so grave a nature that he was thereby disqualified from being a companion with him in the Lord's service, while Paul, who considered simply for the Lord and the good of His people, distinctly refused to accept his company or cooperation; and it seems, from the reference made to him in Colossians 4, that there had been orders about him, which were not to be enforced at the time the apostle wrote. Surely, the more we investigate, the better we shall see that the cause of strife generally between any two christians is that one has allowed human consideration of some kind to sway him, while the other, with a more single eye, considers for the Lord only. I do not deny that a great deal of mixed motives intrudes, and the best of purposes may be grievously damaged by

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the allowance of human interference. Thus the bringing up of the ark in David's time was interrupted, and almost defeated, by the well-intentioned interference of Uzzah.

There would be no cause of strife if we all were so simply devoted to the Lord that our bodies were a living sacrifice, not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of our minds, that we may be able to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The more positively abstracted we are from all here, and all that influences us here, and in association with the Lord, the more we are qualified, like Moses coming from the mount, to judge of what is going on here, and to judge of it as God judges of it. And as then Moses was at issue with Aaron, so it is now. The more any one is imbued with God's things at the moment, the more is he at issue with his closest companion in the Lord, who is literally in the midst of the things here, and thus more or less affected by them.

In any controversy, we can almost judge of the power which influences us, by the first sayings. The tongue betrays the heart. The utterance discloses the real state of it. When it is man that is most before the mind, the tongue expresses it; when it is the Lord, the language is unmistakable. There is in the opening of the mouth an indication of what is to follow. As it is said of the wise woman, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness".

But this is not all. There is a great practical distinction between divine wisdom and the wisdom of this world. Divine wisdom always ministers to the soul first, and then insists on separation; as it is written, "Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding"; while the wisdom of mars panders to man's tastes, and leads captive by giving expectations, where there is nothing real and true.

May we walk so continually in the Spirit that we may be ready for every emergency, remembering this, that if we are not habitually walking in the Spirit, when a

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special need for help comes, He will, as it were, stand aside, to make us feel how feeble we are without Him, and how we become the occasion of strife instead of union. The Lord help us to be faithful in that which is least, that we may be faithful also in much.


Grace is the first ray of comfort to the soul; and though it is the subject first known and most cherished, yet the measure of it, according to God's revelation of it, is little known.

Grace, according to popular teaching, is the undeserved favour of God in saving everyone who believes in Christ. The soul's need defines the measure of the grace. Surely, were the grace of God no more than this, it would be marvellously blessed. But it is much more. If the grace were no more than my need required, though it would be sufficient, blessed by God, to rescue me from everlasting misery, it would not, while it saved me from all the consequences of my sins, ever have placed me in nearness to God. Having sinned, I could not restore myself to the position of innocence that Adam held. I could be a forgiven sinner, forgiven up to the last moment of my life here, and thus happy in heaven. Escape from judgment, and an assurance of everlasting happiness, is for the most part the idea which the word grace conveys to many christians. If grace did not secure to me justification and everlasting happiness, it would not meet my need. Surely God intimated in the garden of Eden, when He clothed Adam and Eve with coats of skins, that in grace He would not only clear them of their sins, but that He would clothe them afresh by His own hand, that they should not be found naked. He thus set forth that there should be something more than forgiveness -- escape from a lost state; that in His grace there would be in their future position a great advance beyond that which they had lost by transgression. This intimated the measure of the grace.

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The condition of innocence being lost, grace, in answer to the faith of Abel when he offered up the firstling of his flock and of the fat thereof, testified of his gifts, and thus he obtained witness that he was righteous. The grace was equal to the need; he was accepted of God, and his own death ensued and his condition in sin literally came to an end.

Abram was counted righteous; that is, the grace was equal to the need. He believed God who quickens the dead. There was no hope from man as he was, but God in His grace could come in and do what was entirely outside of man. "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform", Romans 4:19 - 21. Thus there was a clearance of all guilt.

Now, in the case of Isaiah, in chapter 6 we find too that the grace is equal to the need. His iniquity is taken away, and his sin is purged; but this is in connection with a live coal from the altar, which indicated that the grace could only be on the ground of the action of fire in its sacrificial aspect. In none of these cases do we see that the sinner obtains more than a full clearance from his guilt. However, in the offerings in the book of Leviticus a very important truth is presented to us, namely, how the sinner can come near to God. It is, I might say, the other side now. The offerings properly are for those who keep the law. Breaches of the ceremonial law are to be atoned for, and all uncleanness, but the main intention of the offerings was to indicate the place of nearness in which grace sets the believer. There is much more contemplated than simply clearance. There was a sense of acceptance, and consequently worship within, in the holy place, for Aaron and his sons, typically the church; and without, Israel, the earthly

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people, were blessed when the high priest came out; typically Israel in the latter day, when Jesus, as Melchisedec, comes out.

From this review we gather that the blessed God did not intend to limit His grace to our need, that is, to our sins, but that He had in His heart the purpose to superabound in grace. So not only was debt atoned for, but the grace which covered it was of surpassing riches; so that not only was the man who owed five hundred pence forgiven, but at the moment he was forgiven he received immensely more; "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound". It is like the four lepers in the siege of Samaria; they not only ate and drank, not only was the famine entirely over, but "they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it"; and from the greatest dearth they were greatly enriched. There is not only forgiveness of sins, but "inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me".

There is great natural reluctance in the heart to reach up to any true sense of the greatness of the grace which has come to us, though our need makes us appreciate the measure of it that meets the need. Hence what meets the need is always presented to the sinner first, though in the mind of God there is no break in its blessed, endless stream. A woman who has spent all her living on physicians and is nothing bettered knows well the blessedness of grace, when in faith she touches the hem of His garment. Beautiful to a degree was her faith, and she finds the grace is equal to her need; she is well, but she did not want to add to it, nor to learn the extent of the stream of blessing which had healed her. When she comes to Christ, she falls down before Him and tells Him all the truth; now she finds that the grace which cured her is very much greater; she learns the One who is the fountain of grace, her soul is affiliated to the

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Saviour. This is a pattern of the way I part company with my old self to be with Christ. The leper that returned in Luke 17 not only lived, but was consecrated by coming to Christ.

The great fact is gradually disclosed that not only is the sinner to be forgiven, but that he is to be made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. The sense of need is the only true condition of an awakened soul, and therefore the relief of that need is the one thing desired; but there is much more in the grace of God than to relieve the need. True, there must be a full clearance of all guilt before the awakened soul could have any rest before God; and when the grace is known to this measure, there is unspeakable relief, and hence a tendency to conclude that, as grace had conferred so much, no more was to come, because no more was needed for the salvation of the soul.

Now if grace were to stop there, simply having met the measure of man's need, God's share and delight in the saved one would be overlooked. God in His love delights that you, once a sinner, on believing on Him, should be not only justified, but fitted to be in His own presence for His own pleasure, which is infinitely greater than your own. The tendency is to regard grace only as it affects the sinner, and to omit the satisfaction it is to God to have us as His children with Him; "the excellent, in whom is all my delight". Blessed God! Thy love desires my company and would share Thy joys with me. And this love is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit which is given unto me. If I were not justified, it is evident that the holy God could not allow me to draw near to Him. Hence justification is, as it were, a definite step in the history of grace; but justification is not the measure of grace. I require to be justified first; the distance between me and God is not removed till then; I am not reconciled to Him until then; and He is not free to show His favour to me until then. It is because of this that forgiveness of sins or salvation

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is so often regarded as the limit of the grace. God desires to have me for Himself, to be a companion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a member of His body. Hence His grace superabounds over the sin. If I have lost anything by sin which was a glory to a man, that is not restored to me in grace. Grace gives me something infinitely better, not to suit the man that was, but to suit me as brought to God. The grace of God does not reinstate me in the paradise lost by sin, but sets me in a much greater one. I am forgiven, like the prodigal, for all I have done, but nothing that I have squandered is restored to me. I get something entirely new; and I am made, as he was in figure, quite new, and fitted for the immense exaltation to which I am raised by grace. The prodigal was not restored to the land, as a Jew would have expected, but he was received into the father's house with a favour and distinction never accorded to any one before; and this was all simply of grace. True, he had to be reconciled and kissed before he could be prepared for this immense excess in grace, that is, the measure of the grace beyond the need.

Thus with the thief on the cross; as soon as grace could be declared, he not only finds that he is saved by grace through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom his heart can cling; but when he asks for the brightest hope for a Jew -- to be in His kingdom which he had forfeited -- he is told that a far greater height awaits him. Jesus says to him, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" -- transferred from the depth of moral degradation among men, to the glorious height of association with the Lord in the greatest place. To this wondrous height grace raises the wretched sinner, and fits him for it. Nothing of the old thief remained except his identity; but entirely new he was with Christ in paradise. Thus Paul in spirit entered into that blessed place, and was there received, as one at home in the innermost circle there. He heard there the secrets of God, which he was not allowed to tell to men. Surely he

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was well qualified to tell us that we are made to sit in the heavenlies in Christ, and, seeing that so much grace has been shown to us, that in us might be displayed in the coming ages, "the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus". And thus only we arrive at the measure of the grace of which we are to be the expositors, as I might say, in the coming ages.

The Lord lead our hearts more and more into it, for His name's sake.


It must be plain to every careful reader of the New Testament that the sheep, the members of the flock of God, were greatly advanced -- that is, they received a very great accession of blessing -- by the coming of Christ, set forth in pattern in the gospel, but fully established consequent on His resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit. It is most interesting to trace in the history of the disciples the gradual way they are led up to the highest point.

In a paper like this one can only sketch the line, and note the more important steps to their ultimate promotion. The first great definite step was that they left John and followed Jesus. No doubt they were, as we should say, converted when with John. He had come in the way of righteousness. There was a call to repent; everyone reached by the word of God followed him. They were the sheep at the time, and they were the best at the time, for they represented the godly remnant; and hence our Lord, to fulfil all righteousness, took His place with them, and was baptised by John. Now two of John's disciples followed Jesus. The extent of their advancement does not appear in this step, but surely it was a very great one. They have come to Jesus. They have at least broken away from the system which obtained under John. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent

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take it by force". They had advanced from that order of things, and in following Jesus, though they did not enter into the full reality of the step at the moment, they had truly entered into the kingdom of heaven; and the least there was greater than John the baptist, simply because in Christ an entirely new order was introduced. It is not now the mere servant; not one trying to attain to anything. Now it is, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed".

It is a great day in the history of the soul when one breaks away entirely from John the baptist and that order of things. I do not say the disciples knew in power the new order they had come to, but they knew at least that the presence of Christ swayed them into concurrence with His ways. It was not possible that they could be with Christ and not feel that they were in a different order of things from that which they had left. To describe the nature and measure of the transition from John to Christ -- that is, what Christ confers -- can only give us an idea of the advancement which they received. It is plain that Christ Himself is the measure of it; but we have to learn the steps by which we are led along in order to reach at length that "as he is, so are we in this world". The Lord could say to His disciples when on earth, "When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, nothing". That flowed from the simple fact of His presence down here. This was an entirely new thing here, that a Man's company could be so full and blessed, apart from the comforts of this life, that they not only lacked nothing, but when He was taken from them they were like unfledged birds, powerless and disconsolate.

In Peter's history, or rather in the notices given of him in the gospels, we learn the definite and gradual way a soul is led on to the new ground -- that is, christianity. One of those who followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. "He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias,

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which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone", John 1:41, 42. Peter, as we find from Luke 5, was drawn to Christ. It is simply and solely the power of God which can lead the heart of man to like what is divine and perfect in holiness. Peter is first drawn to Christ; he has received light. So far he answers to the blind man of John 9. In the case of the blind man we see the exercise that takes place in the soul consequent on receiving light from Christ -- light which is to conduct one into an entirely new order of things, things wholly unknown before. Peter has light, and he follows Christ, but he does not yet know Him. In Luke 5 we are told of a distinct step in advance. The Lord had used Peter's ship in preaching, and Peter had not only cordially devoted his ship to the Lord's service, but when He proposed to him to launch out into the deep and let down his net for a draught, Peter complied, though it was contrary to his own judgment. The result was that they enclosed a great multitude of fishes. The effect on Peter was so great that "he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord". This is a remarkable step; no doubt he was converted before this, but he had never before felt himself in the presence of God, and he is sensible of his unfitness. "He fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord".

It is the sense of unfitness, not any reluctance to be with Him. Jesus says, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men". As it was the Lord who awakened the fear, so He is the One to remove it. This is a very important step. The blind man had reached it, if he had not surpassed it, when he could say, "Lord I believe. And he worshipped him". Now this man was isolated from all that was esteemed among men; he was in the solitude of light. Man morally was outside of him.

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The next definite step is the "new bottles", in the end of Luke 5. When the Bridegroom should be taken away, the children of the bridechamber should fast. As to earth, the source of happiness was gone; but there was to be given "new wine", and this new wine must be put into "new bottles". The Lord had come -- the new piece -- but you could not attach Him to the old. The rent or severance between them would then only be the more apparent.

The more we keep in mind the unparalleled newness of Christ come on earth, the more easily shall we apprehend that nothing already here could comport with Him. All must be new now, and hence there must be a new bottle for the new wine. It was no more to be the man here, because that indeed the Greatest had come, and the thing now was to receive Him. Everyone receiving Him would be of the new piece, and by the work of God a new bottle for the new wine. Hence, while our Lord shows what He is in the ship in the storm, in Matthew 8:23 - 27, He later makes Peter sensible of His power to make him walk on the water when not in the ship. It is quite true that Peter had not been given this great power at the time he walked on the water, but he was made acquainted with it as derived from the Man Christ Jesus, and thus placed in manifest superiority to the things which would ordinarily swamp man. The great thing is to grasp the promotion to which the saint was advanced; not merely His perfect composure when the storm raged, but His ability to take the position of complete superiority to all the power of evil here. May we have some adequate conception of the greatness to which we are promoted. It is a great step in this new history when we learn, as Peter does in Matthew 16, that Christ is the Rock on which the new structure, the assembly, is founded; yet this enlightened Peter cannot discern the difference between what is merely according to men and what is according to God. The Lord has to rebuke him; "thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that

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be of men". Oh! how slow we are to leave man, as of Adam, out of our consideration, and think only of God and the Man who suits Him! A little after, Peter is an eyewitness of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and again he confounds Him -- God manifest in flesh -- with Moses and Elias; so slowly does the heart, under the best influences, see the great distinction between Christ and all other men.

In the history of Peter we learn our own. He was singularly attached to Christ; as we find from John 13, he could say, "I will lay down my life for thy sake". He said on a previous occasion, "We have left all, and have followed thee". It is deeply interesting to see the attachment which has been created between the soul and Christ -- the work of God truly; but it is important to note that this attachment exists before the full effect of His death is known. Peter does not really accept His death, hence his violence to the high priest's servant. It is much easier to understand Christ's power than Christ's weakness. He was crucified in weakness. It is long before the true and full consequence of Christ's death is a known verity to oneself. It is remarkable that, parallel with the terrible sorrow to Peter that Christ is condemned to die, he is plunged into the deepest humiliation as to himself. He denied the Lord. What a moment of anguish! On the one hand, his heart rent at seeing Him condemned to die, and at the same moment the unutterable shame at his own worthlessness in denying Him. Until this step is learned, a time of unspeakable woe, there is no real severance from one's own self. The death of Christ liberates us when learned, and it is only in His life that I am free from myself. I can "thank God through Jesus Christ;" and I can say, "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". The Lord came to him when He rose, the brightest day of his new history. Peter then received peace and life, the sense of it at any

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rate, for the first time; and in John 21, restored in heart as well as in conscience, he starts on his new course, as indicated by the words, "Follow me".

How wonderful and beautiful to contemplate, and in a measure to apprehend, the immense moral dignity to which Peter was promoted from that day when his brother Andrew announced to him the presence of the Messiah -- the growth, the exercises, the sorrows and the joys; the humiliations on the one hand, and the great moral heights to which he was advanced on the other, until we now find him following Him who left us a model that we should follow in His steps.

We have to bear in mind the nature and scope of the work of God in his soul before the day of Pentecost, and then we have to apprehend the fulness of power which he entered into and enjoyed what had already been given to him. The divine greatness of the work of grace in his soul could not be apprehended or enjoyed but by the Spirit of God. No one could enjoy the life of Christ but by the Holy Spirit indwelling, yet the work of God was wrought in his soul in a new way beyond any one before him, because Christ had come, and he could be in the presence of Christ without fear. Before Christ came, all were subject to fear. Now Peter, sensible of his own unfitness, can leave everything for the One who has removed all his fear before God. There is real love to Christ in Peter's heart. Never before could a man know the power of God to enable him to walk superior to all the power of evil here. Never before could it be revealed to any one that Jesus is the Rock; and the revelation did not come before there was a work in Peter's soul preparing him for it. So at this time he could say, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life". Never before could any one have seen Christ's glory -- the power and coming of the Son of Man as eyewitnesses of His majesty. Never before did anyone know or could anyone have known that combination of sorrow and distress through which Peter passed when Christ was

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condemned to die, and he at the very time denying Him -- the corruption of man's heart exposed in the most poignant way at the very moment that the Lord was about to die to set us for ever free from it. Never before had the risen Man, the last Adam, breathed into man and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" -- no doubt, life in divine power. Never before was man's mind opened to understand the scriptures. But Christ being glorified, the Holy Spirit descended, and each was filled with the Holy Spirit Every divine work in Peter's soul, which could not be before Christ came, was now brought into distinction and splendour. The work of God is seen and enjoyed in divine power and freshness. The work is there, but divine power is required to set forth the beauty and magnificence of the work. With man's works, the more they are magnified, the less perfect they appear; but with the blessed God, the more any of His works are magnified, the more beautiful and perfect they are proved to be. Hence when the Holy Spirit dwells in me, not only is all His work in me illuminated and declared in its divine grandeur, but our relation to the Son and the Father is made known -- (John 14.) -- a communication boundless in its nature, and incomprehensible save to the Spirit of God. By Him we are introduced into a region of blessedness and delight unspeakable, ever enlarging and ever more entrancing.


Power is moral superiority over evil as it presents itself. It is declension when I retreat, because of present influence, from any principle or position which I had accepted. If I walk in the Spirit, I shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. This is power. The work of faith with power is the ability to rise above the temptation or hindrance as it occurs. It is not merely like a strong man exulting in his known strength, but it is, as it were,

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occult, until an occasion for its manifestation occurs. Thus faith is always power. In declension God is not before the soul, and there is generally an impression that one is attaining to something much to be desired for oneself. It was plainly declension with Eve when she ate of the forbidden fruit, but at the moment she was lured and captivated with the gain which she thought she was securing. Adam was in power when he called her name Eve. When in any strait I rise to God, and act for Him, it is power.

There may be declension, though I do not leave the ground I have taken with God. There is declension in Lot when, departing from Abram, he chooses the well-watered plain; he does not leave Canaan, but he seeks what would suit himself. God is not before him. This is a very deceptive form of declension, because, while there is no apparent departure from the true ground, there is the attempt to acquire a position of advantage for oneself. If Ananias was true in joining the disciples, declension had set in when he sought to gain credit for a devotedness which was not true. Power, on the other hand, advances; it is a race, as it were, and as difficulties arise they are surmounted. Abram returns to the land. It is a signal act of power to retrace one's steps. It is like ascending a steep one has fallen down. He came back to the spot from which he had departed; where faith ceased, faith or power resumes its course.

It is of deep importance to note how readily one acting in great power may decline. The fact that declension is so near and so easy constrains us to say, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe". We see in Jacob the history of many. Restored by divine favour to the land, and blessed in a very special way there, when he is in great prosperity, declension marks him; he settles at Shalem. He did not think there was any declension in his doing so. This is one of the worst forms of it. He was still in the land, and he was true to the blessing he had received; he had an altar, El-elohe-Israel; there was nothing

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outwardly to mark declension; but there was declension, for what was before his heart, and what characterised the altar, was the blessing God had given him, and not God who gave it. When the blessing, however great, is paramount to my heart, there is declension, because God is displaced by His own blessing. Our associates, as a rule, betray the extent and nature of this. It will always be found that declension plunges us into association unknown or unapproved of before. God in mercy restores Jacob. He says to him, "Arise, go up to Bethel". Power always turns to God. As He is before me, He is the health of my countenance, and my God; and then, though my own blessing is not paramount with me, I get a deeper sense of it.

I desire to point out a few of the various ways in which declension works when one is in the path of faith or power. It is so sudden, and often so specious, that it is not discovered until its consequences are disclosed.

Ten of the spies could commend the land, and in the same breath discourage the people. Caleb and Joshua were in power, they kept God before them. The saddest chapter in our history is that declension may set in after a great successful conflict with the enemy, after we have broken from his trammels. Thus was it with the captives from Babylon. They came up, and began to build in great power. They were hindered, and declension set in. A people who had gone through so much, and who had so vigorously contended for God's glory, "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 that for sixteen years! In vain they laboured -- there was no advance. When there is power, there is always progress. The question, "Children, have ye any meat?" at once discloses whether one is in power or not.

In our Lord's time, the great evidence of declension was the Pharisee. Where there is a lack of power, there is always an effort to keep up an appearance. Power

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expresses itself; it is what it is. A bird flies, it shows its power as it moves. The attempt to sustain an order of things, however right, is of itself an evidence of the lack of power. As it is said of Israel, "They sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness", Ezekiel 33:31. When we come to the time of full spiritual power, the declension of the unbelieving Jew is exposed. The blessed Lord was the power of God on the earth; any who followed Him did not walk in darkness, but had the light of life. Hence from that time there is no power apart from Him. "Without me ye can do nothing"; and declension begins when any believer drops out of concert with Him, however powerful or faithful previously. We have seen how readily declension supervenes, and we have thus learned that no one is at any moment safe from it. But now, seeing we are united to Christ, the source of power, we are on the one hand without excuse; and on the other, the declension is more apparent and decided. Power is defined by a Person; any independence of Christ is declension. When Christ was here, He kept His own by His power. Declension ensued on His going away. He restored them to Himself in John 21. Under His control they were kept in the right way. When He was exalted, He received the promise of the Father; the Holy Spirit was sent down. Power from henceforth is as we walk in the Spirit; when not in the Spirit, it is declension. The Spirit connects with Christ. Thus power or declension is easily defined.

There was declension at Corinth, though they were so greatly gifted. They reigned as kings; led away by self-indulgence, they were loose in their own lives, and therefore were so in the church. They were not led of the Spirit. They did not remember that "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit".

There was declension of quite a different kind among the Galatians. Having begun in the Spirit, they sought

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to be made perfect in the flesh. There was declension at Thessalonica, when an event, even the greatest event, engrossed their hearts more than Christ. There was declension at Ephesus, when they left their first love. There was declension in Asia, when it could be said, "All who are in Asia ... have turned away from me". Declension marked the Hebrews, when in their hearts they turned back to earth, instead of running on to heaven.

Thus we have glanced at the many phases of declension as recounted in Scripture. I will now seek to define the more general forms in which it occurs, and, at the same time, point out how walking in the Spirit, which is power, would have preserved us.

The most common form of declension is when, after having taken a right step, we are tempted and drawn away by an offer ministering to our natural taste. Thus it was when the green fields turned away Lot, and when the water so engrossed the nine thousand seven hundred of Gideon's brave followers, that they were suddenly disbanded and unemployed; ready and willing to serve, but disqualified -- the case with many in this day. Thus, Mark, when at Pamphylia, returned to his house at Jerusalem. This is so common that no one is safe from it. In fact, there is sure to be a temptation presented to us after every advance, and the only preservative is to continue: "Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing". The insidious feature in this declension is that there is no apparent surrender of any position. Where there is power, there is the refusal of everything which would divert us from our good beginning. Indeed, the way to help one in this state is simply to recall them to their beginning.

Secondly, there is declension when one who has, through grace and much exercise, been led to the right ground, and has been blessed there, is overpowered by human influences, while retaining, as he thinks, the right ground and the truth -- like Barnabas taking his kinsman, and going to Cyprus, or Jacob at Shalem; and all

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because a worldly sentiment was indulged in. This is a very painful declension, because one is like Ephraim; "Gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not". There is no easy recovery from this, because one is deceived, unless one feels the pressure of the world one has fallen into; and then God restores, as He did Barnabas and Jacob. In both it was an unjudged worldliness which led to their fall. Had they walked on straight, as called of God, they would have been preserved.

Another class, while admitting the beauty and excellence of heavenly things, are really discouraged themselves from going up to possess them, because they have no faith, and discourage others. This shows the danger of sentimentalising on truth. It is here, no doubt, that Demas was, and all that are in Asia, who turned away from Paul. The knowledge of truth in itself is not power, as we see at Corinth, and with the two disciples going to Emmaus, and very markedly with the ten spies. They commended the land, but discouraged the people. They had not faith for themselves, and therefore they would taint others, as they were tainted themselves.

Again; often, when there is true devotedness with an unbroken will, there is a great deal of energy in preaching or doing. It is painful to see, at times, with much devotedness, really no spirituality; like Martha, cumbered about much serving, or the disciples going a-fishing. This declension is very specious, because many, as well as the person himself, regard such a course as very useful. It is the occupation with the usefulness which feeds the declension. Generally, those under this form are buoyed up with their own sense of what they had done; ready to say, "We have left all, and have followed thee". When power works here, they are occupied with their gain in Christ, and not with their service, or their surrender for Him.

One more case. A declension of a very covert character, and one not easily corrected, is when one contends and

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suffers for the right position -- the heavenly position -- and while, like the two and a half tribes, he endures in battle to secure the position, he never tastes or knows the good of it, nor is he marked by the power of it. The position of a heavenly man, without the power, is delusive. It is the power that makes known the reality of the position. The two and a half tribes fought for the position in Canaan, but never enjoyed the land; their hearts were where their families and their cattle were. No one could, in faith, accept the position of a heavenly man, without being characterised by separation from this world, a real severance from all on this side Jordan. Perhaps in no way has the testimony suffered more than by insisting on heavenly position without practical self-denial. Worldly honours may be declined, while there is as much consideration for oneself in earthly things as if there were nothing greater.

The Lord give us such a sense of the greatness and reality of our heavenly portion that we may be found more truly in His path here.


In order to understand the effect of a work, we must first know the nature and scope of it. The great defect in believers is that, while they believe in Christ, they have a limited or incorrect idea of what He has done. When I know the measure of Christ's work, even though I may not be in the full enjoyment of all He has wrought out for me, I at least know what is mine, and I could not accept anything else. It will be found that in christendom the variety of sects arises from their varied limitations of the work of Christ. Christ's work can be determined only by what He was sent to do. He can say in anticipation, in John 17, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do". In like manner at the beginning of His

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course, with reference to the woman of Samaria, He says, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work".

The first thing, and the thing of the deepest interest to us, is to ascertain what was the work which was given Him to do, and which He has done. When we go back to the fall, we are told that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. Here we get a very definite and comprehensive view of Christ's work. The power of the enemy is to be broken by Him; He is to "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". The full effect of His work in this respect is not yet manifested. Satan still rages. The time has not yet come when He will bruise Satan under our feet, but Satan was vanquished in the death of Christ, so that we can say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? ... Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ".

The important thing for faith to apprehend is what Christ has done. He has abolished death and brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel. We are not to measure Christ's work by our apprehension of it. True, there is no sense of its value but as we apprehend it in faith, yet it is of deep moment that we should have before our hearts the measure to be apprehended. It is clear to every exercised soul how little one walks here in the simple assurance that Satan's power has been broken by Christ, that He has done this work. We practically realise it as we resist the devil; as it has been said, resist the devil, and when he finds Christ in you, he will flee from you. Now if we are feeble in our faith as to the subjugation of the power of the devil by Christ in His death, it will be found that we are still more so in our faith as to the place with God which His work has obtained for us: that it is according to His glory; that is, every attribute of His nature is maintained, His righteousness

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as well as His love, His light as well as His grace -- all in harmony and balance, one beautiful whole.

When we read that "by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified", what an immense scope and measure is presented to our minds! All that was typified by all the offerings is fulfilled in divine perfection. In His one offering we are brought, according to God's holiness, not only from the greatest distance, but to the greatest nearness; we are entitled to be in the Holiest of all by the work of Christ. It is of all importance that we see that the work which sheltered us from the judgment of God, the worst and most distant place, is the same which has given us title to enter the brightest and the best place. If His work has done the one, so has His work, and His work only, obtained for us the other.

Now in His one offering there was the burnt-offering, the meat-offering, and the peace-offering, as well as the sin-offering. The latter gave the blessed God liberty to have us in the Holiest, and through it we are entitled to enter; but besides, in His presence we have fellowship with Him in His satisfaction in Christ as the Man who glorified Him on earth in death and in life, and who is ever the prosperity-offering for every believer. It is most important to see that it is the finish of Christ's work which alone can declare the full effect of it. True, in my soul I may not have reached the finish, but surely if I have not the finish of it before me as He finished it, I have accepted a lower measure than what He has done, and here, though unintentionally, I dishonour Him and suffer loss myself. In all ordinary things the value is unknown until the execution is completed.

The gospel is generally regarded as safety from future judgment because of faith in the blood of Christ, with present earthly favour and heaven after death. This is rather the blessing of the millennial saint than of the christian. It is evident that Christ's work secured the blessing of the millennial saint as well as that of the christian. The point to maintain is that His work, with

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nothing superadded to it, has secured the blessing of both the one and the other. His work, blessed be His name, has obtained a place for the christian in company with Himself, typified by the sons of Aaron consecrated. We are thus, as His companions, those who have derived from Him. "Behold I and the children which God hath given me". "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren". His work has secured for us a like place or position with Himself. Hence we are here but strangers and pilgrims, and now earthly prosperity is not to be expected. The work which enabled God, according to His glory, to have us in His house with Himself, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, is the same work in virtue of which Jesus will yet, as Melchisedec, come forth and bless Israel on the earth; while we, the church, are blessed in heaven as co-heirs with Christ, the same work, but with a different blessing to each company. We might have expected this from the simple fact that on the day of atonement there was the blood of the bullock for Aaron and his house, the heavenly company; and the blood of the goat for Israel, or the earthly company. In the type there were two bloods; in the antitype, of course, only one blood -- the blood of Christ.

Now not only is nearness to God, as the Holiest typifies, secured for us by the work of Christ, but also His place is our place. Surely it is not enough to hold that the work of Christ effects a clearance of all guilt; that is only a part of the great whole. The work of Christ is described, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"; not only great as it would be -- to save us from judgment, but to bring us to God. We have seen that by one offering Christ has effected, according to His own infinite perfection, all that was shadowed forth in types. Thus our approach to God by His work can only be measured by Himself; nay, the very glory resting on Him, as the One who has established everything

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according to God where man dishonoured Him, transforms us into "the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit". Hence we are not only in nearness, but in likeness too. Consequently the complete effect of His work is to set us in the same place as He is. His work sets us there in the heavenly places in Him. God said to Moses, "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". It was in the mind of God one work. It is as much the work of Christ by His death to open heaven to us, as it was by His blood to shelter us from the judgment in Egypt.

There are four aspects of His death, and it is thus in parts that we apprehend it. We learn first how His blood shelters us from judgment. Then, when we believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, we are not only clear of all our guilt, but we are really as the type sets forth, brought to God; we can sing, "Thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation". Practically, according to the type, we are not in Canaan yet; we have to learn experimentally the death in Numbers 21. The Son of man is lifted up, and He is now our life; "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". Now, in the liberty of His life, I am not only dead to sin, but I also learn that having died with Him, I am dead to the world. I am across Jordan; I am in heaven. We are often a long time reaching up to this, the full effect of His work; and yet it is the same work which sheltered us from judgment which lands us in heaven. This is exemplified in the thief on the cross. In one step he is transferred from the deepest degradation and distance to the greatest elevation, and there with Christ -- the most honoured position. The same work brought him from one place, the lowest and the worst, to the highest and the best. The man who would limit Christ's work to the first part, and leave out the other, would not only deprive

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himself of the highest blessing, but would grievously misrepresent the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. It might be urged that the case of the thief on the cross was exceptional. I only adduce it to prove that a believer could in one step, in a moment, learn the full effect of the work of Christ. Nay, more; it is plain that a believer on the earth receives from heaven the Spirit, the promise of the Father, consequent on Christ being glorified; not only a well of water springing up into everlasting life, not only, I repeat, lighting up the heart with the resources which are in Christ, so that he who drinks of it never thirsts, but he is so enriched that out of his belly flow rivers of living water. It is hardly possible to conceive the exaltation vouchsafed to a man in the scene of all his misery and feebleness, even to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you". And, moreover, He is the bond of union between us and "the head of the body, the church", making us know "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". That is, being united to Christ by the Holy Spirit, I can know here on earth the power which set Christ in heavenly places, which raised Him from death, the lowest, man's lowest place, up to God's right hand in the heavenly places; and we all, who were dead in sins, are quickened together, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ. That is, the work of Christ has spanned the whole distance between God and man, and His place before God is, through grace, the believer's place. We are not only cleared of all our offences, but in the life of Him who cleared us, we "joy in God", and we are the delight of His heart. He can say, "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad". The "man in Christ" can pass into the highest place, "the third heaven", and there he

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is received, not merely as a guest, but as one fit and welcome to the innermost circle; all this being simply and solely effected by the work of Christ.

May our hearts apprehend the effect of it more perfectly day by day, for His name's sake.


In 2 Timothy we are given the varied influences which hinder and mar the truth. The first is, that "all who are in Asia ... have turned away from" Paul. The fact that those among whom the apostle had laboured chiefly should turn away from him necessarily had a very injurious effect on souls. Those who had not known him, and who had heard of his teaching, must have been shaken in their minds as to the validity of it, when those who had heard him first and most turned away from him. If I turn away from a teacher when I have only first heard him, it may be alleged that I have not understood him; but when those who had known him well turned away from him, after having received from him the deepest truth, they must have been perverted by direct Satanic agency.

It is a different thing to be slow or unwilling to receive a truth, and to renounce and abandon it after having received it. In the one case I have not as yet felt in my conscience the divine verity of it; in the other, after having received it as the truth of God, I have deliberately abandoned it. There cannot be any growth until this retrogression has been confessed and relinquished; whereas, if I have never received it, there is still hope that the word may be effectual. The former case is of the character of the sow that was washed, and hence it is "better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them". A truth may be refused without a surrender of conscience, but when truth once accepted has been given up, then the conscience has been corrupted and over-ridden.

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We can hardly conceive anything more damaging to one earnest about the truth, than to find that those who had long received it, and from the best teacher, should now quite openly and avowedly give up the teacher, for with the teacher, all that is identified with him is surrendered and abandoned. The impression which such a surrender would leave on the mind is that the truth with which Paul was identified was, after all, only of high pretension and little moral weight, and without a divine hold on the heart. It is a great success to the enemy when any renounce the truth which they had accepted, because it gives the impression that it was not morally true, that it was found to be chimerical. This is like the ten spies who commended the land, but said that to possess it was untenable and impracticable -- a depreciation which weighs with those who seek an excuse to escape from their responsibility.

To the "man of God" at such a juncture, the word is, "Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner". It is a most critical time when there is defection all around; as in the days of Shammah, when "the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines", 2 Samuel 23:11, 12. Like a tree that has blossomed well and has made a great show, but a blight has fallen on it; the power of the tree is tested, and the result is that only a solitary pear here and there tells of its name and nature.

One requires to be in the presence of the Lord in a scene of unclouded purity to be able to form an adequate idea of the terrible power and machination of Satan at work, when saints openly turned aside from the greatest servant God had ever used to instruct them. If they had never tasted of the good of the truth, if they never had heard of it from the lips of the apostle of the gentiles, there would have been some palliation for their perversion and moral blindness. But to be so stultified that they should belie the truth they had once accepted,

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and thus close their eyes to the brightest light that ever shone into the heart of man, declares that they had fallen under the power of distinct Satanic aggression.

Thus the era of retrogression began; and surely there is no one who has carefully taken note of the opposition to the truth in our time, but must have seen how one of the most significant marks of the enemy's power is the shameless way in which some have turned away from the truth which they had once accepted, as well as from the teacher they once revered as God's messenger of it.

Now while this deep dark foe was preying on the consciences of the saints, secretly abstracting from them the very eyesight of the soul, there were also in the assembly openly "profane and vain babblings" which would "increase unto more ungodliness"; so much so that two well known men maintained that the resurrection had taken place already; that is, there was an open denial of fundamental truth. When the assembly became so demoralised as to suffer such an intrusion, it was very evident that the Lord's presence was not there, that the saints were not in faith gathered to His name. If there had been even two or three of them thus gathered, such a grievous intrusion would have been resisted. And if the conscience of the assembly, not merely the conscience of a few, were not aroused to the enormity of their course, there was then no option left but to separate from these vessels to dishonour.

In the first instance we have the abandonment of the teacher sent of God, and once accepted as such. Next we have in the assembly the unblushing advocacy of a teaching which undermines christianity, "saying that the resurrection has taken place already". Many in christendom are leavened with this doctrine, who would not avow it. Surely the godless way in which christians, Corinthian-like, seek pleasure as if their bodies were not the Lord's, is a practical denial of the resurrection of the body; it is the principle of, "Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die", 1 Corinthians 15:32. Is it to be wondered

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at that concurrently with or consequent upon an avowed abandonment of the apostle, the servant of God, to whom specially the truth of "the mystery of the gospel" was committed, the next inroad of the enemy would be to introduce false doctrine into the assembly? When this evil was permitted in the house of God it was defiled, and the only course open to the faithful was simply to separate from the vessels to dishonour, and to identify themselves with "those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart". Thus as a true remnant they would maintain the truth which had been relinquished, and they, gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, would still enjoy His presence here, and be as God's house, where He could make known His pleasure.

Hence the action of divine power is greater in restoring than in introducing. In the latter a space is necessary, but in the other all the influences which together had dismantled and almost destroyed the assembly -- God's house -- are overcome, and it comes forth, as it were, from the dead in spite of them. Satan seemed to succeed when everything was at its prime; but God sets Satan at nought when, through even a handful, He restores the testimony; and then, too, there is a greater manifestation of His power for us, though not by us.

We have considered the nature of the opposition to the truth when failure set in. Now we have to dwell on the character of it in "difficult times". The opposition in these times is twofold; one when the truth is withstood by an exhibition of power, and the other, when their ears are turned away from the truth, and are turned to fables. The first is more with reference to the teachers; the second, to the congregation at large.

It is almost inscrutable how one professing to be a christian could attempt to withstand the truth like Jannes and Jambres. We must remember that these withstood Moses by claiming to do the same works that Moses did by "the finger of God". They would neutralise that which was of God, by showing that they, by

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their enchantments, could do the same. Their object was to defeat the work of God, and to prove that they were as powerful as Moses, because they could do the same as he did. They did not assume to be sent of God, as Moses did, but their intention was to prevent the people from owning that it was God's hand, by their doing the like. It is not easy to point out at the present hour a form of opposition which fully answers to this, though no doubt it does exist. Plainly, any who teach that by his own works and penances, man can procure his salvation, withstand the truth, and set up a power which is opposed to God's power. But there is a more subtle form than this; where a measure of evangelical truth is received, and with it is supplemented the doctrine that one can attain to perfection or holiness by an exercise apart from the Spirit of God; or where there is any expectation or effort to sway the hearts of men by human eloquence or man's wisdom. In fine, where there is any attempt to arrive at anything similar to what God's power effects, there is a resort to the enemy's power to withstand the truth of God. There cannot be a more effectual way of withstanding the truth than to seek to produce something similar to its effects by a hostile power. It would hardly be credited that any sensible man could be thus deceived, but Scripture warns us of it; and alas! we see it in our own day, often coupled with true light in the soul. The design of the enemy is very evident, even to defeat the truth; and when he cannot prevent the soul from accepting the gospel in part, then because of his unremitting hostility, he pursues each of us unceasingly, to see if he can possibly at any stage thwart the work of God. It is remarkable that it is Paul's doctrine and example which are given to us as the preservation from this opposition. It will be remembered that the magicians were defeated when it came to a question of producing life (Exodus 8:16 - 19), and hence the sure and true way of controverting this opposition is by setting forth the height and greatness of God's

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calling in our life: Naturally one would have supposed that the course to be adopted in order to expose an imitation would be by instituting a comparison between the real and the spurious; but that is not the way enjoined here. It is by insisting on the greatness of the positive truth as practically exhibited. "Thou hast fully known my doctrine", and, "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them". The more fully I am acquainted with the Scriptures, the more I am formed and swayed by them; as one has said, 'I not only get thoughts from Scripture, but Scripture forms my thoughts; and thus in a very blessed way I am kept from man's ways and devisings, and adhere simply and truly to God's ways and manner of acting'.

When one is not proof to this part of the opposition, the second is sure to prevail, namely, such as is described in 2 Timothy 4:3, 4. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables". It is not now trying to neutralise the truth by seeking to produce an action similar to what God's power produces; and it is not only the deliberate turning away their ears from the truth, but there is the turning of them to fables, myths, things that never had any existence, false creations of the mind by a power foreign to God; it is an entire surrender of the truth for myths. But the servant of God must not yield: "Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry". And the apostle himself is the example of the solitary unit suffering for the truth of God; an encouragement to us, that if through faithfulness to Christ we are reduced to the same isolation, we shall find the same consolation and succour from the Lord that he found. "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that

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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. Amen".


"We love him, because he first loved us". His love to us is the origin and spring of all our love to Him. Hence the better and more fully we know His love and can enter into it, the better we love Him.

There are, I might say, three measures of our love to Him. The first, when we know what He has done for us as Saviour; second, when we know what He is doing for us as Priest; and thirdly, when we know union with Him as our Head. His love for each of us existed in the whole three before we knew the first; consequently it is only when we know the three that we truly know the love that led Him to do the first -- to die for us. He "loved me, and gave himself for me"; this embraces everything; He loved the church and gave himself for it; yet our love is always measured by the measure we know of His love.

When I know Him as my Saviour, as the One who bore the judgment for me, who was delivered for my offences and raised again for my justification, then the love of God is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit which is given to me. I begin to be without fear, for as His love is known fear departs. It is when we are relieved from the fear of judgment by His work that we have the first sense of love to Him. The freedom from fear, assured to our hearts by Himself as when He said to Peter, "Fear not", makes Him dearer to us than anything else; and as they brought their ships to land and followed Him, so does every one who has tasted this measure of His love. So with Jonathan; when he saw that by the hand of David Goliath, the terror of his soul, had been completely removed, his head in David's

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hand, "the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul ... And Jonathan 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", 1 Samuel 18:1 - 4.

It is very interesting to note the effect of this measure. The heart has learned that through a Man -- the Lord Jesus Christ -- it is relieved of all fear in the presence of God. Where the fear existed, there it had been removed, and the consequence is that the heart clings to this Person, and delights to surrender for His sake. The woman in Luke 7 going into the Pharisee's house, a place she would naturally shrink from, in order to express her love to Jesus as her Saviour, sets forth in pattern one who has reached this measure.

We all know how striking and effective it is when we see one now and again so attracted to Him that there is an open and public surrender of property or natural advantages in order to make much of Him. The One from heaven is more to the heart than any property here. Love likes to exalt its object at its own loss.

The next measure of His love made known to us is the way He is "able to sympathise with our infirmities". We grow in a deeper sense of the first measure as we advance in the knowledge of His love. It is like the growth of a tree, every advance in the tree increases the first growth, so that the bottom of the tree is ever the greatest part of it. In the first measure all the question of sin has been settled; and by the Spirit, in the freedom of His life, we are, though encompassed with infirmity, moving onward and upward. Then we learn that He never leaves us nor forsakes us, but as we are near Him, He sympathises with us, as He Himself has felt a similar trial or difficulty. He cannot sympathise with wilfulness; He does with infirmities. He took our infirmities on Him and bare our sicknesses. The One who perfectly knows us, perfectly loves us, and is perfectly able to feel with us; He, in divine power, is ever in the aspect suited to cheer and

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support us; and we find Him thus when our faith is simple. In the storm He is asleep; that is the aspect His sympathy takes. Unbelief is occupied with the storm; faith learns how He is a very present help in time of trouble.

Mary of Bethany knew Him in this measure, she knew His sympathy; while Martha, who suffered from the same sorrow, was too unsubdued to know it. The knowledge of this measure is very effective. It is not so much the thought of giving to Him in any open way, as with Jonathan, but now nothing can satisfy but His company; we cannot do without Him. The more we use Him in our daily difficulties, and learn how He would act in them, -- and thus His own grace is imparted to us, -- the less can we bear to be here without Him. The most valued thing belonging to this scene is freely buried with Him; and this is properly the difference between the alabaster box of John 12 and Luke 7.

It is a most wonderful history. How happy to remember all the way that He has led us! Surely if Elisha could feel that Elijah was so indispensable to him that nothing but a double portion of his spirit could make up for his absence, how much more with us who know anything of the company of our blessed Lord, so infinitely beyond that of Elijah!

One is now like Ruth to Naomi. A Person commands our whole being. It is not now surrender of property in testimony of my heart's affection, but it is that a Person is more to me than anything here, and that I can readily leave everything I have known and valued, as Rebekah did for Isaac. The One who is my only stay and comfort on this earth has left it; hence I am running on to heaven, for "he that shall come will come, and will not tarry".

Now we come to the third measure of His love in which every measure is fully learned. In this measure we know the exceeding greatness of the power that wrought in Christ: we know that we are united to Him by the

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Holy Spirit. The One whom we know as our Saviour and High Priest is our Head, "from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God". It is from this altitude that we can acquire some apprehension of His love "which passeth knowledge". For it is when we know our calling that, as in Ephesians 3:11 - 20, we know the love that passes knowledge, that we might be "filled even to all the fulness of God".

The knowledge of union, which is the consummation of love, has an effect on us entirely different from any previous measure of His love. True it is that then the greatness of His love in giving Himself is fully known, and hence, as I have said, His giving Himself to death is ever the sure ground for His doing anything.

Now let us try to gather from Scripture some of the effects which spring from the knowledge of union with Christ. I believe the first great effect is restfulness of heart. Surely as united to Him I know that as He is, so am I in this world. See the effect on Mary Magdalene as a pattern, when she heard His words, "I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God". The everlasting bond of union is the climax of affection. There cannot be more, and there never can be less. The heart rests in an indissoluble tie to its object. It cannot be made surer of what it loves. When the heart has not learned this, it is ever to a great degree occupied with itself -- with relation, I admit, to the Lord, but then there is not complete restfulness; hence I believe this is its first effect. Stephen knew it in power when he, through the Holy Spirit, "looked up steadfastly into heaven".

Now, restfulness being the first effect, the next is that I am in spirit where He is; His place is my place, an enjoyment and reality which I could not know here if I were not united to Him. My joy is full. An immense field of blessing is now opened out to me, which is embodied in the prayer in Ephesians 3:14 - 21.

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Next, as down here, I am devoted to His pleasure; I know in whom I have believed, and, like the disciples, though I am where He is not, His words are now the one thought of my heart. "If a man love me, he will keep my words". It is evident one is now in quite a new line. It has been said that a relationship generates its own affections, hence there is now an entirely new experience to the heart. As one Spirit with the Lord, I feel I am entirely under His control. The church is subject to Christ. I have now but One to please. It is both my duty and my joy.

If the entirely new position in which I am set through union with Christ be not seen, I shall not be able to understand the drawing of heart to Him which springs from that relationship.

Obedience is ever connected with dependence. Next to obedience, or keeping His words, I get the sense of His confidence in me. My heart looks for His confidence. "I call you not servants ... but I have called you friends". "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her". There is no greater confirmation of His unhindered love than that He confides in us, no greater joy to my heart; as He said to Peter, "Feed my lambs", "Feed my sheep". He failed because of confidence in himself, but the Lord would have confidence in him. What joy to my heart when this is known!

We are next in concert with Him, an experience of untold blessedness when I can share with Him in His interests. If I am not enjoying union I could not be in company with Him in His present work, even to "sanctify" the church. This is His present chief interest, and the nearer I am to Him and the more subject I am to Him like Sarah, calling Him Lord the more He leads me into what His heart is set on. If the heart of the queen of Sheba was entranced when she saw all the personal interests of Solomon, how much more is mine, when the Holy Spirit glorifies Him to me; as He said, "He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you". It is not easy

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to describe the sense of His love, the intimacy of affection, known to the heart as it is thus associated with Him in service. Hence only now is true service entered on; and as I am serving Him according to His pleasure, my heart knows the truth of His words, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them".

The love that accepts my service binds my heart to itself, for when we serve from love, our love is always increased, as a mother's love for her child.

Service embraces the assembly and its prosperity; a great circle of interest, as the faithful wife devoted to the interests of her lord in his absence, beginning with "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", up to the highest point, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ", reaching out to every detail which would subserve to this great end; and finally, "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might", resisting every force of the enemy to turn us aside from making known "the mystery of the gospel".

To the heart in true service, only one thing remains, and that is to see Him. The heart will be fully satisfied when we see Him . The one loving Him best, and serving Him best, the bride in character, has but one leading desire, even to see Him, and hence, in company with the Spirit, says to Him, "Come!" while still unwearied in service. Surely it is only the heart that lives on His love that can know the way love to Him is deepened and increased as the sense of His coming is a felt reality to it. Surely the wise virgins trimmed their lamps to go out to meet Him. The nearer He is, the more the heart longs to see Him. He promotes love in our hearts by leading us into the consciousness of His being near. Thus proximity to Him produces suitability; as with Rebekah, when she caught sight of Isaac, she became in appearance suited for him; "she took a vail, and covered herself".

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Thus feebly have I set forth some of the great effects which spring from a knowledge of union with Christ. The subject delights one, but it is too much like music at a distance. One catches a little of it, but the nearer you come to it, the more you are entranced by it.

May we draw nearer and nearer until we are not only filled with the melody, but our hearts wholly captivated by His love.