[Page 1]


Acts 7:54 - 60

My thought in coming to a meeting like this, is to hear something from the Lord that will help me on in relation to this present time; call it a conference if you like - we do come together to confer with each other - to hear each other speak. It is that I may know His mind, which is a distinct thing. "I call you not servants ... but .. . friends "; (John 15:15) the servant does not know what his Lord doeth.

Now no amount of valour will give you the mind of the Lord. The ten thousand who followed Gideon did not know his mind; it was only the three hundred who did; it was not until the nine thousand and seven hundred had gone back that he said, "As I do so shall ye do". (Judges 7:17) The order of battle is only given to those who prove that they prefer the glory of the Lord to any favour or mercies that can be granted to them here on earth. Many a valiant man I have seen turned aside by a favour given to him here: in Luke it was those who had received favours who begged to be excused from the Supper.

What I have on my mind at this present moment to bring out is the support that we derive from One in heaven; we do not get support from anything here, we only get it from the One there.

Now not only have you title to heaven, but you are in possession of heaven now whilst you are on earth. I make a distinction between possession in life and practical possession. You have possession in life, but you are only true to your life when you have practical possession of it. And let me tell you there are many in possession in life who know nothing of this. It is not a question whether my life really be there, but it is quite another thing whether I am living there. And,

[Page 2]

it is the person who has apprehended most of the portion given to him of God in Christ, who has the most trembling anxiety as to how much he is really practically in possession of that of which he is actually in possession in life. It is no light matter to me to have the transcending power of an eternal God to do with.

In connection with Stephen we have three distinct subjects brought out, the first being what I will now speak upon; that is, what is our true spring and fountain of support while we are upon this earth. It does not always begin with this, but Scripture has opened it out to us thus here - there are other ways of looking at it of course.

The first thing we start with, and that is the practical difficulty, is that we learn that we are united to Christ, and that He introduces us into a scene where there is no cloud at all - into a sphere where there is no disturbance; a new day is inaugurated. The new creation of God has commenced. In the old creation God began with making the heavens and the earth - the earth, the trees, the animals, and ended with the man. The new creation has begun in the reverse direction; it begins with a Man, the Son of the Father - He is the beginning of the creation of God - and it will wind up with the new heavens and the new earth. And what the church will give up is this beginning of the creation of God; it will be spued out of His mouth because it does not maintain it. Laodicea would be very glad to have the virtues of Christ, but it will not have the Author of them; in fact that is what infidelity even would have - the apples without the apple tree.

I speak now of all of us as being introduced into this new thing, and He coming in and saying to us: "Peace be unto you". (John 20:26) This ought not to require to be repeated; if He does repeat it, it is but to say the very same words again - there are no others - it is: "Peace be unto you". True there is another peace

[Page 3]

connected with going through this scene, but here you have to do with this risen Man. It is like a body in an exhausted cylinder; it goes up, and up, and up; you get right away up without a single check! - I say that is practically the difference between this peace and the peace on the way; it is not "a rugged hill that reaches up to God"; it is a rugged race down here. There are not any clouds - not if you know what it is to be connected with Christ there; union with Christ connects you with a new order of things, where there is not a cloud - where all is perfectly bright!

He comes into their midst to proclaim that character of thing. Therefore it says, "The Lord ... hath triumphed gloriously" (Exodus 15:1) - not I; for He fought the battle, and His victory is mine. How high do you see Christ? At the right hand of God. I place that point before you again, because there is no going on until you have it. I might have to do with that blessed One risen out of everything. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above". (Colossians 3:1) There is the importance of it. I say to any soul here who has a cloud: You have never yet seen Christ as the One who has cleared off everything, as the One who has risen out of it all. He is out of it so I am out of it. Like the island that rose out of the Mediterranean years ago, just so have I risen out of everything. However high up you see Christ, I am there, for His victory is my victory. You have to connect yourself with the One who loved you, and who gave Himself for you, and who says, "Peace be unto you". (John 20:26)

Stephen already knew what it was to have possession of heaven in life; we find he is looking up into heaven. The fact of the place was not brought in yet, for in the first chapter of Acts, they were told not to gaze into heaven. But now we know that the One who was

[Page 4]

refused life here, died for us that we might have life there. Man refused Him life here, and God, in His grace, turned man's rejection into his blessing. We partake of His life; man refused Him a place here; and God has given Him a place in heaven; and we are raised up with Him, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. We have not only got life in His Son but we have got a place.

This the Lord is putting before us in the fourteenth of John. He deals with our conscience in the thirteenth, with our heart in the fourteenth. He says, Now do not let your hearts be troubled; you must follow Me by faith. What is faith? Close your eye to everything visible, and open your ear to God. That is faith. I now by faith see that which is invisible; I have to do with that blessed One gone to the Father to prepare a place for me.

What is brought out in Stephen is that he is practically one who realises this. Though he was not like Paul seated in heaven, yet he knew the support that we derive on earth from One in heaven; he had no support here. The Bridegroom being taken away, there is nothing to engage the heart, so you may fast. I am bold to say every one who knows Christ really as the One up there, however much he may love the communion of saints, would far sooner have a time alone with the Lord.

Now it is not only that all the bad is against you, but that the good is against you. Pull up your blind in the morning and say: Well, I know that there is not a single thing in this world for me; it is all against me - even all that claims to be commendable to the human eye. I often think what an insignificant person I should appear on the platform of Exeter Hall, if I came in after all the wonderful accounts of what such a missionary society is doing in one place, and such another in some other, if I stood up and said: He sups with me, and I with Him. What Stephen finds

[Page 5]

all round him is the wickedness of the religious world. He takes the place for God on earth; he stands before those religious functionaries coming out in all their enmity against God's servant. And what does he say? - Why, I get nothing here.

This world is just going on to its consummation, and heaven is opened to me. It never was opened till now, but now it is opened by the Holy Spirit. You are united to Christ even before you know your property, so to say. One side is that I am sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise; and the other is that He is the earnest of the inheritance.

Here Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven. The Lord when going away from His disciples had told them in John 14, "I go to prepare a place for you". Now I am not here gone into heaven, but I am looking at the One in heaven. Some have a physical fear of death. If you have, be sure you are occupied with death, and not with the Person of Christ; you are looking at the water instead of at the ark of the covenant. In Jordan there is not a single thing to pass through; there is not a drop of water to be seen at all - not a single thing to bar my entrance into the land. True, I have practically to pass through a tunnel here; I do not want to hide it from you; you have to throw all this scene into darkness that you may have the light on the other side. I am as confident about it as of anything, through His grace, that you never can find Christ but through death. He was refused life here; the sun must go down then. He was known to them in the breaking of bread - the figure of death. Christ will not appear but at night. I must find it all a scene in which the light has gone out; and then what brings in its beautiful light to me? The morning star!

Well, it is night. The sun has gone down. So many people think they can have Christ in the enjoyment of circumstances here, but I do not believe it.

[Page 6]

Many think He will give them happy circumstances here. I used to; and then I used to be thoroughly disappointed at the way in which God refused to do things for me that I expected He would do. But I never am disappointed now; indeed I am now perfectly surprised that He ever should do anything for me, instead of being disappointed that He does not do more. True, there is nothing in this world which He would not do for me. He would give me a fine day: "He that spared not his own Son, .. . shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) But then look at the other side: "For thy sake we are killed all the day long" (Romans 8:36); that is your side; the fellowship of His sufferings. There is no end to his love, but where do I find it? In the scene where He is Himself.

"For thy sake we are killed all the day long". (Romans 8:36) That is where Stephen is, and that is my proper place. But I cannot take it, I cannot bear it, unless I know what it is to have a bright scene outside it all. I have to do with a Person who is not here, and thus I am in the wilderness. And I would just say that the wilderness is not a place; it is a bridge, and not a "bridge of sighs", but a bridge of hope, over which I pass from Egypt into Canaan. I go on to possess the land; but possession in practice implies immense suffering.

There are two things that mark the wilderness: the one, to acquire the Man who is not here; the other, to resist the man who is here. There is the daily picking up of the manna, the stooping for it; you must make yourself small if you want to pick up Christ. The food of the wilderness comes down from heaven, but you must be little enough to pick it up. It had to be gathered every morning before the sun was up. Now let no one reduce that to mere prayer, and the reading of a chapter the first thing in the morning. Manna is the wonderful sense of the sufficiency of Christ for every exigency of the day that I may be

[Page 7]

called to go through. I have to do with Him where He is, as I go on here day by day.

Stephen looks up steadfastly into heaven and sees the glory of God and Jesus; and, now that all is settled there, he comes back to his place here, but he changes the words. He says, "I see ... the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56); He does not say Jesus . Jesus is that peculiar familiar name - that name of endearment - which ought never to be spoken but from heart to heart, and not breathed to the common ear.

And now they cry out with a loud voice, and stop their ears, and run upon him, and he derives power from Christ to act like Him. I believe you derive power from Christ suited to the circumstances you are in, when you are occupied with Him. People are occupied with the thing before them, instead of with the One who can deliver them out of it. I often bring forward as an illustration of this the story of a woman in a ship in a storm; she was asked what she was thinking of in the storm, and she answered that she was thinking of how Jesus acted when He was in the storm. Now, if she had been thinking of Him where He is, it would have made her act like Him when he was in the storm.

The man who is making an effort to go over a fence certainly is not over it. No man ever lost his temper yet but from impotence; a man who loses his temper proves that his ardour is greater than his ability. If he can say, Oh! I am quite up to that, he will never lose his temper over it. If your ability is up to your ardour you will be quiet.

Now here we get a man entirely superior to himself and this is the character of the Holy Spirit's acting. Stephen has come back to this scene, and I get this wonderful fact in connection with him: that when everything had come to its climax, when they set themselves to refuse the One whom he offered to

[Page 8]

them, Stephen was not only superior to it all, but able to act for others in the midst of it; and this is the place of God's people upon the earth. What do you find in him? He is calm. Is it that he is able to resist it all as the rock resists the dashing of the waves? Not at all! He is not only calm, he is active. And, not as one has said, to "Wake and find him gone" - not as in the Canticles the bride awakes to realise the stupendous sense of what it is to be without the companion of her heart. But what says the psalmist? "I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustained me". (Psalm 3:5) So Stephen was able to come out in divine activity to the very men who caused his death; he comes out as intercessor for them; and, for my own part, I believe that Saul of Tarsus was the answer to his prayers. He came out and showed what a man could be from heaven, not only what a man was going to heaven.

I read it, and I am abashed when I do. Why should my spirit be put out by such a little trifle? In the power of the Holy Spirit I can be superior to every character of violence - to every order of suffering. I look to it the day is coming when we shall be tested. I do not look for outside persecution, but I look for internal persecution. Why, if I were only walking faithfully, I should be tabooed by my brethren. There never was such a marvellous thing! While such a trifle as a hot room will sometimes quite upset me, and put me all astray, here is a man who is superior to everything. He says, I give my spirit to that Man there, for the man here is taking my life away.

There is nothing for me to enjoy but heaven. Well then, I say, I ought to enjoy it. I have to run a race, but my Gideon is before me in it, and He says, "As I do, so shall ye do". I have the most unbounded scene that ever could be known to the heart; I am to God in an ecstasy; I am in unqualified possession of it as to life, and would to God I knew more of it

[Page 9]

practically. I am going to run a race but there can be no novelty in it; that is, to my mind, the first chapter of the first epistle of John: "The life has been manifested"; He is in the race before me. Stephen looks up steadfastly at the One who has gone before; and how does this man now come out? - Why, very like the Lord! He says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit", and "lay not this sin to their charge". This man here takes my life from me; I give my spirit to that Man there.

There are only two things you have to learn, and how many do not accept them! One is, you are not to have the man here and the place, where he is; the other is, you are to have another Man, and the place where He is. What, am I not to have a little bit of earth? - No, not a bit! That is just what you get in the fourteenth of Luke. Those who had the blessings of the earth all with one consent began to make excuse; it is: "I pray thee, have me excused".

Stephen says to them: The Lord Jesus Christ in glory has come down and offers Himself to take a throne here; do you refuse that Man who has come down from above? - But they stopped their ears and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city and stoned him. And he knelt down and prayed for them; I do not believe he prayed for himself; it was: "lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Thus you see what a thing it is to bring Christ into real daily life. The general thought of every believer is to get the Lord to help him on in the things here where he is; he wants the human side of it. But you must begin upon an entirely new basis. I am the same tree that I was before my conversion, but there is a new kind of sap in the tree, and that sap refuses to work in wrong connections; all the wrong connections must be withered. I take you upon the ground of being dead; timber is of no use until it is dead. Are you a father? - Well, says the Lord, I sanction that

[Page 10]

branch; the sap may flow into that. Are you a husband? - I sanction that branch; the sap may flow in there. Are you in a club? Oh, I cannot sanction that! there is no sap for that! You are the same kind of tree that you were, but now "the leaf shall not wither". Many a one gets on pretty well in the summer time, but in the winter their leaf withers; but, of this tree, "the leaf shall not wither". It is the same tree that it was before, but I find a new order of sap comes into it, and that divine sap supports every branch and leaf that it sanctions. It says, I will spare whatever was appointed of God as fit for man upon earth, but I will spare nothing else.

The Lord grant to us, beloved friends, to understand what has been before us. May he lead our hearts to understand how practical and how blessed a thing it is to know, that, though "this world is a wilderness wide", I have got a Man in heaven above it all, whose resources flow down to me here. The action of the Holy Spirit leads me to Him; that is His upward action; it is: "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". I find a great many saints will go in a measure as far as Stephen, but they will not go any farther; they will look up to heaven, but they will not go in. The grand difficulty for the heart is to change the place. This is only a place to have a tomb in. As Abraham says, I have no place here but a tomb. As a baptised person I take the ground of being a buried man; and, as in some countries they raise cairns over the graves, so with me; every man who goes by and throws a stone upon me is only raising the cairn! I am a gone man.

But I am not a gone man for activity for Christ here. I have come back from the One who is up there to express Him here, and I find His own power to sustain me in it: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".

[Page 11]

The Lord lead us to have our eye simply turned to Him as the One who is in heaven, and then I shall be bold to walk down here for Him, while seeking to maintain what is due to Christ in this scene where He is not.

[Page 12]


Deuteronomy 26:1 - 15

This chapter describes the action that was to take place consequent upon the people reaching what was the purpose of God. I turn back to the third of Exodus to see what that purpose was, and read at the seventh verse: "And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and 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". That is the purpose of God.

Now this purpose, beloved friends, we cannot keep it too simply before our hearts. I find that He has a purpose about me, and that it is this: to bring me out of one place into another place. The prodigal's place is in the Father's house though, as to himself, he may not have come upstairs yet; and that is the case with many saints. I may not have reached it yet, but I know the desire in my Father's heart about me.

Saints make their necessity the measure of God's action for them. It is true that my necessity is met; but it is never the measure of God's action for me. If we make our necessity the measure, we never get beyond it. God never gives us anything that we do not value. Everyone in this room has what he values. He may think that he has not; he may think that he values more than he has; but the fact that he does not is shown by his not possessing it. God says you do not value more, therefore I do not give you more. He does not cast His pearls before swine; it is according to the amount of interest that you take in it that you have it; according to your appreciation of the

[Page 13]

truth is the measure of it that you have: "unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance".

Nothing is more manifest than that God's purpose is to have me in this spot. Your Father in heaven has a spot for you; a spot that it is His desire you should occupy; and your occupying it will alone satisfy His heart. Your Father wishes you to be there: the love of the parent wants the child to be brought into the sphere where he himself is. You may occupy it or not, but, if you do not, you have never fulfilled His purpose.

The idea is beyond all human conception! My Father desires that I should occupy this place of nearness to Him. That such a thing as this should be made known to a poor heart like mine, is to me the climax of everything! it is irresistible! I may be below the mark, I may lose the idea, but that is what is in His heart; it is His ideal; and I wonder at myself, that I am so little moved by it. My Father has a spot for me, and the only question is whether I will occupy it.

Well, beloved, there is only One who ever could occupy the place of standing between God and me. Only One knew what the extent of my offence was, and only One knew what the love of the Father's heart was to me, a poor prodigal. Only One knew the extent of my offence against God, for I must be equal to a person to know how he feels about a thing; and none knows the love of the Father to me but that One; and He says, I bear the one, I declare the other; from sin and Satan I bear them every one, and I declare Thy name unto My brethren. He encounters everything in the twenty-second Psalm, and comes in after it all like the sun shining in his glory upon the scene.

It is not only that there is a purpose in my Father's heart about me, but His only beloved Son has accomplished that purpose for me. He has come forth to do all God's will, and, having done it, He has returned

[Page 14]

up there, and is set down at God's right hand, far above all principality, and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, and has been made Head over all things to the church. It is not, as people often put it, a ladder that goes up to heaven, but a ladder that comes down from heaven; therefore the moment I put my foot upon it I am connected with heaven. The One who measures my distance is the One who is the measure of my nearness.

Yes, says the Lord Jesus, I have prepared it for you; there is a spot in the Father's house that is yours; you have title - indefeasible title to it; and, if you do not occupy it, nobody will; it will be unoccupied, that is all.

You are not true to your life if you are not in the place where your life is. The "great supper", is not salvation, as the commentators say. Ask any child what a supper is; and he will tell you it is an entertainment. But no one knows anything about entertainment; they have no sense of anything of the kind. People talk of deliverance, but that is not riches . John's gospel comes in to supply that. There He talks about "the gift". He says, I will tell your poor heart what will satisfy you. He brings in the fourth chapter as a contrast to the second, and the saint who is not in the fourth has gone back to the second - to earthly joys, and earthly religion. In the second the wine is out, but in the fourth the Spirit is in. In the third, He died because of me that I might have life because of Him; and in the fourth there is a sufficiency of everything; you will never thirst, the Spirit is in you; you need never go outside yourself, for the Spirit of God in you springs up into everlasting life, and leads the heart practically into the knowledge of a scene where there is perfectness of blessing outside of everything here.

I have spoken of the purpose of God, and I will just recall for a moment what I have said. God has a

[Page 15]

place, a spot for me. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him". It is vague, says Isaiah. Now that is the idea of many souls. I have often appealed to souls, and said, Have you any idea of what heaven will be? They have perhaps had some vague thoughts about it, and I have said, You have not got beyond Isaiah. In Corinthians we get the contrast to this: "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit"; there is the accomplishment of the purpose. One has done it, and He says, I bring you into a new condition which entirely eclipses the old one. In the fourth chapter you are superior to the man who could not get on without wine; and you have yet another thing: you have not only that which is superior to the man, but in the seventh chapter, that which is superior to the earth; rivers of living water flow from you; you minister to the earth instead of its ministering to you. How am I made superior to all here? By the Holy Spirit.

All that I am stating now is in order to show that there is a spot in God's own mind for us; that He has a purpose that He has accomplished for us. In Isaiah we get that purpose, and in Corinthians the Spirit of God shows us that it is secured to us. So that first there is the purpose; second the accomplishment; and third what remains for us but to enjoy it? He says, "The Son of man must be lifted up"; and faith is simple when I turn away from my ruin, and when my eye is occupied with Himself. I want to give you the connection of the Spirit of God. If, as a believer, you are not walking in that new condition which the Spirit of God has opened up to you, you are going back to man and earth. What we have to learn is, that we have to do with a Man in heaven, and that we have to do with the place where He is . For, though we are united by the Spirit to that Man that is in

[Page 16]

heaven, yet you have to go to heaven to enjoy the Man that is in heaven. I say that because I see practically how it works.

It is the purpose of God first that He has that place for me, chosen by His love. I cannot tell how it draws me, that love! The Lord says, "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". I used to read it, "finish her work", but it was His work. He says I have answered to the heart of the living God in what I have communicated to that poor woman. I heard a benefactor say once: "It is a nice thing to make anyone happy by giving them two pence!" Now that is a benefactor and nothing more. Christ was happy because He had done God's work.

The third thing is the enjoyment of this purpose, which can only be by the Spirit of God. Now I notice that people practise all sorts of deceptions upon themselves. I will just mention one of them. I hear a person say, "I have such sweet communion with Jesus"; and I am quite astonished when I come to talk with him, and inquire a little closer into what this sweet communion is, I find it is his sense of the compassion and interest that the Lord has shown to him in the trial he has been passing through. In fact it is Jesus sympathising with him - coming down in grace into his circumstances - it is sympathy, not communion. I do not know anything more injurious than calling low things by high names. For instance, people call prayer meetings worship meetings. A person coming to a meeting and getting his feet washed at it, will say, Oh, what a blessed season we have had! Well, it is a blessed season when you have the Lord dealing with you, but, if you have really met Himself, you will scarcely speak of it in that way. We use too many figurative expressions about our experiences, and lose an immense deal by not allowing the truth to come out in its reality to us.

[Page 17]

Though united to Christ in heaven, there as your Head, yet you must also know what it is to be in the place where He is. What many want is to get the Lord down into their own circumstances; but you must find the Lord in the place where He is. Many want Him down here; and He does minister to my wants; He came down here purposely to meet death in a double way, therefore all the sympathy that I need I meet with from Him in my circumstances here. But besides that He says, "I go to prepare a place for you". The only thing that will satisfy my heart is being in company with the One who has won my heart; in order to enjoy a person you must be in the place where that person is. Now that is what this chapter in Deuteronomy is. You are come into the place, you are dwelling in it, and then you find out what a wonderful thing it is to be occupied with the Person who dwells there.

Now let me turn for a moment to the epistle to the Ephesians. In this epistle the whole thing turns upon the fact that Christ Himself has gone up; therefore the first chapter opens at what I will call the oracle. Everything is accomplished, we are in unqualified possession. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ". The apostle is not expecting anything; he is expressing what comes out in this chapter in Deuteronomy: worship - the outflow of a heart that is fully satisfied with the portion it has got. What is worship? Why a heart that you can not put any more in. A person in a certain sense is ecstatic when he is in worship, though he may have only just been converted; worship comes out; he is occupied with the One from whom he has received the blessing; he says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; that is worship. Worship is not occupation with the gift, it is occupation with the Giver. Worship is the

[Page 18]

heart detained by the object that controls it. A heart looking for blessing is not really worshipping.

So here you get, as I say, the oracle. Now in olden times if you had gone to consult an oracle, as people were in the habit of doing, you would have had nothing to say, you would have only had to listen. Thus here it goes into our portion, telling us seven blessed things that God has given us in Christ; our calling comes out. But, at the seventeenth verse, there is a change; the oracle turns round and takes part with the listeners; the apostle turns round and begins to pray. This servant, who has been so wonderfully used of God to open up to us our calling, turns to pray - joins, as it were, us who were the listeners, and says, "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, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints". The moment I get the prayer, I get the divine energy; and I must have this divine energy, to carry me into the thing that is already mine.

I feel as I read this prayer that I must say Amen to it; and, according as I say Amen, so is my heart rising up in intelligence as to the fact of the place that is already mine. Really, I am there through grace; I am quickened together with Christ; that is my possession in life. But, mind you, I have another thing; now comes my possession in practice. I am rising up to what, as I say Amen? I am rising up to the place where God has put me in Christ, and God has set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places. It is just as much the grace of God to put me into heaven as to take me out of hell.

People think that because they have this place in gift that they therefore have it in practice; but many a man has a property who does not know how to use

[Page 19]

it; it is not the fact of having possession of it that ensures your enjoyment of it. Scripture warns us against this; "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting". Oh, but he has it! say you; and has he not had a great deal of trouble in hunting it? Yes, but he has not used it; he has not turned it to account. Everybody knows an artisan of first-rate energy and ability by the way in which he finishes his work; he shows his want of energy when he cannot give a thing the right finish. The finishing is most important; and, I say it with grief in my heart, that where I find a great deal of intelligence about the truth brought out in the Ephesians, there is often very little heart about it.

I have sometimes said to people, Did you ever lose a night's rest trying to get hold of your heavenly place? There is nothing to me more sad than the way in which people will allow that they have not got it, and yet the little earnestness they show in seeking to get it. The saying of a man who had travelled all over the world often comes to my mind; he said, "The people who care least about their religion, and are least interested in it, are the Christians". I am sure we ought to lie upon the ground and ask our God to do with us what He will, so that only we may be in the spot our Father has chosen for us. Can you not say, Oh, I know what I am! but take that thing out of me that hinders me from rising up to that only spot that will ever satisfy my heart?

I often wonder whether I am ever in an agony about those I know. Here the apostle is for those he had never seen. He does not mind losing an hour's rest that he may pray for them that they may reach that spot. Yet that poor creature there will not stir a finger, would not lose an hour's rest himself, that he might get it. The apostle was in an agony about people whose faces he had never seen in the flesh. What for? That they might live correct lives? No,

[Page 20]

but that their hearts might be comforted by being brought into the consciousness of their being united to a heavenly Christ. I am united to Christ. You are brought into association with Him in the spot where He is, and then you are made acquainted with the fulness that is in Him. If you do not know that sphere where He is, you cannot come down and be connected with what is of Him here.

Now just another point to show you how it is that things begin to decline among us. It is the way in which people hold the truth of the unity of the body. I will tell you how this truth was revived; it was in this way. A brother well known among us awoke up one morning with the thought: I have a Head in heaven, and, if so, there are many others on earth who have got a Head in heaven; and therefore we are members of one another. You are united to Christ as Head over His body, and you are brought into association with each other because of your union to Himself. It is a question of holding the Head . I must have to do with the One who is the source of it all. I have to do with Him . I have to do with the Head, and not with the members .

In one moment we may be introduced into a region of unspeakable delights, as the apostle Paul was when he was caught up into the third heaven, but it takes a long time before we are fit to live that out down here - before we are fit to be instruments of the truth we have learned. I am sure I was fourteen years after I knew what the heavenly calling was before I was able to match it in my life. We have to be put in circumstances to test us. Instead of Paul finding that he was going to be something wonderfully great when he came down from being in such a region, he found that he had a thorn in the flesh to buffet him. If I get up higher in heaven I am only all the lower on earth; higher in the new order, but lower in the old. But I am content to be nothing if only the power of Christ

[Page 21]

may rest upon me. It was a terrible thing that Satan could thus take hold of Paul and make a lodgment in the man. But so it was; and Paul found himself a crippled thing - not able to turn his talents to any use at all. I am made conscious of my own cripplement, so that it may be a new power altogether that is working in me. I have to do with that blessed One where He is; and I believe, when you are a few minutes there, you cannot but get a sense of what a contrast this place is to everything else.

But have I to come down into this rude world again? Yes, like an exotic from the equator in a northern clime, by some unseen power I am maintained here in a scene that is contrary to me - I am sustained here by the divine energy of the Spirit of God. Christ's body is here, and it is as we draw upon the Head, we find what it is to represent Him here. Angels look on at the wonderful fact, that the Man the world refused is now represented by His people on the earth. As we draw from the Head we become useful members. It is not that Christ's body is only forming now, but that it is here to represent Him; and we drop into Christ's first interest here in the measure in which we come from Him in heaven. My first interest here becomes His body.

An evangelist perhaps will say, My business is to go out to preach the gospel to the world. Yes, so it is; but your business is to go out from the church to gather sinners, and to bring them in as a recruiting sergeant brings his men to the doctor to pass; otherwise you are a detached person. The Lord always keeps up the complement of the body; you have to recruit the ranks, and, if you do not go out from the body you do not know your business at all. Every member is necessary, but every member is not acting. The evangelist says, There are empty places in the heart of Christ, and I am going from the heart of Christ to bring those in who will fill them.

[Page 22]

Well, to go on with our chapter. As I have been saying, I make this distinction between possession in life and possession in practice. In the first chapter of Ephesians I am in possession of life of the place; and the apostle's first prayer is that I may practically get hold of that place, where, he winds up with telling me, Christ is seated as Head over the body. And now I go on to the second prayer which is the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 26. I am in possession, and what is going to occupy my heart? Why the Person who brought me there. When I reach heaven what will occupy my heart but the Christ who has brought me there? As one has said, the apostle, having got his first prayer answered, makes the second - that your heart may be a basket for Christ. Christ is to dwell in your hearts by faith - for what purpose? It is that you "may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and depth, and length, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God". You have come now to ecstasy.

I will seek to explain what I mean by ecstasy. The apostle uses the word, and I cannot find a better; he says that to God he is beside himself . It is the fulness of Him that filleth all in all, and you cannot take it in; it is like trying to put an ostrich egg into a small egg-cup; it cannot get in. You are ecstatic, and the result is, you worship. You cannot but say, "unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end". You are entranced - in the glory will be the climax of it - but even now you are entranced with the blessedness like the queen of Sheba.

People think it will make them so melancholy; they talk of the things they will have to give up. Why do they talk of being melancholy? It is because they have not taken in what is the "great supper" -

[Page 23]

that wonderful entertainment - that wonderful scene of divine festivity - "the riches of his glory". And the heart gets the full blessing of it by looking at the thing? No, but by looking at the accomplisher of it.

And now it is: "That Christ may dwell in my heart by faith". I grow in the knowledge, in the certainty of it all, "that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be 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". It is the cube - the whole area. I feel one is feeble in speaking of it, and I know why; in one way I am thankful for it - for one cannot take a person farther than one has been oneself.

Christ wins my heart in humiliation; He satisfies it in glory. My heart is first won; second, united; third, I am in ecstasy; fourth, I worship; fifth, I am made suitable; sixth, I go out in service. It is the heart that has been made suitable to Himself of which alone it can be said, "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her". Service comes in after the rest; the tithing comes in after the worship. I lay my basket down before the Lord, and then I go out in service for Him.

But how can I be the servant of a heavenly Christ if I have not been in company with a heavenly Christ? It is in glory that He satisfies my heart. He has won my heart by the way in which He has extricated me from the things in which I had involved myself down here, but it is up there that He satisfies it. Often in your service you have allowed things here to dictate to you. One's friends often study themselves, not you, when they wish to minister to you. That is not real manners. Most heavenly people have learned their manners from books . Now "book manners" never count for anything; it is only company that teaches manners. You must be in company with a heavenly Christ if you want to learn heavenly manners.

[Page 24]

Tell me what your difficulty in service is. My difficulty is to know what I ought to say. Sometimes in going to a place to speak, I have such difficulty to know what the Lord would have me say. It would be easy enough to choose a chapter and to speak on it, but the question is, is it the one the Lord would have? I really do not know sometimes what I am to say; that is my difficulty; it is not what the people would like, it is what the Lord would like. All I can do is to look to the Lord and rest in His selection.

Well, I must end where I began. It is a thing that should stir your heart, the knowledge that there is a spot that your Father in heaven has assigned for you. You cannot say, Well, now I am filled with all the fulness of God by being in Christ; there is nothing farther than that. You cannot bring your basket and lay it down before the Lord until you are practically in all the blessing and glory of that place - that wonderful place that throws everything else into the shade.

There were things that I thought I never could give up. Sometimes even now I almost wish I could take interest in some of them. When I sit in a corner of a railway carriage and hear people talking about politics, and know that I could talk as well as any of them, and sit by silent; or when they offer me a newspaper and I refuse it - a fool for Christ's sake. I have got more than communion about these things; I have got taste - divine taste . One look at that wonderful light has made me give them all up; I have got taste. And what now? I feel this scene irksome.

I cannot understand how people who do not take a heavenly place ever can get on here. I wonder people do not break their hearts at the oppression that goes on all around them, at the cruelty to animals that they see. I am sure I would if I did not know what it was to belong to another scene. If I did not know what it was to belong to heaven I could never go past a man

[Page 25]

beating a horse, or see any injustice done; I should have broken my heart, and spent my life in trying to set things to rights, if I did not know that I do not belong to this scene at all.

Well, may the Lord lead your hearts into that bright scene. Let it be the place that you seek for - seek as hid treasure. May it be a real thing both to your hearts and mine. Will you not be ashamed that a little thing here should so occupy your heart, when you have such a wonderful portion up there? My heart must get into it! I do not put your own benefit before you, because that is not the thing; but I say, nothing should satisfy your heart, because nothing will satisfy your Father's heart, but your being able to come in before the Lord as in Deuteronomy 26, and saying: I am come into the place which the Lord my God has given me; the Lord Jesus Christ is the One who has brought me in; I delight in the One who has brought me in; I lay my basket down before Him, and worship the Lord my God.

[Page 26]


Exodus 12:1 - 14

It may appear strange to some that, after having spoken of the climax of the work, I should come back to the foundation. But, if there is some defect in the foundation, it keeps us from travelling into the place which is now as much ours in title as it ever will be; it prevents our working out our salvation - that salvation which is ours already. You see if we have not left Egypt we cannot be in Canaan. Now I want to turn your attention to the way in which you come out of Egypt.

There are two parts in this coming out. One is the perfect way in which God provides the sacrifice. I was in the place where judgment was; I was exposed to judgment; nothing that I could do could shield me from it. So God sent His own Son to bear the penalty, and says, "when I see the blood I will pass over you". God makes a provision that suits Himself.

As to my state, it is one of death in trespasses and sins; so that if I were to set about meeting the account, about paying the debt, I should not know how; I have no power; it is the night of death. But now what God has done is to send His own Son, when man was quite dead, to answer to His mind. He is proclaimed as His beloved Son on the mount of Transfiguration, and that, too, as a Man. But from that point He descends - the Man who is the example - He descends to become a victim for us, because we were entirely away from God.

That is the first point, and I need not dwell upon it. But it is an immense thing for us to see that God has satisfied Himself, and now He wants me to look at the One who has satisfied Him. God has honoured His own provision; He Himself has done it. "You

[Page 27]

have destroyed yourselves, but in me is your help found". God has satisfied Himself, and now what He presents to me, is a look at the One who has satisfied Him. I know that He is satisfied, and that is my satisfaction. If it is a question of your own satisfaction, you will lose it; if you make the satisfying of your own conscience the measure of your satisfaction, you will lose it. For me it is not the mere fact that the debt is paid, but that He has done it, and that He is satisfied. If I once get this truth written upon my heart there will be no effacing it.

There is a difference between rubbing out a truth and covering it over; you may cover over a truth that has been written on your heart, but you will never rub it out. Just as in the old times the Roman consuls' names used to be cut upon the buildings they had erected; but the mason had cut his own name on the stone, and put the consul's only on a layer of plaster over it; so in time the plaster dropped off, and only the mason's name remained. In the same way you may cover over truth written on your heart, but, when the covering has been taken off, there it is again. I have known people who have covered over truth for twenty years, but it will come out in the end, for you cannot get rid of what God has written.

I am looking at the One who has satisfied God, and I am not thinking whether I am satisfied myself or not. The point is that He is satisfied with the sacrifice that He has provided, and that He says, "when I see the blood I will pass over you".

Well, now I come to the second point, and it is this that I really want to speak to you about. There are two sides to the work. One is: "with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness"; the other is: "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation". Now confession has a double character; it is private to the Lord, it is public to the world. The woman in Luke 7 believes the report, and she says, That is

[Page 28]

my Saviour. There is a wonderful correspondence between a Saviour and a sinner; there is the same correspondence that there is between a person in a burning house, and a ladder put to the window. When the woman hears of Him she says at once, That is my Saviour.

But the next point is, I must have to say to Him; and that is where I believe so many souls are defective. You have to go and tell the Lord what He has done for you. When the ten lepers were cleansed there were not found that returned to give glory to God but the one. It was not that they were not all cleansed, but that only one returned to give glory to God. That one got out of all system; he overleaped the priest, and said, No, I will go back to the fountain head. His heart was carried by the Spirit of God back to the One from whom the blessing came.

The importance of the confession is that the heart, in making it, has to do with the Person that wrought the work. I know many a person waiting, not satisfied in his own soul, through never having thus had to do with the Lord.

She stood "behind Him weeping". No eye could see it; it happened between the Lord and herself. But, when I have thus had to do with Him, I get up with the conviction that I must go now and serve Him. "With the mouth, confession is made unto salvation". What do you mean by "mouth"? Why, I mean that it is a private and public testimony. It is just the difference between the sinner and the saint. I say to all, Here is my Saviour. Jonathan makes his confession before all the army; he says, I make a double confession; I make a covenant with David in private; and in public he took off all his garments and put them on the shepherd's son, "even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle". So she stands weeping behind Him, washes His feet with her tears, and anoints them with the ointment.

[Page 29]

But when I come to the second alabaster box it is not any longer what He has done but what He is . The second alabaster box is buried in the tomb of Jesus. No person will ever use that alabaster box for Christ except those who have gone through death with Christ. The first has learned Christ in the judgment of death; the second has learned Christ in the calamity of death. You will never know what it is to give up position here till you know what it is to have Christ with you in the calamity of death.

Look at what is said in the scripture; you are to go inside and eat the lamb. "They shall take of the blood and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.... And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's passover". What was the eating of the apostle Paul during those three days when he neither ate nor drank? after them he went straightway into the synagogues and preached Jesus that He is the Son of God . I am done with everything here; Jesus is the Son of God; my loins are girded, my shoes on my feet, and my staff in my hand. Where are you going? Oh, I am not going to stop here any longer! it is all under judgment; I have been feeding on the Lamb; I have eaten of Him as the One with bitter herbs; my soul has entered into it, and what now? I am not going to stay here any longer.

There is a mistake in the way in which the figure of the life-boat is generally used which makes it defective as an illustration. Did you ever know a man who was in a life-boat who did not wish to get out of it as fast as he could? He says, It is all very well to be saved by this boat, but Oh, put me on dry land! I have had enough of the water; only put me safe on dry land!

[Page 30]

Now you do not get a bit of truth that does not add to the foundation. I could not explain it to a builder, but so it is; edification increases the foundation. It gives me a deeper sense of what that blessed One went into for me, the more I rise up to the heights of what He is in Himself. The moment I get thoroughly satisfied with Christ I do not dwell upon anything here; I get the great principle of separating from everything in this scene.

The great loss to souls in this present day is the little they leave the world; with the glory gospel clearer than ever it was, there is less leaving of the world than there was thirty-five years ago; everything goes on just the same as before they professed to be Christ's; not a bit of change, even as to dress. It is a remarkable thing that the persons who have gone into the greatest crimes are the people who are always talking of their sins. A person always talking of his sins has not got clear hold of his Saviour. You are not really clear about your sins, and so you try to make them less by talking of them, whereas you ought to be exulting in your Saviour. The purer the light, the better and the truer the judgment of sin.

I have not been speaking of conscience of sin, but of conscience of the benefit I have received. I believe there are hundreds and thousands of people all over the world who, if they were to go down on their knees, and tell the Lord that He was their Saviour, would rise up perfectly happy. They know the value of the blood, but they have never told the Lord what it is to them, so they have never heard Him say to them as He did to the woman in Luke, and to other women, "Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace"; and He speaks in just the same way to the leper who returned.

And, besides this, there is not only the necessity of telling the Lord, but there is the benefit of acting up to your own impressions. When you act in accordance with your impressions you always strengthen your

[Page 31]

impressions; if you do not act in accordance with them you make an infidel of yourself. There may be any length of time between the faith and the act, but it is always the act which proves the measure of the faith. There is forty years difference between James and Paul; between the works that proved the faith, and the faith that brought forth the works.

The Lord lead our hearts to understand what the foundation is. The Lord give us to understand His own sovereign grace thus coming in to meet us in all our ruin. I can look up to Him and say, there is not a cloud between us. And as I feed upon that blessed One I leave the place where my Saviour died.

[Page 32]


2 Timothy 1

The epistle to the Philippians was the voice of the apostle now in the hands of the Roman power from the prison to the people of God. His only word to them is, "Rejoice in the Lord". There was nothing else for them to do. Power had laid its hand upon the apostle, and he was in prison, so, in Philippians, he writes a catholic epistle to the church, to the congregation in general; here it is to the servant, and written much about the same time.

Paul does not touch upon what John does. Everything continues now as it was when John wrote; there is no actual new phase; the book of the Revelation closes the whole history; John was subsequent to Paul. But this is Paul - the last words of Paul to the servant Timothy; and it involves a great deal, for it gives us a picture, not only of things inside but of things outside. It is not the question so much of things outside in the hands of the Roman power. The Roman power had done its worst; that is an important thing to get hold of. Man has used this power, not only to crucify God's own Son, but now to suppress the apostle to the Gentiles. I could not use this power, or have anything to do with it.

There are two crimes of which the world is guilty; every one admits the one, but the other, people are slow to admit. The first man was turned out of the garden of Eden for sinning against God, and we all admit that. But we have committed another crime: the first man has turned Christ out of the world. We were turned ourselves out of Eden, and then we turned Him out of the world. People say the Jews did it. No, it was the Roman soldiers did it; the cross makes

[Page 33]

it very evident that the Gentiles did it. Practically souls are very slow to admit this second crime.

I state it first in this broad way: that we have sinned against God, that we have been turned out of the garden of Eden - turned out of God's presence - and that He has sent His Son to bring us back into His presence. You have not got into God's thought unless you know that His Son was sent to bring us back into His presence. As Christ is apart from judgment so are we in this world; I am as much out of judgment as Christ is on the throne of God, otherwise He has not brought us back to the presence of God. As the consequence of sin man is driven out of the garden, and then man drives Christ off the earth. That is the second thing that man has done; it is not only that man's sin is there, but now "they have no cloak for their sin". They handed over Christ to the Roman sword, and the apostle sent to testify to the Man, not on earth but in heaven - that man they have now in their hands, in the power of the Roman emperor; there is where we find him; that is what closes the Acts of the Apostles.

The gospel of Luke was written to one who was already acquainted with Paul's doctrine; Luke confirms Paul. In it the Spirit of God comes in to open out the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he ends with a Man gone to heaven. That which the entitled one does not get, the unentitled one gets - the younger brother; that is the principle of Luke's gospel. This truth runs in parallel lines all through the gospel, and, at the end, the Lord says, "I leave Jerusalem; I go up from Bethany".

The Acts opens again with Jewish scenery - the mount of Olives; and I go on through the book, gradually dropping one Jewish thing after another, until I leave Paul, the one born out of due time, in the prison at Rome. There the apostle writes Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy, and Titus.

[Page 34]

It is an arduous thing to me to speak to you as I would wish to, for it is impressed upon me - I cannot tell you how deeply I have it impressed upon my heart - so much so that I am continually in distress of mind about it - that one of the most blessed things, one of the most wonderful things that God has ever done for us, we are likely to lose. To think that He should have favoured me with the knowledge of what will suit my Lord on earth, and that I should shrink from it!

It is one of the most wonderful things that for eighteen hundred years Satan should have been able so to blind the eyes of men that they should not have had any idea as to what was the testimony of the Lord. And is there no danger now?

Well, first I would say, What is the testimony of the Lord? I will try to explain what it is.

Paul is here writing to the servant . Say what you will, congregations always take the colour of the teacher. As an old brother once said, Do not tell me what you lecture upon, but show me your pupils. In dissenting congregations, where they have only one-man-ministry, the people will be a caricature of the teacher if he has any mind. However, as to what the testimony of the Lord is.

There was always a testimony. Up to the cross, I need not explain to any here, that man was on trial. But man was not able to maintain the testimony. We are now on the same favoured earth on which Noah was placed; we are on the millennial earth. But Noah planted a vineyard; and what came out after his failure to keep the testimony was the tower of Babel, which brought out man's independence of God; they used the favours of God to enable them to do without Him; the true character of Babylon is elegance without God; everything that delights the heart of man, but God left out.

Then, in the person of Abraham, God calls His

[Page 35]

people to come out, and that stands good to this present day. Well, was the testimony maintained? Did it fall? Isaac sends his own son Jacob back to Syria, and then Genesis closes with Israel in Egypt,

and the servant of the Lord there.

Up to the cross every trial was made of man; and then at last God sent His Son, found in the fashion of a man. At what age of man did He send Him? At the best age of man? No, but when man was in ruin, at the very tail of everything. And not like the first man did He come, grown up to maturity, but He was found as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger - a babe, as has been said, that never had a temper.

Thus He comes in, and for thirty years leads a life of which we have scarcely a mention. We get just a passing notice of what it must have been in John, where he says, that if every one of the things He did should have been written "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written". We get little touches showing us what the stupendous nature of that life must have been, until it culminates in the fact that He is found upon the mount of Transfiguration - as a man He is found there - and is declared to be the "beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". Of David you hear such and such a thing recorded, perhaps one in a month that was worthy of mention; but every action, every word, every single movement of the Lord was so perfect, so full of grace, so expressive of what He was, that every single one of them is worthy of being recorded. I am speaking of Him only as a Man in flesh now.

In the fourth of Matthew He says, As a servant of God I am prepared to give up that which is necessary to life; I waive the claims of nature because I have a superior claim to govern me. And that is the God whom I serve. What we find here in Him is what is stated in Deuteronomy 8 to be the result of the forty

[Page 36]

years wandering in the wilderness. He humbled me and led me forty years, so that I might learn to be dependent on Himself, and learn to give up that which supports my natural existence, so that I may live by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord".

When God looked down from heaven He could not find a man to meet His mind until His own Son stood before Him. There He stood within the legal limits, but He said, I do not confine myself to the limits of the law. He says, I will not only help my neighbour, but I will take care of him for ever. "Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee". Christianity is above law. There He went up to that mount of Transfiguration; He went up as having answered to the mind of God, and was seen transfigured, His face shining as the sun, His raiment white as the light; there He stood, a man in the flesh; and, as has been said, He might have passed away at once by rightful title straight up to the right hand of God.

But He came down again that He might take up those He was going to make His brethren. People often say, "Jesus is my brother". He never was my brother. We are His brethren now. He is not ashamed to call us brethren. We are all a new type now. You have Him first as the unique One, but now it is: "Behold I and the children which God hath given me".

How God in wonderful grace has turned all that man did into blessing! The very soldier's spear is now turned round to bear evidence to the fact of what this One was. Such is God's grace that He has really turned man's sin into richest blessing. Man refused Christ life here; he took it away from Him; but God gave it to Him there, and to us in Him.

The order is, that first Christ has died; He gives up His life; next, He is raised from the dead on the

[Page 37]

third day; and then they saw Him go up into heaven. You have that distinctly before your minds, that man refused Him life here, and that God raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His own right hand, and gave Him glory; and, as to ourselves, if "we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly".

Now I have come to what I was leading to yesterday morning in Acts 7, but there it is more intricate. We find Stephen, outside the apostles, offering Christ from the glory to come back again. He is the rightful King here, but He has been refused a place here. He had not yet sat down on the right hand of God, but we know from another place He is set down now. I turn on to the eighth chapter to see what the order is there. We have seen in the seventh, that the One whom God sent into the world they refused when surrounded with humiliation as Joseph's son; and that now they will not have Him when He is offered to them in glory.

Now in the eighth you get another thing. We find the eunuch going in the opposite direction to the queen of Sheba. She came from Ethiopia - "the uttermost parts of the earth", as it is called - to hear the wisdom of Solomon. He has his back turned to Jerusalem, and as he is on his way to Gaza, the angel of the Lord says to Philip, you go down there; the Lord tells the evangelist to go to him. He read Esaias the prophet: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth ". See where he stops; it is at a most momentous point. The real significance in the action of the eunuch is this, that, the moment he saw he had to deal with a Saviour who had not to do with the earth, he practically took the place in baptism of having nothing to do with it either. He says, If His life is taken from the

[Page 38]

earth I have nothing here; but I have that outside this whole scene which has contented and satisfied my heart; I am contented to be nothing - to be a slave, the servant of queen Candace. His life is taken from the earth, and, as for me, I am satisfied to go to the uttermost parts of it .

And now see the progress in the ninth chapter, for the point I want to reach is "the testimony of the Lord". In the fifth verse we get Saul of Tarsus saying "Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest". The Lord now, as has been often said, connects Himself with the saints upon earth; it is not the saints in heaven. I see nothing but that one Man in all the saints on earth. The body is Christ, I do not understand anything about church militant and church triumphant. The distinction between the house and the body is this, that the Holy Spirit forms the body, and dwells in the house; and He dwells in the individuals that compose the body - in each member of it. The Lord says, That is Me, that is Me, each one that you are touching; I claim all that are Mine to be connected with Myself.

The character of Acts 9 is that He walks into the scene, and says, I am the only Man. I walk into the scene and I claim to be the Man . I claim all to be Mine. He connects it with no previous dispensation. He is Head of the creation in type, but in fact He is the Beginning of the creation. I only see that one Man. I look round and I see but Him. As I look at every child of God I see but that one Man.

And for myself, is there any fear in my heart when I know that I have a Saviour in the glory? The nearer I am to my Saviour the safer I am. When I know that I have a Saviour in the brightest place, I am most at home in the brightest place.

Well now, mark what the effect of this is upon the apostle. "Straightway he preached Jesus in the synagogues" - the Man whom he had seen. The

[Page 39]

word is Jesus - not Christ as we have it; it is Jesus as Son of God. One dwells on it with unutterable delight! God looked down here once to see a Man who met His mind. And now I look up unto glory, and I see there with delight that very Man who met it here seated at His own right hand, and I trace the blessing to the heart that sent the blessing.

So Saul goes into the synagogues and says, "Jesus is the Son of God ". This is the first time it is preached. We cannot stay to dwell upon it, interesting as the subject is. We come to "the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God ". "God dwelleth in him and he in God" is yours, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I have got to the dignity of His Person, and He leads me to the place where He is. This is "the rock" on which the church stands.

A great many people say they are "on the rock". I do not believe they know what the rock is. I say, Do you know that you are connected with the Son of God? If you are, then why do you not give up all the trifles here? Trifles? Yes! Everything is a trifle here when you see what you are connected with. I am of that Man; He is my Head; everything falls into insignificance before such a thought.

Well now I turn to a chapter in 2 Corinthians - the twelfth - where we find: "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter". Here the apostle is speaking of a fact. Here he has to do with a Man in heaven. It is not only that I have to do with a Saviour who is not here, but I know where the Saviour is; here the apostle is taken into heaven.

[Page 40]

This place does not minister to the flesh at all; there is no place for it here. If the flesh comes in in singing a hymn, then you are not in the presence of the Lord; if you were in the presence of the Lord, flesh would be ignored. Here I do not know whether I am in the body or not; therefore the true character of ecstasy is that it has no sound. Joy has a sound. Ecstasy is the rapt sense of the soul detained in the presence of the One who delights it. Worship is delight in the Person who controls it.

In 2 Corinthians 12 I have got to do with Christ on an entirely new ground. A man in Christ is taken into a new sphere. He does not know whether he is in the body or not; he is sustained there without knowing how. But when he comes back to consciousness he knows well enough that he is in the body. When he comes down, instead of finding that it is a higher thing for himself in humanity, he finds it is a lower thing. He has a deeper sense of how degraded he is as a man, because he has a more exalted sense of what he is in Christ.

All this was "above fourteen years ago". He takes time to ripen before he can speak of it. I doubt not he had a great deal to be broken of during those fourteen years.

I would like to dwell a little on the epistle to the Ephesians, as perhaps it may help me. In it the apostle tells us what the calling is - the vocation, which I divide into seven heads. The first is the place: I bless "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" - those blessings in Christ which the apostle has got here in 2 Corinthians 12. The second is individual relationship: He has "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself". The third is the inheritance: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according

[Page 41]

to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will". The collective relationship of the body is the fourth: He "gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all". The fifth is the new man: He has "abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man". Now you have got the new place and the new man; the earth is not our place, and the man here is not our man. Sixth, the Spirit: "through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father". He is the only link and connection that we have with Christ. What is your connection with man? The flesh. What connects you with Christ? The Spirit. It is quite simple; all the feelings in the world would not connect you with Christ; it is the Spirit only. Then seventh: we "are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit". That is the calling.

Now mark, you are to walk in all the power of this calling; you are to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called". Therefore there follows in the end of the epistle a code of practice suitable to the calling brought out in the beginning of it. Romans is the justified man, and the practice there is suitable to a justified man. Ephesians is the heavenly man, and you get practice suitable to a heavenly man. These are the only two codes of practice that I know of; all the rest of the epistles are corrective. Here, in Ephesians, we get the apostle in the prison in Rome, and the Lord says to him, Now you come and instruct the church about what it is to be connected with the Man in heaven.

Now let me try to sum up what I have been saying, and to make plain what this testimony of the Lord is that we are not to be ashamed of. It is quite simple that, as you are united to a Man in heaven, and heaven is the place that you belong to,

[Page 42]

therefore, as His body upon earth, you are not in anywise connected with anything here. I am united to a Man in heaven so that I may know that all my thoughts, and joys, and expectations are in another scene - a scene that is foreign to my birth and condition here; I am not without association with all that is here, but I must ignore the man that is here, and the place that he is in.

As I was saying, the epistles with the exception of Ephesians and Romans are corrective. The Corinthians wanted to give the man his place; and they did it licentiously. The Galatians said, No, we will keep the man in order. They tried to make a religious man of him; they said, We will make him a teetotaller. Thus the Galatians were worse than the Corinthians. We must be like the emigrants going out to the new country who burned their ships as soon as they landed, to preclude all possibility of return. A buried man has nothing to show. In Colossians the apostle is in an agony about their not holding the Head; for the great point is that I am united to a Man in heaven; that is the great truth. Then the epistle to the Hebrews has to do with earth.

The great point is that I am united to a Man in heaven. And the way in which that truth woke up again in the church any one can see who likes to read a paper that came out in the first part of "The Witness"; you will there find an account of the effect the truth of being united to a Man in heaven had upon a brother well known to us. He awoke one day with the thought, I have a Head in heaven; and if I have, there are many others all over this earth who have a Head in heaven, too, and therefore we are members of each other, and form one body.

Now what is the consequence of this? and why should people be ashamed of it? Why the fact is, that if this truth were acted out it would make you just like the man in John 9; no one would have him!

[Page 43]

he was no man's man! he is no member of society; he is only a man from heaven!

If I have a Head in heaven I have the Holy Spirit on earth, so that I cannot have the man here; I am connected with the Man there. I have come from heaven to carry out heavenly things; I am not a member of society. People say to me, But is not that a nice society? I say, I do not know anything about it! I am a man from heaven. Why, if I were a man for earth, a citizen here, merely looking at things around me, my heart would be broken. I would not allow a bit of cruelty; I would not let a horse be overladen, or a donkey beaten. Why, life would be unendurable to me on account of the oppression that goes on on every side, were it not that I know I am delivered from it all - that I am a heavenly man.

Now the apostle says, Do not be ashamed of it. You must refuse the man that is here, for that man will not do at all; neither will the place do where that man is. The Hebrews wanted to go back to earth. Well, then, he says, if you do you will lose your priest. Christendom says, You must get your priest to go to heaven. No, says Hebrews, if you do not go to heaven first, you will not get your priest at all, for He is in heaven.

There is another thing that comes out in this chapter: "all they which are in Asia be turned away from me". Where the apostle had laboured most, there they had all turned away from him. Why? because they had all dropped into Peter. Protestants respect Paul. They have just got St. Paul's in London to correct St. Peter's in Rome; justification by faith was recovered by them, but not a bit more. But a mere building to say that we refuse St. Peter's is a very small thing! What is at the bottom of it? It is just simply getting rid of heavenly truth. There is nothing Satan is so pleased at as this. If you want to escape suffering from Satan do not touch this truth. He will

[Page 44]

allow you to do any amount of earnest work you like; he will let you be earnest preachers, he will even take away opposition to the gospel, so long as you do not touch this.

Now God's thoughts are towards man, but He comes in in His own divine way to carry them out. God never takes a suggestion from man; He has His own mind and purpose to carry out towards me, and it is not what I say that will alter Him a bit; He has a distinct mind as to what He is going to do; He is a wise Father.

You will find if you stand forth in any little measure and say, I ignore the man here, I reckon him to be a thing gone, that in a moment you will have every one against you. Why, you say, if you saw a poor person would you not help him? It is not a question of that at all, I would do what the Lord in my circumstances, if I am in right ones, would have done to that poor person, not what he himself suggests to me. The effort of Satan nowadays is to occupy people with good works, seeing after the poor, and things of that kind. You may not be able to understand it, but the more heavenly your work, the less man will be able to see it, the less recognisable it will be. I am as clear as I am about anything, that, if you will walk in this path, you must in a certain sense be prepared to go alone. So the apostle says of himself, "the Lord stood with me".

There is a Man - God has a Man, a heavenly Man - that will measure you all, and He is not here. So I refuse the man here, because I belong to the Man in heaven, and I maintain Him here. I say, and I do not want to offend any here, but the highest thing to do - above all gift - is to maintain the testimony .

Suppose a disorganised army - an army that has been thoroughly beaten by the enemy, and all the soldiers hiding away in one corner or another, their accoutrements thrown aside, their uniforms discarded.

[Page 45]

Now, if some few of these gather together to recover themselves, what will be the first thing their officer will say to them? Why, Appear in your uniform! What is the use of getting together without showing who you belong to?

They say, You will limit your opportunities of usefulness. So you will. You will be a marked man; you will be no man's man. But I cannot help that; I am prepared to limit my opportunities because I have a higher thing than any work to do, and that is to maintain the testimony of the Lord. Well, but what will be the effect of your course? That separation will be more marked, and that, in the end, it will bring out the truth that really will affect souls. You will be a good soldier enduring hardness; a wrestler striving lawfully for the mastery; and a husbandman labouring, and waiting patiently for the fruit.

But I must say a word on the different kind of snares that you will meet with, for I do not propose you a path of ease; but I do propose you a path of power. God never proposes anything that there is not power to meet. If I have power I do not mind a difficulty. A man of power says, I have got a greater force than yours to bring against you, so that I can crush your power, though I do not underrate it at all. "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power".

Now a word on the different snares. Satan is set upon turning us aside from that which is the highest thing. I see, all through Scripture, the different ways in which Satan tries to turn the people of God aside from the testimony.

The moment the path of faith began, that moment there were two classes of saints on the earth: Lot and Abraham, for instance. One class took the ground of faith and maintained it; the other lost it; when it came to the greatest testimony they could not carry it out. Lot was a sad case; he does not seem to carry

[Page 46]

out anything; he was in the land, but looking to the earth.

For my own part I never press any man to take the ground that I take. I am not saying it is not a blessed place; indeed the greatest favour God can do a man, next to his own conversion, is to bring him into the place we are in. I find that without taking this place, there is no occasion for faith; people can walk on just godly, without in some cases meeting any opposition at all; but if people would take this place, they would not be tolerated.

The second instance I come to is Jacob. He is a recoverer; he has to recover lost ground. He has gone back to the world - gone back to Syria, but he recovers the lost ground. If you are going back to the world - looking over green fields - then I say you have lost your calling. Jacob, I think, is a very interesting type of our position. At the end of Genesis 33 he has come back to the true standing, after the night of wrestling in which he found the power to take it; he has bought a field, and settled down at Shalem to rest. And this is the special snare of the brethren: they have learned the true standing, and the true power to maintain them there, and then comes the danger; you are not safe; take care that you do not sit down to rest a bit, and cease to be a stranger and a pilgrim. I see a great many brethren settling themselves quietly down there, and satisfying themselves by saying, I have come to the right place, I am in the right standing. But I say, What is your worship like? It is your altar that shows me the nature of your standing. It is Jacob's altar that I judge, for it is that that tells where he is. He recognises the true standing, but in his altar he only recognises God in connection with himself on the earth, as the centre of his own blessing. He makes himself the centre, it is El-elohe-Israel. The testimony was what he had got in the twenty-eighth chapter: there he had

[Page 47]

seen the ladder going up into heaven - he had seen God Himself there. When he gets back to Bethel, the whole scene changes - God becomes the centre of his worship; he calls it El-Bethel.

The first altar is just looking for God to show His interest in you - in relation to where you are in the circumstances of this life. Most people are judging and praising God by the way that He deals with them in the circumstances of this life. They will tell you, God did this for me, and that for me. If I were to sit down to have a talk with them, and were to ask them to tell me something of what God has done for them, the only thing they would talk to me about would be the mercies they had received from Him here - not a word about what He has given them in Christ - nothing but temporal things. When you look at the altar at Shalem, you find the man has forgotten his calling. If you are looking at temporal things, then you have ignored the Man in heaven. Jacob forgot his calling.

Then he goes to Bethel. In connection with his going there he has two oaks; one where he buries the earrings - sometimes we see the earrings not buried! - and the other where he buries Deborah. And now when he comes up to the true point God engages him - it is El-Bethel; he is occupied with God, and that is true worship.

Well, only two points more. One is the two and a half tribes. I see there are some who will fight for me, but they will not go a step over Jordan themselves; they will not transport all they have - their family, their property - on to that ground. They will take in your periodicals, they will stand up for your truth, but they will not go in themselves.

I will not say more about that, but just turn to the second point. In the prophecy of Haggai the children of Israel had been hindered from building the temple; there was a cessation of the work in the house of God,

[Page 48]

whilst they were evidently most assiduous in doing their own work. They were in the right standing, but God's work was not the thing most in their mind, but their own individual blessing. This is very difficult to deal with. I see bowed down souls seeking comfort, who say, Oh, I am praying and reading, seeking the Lord! No, I say you are not seeking the Lord; you are seeking joy, blessing for yourselves - not the Lord. "Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore". You have left out the thing that is of interest to the Lord - the house of God. Seek that, and "from this day will I bless you". It is not worldliness, but it is seeking earthly blessing.

And now where is your heart, and what is your thought and purpose in this day? There is one thing that addresses itself with distinctness to our heart, and that is: "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner".

[Page 49]


Genesis 22:1 - 14

It has been remarked before that the life of Abraham is properly divided into three parts. The first is the land; the second, the heir; and here we come to the last, which is the greatest; and, though consecutive historically, they are nearly parallel typically. It is not simply the place, neither is it the Lord in the place, but we are now brought in to learn what it is practically to have our "faith and hope in God".

In speaking of Abraham here, I will first recite the simple case, and then how it is doctrinally true, and lastly how it is practically true.

First, here is Abraham entitled to everything that God had given him, but he is called to put all the lights out, with his own hands. There is nothing wrong in what he has, but he is to throw himself into darkness on this side, that he may have the light on the other side. He offered up his son, counting upon "God who raises the dead". He threw himself into darkness in this present scene, so that he might have the light in that. You must accept the darkness on this side if you are to have the light on that. When I present the fact that we have to do with the Man in heaven, that involves your placing yourself in darkness as to the man here: that is a tunnel.

The more we are in the tunnel, the more we are leaving the darkness behind us, and coming to the light on the other side. The darkness is connected with what we are passing through. I do not want you simply to take hold of the fact that you are united to a Man in heaven, but I want your soul to accept the tunnel. I begin with the fact that I have to do with One in glory who is the light, and joy, and undivided

[Page 50]

resource of my heart; but, on the other hand, what do I accept in this present scene, but that all goes into darkness here in order that I may more enjoy the brilliancy of the light that is on the other side? You will find that practically we are all brought into the tunnel on this side. That is what Abraham was called to do, and he finds that it is God, as Jehovah-Jireh, that he has to do with: it is that same word that he says to Isaac as they are going up the hill; when he has reached the point he can say, The Lord will see to it; God will provide Himself a lamb.

Now let me just note one or two matters connected with it. I suppose even the youngest child could not read this chapter without being struck with the thought that it was no easy matter, this man going up day after day to reach a point where, with his own hand, he was to put out all that was cheering to him on earth. What sustained him, as with measured tread he advanced up the hill? He says, I count upon God as I pass into the tunnel; I have to find my way through this impenetrable darkness. He does not run at the thing; he does not hastily accomplish it; but it was day after day, step by step, and he reached it with his heart deepening in the fact, I have to do with God.

Oh, it is a wonderful thing! And, believe me, when you come to speak of practice, the measure of your strength is the measure of the strait you go through with God. You say, I have gone through deep sorrow; but the question is whether you have gone through it with God - as counting upon Him . The strait you have passed through with God is the real measure of your strength; that is what it is in every case. Therefore the scripture says, "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience". It is trying, not trial . It is no trial to a horse to jump over a fence; he only really makes manifest what is already there. And your faith will be put to the trial,

[Page 51]

if you use the word in that way, but it is only trying, not trial - it is putting it to the test. Abraham had this faith forty years before it was tried. There is forty years between Paul and James. James says he was "justified by works", when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar.

Have you faith about a certain thing? Do you say, I have seen it and know it? Well, I say, you will be tried certainly; it may be thirty or forty years before you are, but it will come out in the end; you will certainly be tried. The children of Israel were accustomed to earthly blessings, and the Lord showed them that they were learning more by trial in the wilderness, where for forty years He suffered them to hunger and fed them with manna, that they might know "that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live"; they found out thus what God was, the One who was to be their Succour in it.

So with Abraham here; it was the faith that he had before that is now being put to the test. He had seen the star-spangled sky, and had said, I believe that. And now, says God, here is the heir, and a great many years ago you said you believed me; now I am putting you to the test: put him to death.

Death is that for which we have no remedy; and, what is more, there is no law of nature about death. It takes anybody, young or old - anybody; it does not come after a certain number of years; it is arbitrary. It is not a question of a thing that is mendable; it is not a thing within the compass of man; that is the reason it brings in God with it. He was to put him to death; he was to offer him up; he expected God to raise him from the dead; but, as far as he himself was concerned, he was to put himself into complete darkness. When death comes in, there is no remedy; God says, I stand there; death is a thing beyond you; you cannot touch it. The reason I speak of it

[Page 52]

now is that this was the thing that was called for in Abraham. When we come to practice we find it is darkness, but the moment our eye rests upon Christ we get light in it.

Abraham here went into the tunnel; indeed he was more like a contractor making a tunnel for himself. He found a way through it to God; the way that faith penetrated through to get to the light on the other side. He could say, Well, I can take the darkness, I can bring it in with my own hand, because I count upon God who raises the dead. How this was fulfilled in the Lord!

The heart is not sufficiently honest about it. Did you not bring death into the world? You have brought it in, for death was the judgment for sin. And yet people seem so surprised when death overtakes them: and we all have felt it. Well, who brought it in - this terrible thing - this anomalous thing? What is the character of it? Why, that "man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward"; so much so that the poet says, "Every great thought is allied to melancholy". That is what we have brought in ourselves. We are not only suffering from the judgment of God, but we cannot look at the dearest object we have on earth without thinking: Death may lay its finger on it, death may sweep it away. We have brought it into the world ourselves, so we ought not to be surprised at its overtaking us. Thus it is that the man who possesses most in this world is the most miserable. Solomon says, "Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them".

Now the Lord has come in and what He has done is this. He was the Son of the Father - He was the perfect Man who answered to the mind of God; but He says, I am not going to abide alone. I do not think we estimate what a terrible thing it was for Christ to die; He, the Creator, the Prince of Life!

[Page 53]

We do not estimate what it was for Him to be brought into the dust of death; He says, "Father, save me from this hour", and "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death".

On the Lord's day morning, when the saints are gathered round the Lord's table, the heart is sad and grieved as one sees their demeanour and their dress. If it were one of their own relations that had died, their whole demeanour would be different; so would their dress be different. And we go there not only to remember the death of our greatest Benefactor, but that He died for me . I say nothing shows the unfeeling nature of our hearts more than the way we take the death of Christ. You cannot meet a greater death than the death of Christ. Death has done its worst; the greatest death I can ever have to meet is the death of the Lord. I often prepare myself for the death of friends in thinking of this. Christ's death has thrown the whole of this scene into a new order of things; it threw man out, and cast the terrible shade of His own death over all here. I am in the scene where Christ has died, and the table of the Lord is the avowal of this, that I have passed from the man that is here, to the Man that has died for me. I "show the Lord's death till he come".

It is the wonderful centre-point of Christianity. In baptism I renounce myself because of the death of Christ; but the Lord's supper is the avowal that I not only touch Him in His death, but that I have communion with His body, and with His blood. I am like the very Man that was here upon earth; I have His very nature. I have reached Him through His death. "Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour".

He is the antitype of both Abraham and Isaac. He was the One who met all the mind of God, but He says, I will give it all up; with My own hand I will put out the light. It was His own action, and

[Page 54]

therefore at the Supper He "gave thanks ". He was the most wonderful impersonation of divine beauty as a Man, but He says, I will let it all go; and, not one shade of regret, I will give thanks; this is My body which is for you; this is My blood which is shed for you.

The characteristic expression of the Lord's supper is that we have passed from the man that is here. So says the apostle to the Corinthians: I have shown you your folly; now I speak as to wise men. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" It is through Christ's death that I reach the Man that is there, and thus I am referred back to John 6, and eat His flesh and drink His blood.

They all bungled about this from the beginning. Every one says, We like to be like Jesus, and I agree with it, but how do you work it out? I say, I never can reach Him but through His death - death of judgment, and death of calamity, too. I have communion with the blood of Christ, and I have communion with the body of Christ. I make a way through; I go down into the darkness that I may find Him at the other side. He goes down into it. When is the Son of man glorified? When He goes down under all the weight of our judgment.

He is more careful to maintain the glory of God - what is due to Him - when He takes that place, than to secure my deliverance. He answers so completely to the requirements of God, He will not weaken any of them; for indeed He is more occupied, if I may so say, with maintaining the glory of God, than with the benefit that will accrue to me from it. He has entered into this; He has gone down into the judgment, and made a way through it; He has been raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, and has brought in the light of another day.

He is now the One to impart eternal life - life that

[Page 55]

was now to be imparted with a new order of things. Life was connected with blood; now it is connected with the Holy Spirit: "Receive the Holy Spirit". I have a life now that is on the other side of death, on the other side of the tunnel, a life that can go through it, because the Life that has gone through it is our life. As you get in the third of John: the Son of man must be lifted up. He has opened the way through, and now He imparts life to us; death is on our side, but life on His.

And He has given me the light of the eternal day to enjoy that eternal life - divine capacity to enjoy God without any languor whatever. It is an entirely new thing imported; He has broken the power of death and abolished it, and He has brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel. It is not that I get a man like Lazarus coming out of it, for he was bound with grave clothes; but the Lord has broken the whole power of death; the napkin about His head was laid aside.

What I want now definitely to bring before you is this: that the Lord Jesus Christ has gone into death, and you have really to accept the fact. You all know the benefit of His death, but will you go the road? Will you take the tunnel? You say, Oh! I will have all the benefit of it, soon. No doubt you will; but what about it now? Look at the apostle; he says, Always bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in me.

God will never let any soul be able to say that he is neglected. He gives you a blow sufficient to make you understand His will, and, if you do not bow to that blow, He will not give you another for perhaps four or five years. He says, Well, if you will not bow, I will let you alone. But, if you do bow, He says, I will never take my hand off you. "We which live are alway delivered unto death". He never takes His hand off.

[Page 56]

1 know I used to think, Well, the Lord will take His hand off after this; I shall have good times when once this trial is over; I will just live this out, and then I shall have a run of fine weather! And so it was for a time; but, the moment I began to bend, down came another stroke, and I came to understand that it is, "We which live are alway delivered unto death"; I found out that it is, If you bend, I will give you another stroke, but I will help you through it. It is "alway delivered", and you brought it in; there is a justice in it.

The leader of a forlorn hope says, "Death or glory"; the Christian says, Death and glory. There are only two true things, death and glory - not death or glory. It is not only that Christ has answered to my sins, but He has entitled me to the inheritance of glory. It is plain no person can appreciate glory except as he knows death. I see many people who know little or nothing of it, and I say, you have never yet tasted what death is; I do not mean bereavement, so much as a true sense of what the death of Christ is.

Now you believe in the benefit, but are you enjoying it? I do not believe you ever will, until you take the tunnel, and get the light on the other side.

But, you say, will you tell us what is the tunnel? Why, throw everything here into the dark, that you may have the light there. I walk right into it; I am looking for the light at the other side; but then, if I do, I must throw the light here into darkness. "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore". What loss if I gain the sense of eternal life - eternal brightness? I have my heart comforted by that blessed One with the joys that accompany that life which He has brought in, and it is then a small thing to throw all here into the shade. Any man who is trying to enjoy this present life is not enjoying the other.

[Page 57]

You say, Am I to give up this or that? It is not a question of what I am going to give up; that is surrender, and I am not saying anything about surrender. Jephthah was as wrong as Abraham was right; if you do such things you will be made weak. But I accept death; that is the great thing; it is all darkness here; the true character of this scene is death. The greatest One who was ever on this earth died from off it; He entered into death and thus He throws a shade over all this scene, and I do not expect anything but death here.

Then am I to be melancholy? Not at all! I pass from it into a scene of settled enjoyment - of perennial brightness; not the coming and going. Saints have not the sense of perennial brightness; they are not sensibly united to Christ; and, as a consequence, they are often unhappy and dull if the meeting is not a happy one. I am often happier at an unhappy meeting than at a happy one, because then I rise from circumstantials to the One who is the source of brightness, and I say, I am happy in the Lord, though I am not at all happy in the way you are going on. Instead of finding the "joints and bands", I have to fall back to the Lord, the source of them. The state of the bride in the Canticles, is just that; when He is present all is right. But I am never dissociated from Him; I am united to Him; I have to do with Him. Instead of finding that I am contributed to by the scene through which I am passing, I seek for nothing from it; I am satisfied with Himself; my most blessed and happy time is to be in solitude with Himself; all my power to enjoy is in Himself.

Well, it is in proportion as you accept the tunnel now you will enjoy the glory afterwards - the light of the day that is coming. It is not always necessarily bereavement; the apostle's "death" - that to which he was delivered - was, I think, persecution; it does not always mean bereavement.

[Page 58]

I pass on now to the effect of the doctrine. Doctrinally we must accept the fact that we have to do with death; you must bring death before your soul in order to enhance what Christ has done for you. I take three aspects of this. First the passover in Egypt; then the Red Sea; then Jordan.

First, the blood was shed. The person was to go in and shut the door, and eat the lamb roast with fire. Had not he to do with death? I say that all the loss of souls is that they have not to do with death. Oh, I am saved by the blood! you say. Very true, but staying thus you will never get out of Egypt.

Then I come to the Red Sea, where all the enemies were drowned; and I walk through it with all the assurance that Christ has first walked through it for me. You have touched it; you have been made conversant with it; it is not that you can, as it were, pass it lightly from you.

And then I come to the Jordan, and I have to walk across it, with this difference as compared with the Red Sea, that I do not see a drop of water at all. And there I am over the tunnel.

Now what is a dead man really? A dead man is one who has neither a hope nor a fear. Have you done with prospects? Prospects are far harder to get rid of than possessions, because possessions you have, and know the value of, but prospects you do not. It is a grand thing if you are done with prospects.

Now I do not believe that simple ability will ever rise to any eminence; there must be ambition also. Many men have ability who have not ambition; but it is your aspirations which mark your destiny. It is a great loss to the natural character not to have ambition; if you have no ambition, you will not apply yourself to a thing; but, if you have, you are sure to apply yourself. You will find that the most eminent men are the most laborious. The higher the bird goes, the more strain there is upon his wing.

[Page 59]

You say, What are you going there for? I am going because the Spirit of God leads me. But He will lead you through Jordan! Ah, never mind that! I have lost everything, I have neither a hope, nor a fear.

I find most people cannot give up their expectations you have not lost attractions here - links to the scene. It will not do for you to say, I will stand and look over; they had to walk across Jordan. I have traversed the place where I have been dead myself; I have traversed it with my eye upon the One who has abolished it. I do not "Stand shivering on the brink afraid to launch away". I have the enjoyment before me of that land that is mine. I have got onto the ground of God, and that land is mine - mine before I enjoy it. It is not that I get it before I go in, but it is mine before I realise it.

So much for it doctrinally. Now I come to it practically; what it is to express it; what it is to a person when he really accepts it.

How differently we all view things here! I say to a person, What are you looking forward to in this world? He tells me, I am looking forward to the time when I shall be able to give up my business, and have some quiet little country place to which I can retire with my family. Oh, then you are not looking for the tunnel! Paul says, I see the martyr's course and the stake before me; the fellowship of his sufferings, and being made conformable unto His death. I say to a man who has friends, What would you do if they were all to go? How would you stand if everything went? I have One who never can go - One who has won my heart; and that One will group round Himself every single worthy object of my heart in that bright morning of resurrection; there they are! If my heart is wrenched when the calamity of death befalls me, it is there I learn to know the One who will walk beside me, as surely as He walked beside Mary. And he does not do it like the benevolent man of this world, who would do anything to relieve a

[Page 60]

hungry man, but who does not at all know what his feelings are. There are very few who would say, I will suffer hunger so that I may know what a hungry man feels. But this is what the Lord has done; He has made Himself familiar with my circumstances that He might be able to sympathise with me in them.

If you only accept the Lord's supper all comes easy. The fact is I have changed my man. I desire to cultivate the knowledge of this more. I often come from the Lord's table with a sort of a shudder at the thought that I have to deal again with the man of the earth, that I have to go out again into the midst of men to be jostled and pushed by the man for whom Christ died. It is "the communion of the blood of Christ". It is to me one of the solemn thoughts that surround the soul at the Lord's table, that He walks into the midst Himself, to see how His people are remembering His death. The angels look on with wonder, as they see His people gathered together in solemn conclave to remember His death.

I will take now an example in Genesis 50, to show you how you really have to learn practically the tunnel in order that you may know the value of Christ. There is one thing that is as clear as daylight, and that is, that a great many people have gone through trials that have not done them a bit of good. A person goes into trial, but God only knows how that man will come out; in most cases they come out of it worse than they went in. If you become occupied with your sufferings, if you get full of yourself, you will come out worse than you went in; but if you are exercised by it, "afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness", as if you had not done anything wrong at all. But, if you do not get the sympathy of Christ with you in the trial, you will come out worse than you went in. It is a well-known thing, that going through the world without sympathy makes the hardest of men; the favourite of the family,

[Page 61]

is always the most lovable; it often makes them selfish, but still they are loving.

Joseph was the best of the brothers. Never was such a brother! I ask every person in this room, Do you know Him - the true Joseph? Are you intimate with Him? Joseph's brethren never knew his heart. When did they learn it? When death came in - when "their father was dead". Then they said, Joseph will hate us. You have not yet learned what Christ is! Now Joseph wept, and he spake to their hearts: "I will nourish you and your little ones". And when does this happen? After they had been living seventeen years upon his bounty: then they entered the tunnel; light comes in, and brings out these two things; Joseph wept, and his brethren spoke to him.

But now look at what happened. Seventeen years had transpired, so that there was no question as to his being their saviour . But has the death of your father so come in that there is no screen between you and the Lord Jesus Christ? I am then practically brought into such close quarters with Him, that I have discovered His heart at the very same time that I have discovered my own enormity. Thus the two things come out together. And how do they come out? - Simply by death coming in, and never could they come out any otherwise.

I next take the widow of Sarepta in 1 Kings 17. Elijah is here a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is now looking out for a home with a poor Gentile. He says, Her misery has touched my heart; I will go to her, and there I will find a home. She is seeking two sticks that she may make a meal for herself and her son, that they may eat it and die. And what can any of us speak of more than one meal? If even that! Here was a heart that was trying to make the best of life while it lasted, and that was only for one meal. I am going to die, so I may as well make the best of it while it lasts; a short life and a merry one!

[Page 62]

But Elijah knocks at the door: May I come in? Yes, come in, and very glad. He comes in, and she, and her son, and the prophet eat many days; a full year goes by; a spring, a summer, an autumn, a winter go over them - every variety of season before the trial comes; they had a very enjoyable time. But what happens now? Death comes in; the tunnel. And you find she is really not clear about anything; she says, You are come to call my sin to remembrance. Elijah stretches himself upon the child - Christ's own action in joining Himself to the dead; the child's soul returns to him again, and Elijah comes down and says, There is your son alive! And now she can say, I have been in the tunnel, I have learned in it that you are a man of God; I have learned what your heart is; I see that life is come out of death.

Let me say, in passing, that the chastening spoken of in Hebrews 12 is not in connection with wrong doing, but with right doing. It will do you good, you will think less of yourself in future, but it is those who are suffering for righteousness; it is resisting unto blood striving against sin . "My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him". Neither be a duck that does not mind the rain, nor a hen that is miserable in it, but say, I am looking for the benefit that is to accrue to me from this very painful circumstance.

When the widow of Nain lost her only son, she lost her last link to earth. We are so constituted that if the heart has twenty-one links, and twenty of them are broken, it will still hang on to the twenty-first; and this is where the trial comes in; lose the twenty-first and all is over. The meaning of the word Nain is beautiful; it means pleasantness. The Lord comes in at Nain at the most solemn time that you can conceive; the last prop of the broken heart - of the widowed heart has failed. Well it was now that life

[Page 63]

was to come in. Life and incorruptibility have been brought to light.

I see people shrinking from it, but the word is, "Count it all joy", for I have got the strength of Christ in it; I have faith in what He is to me there.

Now I pass on to take Jonah as an example of another kind. Jonah is a servant who will not do the Lord's will. Well, says the Lord, I will bring him down to death; I will bring him down to where he cannot do one single thing; nothing but death before him, and death, too, with a bad conscience. Then Jonah prays to God, and says, "I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will look again toward thy holy temple". And now Jonah comes up again, having learned death upon himself. But he has to learn death in a double way. Sometimes I know death only in myself, and then I learn to be devoted. When I learn that God is absolutely for me, then I am absolutely for Him; it brings out devotedness to God in me when I have learned that God is for me. But many a devoted man is like Jonah when he comes up; he is full of God's work, but he is not soft . He must be softened. God will soften me here; I have a double death to learn.

Now Jonah rests under the gourd, and finds his consolation in it, and his affections drawn out towards it; and God says, I have drawn out your affections; now I will take it all away. Jonah is a plain, honest man, and he says, I do well to be angry.

And it is ever thus. It is double death - double suffering; one connected with the circumstances, the other with the person. When you are suffering from sickness it has a different effect upon you from what it has when you are suffering in your surroundings. It is like Gideon's fleece; at one time death only on the individual; at another, death all around us. It is a terrible thing to have to learn that we can survive the death of everything here; but then death has come

[Page 64]

in, not to bring this out, but that it may cast you upon God . This is the virtue of it, and death has come in that it may bring it out.

Well, one more example. Hezekiah had been the servant of God for fourteen years - twice seven; and then God said to him, Now you are to set your house in order, for you are to die and not to live; now you are to go into the tunnel. And Hezekiah is the most abject picture of misery. He says, Like a crane or a swallow so do I chatter. Why? Because all his links were here .

And do not imagine that this is a peculiar case. At many persons' death-beds there is often a wonderful loosening from all here. At first the work may be very slow, but as soon as they come to the point, It is all gone here, then it is all bright there. There are often those who have a physical fear of death, but the nearer they come to it the less they care about it. The sad part of many death-beds is, that, instead of being happy at the prospect of going to be with Christ, they are at first quite inconsolable at the thought of death. I think the death-beds of most of the saints in this day are lamentable exhibitions; no joy; just quiet peace at the most; showing how little they know of the One they are going to.

Let me take another example: that of Paul in Philippians 1. He says, I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. I can take the tunnel with cheerfulness. I have not got a single link here upon earth; Jerusalem was my gourd, and a very strong link it was; but that is gone, and I can take the tunnel cheerfully.

I find many persons will talk of the Lord's coming who cannot look at their own side of it at all. Are you quite ready to go? I will look at that side. I long to depart, I have nothing to stay for; all the strings are cut, and the balloon is ready to go. Well, if you are ready to go, you were never so fit to stay; you are not

[Page 65]

fit to stay until you are ready to go. The man who has ties here must be warped . Surrounded with family ties and links, he feels how hard it would be to have to leave them, not only on his side, but on theirs. The apostle says, I am ready to go; I have not one single thing to detain me, it is better to be with Christ, far better.

Then, when you come to the moral dealing, do not shrink from it. The only thing that can make the glory true to your heart is death here. The proper setting for the diamond here is death. As I walk through the tunnel I am learning the blessedness of that One who has brought in the glory to be my light in it. The true place morally for us is, as Peter says, that of death. "As Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind".

If Christ suffered for you in the flesh, what are you going to do? Are you going to minister to the flesh? It is a most monstrous thing to say, I will minister to the flesh for which Christ died. I, who am Christ's member! But you say, my spirit is all right. Yes, but your body is a member of Christ. Would you put on it an ornament that Christ would not put on? Would you go to a flower show? It is your body that is a member of Christ. Am I to put the members of Christ in an unholy position? I am going to melt my body into glass, that I may be so transparent that the life of Christ only may shine out in it.

If you were thus faithfully going on, instead of finding things to invite and attract you, you would find that they were cut down, and that you were shut out from them. What your taste is in most, you suffer in most; so that where you are naturally most alive, is the very place you will find most death. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, goes into the third heaven, and he comes down and finds: I am made nothing of; I am cut short in the very thing I was eminent for. I am made little in humanity where I am made most in

[Page 66]

Christ. Where I had my natural power, there death has come in. Paul was a very energetic man; he ended by being shut up in prison.

I close with that as the moral. We know not when we may meet again, but we know Him who has made the way through the tunnel; we know the brightness of that scene where Christ is - the brightness of that eternal day; but, if you want to deepen your sense of it, you must accept the tunnel - accept all here as a waste; throw all the light here into darkness, that you may have the light beyond you.

I often see that while people talk of making Christ their object they do not make Him their mark . Now a mark is a thing that I see; you cannot have a mark unless you can see it. If you take Christ as your mark you cannot get a higher. If you can take the highest fence, of course you will be able to take the next, which is lower. Christ, "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God". Then what place do you expect? Nothing but a place of suffering; and I do not expect any mitigation of it.

Then do I steel my heart against everything that is beautiful? Not at all; but I accept what is true of myself. I am brought now into a path where there is "fulness of joy"; but that joy is at His "right hand ". You have to refuse to indulge yourself here; the smallest indulgence in a certain sense is mischief. The world neglects the body at one time and indulges it at another; but the body is the Lord's, and I take the proper care of it - methodical care of it - because it is His; but I do not indulge it; "Christ suffered in the flesh".

When a person argues, What harm is there in doing anything? I say, Stop, that is the flesh! there is no use saying any more about it. I have to do with Him who is all the source of life and power, and in whose presence is "fulness of joy".

[Page 67]

The more I go into the tunnel - the more I cast everything into the shade here - the more I know of the glory beyond. The Lord lead our hearts to know what a real thing it is to walk through this world in all the joy of Him, who has opened up a way through this wilderness into the light, and joy, and blessedness of the living God.

[Page 68]


2 Corinthians 12:1 - 12

You see the saint in this scripture in two positions very different from each other; the one a position of unbroken enjoyment; the other, one of conflict and power.

Enjoyment is for heaven; power is for earth. You have the enjoyment all inside with God; and this so great, that, as Paul says, he knew not whether he was in the body or out of the body. But now, having tasted enjoyment up there, he comes down to "take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, them am I strong". There you need power.

But I want to know, beloved friends, who is the man that can take this place? Who is the man of power on earth? The man who alone can take this place is the one who has learned what he can glory in - the one who knows that he has the brightest scene with God above.

This principle, which to any student of Scripture is quite evident, you get plainly enough all through the Old Testament. In Joshua, for instance, you see the children of Israel, after they enter the land, have first to do with the presence of the Lord; circumcision takes place - the inside thing (chapter 5); and then they go out in power against their enemies; they walk round Jericho, and the walls fall down flat. Power comes out - the outside thing - power comes out in opposition to everything that is against them. There could not be a greater contrast than there is between the fifth and the sixth chapters of Joshua.

Now, whilst we find standing clearly taught in the New Testament, it is in the Old Testament that we

[Page 69]

find the state of individuals plainly marked. The New Testament teaches me my standing; the Old Testament defines my state, and what my state is in keeping with my standing.

It is of the greatest importance to us practically, in such a day as this, to know what power is, and how it may be had. There has been a great deal of light given to us on the word of God in these times, but now, amid such breadth and clearness of statement of truth, the great want is power . Generally people do not fail in enjoyment of the truth, but they fail in power to carry it out.

In the scripture we have read, the apostle had come from a scene of unbroken enjoyment, to find that there was given to him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him. He was almost overcome by it. But the effect of it was to teach him, that what he was now to glory in was "infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses for Christ's sake; for", he adds, "when I am weak, then am I strong" - a sentence that is entirely inexplicable to the mind of man. Paul was to know the power of Christ in his weakness, and to find that that weakness was the very opportunity for the expression of power.

People are often sorely tried when they find that failure succeeds a time of spiritual enjoyment; the effort of Satan, at such a time, is to make the heart question whether there really was any enjoyment at all; and he often succeeds. This is where saints fail. Many a one is extremely happy in his private meditations; there is not a cloud when he leaves his room in the morning; but he comes out and he fails directly. Why? Because he trusts in his enjoyment instead of in Christ. His enjoyment is true, but he begins to question it, because he fails.

When Paul was in the third heaven, what a scene of inexpressible bliss it was! It could not have been added to. And thus, let me say in passing, you never

[Page 70]

can improve your acceptance. The person who thinks of improving his acceptance is all wrong. You never can attain standing; no ability of yours acquires it; it is a gift; and your heart ought to be simple in the enjoyment of it. You are accepted as perfectly the first moment you believe, as you are when you have been fifty years a Christian; you may enjoy it more then, but you cannot either improve it or increase it.

I will use a word which I think will make it plain to you. People confound their acceptability with their acceptance . You should never have a question as to your acceptance, but you cannot be too anxious about your acceptability.

The great lack of the present day is that people are not anxious about their acceptability; but no amount of anxiety would ever make you one bit more accepted than you are. A rose tree is a rose tree, though it may never bear a rose; a poor thing truly, but still a rose tree; but it is not an acceptable one. A goldfinch is a goldfinch, though it never sing a note; but it is not an acceptable one. You cannot seek too much to make yourself acceptable; break your heart over that, and you will not be wrong.

"Enoch walked with God", and "he had this testimony that he pleased God"; there was an acceptable man. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous"; there was an accepted man. Therefore Scripture says, "We labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be acceptable to him" - not "accepted" as it is in our translation - "for we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ". This is acceptability. Faith, without a particle of works, gets me into the place God has given me; works determine my position, and it is important to keep this in mind.

I have not to do with enjoyment only. True, I am accepted, and I have the enjoyment of that acceptance

[Page 71]

in which God has placed me; but, as to my body, I am down here in a scene of frailty and infirmity, and the very weakness of my body becomes an opportunity for the grace of Christ to shine out, so that "when I am weak, then am I strong". The power is to be known in the weak point. This is a truth which comes home to every one of us.

There are two things I want to say. One is, what power effects in a person. Power is to be known at the weak point. Power is not so much what you do, as what you are. Every one is trying to do something, but you will never do anything except as you are it. The body is a poor weak vessel, but it is in that power is seen; therefore the apostle says that he takes pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in things that affect him as a man in weakness, for he has learned that, because there was a danger of his being puffed up, "a thorn in the flesh" has been sent to him.

But, as I said, there are two things here: one, the power that proves itself in my weakest point; the other, that I have patience; and patience is the greatest element of power.

The man of power is known in a double way: wherever there is a defect morally, there you will find its opposite will come out; there will be a virtue there. Suppose a man is a drunkard; he is converted; and now it is not that he abstains from drink merely, but that he has a taste for sobriety. You may suppress a vice in the power of nature, but that does not put a virtue in its place. You must not only pluck up the weed out of your garden, but you must introduce a divine plant in its place. I state that when a Christian is walking in grace the defect in his nature is supplanted by a virtue.

The action of power is different with respect to a defect and to mere weakness. In the former, as I have shown, there is a virtue introduced in its place.

[Page 72]

In the latter, though the weakness - such as timidity, natural nervousness - continue, yet "My grace is sufficient", and the power of Christ rests on you.

A person may say, I have great enjoyment in the Lord. I do not doubt it, but I might reply, you have not much power. How do you know that? Because you are very defective in your walk. I do not see you triumphing over this or that defect in your nature. If you had power, you would be triumphant in your defects and supported in your weaknesses. See Elisha, how he follows Elijah with the most devoted heart, but he has not power yet. Power is the carrying out in your body the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It comes out in the point where you are defective. You can see a person of power at once.

Take as an example that verse in 2 Corinthians 4"We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us". I speak now of what power is in itself. That is the wonderful place the Lord puts it in - poor earthen vessels - "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us".

I hear persons say continually, "Oh, you must make an excuse for me! that is my besetting sin, or my special weakness!" I reply, I can make no excuse for you: that defect is the very opportunity for divine strength; that is just where you ought to be the strongest. What would you think of a medical man, whom you sent for on account of a head-ache, if he directed his attention to every part but your head, and did that no good at all? Why, you would say, You have failed in the very point for which I sent for you.

Is it not beautiful and fitting that it should be thus? You are upon earth still in the body; full of weakness and defects, but each counteracted by the power of Christ.

I will give you an illustration of what I mean from

[Page 73]

the way pearls are produced. A little bit of grit inside the shell of the oyster so annoys and disturbs it, that it covers it over with the lining of the shell, and thus a pearl is gained. That is how it should be with you. The bit of grit in you ought to become a pearl. We ought to be beautiful people! I admit the defect that is in my nature; but, where the grit or defect is in me, there the pearl should be - the beautiful perfect thing covering the defect, till only the beauty is seen. The Lord is keeping His eye upon it.

You get an illustration of this in the palsied man brought to Christ. Powerlessness brings me to Christ. If you are not powerless you will not come to Christ. If you had not an atom of your own power, you would be as happy as the day is long. If you had no power, you would go to Christ, and you would come away with the power of Christ, and carry your bed! The very thing that every one in this room thinks I can never give up, that is the very thing Christ's power will lead you to give up. That is where His power will express itself.

Now you ask me for a passage to confirm this but, in a certain sense, where truth is, you do not want a passage to confirm it, because all the tenor of Scripture is with you. However I will give you Ephesians 4:28. "Let him that stole steal no more". There is legal righteousness. I speak now to people who hold to the law. If you stay there, I say, you are a very low Christian if you do not go beyond the law. The first line of this verse brings you up to the law. But let me follow it out; what do I find? "Rather let him labour working with his hands the thing which is good". Now mark what is there! Is it for his own need? Not at all! But "that he may have to give to him that needeth". Is not that a pearl? He is to toil with his own hands, that he may be a giver. The thief is to be a giver! That is power.

Power comes in in the most ordinary details of life;

[Page 74]

it affects a person in every relationship of life, if he is walking in power. The first part of power is, that it comes in to check every defect and weakness of the flesh. The Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for thee"; I am not going to take away the thorn, because you will find that when you are weak then you are strong. I want to show you that you will be humble who were proud; and, as to an ambitious man, when that man is in the power of Christ I find he is not ambitious. It is said, My greatest aim is to rise to eminence in the church. I say to such, My dear friend, you know nothing of what you are; if you did, instead of wanting to rise to eminence, you would be down on your face before God. I hear others talk of "mastering" a truth! and to such I say, My friend, you have made the greatest mistake, and have lost the idea altogether; you will certainly be confounded by it. Instead of your "mastering" truth, truth is to "master" you. The more the heart knows of Christ, and the more it knows of any truth, the more it learns its inability to master it, and its incompetency to give it out.

You will find in every servant of God, while he is acting in power, that he is true to the grace of God, and afraid of his own natural powers. Moses was naturally a man of great muscular strength: he could kill a man. But he must not trust to this at all; he just waves the rod, and everything is done without an effort; but the moment he falls back to using his own power - the moment he smites the rock twice - he is not to go into the land. Power does not use the natural thing; it comes in and says, You must be entirely for Me.

Power is the most quiet thing that is. Divine power is a noiseless, majestic, resistless thing; everything about it is fitting and beautiful. I often think what a little sense I have of the magnitude of this divine power. As it says in Psalm 46"The heathen raged,

[Page 75]

the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted". There I have the majesty of divine

power; it makes no noise, no parade, no ostentation, but it acts . I have always felt that the great potato blight was brought about by divine power, because it was so universal and so noiseless.

But there is another point of this power I must allude to, which is perhaps more interesting. What proves power? I have given you the evidence of power; but the proof of power is patience . There is nothing so proves power as patience. I know we do not understand the meaning of patience. It means endurance . The man who holds out is the man of patience. The moment of the greatest power in a saint of God, has been that in which he has held out most. The proof of power then in a person, is that he holds out, and this power comes out where he is most defective; it is this grace of Christ, so that he can hold out.

In Hebrews 10 it says, "Ye have need of patience". We have not all got patience. It is the same word as that used for endurance when speaking of Moses in the following chapter. First it says, he "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter". Now that is one part of power, but it is not patience. What I want to call your attention to is, that it is not the part of patience - either the "refusing", or the "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God". I see those who can refuse things, and those who can choose the best things; but there is a greater thing to come. I say you have to endure. "He endured as seeing him who is invisible". That is what I come to. There are the two parts of power. There is the refusing of the things that gratify me, and there is the enduring the pressure that comes upon me. I say, Why do you hold out? Because "I know whom I have believed". The thing that marks patience is that I hold out; I do not give in. Paul says to Timothy, "Thou therefore endure hardness ".

[Page 76]

And in the tenth verse of the same chapter he says, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes"; just what he says of Moses in Hebrews 11. Nothing can give you a more wonderful idea of what patience is, than to see a person under all the pressure possible, yet saying, I will not give in an inch.

You see how James presses it upon the saints in his epistle. "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure . Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy". Now it was not that Job was a very quiet-spirited man, but that he would not give in an inch. People begin by giving in a little; and when you give in a little, you are done - your power is gone. You may be sure that, when you do give in, and think it does not much matter about something which seems insignificant in itself, that you are giving up the best bit of truth you have. It is the best thing you give up first. It is the top shoot that goes first when the frost comes; it always takes the bud of the tree; and then you have lost an immense thing, though you may say, I have only gone back a little bit; you have not held out.

Let me turn to Romans 5. Here we read, "not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience ". And in another place we get: "In your patience possess ye your souls". It is an immense thing practically for the heart to come to the point: Well now I can bear it all, no matter what happens.

The great thing that qualifies a man for service is, not how he can do a great thing, but how he can bear tremendous pressure. When he is prepared for preferment, the question is, How much pressure can you bear? A man that can stand any amount of pressure is qualified for the highest place. Take Joseph in

[Page 77]

prison, forgotten by the man he had befriended; but he held out, and was thus qualified for the highest place in the kingdom. Take David: he was never in more trying circumstances than at Ziklag; he was deprived of everything. What does he do? He is patient. He says, The Lord is God; I will still hold on. He "encouraged himself in the Lord his God". And he was actually qualified at that moment for the throne of Israel; Saul was just then falling on mount Gilboa.

It is a great principle. I see persons with Scripture at their fingers' ends, but look at them in their families! And I say to any such: You cannot bear that; you are not able to stand there; you are not fit for your duties; you have not patience. In the sixth chapter of this epistle Paul says, "In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience ".

When a person talks to me of power, I say to him, In what way are you taking everything? Can you bear up against anything?

Just turn to Colossians 1; there we read, "strengthened with all power" - it should be - unto what? "unto all patience ". All patience! This is the point that I want practically to get my soul to.

I look back at all the saints of God, and, from among them, I take Abraham as an example of what I am speaking of. When he goes into the land the second time, he says to Lot, You take your choice; I can surrender . And that is, I believe, the first characteristic of power. A person who does not begin by refusing, will never end by enduring. If the children of the captivity had not refused the king's wine, they would never have endured the king's furnace. They were separate in their position, but that is not enough. It was not only that Moses "refused" all that was in Egypt, but "endured ".

One constantly sees this. Persons refuse a good deal, but they have not this patience - they cannot

[Page 78]

hold on. I say, I must hold on; I am not going to give up at all. But, you say, things are all going to pieces! I cannot help that. I am not going to give up; I must hold on with tenacity; like the old Athenian general who would not let the ship get away: he held on first with one hand; they chopped that off; then he held on with the other; and they chopped that off; and then he held on with his teeth; and they chopped his head off. There was a specimen of what mere nature will do in the way of holding on. Have you got the grace in you for that? Of Abraham we read, "After he had patiently endured he obtained the promise". If a person yields, he has lost the practical power to maintain his ground.

Well, beloved friends, I hope our eyes are awaking to the state of things we are set in. If you look upwards it is all a scene of brightness - one clear, unclouded sky. But alas! I know the story for myself, and so I know it for others, how many a one leaves his room in the most unclouded enjoyment who is in a few hours, or even in a few minutes, cast down and depressed, because of the way in which he has failed. And why is it? It is because he is not dependent. Are you then to think that the enjoyment was a delusion? No! all remains true as ever; but you must learn to bear opposition; that is patience; and you must depend on Christ; that is power . It is not only that you must refuse; the question is: Can you bear? Have you patience? Can you say you will not yield, no matter what the pressure is? whether it be the saints that are against you, or anything else.

If you look at any of God's servants, what was the moment of greatest power in that man's life? I say, not the moment when he did most, but the moment when he endured most. Let any one put me a parallel to that scene when Abraham went up with his son to mount Moriah. He says, Let the whole weight of things come down upon me; I have God with me;

[Page 79]

I am not going to give in an inch. "After he had patiently endured he obtained the promise".

And this comes down to the little details of everyday life. You are not to give up - not an inch in anything. Give way before the king's fire? Not a bit of it! It is not that when the moment of pressure comes, you are to be like Esau, and say I cannot endure it, and give way in a moment for a mess of pottage. Scripture says, "Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds". Consider Him, the Lord Himself, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God".

I say this, If your heart be affected by the things around you - if you allow them to have an influence on you - you do not come from the presence of the Lord with a sense of His having given you a place above it all. I come from the inside - from the scene of my enjoyment - to stand in the outside - the scene where everything is against me; but I come with the power of Christ, so that I am able to walk outside, and to bear up against all that is against me, whilst I know the enjoyment of His unclouded presence.

[Page 80]


Ephesians 3:14 - 21

I turn to the second prayer in Ephesians, and the first thing I call your attention to is the importance of what the apostle is about to press in this prayer. Little touches of any kind mark the importance of the subject. He says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". It is a little thing, but it shows the contrast between the two prayers.

As has been already said, there are two things in these two prayers: the one is standing; the other, state; and the state, as I will show you, becomes a cause of more anxiety to the servant of God than the standing; not that the standing is not important, but that the matter of deepest anxiety is state. I go further, and I will show you examples from Scripture to prove what I say - everything you do here is according to the state you are in at the time - not according to your standing, but according to your state.

The danger with us who have learnt something of our standing is to overlook our state. We are anxious till we know our standing; there is a legality about us which makes us anxious until we do know it; when you first come to know it, it is like the sun rising after a dark night; but if you stop there you are sure to go down. Many a saint has felt the wonderful joy and delight of discovering his standing which he had been reaching after, and then failed utterly as to keeping this joy, through not maintaining the state corresponding to it.

You see how important it is when you come to look at the servant. He says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". As has been often remarked, it was "the God of our Lord Jesus

[Page 81]

Christ" in the former prayer; in this it is "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". Here is the state into which we are brought with God; it is not only seeing the thing, but enjoying it - entering into it.

The standing is yours without any effort, yet it is always in the standing that you acquire the state. But then there is another thing. It is that not only I have a state Godward but I must have a state Satanward. You must have a state which is fitted to meet the character of the evil of this present scene, and, according as you have that, you are able to do "according to the power that worketh in us".

In the sixth chapter the point is, that, if you give up your state, you lose the benefit of your standing, though it is only because you have this standing that you can get the state. The danger first is that a person does not see his standing; that I will go into presently; but that is not so dangerous a place as seeing the standing and not walking up to it. There is a divine instinct in the saint that craves to reach the thing the heart wants - to get hold of the standing.

Have you read the history of Joshua? As soon as the children of Israel got into the land they were warned not to forget God, for, if they did, they would be worse off than they were in Egypt where they had the river, for they would have no rain. I am sorry to say I have seen many who have accepted the standing, but who have then given up the state in keeping with it, saying that it was impracticable, and who have thus perished "off the good land" - rather have lost the blessings of the standing. They have no rain - no present ministration from God.

In Ephesians 6:10 I find: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might". Here I have come to the highest point: I am to be strong "in the power of his might". In the first chapter I get the power acting towards us: "The exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who

[Page 82]

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 was the mighty power working to us-ward. But now you are to use this power that has been acting towards you; you are to "be strong" in it, that you may be able to resist Satan, and, that too, not now as an open adversary - not coming forth as a roaring lion - but, in the most subtle way possible, he is going to try to divert you from the path you are in. Therefore you must have on the whole armour of God, "that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil". Suppose a person gives up his state what good will his standing be? Satan will soon wile him off that. That is just where the Ephesians themselves went wrong, so that we find them in Revelation as having left their "first love". I do not doubt that they lost first what is asked for in this prayer in the third chapter. He says, I have shown you in the first chapter where God has set you, and now what I am labouring for is that you should have from God directly all the benefits that flow to you from this standing. If you do not, you cannot act against or withstand the power that will seek to divert you from this standing.

You will find, beloved friends, that there is a direct opposing power seeking to divert us from the place God has set us in; so the first thing the soul must get is a firm hold of that place. Therefore I will turn to: how I get a standing; and I will just mention two or three standings to make it plain to you.

I will take the first from Romans 8"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus". That is a standing. I have nothing in the world to do as to it, but only to accept what God gives me, and open my mouth wider that He may fill it. There is no such thing as my getting a standing; that is to say, there is no such

[Page 83]

thing as effort on my part to get it; but there is every kind of effort - of exercise - nay, more - of labour, when I have a sense of what a wonderful standing God has brought me into, that I may be practically what God has made me to be. I believe this is a thing that we are most defective in, and I say, I am labouring before God night and day, so that my state may be practically up to my standing. A title, without means to support it, merely lays a person open to ridicule and censure. It is not now a question of the standing, but the question is: Have you means to support it?

The land of Canaan was a land that "drinketh water of the rain of heaven". That was the support. The standing was the land, but the rain of heaven was to support them in it - to keep up their state. So we get here in Ephesians: "That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" - the whole plateau - the whole domain - "and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" - in fact that you may be able to comprehend with all saints the love that has brought you there. Standing is not enough. You may be in the land "that drinketh water of the rain of heaven", but what if you are indifferent? what if you are neglectful? Then there will be no rain, and you will perish from off the land.

Now I take the very first standing which the epistle to the Romans sets forth. "Being justified by faith we have peace with God". Supposing a person goes on carelessly, it does not at all alter the fact of his title, but he will lose the enjoyment of it; and I believe this is one of the reasons why persons want to hear over and over again of the putting away of their sins: it is just that they are not walking blamelessly - that they are not walking up to the standing that they have received.

[Page 84]

I turn to a passage in Romans 13 to show that you must keep your state up to your standing. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ". Now mark, this is written to those who have been told of the fact of their justification by faith, and of their standing in "no condemnation". God Himself had laid help upon One that was mighty; His arm had brought salvation; He had sent His Son. This Son was the righteous Man; He met all the mind of God both in public and in private life, until His path as a man culminated on the mount of Transfiguration, where God accredited Him as His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. There "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light", and, when His disciples "were awake, they saw his glory". From this point Christ descends to go into death, and in that death man was brought to an end. Man is gone, which is what baptism expresses; whilst in the Lord's supper I find the Man - the first Man in resurrection. And, in that resurrection, I find that I am not only cleared from the old thing, but that I am being formed into the likeness of the One who has delivered me; I am of the same order - of the stock and lineage of this last Adam. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit". It is not that He saves many - though He does save many - but the idea there is that the corn of wheat shall have many grains - many like Himself.

I find saints do not know that they are new creatures, though they know that they have new feelings. Now in Christ, I get a perfect Man who bore the judgment that rested on me, and came out of it as the Head of

[Page 85]

a new order. I was a brother to the dying man, but now I am a brother to the risen Man. He was never a brother to me. I thank God that I can say tonight that I am much more distinctly, and more irrevocably, a brother to the risen Man, than I was to the dying man. I am unalterably of the stock and lineage of Christ.

People may say to me, You do not act much like Christ. Well, that is what I am coming to. As we were saying this morning, I may be a goldfinch and never sing a note; I am one before I sing. If I were a goldfinch only because I sang, that would be making my standing dependent on my state. No bird sings before it flies; I have no way of exhorting you unless I can tell you that you are born of God, not merely that you have new desires. You are a new material - a new creature, and you ought now to have a likeness to Christ; and the problem is, that you are to work out Christ in the old frame-work.

But the frame was made by Himself. I will not let you find fault with your bodies, because He made them. You may find as much fault as you like with the flesh, but that is not your bodies. Our bodies are "members of Christ". Christendom has fallen into the great mistake of making our bodies members of the church, which is quite contrary to Scripture. Our bodies are "members of Christ"; this puts us in the place where He is Lord of the body. He is the Head of the new man. Taken individually my body is a member of Christ: "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones". You are a new creation, and this new creation is to be exhibited in you. This new creation is developed by occupation with Christ in glory; He is the power of it; the life of Jesus is manifested by "bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus". "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me".

A Galatian was a Roman who had gone back from

[Page 86]

Romans 8. It was not that he denied sins put away, but that he did not see deliverance from sin; he had lost his true standing. What he stopped at was not that God had sent Christ to remove everything out of the way; but he did not see that God now forms me of the very same nature as of that unique One once on earth. As long as that blessed One was here, He was a solitary Man upon earth; but now He, being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, forms a new class of men of the same order as Himself, and every believer is of this same class. And now the problem for the believer is to live Christ in his body upon earth.

Nothing explains truth like practice; but, when I come to practise it, I find that I must have it fairly balanced, otherwise it is not workable. I often find in practice, that I have been extravagantly strong on some points and weak on others. Now, if I look at Christ in glory, I see the One who has accomplished the work, and brought in righteousness. Where is righteousness to be looked for? Only there. If I look at Him there, I am transformed "into the same image from glory to glory". But, if I stop there, I do not get rid of the old thing. I find in the next chapter another point; and that is, that I am to carry about in my body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in my body. You will see, if you look at 2 Corinthians 4:10, that it does not say to get the life in you, but to have the life manifested .

What I want you to see is that the way I develop the new creation, is by being occupied with the Head of it - with Him who is the source of it. If we were angels there would be no need of negation, but, as it is, there must be death in us; there must be the negative as well as the positive. We have to get rid of the bad; and, what is strange, the more good we get the more bad we have to get rid of. We acquired,

[Page 87]

in the garden of Eden, the knowledge of good by doing evil, without the power to follow the good; and we acquired the knowledge of evil without the power to withstand it. Conscience and knowledge, two things men boast so much of, were got by an act of disobedience; and neither will ever bring a soul back to God. We have, by nature, no idea whatever of evil; that is why, when I hear a person say I do not see the harm of it, that I answer, It is just because you have not learned enough good. And that is why a worldly saint will go through the world the easiest, and also do himself the least harm by going through it. It is only the worldly man who can say: I do not find it does me any harm. The man who knows most of Christ is always the one who is most apprehensive of Satan; whereas, if you get a dull Christian, and talk to him about the devil's power being here and there, he will say, God forbid! Do not talk of such a thing! The fact is he is not walking with Christ. A saint walking with Christ sees satanic power everywhere - the very air is full of evil spirits, and has a pernicious influence upon the soul.

True enough, I have to be occupied with Him who is the Head of the new order of things, but I have to do with negation besides: I have to carry about the dying, that the life may be manifested. It is not that the life is not there; it is that it may be manifested. Like a candle in a lamp; if the candle be in a dark lantern of course it cannot be seen; for the candle to be of any use, the lamp, in which it is, must be transparent. And so I have not the least hesitation in saying that there is more grace in every one in this room than they can express, because the body is opaque. And why? Because they have not denied self; self-gratification hinders them in the manifestation of Christ. So we read: "I keep under my body". It is the body that becomes the theatre of this wonderful grace. The body is the place in which all the evil

[Page 88]

has been done, but now the Lord says, I have redeemed it; it must now be my place - my garden. It has been growing all the weeds that Satan could plant in it, but now it must grow flowers for me.

Have you accepted the standing that "there is no condemnation"? Then you must walk carefully to maintain the state in character with that standing. In Romans we are told to "put on the armour of light", which is a different thing from the whole armour of God that we get in Ephesians. This "armour of light" is our state: it is "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ". If you do not keep up the state, what will be the consequence? Why, that you will make "provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof".

Now it is most lamentable, but I believe it is most true, that many an honest-hearted person comes to the Lord's table with the thought, that Christ's blood there washes away the sins of the past week; if it be not so, the hymns and prayers are inconsistent, for the most of those that I hear speak of the benefits that accrue to us by the death of Christ; and thus it comes to be a sort of repetition of the mass. I am remembering the results to me of the death of Christ. But let me ask you, What is the Lord's table? It is a very different thing from this: I express there that I have communion with the body of Christ; it is not with the benefits; it is with the Benefactor . And I am thinking of Him at the moment when He broke with every thing here; I remember Him where He was when He opened the door so that I might have fellowship with Him.

I refer to this, because I see that souls are losing what they have got in their standing. It is true that "there is now no condemnation", but there is another, and a very serious, thing that they have forgotten; and that is, they have 'forgotten that they were purged from their old sins.' And why? Because they have

[Page 89]

not kept up the activities of life; they have not kept up their state. You practically lose the standing when you lose the state; it is the state which really shows that you are fit for the standing. Among men a title is given because the one who receives it has the state fit to support it; of course I mean where a man is not born to it. So God says, I give you a standing, and I am determined you shall have means to keep it up - a state according to it.

With the Nicolaitanes the evil was that they turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. But do you mean to tell me that a man who is walking in the consciousness of being free from condemnation will not loathe sin? The danger is with us lest we should get clear in our minds as to our standing, without being exercised as to whether we have the state that is in keeping with it. Surely attaining it should be our one great aim; it ought to be the labour of our heart to reach it.

I now come to another point; but I hope that I have made it clear to you that the standing is entirely God's own thought for us; He has wrought it out Himself; He meets us in it.

Now, when Abraham came to the land, the Lord met him in the place where He had told him to go to, and there gave him a standing: "Unto thy seed will I give this land". But, when he thus had the standing in the land, he gave up the state and went down into Egypt. Lot gave it up in another way. But it was the state they always gave up. Jacob did it in a still more remarkable way. After all the trouble he had had in getting back to the standing, and after the night of wrestling, he lets it drop - gives it all up - and gets overwhelmed in the world: he settles down at Shalem. There God says to him, Go up to Bethel, and get the state that belongs to you.

But, whilst the standing is entirely of God's grace, and He never alters it, yet I lose all the benefits of my

[Page 90]

standing if I lose the state in keeping with it. In the Ephesians you get the very highest standing and the state in keeping with it. But I find, in Revelation 2, that the candlestick is to be taken away from its place for this very reason, that they had lost their state: they had left their first love; they had lost their love for the Lord personally. The candlestick was what they were to hold as a light here.

I need not go through all the passages that I could to prove this to you. We find the Corinthians were indulging themselves; the Galatians were trying to correct themselves; and the Colossians were trying to make the old man religious. But I would say one thing more about standing before I pass on, and that is, there is nothing so painful to the Spirit of God as your not accepting your standing. I refer you to Hebrews 3 for this. He calls it there "the provocation". What was that? That they would not go up to their standing - they would not take possession of the good land.

People say, I do not assume to be heavenly. I know why; it is because you do not want to be heavenly.

It was "the provocation ". Why would they not go up? Because they thought the difficulties greater than God. Christians say, If I take that ground I shall never be able to keep it up. I say, I am glad to see you have a conscience; but it is God's standing, and woe betide you if you do not take it up, for it is not my calling but God's . It is the "evil heart of unbelief" that refuses it. The standing is the simple, free gift of His own love to us. I do not believe there is any moment of more ecstatic delight to the soul than the one in which it finds that God's place for it is its own. It is a moment of unspeakable delight; it has reached the climax of everything, and it knows that it is there. It is a wonderful moment, but, I say, woe betide the person who is satisfied with

[Page 91]

stopping at it! What the Lord warns them about, on their getting into the land, is their state in it.

Grace shows me where I am; I discover the feebleness of my nature in reference to God, and I must act accordingly.

I turn to just one passage more, in 1 Corinthians 10, to show you how the Lord's supper is brought in again. There we read, at the end of a long list of failures: "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer". I believe this is put the last on the list, though chronologically it happened second, because, unless souls get beyond this - unless they accept their standing - there can be no progress. How can I progress, unless I accept the place God has put me in? How can I progress, unless I am in the Father's house? You may tell me you are a standard rose tree, and I do not doubt it, but I see no rose; and there will be none either, if a shoot be allowed from the briar.

There is only one spot that will satisfy God's heart for you, and will you not accept the position that the Father's love has secured for you? It is not sin that keeps men from the great supper; it is the world . Poor, wretched one! is this world going to keep you from God's great supper? "The great supper" is not salvation merely: it is entertainment . One said, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God". That is the millennium. Oh! the Lord says, there is a greater thing than the millennium that is coming: there is the great supper now - a soul that is now in the peace, and rest, and enjoyment of the presence of God.

Now in closing I shall make rather a strong statement, and that is, that the whole scene will close with state - not with standing. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". Is not that state? It is true that if they do not know their standing they can never say that; but you are never able to compete successfully with

[Page 92]

anything, unless you come into the combat in a right state. I do not believe what is so often said, that you do not know what the world is until you get into it. I read: "Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger?" It has been said a person never ministers so well in any meeting as when he comes in as a stranger, knowing nothing of the troubles that are in it.

Just so with the worldlings. What people call the world is but a step above themselves; people think they are not worldly if they do not aim at what is above them, and only keep what they have been always used to; there is no thought of surrender in them. If they have not grasped the peg above themselves they think they are not worldly. Thus every one becomes a judge to himself of what "the world" is. I come into a room and see a mirror, and I say, What is that for? To look at. Oh! then there is no use in that; and, if it is not for use, it is only for display; and that is worldliness. If I come from God's presence I may not know what all of you are doing, but I know what God's mind is about you. I do not need to read the newspapers to know what the times are. The way a newspaper writer forms his opinions is he goes about in the clubs and picks up peoples' thoughts on the subject in vogue, and then writes an article to support their prepossessions, so that a man reading it is only the more built up in his own ideas.

But a man of divine power comes into the world for God, and forms his judgment of things from Him. He has been so occupied with Christ, that, though he may not know what is going on here, yet he comes with Christ's mind and colour into the world, and is not prejudiced by the things he has to do with. Just as with Moses. He comes and finds the whole congregation gone off into idolatry. Does he say, What ought I to do? No; he knows what is suited to God; he takes the tabernacle and pitches it outside the camp.

[Page 93]

It is God's purpose that we should know our standing, and I have nothing to do with obtaining it; but, when I come to state, I come to what is my enjoyment of the standing in which He has set me. And here I would say a word on one point in the sixth chapter of this epistle, and I speak it anxiously, beloved friends. It is that standing will not do in itself for Satan; nothing will do for Satan but character . You must have your "loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith" and "the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit". In fact you have to be a man in armour.

I believe that it is quite possible for a person to enjoy in a measure having to do with God, and yet to be practically careless. But, the moment Satan finds that I am set on gratifying myself, he says, I will have you there. Immediately he calls in question my standing, because my state is not up to it, and tries to divert me from the place of a heavenly man. He comes in with his wiles, and how am I to be preserved from his attacks? Nothing can keep me but character. Satan says, Oh, but you did such-and-such a thing yesterday! Very true, perhaps I did, but I am not going to do it today. Peter denies the Lord; yet he can turn round on the Jews and say to them, "Ye denied the Holy One and the Just". He may have denied Him yesterday, but he will not do it today. Often in going to a worldly Christian's house I have said: I must button up my coat here, for I shall get no quarter; there will be wiles all round to trip me up, and then afterwards the casting it at me that I have fallen into them.

I have unbounded resources, but they are not here; and I must not lose my connection with Christ, if I would draw from them. It is not simply joy, but I must be practically connected with Him: as He says,

[Page 94]

"Without me ye can do nothing". There is no practice like those armed men going round Jericho: there was patience, and prayer to God; they were occupied with the power of God. Do you think God has set us in this wonderful place, and made us strong in this mighty power, and that then we are not to know what God is to us in this place? We are practically deficient in this; there is a great lack of armed men. And then comes: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints". It is not here praying for ourselves; it is praying for one another. And here the world cannot touch me; Satan cannot touch me; I am invulnerable to Satan whilst dependent on God. I never am conscious of being happy in praise or prayer to God, except as I am sure that He has taken it in. There is not a practical sense in souls of having to do with a great and wonderful unseen God. It is only thus - having the sense of this divine power being for you - that it is possible to resist the force that is against you; to resist the power of evil that is setting in on every side to turn you away from your true place. I would say again that if you lose your state you lose all the privileges of your standing.

Well, may the Lord direct our hearts into it in such a day as this. I can only press it upon you. The apostle says, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; he felt what a solemn thing it was - how important that saints should have a state in character with their standing. I do ask you solemnly: Have you walked in any practical self-denial during this - year - I will say? or are you looking out for every opportunity to gratify yourself? Are you saying, There is something pleasant to look forward to? Do you "take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's

[Page 95]

sake"? You may put up with them perhaps; but do you take pleasure in them? If you say, Oh! why should I not make the best of both worlds? I reply, Because you have got the best in the next with the One who suffered the worst here; and we are left here to be the expression of that blessed One who has set us in the light, and joy, and presence of God Himself.

[Page 96]


John 15

I should like to say a word on service. You are here in testimony for Christ, but first you must learn that Christ is for you; it is then only that you can be for Him.

In looking at these chapters of John, as every careful reader of Scripture knows, we find, in the thirteenth and fourteenth, Christ for us, and this my heart has to learn first. Then the fifteenth chapter is, I am for Christ. It is not anything about life, as people often suppose. In the seventeenth chapter, which is higher still, it is not that I am for Christ, but, if I may use such a word, I am as Christ.

Thus we get progress in the chapters. There is nothing about joy in chapter fourteen; there is fulness of joy in chapter 15; and in chapter 17 it is: "MY joy fulfilled in them". The first great point for every soul is to know that Christ is for me; I cannot take the place of being for Him otherwise.

He gives us here three characteristics of what we are to be: disciple; friend; and witness. Each believer ought to be the three. The Lord prepares us for this service by the way in which He deals with us Himself; and in this there is a double action: washing and sanctifying.

I first turn back to the thirteenth chapter, because there the Lord begins to educate the disciples for this new position. He here shows them that He is about to go away and that, whilst away, He will take care to remove from them everything that would hinder communion with Himself. Washing removes from us anything that defiles; that is the first thing. Nothing can be more touching to the heart! He says, I am going away; I am leaving you in the defiling place;

[Page 97]

but I will take such care of you that I will keep you from all that could come in to distract your heart and prevent your having fellowship with Me. It is the action of the priest outwardly (the action inwardly always goes on); it comes in washing power; He washed them, and wiped them; He entirely removes everything that could hinder intimacy between Him and me.

This is practically brought out in the twenty-first chapter, where, "when they had dined", He says, as it were: Now Peter, I want to have an explanation with you. Often we judge acts without touching the roots - without reaching the point of departure. Every person, unless he is extremely degraded, is sorry for his faults; but it is a very rare person who is sorry for the thing that commits the faults.

Peter is broken down, and now washing comes in. It is not merely pointing out the sin; that is law; law always rebukes; there is nothing about washing in the law. Washing is removing the thing that defiles, and that is the action of Christ to me. He says, I so love to have you in unclouded intimacy with me, that, while it ought to be your business to take care that nothing should come in to interfere with it, yet, if it do, it shall be my care, if you are subject to me, to remove it.

Intercession always goes on for everyone; grace follows everyone, for grace flows out unhinderedly; but all are not washed. All sat round the table, and the Lord went round, and washed their feet; and, if anyone were not subject, he did not get it done, anyhow, not for a time. You will find in the case of everyone who is happy with the Lord, that the first action on going to Him is washing. Souls often only get to this point - getting rid of the thing that defiles; but that is not sanctification. Sanctification is that you are keeping the word; not only the word acting on you, but you act according to it. The disciples

[Page 98]

going to Emmaus give us an example of this. And the Lord says in Revelation, "I have not found thy works complete ". It was not that they had not begun; what proves the mettle of any one is whether he can finish his work; everyone can commence a thing - there is a novelty about it that is pleasing; but the point is where is the one who can finish it? This is what the Lord is setting forth, and I do not know anything more interesting to my heart.

A soul walking with the Lord will always know why the Lord is interfering with him, for He will be sure to tell him; He will bring the word to bear upon him. The Father chastens me, that I may be a partaker of His holiness; and the Lord Jesus washes me, to the same end. A person walking carefully with the Lord is conscious of this sanctification going on. If affliction come upon him, he can say, I know why this is come upon me, because there is another thing going on. The Lord says, I have a controversy with you about that; and the one who knows it, instead of finding it a grievous thing, is glad to get rid of it.

The Lord says now to Peter, "Follow me". The real hindrance to your following Christ definitely is that there is something that has not been cleared up between your heart and Himself. That is what it was with Peter. After he had been ordained and sent forth in service for Christ, he goes off the line - he is going quite the wrong way; they all go off on a wrong line of things - millennial, if you will. Now the Lord comes in, and waits for the time when He shall have it out with him; and this is always His way. He does not come down on him at once, and ask for an explanation, but He waits till after they had dined - waits till after dinner, when the heart had been brought into perfect social ease; and then He says to Peter, There is a little question to settle between you and Me. Why, we do it ourselves; we do not come down harshly at an unfitting moment to find fault, but we

[Page 99]

wait until we are sitting round the fire to say, I want a little explanation from you. Of all things I think explanations are the most trying; but, though such times are not pleasant, they are useful; they have to be gone through.

Thus was the Lord freeing Peter from self-confidence, and I call attention to the manner in which He did it, because I think we are defective in the manner of our service. He says, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them". He brings the word to bear. The word comes down, and reaches my soul, so as to detect the deficiency that is there; and I say, nobody knew that deficiency in me but Christ, and He has touched it.

When any ministry comes home to me and touches my conscience, it is not the minister, it is Christ Himself that is speaking. Servants sometimes think they can apply the word, but be assured you never can. The Lord will apply it. He may give you the word, but you cannot apply it. He alone knows the secrets of the heart, and He is too loving and too careful about my heart to entrust that office to any other than Himself, though He may make another the channel of it. Therefore we read: "Nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church".

You see the first thing - the ground work of all service - is this gracious way of setting about it. I see a defect in a brother; then I am responsible to remove it. But I may not be able to remove it, though I may have sorrow about it. It is not at all that I do not see it. The child I love best is the one to whose faults I shall be most alive, but at the same time most anxious that no one else shall see them. I desire to see saints that I have a care for, up to the standard which I know to be according to the mind of Christ. As Paul says, "I am jealous over you with godly jealousy". When I thus see a defect, and am not able to remove it, then all I can do is to fall back on the Lord.

[Page 100]

You will find there is a practical cause of failure in attempting to remove a defect from another which one has not removed from oneself. Such a one is powerless to do it, however much he may see the necessity of it. While desirous to do the right thing, he is lacking in skill for it; he is an unskilled surgeon; he has not had practice. The true place of a Christian is to be like the great physician Hahnemann, who, it is said, practised all his remedies first on himself. That is the effective person practically. I know the tender, gentle, nurselike way, in which the Lord has dealt with myself; so the apostle shows how necessary it is that there should be love in our dealing with another. Love takes away everything that could interfere between the soul and Christ; therefore, in Corinthians, he insists on it that the man who deals with others must be a man of charity. The man of charity is the man who has got rid of himself. I have alluded to this because it is the groundwork of all service.

Of course the thirteenth chapter is private, and the fifteenth public: you do not wash people's feet in public. But the thirteenth is the groundwork of service: you cannot so much as read your Bible, or even pray, but you must begin with John 13; there is no effective service of any kind that does not begin with removing anything that interferes with communion.

Take Cain as an example; he says, "Am I ... my brother's keeper". But I am my brother's keeper now . I often wish I did not see defects, for then I should not be chargeable with them. No doubt the best way to correct defects is to be before that person the living expression of the power of Christ in the very thing in which he fails. You see a vain person; well, walk before him without a bit of vanity. You see a proud person; walk before him in humility; you need not tell him that he is proud; let him see what grace can do in you, and thus you will become a voice to him that will be better than any rebuke.

[Page 101]

I turn now to the fifteenth chapter, which is public. And the first thing I get in it is: "Abide in me, .. . without me ye can do nothing". You must have to do with the Lord. It is not standing at all; it is state; it must be a thing that is going on; you must have the Lord at the time. Now if you go to visit a sick woman and say to yourself by the way: I will try to say something comforting to that poor woman; I say you have spoiled the whole thing; you are wanting to do something, whilst you ought to have wanted to be something - to be Christ . And what will you leave behind you as the result? The sick woman will say, That was such a nice person; not: I have been edified through the presentation of Christ to my soul.

"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit". I will give you an illustration which I borrow from the Servant in the Psalm: "my goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight". The moment I get anything from God, it is not to go back to Him, but down to man; I am to give it out to refresh others. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal". You are to be like a fruit tree in a garden. A fruit tree is to be plucked of its ripe fruit by whoever the owner of the garden chooses - it is there for the use of those who have the privilege of guests in his garden. Are you ready to be plucked by every one He invites to His garden? The figure is that of a garden; you may be a currant tree, or a peach tree; there are various kinds in a garden. When the fruit is ripe it is ready to be plucked; the owner allows me to go into the garden, and I have the privilege of taking what I want; and what do I take? Why the ripe fruit, of course. And who is the sufferer? Why the tree!

Sometimes I find a person who is not ready to be a donor - who is not ready to be plucked. How different

[Page 102]

to the saints of old, whose "deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality". The apostle says, I do not want your gifts, but I am glad of them as "fruit that may abound to your account". It is not that I can spare it, but that I am here for the express purpose of being plucked. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit". I am here to be a servant; I am here to be plucked, but at His pleasure only; and that is like Himself; I then learn of Him who for our sakes became poor that we "through his poverty might be rich". He was here to be a servant. There is nothing more unhealthy than the saint who appropriates everything for his own use and comfort. There is nothing more humbling to one's heart. I would say to each one of you, How are you spending your time? The one who spends it on himself only makes himself a spectacle of misery to the eyes of men, and God will make him so too. I said to a person a little while ago, 'I have seen you like a stately cedar of Lebanon, full of self-consideration'. I could have added, 'Now you are broken down like a bramble bush'. Where is the love you say you have in your heart, when you never do anything to show it?

It is not a question of ability. The apostle says of some, that "beyond their power they were willing". "It is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not". just as it was with the gathering of the manna; the poor feeble old man, or the little tottering child, gathered alike with the strongest man: "He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack". And it must be so. I do not care if a person says he is poor; let him give of his poverty. The poor widow gave all she had for the temple. Have you done as much for the church? She might, as has been said before, have given one of the mites to God, and kept the other for herself; it notes the fact that she had two; but she

[Page 103]

gave them both - her all - to the Lord. I speak of this because I think the tendency in us is to surround ourselves, and to let others surround us, with comforts. But you have to come to the fact that you are put here as one who is to be plucked - as one who really is a fruit tree in the garden of Christ upon earth.

And He has these fruit trees here not for Himself, but for the saints in whom is all His delight. I ask you, are you practically a fruit tree here for the Lord, and is your fruit in word and work growing for the benefit of any whom He may send to pluck it? That is what it is to be a "disciple ". If you are, then what you have for yourself is your joy full. I never see a person wholly given up to the Lord that he is not as bright as can be; his joy is full. If any one talks of being worn out, I say, You are not serving the Lord, or your joy would be full. Even one who sees the ruin and the crash of all here, has yet his joy full if he is serving truly.

What do you think that man would have said who broke through the Philistines' camp, if I had asked him what he was doing it for? He would have said, All I want is a drink of water for my captain. What! risk your life for such a thing as that? Yes, anything to please my lord. I do not care what it is! Let each one of you go home to your different spheres and ask yourselves there, is that the course you are taking? Is that the action of your life? Will I endanger my life? Will I go through anything just to get a drink of water for my Lord? In the case of David, what characterises the action is that when he had got it he would not drink it: this offering of a true heart must be consecrated for ever to the Lord.

As I have said, the tendency is either to let others do it to you, or to surround yourself with comforts. But the question should be not, What do I want? but, What can I do without? It is not only to want nothing, but what can I do without? That is the point

[Page 104]

to come to, and it is not monasticism for, whilst thus needing nothing for self, I am interested about others, and can think of them. The apostle says, "I have no man likeminded who will naturally care for your state". Look at that servant of the Lord, Epaphroditus; what must the state of the saints have been then? when he would not tell the Philippians he was sick, because he knew the sorrow of heart it would give them. What real interest for servants there was in the saints of that time!

I come now to the "friend ". The friend is one who gives his life for the saints. That is the public expression of love. Everyone here in Quemerford and elsewhere ought to be able to say of me, There is a man who would give his life for the saints. It is not giving property; it is giving one's life; that is the character of this love. But let me come to detail. I find everybody else out by studying myself, because "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man". Now, in the question of service, do you consider people? or are you merely thinking of yourself? If you go to see a very feeble person, do you stay a very long time? and perhaps pray about something you have on your own heart? I believe you fail there. I sometimes say to myself when I have been speaking too long: You are not considering others; you must put yourself in their shoes. The greatest lack I know is the lack of consideration and sympathy. And the reason you are thus wanting is that you have not studied yourself, and seen how God has considered you. Paul says, "We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children". Did you ever nurse a child? I suppose most of you have fed one, putting a little sup down its mouth at a time, taking care it was not too hot. It is just thus that Paul speaks of himself; not as a father, only, but as a nurse too.

Take a prayer meeting, for instance; you pray a

[Page 105]

long time; then you are not considering others, you are considering yourself. I remember a meeting when a great number of hymns were given out, and, when I spoke of it afterwards, someone said to me, "Why do you object?" I said, "Because you did not think of me" - meaning that they were not considering others, or really the Lord who would consider for the assembly.

I dare say all here know that there is what is called a key-note to every room. A professor of sound would tell you in a minute the key-note to which to pitch your voice, so that it would be heard in every part of the room. Now if I get the key-note of a meeting (I know not if I have today), I have got what will suit every saint there, even the most dormant; and it will wake him up, anyhow for the time, even if he goes to sleep again, like an oyster opening only to shut up again; still he will get a sense that he has been in a good place. And it would be not a sensational thrill either, but a divine touch that awakened the dormant heart; it is: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light". I have thus seen a whole meeting shaken up into vigour and life, though I have known that most of them would in all probability return again to their dull ways.

I am not speaking of gifts now. Gifts are specialities, and all are not gifted; but every one may be a fruit tree. If you have a gift, you must be in a certain state to be able to exercise it. You may offer me a fine mettled horse, but if you say he is unmanageable, I say, I would rather have a dull pony. The ability is in the former, but the state to enable you to make use of it is lacking; there is no abiding in Christ; there is not charity - he is not tractable.

What characterises a "friend" is not merely that I am a fruit tree, but that I am here to give my life for the brethren. I believe it is the one thing that

[Page 106]

will keep a person safe in this world - having but one thought, to live for the saints. You say, But do you not live for the world? No, I live for the saints; and, as to the world, I work for it from the heart of Christ. And that is where I think evangelists sometimes make a mistake: they work to the heart of Christ instead of from it. The true evangelist is one who finds, as I might say, vacancies in the heart of Christ, and says, I go out to find persons to fill them. He is like a recruiting sergeant going out for recruits to fill the ranks; he is commissioned from the heart of Christ to go forth, and bring back souls to the place he came from himself. I do not ask him to talk to them about 'church truth'; but he brings them to Christ, and that is 'church truth'. Paul came from Christ, so he brought souls to Him.

There is such a thing as being simply a philanthropist in evangelising. The unconverted man, who would have brought all his friends to the gold diggings, now that he is a Christian, tries to bring them all to faith in Christ very much on the same principle. This is only benevolence; it is meeting man in his ruined condition, and offering him relief in it; but it is not leading him entirely out of it to Christ.

But love is quite other than benevolence, though love, too, relieves of every want; as the scripture says. "He will rest in his love ". There never was a greater evangelist than the apostle Paul, and he says, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes". The evangelist must love . It is not a question of preaching any particular point of truth, but it is having his heart charged with the love of Christ's heart, and then coming forth to say, I come not only to save you from judgment, but to bring you to Christ. He may go on a long time before he finds the silver piece, but he will find it in the end. The world wants him to "sweep the house": that is what missionary societies are chiefly doing. The evangelist will "sweep the house" too, as he

[Page 107]

seeks to find the silver piece, for he cannot help imparting a good colour to the world.

I shall say one word more, and that is as to the "witness ". All this devotion to one another will call out the enmity of the world. It is the most strange thing, but the Lord says, that, if you are the expression of the most devoted love to one another, instead of your calling out the world's admiration, you will call out its enmity; it will hate you. Hence we read: "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". There is another action of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is here to comfort us in the absence of Christ, but He is here, too, to stand for Christ in the presence of the world. He is here in Quemerford. Do you realise that He is here? I was saying somewhere the other day, that a man with a good stick could drive all the saints out of the place; but I defy him to do so, why? Because they have got so much power? Not at all! but because the Holy Spirit was there.

I lament it in my heart, but I have not a doubt that everyone who is giving up the power of the Holy Spirit as to testimony for Christ is weakening the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit in his own soul. That is why I am against placards, against sensationalism, and I hope I shall be more against them than ever, because it is bringing in the power of man, instead of that of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not want human agency. You say, But may I not do this or that? You may do anything that the Spirit of God tells you to do; but do you think that God cannot bring people in to hear the gospel preached without your placarding it all over the town? I see the whole world combined against Paul at Philippi, but God came in and put them all aside, and just brought in the jailor where Paul was, in order that he might be saved.

[Page 108]

There is an invisible power with us here in this room, in testimony for Christ. You need not be discouraged a bit. There is an invisible power with us; there is the Holy Spirit, and nothing can overcome Him. And the one who does not maintain this fact, does not maintain the testimony of the glorified Christ, for the Holy Spirit was to come from heaven to tell of Him: "He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you". He comes in to comfort you in the absence of Christ, and He is with you also as a testimony against the world, and, if you stand with Him now, He says, I will tell you all that concerns that absent One and His glories. Thus, as you get hold of the sixteenth chapter, you will find what it is to get into the seventeenth, and become a living representation of that absent One - of Him here where He is not. But to be this you must take the road to it.

The Lord teaches us the tenderness of His own patient love, as He makes us fruit trees in His garden, to be plucked by those whom He privileges to share that which belongs to Himself. May He lead our hearts to know the reality of it.

[Page 109]


Genesis 3:1 - 7

We should be impressed, each of us, as far as the Lord enables us, with what we have to guard against; any part of the truth that has been overlooked anywhere. What we require in a measure to be revived, the Lord would supply it to us, if we waited on Him. We ought to come to hear with the expectation that He will set forth to us what we require. And, in saying this, it is not abstract things that I mean: we are often too abstract; it is Himself that we want, it is everything that we may know what He is. But we are constantly taken unawares; we are unprepared for the character of the thing that is here, because we are not instructed as to it. 'Forewarned is forearmed'.

The subject I wish to bring before you, after this preface, is one on which I am not able to say much, but it is one of great importance. It is Satan - his power, and the different ways in which we suffer from his antagonism.

I feel there is a great and, I trust, a growing desire to follow the Lord; but I do not think there is a sufficient sense of the power of evil, and of the character of that evil. The Lord says, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil". It was a very momentous thought in His mind. He does not wish us taken out of it, but He does wish us to be kept from it. I feel that many are not sufficiently acquainted with the character of this evil. I may say, for one, I have not been sufficiently acquainted with his devices.

The first class of opposition comes out in what I have read. Whatever God is set upon, that is what Satan is set against. It is an immense thing for us to

[Page 110]

get hold of this thought. As far as I am able to take you, the subject will be mostly suggestive; but I think the greatest and the most important teaching in a day like this is suggestive. If you are true in heart before the Lord, you will work it out. It does not produce the same results, I think, when everything is made as plain as a map to us. It may be very pleasant to be able to say, 'I see it as plain as ABC'; but it will not be effective teaching when it is. The Lord spoke to the multitude in parables. If Israel had really cared to understand Him, they never would have been satisfied till they had arrived at understanding His thought. The Lord spoke to them in parables, and the very fact of their being satisfied that He should do so, showed that they did not care to know His mind. If a friend of mine speak or write to me in parables, I never rest until I get at his meaning. But the Lord spoke to them in parables, and the multitude were indifferent as to what was meant; and when He was alone with them, He expounded all things to His disciples.

I will touch on two or three places in Scripture where my subject comes out. In the passage I have read, Satan comes in against what God was set upon; he comes in to explain away the word. It is the word he assails, not things. When you lose the word you have lost your power. So he does not begin so much by pointing out to the woman the advantages to be gained as by assailing the word. Having got the word he attempts to pervert it. It is, "Yea, hath God said?" and, "Ye shall not surely die". He does not yet tempt her to eat.

If you study your own history you will see the way you have been ensnared and rescued; and no one is happy who has not got a history - if he do not walk, so to say, historically with God - seeing and understanding God's dealings with him. I do not mean by this your keeping a diary - a diary is a record of your

[Page 111]

feelings; I mean, literally, history, that is, the events of your life.

An important thing comes out here which marks the difference between a work of the flesh and a work of Satan. It is a point of great interest as to the moment when an act of the flesh becomes a work of Satan. A simple act of the flesh - I mean an act of flesh simply - is just doing something that pleases me at the moment; it is simply gratification of the flesh: as we read: she "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise". But in satanic action there is always a design - there is an end farther on to be reached. The action of the flesh is momentary; it is the present moment that is before me; I like it at the moment; there is no forecasting - no issue to be reached. But when there is an evil issue to be reached by it, it is satanic.

How would it come in? "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil". When you are in a condition for Satan to help you, he will surely do so. I state the principles in a broad way, and may my doing so give you a deeper sense of what a shelter your heart may find in Christ. If you get the sense of a terrible never-ceasing foe on the one hand, it will make you more conscious, on the other, of what it is for you to have the Lord for your shelter as you walk through this evil world.

I just pursue the subject, but not to dwell on every example. I say nothing of Cain, for instance, but pass on to Noah. Noah does not begin with Satan; he only plants a vineyard; but that is self-gratification. And, let me warn you, the moment you yield to self-gratification you are in danger. It is a thing that suits you, and you are allured by it; green fields, no matter what it is, but the allurement comes first. Woe if you yield to it! This was the character of the first temptation of the Lord. When He was a hungered,

[Page 112]

Satan presents the temptation to make stones into bread.

If I look at Noah, I see he is set upon the earth on new terms, and the point was whether he would break down in keeping them. His planting a vineyard was simply self-gratification, but in so doing he failed to keep the word. "Hold fast the form [the outline or scope] of sound words". It was the scope of the things that he lost. It is not, as people so often say, whether you "have a text" or not for a certain action. Noah had no text - nothing had been said to him about a vineyard; but, Noah, if you had understood that God had put you upon the earth to rule, you never would have done anything to imperil your calling. He who cannot rule himself cannot rule others. Satan was meanwhile glorying in the fact that what God had set up in man had failed, and he brings in Canaan, who is the emissary of Satan, and Canaan is cursed.

I now pass on to Aaron himself. Aaron wanted to please the people, and, through this desire, led away from God, he is soon betrayed into sin by Satan. It is not that he is a bad person, but, thinking he would meet the condition of the people, he was ready to be the tool of Satan. It is the converse of Job's case. He was a good man, who, afflicted by Satan, will not surrender faith. The calf that Aaron made was the evidence of the Egypt out of which they had come - surrendering the truth of God for idols.

I have passed over Pharaoh, because he was a wicked man. But whilst doing so, I just say that man is an incompetent creature, so that when he gets into a strait, he must have either God or Satan to help him. Pharaoh went to the magicians. Aaron has been prominent for God, but prominence does not save him. Prominence for God here does not save from the activity of Satan. The moment you look out to meet the popular mind, it is man you are trying

[Page 113]

to meet and not God, and you then readily become the tool of Satan. He supplies a ready invention: he quickly found the gold for Aaron. What a thing is Satan!

You ask, What would be the effect of heeding this counsel? Practically you would have such a sense of what Satan's power is, that you would know that if you are not in Christ nothing can protect you. Education cannot keep Satan out; not all the thoughts of man can do it. One of the greatest crimes I ever heard of has lately been carried out by a man of education; if he had not had intelligence and education, he could not have constructed his infernal machine. The terrific nature of satanic power is that it is unceasing in its hostility against that which God is set on. And who, then, escapes his attacks? Why, those who are not set upon what God is. They escape from suffering; they escape the pain of his opposition.

I pass by the book of Daniel, in which we find more than one instance of his working, and go on to the Lord's own temptation. Nothing astonishes me like this. See what the malice of Satan is - malice in the very essence of it. Here is the Son of God on the earth, and what would Satan do? Satan in effect says, I will turn the Son of God aside first for a bit of bread - that is the necessary food for every man. Second, by offering Him the world in a new way. And, third (God forbid that we should ever fall into it!) by seeking to make Himself singular among men by the interposition of God for Him. Thus could Satan seek to upset the very Son of God. Wickedness cannot imagine goodness, any more than a good man can believe in a bad one. Here is God's Son, the Creator, on the earth; and Satan thinks he will turn Him aside for a bit of bread!

I know in how small a way I can take any of you into this, but I have the comfort in my own soul of knowing that the Lord would have you awake up to the gravity

[Page 114]

of it, and, if you wait upon Him, He will carry you into it far beyond what I can.

We now pass on for a moment to Matthew 16, where the Lord calls Peter, Satan. He says, "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". This is a remarkable thing. Here is he, who has just received the greatest revelation that was possible for a man coming out with that which is satanic. The Lord had just before said to him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". And now, when the Lord spoke of His death, not as merely saving, but as that through which man should be judicially set aside, "Peter took him and began to rebuke him". Mark, it is not salvation here. Peter never objected to be saved - no one does; but Peter objected to man being set aside. This shows us what Satan is about. The Lord here brings out what is his great point of attack. It is accompanied with a great revelation; and this person to whom the revelation has been made cannot endure the fact that man is to be set aside - to find his end on the cross. "Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee". And the solemn answer is: "Get thee behind me, Satan ".

I now travel on to see how this is worked out. But I must first take another thought in connection with this principle, so I just state the fact, in passing, that when the Lord was being crucified, Judas was actually carried off by Satan: "Satan entered into him". But Peter is sheltered. The Lord says to him, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee". Satan gets round him first by great bravery for his Master; he is carried away by his natural prowess, and cuts off the high priest's servant's ear, and then he will go on to the high priest's house to see the end. It was

[Page 115]

all quite natural. But just see how he is decoyed. A friend leads him into the house, and there he warms himself by the fire, for it was cold. Satan never lets you know you are in his toils until he has got you fast, and then he seeks to plunge you into despair. And notice his malice; not satisfied with having got the multitude and the apostate disciple to work his will against the Lord, he will have one of the nearest and dearest of His disciples. Do you at all understand his malice? Are you alive to the fact that, if you have not the arms of Christ around you, you are not safe for a moment from the virulence of this untiring foe?

In Acts 1 find Ananias and Sapphira the tools of Satan; he makes them believe that the Holy Spirit is not in the church. He says to them, You may tell the lie, no one will ever find it out; and you will get an advantage in two ways: you will have the credit of having given all that you possess to the church, and you will also have a good bit of the money for yourselves. The object of Satan here is to disparage and undermine the work of God, and to neutralise His grace. The temptation offered to them was that of eminence in the church of God. That was the bait with which Satan deluded them. It is well, when anything is put before you, to ask yourself the simple question: Is this Christ, or is it a bait? Christ is the only measure for everything; can I answer, I have enough in Christ? This is the practical benefit of being in the presence of Christ; I can then say, Having Him I can do without anybody; I am perfectly happy with Christ. Can you do without your family? Well, I say this, that the sense of the presence of Christ consists in being able to say, "No bread"; nothing but Christ; nothing for the human side. When I come down to the wilderness I want other things; why, I want a coat, for instance; but up there, in His presence, it is ever "No bread". You may be a very sincere man, but I do maintain that

[Page 116]

you have lost His presence when you take up your cares. You say, I have to go to Him about my troubles, surely? and of course you have; I do not mean that; but when you are occupied with Christ in His own sphere you need nothing else. As one has said, 'A prayer-meeting is in the wilderness; a worship-meeting in the holiest'. The moment I am in His own sphere He Himself is the satisfying object of my heart; I do not want anything but Himself - no super-additions. Here on earth I want food and raiment and comforts; I cannot get on without things needful to the body. God knows I want things, and He furnishes them, too. But I have the sense in my soul that when I have to do with Christ in His own sphere, though I may drop very soon into the wilderness again, still, as I know Him there, I am in an ecstasy. It is Christ, and not myself, that engrosses me. In "believers' meetings", as they call them, they are looking out for divine grace acting on themselves, instead of enjoying Christ Himself.

I look now for a little at the epistles. What was their failure at Corinth? It was that they would spare man . It is not that they would not accept Christ for their sins, but they would not accept Christ crucified as their pattern here on earth. There are three things important for the soul to see. First, God in the cross of Christ clears me of everything that stood between me and Him. Second, I am united to Christ in glory; I am put where He rules, where His sway is owned. Third, I return now to the cross to turn out everything in myself that would hinder the outshining of Christ. You admit that you are clear of your sins; if you were not you could not be united to Him in glory; and now you are to resist everything in you that is contrary to Him, that the light may shine out in this vessel that He has redeemed to Himself, and that you may come out here in the strength and grace of Christ. The man must go . And this the Corinthians would not have.

[Page 117]

The consequence was, that Satan got in. I do not comment on it; but I just point out how that, in the second epistle, they were slow to receive back the offender. They had been unduly lax; now they are unduly severe. Says the apostle, "I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him, .. . lest Satan should get an advantage of us". I mention it to show how he first mars the work of God by introducing terrible laxity among the saints, and then by leading them to go too much the other way.

There is another thing I just turn to in the first epistle to Timothy. In these two epistles to Timothy we get mention of "the latter times" and of "the last days". We are now in the latter of these two; and I wish to show you the difference between the satanic action in the two. It is the same principle here that we have already noticed. In "the latter times" of the first of Timothy, Satan brings in a system with which we are all acquainted - Romanism - which is an exaction on man; hence, of course, it is not supersession. It is just the difference between exaction and supersession. An exaction on the man admits his existence. Satan substitutes a new kind of godliness for the divine godliness brought before us in the preceding verse, and this consists in exaction on the man. If I say you are not to marry, not to do this and that, I admit that you are alive. Satan will bring in anything to make me admit that I am here. Let Ishmael stay in the house; make a servant of him, if you like; but do give him a corner. No, he is to go out . So Romanism came in to substitute something for God's supersession of man here, and that substitution is exaction.

But in the second of Timothy it is not substitution that he brings in, but imitation. Oh, but is not Romanism still going on with its exactions all around us? I have no doubt that it is; but besides Romanism, another phase of evil has now come in: we read of

[Page 118]

"having a form of godliness, but denying the power", and of those who are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth". These "resist the truth", as "Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses". It is imitation of the truth, and that not in a person who has never learned it. It is imitation, combined with sickly sentimentality, which the term "silly women" expresses; it does not mean literally women, but the effeminacy of character which goes after this imitation. This is the character of the last days.

All I am saying is conveyed in the first sentence I uttered, namely, that Satan is ever set against that which God is set upon.

If you look at Ephesians, you find that Satan is always opposing the saints who faithfully pursue their heavenly calling. It is when we have on the whole armour of God that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places". It is there that the warfare is unceasing. There is something exceedingly fearful in the virulence of it. If you are determined to enjoy your rights to heaven, his opposition to you will be unceasing, and therefore it is compared to wrestling - every sinew is strained to the uttermost to upset the antagonist; and all this because I insist upon my rights. Many a one has proved the severity of the struggle. God will help them; that is enough. But many a one, because he insisted on his rights with not strength enough to maintain him - many a one who has been the brightest, the foremost of all - has been floored by Satan. Their purpose, however, is known to God, and He certainly will restore them. They were set on going on to glory, but they did not look for the protection offered them by the way - they had not on their armour - and so they were drawn aside. And then it is said of them, "Oh, there are

[Page 119]

your people who said they were heavenly!" And so they are; they were right in their purpose, but they have failed in carrying it out; and I warn you, if you do seek to maintain your rights, you must be prepared for the most unrelenting opposition - for the most dire virulence of Satan. If you say, God has given me heaven, and I mean to have it, I answer, You must have your armour on then. And that is character; it is not prayer simply. No man can get on against Satan without character; you never can face Satan if you have not character; you may have large conceptions of righteousness, but the question is, Is your own character righteous? With your armour on you are invulnerable. You can say to Satan, You cannot touch me; I am strong in the Lord. I would have you search your ways and everything about you as to this, and then, though Satan may be able to say, I saw you do such and such a thing the other day, you can answer, So I may have, but I am not doing it today. I stand by the power of God now, and I am going to resist you.

This is what I call the first class of opposition.

I need not tell you how he opposes in preaching the gospel. I cannot go into the subject, but I may say I do not believe the gospel is ever preached without his seeking to neutralise it. It is well for those who preach to make up their minds to this. It is not only the hardness of man's heart that they have to meet, but the gospel is never preached without Satan being there to pick it up if it be by the wayside.

As to the way in which Satan deals with individuals, Peter says he "as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour", and he knows you well. He knows what your peculiar liking is, and finds you in a condition to entertain his suggestions. Judas had the bag before Satan came to him, and he says to him, I know you like money, now I will give you some

[Page 120]

money if you will do it. To another, who is ambitious, he says, I will give you power.

It has been a great question with philosophers as to the interval of time that elapses between the conception of a bad act and the execution of it. I will tell you; and not by philosophy, but by Scripture. "Satan entered into" Judas. He put it into his head; and if you entertain the thought he puts before you, he will enable you to carry it out. Wherever there is consistency, persistency in an evil course, there is Satan. Man has no power of himself; so I say, you never see a persistent attempt to a certain end for evil that it is not satanic. When people say, That man has a great will, you may be sure he is supported by Satan.

Paul says, "Satan hindered" him. I do not know how it came to be so, but we find that he was going to preach in a certain place, and that he could not go.

How, then, am I to overcome him? Resist him. "Whom resist, stedfast in the faith"; and, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". The great thing is to stand against him.

There are just one or two more points I should like to touch on. First, the way in which God makes use of Satan. I believe He uses him to correct the saints and to scourge them. In Job's case how terrible for him to know, if he did know it, that he was in the hands of Satan; that it was Satan who had taken away his sheep, his camels, his oxen, and his sons and daughters. And Satan was glad to do it; and he was glad to be the thorn in the flesh to Paul. Just think of it! I believe it would give us far greater sobriety if we thought more of these things, if we saw that we are never safe from the attacks of Satan but in the hands of the Lord.

And, lastly, we have that most solemn word, "Delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme".

[Page 121]

May the Lord keep us close to Himself as our great High Priest by the way! He never suffered from the attacks of Satan internally, though He did from outside. And, for that very reason, He is able to carry us through all the virulence and malice of that which is outside us. He makes it all to be but the winds blowing on His garden, "that the spices thereof may flow out". As for ourselves, we have no power at all unless we are depending on the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Page 122]


Hebrews 13:17

I feel impressed to bring before you, beloved brethren, the subject of rule, in the hope that a few words upon it may enable us to distinguish between clericalism and radicalism.

Clericalism is the assumption of rule in a teacher. The teacher is not necessarily a ruler, though the ruler may be a teacher. Radicalism is that which wants to be independent of all rule. Nothing is more important for us practically at this time than to see that it is more according to the rule than according to the teaching in a place that the progress is.

Rule is not merely government; it is oversight. "If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" It is character that is the qualification for rule. I see it in every place that it does not depend upon the gifted person there, but upon the character of the oversight. A teacher may be an elder, but it is not of a teacher but of an elder it says, "They watch for your souls". And of such it says, "Obey them that have the rule over you" - the guides, properly speaking. I therefore have read this verse as the best passage I can find to bring the subject before you.

From the beginning I see how necessary it is to be subject to rule. At the very start the breakdown was through disobedience; and the first commandment with promise is in connection with obedience to rule. The wife is to be in subjection to her husband. It is a principle which you find pervading all Scripture, and the contrary principle you find running parallel with it all through also. Cain says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Christianity maintains that you are to be your brother's keeper; it is the principle of John 13

[Page 123]

"If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them".

I am called to minister to a person, not as he desires, but to so minister to him that I may remove from him anything that comes in as a hindrance between his soul and Christ. I see something in you, and I take pains to remove it; that is charity. "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you". "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another as I have loved you". I do not act towards you as your inclination dictates; but just as a father might say to one of his children, I do not like that colour that you wear; or, I do not like the way in which you act. It is not that I wish to wound you, but I take such an interest in you that I wish to improve you. True love desires the perfection of its object. Love is not blind; it says, I will take care that you shall be altogether such as I would have you: "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee". That is the great principle. Thus in small meetings there is often more real vitality than in large, because there is more oversight.

I am not touching on the place of the pastor. The great principle is that we are all to have oversight: "Be subject one to another". We are all to have godly care over each other, and if this be common to all, how much more those who are older? Of course it would not be right for a young person to go up to an old brother and say, I do not at all approve your ways. "Thou shalt rebuke thy brother" is law. Legality consists in pointing out the fault; rebuke is always legal; washing is with divine power removing the defects that I perceive, else it is only making the blot still greater. If I see a defect in you I am responsible to remove it, though I may not be able to do so. Whether able to remove it or not, if I charge myself with the responsibility of it, I shall not be very ready to gossip about it. If I am responsible for a window being clean, I shall not be in a hurry to point out the

[Page 124]

spots on it; I shall not want to talk about them to the master and the company. I often say to myself, You are responsible for that defect; do not be in a hurry to talk about it. You may be very quick to see defects, but your very quickness of perception only saddles you with the greater responsibility. Some are more responsible than others; the greater your age the greater your responsibility, so it is, "not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil".

Now there is a difference between gifts and office. If I am a bishop in Quemerford I am not a bishop anywhere else. If I am a gift in Quemerford I am a gift everywhere else. Christendom is very anxious to maintain the office, but it overlooks the gift. If I could say of any regiment, All the officers of that regiment are there, I could not say it was demoralised, though the rank and file might be in a very low state. But if the officers are wanting, I admit the regiment is demoralised, and I am anxious to get it into order of some kind. There must then be some officer, there must be order. There is no such thing as being left by God to do things in the church anyhow at all. I know places where things go on well, and where, as I have said, it does not depend so much on the gift as on the oversight. "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof", or as it is literally, "Shepherd the flock".

There is always a tendency to connect rule with teaching; and that is clericalism. I do not know anything that has caused more confusion than teachers trying to be rulers, gaining a certain prominence in rule because of their having a gift. Teachers are often young men, and I say to such, you must be subject to rule. There are other qualifications for rule besides that of age. I never take the place of rule myself, though certainly I am old enough; still I lend my aid to any ruler in case of difficulty.

[Page 125]

There must be divine intelligence in ruling; the work is done by the power of God - there could be no order otherwise - but meanwhile there is no assumption of office. I may not be able to appoint the rulers officially, at least I cannot give them their commission. But as it is said, when there is no Lord Chancellor, the great seal is put into commission - what is called a care meeting; just so we may not have a bishop, but three or four do the work. I am not so particular about who does the work, as that the work is to be done.

You cannot appoint bishops; for if you were to try to do so in Quemerford, you would find that some of them would be in system, and that therefore you could not get them. "Much food is in the tillage of the poor; but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment". It is lost because there is not a man who can come in and say, I am the deacon or the bishop of this place; and so the work is left in abeyance, and there is untold lack for want of judgment. People say, You have no bishops and deacons, and I answer, Well, I cannot say we have them, but anyhow if you come amongst us you will find the work is done. Just as I might say, In this house there is neither governess nor tutor, but there is a maid-servant who has so much grace and power that she keeps the children in order, and the children are so good that they obey her. So do not talk about the lack of officers, but see that the work is done.

Turn for a moment to Acts 20. What do we find here? When the apostle comes to the church at Ephesus, for whom does he send? for the teachers? Not at all! He sends for the elders - the overseers as they are called in verse 28; and he puts them in the place of watching . "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch ".

[Page 126]

I now pass on to 1 Timothy. I know what objections are raised as to this epistle; but I am very certain no person can understand the second epistle without understanding the first. We get here the orderly state of the church as it was at the first. Suppose there is a garden all grown over with weeds, and entirely gone to ruin, so that no traces of what it was at one time remain, and I want to put this garden to rights again. I make inquiries as to who saw it in its original state, for it is the original idea I want to respect. And an old man turns up who says, There was once a walk that went down in this direction. I know so much. Well, immediately I set to work to clear out anyhow that one walk. Thus 1 Timothy gives us the original idea.

Young Christians are full of enthusiasm as to the wonderful truths that God has recovered to us in these last days, but I believe we have no conception as to what the original church was - as to its magnificence on the earth. I am as ready as any one can be to acknowledge with my whole heart before God the marvellousness of the grace that has visited us; I believe it is the most marvellous thing that the Lord should have taken us up and revealed to us His mind, as He did to His disciples at the beginning, in Luke 24; but I should like to know what "the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" was, and what the gift that was given Timothy "by prophecy". I may make a sort of guess about these things, but they are beyond me quite. It is not that we are not to be full of thanksgiving for what we have got, but I do say that a great deal of humble waiting on the Lord is needed that He would indeed instruct us as to what is "the house of God" - as to what the church is in His mind; as it says, "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God". When man looks at it it is the house of God: when Christ works, in it it is the body. A man cannot behave himself in the body, but he is called to do so in the house.

[Page 127]

The first chapter of 1 Timothy is taken up with doctrine; it is the essential thing. The second chapter is prayer. Prayer is dependence upon God. The man was to be characterised by prayer, the woman by appearance. That is the difference between the man and the woman. A godly woman, instead of seeking to attract man by dress and appearance, shows by her ways that she has retired from the world, and has taken God for her portion. Man, on the other side, instead of being self-reliant, is dependent on God.

Chapter 3 is rule. Here we get bishops and deacons. We all know this is the letter, but the question is whether we know it as divine. Some have before now been offended with me when they have spoken of beginning a new meeting, if I have asked, "Who is to be the bishop?" If you are going to have the church of God in a place, I say, who is going to have the charge of it? Who is going to rule? Are you sensible of the gravity of what you are doing? People think lightly of it, but it is quite contrary to Scripture to do so; it is a very serious thing, therefore it is said, "if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" I do not know any one thing people are so slow to take as the responsibility of the church of God. If a man is a bishop Peter says he ought to take the oversight of the flock "willingly". And here it says, "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work". There is no better, no higher. I am not talking of gift now; but he adds, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine".

It is a solemn question - one in which we all help or hinder. Which are you doing?

And now a word about deacons. It is not as to whether there be a deacon or not; this work also

[Page 128]

may be put into commission. The assembly provides the means, and there are certain persons who carry out the dispensing of them. A deacon is to be a well-ordered person; if you cannot find one to undertake the work you must get two or three to do it. The fifth chapter takes up the practical action of it in the matter of distribution. As much as possible you ought to be careful in the distribution of money not to put the saints in a position where faith cannot be exercised. Thus no one is to be put on the list until they are too old to work for themselves. I think every one in need ought to be looked after, but no one, except a person in certain circumstances, ought to have, so to say, a stipend. There are certain qualifications for such, as we get in verses 9 and 10.

I believe great mischief has been done through ignorance on this point. It is not that you should not help people over a difficulty, but if you make them entirely dependent on you, you hinder their faith in God, and by your very kindness you do them an injury. If a man be in a difficulty, help him over it. In some cases, of course, there must be a continuation, and they must be put on the list.

All this is really important, for it is a day when every barrier is broken down, rule is altogether gone, absence of subjection is the rule. The point is not how the oversight comes, but whether the thing itself is really worthy. This is an immense help. As a young man I found that obeying others who, as people say, had no right over me, was exceedingly useful. Often a man thinks if he has a certain gift that he is not under rule. I say, not at all. Your gift does not give you rule over others. On the contrary, part of that very gift consists in the ability given you to press home on others that they are to be subject to those whom God has put over them, and as you do this you will find out the real honour that there is in subjection.

[Page 129]

All I say is, I would support rule by prayer, by the word of God, in every way that I could; but do not mix up the overseer with the gift. They are not derivative in any way. I believe the church would hold a very different position in the eyes of men if it were known that every person who came in was looked after more than they would be in a nunnery; that there would be no detail in their private life that would not be a matter of interest to the overseers.

There is an order that runs all through the epistle. In chapter 3 we have what the church should be here - "The pillar and ground of the truth"; and in chapter 4 comes in the apostasy, or Romanism, which attempts to set up another order of things by exaction - not supersession, which was the necessary result of "Jesus Christ come in flesh". If He have so come, He has of necessity superseded the man that was here; and so wicked spirits will not acknowledge Him as having so come, because it supersedes everything of Adam.

But Romanism comes in admitting that the man is alive. It is the effort of the enemy to make a man religious without God. Radicalism is the effort to elevate him in his own way, and so it is called liberality, and is simply exalting man; so that 'gain is godliness'. They will be rich; they get a certain power by wealth. The moment a person seeks the elevation of man, he looks for all that will raise him; and so wealth comes in. Therefore it says in the midst of such things, "Charge them that are rich in this world".

And this brings in something apart from deacon's work. I do not think a rich man should use deacons. I do not say he is never to put into the box; but this I do say, that when he hands money over to the deacons it becomes the Lord's money, and the responsibility of it is no longer his but theirs. The box is

[Page 130]

the Lord's money; it is simply the Lord saying to each one, Will you give me anything today? You may refuse to do so, and you may have good reasons for refusing; but it is to the Lord you refuse to give. The deacons are responsible to the Lord for the use made of it.

I would also notice that the apostle Paul would not take from the church at Corinth, whilst he would take from an individual Corinthian. I am not sure that the assembly is up to giving in ordinary cases; there is too much partiality in the saints. Stephanas and his companions supplied Paul with what was lacking on the part of the Corinthians; though he would not take from them, he was "glad of their coming". In this way it is the company in which you are least a receiver as a labourer in which you will be the happiest working. You will be all the happier for not being dependent on them; they receive from you, and not you from them.

Meanwhile those that are rich are to do good, "be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life". Suppose there is a penny. I have no divine title to that penny. But you cannot take it by force; for I say you have no divine title to it, either. I, then, have got possession of it, though no title to it; and I may do as I will with it. If I lay it out on myself, I have the good of it now, and I thank God for it; if I lay it out on someone else, I will get the good of it by-and-by. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations". If I lay it out badly, I have got neither the good of it now nor hereafter; I have not used it as the Lord would have me. I have heard people say in a radical sort of way, when receiving from another, I do not thank you for this; I thank the Lord and

[Page 131]

no one else. Well, I say you might as well thank them now, for the day will come when you will have to.

I object to a person having what you call an almoner. All I want to make clear is the difference between the individual and the assembly in the matter of money. I want a gifted individual to be responsible to the Lord for his money. If he likes to put anything into the box with me, all well and good; but when he does so he has handed it over to the responsibility of others. For my part, I think there is nothing more difficult than the use of money for the Lord. It is the gift that people are most anxious to have, and I think it is the most difficult to exercise. I believe immense harm has been done by making pensioners. It is of importance to care for poor saints, and keep them from want, and yet to leave room for faith to act. Never prevent a soul being exercised before God.

We can thus easily understand how it is a grief to those who rule when the saints do not go on well. "They watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief". They will have to give an account to the Lord of the way in which they have acted to souls. "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward". It is the servant, not the people, who loses his reward. The servants have to give an account of what they have done to the souls.

In conclusion, you ought to be able to say to inquirers, Do you ask for bishops and deacons? the work is done . It is not a question of keeping up a position, but of keeping the house in order. And if, as I have said, there is none but a servant-maid to do it, I say she is anyhow keeping the house clean. It is not a person sitting ex cathedra that we want; it is a person that will do the work. The moment teachers

[Page 132]

take upon themselves to act for the assembly it is clericalism. It is not teachers, it is the assembly, that must act; it is a deliberative company. Overseers and pastors should visit cases, look after them, and so on, and thus prevent their coming as matters of discipline before the assembly. Only the assembly can deal with them.

[Page 133]


I propose that we should look through two or three of the epistles; for so many read detached portions of Scripture without getting at the scope of it.

It has been asked, "What is a Roman? What stature would a man who only studied Romans come to?"

In Romans we have "the gospel of God". To see this, we must begin at the third chapter. In the previous ones we get man ruined; here we see how that ruin is met. But I would notice, in passing on to it, the very important statement in chapter 1, that this gospel is "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead". It is the gospel of the seed of David risen; and that leaves no hope for the Jew on natural grounds.

But to see the stature to which you come in the Romans, we pass on to chapter 3, where we find the value of the blood, and, because of it, find that we get shelter - that God is "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus". I want an ark first to save me from judgment; but I do not get to Romans 5 until I am in the sweet savour of Genesis 8:21; until I know that as He is, so am I in this world. Noah could say, Though I am not a better man than I was before the flood, yet I am now in sweet savour before God; in the place where I was in fear of judgment, I am now in favour. "Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". I am in favour on earth; and then I rise to "joy in God".

[Page 134]

But then someone says, 'I am very unhappy'. What! after being so happy? After knowing peace with God, and joy in Him? Yes. Oh, then you have found out there is sin in you. But there is a release from that: "our old man is crucified" with Christ; there is an end of it before God. Romans takes you thus far, but it does not take you on to crucified to the world . And the consequence is, that Romans are very nice people; they are just like Frenchmen in England. They say, We are strangers here; we do not speak the language, nor do we follow the manners; but we get all the good things we can, out of the country we are in. And, moreover, they are always ready to learn Ephesian truth, too.

You are not dead in Romans, but in chapter 6 you are dead to sin; and in chapter 7, dead to the law . God has "condemned sin in the flesh" for you, but you are not rid of it in yourself, though you are to reckon yourself dead to it.

It is "through" Christ all along till you get to chapter 6: 11 - 23; it is not "in" till then. Then it comes in, because, if you move away Adam, which has been done in chapter 6: 6, you must put the believer in somewhere. Now no longer in Adam, he is in Christ. It is an important thing for the believer to know that he is in Christ; because, if he sees himself there, he knows that he is not in Adam's state any longer before God.

So a good Roman has "joy in God" in chapter 5, and now, in chapter 8 Christ is the spring of all to him, and the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him as he walks not after the flesh but after the Spirit; and he has not only resurrection with Christ through the Spirit, but through Him he also mortifies "the deeds of the body". In this he comes very near Colossians, but not quite to it. He has come to "Abba Father", and he is an "heir of God", but there is not a word of being in heaven as in Ephesians,

[Page 135]

though he is looking forward to it, "waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body".

"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", is an abstract statement. There are only the two standings before God; if you are in the standing of the flesh, you will die; if you are in the standing of the Spirit you will live.

The Roman is not only then clear of everything that stood between him and God, but he is a son. And I hold it impossible for a man to have a cloud when he has the sense that he is a son of God. Talk of a cloud! Impossible! But there is great vagueness in the state of souls as to their relationship. They speak of God truly as a Father, but in doing so they are not really beyond the Lord's prayer, "Our Father which art in heaven ". They just know that He is like a Father to them, but they do not know sonship. There is no question as to their being converted, but they do not know that they are His sons . A Roman is a son and heir; but it does not say what he is heir to. I do not think he has got so far as what Paul is told is the gospel: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me".

He sees that creation is vanity, and that all here is to be removed; but that is not sitting in heavenly places in Christ, nor anything like it.

Thus in chapter 3 we get shelter; chapter 4, forgiveness of sins, and sin not imputed; chapter 5, peace and joy; chapter 6, dead to sin; chapter 7, dead to the law, but with sin in you; chapter 8, life in Christ in resurrection. It is not the man's death; it is Christ's death. I am a live man going through the darkness, not out of it yet. It is Christ who has risen; I am not risen. In Romans it is a question of

[Page 136]

sin, and I want death to get out of that. Chapter 7 is the most painful experience that a believer can pass through; I find that I am not in keeping with the life that is in me. The real Roman would be very glad to find that this world was a grave; but it is not. He knows that God is for him. And at the end of chapter 8 we find priesthood. And thus we are even "more than conquerors through him that loved us"; we get a touch of the power that is in us; and nothing is able to separate us "from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

Many souls fancy that they are in a state in which they are not; because they have great aspirations they suppose themselves in some higher place spiritually than a Roman whilst they have really never yet known what it is to be one. Souls that have got into Ephesians and Colossians without going through Romans, are not established.

And then we get chapter 12, the presenting of the body "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God"; a being "not conformed to this world". For this I do not want peculiarity in dress or other things. I am not nonconformed, but I am transformed.

In Galatians the first verse gives the character of the epistle, and has been often commented on. "Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man". There is no antecedent to it on earth. It is a thing that comes out de novo, and in which man is totally ignored. Paul was a man himself who had thought much of man, who had so kept the law that he could say, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless"; but, when he came to see Christ in glory, he never spoke to Him of man at all; he never alluded to Adam, as we see where he recites his conversion a little lower down in the chapter. It is just the opposite to what we get in Hebrews, where everything is traced right down from "the fathers".

[Page 137]

This ignoring of man helps the Galatians, for they had gone back to Adam. A Galatian is really a Roman who has gone back from Romans 8. It is no longer true of him that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made him free"; he desires "again to be in bondage". It is really the new school of 'holiness by faith' that has come up. In that, law is the standard, and perfection in the flesh the aim. Doing good things merely is not Christianity; Christ working in me is.

The law was given to suit a servant, and therefore cannot suit a son, but he is a very bad Christian who does not go higher than the law. Here Paul is "dead to the law". His great point is, I do not recognise myself; it is His Son in me; "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God". As soon as he was converted, he preached that Jesus was the Son of God; and now he says that He is revealed in me, I go into the background. In speaking of his conversion here, it is not simply the mode of salvation that is brought forward; it is that Paul had now to do with this blessed One, whom he had seen in glory, and that he had to learn how this could be effected. It was through God revealing His Son in me, so that Paul had the same life as He; it was "not I, but Christ liveth in me".

Every believer has the same title, though every believer does not enjoy it. There are three witnesses to the fact that all possess it, as John tells us: "the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree" in one testimony: that God "hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son ". It is wonderful the way in which John and Paul thus help one another. John brings God's Son down to earth, and Paul takes us up to Christ; therefore a man who teaches Paul's doctrine, dwells much on John's. And, what is very interesting in Paul and John is that, in speaking of the same truth, they reverse the way of

[Page 138]

stating it. If John says, "Father and God", Paul says, "God and Father". If John says, "peace and life", Paul will say, "life and peace". Talking of washing and of sanctification, Paul will put the sanctification before the washing, and John the washing before the sanctification. Just as you constantly find help in different brothers' teaching: one will take one side of the truth, and another the other.

However, to return to our epistle. In chapter 2 he says, I will not give up this truth, neither for the youngest saint nor the oldest; neither for a young disciple like Titus, nor for an old apostle like Peter. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me", is what he holds to. This the Galatians had given up; they had gone back to the flesh; they were not seeking to be justified before God "by the faith of Jesus Christ". It is strange how perfectionist people are by nature. I mean, they will put themselves under law as to a certain point, and then take liberty on every other. There is a difference in the apostle's manner with a Corinthian, to what there is with a Galatian he is hopeful of a Corinthian, of a Galatian he says, "I am afraid of you". I have more chance of getting at a man who is out-and-out enjoying the world, than I have at one who is legally trying to make a fair show in the flesh.

In chapter 3 he brings in Christ crucified to meet their state. It is not Christ's death as such; it is the ignominious putting of His Person out of the world. He says, Jesus Christ is set forth crucified before your very eyes. And, besides this, how did you get the Spirit? Was that by the law and flesh? It is just the new school: made perfect in the flesh after beginning in the Spirit.

Then he brings them back to Abraham, who got the promise of the Seed four hundred years before the law, and we date from that Seed. We are not

[Page 139]

tenants as we should have been under the law, when we never could have paid the rent; but we date four hundred and thirty years before it, because we belong to the heir. The law was just a master, a pedagogue. The thought is that of a master walking on, and all the scholars following after. So the law led on until it brought to Christ. It is a wonderful argument; no jury could refuse the title. I belong to the promised Seed; faith comes in in connection with the Spirit of promise, and links me on to the new line, and that line is the Spirit line; it is not the flesh; I inherit under another line altogether. All this is to prove to them that they cannot go back to the old line without losing the inheritance.

As to those who would like to be under law, he says, chapter 4, Let us look at these law-keepers; what happened in that case? As soon as the one after the Spirit was grown up, the one born after the flesh had to go out. I ask, Have you put him out? You say, Yes; but he comes in again. Never mind that; the great thing is, whether you have come to the point that you do not tolerate him. The thought of the new school is that Isaac is to come in and make Ishmael a good boy. Ishmael mocked, we are told; and Paul calls that persecution.

In chapter 5 we get a very interesting thing: that the Spirit is stronger than the flesh. The words in verse 17 ought to be, "that ye may not do the things that ye would". It is a wonderful thing to find out that, if we walk in the Spirit. we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh; it is an immense comfort to the heart. If I were talking to the new school, I would say I have no right to do a wrong thing, but you want me, not to be a new man, but an improved one.

Chapter 6: 14 is the grand finale of the epistle: "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". "To me" is the

[Page 140]

point; it is not that God is left out, but that the point is where I am placed with regard to the world, and the world to me, by the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. As to what the world is, there is no harm in anything in itself, if it does not influence you: it is the power that it exerts over you that is the evil.

Ephesians takes us up in exactly the opposite way to Romans. There man is seen as alive in sin; here as dead in it. It is all downwards from God to man. It is the "water of the rain of heaven".

It is in this epistle where we are set "in heavenly places in Christ", that we find the gifts to the church; chapter 4. I do not believe a man really understands gifts at all until he has got on to heavenly ground. It is in the place of death in trespasses and sins, in the place where our weakness is brought out to the utmost, that we know the power of "the living God". This is Joshua 3. This power, which has first worked out from God to me (chapter 1), now works out of me, as I am "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man"; beginning with the church in the first part of chapter 4; then in my social surroundings - in connection with my neighbour. Many a one gets on with those at a distance, who cannot get on with people close to. So it is "truth with his neighbour", not with someone far away. And lastly this power comes out in the domestic circle. If a man has not power at home, he has no power anywhere.

We find three forms of the power which thus comes down into all the difficulties of this scene. First it comes down from God Himself, it is "the working of his mighty power". Second it is in me: "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man". And when I talk of power in me, I never get the Holy Spirit dissociating me from Christ in any action that He energises. As we have seen, it is not a question of my doing a nice thing, but of Christ coming out in

[Page 141]

me. I am a dead man, but I am made to act in the power of God. And third, it acts out in chapter 6 against Satan.

Thus, the true answer to an Ephesian is a Philippian. And it is very difficult to be a Philippian, though every believer has title to be an Ephesian. I find my heart is a long way ahead of my feet; and it must be so; just as in a man climbing up a ladder. If you are satisfied with having your head only in advance, you will become enthusiastic; whereas if you are set upon climbing up, you will become laborious. I have a residence in heaven, and I ought to occupy it. There are the three steps in Joshua: there is the entering, the possessing, and the dwelling. A good many of us have entered, a good many have possessed, but dwelling is the grand thing.

And lastly, I am so to walk that I may be approved of Him, as I stand here against all the wiles of the devil, "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might".

In Philippians we find Paul in prison telling out the path of a heavenly man upon earth. In the hands of the Gentile power, shut out from the people of the Lord on earth; he is able to set before them in himself the type and example of a heavenly man upon earth; so that the things that fall out to him are only "unto the furtherance of the gospel". He can look upon the earth in a new way; all his expectations from it are closed; and now heaven opens to him. It is not that it was not opened before, but that he was not in a position equal to enjoy it.

Saints have to be thrown into circumstances where the things of God can be made good to them, for the circumstances we are in conduce largely to the carrying out in us of the truth God has committed to us. John had to go to Patmos to get his line of things, and Paul to a prison to be able to teach his fully.

[Page 142]

We see the apostle, then, deprived of everything; and we find him in it the very opposite of Hezekiah, who, when all his links to earth were about to be broken, still could not die. Fourteen years a most perfect servant of God on the earth, still he says, What shall I do if I die? In the grave no one praises. But here is Paul, everything gone from him, he only longs to depart and be with Christ. He has the blessed sense in his soul that he would like to die, that he might know what it would be to be in that solitude with Him. In chapter 1 he seeks to die himself in order to be with Christ; in chapter 2 he dies as a servant; in chapter 3 he dies as a martyr; and in chapter 4 he dies to circumstances.

This does not put death in opposition to the coming of the Lord. If I long to be with Him I long for Him to come. Our side is in the first chapter; His in the third. Anyone who is really longing to be with the Lord is longing for Him to come; and anyone who is really longing for Him to come is longing to be with Him. But you will not be in the moral power of the coming of the Lord if you are not in a state of heart to meet Him. The mere historical event is often associated with sentiment. Nothing so answers the question: Am I in a state to see Him? as another question: Would you like to see Him?

Men are forming for things, fitting for them, all through their lives. The first circle of a man's life is the expression of what the whole of it will be. Paul was always a leader, both before conversion and after; but the thing he was most for in nature, he is most against in grace. The greatest Pharisee becomes the greatest anti-Pharisee.

Our circumstances then conduce to our power. If you were in prison you would be much more able to talk of heaven than I. Our prison very often is sickness. There are two great lessons we have to learn; and in this school Paul is a graduate here, as

[Page 143]

Jonah was a learner in the Old Testament. First, I myself am dead, and I am saved from death; but then I have to learn that everything is dead to me. The gourd is dead; I have not a single thing to shelter me from the east wind; I have not a single thing left to lose. I have to learn these two deaths, for through sin I have brought myself into these two conditions. When people are first converted, though they see themselves saved out of their own death, they have not the sense that death is on everything around them. Many have to learn this by going through loss; happier to learn it like Abraham going up mount Moriah, by surrender. Abraham was going on to the resurrection morning as he journeyed to mount Moriah: Paul had reached it.

The spring of devotedness is being completely done with myself, so that I can be completely for God. Nothing does so much damage to souls as walking before others in an appearance that is not true. Then there is guile. It is sanctimoniousness. As Paul says, "Lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be". A verse that humbles one immensely, and comforts one, too, is: "thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly".

The Lord allowed him to get into prison. Paul took a great interest in the Jews: he was greatly occupied with his earthly nation; now he has a trial in connection with them; he suffers from their hands, and ends in a prison in Rome. The Lord says, You have borne witness of Me in Jerusalem, and you shall in a Gentile city also.

Many brethren are in the place that Luke and Acts educate them to, without knowing how they got there. They have got to a place outside Jerusalem on earth without knowing how. Luke shows Christ going up from Bethany; and, in the Acts, I soon lose the twelve apostles, to follow the course of one who was not of

[Page 144]

them at all. After the offer of the kingdom had been made to the Jews by the twelve, I find one "born out of due time", who offers "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" to the Gentiles. Thus earth is over. And the apostle longs to leave it; he desires to depart and be with Christ; but one thing keeps him; he stays for the church. So it is only with or for .

Two objects ought to mark our life. I am wishing to be the first, but I stay for the second. Then how are you going to stay? I am going to stay like Christ. There is a greater thing than serving Christ: He can be expressed . Christ has left the world, but He has not left it without someone to represent Him in it. And if anyone be representing, he will certainly serve when the time comes. One who represents is sure to serve, and to serve well.

If I had asked Paul what he was going on to, he would have answered, I am going on to be poured out; and as I do so, "I joy and rejoice with you all". I do not mind dying for you. There is no dying for himself here; it is for others. He looks forward to martyrdom; he will do anything to get into fellowship with Christ. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death". This is a martyr, not a servant now.

And then he says, "Rejoice in the Lord!" I do not tell you to rejoice in anything else, but I do say, let nothing hinder you in that; do not two women lose it by quarrelling. And lastly, Paul, dead practically; the things that affect a man do not affect him. How do you get on in bad circumstances? They do not move me. How do you get on in good ones? They do not move me. Of those two circles into which the world is divided - attractions and afflictions - neither move me. I am content in the one, I have power over the other. I know how to abase and how to abound.

[Page 145]

In Colossians, the first thing we have is the two headships of Christ: He has the headship of creation, and the headship of the church. We ought not to forget that Christ has the headship of creation: it tells in all directions.

We also get two reconciliations and two ministries. One we are in, the other is coming. The one is of the gospel, the other of the church; and you will not be very effective in the first, unless you have the second; for, as has been said, if a person is really earnestly preaching, he will bring souls where he is himself; he will bring them up to the headship of Christ. As soon as the apostle has made us complete in Christ, he turns about and, like the old emigrants, burns the ship. He says, Complete in Christ, then man is gone. The body of the flesh is gone in the circumcision of Christ. The words "of the sins" are not there. It is to be no more, "Touch not, taste not, handle not"; I am to hold the Head, and that alone. If I tell you not to do this thing and that, then you must be alive but you are to die all round.

We have, in Colossians, the religious man on the earth, which is formed of two things: Judaism and spiritualism. This makes religious men in the flesh. Galatians was more subtle in its character: they wanted to make man perfect in the flesh. But take the whole character of things that men are running after here, I have something infinitely superior to it all in Christ. The two lines run side by side in society now: the characteristic of the upper classes is ritualistic, whilst the lower is rationalistic. They combine and work together.

But the believer is "risen with Christ", and is therefore to set his "affection on things above, not on things on the earth". The life of Christ is to come out of, and infuse, every member of His body on the earth; everything is to be done in connection with the Head; man has become a beautiful musical instrument,

[Page 146]

answering to the leading voice; but the saints often go before the voice. Thus I, who am in myself but a poor failing thing, am made the living expression of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Habits are things that I have to "put off ". Nothing but death will do for members on the earth; no education in the world will get rid of them.

The difference between Ephesians and Colossians is this: that in Ephesians I am coming down, in Colossians I am looking up to heaven.

A person in Ephesians may rejoice in knowing that he is set in Christ; but to get to Philippians, you must go through Colossians. I have the Spirit of God now to put all the members in their right place - a divine Person here on the earth; and I am not in heaven. In Romans the believer is in the Spirit of sonship and heirship, and delights to find that place; but in Colossians he is quickened together with Christ, and he gets the taste and the power that fit him for being there with Him, though he has not dwelt there yet. Gilgal is his residence in heaven: he is "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands". It is after the thing is done the place is called Gilgal. He has got into the moral condition to enjoy it. He knows something that is up there which he did not know in Romans. He is risen, but he has not yet got the place. The Roman is one who is ready for it; he has the Spirit, but he is not yet risen. The Colossian is risen, but he is not yet in the place. Now it is an immense thing to get a place, because then I can give up the old place. A Colossian is risen with Christ, quickened together with Him, and what then? I am looking up for a new place; I seek the things that are above; I follow out all the character of thing which fits me for being in heaven, where I am not as yet, but where I am going.

[Page 147]


EXODUS 15:20 - 25

The true way to enter the wilderness is in the words of Romans 5We "rejoice in hope of the glory of God". That is the song of Moses - the chorus of it: "The Lord ... hath triumphed gloriously". It does not say that we have done so. It is not yourself that has triumphed, as you very often find out; but the chorus is a thing that you never can lose. You can say, No matter what I am, He has triumphed. And for whom? For me! Well, have you triumphed? No, but He has, and we triumph in His triumphs. The natural thought of the people when they got across the Red Sea would have been, We have done something now to be proud of. But no; it is all the Lord. Thus I enter the wilderness - enter it with a song.

Now, none of us but is conscious how different he is in the presence of the Lord from what he often is in the midst of his daily circumstances. Many a one enjoys the corn of the land in the quiet of his own room, who, when he comes down, has not the manna. Many a one has said before now: "I am sorry I ever came out at all; I was happy in my room, and now I cannot get on with men at all. What I want is wilderness truth. I can go in, and find myself very happy with God, but see how vexed I am, how ruffled, the moment I step down into my daily life".

Now it was not that the joy was not real. Was not this song real? They had really crossed the Red Sea. The very fact of the women singing proved that the burden of their song had permeated society. Men work in a line; but the women singing proved it was no theory - that it had pervaded the whole.

But now a word before I go further. People say, "What is the wilderness?" It is what the world, in

[Page 148]

which man is, becomes to him as soon as he is in Christ here. He has the same house, the same business; but yesterday he was in the world, today he is in the wilderness. Yesterday, as he went about his business, he comforted himself with the thought that he could depend on the political condition of the state - that he was in a safe country - that his business could go on without risk. The next day he has done with all this; he has now no resource but in God; he has nothing but God. He is very glad the political atmosphere is calm, but he does not depend upon it. In the same way, the man selling apples at the corner of the street says, 'A very good town this; very well regulated; plenty of policemen; no disturbances to hinder me in my work'. The next day he sells his apples in the very same place, but he says now, 'I have no dependence on what I trusted in until now; it is my Father who cares for me, and none else'. I will tell you a very extraordinary thing, though, about that man selling the apples; that is, that if he is knocked down himself for speaking of the Lord, he will perhaps look to God only to stand for him; but if his apples are knocked over he will exclaim, "I cannot stand that; I must call the police".

What is power? It is equanimity. But it is more than that; it is doing things properly. It is not a question of exploits, but it is that everything is done rightly, and at the right time; just as a man in writing will not put a little letter instead of a big one. That is power. The Lord breathed on His disciples, after He said, "Peace be unto you". He brings peace in now down here; it is not peace up there. It is quite one thing to have peace there, and another to have it here. He obtained the first for us, and He left us the other. We are to walk in peace: Peace always by all means.

Well, we are in the wilderness, and what do we find there? The first thing the saint finds is that himself

[Page 149]

is his trial. He cannot drink the water. It has been said these waters are the waters of the Red Sea; it is death, and you cannot drink it. While you rejoice that the death of Christ has put an end to the Egyptian, you do not like that death on your mere self. That is Marah. It is bitter work, and you do not like it; no one does. But the Lord shows Moses a tree, "which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet". That changes the whole aspect of things. It is bitter work, but Christ's cross takes the whole bitterness out of it. Peter says, "Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind".

Now mark: what makes all the complaints is that you cannot put up with the circumstances in which God has placed you. And what has God said to you? My Son has gone into death to suffer for that very selfishness that makes you complain. When you see your circumstances in the light of this the cross sweetens them all, for the cross gets rid of my selfishness. I can now say, I thought these were very painful trying circumstances, but I see they are just the very thing for me. And so there is no "complaining in our streets", for the things that we have are just the right ones. How could my Father put me anywhere but in the right place? The character of His love is like the air I breathe: it is always attentive, always waiting on me, never officious, always trying to get rid of the bad and bring in the good. There is no more beautiful figure of what love is than the air.

But man does not understand the love of God for him in his circumstances. Man says, I have bad health, great trials, no matter what. I ask you, if you had passed by the prison of Paul and Silas that night, what would you have said? Why, they have fine times in there! Fine times? Yes, they were in the wilderness indeed; their backs smarting with stripes; but their selfishness is set aside, and they can sing.

[Page 150]

Is there anything tries a father more than his child doubting him? and what must it be to the God of all mercies when I doubt His love for me? Oh, I beg of you, as you honour that heart of love, never to allow a single complaining in your streets. Instead of saying these circumstances are bitter, say they are sweet - they are the very best that I can have. I am sure I never could have perfect happiness myself, but on the principle that I am God's favourite child. I have no objection to your feeling the same, but I could not go through the world without it. You say, I am breathless with such a statement, but I do believe it. Then why do you complain? Well, things come very unpleasant at times. And so they do; but I have found that things that are very trying at the time turn out to be glorious opportunities. You may miss a train, and think, as many a one does: 'Well, the Lord might have kept that train for me one minute'. But you may find in the next one a soul waiting for a word from God. The Lord went out hungry in the morning, and found a barren fig tree; was He put out? Not at all. It was exactly what He wanted for a figure of the nation.

John 17 ends with the world and begins with the Father, and that is just our place. Are you satisfied with the exchange? The man may upset my apples, and he may not be punished for it either, but God will set it right somehow or other. So the waters of Marah were the first trial in the wilderness. The apostle says, "bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus". The Corinthians had the knowledge of the glory, but they would not have the cross. But the cross is my friend; it clears all away that stood between me and God; it is all gone there. It is not that I have to do it myself; it is done. And am I going to hold the thing that Christ died for? No, certainly not! This,

then, is our first lesson.

But I pass on to the sixteenth chapter, and ask, How

[Page 151]

am I to act in the wilderness? In the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is manna. The corn of the land is Christ in glory; the manna is Christ in humiliation. I am united to Christ in glory, but I manifest Christ on earth, and I get it by being in concert with Him who is out of it. I am not only in union, but I am in concert with Him to whom I am united. So I may be united to Christ, and yet be practically defective when I come to present Christ on earth. It is the life of "Jesus" that I am to bear about; the word 'Lord' should be left out there. But if you are nor in concert with Him in glory, you will not be what He was on earth. I believe many a person is earnestly trying to be like Christ as He was on earth, who has not the power for it, because he has not to do with Him now in glory. As Elijah says, "If thou seest me taken from thee". There is no "when" there; it is a question of seeing Him. If you do not begin with the fountain, the spring Himself - if you do not see me. It is not a question of union at all; it is not a question of the Spirit dwelling in you; it is a question of what is said in Philippians: "The supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ".

Three things are stated as to the manna. First, I get it before I require it. Second, I get as much as I require. And third, I must gather it before the sun is up - before earthly influences affect me. The manna, as we have seen, is Christ as He walked down here. Now He is glorified at God's right hand; but what He reproduces in me, is that which He was upon earth. So the apostle speaks of "the life of Jesus", though he never saw Him on earth. But he wants it reproduced here. I do not see that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is, in itself, simply power; but He brings out what is Christ in me, and, when that is wrought out, it is power. "Without me ye can do nothing".

Well, they gathered it every day. I do not hold that a day here is twenty-four hours, but that it is

[Page 152]

every separate event. Many a person may read and pray every morning, and yet not get manna. Manna is the sense in the soul that Christ is sufficient for every exigency in the day. For instance, suppose I began business forty years ago, I might have done so with the sense that Christ would be sufficient for every exigency that might occur. If a man knows there is bread in the cupboard, he does not want to go to the baker's shop for it. In the boat Jesus said to His disciples when there was no bread, I am here. And I believe no soul really knows what the church is who has not been in that boat. It is the step that leads you to the Rock, to the new ground on which the church of God is built. Your soul has learnt this wonderful thing, what it is to be with Him alone in the ship where there is no bread. And it is blessed that it should be so. Suppose you are going to see a sick person, and, before going, pray that you may be useful, probably you will not be; but, if you seek the Lord Himself, you will be useful, for He is adequate for everything. It is marvellous the simplicity with which I acquire! Do you suppose any great earthly person would say to me, If you look at me you shall have some of my greatness? It is just as with a mirror; there is nothing in it, but I take it up to an object and immediately it receives it. And just the same as to peace. The moment I make my wants known to God I have peace. I may go a dozen times before I really do it, but, as surely as I do, I get His peace. Were you more devoted than usual to get such a favour? No! I was very small; I was indeed more perturbed than usual, more worried, but I went to Him with all my troubles, and I came away a surprise to myself, to see what God could do in such a poor creature, in such a world, too, as this.

"When the sun waxed hot, it melted" Many a man fritters away his grace by talking of what he is going to do. If a man only comes down to his own

[Page 153]

table, and talks of what he is going to do, he is bringing the manna out into the sun, he is frittering it all away.

It is wonderful to see how low the manna comes to suit us. It is wonderful to think of the Lord in His daily life; in the compass of a Man, that wonderful One! First an infant of days, then a child, then a young man going into business; and man trying to write of it! How paltry all his thoughts of such a One! It is not what man in his poor ken can measure, but what He was in the sight of God.

People are often put in straits, but I believe that, where there is walking with God, there is always this confidence that, whatever meets me, the Lord is adequate. As has been said, the Lord, coming straight down from the glory, can pay the taxes. The man of real spiritual power can pass with evenness from divine things to the smallest detail of domestic life. Some people are so stilted that they cannot come down to little details of life at all; but I do not believe that such are spiritual.

I make one remark about the Spirit, and that is, that He always carries me beyond myself. The same is true of an evil spirit. A person often says, "I went further than I intended". Than who intended, I ask? Judas never intended to implicate Christ's life. So, when John begins to speak of spirits, he says, "Try the spirits".

We now go on to Exodus 17, where we find the enemy of the wilderness. The enemy in Egypt is Pharaoh. In the world Satan says, You shall be so overwhelmed with cares that you shall not be able to do anything. But now I get into the wilderness, and there I find Amalek. I pass on out of the wilderness, and there is Balaam. And then in the land there are wicked spirits. It is all one battery, but with guns of a different calibre. And I will say this, that though the enemies are greater as we go on, the power is greater too, and a power that is greater than a

[Page 154]

difficulty makes nothing of the difficulty. In the land I am the aggressor; in the wilderness it is Amalek that is. Where is the man that has set out to be for God in the wilderness, who does not find some plot laid for him?

I will give you an illustration of what Amalek is. Jesus says to Peter, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not". Satan got Judas, and then he laid a snare for Peter. What we have to meet Amalek with is, on one side, the priesthood of Christ, which is Hebrews; on the other, "Resist the devil", which is Peter. Peter himself had the first, but he had not the second. Priesthood never fails; but ours is a very different Priest from what a priest in Christendom is. Man sets up a priest to bring him to God; God's priest is exactly the other way; He brings grace from God to us. And He is able to meet us and to succour us, for He has gone the road Himself before us. And He says to me, If an enemy attack you on the road I will defend you; but for me to do this, you must be in my Spirit; you must resist the devil; you must use my grace actively.

Thus I am going through the wilderness. All my time on earth I am in the wilderness; and, though there be grace for every day, there are also peculiar trials, and the enemy also each day. Thus patience is to have its perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

[Page 155]


1 Peter 2:5 - 9

It is of great importance that we should understand what is due to God and to man; I might say what it is to be responsible to God and responsible to man. Some do not like the word, as being too legal, but I do not object to it. There is a holy priesthood, that is to God; and there is a royal priesthood, that is to man.

Peter never speaks of the body; it is the house; and in Hebrews we get the same side of truth: fellows of the Holy Spirit, and tasting of the heavenly gift. We have greatly lost the fact of wondrous power and manifestation of the Holy Spirit present in the house. Have you a grave sense in your soul that the Holy Spirit is here? I do not mean Christ in the midst. It is brought out very definitely in 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25. It is not the Holy Spirit Himself there - it is the activity of the Holy Spirit. The word there translated 'unlearned' is layman, thus proving that all the rest are priests . The man comes in, is convinced, it does not say converted. And this explains that very difficult passage in Hebrews 6. He is judged, the secrets of his heart are made manifest by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he falls down and acknowledges that "God is in you", not in himself . The Holy Spirit is acting on the man. We sometimes lose this fact in the gathered company; I do not say the assembly, because I wish to distinguish between the house and the body. All who profess form the house, those who join the table the body. At first all professing came up to the table. Satan's great effort is to keep saints from getting to the right place. The place is everything with a good churchman; he is

[Page 156]

always trying to get a man to church. On the other hand a dissenter proper has no thought of the place: he has a vague thought of the body; membership is his aim; but it is membership of a congregation.

But whilst, on one hand, there is a forgetting of the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is sometimes, I fear, on the other hand, a kind of superstitious feeling, a certain sense when entering a meeting room such as you find in Christendom generally; a sort of feeling that the place itself is sacred, even when there is no activity going on. I need not say that none of us hold this in theory, though sometimes it may be dropped into a little. Getting in early so as to collect oneself is very nice, but sometimes people overstep that. However, there should be the sense that the presence of the Holy Spirit is there.

And now a plain question: What do you go to the meeting for? I find in Peter that the saints are "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ".

Now if I turn to the Old Testament I find there a very simple thing: that no person was to appear empty before the Lord. It would not have done for anyone coming before the temple to be asked, Well, have you not a lamb? No. Not even a pigeon? No. They were not to come empty-handed, neither were they to offer to the Lord that which cost them nothing. Now what is this to me? It is that I am to bring up something of the preciousness of Christ to offer to God. I am not doing anything visible, but I have, as it were, one or more senses of Christ in what He is before God in my heart. Instead of this the thought generally is that I am to hear something which will stir me up to worship, which is right in its place, but that is not meant here.

Look at Leviticus 7. The priest's part of the trespass-offering is so great that I have not come up fully to its meaning. I pass on to verse 8, "The priest

[Page 157]

that offereth any man's burnt-offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt-offering which he hath offered". Here we have both the holy and the royal priesthood. He is first so occupied with the burnt-offering, with Christ in the presence of God as wholly offered up to Him, that he can come out in a new style to man. I go to a meeting, and what do I dwell on? My heart is delighting in what Christ is to God. And what have I as the result of this? I have the skin. What is that? Well, it is the outside colour, the beauty, if you like, of the animal. Just as Moses came down from the mountain and his face shone, so I have got near God, delighting in what Christ is to Him, and now I come down to man and I have the skin.

It is not because of my devotedness . There is a reward for devotedness, and I am not making little of it, would to God there were more; but people do not get on, and the reason is that they will not give up . There are two ways of getting: the one is being a poor widow; I have nothing, and so I get: the other is giving up what I have; then I get "manifold more". It is not by service that I acquire the skin, though service has its own reward. "If any man serve me, him shall my Father honour". But this is not either reward for devotedness or for service. It is priesthood; it is because of being occupied with Christ before God; it is that blessed thing which is only known to the soul when it is entranced with the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he gets some of it; he does not get it all; he gets the skin - the beauty of the precious One that he delights in. I am not only captivated with that beauty, but I get a part of it myself. Just as children who love their parents get to do things like them, thus I have got so near to that blessed One that I have caught something of His likeness, and now I can come out from Him to show forth the virtues of Him who hath called me out of

[Page 158]

darkness into His marvellous light. How different would our meetings be did we thus come together as a holy priesthood and a royal priesthood!

Then in verse 33: he "that offereth the blood of the peace-offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part". How do I get it? By looking; by drawing near: "Set your affection on things above"; and that not only on things there, but "where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". I am priestly in my action, and now what is the effect? I have the right shoulder, I am participating in that which Christ is; and, having participated in Him, I now come down to be an expression of what He Himself was here.

The apostle says, "That I may win Christ". It is not that I want to be an amiable man, but that I want to be Christ. He says, I had once a great many things here to boast of, but I do not want them now: I have suffered the loss of all things; it is not only giving up certain things in themselves, but I count all things but rubbish that Christ may be my gain. Surely such words should touch every heart! There is nothing delights the heart more than love; there is nothing so dignifies the heart as loving an object worthy of itself; what then can so dignify me as loving this blessed Object of God Himself? I do not believe there is ever progress where there is not personal affection to Christ. It is not merely the Jonathan character: a Jonathan loves David for what he has done for him; but Ruth loves Naomi for what she is .

If I really love Him I shall be like Him: I never admire anything without desiring to be like it. But here I am not an imitation merely; I get a part; yet I am not in power like Him. When Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus he never did it with the equanimity that Christ did; so, when it comes to the consecration, I find that I do not get the right shoulder; it is heaved up, and I feed upon the left; for I never

[Page 159]

can be like Him, though I do get here the right as my part. Is there a heart present that does not say, Would that I had more of it?

I turn now to Philippians 4. I do not know anything that spoils our prayer meetings more than people coming to them burdened with their own needs. I sometimes go saying to myself, "I cannot pray tonight; I am too much pressed; I must wait till I am clear". If my interests interest the saints, that is another thing. I may have a sick child that I may ask the assembly to pray for, but I myself should not be the individual to do it, for I must lose my individuality in the assembly.

"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God". Here it is put in the simplest way. Though I am clear with God in chapter 3, I am not always clear with man in my own circumstances. God says to me, You are clear of everything this way; now go down and make all clear that way. As to man, be yielding: "Let your moderation be known unto all men". If a man wishes to push me off the flags, I say, Very well, push me off. I do not proclaim it, but this is the character of my action; I make no secret of it. In the next verse I do make known unto God; I studiously, pertinaciously, do it, until I know that I have told Him.

Now if I am not priestly I cannot do this. If I am not in the full sense of acceptance with God, I cannot get near at all. I believe there is nothing in the present day like prayer. Nine-tenths of the troubles in the assemblies come from there not being prayer. There has been effort, and that is not prayer. When Samuel cried to the Lord he offered up a sucking lamb; that is he was accepted; and, as soon as he has done it, the Philistines are upon him. Then God interferes. He thunders. He may not use me in answering my prayers; I ask Him to convert my child,

[Page 160]

and He gets someone else to be the channel of it. Prayer is the great thing. Whatever the difficulty, you will be carried through, if you have started there with God. It would take away a wonderful deal of distraction, if saints looked to be provided with the needful grace before the emergency came.

As I have touched on the subject of prayer I must just turn to one passage before leaving it. It is Psalm 107 which is for the remnant, but it includes every class of trial that man can be in. And what is the one remedy? Cry! Look at this Psalm. The first trial we read of is "hungry and thirsty", his soul fainting in him. There is no sin there. And what does he do? "They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses". How does he get the deliverance? By fretting? By roaming up and down? No, but by crying . The second has done his own will, and he is reaping the fruits of it. There is a difference between a perverse person and a careless one. The careless person gets into depression; he will not go on, so he slips out of the activities of life. But here there is despising the counsel of God, and you get down to the depths; it is exposure. What is to be done? Cry? The third is transgression. You cannot be worse than this. And what can I do? Wonderful! I never can sink so low in the mire and sin of this wretched world but that God will deliver me from it if I cry! The fourth is a man who has got entangled with things here. Have you gone into business, have you done anything without God? Then you will come to your wits end. But what am I to do when I do? Cry! and He will bring you to the desired haven. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord". And which of us has not tasted this lovingkindness?

However, to return to Philippians. None of us need ever be discouraged about what we pray for.

[Page 161]

It is just when we least expect it that God comes in: 'The darkest hour is the hour before dawn'. And why? To prove to us that it is all of God. The great point in our education as we go on is: "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us". "Let your requests be made known unto God". I want to know that I have told Him. He may say, as we do to our children, I will see to it. But very often He will do the desired thing and you may not know that He has done it; for it is not your words that He acts by, but the intention of the Spirit in the words that you say. I believe that He gives us everything that we value, not in this world's things, but in divine things. If He did not, you would be better than He, and your aspirations greater than His. So I go, a poor heart-stricken, woe-begone one, into His presence, to tell out the groans of a broken heart. Truly poor things to hear! But it is not the hearing, it is the telling of it out to Him that is the point. And the result is, I come out from Him with the peace of God Himself. My circumstances are no better than they were, but I can now be unperturbed, unruffled in the midst of all the trouble: thus I show forth the virtues of Him, who hath called me out of darkness into His marvellous light. Again, as we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory". If there is any one thing that strikes me more than another in the present day, it is the amount of spiritual information that there is without formation. If I really come to Him I get the mark of Himself upon me. Like a mirror held up to Him I get His reflection, and thus am formed into the likeness of His glory. When the Lord walked to Emmaus with the two disciples, what wonderful information He gave them. Have you not often longed to have been there? But see how little it formed them. You always discover a man's power in his act. If you want to find out what a man is, ask him to do something.

[Page 162]

I have felt at times afraid to act; I have felt that if I did I should make a blunder. I believe that acting at such times accounts for many of the mistakes a man makes, even in his business, because "the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways". A man who is away from God is off the line about everything, but with these two, when the Lord is known of them in the breaking of bread, immediately they are formed; action comes out. They go the same way that He does. As they were communicating to the others the instruction they had received from Him, He comes into their midst.

But many a one reads the word without connecting it with the One who is the model. Many saints are like branches torn from a beautiful hawthorn-tree; they look all fair for the moment, but they soon fade away. I say, Leave the branch on the tree. "Abide in me", then there will be growth and power. As you behold Him you are transformed. Many a saint has the metal, but has not the mould in which it is to be cast. Of course every figure falls short, but I account for the state of many who have got much scriptural knowledge but who yet make no progress, that they have never got near to the model after which they are to be fashioned - not yet got the mould in which to cast the metal. I am confident that, if you do not connect your knowledge of Scripture with the One who is the impersonation of it, you never can be an exponent of Him here.

For instance, how many are well acquainted with Scripture who have never yet even found the spot where Christ meets His people on earth? To such I say, It is not too late to go to Jerusalem. The two disciples are a pattern to us. Having learned of Christ they go direct to the very spot where He would have them to be; they bring with them a fresh supply of knowledge; and, as they are telling it out, as Luke beautifully says, "Jesus stood in the midst of them ".

[Page 163]

Down on this very earth where Christ was crucified, Christ the Son of the Father, I get the presence of that blessed One, get Him standing in the midst of His own, telling out to them all the blessedness in which He puts them before His God and Father.

The Lord grant that we know more distinctly what it is to meet together as the holy priesthood; then we shall better know what it is to show forth the royal priesthood upon earth.

[Page 164]


Ephesians 5:26

In the preceding verse of this chapter we have what Christ did: He "loved the church, and gave himself for it". In the verse we have read we have what He is doing now: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word". And in the following verse we have what is future: "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".

What I desire to bring before you, beloved brethren, is this: what is the present interest of our Lord Jesus Christ touching His own on the earth. You see I cannot possibly get the other side until I get this side. I cannot tell how I am to respond until I know what I am to respond to. We all know something of how He has loved us, but we do not so well know, we are not sufficiently occupied with, what is His present interest in the church, His present service and His present love. Here we find it in one little verse: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word".

I propose to turn to the gospel of John to see how the Lord opens out the nature of what we find stated as doctrine by Paul.

We will turn then to John 13. It is interesting and important to remember that John was written after the failure had set in, yet the Lord puts on record what is in His heart towards His own on the earth. There is no thought of division, no thought of separation. If I look around now I have to see it; I have to see the ruin that all is in. But if I look up, I see what His heart is; and I am convinced that, if we

[Page 165]

understood that heart better in relation to His own upon earth, we should be largely affected by it.

Now my intention is to give a little view of chapters 13 to 17; and in what I say I merely suggest for your own after study for, as I often say, I find that suggestive teaching is the most helpful teaching. The Lord is always dealing with our souls, and when the heart has been exercised about some truth, He gives us help by the way, and everything that He gives us we trace back again to Himself; He uses us as deputies to carry out His own purposes.

As to these chapters, 13 and 14 are what I would term "within doors". It is not public; it is belonging to the assembly, or rather, as I will only use the words that are given to us in this scripture, I will not say "assembly", but "His own ". He took His place at the supper table with His own. It is important thus to notice who are within doors. They are "His own". There are three places in these chapters: within doors; without doors; and heaven. There is nothing to do with the world in the last. We get here the terminable and the interminable. Chapters 13 to 16 give us what is terminable, that which lasts for a time. In chapter 17 we have that which is interminable, that which is not of time, which belongs to eternity.

I begin then with the fourth verse of chapter 13, where we read the Lord rises from supper, and lays aside His garments. I lay great stress upon this, because supper is commemorative of an accomplished work; the atoning work is at an end. John 13 is generally looked at as being relief to the conscience; the washing of the feet being supposed to be the setting aside of our sins. But I believe that it is an entirely new thing that is now introduced; it is not a question of sacrifice; it is an entirely new work which is introduced, consequent on the completion of the first work - the great work of redemption.

This new work is the washing of the feet. It is a

[Page 166]

work never found before in Scripture. There were sacrifices and offerings, but nothing like this. Here, having loved His own that were in the world, He does a new thing for them - a thing that we too may have a part in as His deputies. And what is the effect of this work? It is in order to restore communion with Himself while He is absent, otherwise "His own" would have "no part" with Him.

I believe that there is great deficiency amongst us on this point. I believe there is difficulty in understanding what communion is, because there is not that anxiety about it that characterised our early days. The very word itself is scarcely used now. We never hear of anything but "fellowship" now, where it used to be "communion". Now though "fellowship" and "communion" may be the same word in the original, they express two very different thoughts in English. I speak of it timidly, but I cannot but say that I regret that there is so little anxiety about communion. There is anxiety about work; there is anxiety also about walk; but I see very little about communion; and you may have both these without communion.

You may perhaps ask, Then do you object to my preaching about walk and work? Not at all; it may be very right to do so, but I say right things may be misplaced; and that which is very right, very praiseworthy, may be still out of place. There may be right things done which are not done in the right way; about which there is no communion - no having part with Him. Communion is taking the right step at the right time in the right way, and perhaps only one step. It is only a gardener who can tell the difference at first between a weed and a flower. An ordinary spectator might say, 'The seeds are coming up very well; there will be a fine crop.' 'No,' says the gardener, 'they are weeds.' So the spiritual man "discerneth all things". He knows which is the weed.

[Page 167]

I hope we are gathered together at this time to help one another; and to do this we must come close to the point.

The first thought that we find here is one which is calculated to touch every heart. The Lord says, I am going on high; and whilst leaving you down here, I have put you before My Father in the unclouded light of His presence, without a spot upon you. I leave you in a defiled scene, but such is My continuous affection for you that I will make it My business to remove from you everything that might produce distance - everything that might cause reserve between you and Me.

Then there must be intimacy first?

Yes; that is just what I am coming to. And I say it sorrowfully before the Lord, I believe that souls are not intimate with Him; there is not the sense of acquaintance. It is my unfeigned desire for souls that they might form acquaintance with the Lord. Many have no sense of reserve, because they have never been intimate. Joseph's brethren were living with him for seventeen years, recipients of his favour, and all the time they did not know him intimately.

But how may I become acquainted with Him?

I answer, that He is gone on high, and therefore there is no acquaintance with Him now but by the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful moment to the soul when it first knows the blessed reality of acquaintance with the Lord. It may not be for years after conversion, but it is the grand characteristic of Christianity. Sacrifice was not a new thing for the Jews. They could accept without difficulty the fact that the Shepherd was to die, wonderful though it be. But that He should say, "and know my sheep and am known of mine", that is an entirely new thing; "as the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father". There is the same character of intimacy between Himself and His people as between the Father and the Son.

[Page 168]

Do I know this intimacy? If I do not know it, I do not know what it is to have a shade cast upon it. You cannot lose what you have never had; but the more intimate you are with any person, the more quickly you will discern the smallest shade of reserve, the least change of manner. Then do not talk about reserve until you know intimacy.

I would remind you that whilst the Lord never changes His love, He does change His manner. John fell at His feet when he saw His eyes as a flame of fire; as much as to say, I do not know that aspect. We have to bear this in mind. To the saints we ought never to change our love; but there are at times those with whom we can "have no company", so that they "may be ashamed".

And further: affection is not communion. Peter was full of affection, but he was not in communion, though he cast himself into the sea to go to Jesus.

But if I am thinking so much of the Lord's things and having part with Him, what about my own affairs?

When I am near Him, I find, as the disciples did in John 21, that He has unbounded forethought for me; the dinner was ready: "a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread". As the little hymn says:

"Make you His service your delight,
He'll make your wants His care".

The more you are in communion with Him the more you will find out how He sympathises with you, and how in the smallest things He is thinking for you. The more His interests occupy your heart, the more He will surprise you as to the manner in which He thinks of yours.

As I have already said, fellowship and communion, though the same word in the original, do not convey the same thought to us. If you ask me what I understand by communion, I answer, It is going in company with another's mind. Like a faithful dog following his master, nothing satisfies him but to go the road

[Page 169]

his master goes. If he loses him, how he will wheel about in every direction until he finds him again! Did you ever feel that you had lost the Lord? That you did not know which way He was gone? That you were off the line? Have you any anxiety as to this? A man may have many dogs, but they may not all know him. It is only those that know him that follow him. Are our hearts set upon the incomparable blessedness of such reciprocity?

The following chapter is quite a different thing. Whilst John 13 separates us from the defilements of the world, John 14 comforts us as we pass through the world. I divide the chapter into two parts, showing out the double way in which the Lord comforts us as we pass through the world. He goes up to prepare a place for them. That ends at verse 14. Then the descending; He comes down to comfort them here, and whatsoever they shall ask, He will do.

Three things are brought out.

First: there is a place up there.

Second: He is the way to it.

Third: He makes known the Father who owns it.

Stephen is practically an illustration of this. The Lord says, Keep your eye on me, and you know the way, the truth, and the life, the Owner of the place, the Father, and, as you are dependent on Me, the power to take you up to it.

One word as to the power, and I speak it timidly, anxiously. I do not think we really understand what the good of union is. I do not look upon union as that which may be illustrated by an engine drawing carriages. That is connection, it is not union . What is the nature of union? I am united to the One who is the Son of God; I am a member of that body of which He is the Head. It is the most wonderful thing to be the smallest chip of this great wheel - to be the least little bit of it. John alone tells me the

[Page 170]

nature of it. But I am not so much speaking of the nature as of the effect of it - the power of it.

As to this the Lord says, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father". The Lord's greatest work down here was to raise a man from the dead. But He says, "Greater works than these shall he do", and "If ye shall ask anything in my name I will do it". He is effecting a far greater thing for His own now than when He was here on earth. Stephen is not raised from the dead, but he is made superior to everything on earth; through the power of Christ by the Holy Spirit in him, he rises above all the wickedness arrayed against him, and is superior to the power of death.

How little we have practically of this! Do we know the exceeding greatness of His power to make us superior to suffering? Do we overcome evil with good? Perhaps not able to be superior to an insult? You may suffer greatly, but is it to be an occasion for complaining, or for overcoming with good? Where is the power that works in us? Oh, you say, I thought it was for us? Not only! It says, He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us". Seeing our ignorance is the great way to learn, it is well to say, I am not up to that but I should like to be. It is well to get a sense of what we should be. Thus far is the upward side - the power side.

Now let us look for a moment at the downward side, which is obedience .

Verse 20 gives us the nature of the union. "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". But I cannot think as I look round me and see, and hear, what goes on, I cannot think that we have grasped the fact of what it is to be united to Christ. The gospel places me in all the beauty of Christ, in the very place where I was estranged from

[Page 171]

God. I have exchanged the judgment of Adam for the blessedness of Christ. That is the gospel. I am united to the Person who has effected this work for me. Do you mean linked to Him? No; but united to Him. That is the nature of the union.

Do we take in this wonderful verse? "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". Christianity is not a thing that you can take in like a problem of Euclid. It is the opening out of what makes you feel that, however much you have seen, there is yet more to be acquired, there is a yet firmer grasp to be got of what you hold. I feel it is important to get a sense of the moral height of our position in Christ. The magnificence of the place we occupy, on this earth might well fill our souls. We in Christ, and He in us. There will be a desperate climax of evil, so heading up as to enable man to say at last that he is independent of God; it is placing him on such a pinnacle of importance that he will assume to dispense with God. Man is to be so self-cultured, so restrained, that he can avoid every vice, and be able to attain every virtue, and thus support the immense weight of importance that science will have conferred upon him. Self-culture is the great cry. But, thank God, the Christian has a divine moral elevation, which eclipses all that man is able to think or do; and no one can raise up a standard against this pretension of man, unless he knows this divine elevation; we can never meet it, except as we eclipse it by the grandeur of the place, of the position, in Christ in which we are placed by the power of the Holy Spirit - the only power that can raise up a standard against it.

I can say very little of verse 21. It is wonderful, but I feel I know so little of it, that I attempt not to express it.

One verse more I would notice, the twenty-sixth, where we read of the Comforter, "whom the Father

[Page 172]

will send in my name". We have lost too much the meaning of what is meant by "my name". I give it as a subject of meditation. This wonderful Guest, who has taken up His abode with me, comes in the name of my absent Lord. As if a friend should enter my house, saying, I come in the name of your father, who has died; I come to acquaint you with him, to speak to you of him. How should I receive and regard such a guest - one who can tell me of one so dear to my heart! But no human illustration can perfectly convey a divine reality.

We now, in chapter 15, leave the sacred enclosure - we are going out of doors; and out of doors the Lord takes the place of the vine. The words, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you", tell us the greatness of the place we are set in. Can we enter on this place?

Now what is the phase I occupy after we come out of doors? I go out for Him; as a soldier comes forth from the barrack to stand on the battle-field. I have been well trained, well fed, well equipped; and in moral power I come forth to stand for my Lord.

What is the first and great characteristic of the battle-field? The twelfth verse gives it: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you". And this calls out the enmity of the world. We begin here to display ourselves, and from here go out into the world and recruit for our corps as well as we can; but it is from this point we start. There is no such thing as ascending in goodness; there is descending. "Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down". You do not rise as a minister from the gospel to the church; but you do go out from the church to carry the gospel to the world. Evangelists are given from the Head; they come from above, to aid in effecting that grand work: gathering out a people for His name.

[Page 173]

Have we all felt the force of that passage, "a people for his name"? We act sometimes as if we forgot that the Lord Jesus Christ is rejected from the earth; people speak as if the millennial day had come, and as if the living water had only to flow out, and heal wherever it flows. But this is not at all the character of the gospel now. The evangelist now has to search the world over for all that belongs to Christ, as the woman swept the house, seeking the lost piece of silver. I want to bear a distinct witness to that wonderful secret of God that, where Christ was refused bodily on earth, He has a body gathered by the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. He has called out a people to His name.

How were these people born? By the Holy Spirit. And what is their great characteristic? "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". The character of the servant as he comes into the world is this: That man would die for the saints. Then it is the world hates us. But we have lost this hatred in a great measure; we have made terms with the world. We have said to the world, You be civil to me, and I will be civil to you. This is the battle-field, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me". He brings us into this place of intimacy; He makes us His friends; and therefore, He says, will the world hate you. He calls me to have Him as the distinct Object of my affections; and thus shall I be separated from this scene.

Now mark verse 26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". It is to "testify of me", mind. The Holy Spirit, who in chapter 14 is sent from the Father for the comfort of His own on the earth, is now sent by Himself for this express purpose: to "testify of me".

In chapter 16, His own are out in testimony in the

[Page 174]

world, and the Holy Spirit is the One to support them in it. I only call attention to one verse in it, that is the twenty-third: "in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you". In all these chapters we get dependence on Him; we learn what the Lord's heart is to His own, and the Holy Spirit is the power in each one. If we come out to fight for Him, He says, "Ye are my friends". Can anything be greater! To be able to go out in the morning and say to myself, I am the friend of Christ! It is written of the wise woman, "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her". So here the Lord says, I call you not servants, but friends; for a servant does not know what his lord does; but you do, for you have part with me; and "all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you".

Do you want me, then, to give up my business? No; I attend to it better than I ever did before; just as the labouring man does not forget his family whilst he is at his work; his very affection for them makes him a better workman. There is no fear but that the heart that is devoted to Christ will do his own business well. If I am in communion with Him I am sure to do the right thing; the thing that He would like. I shall do the right thing in the right way. I shall take a long step if He likes it, and if He wishes, I take a short one. I have no rule about it at all, but the sense of His affection will lead me wherever His interests are.

I just turn to chapter 17 to see what is interminable. This is not within doors, neither is it out of doors battling with this scene; it is that which we have for eternity. He gives us eternal life, His words,

[Page 175]

divine intelligence. We may not be in the enjoyment of it all, but we have it. Then verse 17 is sanctification: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth". It begins here, but it is interminable. "Sanctified thoroughly"; we have not got that yet; it will continue through all eternity. But it brings an immense fund of blessing to each one of us when we discover what Christ has in His heart for us. We have not come to the fulness of it yet, but it is an immense cheer to know it is a fact in His heart.

In verse 21 we have unity. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me". When will that be? Is it now? If I look around I do not see it. But I know it will be - even here; it will be yet seen in all its wonderful and blessed reality, when the bride comes down from heaven in all the splendour of unbroken concord, the beautiful and perfect expression of Himself, to administer and set forth Christ in glory. Paul calls the church the "temple" in the future; but in John "the bride", is her one unmistakable characteristic; thorough identity of interest with her Lord.

We are to have the glory too, and that is eternal: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me". And then He winds up with that wonderful verse, "And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them".

I have thus just run over the verses that they may strike chords in our hearts, which may elicit the response the Lord looks for. May all our hearts be more deeply versed in Christ's present thoughts as to His own on earth, for His name's sake.

[Page 176]


Revelation 1: 10 - 20

I desire to say one word, which is, that whilst we dwell on the love of Christ, as we have been doing, we must not forget the jealousy of Christ. The greater the love, the greater the jealousy, if any cause is given to raise it; as it says, "love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame".

Think of the Lord as we have seen Him in John's gospel, and now see His aspect here. Instead of being girded with a towel, washing His disciples' feet, He is now girded with a golden girdle. He is no longer serving, He is inspecting; His whole appearance is changed; as if the father of a family came to his house, and found everything in disorder. I ask you, I ask myself, how does the Lord view things? We may be glad for a moment to get aside into a quiet nook, into a happy little meeting such as this, and talk together of His love, but we must not forget that He is light as well as love, and practically the light is left out when we dwell only upon the love.

Here His eyes are "as a flame of fire". It is light here, not love. He is throwing light upon the whole state of things in the church. And it is remarkable, that when you get near the Lord, and are prospering in soul, He makes revelations to you that surprise you. Also you discover things in yourself that you never thought were there; just as Ishmael had been in Abraham's house for years, but was revealed in a festive moment. So, when we get near the Lord, we discover the Ishmaels, the dark spots, the things that hinder the working of divine grace in our souls.

Now it is what is interior that is the question.

[Page 177]

People sometimes wonder that there is not a more beautiful exterior, but I say it is the interior that is at fault. The Pharisee, who was all for what was external, when the Lord spoke of the body of light, answered by asking Him to dine with him, as if to say, That is just what I hold. No, says the Lord, you only clean the outside, while the inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

You get the principle often in Scripture. As I have said, when Abraham made a feast for Isaac, the real character of Ishmael comes out. In that festive moment the flaw is discovered. He had been fourteen years in the house, but he had never been found out before; and then the one who had a hand in bringing him in, was the one who asked to put him out. Sarah says, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son". The apostle Paul interprets it. He says, "He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit". The moment that Christ takes His true place in the heart, the opposition of the flesh is detected. It is His coronation-day in the soul; it is a new sense to the soul; He is enthroned in my heart, and I can no longer tolerate the flesh. It must be, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac".

Again, take Jacob in Syria. He is there for twenty years, and when at last God brings him back again to the land, he pitches at Shalem. There he falls to the level of the earthly man; he builds an altar - my altar. He gives up the testimony, and he suffers for it. The next thing we hear of him is that he is afraid to dwell there, for fear of being destroyed, he and his house. Be sure of this, that if you get down to the level of the world, you will never escape out of it without suffering. Lot lost his daughters, who were married, in Sodom. Then the Lord said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there; and make there an altar

[Page 178]

unto God"; there Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, dies, and the last link with his mother is broken.

There is one thing about darkness, you can never convert it into light; you must increase the light, until it drives away the darkness. In the scripture we are looking at, the light is coming in to detect the darkness; for though the Lord never changes His love, He does change His manner. He loved Martha; He even puts her name first; but He treats her quite differently from Mary. He had called Moses to the work, but when he was on his road to fulfil the service, God sought to slay him. Why? Because he had not circumcised his son. The light shone upon his ways.

If you get near God, you will find the hidden flaw exposed. Do you know your dark spot? It is no small matter to bring the light in upon it. It is always working to the surface, always starting up afresh; but when light comes in, it disappears, and the wonderful beauty of Christ is transmitted to you. There is no part dark, but "the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light". It is moral influence, without saying a word; like a wife with her husband, he may "be won"; he will not hear, but he sees the beautiful effect of the word. You come forth like a jasper stone, "a stone most precious"; and this you can be already.

We need to study more the heart of the Lord, as we get it in John 17, where, addressing the Father, He expresses His desires for His own who are in the world. Here, in this scene of the marred candlestick, the bride will come out resplendent with beauty, not a characteristic of Christ wanting to her; as you get it in Proverbs: the result of the wise woman's work and activity is, that her husband may be known in the gates. She does all the work, and he gets all the credit.

[Page 179]

Do you go about this world with the sense of how the Lord feels things? What does He think of it all? It is often said, He will set it all right when He comes; but the question is, what are you going to do in the meantime? Surely I am going to act according to His pleasure.

Of these seven churches, there are two that are not under any censure, Smyrna and Philadelphia; and to Smyrna He appears in the same aspect as He does to John, for they were faithful. Four of them run on to the end. I see that to the last there is a faithful company remains, and that is a great comfort to me. Oh, but do you say that you are in it? I answer, I am earnestly going in for it; anyhow, I would not go in for any other; I will not go in for Thyatira, for example. I thank God He has it, and I am going in for it. How will you find it? Well, there were seven thousand in Elijah's day who had not bowed the knee to Baal, and of whom he knew nothing, but I have a certain way of discovering this company: in communion with the Lord, and in company with the Holy Spirit, I look to find out where Christ's interests lie on this earth, and there I take my place.

I find there are three classes of Christians in the present day. The first is marked by affection. They are occupied with their affections, and their theme is that which produces them. And these people are never at rest - they are self-occupied though devoted. The second class is occupied with association with Christ; they are like people scaling heaven. They, too, are never satisfied; one day up, another down; they never get to the height they desire. The third class is occupied with Christ's interests here on earth, the true mark and simple consequence of union with Him. There is no effort about it; you do not even make the thing prominent; you are not thinking of what you can render, but you cannot think of anything else. It is just the difference between the two alabaster

[Page 180]

boxes. In Luke 7 it was display - not intentional display; but it was in the Pharisee's house, and in the presence of all gathered there; it was for a living Christ. But in John 12 it was for His burial; she did it to gratify her own heart; if He died, there was nothing here to command her; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

Men will spend their property, will go to great cost, and thus make great impressions on the minds of others; but there are things to give up that no one can recognise, that only the Lord can see, that only He can interpret. I do not see anyone gain from the Lord, unless he is on the losing side as to himself. Those who are on the gaining side for self, are not advancing in the things of God. If not practically suffering for Christ, if going in for enjoyment here, you are more like Jonathan than like Ruth. Many a man will sacrifice property for Christ, who will shrink from suffering for Him.

The aspect in which the Lord presents Himself to Philadelphia is not found at all in chapter 1. It is an encouraging aspect; there is nothing inquisitorial about it; it is power connected with holiness and truth. There is no "and" there; it is what I call a cumulative process.

It is a great cheer to my soul that the Lord has a faithful company going on to the end. He sets an open door before them, which is what He did for David. In the time of his weakness God brought the priest to him, and the mighty men. I believe that where the greatest opposition and trial have been, there the greatest blessing will be. It is there God makes an open door. In the brightest moment of the church Barnabas broke down. No doubt he came back again, but for the moment he broke down. But in the very next chapter Paul gets the right man for the right work; he gets Timothy; the lack is supplied.

[Page 181]

This is what I call an open door. If Barnabas moves off, the Lord brings in Timothy.

The Lord grant we may have more simple faith in Himself, and more devotedness of heart to be occupied with His service, for His name's sake.

[Page 182]


John 16:26, 27

I need hardly make any excuse for myself in bringing this subject before you. I believe I can trace all the divisions in the present day to simple ignorance of what the testimony is.

God has always had a distinct course of action. I might illustrate what I mean by the trade winds, a natural fact, I suppose, familiar to every school boy. A sailor once told me that he had been in sight of the trade winds seven weeks, and yet could not get into them. He was becalmed just outside their influence. A calm is produced by the action of two winds one against the other, when the force of each is neutralised. I believe spiritually many are there. If we are in the testimony, we are in the sphere where the whole force of God's Spirit is in operation. And if we are out of it, we lack power. We lose everything if we are not in communion with the Lord as to His present course of action on earth. All is in abeyance; we are becalmed, and make no progress.

The testimony begins with the call of Abram.

I count four distinct testimonies. I believe the first began with Genesis 12. Mark the circumstances under which it began. God had set up man afresh on the earth after the flood. It was a special thing with Noah. God set man up at that time under a new covenant. Now when God makes a covenant with man, all man has to do is to submit to it, he is to have no will in the matter. But man set about building a tower in simple defiance of God. And from that Babylon sprang. Babylon is the world's future; there, everything gives place to enjoyment; everything yields to the pleasures of the senses. I may say indeed that it began with Eve. Eve was a woman of

[Page 183]

taste; she was aesthetic; she saw that the fruit was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and that which would make one wise; she was intellectual. And thus came in the exaltation of man; he turns his back upon God, and counts himself quite able to get on without Him. All this comes out in manifest form in the tower of Babel. Conversion is just the opposite of all this. I turn my eyes to God, and my back upon all that is of man.

And now comes out election for the first time. Abram is called to get out of his country and kindred and father's house, and "he went out, not knowing whither he went". This was the great characteristic of the testimony at that time; and we must not lose sight of this first moral feature, for the final testimony embraces all the former testimonies. You do not lose a moral feature of them.

Abram then comes out, counting simply on God. He leaves the land of Shinar, mark you. He turns his back upon the city of man's creation - that city which foreshadowed what will yet be accomplished by man on earth, and he looked for "a city ... whose builder and maker is God". I am sure you will not be surprised if I say that that city is new Jerusalem. He left Babylon. He turned his eye in dependence on God, and looked for that city which would show forth Christ's glories upon earth. Wherefore God was not ashamed to be called his God.

Now as long as he kept to this path God supported him in it. But famine came, and he went down to Egypt. He got out of the testimony. We always lose the best thing we know, if we are not in communion. Still there is restoring grace, and Abram comes back again to the land.

If we pass on now to chapter 13: 14, we read, "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

[Page 184]

eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever". Here we find that Lot had separated from Abram. Lot is here a typical man; he has dropped out of the testimony, though I admit he is converted. No doubt he is a gross case. He deliberately gives up the path of faith for worldly advantage. He did not give up God, but he gave up the path of testimony. God is able to preserve him, and He did preserve him: He knows how to deliver the righteous out of temptation. It is not that his soul was lost, but he has lost the testimony, and that is what brings him into all the trouble.

I pass on to another instance of losing the testimony which was committed to Abraham, and one still more to be dreaded. This is Jacob at Shalem. When a soul drops out of the testimony his worship bears the character of it. It is not that a man becomes irreligious; but his religion bears the stamp of his failure. So, selfishness is stamped on Jacob's altar.

Eventually Jacob becomes, at the close of his life, rather the remnant of this period. The remnant is always a bit of the original thing, it is not a new thing. As we read in Isaiah 6, "The holy seed shall be the substance thereof". Everything that God has entrusted to man, fades in his hand; but God never loses sight of the first characteristics of what He has set up, and at the end they come out pure and simple, come out at eventide in all the freshness and beauty of the dawn. Jacob's death-bed is a beautiful close to that period.

However, I was more dwelling on how he dropped out of the testimony. After his long exile in Syria, he has got back to the right ground; to a night of trembling, but to the name of Israel. And thence he passes on to Shalem, where he neither gives up the right ground, nor loses sight of his new name, but where he gives up the testimony in a very insidious way. He buys a piece of land and builds a house. Now

[Page 185]

the testimony in that day was not to have a foot of land. Remember that I do not condemn a saint for having land now; it is no worse than having a house. But Jacob's possessing it took him out of the testimony. Abraham had great riches, but he never used them to exalt his position by possessing the land of Canaan. Beware of making a position in the world with your money.

Jacob is wayworn; he comes to a moment of rest at Shalem; he thinks that, as he is in the right place he may rest; and he builds an altar. But what kind of altar? He circumscribes the blessing to himself . We see this in our prayers sometimes; our desires revolving round ourselves. But if in communion with the Lord we shall take His circle instead of our own. I compare it to a man walking in his garden and saying, How beautifully the sun shines on my garden. If he could only see the magnificent circle the sun performs and how nothing is hid from the heat of it, he would find out that, in its blessing of all creation, it did not leave out his garden. A man out of the testimony always becomes individual; he is not occupied with the range of God's blessing, but circumscribes it to his own circumstances.

We find in Genesis 35 what a cleansing Jacob's house and surroundings got. The more I am in concert with Christ, the more the minutest thing in my ways which is unsuitable to Him is disclosed to me. It is not a question of bringing Christ down to where we are, but of carrying us up to where He is. If you bring Him down to your interests, you make use of Him as the Man of sorrows. He does sympathise with us, thank God; He knows how even a shower of rain may affect us. But I say I have to do with Christ in His divine interests, and the more I am in concert with Him, the more He assures me of His interest in my things, in all the minutiae of my needs down here.

The second testimony is Joshua. This is a further

[Page 186]

step, and, to my mind, a very important one. It is quite a different thing; it is possession of the land. We find that Abraham's burying-place is the very spot given to Caleb for a possession. Abraham was not to possess; but in Joshua's time the word was: "Go in and possess". Joshua is a figure of the Spirit of Christ: by the Spirit of Christ I possess now those heavenly things which are mine in Him. We find the antitype of it in Ephesians; we are brought into the possession in heaven now, but it is as militant. We belong to that place. Like Abraham we are called out to walk on earth as separated to God, as God's man here, looking for a city that has foundations; and also, like Joshua, we are called to go in and possess it. We are called to hold the heavenly places by the power of God. This is our present calling.

But perhaps, as you look at the history of faith, you ask: What is the difference between Abraham in the land and Joshua? I answer, Abraham was the heavenly stranger in type, which Philippians sets forth. Joshua typifies how God has brought us into possession of His things, not in body yet, but in spirit; and the difficulty is to maintain that ground, and to maintain it as brought there by God. We see in Israel's history how they failed to do so, and how they were diverted from it by the enemy.

We find in Samuel what characterises the close of this period. Two things mark him. Samuel believes in the trade winds. He believes in getting the people back into the current of God's ways. Look at 1 Samuel 7. He says, "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines". They were actually in the place, and yet they were not in possession of the place. They were actually strangers in their own land. The divine action here is beautiful in

[Page 187]

its simplicity. What happened? Samuel prayed; the Lord thundered with a great thunder, and the Philistines were discomfited and smitten and they came up no more into the coasts of Israel all the days of Samuel.

And then Samuel set up a stone there, and called it Ebenezer. I want you to compare the difference between the stone here and the stone in Joshua. That in Joshua hears all the counsel of God for His people. The one in Samuel is rather a witness to God's gracious help to them in the trial into which their own departure from Him had brought them. Hitherto had Jehovah helped them. Just as a man will specially care for, minister to, and help his wife when she is in feeble health. The heart rejoices in the confidence that mere weakness is no hindrance to our communion with the Lord, but is rather an opportunity when fidelity to Him discovers the greatness of His interference on its behalf.

Though it might come in more suitably a little later on, I turn to Haggai. Jacob's failure was caused by having a selfish object; it was pretty much the same in Haggai's time. This is the most dangerous kind of departure, and it is the saddest, too: that of being discouraged in God's service because of the difficulties in the way. The people had gone through great sorrow and exercise of heart to escape from Babylon; they had really begun well in the testimony in Ezra's time; but the pressure became too great for them, and they stopped building. We get the same class of people described in 2 Timothy, where Paul speaks of all those that were in Asia as having turned away from him. So the people stopped building for sixteen years, and were exclusively occupied with their own blessings. It is astonishing how devoted saints occupy themselves with their own blessing - how they get concentrated and absorbed in their own spiritual gain, how they limit God to providing for them. Their walk is very correct, but they are not in

[Page 188]

the testimony; they have lost God's object, the great centre of their position; they are not occupied with the Lord's interests, and, as a consequence, they are not getting on, not making progress, not gaining light.

But what is the testimony in the present day? you ask.

In the gospel of John we find quite another thing from that which we have been considering; we find there a most deeply interesting subject. When the fulness of time was come God sent forth His Son into this world. And now there is a faithful witness on earth. All the preceding testimonies we have seen break down, but there is no break-down here. It is the full and perfect testimony for God. It is a blessed divine Person walking on earth, a Man among men. It is "the Son of man who is in heaven". He never left heaven. I see a Man on earth who was not formed by anything here; I see the bringing down of a new thing that was entirely according to the mind of God. It is marvellous! Nothing can be more marvellous! I see Him day after day, year after year, sitting among men - and I watch tier upon tier of that wonderful unfolding of all the beauty of God in the framework of a Man - in all the small details of the life of a Man upon earth. He never adopted a single habit or fashion of this world; He only brought God down to it; He was the full exhibition of Him in every detail of human life. Here you have the perfect witness. Well might it be said of Him that "the world itself could not contain the books" that could be written about Him!

The new Jerusalem will be the beautiful reproduction of everything that that blessed One was - of all the attributes of His Person. You and I will be little atoms of that wonderful city which will come forth to illuminate the earth in the ages to come.

"He that cometh from heaven is above all". This is the One we have. A Man who was entirely dependent upon God; who fully set forth God; who did

[Page 189]

everything according to the mind of God; in whom there was nothing borrowed nothing acquired; so that they could say of Him: "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" yet He could say, "I have more understanding than all my teachers". The King had really come; He wept over the city that would not have Him. And see His interest in the house of God; how He drives out all that was defiling it; and, as He goes out of that temple to give all His living in order to bring out what is really due to God on earth, He meets a poor widow casting in all the living that she had. She is in sympathy with God's testimony at the time, in sympathy with Him who was Himself the testimony, who was maintaining what was due to God on earth. It was not now Psalm 19 - creation and revelation bearing testimony: that was God's testimony. The testimony was now in a Man, the Son of God. He fulfils all. He could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". He carries your heart up to the One He is expounding. All the resources of God are connected with this blessed One. Yet some, when they heard this, went back and walked no more with Him. They dropped out of the testimony; few followed this Stranger from heaven.

Since the history of faith began there were always two classes of believers those who have faith for the testimony, and those who have not. I do not slight the latter, but I do say they are not in the testimony though saved souls. In a day of distraction like this, I believe our true place is to be pioneers, sappers and miners to the whole army of God. We ought to face the difficulties, and make the road for the others to come on by. We should remove the impediments in the way, and thus make straight paths for our own feet and those of others, thus doing everything that may conduce to their help and blessing.

But the Lord has gone away; and the testimony is

[Page 190]

very simple. He is the Centre of it. He is the Sun of this new system. And He Himself has gone away. But He says, I will send to you the Holy Spirit, and He shall "testify of me". I believe everything now depends on that "me ". Someone might say, I thought that was the gospel. It is quite true that I must speak to a lost sinner of Christ, but we have something more than that here. I can call nothing true testimony but that which is a reproduction of Christ. The proclamation of the gospel is connected with the testimony, because formative of the testimony. The Lord is rejected from His place here, and the Holy Spirit comes to testify of Him during His absence. "To testify of me ".

Individually, "whom the Father will send in my name". The name is the testimony. The name is the reproduction of what is already expressed. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in my body, and to acquaint my heart with this One whose name I am to carry out down here.

In 2 Timothy I find the apostle looking at the times that were coming, and at the character of those who depart from the testimony. Demas was not an unconverted man; my impression is that he went off preaching.

The apostle says that Timothy was "not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner". Paul was the one who had been the great exponent of the glorified Christ, the heavenly man on earth. No person is in the testimony who does not hold that it is not the earthly man but the heavenly man the saint is to be down here. A heavenly man is characterised by two things: he is a stranger here, claiming nothing but a burying-place in the world; but, by the Spirit of God, the Earnest, he has possession in heaven.

All in Asia turned away from the testimony when they found the teacher of it in the enemy's hand. Like those in Haggai, they gave up because of pressure.

[Page 191]

In Hebrews the people began brightly, they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in themselves a better and an enduring inheritance.

Now we find in 2 Timothy two things that suit the perilous times: Paul's doctrine, and the other scriptures. If you do not understand Paul's doctrine, you cannot interpret the Old Testament. How could you interpret Joshua if you did not understand Ephesians? Where could you get the clue to it? Paul put the two things together: "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus".

I turn to Colossians for a definite statement of what the testimony is: "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus". It is in His name . Let the youngest begin to carry that out! It will affect the very tie you wear! If truly carried out it would effect a wonderful change in every one of us. Do not say, That is too exacting! Not at all, if your heart is in the simple enjoyment of fellowship with Him. I do not believe a wife wears anything particular but that it answers to something that she finds in the secret of her husband's heart. It is just so with us and the Lord. It is doing the thing He would like me to do. I have often asked myself, in writing a letter, What would the Lord have me to say? Oh! you say; that puts the standard too high. Not if you are to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus".

I say in conclusion that there is such a force of evil working around us - such a power accumulating - as will raise man here on earth to independence of God. I feel we need to be able to stand against it. We shall surely be drawn into it unless we can come out with some counter thing vastly superior to it, such as: "I belong to Christ".

[Page 192]

In conclusion, what then is our simple calling?

It is to reproduce Christ. It is, as the apostle says, that Christ may be magnified in my body. That is the way to begin; it is an individual thing for each one. But I do not believe that any one can truly carry on the testimony apart from the body of Christ. I cannot do without the members. I will give you two little lines that are of great use to myself:

I must go on without many;

I cannot do without any.

If my arm has been cured of paralysis, I say, Thank God, my arm is well again; and now I am labouring to get the whole system free. You do not understand the testimony if you do not embrace every soul that belongs to Christ; "His own"; the "me" of Acts 9.

In the Revelation John begins with the marred candlestick; but, before the close of the book, he is shown the church coming down from heaven resplendent in divine beauty, to show forth the attributes and glory of Christ in the very scene where the defection occurred; it comes down in all the beauty of Christ and without one thought of self. He delights to call us His bride; He owns no other identity; and you are not true to your identity if you are not bridal in character. And as the bride, we enter into the most wonderful and intimate fellowship with Him.

The book being given to John, his work is done; his tarrying "till I come" is fulfilled. And now the bride says, in company with the Holy Spirit, "Come".

May we have power to grasp the magnificence of such a calling, of being given such a testimony. May our affections be so entirely occupied with the Lord, identity of interest with Him so command our souls, that every heart may rise up with delight at the very thought that He is coming.

The Lord grant that our souls may grow into a simpler and fuller knowledge of what the testimony is, and keep therein, for His name's sake.

[Page 193]


I desire to say a few words upon the hope of the church - the coming of the Lord; and upon the effect of expecting to see Him come.

We have too much overlooked this hope. The servant in Luke 12 said, "My Lord delayeth his coming", he dropped the idea of meeting the Bridegroom. It is that which marks first love; the desire to see Him; and the church of Ephesus lost it. It is the sense that I cannot do without Him; it is not affection merely; it is that the heart has no full joy except with this blessed One and in His presence.

I do not think the servant preached it; I believe he acted on it. He said it "in his heart", and then he went and mixed with the world. The effect on the church of such service was that "they all slumbered and slept". Sleep is inactivity. In Canticles the bride says, "I sleep, but my heart waketh". There is none of the activity that first love gives; an activity that you never could describe, but it is always equal to the occasion. A mother does not prearrange what she will do for her baby. Thus the true heart has such love for Him that it is quick-sighted to know the minute attentions that suit Him. The outcome of first love is practically first works.

They all slumbered and slept for a long time; but at midnight there was the cry: "Behold the bridegroom!" This cry went forth fifty years ago. It had an immense effect. But the most ardent advocates of the Lord's coming became the greatest opposers of it. It was not intentional opposition on their part; it was an effort of Satan to get rid of the light that was shining in.

They said, Truly, the Lord may come tonight, but you cannot go forth to meet Him, for you have not

[Page 194]

the Holy Spirit. Pray for the Holy Spirit; pray that you may have oil in your vessels. So they had prayer meetings for the Holy Spirit. Thus they made the Holy Spirit, not Christ, their object; whereas the object of the saint is Christ. It is remarkable the way in which Satan will manage to set up a counterfoil to contravene what God is about.

The cry was: "Behold the bridegroom!" This addresses the heart. It is not an historic event. As sure as you hold any truth intellectually you will eventually become an opposer of it. If you hold the coming of the Lord as an historic event, I am bold to say that you will become an opposer of it in practice. I have seen people who talk much of this truth, and yet are the most impatient people as to things down here. They seem trying to grasp all they can in the world, just because they think He is coming, so they will not have much time for it. It is quite a different thing when the heart is so occupied with Christ that its one desire is to see His face.

But you might die?

Well, if I did, I should have a grand instalment of it. "To depart and to be with Christ; which is far better"; and a shorter way of waiting for His coming, too; for the apostle has no idea of time up there, whilst he waits with Christ for His appearing; we suffer from time here, but there is none there.

But do you really look forward to this - I shall see His face? What is the effect of it upon you? I should like to hear someone tell me the effect it would produce.

For myself, I believe it would produce a character of behaviour suitable to Himself before He comes. He consoles me in the present; He manifests Himself to me; I have communion with Him; I have His joy; but I look forward to a greater delight than all these; it is that of seeing Him face to face; and, when I see Him, I shall be like Him.

[Page 195]

In John 14 He tells me how He consoles me in the interval, great correspondence takes place between Him and the true heart; just as two beloved friends when separated will continually communicate with one another. But these communications, though they relieve the heart in absence, really increase the desire for presence. The deeper, the more continued the intercourse that I now have with Him, the more it will rejoice my heart to see His blessed face. The very thing that makes up for His absence is that which intensifies the desire of my heart to see Him.

I desire that we may be exercised about two things. One is, the effect produced upon us by His coming before He comes; the other, the effect when He comes. I hear it sometimes said: "Oh, the Lord will settle everything when He comes, and make it all right then!" I say, I would to God He would settle me; and that now, before He comes. If I am the bride, and I know that my Lord is coming, I want to have all in order for Him when He comes. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". And as that moment approaches, I feel like Elijah on his last day. It was the busiest day of his life. While I am saying, Come, I am really all the more earnest, all the more active, all the more intent upon what concerns Him on the earth, so that my last day may be the busiest of my life, too.

[Page 196]


Leviticus 8:18 - 36; 2 Corinthians 3:18

Every believer now is a son of Aaron, of the house of Aaron. It is Aaron and his house now. That really typifies the church. The congregation of Israel outside is not a type of the church. It is the heavenly company (Aaron and his house) who belong to the place inside. The blood of the bullock settled their place inside. Taking a place historically upon earth, they had the good of the scape-goat. When you look at the type, Christ and His own are the antitype of Aaron and his house. That is the figure you get in Hebrews. It gives a character to the present dispensation. Noah was also a type, he "prepared an ark for the saving of his house". "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house". It is all of the same order; not a nation now, but a house. The house is a sphere of blessing. Consequently a man could not be an overseer if his children were not faithful, his house must be a sort of sample of the church. Keep the type before you, Aaron and his house.

What I get here is how do we appear in the presence of God? I do not go into the question of how we get in. I take it for granted that you understand that; but what am I, now that I am in? What is the effect of consecration? What is our actual sense in coming near to God? I turn to Hebrews 10:19 - 22. That is entrance, "boldness to enter". It does not say what you are inside, but that you have the right to enter. That is the first thing you have to learn: "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus". It alludes to the sin-offering. The blood of the bullock established a ground for God to receive Aaron and his house, his family is expressed by his

[Page 197]

presence there; he is there for himself and his house. Hence the carcase of the sin-offering is burned outside the camp. Christ established a base for God to act on, so the Father can come out to meet the prodigal. God has His estimate of the blood; that is our comfort, and He approaches me on that estimate. I have a very poor estimate of it. God comes out consistent with all His holiness and meets the sinner. As in the case of the prodigal, He runs and kisses him. There is a reluctance on the part of the prodigal to go in. He had not the enjoyment of the nature and the life that would enable him to go in without embarrassment. You come in with the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body washed with pure water. That takes in the two aspects of Christ's death; expiation and purification. As soon as the prodigal gets the new clothes on, he is in; he is "made meet". If you have not the right of entrance, it is no good to talk of how you appear there. You enter the holiest where there is not a spot.

"His presence is our home".

It is not properly heaven here. The tabernacle came down to be a travelling companion with Israel here. You do not go to heaven to reach the presence of God. It is in "the holiest". It is a condition rather than a place, so is glory. If you are not at home in holiness and glory, you will never know what it is to enjoy the heavenly place. You do not get a place till you come to Ephesians. You get condition, suitability for the place, what belongs to the place, as the Holy Spirit; but place is another thing. My heart rejoices that Christ is there and that everything there is according to His pleasure.

How do we come in? A consecrated company. What I want you to understand is what you actually enjoy in His presence. If you have entered into "the holiest of all", you cannot talk of sin there;

[Page 198]

you could not give out a hymn connected with sin. There is not a spot there; if you are occupied with sin, you are out of it. You may say you belong to it, to the consecrated company. True, you can never lose your title, but you may lose your enjoyment. I do not think we have sufficient sense of what a wonderful thing it is to be in His presence!

Hebrews 10 is not so high as John 4. No worshipping the Father there; it is only the right to go in, elementary in that sense. I am going a step beyond it now, when I speak of when one is in. I have looked for an antitype of Leviticus 8, and I find it in that verse in Corinthians which I read; 2 Corinthians 3:18.

But first look at the type in Leviticus 8. You have, in verses 1 - 17, what gives you right. The heart sprinkled and the body washed according to Hebrews. In the first seventeen verses you have the right established, the sin-offering and the washing. In verse 18 you come to the consecration. There are two rams connected with the consecration. It is important to bear in mind these two rams. It was immaterial which ram he took, but each was taken for a different purpose. One ram went up whole to God. The antitype to that is Christ in glory, Christ now, the glorified One, in God's presence; and that is the true ark, the only thing in the holiest of all, and which contained Aaron's rod that budded and the pot of manna. That was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. The top was the mercy-seat, there the blood was sprinkled. The Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of it. What meets you in God's presence now? Christ glorified; all the glory converges now in Him. In Him all the glory has found its centre, is established. It is a wonderful thought for the heart. In a Man, the glory is established. I say established, because it is not that God had not all the qualities of His nature before; of course He had them all, but He could not express

[Page 199]

them. How could He express love without righteousness? Christ established righteousness, and now God says, I can let out My love. Therefore "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us". Glory really was never expressed till now. The glory has been established by a Man. God said to Moses, "Thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen". He does not say that to me. Now it is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". Not merely that it exists, but it can be revealed: "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God".

There were two rams; one ram, as we have seen, typifies Christ glorifying God in death and now glorified in heaven itself, the actual fulfilment of the ark of the covenant. It is very interesting to trace the ark of the covenant through Scripture; on it all the glory of God rested, the cherubim of glory turned their faces downwards toward the mercy-seat. The antitype of it is the Lord Jesus Christ. The one ram completely goes up to God. Christ is the real burnt-offering; He glorified God in death. You remember what He says in John 13:31: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him". Glorified in Him, a Man! "If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him". He was "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father".

We are so limited in our apprehension. We are often exclusively occupied with what Christ did for us. The beginning is more before our souls than the finish of His work. It is from the finish that the Holy Spirit came down. That is a most important point. "The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified". Until the Holy Spirit came there could be no free-will offering. The descent of the Holy Spirit marked the day of Pentecost. Pious divines never saw the church, because they

[Page 200]

never saw that the Holy Spirit had come down to the earth. The feast of weeks is fulfilled; the Holy Spirit has come down to the earth. Hence it is not only the wave-sheaf, Christ risen (see Leviticus 23:11, 12), but the two loaves of verse 17, a kind of first-fruits of His creatures, which we are; that is, the church.

Now we are clear, I hope, that in the holiest of all we have the antitype of the ark of the covenant in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is there the glorified One, He glorified God in death. There He is the first ram. Now comes the other. The two rams are like one another. What it really means is this, one is Christ gone up to God, the other is Christ with us. The second you find is connected with Aaron and his sons. It is not your own works at all: it is your hands filled with Christ. What consecrates me? Is it something I get from God, or something I give to Him? It is what Christ is that consecrates me: not what I give, but what I get.

There is no second consecration. You never can lose the value of it nor the right, though you may lose the enjoyment of it. "And he brought Aaron's sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about", Leviticus 8:24. Nothing can pass in, but through that blood. The blood has removed everything contrary to God. There were two things, the blood and the oil. The blood removed everything contrary to God, and the oil brings us into communion with all that is of God.

"And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder" (verse 25). The right shoulder and the fat of the ram properly marked the peace-offering. The fat speaks of the internal motive, and all the

[Page 201]

principles that worked inwardly in our blessed Lord, which we could never eat, because we could never come up to it. Ordinarily the right shoulder belonged to the priest that offered it. That was in the peace-offering, but not here. The right shoulder is the excellency of power. That was burnt on the altar, it went up to God. They ate of the left shoulder. Though we partake of the strength of Christ, we never do things in the supreme settled way in which He did them. Peter walked on the water, but not in the same dignity as Christ. Christ has the supremacy. Christ had the right shoulder, speaking figuratively, and Peter the left.

"And out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder; and he put all upon Aaron's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave-offering before the LORD", (verses 26, 27). It was all put upon their hands and waved. The meat-offering was what He was in life; the burnt-offering what He was in death, it is gone up to God from death. That was the most wonderful thing. The lowest point became the brightest point. The darkest, blackest, most terrible spot was the very spot where the brightest ray of divine glory shone. An immense comfort to us! When once He takes our case upon Him, everything He acquires in it is ours: the glory acquired as Man, He gives to us. Who acquired it? My Saviour! Therefore John says, "As he is, so are we in this world". Not only in heaven, but here in this world . What your Saviour acquired, He acquired not for Himself, but for you. You have the benefit, a wonderful thing, surely, He went down to the lowest place and He has not only paid my debt, but He paid it in such a way that He acquired glory for me. "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them".

[Page 202]

What then is consecration? What is the sense a person has, as consecrated? In one sense everything is ours; but the question is, Do you enjoy it? You never can speak of a thing truly until you enjoy it; you cannot know a thing until you enjoy it; and as has been said, You never understand anything until you are in it. You must get inside to know what it is. You never can make another understand what you have not tasted yourself. You cannot go beyond what you know yourself. You may explain a scripture, every word of it as clearly as possible, but there will be no power in it if you have not made it your own. The apostle says to Timothy, "whereunto thou hast attained", or, as it should be, "fully followed up"; otherwise he would be like a man pressing a thing that he did not know the virtue of.

There are two things here: the fat speaking of all the internal motives of Christ; and the unleavened bread, His life and walk down here. This latter belonged to the priesthood. The filling the hands is what is called consecration. As consecrated your hands are full of Christ, not of what you do yourself, and therefore what was put in their hands was waved - nothing else was consecration. Their hands were filled with the fat, the excellence of the life of Christ on earth; and, after being waved, it was taken and burnt as a sweet-smelling savour to God; Christ already being the first ram gone up to God. It is the same Christ, thank God. We are not up to the first ram. We are not up to the measure of it, but what we have is some of what is gone up to God. I have the very same Christ. Thus in Colossians: "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful".

Now I will try to explain a little. In consecration how do you come into His presence? With all the sense of what He is, and then you have had it in your hands. How do you explain that? I believe that

[Page 203]

word in John's epistle explains it: "Which we have looked upon and our hands have handled". I come into His presence, not thinking of what I am, but of what He is, the wonderful nature of what He is to God. Thus I come in, in all His fragrance. I come in to feed on Him, actually to acquire the strength of Christ Himself.

Now if you turn to 2 Corinthians 3:18, you get a clear idea of the antitype. A person might say, I do not understand the type; very likely, but here you have a plain statement made; you can easily see whether you have really been in the glory or not. The argument of the chapter is, the law came from glory, but that there is a better thing now (verses 9 - 11). It is not a ministration of condemnation; it is the greatest moral revolution ever accomplished. Our blessed Lord, the perfectly righteous One, went down under the judgment. He magnified the law, made it honourable, bore the judgment upon us who never kept it: then He was glorified. He not only discharged everything according to the claim of God, but He glorified God under the judgment. Righteousness is established now. "Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father".

Now what the apostle presents is: Beholding the glory of the Lord. Israel could not look at the glory in the face of Moses. It repelled them, they could not look at it, could not meet it. The sight of glory brought God so near, they could not look at it. Now it is all a wonderful contrast. I go in now to the holiest, and gaze at Him in glory; I get now the glory of God. It is all around; nothing wanting now. All the qualities of God's nature are equipoised by my Saviour; and I look at my Saviour. What a wonderful thing! "Raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father". The glory rests upon Him. I come into God's presence, the holiest, and what do I find? Is it glory that makes me shrink? Is it

[Page 204]

like Isaiah, a man of God, who when he saw the glory, says, "I am undone"? The glory cleared him, and clearance is all we get in Old Testament times. Now in glory I get more than clearance, I get what is of my Saviour. I am fit for the glory. I know nothing more blessed. The greatest sovereign might say to me, You may come into my presence; but could he make me one of the royal family? He could not. He might be very gracious in his manner so as to make me feel at home with him, but he could not make me sensible that I was by nature fit for the glory of his kingdom. That is a poor illustration of what we have here.

There are two conditions, as I said before; the condition of the holiest is holiness. There I am without a spot; I come in through the veil, His flesh. My flesh cannot come in there. If it is through Christ's flesh I am let in, how can anything of my flesh come in? I come in, in all the beauty and fragrance of Christ, and find I am in this wonderful place where the glory is, and I behold the Lord's glory. It is not only looking at the Lord; it is not looking at the glory; it is looking at the Lord's glory . There is a great deal in that expression. What is the Lord's glory? It is the expression of the divine satisfaction in that blessed One according to God's nature. Could He find it in all creation? No; but He does find it in that blessed One who was "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father". It is at this One that I am looking. What is the effect? We have seen in the type that you get all from Christ, so in the antitype. Not a single thing there that I do not get from Christ. What consecrated them was not anything of their own, nothing that they had acquired; and so now, what I get from Christ is what I derive from His glory.

Let me try and explain this a little more. The Holy Spirit comes down from the glorified Christ, He comes down from the finish of the gospels; we begin properly with the cross. It meets our sins

[Page 205]

and the judgment of God; but what are we placed in now? "There is no more offering for sin", but the burnt-offering has gone up whole. We have Christ in the presence of God. "Beholding the glory of the Lord ". Does it repel you as it did Isaiah? No; on the contrary, it says, Come on, I must make you correspond. That is what you get in the second ram; it corresponds to the first ram. You are "changed into the same image".

You are now altered, entirely changed; it is the strongest word in the language; metamorphosed into the same image by the Spirit. Some of you may think this is quite beyond you. If you say, It is impossible, it is because you have not grasped the burnt-offering. If you do not understand the burnt-offering you never can understand consecration. I understand by the burnt-offering, Christ glorified in heaven. If you have not grasped Him there, you cannot understand consecration, because it is in correspondence to that blessed One you have come in.

I want to explain the effect of beholding the Lord's glory. In the holiest of all there is not a shade of sin; thank God, "not a cloud above"; but when you get in, what happens? You are wonderfully changed. I often try to test myself about a thing, that I have a judgment about. I go to God about it; not once only, but more than once, until I find out whether it is confirmed there or reversed there. Very often it is reversed there. That is the effect of the glory; you are brought into a correspondence with it, "changed into the same image".

I give you an illustration in the Old Testament. In Psalm 73 there is a man who went into the sanctuary, and was quite changed. What changed him? He was changed by going into the sanctuary. It was not that he modified his views, but they were completely reversed. Now I will give you a plainer illustration in the New Testament, but no illustration will do

[Page 206]

any good until you try it. Turn to Philippians 4:6. Philippians is the experience of a heavenly man. What I get in this passage is how a man is freed of care. He goes into the presence of God to state all his cares. It is often quoted, but I have not seen many examples of it. A man goes in with his cares, perhaps about a sick child, or a sick cow; he comes out, but his child is as sick as ever, his cow as sick as ever; what has happened? Is the thing altered? No; just the same as ever, but he has been to God; he is a changed man; he was perturbed, distressed because of the troubles; now he has the peace of God; I cannot explain it to you, it "passeth all understanding". I think I have tasted a little of it, the edge of it. Think of having the peace of God Himself! I come back, not untroubled, but unruffled. It is like the difference between a land-bird and a water-bird. A water-bird oils his feathers before he goes into the water; not a feather is disturbed. I come out unruffled. I have been with God, and the most marvellous alteration has taken place in me, not in the circumstances, but in me, thank God! It was a simple verse that first gave me a taste of it. The waters of Marah were bitter. That was what I felt, that everything was bitter in this poor world. I felt it would be a positive relief if I were to die, but I was struck with that verse. I saw there was something put into the bitter waters that made them sweet. A tree was put into it. That was the beginning of a great deal to me. Here is more than the waters sweetened; God does not say, I will change anything for you, but I will change you by the glory of Christ. You will see how things look then. I know the trouble, but instead of getting the trouble altered, I get altered myself. To what extent? To an inconceivable extent. It passes all understanding. What a condition! But it is within the reach of the poorest, most suffering person in this world.

[Page 207]

I have no doubt all the wonderful prayer in Ephesians 3 flows out of this. You have come in consecrated, come in, in the fragrance of Christ. How do you know? What is the effect? you are "changed into the same image". The glory that once refused you can claim you now instead of refusing you, for it changes you into correspondence with itself.

One example more, and then I close. When Paul was caught up to the third heaven, was he merely received? He was received as one of the most intimate friends; it is exquisite! The man who had been the "chief of sinners", when he comes into paradise is received there as one of the most familiar friends. It is a very rare person to whom I would say, Come, I must tell you all my family interests. Here is a man like me, and in the glory he is told secrets which it is not lawful to tell any mortal. Think of walking about the earth with the secrets of God in his heart. But what I want to show you is the wonderful nature of the reception he got. Many a man is received at court; he walks in at one door and out at another. That is not much of a reception. Here I am "changed into the same image". Would to God, we all knew something more of it! Do you say, How can I? You must enter first; you must behold the Lord's glory . Let me press that again, it is beholding ... the glory of the Lord . The glory is not a blaze of light, it is that everything of God is balanced there, His righteousness is there; His love is there; every single quality is seen in that blessed Person. It is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". Why is a sinner lost now? Because Satan closes his heart to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. I look at Him where He is, in the glory, in the display of all God is; the One who has expressed the nature of God in completeness, the One who has done that is my Saviour! As I behold that, I

[Page 208]

am brought into correspondence with it. I have the sense that I am there as one of a consecrated company, and so I am not only at home there, but the glory brings me into correspondence with it; I am made to be actually part of the thing itself.

Of course there is a great deal more I do not touch on, but we get in as the priesthood - the holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices; the royal priesthood, to show forth the virtues of Him who has called us. You can never be a royal priest unless you are a holy priest. Holy is what you are to God, royal is what you are to man. You must come from God to man; you cannot go to man beyond what you are to God. The lack of this is the cause of the weakness in a great deal of ministry. A man who is growing in ministry begins by praying. He must begin with God. What does he come to man with, if he has not got something from God? The blessed Lord could say, "I proceeded forth and came from God".

Well, beloved friends, I do not feel I have fully unfolded this wonderful subject. Who can? But I trust it may awaken an interest in your hearts. The more you study it, the more you will be repaid, and find the exceeding blessedness of being of the consecrated company in His presence.

[Page 209]


Revelation 3:7, 14

I have read these two scriptures because I think it must affect every heart to think that our Lord presents Himself in a distinct aspect. That is what you get in the epistles to the seven churches. How departed they must have been when it was necessary to come before them in a special aspect! He tells us the aspect in which He will be up to the close. There is immense grace in it. His aspect ought to be known to each of us. It is properly the history of the soul in its journey homewards. I ought to know Him in a distinct aspect, but I cannot know Him unless I am near Him. Certainly He is always thinking of me, as He says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee". He has gone all the way; He is at the top, and He can say: I have travelled all the road, I know every circumstance, I have the grace suited for every circumstance; as you are near Me, you shall know it, you shall find I am that to you. So you are supported in it. He was thus with the disciples in the ship in the storm, and in the special aspect suited for them; but they were not affected by His aspect; He was asleep, and they were in fear. They awoke Him, and He hushed the storm, and there was a great calm. It is a great thing to have seen the Lord in a distinct aspect.

Independency is acting without Him. Thyatira (Romanism) is independency; the Head set aside, and the bringing in of a new vicar: while maintaining outward unity, Christ did not get His place. Now I read this verse 7 that we might see two things; if I look at Philadelphia I see He is the Holy and the True, and He has the key of David. That is, character and power. I behold Him in that aspect and I

[Page 210]

progress. In verse 11 there is another thing: "Behold I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown". There is the terrible power of opposition to deprive us of the very best thing we have. We often forget the relentless nature of the foe. If you look at the history of God's people it surprises you. Six hundred thousand left Egypt, only two got into the land! Why? Because of the unceasing, unremitting opposition of the foe. He never ceases his opposition to us, as here on earth for Christ; and if we are not true to Him, we cannot maintain the wonderful character that belongs to us as heavenly men. If you are not good at school, the house of God, you are not good at home, the body of Christ. This is the school-room, this is the actual scene of all the trial; here we are prepared; here we are on probation, in a certain way.

It is an immense cheer to be looking at the Lord in the aspect He presents Himself to Philadelphia. He is holy, He is true, He has the key of David; then as to the enemy, He says, Take care that no one takes your crown! Why does He say that? Because of the adversary. How many have I seen drop off! A person does not give up what he begins with; it is not the bottom round of the ladder that the enemy seeks to deprive us of, but the top. If you want to dislodge a man from a ladder, you would strike his hands. It is what you have your hands on that the enemy attacks. Therefore the word is, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no one take thy crown". What you would like to be now, you shall be by-and-by. What would you like to be? A pillar in the temple. We have to suffer now. The moment you lay hold of a truth, what will be the consequence? The enemy will come; and what will you do? Hold fast what you have. Let Satan have what he wants to hold you by, something of this world; give it to him, and he will not trouble you. You cannot get into the kingdom

[Page 211]

of God without much tribulation. "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting". If you give up the thing by which Satan can act upon you, you have done with it. I say, is that what you are going to hold me by? Well, then, have it: I give it up. We are not sensible at times that the possession of fresh truth necessarily awakens a new energy of the enemy. Go from Egypt to Canaan, and see what you have to encounter and where you are. In Egypt, Pharaoh is against you; in the wilderness Amalek; outside the wilderness, Balaam; in the land, the seven nations. If you turn back in the wilderness you go to Egypt; if you turn from God in Canaan, you go to Babylon; not to the world of judgment, but to the world of luxury.

Thank God, I have this aspect of the Lord as He presents Himself to Philadelphia; I am looking at Him who gives me character and power. Why did I read the other aspect? Because it is preservative. "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God". It is more what He is personally, not what He is conferring; He stands as it were like a pillar, "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God". When I look at Him in that aspect, I say, there are terrible times coming, a terrible energy at work. In this aspect He preserves me.

The last four churches go down to the end. The history is simple enough. In Thyatira they gave up the Head, and put a man in the place of Christ, and consequently the Holy Spirit was denied. In Sardis (Protestantism) they got back to the Saviour, but not to the church. In Philadelphia it is: "Thou hast kept my word and hast not denied my name". I am perfectly certain the Laodicean wave is rising around. How am I preserved? By the aspect of that blessed One. My eye rests upon Him, He is "the Amen,

[Page 212]

the faithful and true witness", the One who set forth God here; who glorified God here; the heavenly colour came out in every step and movement down here: now He has gone up into glory, that He may demonstrate it further by His members here. Oh, that all the members might come out in that beautiful heavenly colour which He Himself displayed! He can give it if the heart is in company with Himself. What sustains me? I am not looking at the waters around me but at Himself, "the faithful and true witness". What is the consequence? As the heart is taken up with Him in this aspect, I get the effect of it and am thus preserved from the invasion, which is, such a confidence in man's resources in Christian things, that Christ is outside.

I must digress for a moment. Turn to Psalm 73. I look at this psalm because it is a great thing to see what is the effect of being in His presence. I cannot be there but without a spot. I do not say He is not always with me, but I could not be in His presence with a spot. In His presence I am in the holiest. There are two conditions of His presence, holiness and glory. Heaven is a place, that I find in Ephesians. In Hebrews I find the holiest; in Corinthians glory; heaven in Ephesians. The tabernacle was brought down to be the companion of Israel in their travels. What a wonderful thing to have the presence of God as I walk down here! They did not come to the place until they got to Canaan, but they had the presence of God all along the road. In Hebrews we are come to "the holiest of all". We can never lose our place there, but we are not always enjoying it. What is the effect of being in His presence? I see four distinct effects that flow from His presence in Psalm 73. At first, the Psalmist is occupied with everything in relation to himself; but in the sanctuary he is occupied with everything in relation to God. It is entirely God there. What does he say about

[Page 213]

himself then? "I was as a beast before thee". You are very unhappy, then? Not at all. I never am so sure that I am an object to God: "Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand". I never was so happy; "continually with thee". Then verse 25. God is my Object: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee". But this is a digression.

I just add a few words more as to the effect of His company. The idea in Christendom is that a priest is to come between us and God. The true idea of the priesthood of Christ is that He has gone up to the top; the priest is there; He is there for us, He has entered "into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us". He says, as it were, I know the whole road, and I will support you. I am not looking so much for help, as for the effect of His company. Peter and the other disciples left their ship, their fish, and everything, for His company. What foolish people, some might have said, to leave all for the company of that poor Man! Did you ever find out that company is better than property? Mark the words of that same man, Peter: "Lo, we have left all and followed thee!" Yes, says the Lord, you have done very well by it: "Manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting".

How often one has longed to know something more of His company! How one has felt, if I but knew Him as Mary did in another day! Martha gets instruction; we all get that, for He neglects none of us; but she did not get His company; company is what solaces the heart.

I do not dwell more upon that, but I would just call your attention to another aspect in which He presents Himself: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to

[Page 214]

testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star", Revelation 22:16. That is not at this minute only, but when this book was closed. When John's ministry came to an end, the Lord could come from that hour. He was "the bright and morning star" eighteen hundred years ago. What is the effect upon the bride of this aspect of Christ? She says, "Come!" Who is the bride? It is not an individual, evidently; it is characteristic. It is all saints, though all may not be up to it. "The morning star" is spoken of in Thyatira; "bright" is added here. Now the bride is the one who really has a heart for Him. It is not that the coming of the Lord is to settle everything. You ought to be settled for it. Can you bid a person to come if you are not ready for him? No doubt we shall all be carried out of this scene, but we shall receive what we have done in it. You do not desire a person to come if you are not fit for him. It is the Holy Spirit, who is here to testify for Christ, who says, "Come", and the bride, the one whose heart is set upon Him, whose company is the solace of her life, for her heart is toward Him, she says, "Come". How can this be after all those terrible scenes in chapters 2 and 3? That is the blessed thing. The Lord will have a company to meet Him, to delight in His presence. It is true of all saints, therefore the energy goes out to awaken all: "Let him that heareth say, Come". I am looking for Him to come, and I am looking for others to say, "Come". Like a faithful wife, I say, He is coming home, we must have all in order today. The bride casts her eye round to have everything in readiness for His coming. "The bright and morning star" produces that effect. If I see one not saying, "Come", I say, You say "Come", too. Then I become evangelical, desiring every one to be ready for Him.

[Page 215]

The Lord grant that our hearts, in the midst of confusion and dissensions around, may know Himself in a distinct aspect, and may so rest upon Him in the aspect in which His grace presents Himself to us, that we may know the practical effect of it. It is an immense comfort.

[Page 216]


2 Kings 2:9 - 12; Matthew 14:25 - 29; Ephesians 1:19, 20

The first thing we have to learn is what grace has done for us; that you get in Ephesians. "That ye may know ... the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe ... which he wrought in Christ". That is our title; but a great many do not know it is theirs. The first thing is to know that it is yours, the next what it is to enjoy it.

I read the other scriptures in order to show the state of the heart before it enjoys the grace. What I have in Ephesians is, it is actually given to me; it is mine. A person says, I never enjoyed it. One aspect of the death of Christ is Jordan. Our place is over death, though you may not know it. Christ died so that we might be there. The first thing you have to learn is that it is so. Why do I not know it? That is the great question.

Neither Elisha nor Peter knew it, but they would like to have known it. Neither of them had what you and I have. The power is ours, but we may not enjoy it; they had it not, but they desired to have it. That is the difference between them and us.

Read Ephesians 1:19. It is that we may know the power that wrought in Christ. It is for us. The same power that brought Christ up to heaven is the power that brings us up. We were all brought up to heaven together a long time ago. It is not that we add anything to Christ; we come from Christ, all raised up together. We take a long time before we know it, but it is great gain when we do know it.

".. . The Spirit's power
Has ope'd the heav'nly door
Has brought me to that favoured hour
When toil shall all be o'er". (Hymn 74)

There it is!

[Page 217]

The first thing in dealing with souls (and that is the difficulty) is to make them alive to the fact that the power is theirs, though they do not use it and may never have enjoyed it. The same death that brought me out of Egypt brought me into Canaan. The same death that saved me from eternal judgment has entitled me to eternal glory. Christ not only bore the judgment, but everything He acquired in suffering for man He acquired for us. That is the wonderful character of the grace; not only complete discharge from all that lay upon us, but all the glory, all the distinction, He acquired in paying our debt, is ours! I am not only out of debt, I have a fortune. The One who paid my debt paid it in such a manner that He has entitled me to glory: "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them". Of course that is not His essential glory.

You must have right to a thing first before you can know what is the good of it. You must be over Jordan before you can talk of possessing heaven. In Colossians a man is over, but not possessing. He is going on to possession. You are entitled to be over, but are you over? It is no use yet to talk of anything else. Until you are over Jordan you cannot enjoy the place. You cannot understand the prayer in Ephesians 3 till you are on heavenly ground. Why do I not enjoy it? I will show you two reasons why you do not know it.

The apostle says to the Ephesians, Since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints, I cease not to pray for you. The counsel of God is one part of the prayer, the other is verse 19, that you may know the power that puts you over. Until you know that, you cannot know what the power does. It must first act upon yourself. It puts you into a new position. You must know you have the power before you can use it. A person reads Ephesians 1, and says, It is very clear the power is

[Page 218]

mine. But do you know you have that power? Can you honestly sing:

"... The Spirit's power
Has ope'd the heav'nly door,
Has brought me to that favoured hour
When toil shall all be o'er". (Hymn 74)

Not will bring, but has brought.

I turn to Elisha, to see the first thing that must spring up in your hearts. Elijah is going away: he says to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for thee". A very solemn question to put to yourself. If the Lord says, I am going away. What would you like best? Some would say, the conversion of my children; others, some other thing. What did Elisha say? "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me". I can face this world in your absence if I have your spirit. That is what will make up to me for your absence; I can bear it if I have your spirit. People say, Have not I received the Spirit of Christ? Quite so, I admit it; but the question is, Do you value it? Elisha valued it as that which would make up to him for the blank caused by his absent lord. Does the Holy Spirit make up to you now for the absence of Christ from the earth? Is that the one thing that satisfies your heart in the scene where He is not?

Our blessed Lord does not ask His disciples what He should do for them; He tells them what He will do: You shall have another Comforter. I do not put you on the ground on which Elijah put Elisha. I tell you what I will do, I will pray the Father and He will give you another Comforter, who will abide with you for ever. That is the Holy Spirit. Elisha had not the Holy Spirit, but have you the same value for the Holy Spirit that Elisha had for the spirit of Elijah? Have you the same interest in the presence of the Holy Spirit? I will test you in a minute about it.

[Page 219]

Elijah told Elisha he should have it, on a certain condition. Mark the condition: "Thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee". He was to see him taken. You say, We have the Spirit, we are better off than Elisha; but have you the same heart, and do you really fulfil the condition that Elisha had to fulfil? Is, your heart set upon Christ taken? Not an object here for me now that He is taken.

That is the way the apostle puts it in Colossians: "Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". That is what Stephen found; "he being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus". The Comforter is come down, but have you the heart of Elisha? His eye was upon the taken one. Is yours? It was so with the apostles at first, their hearts went with Him. It was said to them, "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" He was to come back again. The very thing not allowed in Acts 1 is what marks the action of the Holy Spirit in Acts 7. "He being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven". It is a very simple thing to put it to your own hearts. The Spirit of God always turns you that way. It has been said that man is the only animal that looks up, and a Christian certainly is the only person who can look up. It is a great thing to look up. Everything turns in a sense upon a look: "Life in a look", the hymn says; I admit it, but everything depends upon a look, beholding the Lord's glory now. It all shows where your heart is. The object of my heart is gone up there. Therefore that was the condition: "If thou see me when I am taken". Do you not think he kept his eye upon him?

I trust you will understand that it is not only that you have the Spirit, but that nothing can make up to you in this world for the absence of Christ except the Holy Spirit. All the riches, all the honours (I

[Page 220]

do not mean worldly honours), all the favours that may come from the hand of God, nothing but the Holy Spirit can make up for the absence of Christ. So now, if you want to know His action and power, you must keep your eye on the taken One.

In Elisha you get what alone can compensate you for His absence. I put it to my own heart, Can I say honestly, Nothing can compensate me for Christ's absence but the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the source of everything to me. The apostles were told to tarry at Jerusalem until endued with power from on high.

I turn to Matthew 14. You get here another trait which I believe is of all importance; affection in Peter that wants to be with Him. It is not merely grace and the power to go to heaven. The first question with the soul is heaven or hell, as another has said; the second is, heaven or earth. I have seen a great many who would happily give up what they had on earth for the Lord, but I have not seen many who would give up the earth altogether to be with Him. Like Rebecca or Ruth: "Whither thou goest I will go". You are out of everything. You would not be one bit less capable in the things down here, but the Lord would be with you in them, because your heart is with Him. Your heart is so with the Lord you must be according to His pleasure here. In Matthew 14 the Lord is seen in a new position. Peter in the ship sees Him walking on the water. It seems a very unaccountable place. Of course it is. It is as hard to walk on smooth water as on rough. Peter had not the power. You have the power to walk on the water. The believer has the power to set his mind on things above. We are better off than Peter, better off than Elisha. I do not say we have the same heart. In Elisha we get the heart that says, I can stay in the place of your absence if I have your spirit. In Peter I get, Nothing

[Page 221]

would please me but to be in the place where You are. Everyone knows a ship was made for water. I get out of the ship to go to Him, to walk in the most unaccountable way. You have not gone this road heretofore. A new road it is surely, but Jesus has gone the road; that is enough for me, and He has opened the way. "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water". The Lord says, "Come". There is a reality about it. Do you believe it?

I was once alluding to this passage when a nice intelligent man was present, spiritually intelligent, I mean. He said to me later, Two years after it flashed across my mind what it meant, the reality to overcome everything here to go to the Lord. He only looked at the figure while I was speaking. Do not be discouraged. It takes time to work things out, like some corn that is so many months before it will sprout.

How did Peter come to get that power? In Elisha I get, Nothing can console me for your absence but your spirit; in Peter I get, Nothing would satisfy me but to be where You are. And the Lord said, "Come". Why did He say Come? Simply because Peter had affection enough to wish to go to Him. These are the two things really: you do not value the Spirit of God enough as the only One to make up to you for the blank of your Lord's absence, and the other is, you have not affection enough for Him, like Peter. You do not say to Him, "Bid me come". Peter had not the power. He got it for a minute, it was delegated to him, so to speak, but we have it. If you understand Ephesians 1:19, we have it in Christ; we may never have used it. Why? Because you were never like Elisha nor like Peter yet. We do not want title, we have it; but we want heart to make use of what we have. If we have heart for the Lord, as the hymn says,

"No place can fully please us
Where Thou, O Lord, art not". (Hymn 56)

[Page 222]

One illustration I give you. It brings out the actual knowledge of the power. The parent bird, when the young birds are fledged, goes up two or three feet above them. The young birds will not fly. Like Christians now, you have the power, you have the wings. Why do you not use them? You would never forget it if you had. The parent bird knows very well that the young birds will try to get to it; it counts upon their affection. They have the affection, but do not know that they have the power to satisfy their affection. What now? The young bird begins to move, and to its surprise, finds it can fly. Have we got the affection? We have the power; all we want is the affection. We find, when we have the affection, we have the power to satisfy and gratify it.

I need hardly refer you again to Ephesians 1. I trust it is plain to you, that we are superior, as to grace and standing, to Elisha and Peter. What we want is that real heart for Christ, that, like Elisha, can say, No other thing can suit me but the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, during Your absence. I show I value it by keeping my eye on You as the taken One, and, like Peter, no matter what my circumstances are, no matter what the difficulties, my heart is so set upon You where You are, that I am not thinking of difficulties. No doubt he began afterwards to look at the winds and the waves, but first "he walked on the water, to go to Jesus". He lent Peter His power, as it were. It is not lent to me, but given . A gift is not a loan. Thank God, I have a gift. The only question is, have I used my gift? Like the young birds, have you used your wings? They had their wings before they used them. That is all I want to insist upon.

Turn to another scripture for a minute which marks the thing in a very definite way: Joshua 5:9. The reproach of Egypt is rolled away. You have the

[Page 223]

power, and you have gone over Jordan. Two things mark the enjoyment of power, and are necessarily connected with it: a double action, in a certain sense concurrent. We never should be happy otherwise. When they knew the power, they got rid of what was unsuited to possession. I have parted with what would unfit me for this new position before I enjoy it. The old thing goes, in order that I may entirely enjoy the new thing. The new possession has it all to itself, no rivalry. One is gone, broken, silenced. It may rise up again? Quite true, but it is silenced. Hence there was Gilgal, rolling off the reproach before they ate of the old corn of the land. I part with what would spoil my enjoyment before I enter upon my enjoyment. I am clear of it.

Take the prodigal son. Do not you think he took off the old garments before he put on the new? "Put off" you get in Colossians 3, where it is a man over Jordan, but not yet in possession of the land. It is a most serious thing to think you could get into a fine place in unsuited clothes, never such a thing! I used to think that when I saw the Lord I should become like Him; but I shall be like Him to see Him: it would not be happy to see Him if I were not like Him. The bride will be brought to the king "in raiment of needlework", everything done with a stitch; "all glorious within", all fitting. That is the beautiful history of Rebekah. She gets off the camel, in true godliness showing her deference to her lord, and casts a veil over herself. There is Isaac, and she is ready for him.

I am in possession, a person says; but he has kept up the old thing. I do not believe it. You have to part with the old thing, and you would like to feel you have broken with it. Hence Gilgal comes before possession, as Colossians 3. I have the right of entrance? Yes, and more: the power to enter, but the very power enables me to separate from the thing

[Page 224]

that would not suit. You would not bring it into heaven, would you? Your nature, your self-gratification, your vanity, your natural worldly desires? You know in your heart you could not bring them in. Therefore Gilgal was before possession. There is renunciation always before possession. You are thus qualified for possession. The more the renunciation, the more thoroughly you are in possession. Paul in Philippians 3 had done with everything. Far better leave it all, not one bit or another bit, but all .

A person years ago was helped by a simple statement: A bird cannot fly unless he leaves the earth. He must leave it. The leaving came first. "Cease to do evil", before "learn to do well". It could not be otherwise. Nothing can be plainer in its principle. I take them in the order in which I read them. Now look at Elisha, what was the first mark of power in him? "He took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces". He has done with them now; that is the first mark. Then he took up the mantle of Elijah and put it on him. He comes out now in a new dress. That is the mantle with which he went over Jordan. The more I look at it, the more I see that you must break from the man who is at enmity to Christ. That is the terrible character of the flesh. Not only, as in Romans 7, it is incompetent to keep the law, but as in Galatians 4, it persecutes him that is born of the Spirit. I have found out that you oppose Christ, and I have done with you. I like to be free of the flesh. When a person is getting on, how does the Lord help him? "We which live are alway delivered unto death". I say, I shrink from this entanglement, and the Lord lets death in to help me. I tremble sometimes at what the process may be; wonderful examples one has seen. I cannot let my heart go that way any longer. Then the Lord takes you at your word. He rolls in death.

The Romanist says, Through my death I get life;

[Page 225]

I say, I get life through Christ's death; that is right, but practically death works in us. Through life I get death. The moment you desire to be free, the Lord says, I will free you. That is where the power comes in. You do not renounce to get the power; that is legalism. I illustrate it in this way, A dog tied up is trying to get loose, but when he is free, and you try to tie him up again, he avoids you. He knows what liberty is, he does not want to be tied up again. "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake". The Lord never presses any one to devotedness, but He likes it.

What am I going to possess the other side? Heaven itself; 'in spirit there already.' Do you want to bring the flesh in? Not I. I have done with it! It is not simply I have put it by for a time, because it is Sunday, perhaps, but I have done with it. I will not be molested by it.

Peter in the same way left the ship. You may call it the Jewish ship, or what you like, but he did leave it, "he walked on the water to go to Jesus". There was renunciation before possession, he left the ship. The first mark of power is renunciation, not enjoyment. Enjoyment is the second mark. I renounce that which would interfere with my enjoyment, and now I have my enjoyment without interference. Everyone knows that if you want to enjoy yourself over the fire with a book you shut the door first. Renunciation before enjoyment; you will find it so in every case. I know very well why we do not enjoy heaven.

What is it really? You are over Jordan, but you are not in possession of Canaan. You do not get that in Ephesians, because there it is all the power of God; but in Colossians it is: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above". "Put off" - let it go. Mortify your members. It is not Marah. Marah is that I drink death as the thing arises; but Gilgal is circumcision, the old thing is

[Page 226]

over; all things are made new. Mortify all round the indigenous plants; put off the habits, the annuals. Proper education would perhaps help one to put off lying, evil speaking, ill temper, and so on, but the things we are told to mortify are all ingrained; you can only mortify them.

Circumcision is the first thing when you are over Jordan; it could not take place in the wilderness; you had not the power there, you were but struggling through the wilderness. Now it is the knife: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus".

One little illustration I give, to show how the Christian is qualified for possession. There is actual stripping of all that which would unfit you for the enjoyment of possession. We do not fight for possession, as they did, it is ours, but do we enjoy it? This is the way to enjoy it. I illustrate it by a recruit. A young man is enlisted and brought to the barracks. What does he learn? He has to leave all the civilian, his old dress, his old gait, outside. He did what he liked before. He is to be remodelled, he is to be made a soldier; he is divested of everything that does not suit a soldier, and invested with everything that suits a soldier; he has to get the ways, the movements, the evolutions of a soldier; it is a new course of education, but what does he start with? With his being stripped and divesting himself of the old things. That is the principle of Scripture. "Put off the old man ... and have put on the new". I believe there is no conscientious person who would not say, I am delighted to hear it, the old thing goes first, and I am a free man to enjoy the new thing that I am brought into.

That is the first action of the power, freed from what embarrasses you. I do not doubt there is a practical severance as you grow in it. I am getting greater enjoyment in that scene, and I am glad to say, I

[Page 227]

am more detached here; not suffering by detachment, but pleased to be detached. Paul was not mourning that he had to go when he said, I long to depart and be with Christ; all my links are formed up there, so I am very glad to go; all the links loosened here.

The Lord lead our hearts practically to enter into it! What a thing to find we have this power according to Ephesians 1, the power to bring us up to that spot. You have the power, you have the wings. I tell you why you do not use them. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest". You never had the heart to go. You may tell me your prayers are three hours long, that you read the Bible and notes incessantly, but you have not the heart to go! If you had you would know that you possessed the power, and that nothing could console you in the absence of the Lord but the Holy Spirit, who leads you to where He is. He knew Himself nothing could make up for His absence but the Holy Spirit, and blessed be His name, He gave the Holy Spirit without our asking for Him.

You must be like Peter. It is not enough to see Him in that new position above everything; you must want to go to Him there.

Then I say, what is the practical consequence? Two things come out. You renounce the thing that would hinder your possession up there, the other is that you enjoy it. Believe me, you will find it so. Renunciation is always before enjoyment. I assert it, I know it, that if you do not renounce you would be actually spoilt and hindered in your enjoyment. It would be a trial to you. It is the principle of what Paul says: "Whether we be beside ourselves it is to God". He was in an ecstasy like the queen of Sheba, "No more spirit in her". You say, Do you want me to leave the earth? No. You will go back to your duties on the earth with a heart and a half, because it is His pleasure for you to remain here for Him.

[Page 228]

A river runs within its banks. These are the channels you are to flow in, to testify in. Thank God, I know where I am to run, and I know where His grace will run with me and support me. I am not dead to nature, but I have to act in divine power in all my natural ties and duties.

The Lord grant that we may know where His grace has placed us, and that we may have the heart to use what His grace has given us, for His name's sake.

[Page 229]


Colossians 2:1 - 3

I am anxious to bring the subject of the mystery before you. It is well to look at what is before us. A meeting of this kind is not for edification only, but I might say for education also. It is looking ahead, looking out at what is before us. The first thing we get in this scripture is the earnestness of the apostle. "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you". That is a great word to each servant of God. I often ask myself, How much of this earnestness have I? How much real conflict have I? We see more of it in seeking the salvation of souls. I approve that there should be earnestness in that; but "these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone". I do not see the same earnestness to lead the saints into the knowledge of the mystery. You hardly see anything about the church in any publication now. Why? One is often told, because they are not up to it, but that is no answer. There was great opposition, and the apostle says, "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you". With whom is he fighting in prison? Not with flesh and blood. His conflict was with the powers of darkness.

He speaks of "the mystery" in the last three verses of Romans. He tells them that there is something more to learn than the gospel, something that was hid from the beginning of the world, which they had not come to yet. "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, .. . in whom are hid all

[Page 230]

the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". How many could say that? Acknowledgment is a very weak word; the apostle means the real knowledge of the mystery of God, and one would think it would strike any one to read that.

Now, for a moment, I turn to another side. What sort of people were these Colossians? The apostle desired to bring the subject before them because of some impending danger. If I look at chapter 1: 4, I see what sort of people they were: "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints". I think I hear someone saying, 'I should be content if I could see the saints up to that.' It is not faith in God, but "faith in Christ Jesus"; a very great advance. In Ephesians it is faith in the "Lord Jesus". I cannot tell you the difference, but there is a difference. I tell you truly that the mass of Christians would be satisfied to see the saints up to the gospel, with good conduct, and good works. Do you ask, What is there beyond that? I reply, The mystery. The former puts you in a commendable light before man. Do you think you would have any less of it by knowing the mystery?

The apostle greatly commends these Colossians, and ceases not to pray for them. It greatly encourages one to pray for a person who is going on well. Now they were in danger of being carried away by the intrusion of the flesh; the character of it is brought out here for the first time. Let me simplify what I mean. I see the flesh working in Corinth in self-indulgence. The corrective of that was the truth of the Lord's table. How can you indulge the flesh on account of which Christ died? The Galatian intrusion was legality, not self-indulgence. If you put yourself under the law you lose Christ. Now comes the Colossian intrusion, and it is of the most specious order. It is not like that of the Corinthians, nor the Galatians. The snare the Colossians were in danger of was

[Page 231]

making man a contributor to the Christian; to make the natural man in mind and body contribute to Christianity. The mind and body are for Christ's service, but there is a great difference between being a servant and a contributor. "The borrower is servant to the lender". The body of the saint is to be a servant, not a contributor. Now the Colossians were bringing in both mind and body to contribute to Christianity. It was rationalism and ritualism combined, and this is what really has become the vogue now, and called a Christian man.

What is a Christian? You get it in chapter 2: 10, "Ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power". Someone has remarked: What do I want with your science or with your genuflexions? I am "complete in him"! Need I go farther? We can say, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ". Nothing would suit Christ but Himself; the church could have nothing else nor less. It is not that we contribute to Him, but we derive from Him a life and nature that alone can suit Him. We are fit to be His companions before we enjoy union. I do not believe any one enjoys union unless he enjoys companionship with Christ. You never get union in Canticles. Till the Holy Spirit is come, you neither know the power of the wave-sheaf, nor the two loaves; see Leviticus 23:11 - 17. That was the characteristic of the day of Pentecost; no free-will offering till then. Every believer is enjoying the benefit of the passover, but how many are there who are in enjoyment of the benefit of Pentecost having "fully come"? When Pentecost is "fully come" we have the two loaves, "a kind of first-fruits of his creatures", really the church now. Many godly, earnest men do not understand it. What would it have been to George Herbert if he had known it! Now the practical thing for us to maintain is that the day of Pentecost is "fully come". I say,

[Page 232]

by the way, that you never can be moved from Him if you are a member of His body. It is not only companionship. The word to the thief on the cross, "with me in paradise", means in company with Christ. But when Paul says in Philippians 1, "I ... desire to depart and to be with Christ", the word he uses expresses co-partnership with Him.

I come now to see why the mystery is brought in. It is really to protect them from religious flesh. Nothing will ever protect you from this snare but the mystery. People forget that every truth has its own speciality. If you look at the gospel history, I do not remember that the Lord ever cured two diseases in the same way. I only give that as an illustration, to show that every truth has its own speciality. If the truth of the Lord's supper was brought in to correct the Corinthians' intrusion, that of baptism was brought in to correct the Galatian. "As many of you as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ", Galatians 3:27. The Lord's supper is used to correct bad conduct; baptism to correct bad doctrine; but nothing can keep you from the Colossian intrusion but the mystery. When does the knowledge of the mystery come? If you turn to the previous chapter, verses 23 to 25, you will see there are two ministries; the ministry of the gospel and the ministry of the church. I believe they do join, but it would not be easy to say where one stops and the other begins. Still there are two.

Do you think a man could be really effectively in the ministry of the gospel, if he did not know the ministry of the church? I am not speaking of what a man teaches, but of what a man really knows. The ministry of the church is what the apostle desires to bring before them here, in order to preserve them from this intrusion of the flesh which the Colossians were in danger of. It is the good thing that really keeps out the bad. The simple soul will understand

[Page 233]

chapter 2: 10, "complete in him"! Thank God! I do not want anything more than Christ. You say, Do you object to studying science? I say, You cannot add to Christianity. I do not object to making a man a better vessel, but I have all I want in Christ, "Christ is all and in all". I condemn sanctimoniousness, but I wish there were more reverence. "Whatsoever you do, .. . do all in the name of the Lord Jesus". In Philippians 3, I have this Person. There it is experience, but here it is doctrine.

Now let us look a little at what the mystery is in itself. "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory", Colossians 1:27. That is not "the hope of glory" as an object, but "Christ in you the hope of glory" as a consequence. The point is Christ in you . Chapter 2: 18 is individual; in verse 19 you have "the Head", the Source of all. I believe that in all the divisions that have arisen, the great lack has been in understanding the Head. It is the Head from whence all comes. In Ephesians you get the whole body, the Christ, the growing together, "compacted by that which every joint supplieth". Here it is the Head that is brought prominently before us.

What I would turn to now is how this came. What really is the mystery that was kept secret from the foundation of the world? I will just present to you two or three scriptures: Matthew 22:44: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool". Now the first great step in understanding the mystery is that Christ who is rejected from this scene is exalted in heaven. He is rejected in Matthew 14, but in chapter 22: 44 it is still more definite: "Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool". He has gone away. He has changed His place. The rejection in chapter 14 leads to His saying, in chapter

[Page 234]

16, 'I will build a new structure,' "upon this rock I will build my church". Now we have a very definite thing. He is gone away, He is rejected. It is not that He has no right to the place where He is rejected. He has a right, but He has now another place. Now it becomes a very serious question, What is to become of His own in this place from which He is rejected and where He has no place? That is the great problem, and you never can solve it till you understand the mystery. The religious person cannot solve it. I believe anyone who really searches the Scriptures will see that no one is saved for earth now, but saved for heaven. The very hope of the gospel is heaven.

I turn now to Acts 7:55. Stephen is led by the Spirit of God to see in this new place a new centre. You say, There is nothing about the mystery there. That I grant you, but there is this fact that the Holy Spirit has come down and leads up the faithful witness, Stephen, the pattern man, to heaven. There is a new thing inaugurated here. All is changed. Jerusalem was the centre; the right hand is now the centre, everything now comes from above. The heavens are thrown open for the first time upon a man (I do not speak of our Lord, they opened on Him first). Stephen looks up and sees "the glory of God and Jesus". It is not only that He (Jesus) is there, but Stephen knows the great reception in which He is there. Christ's place is made known by the Holy Spirit to a man on earth. The new centre is now and henceforth "the right hand". Anyone who wants enlightenment as to this has only to look at the places where "the right hand" occurs.

Now turn to Acts 9:4. "Why persecutest thou me?" This is the first time that there ever was the slightest allusion to the mystery. When Christ, in humiliation, was bodily rejected from this earth by Jew and Gentile, and refused, in the person of Stephen,

[Page 235]

when exalted to God's right hand (the message sent after Him was, so to speak, "We will not have this man to reign over us"), then came out this wonderful secret. In the very place where Satan had led man to the climax of iniquity, where there is now no cloak for their sin, it is there this secret comes out. I think we do not enough take it to heart, that we are in the scene of Christ's rejection. You that are seeking honour in the world are seeking it from those who have crucified your Lord. The more you look at it, the more anomalous it appears. Now comes out that centre-piece, that wonderful secret, that great purpose before God for ever. The secret is that Christ's body is on the earth! Do you believe it, beloved friends? I believe it, though I may not be able to show it to you. The one great effort of Satan has been to frustrate the manifestation of Christ's body on earth. Why is it not more the subject upon our lips and upon our hearts? Do you say, We cannot manifest it, we cannot set it forth, so we give it up! No! The more we work for it, the more we have it, and the more God will support us. We shall be in the current of God's thoughts, in the trade winds, as it were, and not in the doldrums. You may have quiet times in the doldrums, but they will be immovable times, no progress. Many a one whom I have seen once vigorous and walking beside me, has now drifted away. What has he given up? The mystery. He would say, It is impossible, impracticable. I know the one prominent thing in the heart of God; it is the body of Christ. It could not be otherwise, because it is Christ in fulness. The apostle might have saved himself from persecution, but he says to Timothy, Do not give in! "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God", 2 Timothy 1:8. Do not give in, on the contrary,

[Page 236]

"the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also". Timothy was timid, but he was not to be intimidated.

To think that there is such a thing upon earth! Do you hear any prayer about it? Where are we drifting to? You may think that you are not able to propound it, but that is no reason why you should not look for it. What can be more wonderful than to think of angels seeing into the manifold wisdom of God through us? What a signal defeat of Satan! Do you wonder at his exasperation? I wonder he can tolerate one bit of heavenly colour down here. We are members of the exalted Man; we never were members of the Man in humiliation. Our business here is to set forth the features of the exalted Man in the very scene of His rejection, to defy Satan here. We are to set forth our exalted Head here in the very place where Satan worked upon us, as men in the flesh, to give Him no place. We are here in Christ's power to represent Him. Are we to give it up? No; thank God! Read John 17. You will never understand that chapter if you do not keep this simply before you; that it is all between Christ's heart and the Father's. Every word is to be fulfilled here on this very earth. The new Jerusalem will be the display of everything according to Christ. Not a single desire of His heart will be lost. That prayer in John 17 gives the full desire of the heart of Christ. How often we have read it and enjoyed it without knowing why. The reason is just this. There is nothing of our defalcations in it. We hear Him pouring out His heart, and our hearts delight in it. It is the pure stream poured into the Father's ear.

I only turn to one verse more. "For no one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Christ the assembly: for we are members of his body", Ephesians 5:29, 30. Everything is of Christ. We get everything from Him. The

[Page 237]

great thought in Ephesians 1 is to prove that we are so exalted with Christ, "accepted in the Beloved", that we are fitted to be brought into union. It is not that union brings us into this wonderful place. Union is the climax of everything. I am established in all that my heart delights in, but I am fitted to be His companion first. He is anointed "with oil of gladness" above His companions. We share with Him in the holiest of all; where Aaron was, there were his sons in type. It is remarkable enough they were reduced to two. We are of His life and nature: "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". Someone has said, that goes even beyond union. Royalty must be united to royalty; we are made royal to be made fit for union, before union is disclosed. What a delight to the heart to get hold of the simple practical fact. Talk of good works! Your walk is to be as Christ walked. Learn how Christ walked. You must be very near Him to learn it. As the Lord said to His disciples: "Without me ye can do nothing". That was the most cheering word, perhaps, they ever heard.

The Lord grant that each of our hearts may know the exceeding blessedness of being a member of the body of Christ, to walk about this world, setting Him forth in His beauty, in the very scene in which He has been rejected.

[Page 238]


Joshua 3

Jordan, we all know, was a type of the death of Christ. There are two great things connected with it: one is that we know we are over, through His death; and the other is, that being over in Him we have power over the enemies against us. You get it beautifully illustrated in Stephen. He was over, and he comes back in the power of Christ and faces the whole array of satanic power here on earth. It is a wonderful display of what divine power could effect. That was the effect of the death of Christ.

There are four aspects of the death of Christ. They all happened together, but we do not learn them all together. I will just go over them, because it is well to understand a little the history of the soul. Exodus 12 I turn to for the first; verse 13 says, "the blood shall be to you for a token". Most of you know the chapter. That, I may say, is the first apprehension the soul has of the death of Christ. The blood is that which really shelters from the judge. The mark and characteristic of a person who has learned that, is that he longs to get out of the place of judgment. I call Egypt the place of judgment; not exactly the world. He is longing to get out of it, and therefore he eats the passover in haste, with shoes on his feet and staff in his hand. I do not believe any one has a very deep sense of what the blood of Christ has effected for him, if he does not wish to get out of the place of judgment. He gets out of Egypt, away from Pharaoh. To me it is exactly like a man in the life-boat. The sailors may tell him he is perfectly safe in the life-boat, but he would like to get to land. He wants to get out of the place where he has been exposed to such imminent danger, simply because he knows the tremendous danger he was in. That is the first aspect.

[Page 239]

Now turn to Exodus 14 for another aspect. There they are in terrible trouble because of Pharaoh; they are saved from the place of judgment, but not from the Egyptians who exposed them to the judgment. The command to Moses was: Bring them out from the hand of the Egyptians. The Egyptians represent man in enmity against God and therefore under the power of death, and hence what Moses now tells them to comfort them is: "The Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever". The Red Sea sets forth the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He entered into death "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death". You see, beloved friends, when you take that into account, what a wonderful place we are put into! No one before Christ's death could say death was abolished. Look at Hezekiah. Death was not gone for him. Death is not before us now, but life. The apostle says "Lay hold on eternal life". That could not be till Christ had "abolished death", and "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel". It is wonderful the difference between them and us. It is all contrast. Death before them, life before us; sin before them, holiness before us. "These things write I unto you, that ye sin not". I believe the bottom of all imperfection is the light sense there is of sin. I do not speak of sins, but sin. You never learn what sin is in God's sight but in the cross. It is not the judgment of hell fire that tells us what sin is, but the cross. If you knew what sin is in the sight of God, you would want to have it put away. You cannot tolerate any movement of sin. "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord". In verse 27 the Egyptians are gone, to be seen no more for ever. I connect Exodus 12 with Romans 3:25: "whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in his blood"; and I connect Exodus 15 with the ending

[Page 240]

of Romans 4. What characterises a person who has learned that? The morning has appeared, that wonderful morning of resurrection when all is clear, and the eye of God rests upon that blessed One who has done it all. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? ... thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" What is the result of victory? A song. Do not imagine anyone can sing till then! People try to make young converts sing; they must get to shore first; they must have the sense that the morning of redemption has appeared, that they are clear of the place and of the man that exposed them to judgment.

There are three great characteristics connected with the song. First, The Lord "hath triumphed gloriously"; you glory in the Person who has achieved the victory. Second, you must provide Him a place: "I will prepare him an habitation"; you could not be happy here without His having a habitation. Third, you go to His habitation. "Thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation". But He places you in the wilderness here. I think very few people know what the wilderness is. It is entire dependence upon God. The richer a man is, the more he feels the wilderness, if he is dependent upon God, because he has resources, but cannot turn to his resources. Israel had nothing but a bare wilderness; but we are placed where we have the power to gratify ourselves, but we deny ourselves that is Marah.

"When we our tastes deny,
Where we could gratify,
We suffer bitterly,
But sweet is liberty!"

What marks the wilderness is entire dependence upon God. The more resources you have, the more you must be as though you had none. I am not to

[Page 241]

use my resources one bit more than my blessed Lord did who had all resources. Your whole resource must be in God. That marks a certain stage in your Christian history.

I turn now to the third aspect; Numbers 21. After thirty-nine years, the terrible nature of the people came out; "the people spake against God". They were bitten of serpents, the source of all evil, and made sensible of the poison in their nature; suffering under it. Moses was told to put a brazen serpent upon a pole; he that looked, lived; he had practically life outside himself. You get the antitype to that in John 3. It is another aspect of the death of Christ. John does not begin with the blood upon the lintel; it is the aspect of the death of Christ Godward; but, for us, the same death. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven". You could not have anything from heaven till some one came out of heaven. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up". Who is the antitype of the serpent? The Son of man who was lifted up. The brazen serpent never did the wrong; but it was made in the likeness of what did the wrong. Thus, in Romans 8, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh ". It is not, He forgave it, but He condemned it. He that looks, lives, and not only lives, but there is the river of God in that same chapter; they sang, "Spring up, O well!" They are outside the wilderness now. It is a heavenly life, but a heavenly life consequent upon a Man being "lifted up". The Lord says, as it were, I bore the judgment on your side that you might have the blessedness of My side. There is fulfilled what you get in Romans 8:2: "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". I have the life of the

[Page 242]

One with whom I died. I affectionately ask you to keep that saying often in your mind; I have the life of the One with whom I died . I am not a bit dead myself. Holiness by faith people say, I am dead; that is not truth. I am not a bit dead, but I have died with Him. Other people talk about death to nature. Another novel notion that has come out is, that I must apply the death of Christ to get power over sin. All are wrong. The truth is, I have died with Him, and I am in His life. "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him". "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ". I repeat it, I have the life of the One with whom I died . "I am crucified with Christ", I have done with the "I"; "nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me". I am not looking for a feeling. It is not the expulsive power of a new sentiment, but the expulsive power of a new Person. What is gain to me I count loss for a Person. A person has all the qualities of his life about him. It is not mere sentiment; it is what Christ is Himself; we have seen Him. "Christ liveth in me". It is not simply that I am gone, that the Egyptian is gone, but I have life and liberty in Him. I am free.

It is wonderful how the soul travels. When you have reached resurrection, the morning has appeared indeed! But what troubles? The working of sin in yourself. It does work, no doubt. But I have liberty in His life. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free". That is not forgiveness. I am free. I am now travelling in a new life. "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". That is the antitype of the well of Numbers 21. I am really brought now by the Spirit of God into an entirely new kind of life. What kind? A heavenly one; therefore, when John speaks

[Page 243]

of eternal life, he starts with the brazen serpent; you start in the liberty of life.

I turn now to Colossians 2:20 for a moment: "dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world". I remember I said at a reading, Many a person is clear of Romans 7 who is not experimentally over Jordan; an objection was made to it, but it was overcome. But still I do not think now there is a complete deliverance until you are over Jordan. There is the same expression in Romans and in Colossians. In Romans you are dead with Christ to sin; in Colossians you are dead with Christ to the rudiments of the world. Romans only goes so far as to say, dead to sin. What would you like next? I would like to leave the place where it is. Then I find, "dead with Christ to the rudiments of the world", Colossians 2:20. When I am in eternal life I am in the sphere where Christ is, and I have parted company with the sphere where natural life is, yet the very power that has carried me over and made my heart know that I am in a new sphere, where Christ is, enables me to fulfil here upon earth all the duties and ordinances of this life in a new power and in an excellency which I never knew before. Thus, for instance, Ephesians is the only epistle where you get the education of your children: you are told to bring them up in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord". The nearer I get to God, the better I can carry out the ordinances of God. In Ephesians I get, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church". In Colossians (where I am only going into possession, not in it, though possession is ours) I find, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them".

I go back now to Joshua 3 and just look at what it is to be over. I believe a great many people are over Jordan who have never accepted Jordan. Many have enjoyed the scene where Christ is, who have never

[Page 244]

accepted the place. I am in the sphere where Christ is, tasting the actual nature of eternal life. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent". I know what a solemn thing it is. The Lord brings the reality oftentimes before us. Would you pass over and leave everything here behind you? That is what I call accepting Jordan. It is all clear, the moment I see that all belongs to me. I am just as much entitled to be over Jordan as I am to be out of Egypt. Thus the Lord says to the thief on the cross, You go all the way today. We can hardly believe in the wonderful magnitude of divine grace to transfer a man from the deepest degradation to the highest place in paradise, in company with the Lord Jesus Himself; brought into the enjoyment of it that day, He got rid of the encumbrance. How? By learning, I have the life of the One who has obtained heaven for me.

A man who has only learned the shelter of the blood is occupied with relief; but the man who knows the place Christ has obtained for him, is occupied with his boundless resource in the blessed God; it is this which fills his heart. "That ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit".

Salvation is not only being saved from, but saved to . Let us look at the chapter a moment. There are two things. You are over; and I trust many of us can say, I have lost sight of everything, I am so happy with the Lord, but that is not accepting Jordan. I had better give you an illustration. I have seen a person apprehending a great trial, ready for it; the trial never came! It is looking death straight in the face, as another has said. What I say is this, I am so sure that is my place, that the death of Christ has obtained it for me, my heart has so realised the power that has brought me there, that if all close here, I have accepted it; that is my right place. What is

[Page 245]

the actual result of that? You come back, or rather, you resume here by the very power that put you up there. You got up there by the power of life out of death; the very same power that put you there, outside of all this sphere, enables you to walk in divine superiority to everything here, as Stephen did, victorious in presence of death. "I triumph in thy triumphs, Lord". I know what the power of Christ is. It is the fulfilment of Joshua 3:10: "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you". How do you practise it? Not, like Samson, by knocking down all your enemies, but, on the contrary, overcoming evil with good. What a wonderful position we can trace our history to! The Lord grant our hearts may know what it is!

I would have you exercise your hearts about it, that you may enter into the wonderful reality. I do not say, Part company with all here and have to do with it; but I say, When you are in the sphere of eternal life you are in the sphere where Christ is, and you are apart from natural things, but you come back to act practically with divine power in them. I turn to the Lord that our hearts may know this wonderful thing in this poor world. I trust we have all tasted of the unspeakable joy of it for a moment; but may we not only taste it, but know that it is our settled place by the death of Christ, and that we have as good a right to know it as our abiding place as we have to be sheltered by the blood in Egypt.

The Lord grant that each may know it, for His name's sake.

[Page 246]


John 3:12, 15

What I desire to bring before you is what we are; not the practical side, but what we are . I will divide it into two parts; one respecting the gospel; the other, respecting the assembly.

We are made for heaven, we are heavenly, not of the earth, though on it. When the truth first came out, we tried to carry it out in the wrong way, turning away from this thing and that thing in order to be heavenly. That is legality. I remember the effect it had on me when someone said, "We are heavenly". We do not like to say it, because we so little act up to it.

In the gospel we are entitled to heaven, our joys come from heaven now. In the church we are placed there now. It is the devil's device to separate the gospel from the church; it is a masterpiece of iniquity so to separate the two that one can hold the gospel but ignore the church. You cannot divorce what God has put together. The lack I find in souls is, that while they know that their sins are forgiven, they do not know their new place.

What place have you? Is it earth or heaven? It could not possibly be earth, for Christ was rejected from the earth. It has a great moral effect upon a person to be able to say, 'I have a place in heaven, I have no property on earth at all, it is all in heaven.' "Who shall give you that which is your own?" Luke 16:12. It is the Lord's property I have on earth, but in heaven I have my own. In the garden of Eden, man lost his place; man is lost; the question to him then is, First - Where art thou? then - What hast thou done? Every believer seeks to be

[Page 247]

clear as to the latter, but very few are clear about the former.

In the Old Testament I do not find that the man driven out of Eden is superseded by a man in a new place with God. In the Psalms I get a sense of shelter and care, and I get the glory of the Lord dwelling in the cloud in the midst of His people. But in the New Testament I am not only relieved from my misery, not only have I got pardon and acceptance, but I have a place where God is; for this I must be a new man. Is this on earth? No. Christ has been rejected from the earth. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven". This passage makes it clear that the Old Testament saints had no place in heaven. The lost man could not enter heaven. How could the man driven out of Eden ascend to heaven?

When the new thing came out, it was said of Stephen, "He .. . looked up stedfastly into heaven ". The heavens are opened: the first time they were ever opened upon man, except on Christ. True, Enoch went to God: he was the seventh from Adam, in type the completed man (who is really Christ); "God took him"; he got a place with God.

I turn now to Luke's gospel. Read the end of chapter 7. Every believer knows that he is forgiven, that his offences are cleared away; but the lack is this, that while he knows that he was guilty, and that he is now clear of guilt, he does not really know what it is to be found, as one once lost. We were not only guilty but lost, and we are not merely forgiven, but we are given a place with God. One who had been at the greatest distance, the lost one, is made meet for the Father's house. In Luke 7 the woman the sinner, comes to Jesus; an affection is established between her and the Saviour; her sins are forgiven, but with no sense of a new place with God and fitness for it. That is where thousands are now; they know

[Page 248]

they are forgiven, but they have not the joy of being brought to God. Now in Luke 10:30 - 37 the sinner is cured, carried, and cared for all the journey, until "I come again". Very blessed, you may say; so it is, but there is no new place with God there; it is all man's benefit in the place where he is. We must bear in mind that man was driven out of Eden, and in order that he should obtain a new place with God he must be a man after a new order.

Now look at Luke 14:15. "And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God". What did that man mean? He meant that when God had full sway, the earth would be a beautiful place. The Lord replies by saying, "A certain man made a great supper". That was a greater thing. The supper was in the house; the house gives a character to the supper; it is the finish of the gospel; we have come to our place now, to the festivities of the Father's house. So the prodigal in chapter 15 is not only forgiven, but he is fitted to enter the house, and to be merry there. If you have not reached the place for which God has fitted you, you have not answered to the delights of His heart, but you are keeping the place of the lost man. The prodigal, as to himself, only wanted to be saved from misery, he had no thought of a new place with his father. If you have not come to the Father's house, you have not met the desire of the Father's heart for you. The great point of Luke 15 is the joy of the finder; the joy of the Father's heart in having you; not merely in saving you, but in having you; and for Him to have you, you cannot be of that order of man who was driven out of Eden; you must of necessity be a man of a new order. You will never have divine joys in your soul unless you have reached the new place. What hinders it? Earthly things, not sinful things; no saint wants sinful things; but earthly

[Page 249]

things are the hindrance; the bit of land, oxen, wife; beautiful things in themselves. I have another place and I draw my joys from that place. I know it is inconceivable. I feel at times as if I must bow under the weight of the fact, that the blessed God delights in my company. Do not believe in love that does not desire your company. If you give up things here, what is the recompense? The Lord's company; that was what Peter started with in Luke 5. You will not understand your place with the Lord till you understand this. The Lord grant that we may enjoy our place.

I turn now to John 3, the doctrinal side of it. Jordan was just as much a type of the death of Christ as was the blood upon the lintel and the Red Sea. Every believer knows something of the first two, but what about the brazen serpent and Jordan? I have the life of the One who has died out of this place. This is not the sphere for eternal life. "Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him", 1 Thessalonians 5:10. Do not look at Jordan as something afar from you. You are just as much entitled to be over Jordan as out of Egypt. It is a blessed thing when your heart finds out what Christ is. First, He never leaves you; that is the manna, what Christ is to you; next, as in Canticles, the reciprocity of affection; but that is not union. Affection prepares for union, but it is not union. Many are up in Ephesians who have not much enjoyment. Why? Because there is not the affection which can only be satisfied with union. But I want you to insist upon what you are, not on your experience, but on your title to what Christ's death has effected for you. It has given you a title to a new place. Paul was caught up to heaven; 2 Corinthians 12. The thief on the cross was a practical example of it; he was taken from the depths of sin and degradation to the greatest delights in paradise. Can anything affect your heart so much as the way the man in Christ is

[Page 250]

received in the new place? What I press now is the right that we have to be in the place, and that it is not only that I delight to be there, but the ineffable thought is that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ delights to have me in His place, sharing His joys.

Turn to Colossians 3. There I find heaven is my place, I have a right to it. So in John 14, the Lord says, "I go to prepare a place for you". Adam was driven out of Eden, but I am come now in Christ to another place, the Father's house; I have a place in heaven.

In every departure from the truth the heavenly thing is given up. There is nothing so difficult to retain. Peter in his first epistle, begins with "a living hope". In his second epistle he says, 'the Lord is coming; do not let your heart rest in things on the earth; all these are to be burnt up'; and of Paul, he says, ".. . in all his epistles speaking in them of these things ... hard to be understood". Paul says, as it were, to those in a ship, 'You had better go on shore, to heaven.' Then Peter adds, 'Do not stay, the ship is on fire.' Saints are settling down upon the earth. They have the wrong place before them. If you have not your place in heaven before you, you cannot run aright. The epistles of Peter and the Hebrews both speak of running to the place. Do your ways declare that you are running to heaven? Why do you not throw aside the weights and run swiftly?

In Romans 6, I find I am dead to sin; now pursue this, and you will find you are dead to the place too. This I get in Colossians 2:20; and in chapter 3, the apostle instructs them about entering the place. In Romans I get "newness of life". Romans does not go beyond that. Thank God, I have a new life, and I belong to the new place. I know how disjointedly I am bringing this out, but the Lord often fits into the soul a very disjointed statement.

[Page 251]

In Joshua 5 you come to Gilgal. In the wilderness it is Marah; that is, I refuse the thing for which Christ died, I do not gratify myself; but at Gilgal the whole thing is gone. You are dead with Christ; the reproach of Egypt rolled off in the circumcision of Christ, the cross; it cannot be resumed. "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God ... mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth". You are out of earth and in heaven. Like a recruit, he drops all of the civilian at the barrack gate in order to be made into a soldier. The old cannot disappear anywhere else but inside the barrack gate; that is Gilgal; there is nothing there but the new order; nothing there but Christ.

If you do not reach the place you do not feed on the corn of the land, Christ in glory. Paul says, "Lay hold on eternal life"; that is the result of knowing Christ in glory. If I do not, I do not know present association with Him. Souls are occupied with Christ where He was, that is the wilderness; but how many know Christ where He is? Nothing satisfies the heart, but present association. I want to know Him where He is at this moment; that is Philippians 3. How little one's heart knows of Him up there! You do not satisfy His heart about you if you do not know Him there, nor can you be truly in service either. You must get direction from Himself. No one can rightly serve, but in communion with Him where He is. As a member of His body I am placed there and, as I am there with Him, I learn to be here for Him.

The Lord grant that we may know truly how the gospel entitles us to heaven, and that in the assembly we are placed there for His name's sake.

[Page 252]


John 15:26

I feel I must bring before you what we are called to, the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 is what relates to ourselves; "The Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name", but chapter 15: 26 is testimony for Christ. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father ... HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME". These go together. If you do not make God's interests yours, you are not going on rightly: if you do not carry out chapter 15: 26 you will not have the comfort of chapter 14: 26. Many would like the latter who avoid the former. The doctrine of Christ is divided into four parts: First, His death and resurrection. Every believer owns this.

Second, He is gone to heaven.

Third, He has sent down the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, He is coming again.

Everyone owns the first, but many skip the next two and go on to the coming. The second and third parts relate to the present time. If you are right for the present, you will be right for the future. Many drop the present. The tendency of every one is to turn back to a dispensation which he is not in. Why is there reluctance to be in the present? Because you cannot be there without the power of God, the trade winds; that is, the line in which He is working, and from which He does not diverge. This is what we get in chapter 15: 26, "He shall testify of me". It is all He; not one bit of man will bring you out for an exalted Christ. In chapter 15 the Holy Spirit is sent down by Christ to testify of Him. In chapter 14 He is sent by the Father for your comfort; but both

[Page 253]

Christ in heaven and the Holy Spirit on earth are the present parts. In chapter 15 it is not only to comfort us, but to "testify of me ".

What is really the interest of Christ now? The exalted One is to be testified of by us; the assembly is the vessel; the power is the Holy Spirit. The church is in ruins; that is, what man has built, not what Christ has built; but the Holy Spirit is here to maintain the name of the One who has been here, in the same power and energy as the first day in which He came.

Are we in the "fellowship of the Spirit"? We know something of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the love of God, but what do we know of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? There are two forces opposed to one another, the Holy Spirit and the world. The Holy Spirit is the direct witness against the world: the world is the culprit in the dock, the Holy Spirit is the witness in the witness-box. You must be with one or the other. Christendom would like to have a leg in each, in the dock and in the witness-box. Unless you have dependence and surrender (see Luke 18) you are not kept from the world. If you are with the Holy Spirit against the world, you will meet with opposition; but all the resources of God are upon the earth to maintain the testimony in all the force in which He came down. Our testimony exposes us to collision. You may not know the force against you, because you are not in the force of the Holy Spirit. If you are, the devil will oppose you. It is those who go right on their way that he wants; he has the others. The one stepping out most is the one the devil marks for ruin; he tries to bribe him; if he cannot succeed that way he will try to crush him. But we have One for us who is greater than he that is against us. "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world".

I do ask the Lord that each may know that all the

[Page 254]

resources of God are upon the earth to maintain the testimony. What will exasperate the devil more than seeing a company here setting forth the One who was rejected here?

Why have you not come in contact with the power of the enemy? Because you have never been in the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes down from the exalted Christ. Babylon is the aim and acme of the world; they expect a future for the world; that is Babylon. As I walk down the street I see every man contributing to either of the two cities, Babylon or the new Jerusalem.

God always had an interest on the earth. Abraham is called out; God takes an interest in man on the earth. The testimony of Abraham's day was, No possession here, but to walk with God in separation from natural claims. As Abraham adhered to that simple call, he was in the power of God.

What is the first trait of a man walking with God on earth? He has faith in God. Abraham leaves country and kindred, he looks "for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God". As long as he adhered to that testimony, how well and happy he was! When he went down to Egypt he got out of the line of the testimony. The moment you are diverted from God's line you are out of the trade winds. Look at Jacob in Genesis 32 and 33; he had been twenty years out of the land, and has now come back. God meets him and blesses him. Now he says, as it were, Why should I not have a little resting-place? He buys a piece of land and settles at Shalem. People say, Why should I give up what I have? Well, if you are seeking your own comfort you may be on the right ground, like Jacob, but you are not in the testimony, you are not walking in faith. A man of faith obeys God, trusts in God, waits for Him. We all know something of Genesis 34, though we would like to draw a veil over it. Jacob was brought to shame in

[Page 255]

the place where he had sought ease. If we are not in the trade winds, we are in the doldrums. Many are like Jacob. They have retired from the world, but are living in comfort, living for themselves, and they are not in the trade winds.

The next testimony is possession. How many who came out of Egypt got possession of the land? Six hundred thousand were saved out of Egypt, and only two got into Canaan, for the others would not go on to the finish, they never had possession; you may start well, and yet not go on to the finish.

In Judges 2 a third testimony comes in; that is, to keep possession. You are not only to be a man of faith, having no possession here, but you must go up and possess, and in that very place where you were tested. Caleb got Hebron, where the giants were. If you walk with God, the spot that most intimidates you is the spot of your greatest victory, and you not only get possession but keep it. The extermination of the old man is keeping possession. If you attend to God's interests He supports you. The book of Judges is typical. We find there that Israel did not keep possession because they did not drive out the inhabitants of the land, and these were left as thorns in their sides.

God's interest in David's time is the city, in Solomon's time the house. In the book of Haggai I find that God's interest is the house and that is the thing the man of God is set for. Wherever a man failed, you will always find it was when he diverged from God's present interest. I see over and over again in this day, that when one has departed from the line of interest in which God is, he is like a bird with a wounded wing, cannot fly and only complains. Once he could fly, and now he is a deplorable object. You lose the power if you do not use it; using it really strengthens it. What a melancholy picture we get in Haggai 1; they had come up to God's land,

[Page 256]

and had begun to build, but they had ceased. What had hindered these returned captives? See chapter 1: 9: "Ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man to his own house". You have not God's interest without getting opposition. We find in Ezra that they were opposed by the false brethren. Do not be surprised by opposition; but do not give up God's interest. What is the matter with you? Have you given up God's interest? There is a touching word in chapter 2: 19, "Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you".

The case of Daniel has helped me much. In Babylon he opened his window and prayed towards Jerusalem; his heart was there. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning". You say, What a broken up condition all is in! Yes; but are you going to let it be more so? No, beloved friends, let each one say, If no one else stands, I will stand. An officer in the army has been known to tear the colours from the staff and put them in his breast and say, 'You'll have to take me before you take the colours.'

Look at the Lord in His day, when He comes to the temple and finds the state of things, in John 2. "And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out.. .. And said.. .. Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up".

Turn to Luke 21. There I find a poor widow casting her two mites into the treasury (widows were different in that day, they had no provision), giving

[Page 257]

all her living for the temple, God's interest. There is an instance of a heart that is set for God. If you are set for God's interest, all the resources of God are at your back; but we are like a general who has all the resources for war, but has not the men. We are each of us called to the conflict; be valiant for Christ.

Now I come to the church, God's interest now . Read Matthew 16:18. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell (hades) shall not prevail against it". That is the house; ostensibly it is in ruins; but the fact remains, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". Nothing is more dangerous than to sentimentalise about Christianity. Get hold of a fact. If you talk about your feelings, you will lose them; the fact remains. The fact here is, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". There is an impregnable fortress on the earth. Matthew 16 is the house in relation to His rejection on the earth. Acts 9:4 is the body. If you have not simple faith about the body on earth, you play into the hands of the devil. The truth of the body came out consequent on the persecution of the saints, as the truth of the house had come out on His own rejection. Where He was bodily refused, His body is. I cannot show it, but I believe it. Satan has not gained the day, Christ's body is here. The house was to be the setting forth of His pleasure. The body is the inner working of the organisation. In Ephesians you get "compacted" together. "The Christ" is the great word in Ephesians, the whole structure. You will not understand the unity of the Spirit if you do not see this. The Holy Spirit is here; we have to exercise our hearts about it. He dwells in the house and in each believer.

I come now to where the trouble comes in. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:15, "all they which are in Asia be turned away from me". The masterpiece of

[Page 258]

satanic iniquity is to separate the heavenly truth, or the assembly, the body of Christ, from the gospel. Those in Asia did not turn away from the gospel, but from the truth for which Paul was the ambassador.

You say to me, perhaps, 'Are you opposed to the gospel?' I say, No . But it is a lamentable thing how little the assembly is thought of now. I am a great upholder of the gospel, but I see the effort of the enemy is to separate the gospel from heavenly truth. You cannot separate them. Where does an evangelist get his commission? From heaven. Do you bring souls to heaven? If you come from heaven you must bring souls to heaven. It is a remarkable thing that the servant who was greatest for the assembly was the greatest evangelist. I do not ask an evangelist to preach the assembly, but to be for it. The Lord has given the evangelist a commission to go and preach for His great interest here on earth. What is Christ's chief interest? Could you spend a day with any friend without finding out his chief interest? If you do not begin with the assembly in service of any kind, you will blunder. I start from the point where Christ's heart is, and work from it, till I work back to it. That is the true servant.

I will just refer to Matthew 13:44. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field". Well, His treasure is here. How little one's heart gets hold of it! His treasure is on earth . Every one walking in the Holy Spirit would be in fellowship with the heart of Christ, and used for this purpose, to "testify of me ".

Whatever I do, let me stand up for Christ's interest no matter if the company be reduced to a handful. The sun that sets is the same sun that rises. The remnant, the bit left, has the beautiful traits of the beginning; the sun must go down in its own beauty.

[Page 259]

Turn to John 21:22, "If I will that he tarry till I come". The Lord says, as it were, Why should I not have a John when I come back? People think nothing will tarry till He comes, but He will have a John.

Turn to Revelation 22: 17. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". No one can invite the Lord to come who is not occupied with Him in His present interests. It is not becoming for any one to say "Come", who is not ready for Him to come. A true-hearted wife would cast her eye all round, to have everything in order for her husband who was coming home. The Lord is coming. It is a beautiful thing to be able to say, "Come". The bride is the administrative exponent of Christ on the earth. She turns round to one who is not ready, and says, You say, "Come"; then "let him that is athirst come", and "Whosoever will ". She proclaims to every one on the earth, she must gather up every one belonging to Him, have every one ready for His coming.

The Lord grant we may know truly the presence of the Holy Spirit on the earth and be His instruments here.

[Page 260]


2 Corinthians 3:18

Beholding the Lord's glory in His unveiled face we are "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord".

Beloved friends, this shows the wonderful effect of association with the Lord's glory, and this is in connection with the gospel, its finish. The apostle is here showing the contrast between the demand for righteousness from the glory in the time of law, and the ministration of righteousness from the glory now through grace. What you seek, conscious of your need, would be to be thoroughly clear in the glory. Now, instead of glory making a demand upon you, there is actually a ministration of righteousness to you from it. Hence the apostle argues, if the ministration of condemnation be glory, how much more shall the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory! That is the wonderful grace we have today, not only to be clear of everything once against us, but made to correspond to the very glory where we are cleared. Nothing can be more wonderful than that such language could be used concerning us; "changed into the same image ". No English word would properly express the meaning of the word for 'changed'. Beholding the Lord's glory we are assimilated to it. It is not equality, but similarity; and the more you ponder it, the more you will understand the greatness of it.

Now turn to Isaiah 6:5 -7. "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the

[Page 261]

tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged".

The prophet is perfectly clear before the throne; that is the most you get before Christianity and the gospel of the glory of Christ. Now contrast that with verse 18 of the chapter before us. How immense is the advance! Isaiah is perfectly clear before the glory; but now the glory makes me correspond to itself. It is not simply I am free, and there is not a charge against me. That is quite true, and so it was with Isaiah. Here we see one of the seraphims took a live coal from off the altar, and coming to Isaiah, he says, as it were, 'I utterly refuse you, but on the ground of the coal taken from off the altar, I entirely clear you'; and he was cleared, his iniquity taken away, and his sin purged, but that was all.

That is a great deal, but that is not the gospel of the glory of Christ. In the gospel I am not only cleared, but I am made to correspond to the glory of the One who has cleared me. Therefore in the next chapter we have "the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ".

I have no doubt, speaking of separation and taking a separate place here, that nothing can give the same character of separation as any measure of correspondence with the glory of the Lord. I am sure it humbles us to think how little we are transformed into the same image. The greatest potentate on this earth might allow you into his presence, but he could not make you to correspond to his dignity. It is one of the most wonderful expressions of the grace that has come to us, that not only are we cleared from all that is contrary to the glory, but transformed into the same image in the very place where we were so contrary to it.

Transformed is a word we cannot fully express in English. It is metamorphosed. It means you are

[Page 262]

transformed as in Romans 12, "be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed". Among the Greeks it was understood as being turned into a new being. Of course, I could give you but a very feeble idea of it. A caterpillar turned into a butterfly is an imperfect illustration. It is not an addition to a person, nor a great alteration, but you are entirely changed.

Now, you behold the Lord's glory with unveiled face. There is no veil on His face, the full glory of God rests upon Him. He is the antitype of the ark of the covenant. The effulgence of the glory that was over the ark of the covenant now rests in fulness on Jesus. He glorified God in death, and now every ray of divine glory rests on Him. Hence we get in the next chapter that remarkable word, "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". Glory is fully come out now. God always was love, but He could not declare it without righteousness. Now there is a ministration of righteousness from the glory, and there is no hindrance to the outflow of His love. "Beholding .. . the glory of the Lord"; the expression of God's satisfaction according to all the attributes of His nature, now all resting on a Man, and that Man, the Lord Jesus Christ! And the practical effect for us, beloved friends, of beholding the Lord's glory without a veil, is that we are changed (metamorphosed) into the same image.

The practical point is, How is this effected? Let me give you examples. I could give you some idea of it from the Old Testament. Look at Psalm 73:17, "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction". Compare that with verse 4, "For there are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm". The psalmist has changed his mind altogether. And what has caused this complete change in

[Page 263]

him? It is produced by God's power and glory in the sanctuary. It is an illustration of the change we have been speaking of, and shows that the place he now occupies is entirely outside of man. He had been looking at things here as a man, but when he gets inside with God, all is reversed. Instead of modifying his judgment, he reverses it completely.

I will give you two more examples from the New Testament. We often use the words, "changed into the same image". Did you ever make proof of it? We may always prove a thing by its effect. As people say, Taste and see. If you are not changed you are not "beholding". It is a wonderful statement, and I am often confounded by it; "Beholding .. . the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image". But I have proved it for myself; I have gone to the Lord about a thing that I thought looked proper; and I have gone a second time, and still it looked the proper thing; and a third or perhaps a fourth time, and have found that it was not approved of, that it was not the proper thing at all. Thus I was brought into moral correspondence with the Lord's mind about it, and that is how it is brought about.

Turn now to Philippians 4:6. "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus". I know this is a very familiar passage to us all, but come now, tell me how many have you seen in the peace of God? Did you ever know it yourself? Oh, yes, you say, I have been to God about a thing and come away quite resigned about it. Oh! but that is not what we get here, "the peace of God which PASSETH ALL understanding". It could not be comprehended by the natural mind. It is such an amazing thing; you would not know

[Page 264]

yourself. It passeth ALL understanding. Well, how do I get it? I go to Him. I get so near to Him, that I actually acquire the very state that corresponds with that in which He is Himself! I can understand a person saying, Oh, now you are speaking parables! No, I am only saying what is written; I know very well how far short I am of it, but that is what it is. The word 'make known' does not mean that God does not know, but I know I told Him. I do not say you get it the first time you go, nor the second, nor perhaps the third, but I know it can be got. Philippians used to be a very trying book to me till I saw it was the experience of a heavenly man. Now I see that I am in another order of things, and there I am morally transformed and knowing "the peace of God which passeth all understanding". It is what no human mind can grasp.

Turn now to 2 Corinthians 12:7 - 9, "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me".

Once you get a principle from Scripture, you will find it confirmed everywhere. Now in this verse 7, it is extremely interesting to see the apostle; he is come down from the third heaven, the highest scene, and is immediately assailed by the messenger of Satan, no doubt to hinder him, and the Lord allows it. He goes to the Lord about it, and asks Him to remove it, but He does not do so. He goes a second time, but still the Lord does not remove it. He goes a third time, and now he is an entirely changed man. A while ago he was trying to get rid of the thorn, but

[Page 265]

now on the contrary he says, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities". Why, I say, how is it you are so changed? Well, he says, I have been with the Lord and His order of things, and it is by beholding His glory that I have been brought right round to His mind. It was not that I did this thing or the other, I simply went to Him and He morally transformed me to His will. Thus a very extraordinary change takes place in you, you are quite altered from what you were.

I only give you these examples just to prove the effect of beholding the Lord's glory, and I desire that the Lord would fasten on your heart and mind the wonderful excess of grace that has come to us through the gospel. It is not only that by the blood of the Lamb I am without a spot, and can go into the holiest of all, but what I say is, and it is the height of all blessedness, beholding His glory I am transformed into the same image, into the very highest condition, into consonance with His glory, the expression of His satisfaction according to all His attributes. Not love apart from righteousness, nor righteousness apart from love; but now not a single attribute of God is wanting, the circle is complete, and I am made to share in the whole range of it. And how? By looking at the Lord's glory.

I have no doubt in my mind by the way people speak, that they do not reach this. They say they are looking at the Lord, and thus their speech betrayeth them. I say, You have left out a word. What word? Glory . It is looking at the Lord's glory . Why is it necessary to put in that word? Because it is the expression of God's satisfaction according to all the attributes of His nature, resting on the One who has accomplished my redemption. And beholding it, I am transformed into the same image, into conformity to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; in the face of the One who bore my judgment, and glorified

[Page 266]

God under the weight of it! And beholding His glory, I am changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Lord grant we may not only hear about it, but understand it, to the praise and glory of Him who wrought it, for His name's sake.

[Page 267]


1 Corinthians 7:21

I desire to say a few words on service. The first thing is, I am Christ's bondman. Many dwell on the benefit of Christ's death more than on what He went through to effect the benefit. Nothing would touch us so much as the Lord's supper, if we really entered into the death of Christ. If we did, we should shrink from everything here for which Christ died. No death could put me into the same character of isolation as His death; it isolates me more from this world than the death of every relative I ever had.

Under the law there was not the ability, the power, for true service; now I have the power. You are freed, in Christ's life, from the old man. You are His bondman; everything you have belongs to Him; you ought to be sensible of your duty to Him, and besides this, that your heart delights to serve Him.

Turn to another scripture: Proverbs 31:10 - 31: "Who can find a virtuous woman? ... The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her". I am not only Christ's bondman, but I am in the closest tie of relationship to Him; there is therefore both responsibility and affection; and I am thus ready to do exactly what He tells me, to serve under His direction, and in concert with His mind; not like an officious servant who is always suggesting, instead of waiting for direction.

The Holy Spirit is the only power for service. Anything of man is a hindrance. The Holy Spirit must do it all. You have no link with Christ but in the Holy Spirit. It is not merely what Christ has

[Page 268]

done, but He Himself, in the glory of God, is the testimony. The servant of Christ has two motives in serving Him: one is that of duty, and the other, that of affection. His service is my greatest gain. The apostle Paul thanked God for putting him into the ministry. "If any man serve me, let him follow me". You are a true servant in proportion as you follow in the path of death; the servant must be a sufferer. When Abraham heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants and went forth to rescue him. The check to service is the lack of self-denial, and there is very little of it amongst us now.

First, then, I start in service from duty and from affection. Everything right is founded on righteousness. I start with the sense that it is my duty to serve Christ, for I am His bondman to do His will; and, besides this, affection to Him makes His service my interest and delight.

Secondly, I act under His direction, and according to His pleasure; not because opportunity offers. I require His direction, and the knowledge of His pleasure, however favourable the opportunity or the occasion. Opportunity is not to guide me. I see a servant in Acts 8 taken away from an interesting field of work, to meet one man in the desert. It is not a question of how you do the work, or how you succeed; but have you the assurance that you are doing the Lord's pleasure?

In Numbers 8 we find that the Levites were a gift to Aaron and his sons. They were offered up before the Lord instead of the firstborn. In Hebrews 12:23 we are the church of the firstborn ones (plural). We are all priests to God and Levites, and we are to be the expression here on earth of what we are inside the veil. No Levite could act but from the priest. You are a priest inside and a Levite outside. It is lamentable indeed when you cannot carry on your business

[Page 269]

outside, according to what you are inside. The Levites were occupied with heavenly things. A Levite could say, 'The tabernacle is my business '. Though he had a family and secular business, yet he was known as a servant of the tabernacle. Christendom gets out of the difficulty by making two classes: the laity and the clergy. God's paramount interest here is the testimony to Christ, the exalted Man in glory. That is the Levite's business. Am I to give up the fact that I am a priest inside to God, and a Levite outside in the place of service? Never! I must be consistent here with what I am before God. If you own the dignity of your place inside, you must be in keeping with it outside. You could not be a canary on Sunday, and a sparrow on Monday. You must sing with one and the same note. The place of service is where the beautiful notes sound out. Everything, the very air you breathe, is against you here; but are you going to give in to it? It has been said that there is no finer sight than a great man struggling with his difficulties: I say it is a far greater thing to see a Christian, a servant of Christ, superior to his difficulties. Some may say - I must give up secular business if I am to serve the Lord. No such thing; Paul worked with his hands while he was Christ's bondman. Look at our blessed Lord during those thirty years of private life, the heavenly traits which shone out; in the workshop, and everywhere. He was divinely beautiful in every detail.

We are all priests to God. Get hold of what you are inside, and you must bring it out. If you understood the place of unutterable blessing in which you are placed, you could not come out and soil your cloth. Heaven is our element, but we have to do our work down here, like a diver in a diving bell. You cannot live in any element except heaven. If you have been too long in the diving bell, go up, ring the bell, pray.

[Page 270]

Now I turn to another point. Where does service begin? With the body of Christ; it is there our service begins. I see deficiency in this. Turn to Romans 12, "I beseech you therefore brethren, .. . that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable". Now see verses 4 and 5: "we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another". Your responsibility begins with the body of Christ, as a member of it. You must begin with the top, with the first circle. You will find that if there be a flaw in you as to the first circle, that flaw will surely appear in every other circle. A servant properly begins at the prayer-meeting, not with preaching. The man who begins at the prayer-meeting in the assembly will be the best evangelist. "Separate me Barnabas and Saul", the Holy Spirit said in the assembly. You get your instructions there. Gift is another thing. Gift, in my judgment, is a certain presentation of Christ. Many a man has a gift not manifested, but which would come out if he were more separate. If you clear off "the bearing", as they say of a coal mine, you would come out in power for the Lord, and you would also prove His care. Many a one who is now grinding in prison would get signal marks of favour from God if he were more separated to Him. And as to service, nothing produces so much effect as devotedness and separation to the Lord in the servant. It is not truth that has the greatest effect, but holiness.

Some are fresh and bright when they come out from the Lord; but when they lose the sense of what they are inside, they fail outside. If you are not consistent with the light you have, you dishonour the Lord, and you do not receive more light. In Romans 12 there are seven distinct gifts; the first is prophecy, and the last is showing mercy with cheerfulness. Everyone can have this last gift. I would rather have the last without the first, than the first

[Page 271]

without the last. It is far better to have a tractable pony than a first-rate horse which is unmanageable. The moral quality is higher than the greatest gift.

Turn to Luke 11:36: "If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light". The servant should be the living transcript of the truth, of Christ Himself. A body full of light is one who is fully brought under the power of the word 'inside'; everything comes from inside; the Lord begins with us inside. Do you know your dark part? If you are walking with God you will know it. He teaches us by the word and by providence. If you are close to the Lord, and watching His dealings with you, you will know what is the dark part. There is a moral influence about a person whose body is luminous; it does not repel you, but makes itself felt; the company of that person is a help to you. "While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof". The company of spiritual people helps you, they draw out the good; the natural man draws out the bad, what is of the natural man.

I am seeking to show you what the nature of divine grace is and what is the character of the servant of the Lord. Paul says, "my doctrine, manner of life", that corroborates the doctrine, is the living proof of its virtue. So, in 1 Peter 3:1, the unbelieving husband who will not listen to the word is won by the conversation, the manner of life, of his wife; he cannot refuse the effect of the word. There he sees the trace of this new creation; he is broken down. "The manner of life" proves the virtue of the word.

I conclude with Luke 18. In the end of chapter 17 this world is under judgment, and the Lord says, "Remember Lot's wife". She was brought out of Sodom, but turned back. There is always a tendency to look back. Did you ever look back? Often perhaps.

[Page 272]

Well, how are you to be preserved? Be dependent on God, and surrender every hindrance. In chapter 18 these two things are brought out, "dependence" and "surrender". There is the widow, the publican, and the little child. In these three we have dependence fully exemplified. The widow sets forth how faith in the power of God is answered. The publican sets forth the blessing of counting on His mercy. The little child is fully dependent, it clings and it cries.

Then comes the young man; he is not dependent; he is sorrowful because he will not surrender his riches. In order to be truly dependent, there must be surrender of all hindrances. Peter says, "Lo, we have left all and followed thee". Look at Peter in Luke 5; he gives up his time and his ship for the Lord's service, but in the midst of it all, he finds out that he is a sinful man; his conduct was exemplary, he was highly favoured of God; but, notwithstanding all, he felt he was a sinful man in the presence of Christ, and he cries out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord". The Lord's words, "Fear not", reassured him. "And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him". Well might their neighbours say, 'What fools!' They had left their property, directly given to them by God, for the company of a poor man in human eyes. Company is better than property. Now, after a few years, Peter says here, "Lo, we have left all and followed thee". And the Lord replies, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting". Never was a promise so fulfilled. When He asked them, "Lacked ye anything?" they could reply, "Nothing". It is impossible in such a world as this not to be playing a losing game

[Page 273]

in following and serving Christ; but you will have compensation, the company of Christ Himself. In His company we must not be like Martha acting from our own judgment, but waiting to receive counsel from Him, walking before Him in all well-pleasing.

[Page 274]


Matthew 13:36 - 48

Beloved brethren, I desire to occupy your hearts with the subject of our new interest on the earth. It is quite clear that we have, first, a new place out of this earth; secondly, a new interest in it; and in connection with the interest, a new power. You will see how it forms us.

There are, as we have often remarked, two distinct ministries in the New Testament; the one, the ministry of the gospel, and the other, the ministry of the church. No one can truly take his place in the church, if he has not learned the gospel.

In the gospel I see what has been done. Matthew 27:50, 51, unfolds it. "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom". Here is the gospel of God! It is plain that man had created an immeasurable distance between himself and God. Man could not remove it, but God has so removed that distance on His own side, to His own satisfaction, that that veil, which hid all the secret things of God, is "rent in twain from the top to the bottom". God no longer dwells in thick darkness. Some might say that the earthquake rent the veil, but any thoughtful person would say that something wonderful must have been done for God to allow the veil to be rent. It was the testimony that God had removed the distance between Himself and man. The Son of God has come that He might destroy the works of the devil, annul his power. Sin brought in death, but God laid help on One that is mighty; and now the thing is done; and the divine testimony is that God is free to come

[Page 275]

out to the sinner; every bit of distance is removed. That terrible thing that was brought in by man's sin is removed, God was glorified in the most distant spot. Now the Son of man is glorified; and God's eye rests on the glorified Man. It must be either on the lost man down here, or on the glorified Man up there.

It is a most important thing to get clear about this great fact - where Christ is, and why He is where He is. He is at the "right hand of the majesty on high", and God's eye rests on the believer there, because Christ has removed everything according to the will of God. Unless this is known in the soul, there cannot be a true knowledge of what Christ has done. God says, 'I have removed everything from My own eye in the most perfect way'. If you do not believe this, you cannot enjoy what He has done. Do our souls grasp the fulness of that wondrous fact, that God has a glorified Man in heaven, on whom His eye ever rests; and not on Him only, but on every believer in Him now?

I turn for a moment to 2 Corinthians 4, which is the consequence of God having a Man glorified in heaven. In verses 4 - 6 we read, "lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ .. . should shine unto them .. . for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ". Now, if I ask anyone in this room where the light comes from, what would be the answer? Do you reply, it comes from God? But I say, from what spot does it descend? It comes from the top, from a glorified Saviour. It is of immense moment to every heart to be clear about this, to know really from whence the light comes. It does not come from a crucified Saviour. No! but from a glorified Saviour, who has removed everything from the eye of God. The gospel of the glory of Christ comes from the top, from the very highest

[Page 276]

spot; from a glorified Saviour the light shines down; and the record is, that in its first display, in all its effulgence and splendour, it reaches Saul of Tarsus, a man who is in the very frenzy of hatred to Christ; and it surrounds him, not to repel, as with Isaiah (see Isaiah 6) but to invite. What a wonderful thing! There is a Man in the glory of God. From there the light shines down, and invites you to share in what His work has accomplished for you. If that be the case, I must be, in the eye of God, either in the lost man in terrible misery, or in the glorified Man in all His delight. All is done for the believer. The power of the enemy is broken, and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.

In Exodus 24, as soon as the blood was sprinkled, the whole body of heaven in its clearness was seen. The moment the blood was seen, the distance was gone; heaven was visible. I do not think that the blood here was for the sinner; the blood of the Paschal lamb was; but here as elsewhere (so far as I know) it has to do with approach. The nearer I approach the better off I am, because I am approaching the source from which all blessing comes. God has removed everything offensive from His own eye in the cross. I look up, and behold His glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and I am transformed according to it. All His glory rests on my Saviour, and as I behold Him there, I am morally conformed to it. If I go back to the flesh, God has no claim on me for it, but it must be as absolutely removed from me as at the cross. You revive in yourself what God has removed in the distance of the cross. God has no claim now as to sin; but if we do sin, and do not judge the flesh, we may be assured that the sin we indulge in and do not judge, for that very sin we shall have a purgatory, not after death, but in this life; the thing you spare in nature will become your scourge. Our God is a consuming fire, and the form

[Page 277]

in which you give licence to the flesh, that will be your plague. If you judge yourself, God will not judge you. It is on the ground that He has removed everything that He deals with you. He looks at the glorified Man, and sees you in all that blessedness, but if you revive what He has removed in the cross, He must judge it, and you must suffer.

So far is the gospel. The first step is, that the ground is cleared; and what marks that step is, that we love to give to the One who has cleared the ground for us. Like Jonathan to David, we would strip ourselves of what is of most value to us for His sake. The ground is cleared, and the One who cleared it occupies my heart. Nor is that all, but we stand in all the excellence and acceptableness of the One who is at God's right hand. Thus we have the magnificence of God's grace displayed. In the scene of my alienation and degradation I am not only cleared, fit for heaven, but I stand in the acceptance of the glorified Man.

Now the second step is (I am still speaking of what is individual) that I find what the Lord is to me personally in the wilderness. He is indispensable to me, and the way I find that out is in His priesthood. This is Hebrews. Priesthood is for infirmity while we are down here. There are three sorts of infirmities; first, pressure of circumstances, such as poverty, etc.; second, sickness; third, sorrow. Sorrow is what you cannot remedy; there is nothing like sorrow to test souls. Circumstances and sickness may often be remedied, but in sorrow, that is bereavement, there is no remedy. Now it is here I find that I have One who has gone through the path, and upon whose help I can count; that is, if I am on the road to heaven. If I am not travelling to heaven, He will not help me. This may seem severe, but it has the support of Scripture: "Let us labour therefore to enter that rest, lest any man fall after the same example

[Page 278]

of unbelief", Hebrews 4:11. There we are seen as going to heaven; and we never get His sympathy unless we are on the road. You will get the word to show you that you are not neglected, but not the sympathy. What is the difference? It is immense. When I get sympathy, I am so supported, that instead of being occupied with support, I am occupied with the Supporter. Mary of Bethany learned sympathy in John 11 and passed on to be occupied with the Supporter in chapter 12.

In the gospels we have two women with their alabaster boxes who came to anoint the Lord. The difference between that of Luke 7 and of Matthew 26 is this; the former makes much of Christ for His service, here on earth; the latter anoints Him for His burial; her heart is with Him; she is a follower. He values following more than giving. Many a one would give to Him who would not follow Him. The affection of Ruth to Naomi, exceeded that of Jonathan to David. She says, "entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee". Following marks devotedness. It flows from attachment between myself and Him, "If any man serve me, let him follow me". "They forsook all and followed him". A thoroughly devoted man follows.

When we look at the brute creation, we may learn lessons that shame us; how often a dog will follow its master, in spite of everything; beat him, give him meat, nothing will divert him, he will follow; he may have to cross a river, or make his way through hedge or ditch, but he persists in following. A follower never calculates. There is no calculation in love. Love does not calculate what it will lose. Some interpret Luke 14:28, "Counteth the cost", as calculation, but that is not the meaning of the passage. The question there is, Have you the right material? Thank God there have been, and are, saints who are thus devoted. May we all be more so!

[Page 279]

The third stage is union, and here I come to our corporate blessings, what is true of us as of the assembly. I have not yet touched on the new interest. For the heart to be in the understanding of it, and really taken up with it, there must be the apprehension of what union is: one must be taught of God to know the reality of being united to that blessed One in glory, the sole object of my heart. Nothing can surpass the blessedness of realising what union is. In how few cases among saints where it is owned theoretically is it actually known! Of what value is it to a man to be born a prince, if he is not in the enjoyment of his position? Nothing transcends that moment in the soul's history when it apprehends, I am united to Him, I share in all His. Then I can "shout"! Joshua says, "Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city", Joshua 6:16. That illustrates what I mean. Shout when you know it. The shouting results from the peculiar sense of possession.

Now what marks this stage? Occupation with His interest. There may be deep personal affection without the knowledge of union, and with defective intelligence. That is seen in the case of Mary Magdalene, in John 20. She had affection, the only true preparation for union. The disciple (verse 8) who "saw and believed", had intelligence, and he went home; but affection would not go home, will not rest till she finds Him; and she does find Him. It is a great thing for the heart that loves Christ to find Him where He is. A wonderful moment for the soul to find Christ in glory. Paul says, "That I may know him". Mary will not go home till she has found Him, and when she does find Him all is changed. He says, Go now and attend to My interests. Go to My brethren. It is not now her own interests or her own love, but His interests. He knew of her devoted love, and He tells her where He will be, and then He commissions her to attend to His concerns.

[Page 280]

"Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God". Here we see in pattern what really characterises the person who knows that he is united to Christ in glory; he is occupied with the interest of Christ. The new interest is Christ's own on the earth; he is occupied with this new interest. Neither in the history of Jonathan nor of Ruth can we find what we have here; both come short of it. You may love as Jonathan, and follow as Ruth, but until you know that you are united to Christ in glory, you will not be free enough from your own interests, to take up His. You are united to Him. It is all yours. All the rounds of the ladder are yours; but all your power, joy, and testimony depend on the round of the ladder on which the Holy Spirit has set you. We do not expect every one to be grown up. "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect". I trust I am addressing those who would like to be perfect. I am not speaking of gifted people, but of every soul. Often the brightest specimen of divine grace is in a woman. I may remark that, while on the one hand all the ruin came in by a woman, what a triumph of grace that so great a commission was, as we find in John 20, entrusted to a woman. Mary Magdalene is a pattern, not a shadow. In the Old Testament, you get shadows; in the New, patterns; a pattern shows the way a thing is to be done. Mary's simple and undivided affection for Christ was followed by her gaining intelligence. If I have true affection for the Lord - if my heart is right, I am sure to become intelligent sooner or later. Every one gets what he values. Mary goes about His interest; she no longer has a fear of losing Him; she is now in association with Him, and His interest is hers. I am in association with Him in unchangeable relationship to Him; and what occupies me now? Christ's own treasure. Our souls want to know better that Christ's interest,

[Page 281]

His treasure, is on the earth. Following this new interest is what draws out the enmity of the world, as the Lord says, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.... But when the Comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me ". The Holy Spirit is the new power, and the only power for the new interest; you can carry on the testimony with the new power, but with nothing else. Any human resource is a hindrance. The enmity of the world is aroused if you refuse its help, but you can only maintain the interest of Christ by the new power on the earth. Here it is (and I say it with sorrow) that we have so failed; we have found resources in the world in one shape or another; we have adopted human means instead of leaning solely on the Spirit of God. It is most hindering to the testimony.

In John 15 Christ instructs His disciples that they were to love one another. "This is my commandment, that ye love one another". And how far were they to go? "As I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". And in the epistle we have it, "we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren". That is to be the measure of our love to one another. Perhaps nothing so tends to exasperate your natural friends and relatives, who are in the world, as to find that you have new objects for your affection and interest, a new company which is nearer and dearer to you than themselves. The disciples were to be like an island in the midst of a ruthless sea; the sea tried to swamp it, but could not. So they were to be in the midst of a ruthless world: the storm may come and beat upon you, and the waves, but you will not

[Page 282]

be swamped, you will be sustained here. Some may say, As the whole world is against us, we shall be swamped. No! With this new power on our side, we cannot be swamped.

In the parables which I have read (Matthew 13:44 - 48), we see that in the midst of all the confusion Christ's treasure is here. We hear of all the political and social troubles on this earth, but in the midst of it all, Christ's interest is here. If it were not here, the sooner I left this scene the better for me; but it is here; and the wonderful favour is, that He asks us to co-operate in His interest. He asks for our hearts. He says, I delight to take you into My interest, only, "Give me thine heart". I do not ask for your property; I ask for your heart. If He has your heart, He will delight to have you as a partner in His own precious interest on this earth.

Now let us look at these three parables. These last three were given in the house. The first four parables were given out of the house. So speaking typically, the first four are outside, for man's eye; the last three are in the house. The first of these tells us that His treasure is hid in the field. In the second, the pearl, we get what its quality is, its beauty; what it is to Him. The third, "the net", shows how we are to co-operate with Him; not in catching the fish, but in selecting them. They sat down to select them. Now it is only inside, sitting down, as it were, with the Lord, that we can select.

You are not in your right place in the assembly, unless you have the sense that the Lord is there. If you have the sense of who the Lord is, you have a right understanding of your place; you are a living stone; but if you have not, you do not understand it: you are not held there in divine power. I am a component part of Christ's building. I take my place in the assembly as a living stone, as one built in by Himself. That is a different thing from knowing

[Page 283]

that my soul is saved. The fact of my soul being saved is because of what Christ has done for me; but that which I am to Christ is connected with my being a living stone. I take my place as a living stone in His building; I am dwelling in Him, and have faith in Himself.

The origin of the house of God on earth was the rejection of Christ; it was brought in when Christ was rejected; Matthew 16:18. The house is little known. It is of immense importance to apprehend what it is, a divine structure on the earth, where Christ was rejected, and to be the "pillar and base of the truth". The body is a mystery, invisible, like the works of a clock, which are not seen, but which work the clock. The house is where you can walk into, and if it were in a right state you would learn the mind of the Lord there. The Holy Spirit dwells in it. People say that all is in ruins. That is true; but we are called still to make Christ's interest here, our delight. The Lord confides His interest; He says to His disciples, "Ye are my friends". If we were nearer the Lord, we should be more in His confidence. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him". The Lord delights to have a friend. He is my Friend. I can sing that with all my heart. But who gives a line - I am a friend of His? If we are occupied with His concerns we are like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her". Two things marked her. In unflagging devotedness, she fed her household and clothed them, regardless of all that it cost her. Nourishing and cherishing characterised her. That is carrying out the desire of Christ's heart; "Feed my sheep, feed my lambs".

In Ephesians we begin in heaven, and come down to be in God's house on the earth, and are sustained here to be for Him in the scene of His rejection. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and

[Page 284]

powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God", Ephesians 3:10. That all might see it, that wonderful administration! How it should charm our hearts to think that the saints here are to be the beautiful expression of the glorified Man, of Christ in glory, and now the lesson book for angels. That is your new interest, I am not surprised at your friends seeing that your whole life is changed. They do not understand it. No one can understand the body who is not in it; it is a mystery. Persons who know us ought to have ground for surprise, in seeing that there is evidently an object here that has such an attraction for us, that we are so bent on following after it as to be manifestly outside the common interests of the world.

In 2 Timothy 3:10 we have the character of a person who was consecrated to the interest of the Lord. The apostle says, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience". That connects manner of life with doctrine. We never can truly commend the truth save as we are living exponents of it. If a man expounds great and wonderful doctrines, we may rightly ask - What sort of man is he at home? It was asked once of myself. I could never forget it. To dive into my private life, and to see what it announces! All our power in testimony is in proportion to the way the truth acts upon ourselves. I never minister on a passage that I have not accepted in faith. The sense of ignorance is often a prelude to my getting it. There are two experiences; one is that we have light; we see it; the other is, that we have faith. It is faith that brings us into the actual power of the truth. I have often to say, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief".

Paul exhorts Timothy; "be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity". The servant is in a peculiar

[Page 285]

position. In 2 Thessalonians 3:9, we see how the apostle's aim was to make themselves ensamples. "Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us". A bishop was to be a pattern man. Do you not think the elect lady was a specimen? If there were more of this, we should not find all the worldliness that there is among us.

But, beloved, what I desire for you and for myself is that we may be so truly wedded to Christ that His interest may be ours; that we may have only one interest down here. I know the question may be raised, But what about my business and my family? You will not attend to your family one bit worse from making the Lord's interest paramount; and be assured of this, if His affairs have a paramount place in your heart, you will find that your affairs have a corresponding place in His heart. I find that the Lord cares for my family far better than I can. I have not half the solicitude for them that He has, if I confide in Him. The Lord grant that we may understand the exceeding blessedness of it. It is far from my wish to put a yoke on the neck of any; but I do desire to lead you into a circle of the greatest delight, to that circle where Christ's heart is. I long that we may all be helped on so as to Have our hearts in that circle where we may share the delight of His heart day by day. At the close of the assembly's day on earth, the Spirit and the bride are found engrossed in one interest: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". May we individually be in company with it! By-and-by all Christ's desires for us will be fulfilled. The bride will come down from God out of heaven adorned for her Husband. Then will be the glorious display to this world, of Christ's great interest; the fulfilment of John 17; every desire of the Lord answered.

You will never satisfy the heart of Christ, unless you are making His interest yours. When you do,

[Page 286]

you will be a different person. The Lord grant we may travel up to it. I am not up to it, but I want to be. I have obtained an interest that is unbounded. The queen of Sheba was entranced with the things of Solomon. There were seven things that entranced her, "When the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her". If we could only see the wonderful net-work of machinery going on over this world, in the Lord's ministry for His own, we should be entranced by it. May we know it better for His name's sake.

The Lord grant that we may so know what it is to have lost ourselves in His company, that His interest on earth may ever be dear to our hearts!

[Page 287]


Acts 7:55, 56

I have a very distinct and clear sense before the Lord, as to what is the actual cause of all our feebleness and failure; it dates from the very beginning of man's history on this earth; from the moment when man was turned out of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. From that date to this, man's one and highest thought has been merely to get relief from guilt, and to find himself in easy circumstances in this world where he is an exile. Look at Genesis 3:9, "the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou?" This question is not pursued, but a second is put in verse 13, namely, "What is this that thou hast done?" and this last is what we are always ready to pursue; what we have done is the great thought that fills the exercised conscience; all right so far, but overlooking the great and solemn fact as to the place in which we are before God. In the case of Cain and Abel, the sense of distance from God is acknowledged. Abel presents his offering, and it is accepted, but his place is not changed: and today the great lack in souls is not apprehending the new place into which the believer is brought. There is no doubt about this; but what is at the bottom of all individual and collective failure is the lack of understanding and appropriating our new place.

In Romans we are saved in hope, we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God", we "abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit", but no new place; though there be newness of life, which necessarily belongs to a new place. In the case of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, we learn what the full grace of God would accomplish. We are told, "he was not,

[Page 288]

for God took him". Here is a remarkable manifestation of the blessed fact, that God would have man with Himself.

Turn to Exodus 3:8, "I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land, and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey". We are all acquainted with the account of the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; but before the journey was begun, as we find from the above passage, the purpose of God is made known; and that takes in two great things; one, the bringing out of Egypt; the other, the bringing into the land.

The commission was not only to bring them out, but to bring them in. Beloved, we are not according to our Father's pleasure, nor are we in simple restfulness as to our acceptance, if we do not enter by faith into the new place to which He in His grace has brought us; and a further fact is that we have no place but that; and when we get even a glimpse of it, it alters immensely this place; this world through which we are passing, and all things in it, appear in another colour altogether. Can you say, Heaven is my place, and I have no other place? No doubt, it is a wonderful thing to know that I am a saved sinner on the way to heaven. But is that all? No. I am a saved sinner fitted for, and brought into a new place now . Delivered from my sins? Yes. From judgment? Yes. From the world, the place under judgment to which I belonged? Yes. Thank God that is all true. But there is more. He brings us into a new place, and fits us for it; and everything He does for us is in keeping with the place into which we are brought. I am made meet for it now; it is not that I shall be, but now while I am down here. "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light". Everything here has a different complexion to me,

[Page 289]

because of that new place into which His grace has brought me. We are brought to God.

To refer again to Israel and the purpose of God to bring them out, and to bring them in. We are told that 600,000 men were brought out, but how many of that number went in? Only two! And in the history of souls now, how many thousands are brought out, but how many are really brought in? How many taste the reality of being brought in? All have title to the place, but they do not know it, do not value it. Why did so many fail to reach Canaan? Psalm 106:24 supplies the answer: "they despised the pleasant land"; and Psalm 81 shows us that, although they were brought out, they would not go in. "My people would not hearken to my voice". How many Christians are like Israel: they despise the pleasant land and will not go in. Like Lot, if they lose their property they long to get it back, that they may be in easy circumstances here. Lot, no doubt, would thank God that he got back his goods; but what of Abraham? He was refreshed and blessed by Melchisedec. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that few believers are clear as to their new place. When we began first we were Arminian trying to get it. Now we are Calvinistic; we say, 'We have it all, and that will do'.

But that is not all. The Spirit of God is here to make it good to us. It is all ours. On the cross all was accomplished for us. I can look up the shining way and see it all done; but if we are not in it, if it has not been made good to us by the Spirit of God, there is no power, no joy, no testimony. The Spirit of God is down here to lead us into the practical reality, the present enjoyment of all that Christ has done for us, to lead our hearts into the apprehension of what we are, and what we have in him, in that place where He now is. Every man's testimony must be in the power of the Spirit, and the measure and

[Page 290]

character of that testimony will be in proportion to the measure he occupies of what is really his. In proportion to his acquisition of what is heavenly is his surrender of this world. If there were more heavenly acquisition, there would be more surrender of things here, and surrender must be a daily thing. It is not to make one great surrender and then stop. That is a fatal thing. It must be daily, and your acquisition too. If your acquisition is daily, your surrender will be daily.

In Exodus and Joshua, we find the two great parts of the work of Christ typified; the one, by the Red Sea; the other by Jordan. In the one we have Christ's dying for us; and in the other, we have our dying with Him. Where does the crossing of Jordan bring us? Exodus 15:17 tells us. "Thou shalt bring them in and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established". In the epistle to the Colossians, the Red Sea and the Jordan coalesce. We are brought to God, but there is another thing, and one which we have practically to learn, even that we have died with Him . In Colossians 2:20, we are "dead WITH Christ from the rudiments of the world". We have ended our history, and practically we have a new place. His death puts us outside everything. His death for us removes all between God and us; our death with Him removes all between us and God. At the Red Sea the enemy's power was completely broken. In Jordan I have died with Him, I am free of Satan and the flesh where they both are, and I am introduced into a new scene. There is not a thing against me; all was ended in the cross of Christ. I am clear out of every single thing that barred me from the presence of God. A person says, 'I do not feel it'; I am not asking you to feel it, but to believe it. The thief on the cross, a man

[Page 291]

who was a scandal to the Jew, an offscouring society, was taken from the very lowest depths of shame and misery, and put into the brightest and most blessed place in company with Christ that day; he was in the new place that "day".

There is no question about there being a beautiful new place for the Christian, but people limit it to its being theirs when they die. Scripture shows that it is ours now! People say, "You get heaven when you die". No such thing. You have it now . It is not your death that entitles you to it, but Christ's death. There is not a single shade that was between us and God, but Christ has removed it in His death. No person can be truly happy until he knows that he has a new place now, and that it is where Christ is.

Turn to Luke 15. The Lord is there opening out His grace. What do we find? This: that on the prodigal's reception by the father, he is brought to the house: he is entirely free of old things and has entered the new; there is no break in that scene of enjoyment: the found one is there in all the good pleasure of the father. These two things are connected with the new place: first, I am where I am fully fit for God; second, I am there according to the Father's pleasure. These parables portray what passes today between God and the repentant sinner. When the Shepherd found the sheep, His joy was not complete until He brought it "Home ". The real full joy of the Finder was when that spot was reached; and the joy of the father was when the prodigal was brought to the house . Then it was he said, "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad"; and the blessed fact is, that we now share in the very joys of God by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.

Peter in his epistle speaks of "joy unspeakable and full of glory". That is not when we get to heaven, but now. In how many souls is this made good now? How many of your acquaintances are in that joy?

[Page 292]

It is a wonderful thing to know it down here. But how few rise up to the blissful apprehension of what is theirs! How often is Scripture reduced to the level of the thoughts and experiences of man!

In Luke 14 we have the word, "Bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind". And again, "Compel them to come in ". Where is "hither"? Where is "in"? These passages are generally used in reference to bringing the sinner to the Saviour, but observe the point is, "That my house may be filled". The feast is there, not in the land now, but in the house; and this chapter sets forth the finish of the gospel; that is, to place the sinner in the house. The salvation effected for us by our Lord Jesus Christ as truly gives title and fitness for a place in heaven now as it delivers from hell. The work that has brought you to heaven is the same work which took you out of hell. You rejoice that you are out of hell, why do you not rejoice that you are in heaven? Why do you not walk about with the sense, that, that is my place and this is not my place? You have as good a title to be in Canaan as to be out of Egypt. In Hebrews 11:14 we read, "For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country". It is that plainness I want to see. It is a wonderful thing to find that I have a place - one of unbounded joy and delight. I am not in it yet, but I have the power of that place down here. Many and great efforts have been made by earnest minded Christians to be heavenly, and to reach this. They have sought to get rid of earthly things, refusing this thing, and that thing, in order to attain a heavenly state. But that is not the way. Get hold of your place there. Do you think a person can be much occupied with this place, if he has the joys of that place in his heart? Thank God, we are heavenly, we are brought to that new place; and we have the Holy Spirit on this earth to bring down the joys of that heavenly place to

[Page 293]

which we belong, to fill our hearts whilst we journey through the old place. No one can be clear of the attractions and pleasures of the old place, without first knowing and tasting the joys of the new. If a man asked me what he should give up in order to be heavenly, I could not tell him; but I could say to him, 'If you knew your place there, you would find there are many of these things about you which you would not want'. If you get a little taste of heaven, there are many things (not wrong things) that you will be glad to do without; you will lose interest in them. Those who refused the feast in Luke 14 were looking for their joys in the wrong place. What was it that hindered the invited ones coming to the supper? One had bought a piece of ground; another, five yoke of oxen; the things in themselves are not wrong but the heart is set on things in the wrong place. And if we look round on the church today, what has been her ruin? Is it not from choosing an earthly portion, and not apprehending that her portion is heavenly?

Does she not even reach that, if souls are walking in the favour of God, they will be blessed with earthly blessings? Woe betide you if you seek earthly blessings. The truth is that the more thoroughly we are for Christ the more thoroughly He will preserve us from the power of earthly blessings. I have to represent the heavenly Man in the place where He has been rejected, and my joys are all in the place where He is.

In the epistle to the Romans, and the epistle of Peter, we have the heavenly hope as a future thing; and in Hebrews we are seen running on to it. It is "the race that is set before us". I run on overcoming every obstacle, as in a steeplechase. But how little the reality of this is displayed in our daily path! Were people to ask, "Where are you going?" and we replied, "Going to heaven", would they not often

[Page 294]

have ground for expressing surprise that we should encumber ourselves with the many weights and hindrances of this passing scene? A racer makes himself as free as he can. I am looking out to Him who is up at the top, and I run on to that spot. What delights your heart? I believe that when a man has a real understanding that he belongs to that new place the Spirit of God delights his heart with the things of that place. I used to pity these who are alone in the world. I pity no one now who has a room where he can find himself isolated from every one, to be with the Lord, where he can have his feathers oiled to come out, and face all the roughness here.

In both Hebrews and Numbers we have a people going on to a new place, and with a knowledge of what the house of God is. It is the person who is really going on to the place who enjoys the house of God here; he gets a taste of heaven here. In Hebrews we find three things: (1) a priest to sympathise; (2) I am in the sanctuary with Him where I have a sense of the blessedness of His company; and (3) the race. I am racing, overcoming every obstacle to get to Him up there. I have infirmity, and I get His help. I find Him in the sanctuary; I taste His company there. I am helped out of my infirmity for this, and then I race on to where He is.

So far I have dwelt on the importance to us individually of the new place where the gospel sets us. Firstly, if you are not enjoying it, you are not according to the Father's pleasure, and you are not in simple rest as to yourself. Secondly, you are not out of the earth, have not given up seeking earthly things. Many are earthly who are not worldly. If you are earthly you are on a dangerous precipice. It is the beginning of a downward road; "earthly, sensual, devilish". Thirdly, you are not enjoying the house of God here. Fourthly, if you do not keep the hope of heaven before

[Page 295]

you, you do not occupy heavenly ground. You will never progress. You cannot advance in truth, or be educated up to the Head. It is in the new place that Christ is everything and in all. When you have reached that, you know the Head; you have tasted the old corn of the land. In Colossians 1:5 Paul prays for them according to the hope laid up for them in heaven. We are risen with Christ: and are brought into a position "where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all"; and there we find the Head.

Further, it is only in the new place that we can know union, and this brings us to the importance of it to us corporately, or as the assembly .

In Ephesians we are raised together and made to sit together in the heavenlies; and it is there, and when we know "the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward", that we understand and enjoy union. Necessarily we cannot be in the power of it if we do not know it. If we are not on heavenly ground, we cannot enjoy the things that are there. If we have not passed over in spirit to the place, we are not in the power of the place; we do not know union. It is ours, but we do not know it. We are not united on earth, but in heaven. The Spirit's power has ope'd the heavenly door . Many pious divines, such as Rutherford and others, adored their Saviour, but had no intelligence or apprehension of union with Christ. Had they known it, they would have been delighted beyond measure. You must enjoy His company before you can know union or appreciate it. If we are in the enjoyment of Christ's company, nothing gives such absolute joy as the fact of our being united to Him; it is the consummation. When we know it, the whole character of our life is altered. When we are in association with Christ in heaven, He dwells in our hearts by faith, as in Ephesians 3:17.

[Page 296]

Chapters 4, 5 and 6: 1 - 10 are the heavenly practice; and this is to be displayed in the common relationships, and daily pursuits of life. It affects a man in his business (chapter 4: 28); he is to "labour, working with his hands the thing which is good". The fathers are to bring up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. A man is to come out in quite a new way on the earth; he is to appear in heavenly colours, and in keeping with his heavenly dignity.

In chapter 6: 11 we come to the heavenly warfare; and for this you must be consciously on heavenly ground, or you cannot use the armour. If you are not on heavenly ground what do you want the armour for? You do not want it till you face the foe. In Romans you want the armour of light in the midst of darkness. Here in Ephesians it is the armour of God for your maintenance in the place to which you are brought. The whole armour of God must be taken up; the loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all taking "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked: and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". In chapters 4 and 5 we are furnished with the finest field of practice, but the moment you seek to carry it out, you meet the most unrelenting foe; and he will not allow you to advance one inch if he can prevent it. If you want easy times you must sleep, and then as far as you are concerned the devil will sleep; but if you move on, he will move on, and oppose every movement. If you are valiant for the truth, and standing for it, he will be your unsparing opponent; his wiles will be unweariedly employed against you; he will use every stratagem to displace you from heavenly ground. He works all round in everything; at every turn some wile awaits

[Page 297]

us; and we must remember that we cannot be invincible unless we are invulnerable.

And what next? "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit; and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 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, for which I am an ambassador in bonds". Victorious over the foe, we are at liberty to give ourselves to prayer for all saints, and for the spread of the testimony.

I will just recapitulate the points which we have been considering, as to the importance to us individually and corporately of the new place that is given us.

Firstly, as to the individual believer.

  1. You are not according to your Father's pleasure, nor are you in simple confidence of heart as to your own acceptance, unless you know that the Father's house is now your home .
  2. As heaven is your home, you are severed from the earth.
  3. The more fully heaven is your home, the more you appreciate God's house on the earth, for there you taste of heavenly things.
  4. You grow into the mystery.

Secondly, as to the saints corporately - the assembly.

  1. It is in heaven by the Holy Spirit that we know union with Christ; Ephesians 1:19.
  2. In association with Him there, we learn to be heavenly. He dwells in our hearts by faith.
  3. We then display the glory of God here, by Him who "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us".
  4. Then we withstand all the powers of wickedness in the heavenlies.

I cannot convey to you even my own impression of what the apprehension of the new place would be to

[Page 298]

you. The Lord alone can show it to you; but I feel comfort in the confidence that He will make it good to you; and thus you will not only have victory over the adversary, but in proportion as you hold on in the power of the Spirit to your heavenly place and portion your joy and power will be in that proportion, both as an individual and in the church.

He has said, "I go to prepare a place for you", a place in the Father's house; and not only does He add, "I will come again and receive you unto myself": but, I will send the Comforter. I not only give you a new place, but I send a divine Person - a power from that place to dwell with you in a twofold way, and enable you to be here according to My pleasure.

May we so understand what it is to belong now to heaven, that new place, that we may truly answer to the good pleasure of our God and Father whilst we journey down here!

[Page 299]


Luke 11:33 - 36

The body of light is one of the traits of the new company on the earth. I was speaking yesterday of the heavenly character of things. Now I want to show you what the new company is here. From the end of chapter 10 to the end of chapter 18 of this gospel you get the traits of the new company. I present this to you, the body of light, as one of the traits. The first trait is the word of God and prayer; these we have in chapter 10: 39 to 11: 13. The second great trait is the body of light. A body "full of light" is not the right idea. The idea is a body of light . In the original there is only one word, and that means the body is luminous . It does not say that the mind is luminous, but the body is luminous. I can give you no better illustration than that of a glow-worm. The whole body is luminous. That is the subject I desire before the Lord to call your attention to, and I count upon Him to make it intelligible to you, divinely intelligible.

The point in verse 33 is, the candle has been lighted. In the previous verses we get two types of our Lord which it is most important to connect together. One is Jonah, which gives us in type the sufferings of the Lord; the other is Solomon, which is the glory of the Lord. These two properly make up the light. That is the light. The light that was lighted was not to be put under a bushel. You must remember that the same words in another gospel may not mean the same thing. Scripture never repeats itself. Now the Lord has a people upon earth, and the character of that people is, they are light; that is, an expression of Himself; as Paul puts it in Philippians 2, "Ye shine as lights in the world". Light is

[Page 300]

the first trait of the new Jerusalem. "Her light was like unto a stone most precious"; and what marks the administration of the assembly in the millennium is what marks it in the eternal state.

I desire now to draw your attention to the light. I am sure the more you enter into the mind of the Lord here in presenting this trait of the new company the more you will understand the blessedness of it. The great point is, that if you have no part dark, the whole shall be luminous. It is not full of light as a tumbler is full of water; nor is it the mind full of light; it is the body luminous. "You glorify God in your body". Your body is the Lord's; it belongs to Christ for the earth, and it is to be transparent, a light for Christ on the earth. It is to be the Lord's servant, a body of light, having no part dark . Why are we not more luminous? Because there is some part dark; and the saddest part of it is that you do not know what your dark part is, and when you do; you rather conceal it; you do not expose it for removal; you try to hide it. The "foolish woman" says, "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant". We often enjoy something in secret that is obscuring the light. Thus the dark part is concealed. We think no one sees it, forgetting that it really hinders the shining out of the light. Hundreds of people like something they would not let another know anything about, but "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do". What I am speaking of is the hindering of the light. The compromise with one's family, and society, and many other things, are all at work hindering the expression of the light. We all fail here.

Well, how is the luminous body brought about? You will find there is a twofold action in the word, and this double action produces it. You have no hand in producing it. I do not mean that you are an automaton, that you are not interested in it; you are thoroughly interested when you really desire to

[Page 301]

be a light for the Lord, and it is according to your desire for it that you will he blessed. There are two actions, and I turn now to the first action which we get in 2 Corinthians 3:18. It is uncommonly easy to speak to souls who are exercised themselves, because they know what you are at, and they are going in company with you. The difficulty in ministry really is to acquaint souls with what the word of God presents, and it is not effectual unless you learn it yourselves. Many a person knows this passage by rote quite well. I ask, Do you really know what it means? Did you ever prove it? I will read the passage correctly: "We all, looking on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image". Now this is open to all. The wonderful thing is, all this is the gospel. It is the gospel of the glory of Christ. The gospel is now come out in its fulness. You find in the next chapter it is the light that comes out from the glory; the light comes down from the height, and comes to the most distant spot, because God has been perfectly glorified in the most distant spot. In Acts 9, I see a man going on his way and a light from heaven arrests him in the moment when he is most adverse, most distant from God. A light comes from the top down to the very bottom; there it arrests him; he falls to the earth, and he hears a voice. That is the Lord!

Now I know where the light comes from, and I am drawn to the light; not like Isaiah, who shrank from it. What then? Surely a great transformation has occurred. You have dropped the uncomely clothes; you have found yourself in divine righteousness, in the light of Him who has accomplished everything; you come in knowing that He has accomplished everything; that now "might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord". Now you can look up to the glory of the Saviour. As the cherubim overshadowed the mercy

[Page 302]

seat, so now every ray of the glory of God shines in the face of our Saviour. It is not now looking upon Him as down here, glorifying God in the most distant spot, turning death into an occasion for glorifying God. All that is blessedly true; but now my Saviour is crowned with glory and honour. I look at Him there; my heart is drawn to Him. A Man brought glory to God, and, as has been said, God is indebted to Him for glory. That Man is my Saviour.

If I look at the history of a soul, the first thing is forgiveness. The effect of forgiveness when known to the soul is to beget a measure of love. You see this in type in Jonathan, and in the woman of Luke 7, but that is only love for service rendered. Do not stop there! As sure as you stop there the day will come that you will be tested, like Joseph's brethren, who were living on Joseph's bounty for seventeen years without having learnt the love that did the service for them. The apostle says, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us". If I know His love nothing will suit me but Himself. You get that beautifully exemplified in the case of Peter, Luke 5; "they forsook all and followed him". The Lord would rather have your company than your property. The Spirit of God is within you, and He would occupy you with an Object. Your heart has an Object. It is not only that your Beloved is yours, but you have learned this wonderful thing, "I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me". That is the finish in Canticles, as any of you know who have studied it. What is the consequence? My heart is towards Him. It is not a question of effort. I know how easy it is to deter people by that. The moment you are in the presence of the Lord, you are dismantled. Self can have no place there. It is one of the most significant things that we find all through the Old Testament, that the Lord, when He comes to speak to any one,

[Page 303]

comes with such a glare of glory so that they are dismantled. The effect of His presence is to remove what would interfere with the action of Himself. This is one of the traits of the new company. I have said that the traits are to be found in chapters 10 to 18. Look at chapter 17. Of the ten lepers who were healed, nine of them went on to the priest, to ritualism. One came back and fell down at the Lord's feet; self was dropped. There is not one of us who does not know this if we travel on the road. The day when you touched but the hem of His garment you were relieved; you knew it. But when you fell down before Him and told Him all the truth, what did you wake up to? I must take a new course. Ah! exactly. Then it is that you find that there is no place for you in the flesh. That is a great moment. I drop self altogether. You never can face glory otherwise. Do not talk of being occupied with yourself! "No flesh should glory in his presence". You are never occupied with yourself in His presence. There could not be a shadow of you there. You may be occupied with yourself afterwards, and that very often happens. In principle it was the same with the apostle, as he tells us in 2 Corinthians 12, he did not know whether he was in the body or out of it. You could not know up there; how could you? Self has no place in His presence. It is monstrous to think that what Christ suffered for could have a place in His presence.

Well, beholding "the glory of the Lord"; what next takes place? You are changed. The word here translated changed is only used four times in Scripture. Twice it is translated, transfigured . In Romans 12, it is transformed . Here it is changed . The true meaning is transfigured. Do I know when I am transfigured? No; I do not. All I know is, I have been occupied with the transfiguring power. Moses did not know when his face shone; so with me, I

[Page 304]

am not conscious of the effect that is seen in me; I am only conscious of being with the Lord; and without effort I take a new course. Beholding the Lord's glory, I am transformed into the same image from glory unto glory. Instead of the glory repelling, which it did until God was glorified, it now transfigures me. The blessed Lord was transfigured before them on the mount; His face shone as the sun; His raiment was as the light. The character of this transfiguration with us is that the body is luminous. I do not see the effect in myself, but others see it. I can own that a different course is preferred.

Here let me remark the difference between this and what we have in Psalm 73. There we find a godly man, who really did not know how to reconcile things, as he looked at them here, until he went into the sanctuary, and then he saw all clearly. We all know something of that experience; it is a poor thing for us if we do not; for the experience of an Old Testament saint went as far as that. But now we are in the church, and there is a very great difference between a servant and the heir. "The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all". In the Psalm your judgment is changed. That often happens, thank God. You form a judgment, perhaps a good one in a human sense, but when you go to the Lord and get near Him your judgment is changed, and you see you were not wise; just as a judge might give a very elaborate judgment and then it may be all reversed in a higher court. But being transfigured is a much greater thing than that. It is not only that your judgment is changed, but you yourself are transformed.

I will give you one or two examples of this. Look at Acts 7:55. Stephen is a sample case. He saw the glory of God and Jesus. All his thoughts and interests had been connected more or less with the earth, but now, he sees Jesus in the glory, and he

[Page 305]

turns round a different man altogether, a thoroughly changed man; transfigured. It is not a question of his judgment being changed, but he himself is transformed. His body is luminous. The body is the Lord's; we should glorify God in our body . The words "and in your spirit" have been put in, but that shows that the copyist did not understand that it is in my body that Christ is to be magnified. It is not how I preach, but how I act; therefore when Paul speaks of himself, when writing to Timothy, he says, "thou hast fully known", not "my doctrine" only, but my "manner of life", 2 Timothy 3:10. Peter says, that "they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives". If your body, your appearance here, is not in keeping with what you announce, you weaken what you announce; because it proves you are not mastered by it. I know this practically myself. In times gone by, I have often had a gleam of light, and have run away with it, and been extreme about it. It had not mastered me. You must be not only an expounder of truth, but an exponent of it. And you must have a straight course. The world would have you amiable, glossing over everything, in no way separating the precious from the vile; that is not of God. I cannot be the same to two brothers. I see one going on thoroughly for the Lord, and I long to go on with him; but another who is not so, I may be interested in him deeply, but I cannot be the same to him. Saints do not sufficiently understand that word, "have no company with him". That was said with reference to one who was doing no great wrong; he would not work. No doubt if we were more in the activity of divine grace ourselves, we should be more straight in our course and faithful to the Lord. We heard yesterday of a man zealous for the Lord, Phinehas. That was a wonderful example.

Now let me go on. Another thing comes out in

[Page 306]

connection with this, which is also exemplified in the case of Stephen. The moment you are in the first action of the Spirit; that is, occupied with Christ, you know that the Holy Spirit is your power and now comes out the other action. As you are by the Spirit set for Christ, God by discipline clears you of everything which hinders this occupation, and thus hinders the expression of the light. He removes the hindrance. Perhaps you do not know what the hindrance is; but God knows, and He removes it. There are the two processes; one is, you are attached; the other, you are detached. You get both completely in the case of Stephen. He, full of the Holy Spirit, was absorbed with Christ in glory, and eventually cleared of everything here that would hinder that blessed occupation. These two go hand in hand; I am attached and detached by divine power. It is not that I get rid of the flesh in glory. The flesh is not allowed there at all. No flesh can glory in His presence. But when you come out of it, you may be like Paul, who was given a thorn lest the flesh should be puffed up. The flesh is not gone. But God by discipline comes in and keeps you straight; He gives a thorn to keep the flesh from acting. If you study Paul's history carefully, you will find that many a hard day he endured before he wrote the epistle to the Ephesians in the prison at Rome. We do not understand the wonderful way God is bringing us up to this. He is not bringing you up to a thing you have not possessed; but the Spirit having shown it to you, He removes hindrances out of the way that you may know it continually. Many a time I have thought, when I heard a person praying, If you get an answer to that prayer there will be a severing of things here. Do not be sorry for it; you are gaining more than you lose. Do not be afraid of the discipline; God only removes what hinders. The apostle says, "We which live are alway delivered unto death for

[Page 307]

Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh".

Well, we were speaking of the Lord's presence and the wonderful effect it has. Look at Mary Magdalene in John 20. She was desolate, and felt it was insupportable to be here without the Lord. John went home, Mary is inconsolable, because she did not know where Jesus was. The Lord likes love. The question to her was, Where is He? The Lord sees this; He appears to her and speaks to her! What a change takes place in her. She can leave Him now and go at His bidding with His message to His disciples.

I will give you one more illustration. I believe many read the Scriptures and yet do not enjoy the Lord; they do not get into His presence; they are not transformed. Look at the disciples going to Emmaus; Luke 24. They had heard the most wonderful exposition of the Scriptures. He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. I am sure there are many here who would have liked to hear that exposition. I believe it is not given to us that we might study the word for ourselves. I do not see among the younger brethren of today the study of the word that there used to be. We used to study every word and write upon every word in private; and there is consequently little freshness in the ministry; it reminds one of that word, "no rain", although they were in the land; Deuteronomy 11. There should be the sense, I have learned that word for myself. It is not being able to describe it, or to put it in dispensational order; but having that word for myself from the Lord.

Well, to return. Here was the most wonderful exposition of Scripture; but these two disciples were not transformed by it, though their hearts burned within them. They were attracted to Him, and asked Him to come in; then He manifests Himself to them

[Page 308]

at the breaking of the bread. Now they rise up the same hour and go to Jerusalem. A few minutes ago it was too late to go further, but now they go all the way back to Jerusalem, and there they find Him. Did He tell them He was going there Himself? Not a word of it. But there they go, and there they find Him; His presence had transformed them. We know this ourselves in some little measure. Sometimes in prayer we get a sense of being near the Lord; then we get His peace; "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding". You cannot tell how it came, but when you get near Him you get it. You did not get it from Scripture. The Scripture tells you of it, but you have to prove it. You get near to Him and make all known to Him yourself. It is not like having a petition sent up through the Secretary of State, or the like; but that I have communicated it to the Sovereign myself, and I know that he knows it. In English we have to put two words, 'made known', in expressing this; in the Greek there is only one word, but the meaning of that word is, 'I told Him myself'. It is not a question of getting an answer to a petition, but that I have made all known to Him, and the result is, I am in divine tranquillity.

I turn now to the other action. It is wonderful how God helps you by discipline. There are two kinds of discipline; one, when faithful; and the other for unfaithfulness. There is discipline on the body for unfaithfulness. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you". In Hebrews 12 you get the Father's discipline, that we should be partakers of His holiness. I must speak very briefly on this point. I see the wonderful way in which it occurs. As soon as you are set for the right object, God comes in and helps you by discipline; and as your heart is led by the Spirit to Christ, He who knows the hindrance to the purpose of your heart, removes the obstruction.

[Page 309]

You may be surprised at times at His way with you, but it is all to this end. Besides, there is a discipline not easy to explain even, the discipline of jealousy. God brings you perhaps to the very confines of death because you have been going on in a course of worldliness and unfaithfulness. But what God delights in is, to help you when you are set for the Lord, in order that your body may be luminous. The body is His, and He deals with you that it may be more distinctly for Him. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us". As with Gideon's men, the lamps were in the pitchers and when the pitchers were broken, the light came out. God's thought is, not to get rid of the vessel, but to get rid of the will. If the will is got rid of, the light will shine out. That is practically the discipline that souls go through. Jonah is an example: he is called to serve; he goes off in self-will; then he is cast into the sea. He is brought to say, "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy". Now God says, Do what I tell you. A well-broken horse will turn the way you wish. But all is not done yet. No, Jonah's heart must be broken. This is done by discipline; the gourd dies. The first discipline was to break his will; the second, to bring him into God's sympathies, to make him tender hearted. Then he is a servant fitted for the Lord's use. Do not be distressed, beloved friends, at what the Lord may be bringing you through; you are not losing but gaining every step. It is that the life of Jesus may be manifest in your mortal bodies. Surely that is not to lose but to gain. We have not an idea of how God puts us through things. Do you think that you are sent into this world to be a father or a husband? That is the necessary discipline to fit you for God's purpose. You are sent into the world to be a missionary for Christ, but the will must be broken. God only can bring this about; you

[Page 310]

could not; but walk with God, and He will bring it about.

Your discipline may not be like that of Jonah, who was thrown out into the sea; but learn it you must in one way or another. It may be like Job. Job did nothing wrong; yet he had to learn to say, "I abhor myself". Nothing really breaks the will, but the sense of sin in God's presence. Affliction in itself does not break the will. Never is your will broken till you come to say, I am disgusted with myself. Often have I seen people come out of affliction harder than ever; but when one comes to this: "in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing", I have no confidence in myself, but because I am brought to God, I have full dependence on Him. This is what Job was brought to. Like the Syrophenician woman in Mark 7, she says, I have no claim on you, but you are too good not to give to me. When I take that place, I know that it is all grace, for I have come to the true estimate of myself and of God. I am in a state for grace. Like Jacob, when he was brought to the lowest point, with a stone for a pillow; then God comes to him and gives him a great revelation.

One word more as to this. I want to explain how it is that you are sometimes surprised by the way you are tried. Sometimes, after you have been enjoying the Lord greatly, some unexpected trials befall you. You see it with Abraham. When Isaac gets his right place in the house, the one who would be his rival (Ishmael) must go out. Sarah says, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son". She was right. The Lord says to Abraham, "in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice". Have not some of you known, that when you were really bright with the Lord, God has touched something that you thought to have saved, some idol? He knows this is the time for it to go; it must go today. It may not be that it is cut off by His hand, but He makes you sensible

[Page 311]

that death is on it. You could not roll in death, but He does. Do you not know in your history, how He has come in and made you sensible of death on your side, though never more conscious of the brightest day with the Lord? Have you never felt, after enjoying Him, that things here, that had been much to you, had lost their interest? It is not enough with God to fix your heart on what is most attractive; He must remove the hindrance to your enjoying it fully. The standard rose-tree appropriates everything that belongs to the briar on which it is grafted; so God appropriates all of me for Christ, my brains, my power, everything, it is all His. But not a bud of the old stem must be allowed. The gardener, in cultivating the rose to perfection, will not, if he understands his work, allow a single bud upon the briar. There is no similarity whatever between the stem of the rose-tree and the stem of the briar; there is distinct separation even as to appearance. Of course no simile can be complete; but still, I say, this may show you what I want to convey; for as the rose is brought to perfection, the briar is not to appear. Be it a briar or a crab-tree, if it is allowed to grow, there is no bloom in the graft.

The apostle brings out this in his epistles to the Corinthians. He writes two epistles to them. He was not in Corinth between the two, but he shows them, in the second epistle, what would be the effect of what he had said in the first. They were Epicureans; they gloated in indulgence of every kind. They disgraced themselves in every circle of society; whether at home or abroad; in the church or the world. They were indulging their body, giving rein to the flesh. Therefore the apostle says of himself, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection". I do not even give myself the liberties that I might. The Corinthians thought that they would never see their bodies again. This we find in chapter 15.

[Page 312]

There were some among them who denied the resurrection of the body. This self-indulgence leads to the principles of Babylon. It is said of Babylon, "She ... lived deliciously", keeping up her position; and she lived luxuriously, feeding herself without fear. Then the apostle goes on to say, "we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body ".

As you are here for Christ in the present moment, in that measure you will be for Christ in the kingdom. He will reward every man according to his works. You are not here only for service, but as you serve here, so will be your position in the new Jerusalem. All, even the youngest babe, will be "conformed to the image of his Son". But there will also be a position in the city corresponding to your works, "counted worthy of the kingdom of God".

One example more, which shows how the faithfulness of God comes in. I see Jacob suffering for his unfaithfulness. In Genesis 34, he is scandalised before the world; but when he comes to Bethel in chapter 35, he suffers when he is in faithfulness. He has come to the right spot, and now the Lord says, I will set you right as to the original hindrance. First Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, dies. There is Allon-bachuth. Then Rachel dies. The Lord does not press you into the path, but the moment you are on it, for no doubt the Spirit of God has brought you there, the hand of God will help you.

May the Lord grant that we may know this double action of God attaching and detaching; that we may come out in the body of light, and we ourselves be "like unto men that wait for their Lord". It is dangerous to the last degree for a man to propound what has not come out in himself. I would say one word to you, Do not speak of anything beyond what you know yourself. But the moment you accept it

[Page 313]

before the Lord, He will bring you into conformity to it.

The Lord grant that we may know it, and be found for Him here on earth, for His name's sake.

[Page 314]


John 14:26; 15: 26

Any simple reader can see the distinction between these two verses, but there is much involved in that distinction. In the one, the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father; in the other, the Holy Spirit is sent by the glorified Christ. If you accept the distinction, and then wait on the Lord, He will open it out to you. What is the importance of it? What is involved in the distinction? I am not going to say much upon the distinction, but to record the history of the Spirit's services.

In chapter 14: 26 the Father sends Him. That, you remark, is announced at the supper table. The blessed Lord announces to the disciples the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father whilst they were at the supper table. Chapters 13 and 14 both give what transpires there. He and His own are seen there, as in a family circle apart altogether from the world. Indeed, all John's gospel represents Christ and those brought to know Him by the Father, as altogether outside man and earth. There is nothing in this gospel relating to our being subjects on the earth, such as we find in the epistle to the Romans. John presents Christ and His own, God's circle. In chapters 13 and 14 we have God's people; we are inside. True, there were elements of disturbance; there was the treachery of Judas, and the unfaithfulness of Peter. But we are there inside. The last verse of chapter 14: "Arise, let us go hence", intimates leaving this enclosure for a more outward course. We are in the street now, outside the enclosure of chapter 14, where the Lord is with His own. You get all the comfort inside, the preparation for confronting the world outside. I do not think of interpreting these scriptures,

[Page 315]

but I desire to dwell especially on the resources which now belong to us. I would seek to arrest saints, even the youngest, with the immense importance of those resources.

John's gospel, if not the last book written was very nearly the last, and God sets forth there how His support remains the same. It is not a question of what we are, but of what God is, and of what we have in Him. It is an immense comfort to turn to the wonderful resources we have in Him. There may be great deficiency in availing ourselves of them, but it is a great cheer to my soul to know that (as a general might say) 'My resources are complete'. Talk of feebleness or of declension, I admit it fully; but I do not admit that there is any lack in the resources. I look up to God and see the resources as great as ever. It is as true for the believer this day as it was the first day, that the Holy Spirit is here sent from the Father to glorify Christ. You remark, the Father sends Him in the Son's name. It is not so much to support them on the earth, as to lift them out of it; to make them realise that which Jesus Himself had when here, though they were in a place in which they could expect nothing, either from the place, or from the man. It is a wonderful thing to learn that I am in a place from which I get nothing, or from the man that is in that place. I am here as an Australian might be in this country. I ask him, 'Where are your interests?' He replies, 'They are all in Australia'.

We are sent here for a purpose; we are all missionaries. Your duties are only discipline to fit you for the Lord's service. It is our Lord's will to fit us for His own service, and He puts us in different circles and responsibilities. The more you are for Him, the more He will cut away from you all that debars you from being for Him fully. Do you think Paul knew when in the third heaven, 'I shall lose all my great

[Page 316]

abilities when I come down'? He never dreamt of it! But when he comes down, he says, "Lest I should be exalted above measure ... there was given to me a thorn in the flesh ". "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake". Always . I never yet saw any man get any advance in the knowledge of Christ who did not get at the same time severance from the thing that would hinder his being the expression of it. A monk or a nun thinks they can sever themselves from it. All ascetics are on that ground. But no! Nothing but God's own hand can do it; and He will touch something that perhaps you know nothing about; something you little expect; but He knows all about it. He knows how to touch, and His own hand does it. This is a little away from my subject.

To return, I propose to go on with the history. Chapter 15: 26: "He shall testify of me". The word He is very emphatic. Any ordinary writer would have said, 'You shall testify of me'. We get that in the last verse, where it is said, "ye also shall bear witness". But it is not only that the disciples who had known Him on earth should bear testimony of this divine Person from heaven, we have to do with a testimony from heaven . "He shall testify of me". He uses the vessel, but He shows it is not you but the Holy Spirit. He is the "power from on high". Most books on this subject do not go beyond the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father. But that, as I have said, is more in relation to yourself. Here in chapter 15: 26, it is in relation to Christ Himself. I do not think you can have the comfort of the Holy Spirit, as sent by the Father in chapter 14, if you do not know Him as sent by the Son in chapter 15. I do not, of course, mean that you have not the Spirit of God; but you will not have the power of the Spirit to comfort, as in chapter 14, if you avoid the position of a witness of Christ on earth, and do not accept

[Page 317]

Him as sent in chapter 15. In chapter 14 it is all for yourself individually. In chapter 15 the Holy Spirit makes you a witness of Christ; you can effect nothing yourself; the Holy Spirit witnesses through you.

I turn to chapter 16 to explain what I mean. We are not inside now, where we are prepared for service. There is a difference between preparation and the testimony. You have to learn inside, you are there prepared, but you go outside to bear witness for Him. If you are not prepared you will not be in testimony; you are prepared inside. A soldier does not go to battle to learn to be a soldier. He is taught that in barracks. Chapter 16 is the battlefield. The Holy Spirit is in distinct testimony against the world. What then is our position? We should be like the armed men going round Jericho. Which are you, Jericho or the armed men? They never struck a blow, but there was a very distinct declaration; that is Jericho; that is the obstruction; they were witnesses against it. There is God's organisation. I am here for a glorified Christ; I come out from inside, having learnt the blessedness of His comfort. I come out as a witness of the exalted Man. And what is my position? I confront the world because I belong to another order of things altogether. I am the very opposite of the world. What has the church done? She gave up the power of the Holy Spirit, and accepted the power of the world, Rome, the fourth beast. She will get plenty of it. The beast will yet carry the harlot, and will turn round and hate her, and burn her with fire. The church gave up the power of God and accepted the power of the world. We cannot, as witnesses for Christ against the world, use the means and power of the world. If one were to say, 'use every means I have at my disposal for the service of God', well then I should say, 'You weaken your work'. Paul, when he came first into Europe in Acts 16, is a voice to us. Paul

[Page 318]

would not accept countenance from the woman with the spirit of divination; consequently the world opposed him, but God signalised him. Instead of any concession to the god of this world, he is a witness against him. The Holy Spirit is an incontrovertible witness against the world. He exposes the guilt of the world as an advocate would expose the guilt of a culprit. I would not read the statistics of crime to find out what the world is; this one scripture tells it. The Holy Spirit is here, an abiding witness of the state, the sin of the world. You must go to heaven for righteousness; there is none here. As to judgment, the prince of this world is judged.

Correspondingly with this, let me turn to verse 14 of chapter 16. A remarkable communication is there made which we do not get in chapter 14, and which is only known to the one who is standing in testimony. "He shall glorify me". But that is not all: you have lost the world, but "He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you". In chapter 14 you get your place only. Now you find that the One your heart is set upon will be glorified. "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you". "All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you". It is in keeping with Paul's word, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things; yea, the deep things of God". You say, If I were with the Holy Spirit I should be outside the world? Yes; but you would find that He would delight your heart, for He would glorify Christ. The things where Christ is would be made known to you. You have lost the world; but heaven and heavenly things are given to you. "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit". I have

[Page 319]

heard that passage quoted as if it were said, "He shall take of me", as if it was Christ Himself. But no, it is "take of mine ". "All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you". You see He is bringing in heavenly things in contrast with the world and its things. It is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit to bring our souls into acquaintance with these heavenly things. You are confronting the world, standing in opposition to it; I do not say aggressively, but you are standing in moral distinction from it; I belong to another order of things; I belong to Christ in heaven; and practically, I am called to be here for Him on earth. The gospel narrative shows how the Father can lift you out of every pressure here. Will He feed me? Yes. Will He clothe me? Yes. He cares for me perfectly! What I learn is how the Father's heart is for me, not to set me up in the world, but to lift me out of it.

I turn now to Acts 7, going on with the history of the Holy Spirit. Here we have our charter if I may so say. Read verse 55: "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God". Here I get a very distinct work of the Holy Spirit, and one of the deepest importance. Until you understand this, you do not understand your position for Christ on the earth; and you could not understand the new order of things, the new centre. Here the fact is disclosed that the old order of things is over; not the world simply, but all here that is nominally for God. It is not only the pagan world, but the religious world, as we call it. The old order upon the earth comes to a close. A most wonderful thing happened. The first witness who had been recounting to Israel how they had failed up to that moment from the days of Abraham, now discloses, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as

[Page 320]

your fathers did, so do ye". What now? That man, a man of faith, inaugurates an entirely new order of things. Stephen is the first witness of the new order; witness and martyr are the same word. He looks up stedfastly into heaven; he sees Jesus, "the glory of God, and Jesus". That is the first time that ever a man on earth saw a Man in heaven, and now a Man in heaven is seen in connection with the glory of God. It is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Ezekiel. In vision, Ezekiel saw the appearance of a man in the brightest spot of the glory; Ezekiel 1:26.

I trust that every one here is delighted to know that there is a Man in heaven. This witness, Stephen, saw Him, and he turns round and tells what he knows, not what he has read, but what he knows. He says, "I see .. . the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". Do you believe that? It is a solemn question for us here. The word of God tells us what to believe. In believing, we have the virtue of it; not only the food, but the food appropriated. I believe that there is a Man in heaven. The old order is over. Stephen in a moment is transformed. A wonderful moment! He himself had, like the rest, been looking for the Lord to come from glory that the times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Lord. But now he has a new centre, a new metropolis; and that is, the Man at the right hand of God. He turns round and says, "I see ... the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". What did the religious world think of it? Not the mob, remember, but the concentrated ability of the Jewish system. What did they do? They ran upon him with one accord and cast him out of the city and stoned him. The religious world would not accept the Man in glory, but stoned Stephen the witness of it, and it is the same to this day. People may enjoy forgiveness of sins and approve of good works, perhaps even separation from religious systems, but there is a great reluctance to leave earth

[Page 321]

for heaven. Hence it is only the man that has crossed the Jordan who is able to conquer the man here. Those who crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3:10) were able to confront the seven nations of Canaan, the complete power of man. You cross Jordan as a dead man; dead with Christ. Stephen crossed; he reached his place in heaven, given him of God, and hence he could triumphantly surmount everything here, even unto death. We are brought to God; Christ is in heaven, and as we are dead with Him, we are over Jordan.

But I say, Who likes to be dead? to be out of the world altogether in spirit? to break company with things here, and find that he belongs to another scene; who likes it? Well, it is the Spirit's work. Flesh does not like it. The Holy Spirit in me desires it. The company of the Lord there makes the heart, led by the Spirit to delight in being there.

I turn now to Acts 9. The new order is begun; the old order is over. Everything comes out new from this, the gospel and the church. You say, The gospel was preached before this. Yes; but not the gospel of the glory of Christ. At Paul's conversion you get the gospel and the church. The new order is come. It is the break of day of the new order; it shines upon the earth. And what is it? A Man in heaven! I have but one Man, a Man in heaven. He is my life; He is my joy; He is my counsellor, my all; He is the One I have to study; and as I do, I am right upon the earth in everything. I get all my instruction from Him. He is the only One.

In the conversion of Saul of Tarsus the light came out of heaven; that is, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. That is the first part; and the finish is, he received the Holy Spirit. That is power from on high. When the Lord said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" the church was revealed. Christ can call the saints "me" because we are His

[Page 322]

body. But let me try to explain this wonderful thing. I learn from Stephen that by the Holy Spirit he saw Christ in heaven. And next, that I am to describe Him on earth; that is my simple duty. The first desire of love is to be in the company of its object; the second to be like Him, conformed to His image. We first enjoy company and then identification. That is the consummation of love. What Elijah could not do for Elisha the Spirit does for us. The Spirit desires that we should be descriptive of the heavenly Man here. How can that be? Now I come to Ephesians. The body of Christ here upon earth in the power of the Spirit is descriptive of the heavenly Man. If you catch the idea it will be wonderful cheer to your heart. The important thing is, Christ is rejected upon earth; His own are here in the place of His rejection, but are united to Him in heaven. What then are you? You are a member of Christ's body; you are here to describe Him who is in heaven. One member could not do it; hence, every member is necessary, therefore it is the body; and the more you understand it, the more you would labour that the body should be in order. The very contemplation of it does one good. The church, as has been said, is like a beautiful full-blown white rose; the very thought of it helps you. The world has rejected Christ. The church is to be a beautiful expression of what is entirely unique. The apostle had this in his mind in Ephesians 3, when he says, "to enlighten all with the knowledge of what is the administration of the mystery", not the fellowship . The body of Christ is to be the expression of the Man in heaven, in heavenly beauty here in the very place where Christ was rejected. It is this that exasperates Satan.

The apostle having prayed in chapter 1 that the saints might know the power that had wrought towards them, in having borne them up in Christ to the heights where He is, he prays in chapter 3, that

[Page 323]

they might know the power that works in them, to enable them to express Him here; and in verse 17, you get to the highest point: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith". Now you are learning the power that brought you into association with Christ, and that same power enables you to express Him down here. But like Stephen you must enter into the effect of this power. That is the prayer in the end of Ephesians 3. The power is there in you. From chapter 4 to 6: 10 you are told the character in which you are to behave in every relationship of life.

I pass on to verse 10 of chapter 6. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God". "Stand therefore". How are you to stand? What is your position? I have already tried to describe it. It is like the armed men around Jericho. Many preach and lecture upon the armour who do not enter the battle-field. You may know all about the weapons without facing the foe. True, you have to learn them. David taught them the "use of the bow". But do not think you are facing the foe when you are earthly, and occupied with earthly things. If you are in the battle-field you have taken the place of a dead man. Now you can face the foe. What sort of a man are you now? You have the armour on. "Take unto you the whole armour of God". The characteristics here are very striking. In the face of Satan I am armed, but to God I am praying; that is my place with God; for Satan I want armour, for God prayer. The apostle asks for himself "that utterance may be given unto me". If this prayer was necessary for him, how much more for the servants in this day.

I ask for you, and I ask for myself, that we may understand the nature of our position now for Christ on earth, and be ever assured that the Holy Spirit is here; and that all the resources are with us, for His name's sake!

[Page 324]


Leviticus 16:3 - 15

J.B.S. My object in reading these verses is to show that there are two families, the earthly and the heavenly. There was a different offering for Aaron and his house, and for the whole congregation. The bullock was offered for Aaron and his house, and the two goats were for the congregation. It is upon this principle all Christendom is formed; a consecrated company called the priesthood, and the laity. They are before their time. The earthly company has not come yet. The priestly company has come.

Geo.C. The millennial reign has not come; the congregation to whom Melchisedec will come.

J.B.S. There are two sacrifices in the type; I need not say only one in the antitype, for both fulfilled are in Christ.

F.H.B. Why is there no scapegoat for the priestly family?

J.B.S. The bullock included everything for God; it was inside the veil. The scapegoat refers to the earth, to the administrative forgiveness of sins. To this probably Ananias referred when he said to Saul, "wash away thy sins"; he was all right within the veil. The offering of Christ is only one, but here there were two offerings to show the twofold application of it. The only point of similarity between the earthly and the heavenly family is the virtue of the blood.

F.E.R. What do you make of the blood of the goat being carried inside the holiest?

J.B.S. It is the witness that God has infinite satisfaction in the work of Christ. God can do with man now according to His will. The heavenly family

[Page 325]

is of a new order - a new creation. The earthly is man made capable to keep the law of God here on the earth; they get a new heart and the like.

F.E.R. One point I would like you to speak about; in a sense do we not come into certain outward things incidentally as being yet on earth?

J.B.S. Yes, everything belonging to God we enjoy. He has given us everything richly to enjoy. There is nothing according to God that He does not give us to enjoy. We enjoy earthly blessings. Many would like the word 'possess' instead of 'enjoy.' "Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high-minded nor trust in uncertain riches" (that is, possession), "but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy". I come into everything according to God, and therefore taste of every blessing that belongs to the earthly family. We enjoy the earthly blessings incidentally, but they are not our possession. I only come into them incidentally, passing by; the new covenant and so on. We enjoy God's blessings, air, and light, and all His works. We could not have the "upper springs" without "the nether".

F. H. B. Why does Paul speak of the "new covenant in my blood" in 1 Corinthians 11?

J.B.S. The new covenant is God's new relation with man on the earth. The virtue of the blood is alike to both families.

G.G. The blessings belonging to both companies rest on the one sacrifice.

J.B.S. In your own house you may take Psalm 128. It is applicable to a man in his own house. The Lord, if fully accepted, rules in my house now, though rejected on the earth, and then I obtain His blessing.

F.H.B. There are two spheres where He should rule, my house and the assembly.

J.B.S. Yes; but in my house it is my things. In the assembly it is His things. The more I give Him the reins in my house, the better it will be. He is

[Page 326]

refused in the world, but He reigns in the believer's house.

F.E.R. Is not that (owning the authority of Christ) a point of similarity between saints now, and in the millennium?

J.B.S. Yes; but I am owning it now before the time. His rule will then be coextensive with everything; no evil then. The kingdom of heaven is the rule of the word without the king, in the absence of the king. Nothing is said of the Holy Spirit in the kingdom of heaven. He is in the house. In John 15 the Holy Spirit was to come to "you" - that is, the eleven apostles; they were to have the Holy Spirit, and not the world outside. A protestant (I mean a political protestant) will talk of having "The whole Bible", never of having the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is limited to the eleven in John 15. They would have the Holy Spirit, and the world would hate them. Christ is Head of the assembly and Lord of the individual. He is Lord in connection with administration.

F.E.R. It has been said that the name of Lord is introduced in connection with the assembly only when evil existed. It is the difference between the assembly and the individual as such.

J.B.S. As I understand it, I am the Lord's servant; and if He chooses me to take a part in the assembly I am His servant, and I take it as directed by the Head, and that will be good for the whole. I act because He is the Head. He is not the Lord of the assembly, but the Lord of the individual. As the Lord I am His slave; everything I have belongs to Him.

J.D. Who is in the midst? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. You must take in the whole of His name. He is not in the character of Lord though He is in the assembly.

J.B.S. Personally He is in the midst. He is Lord of every individual there; but He is Head of the

[Page 327]

assembly. He says, as it were, 'If you do My pleasure in the assembly it will be profitable to all'.

F.E.R. There are two distinct things in the assembly. One what is Godward, to the Lord, and the other what is from the Lord - what comes from the Lord, and approach to Him. Ministry and the like are from the Lord; a man has to receive this in responsibility to the Lord. When it is approach it is another thing; a man is the mouthpiece of the whole assembly. That is different from ministry when one speaks from Him.

J.B.S. The first point of contrast between the earthly and the heavenly family is acceptance . The acceptance of the heavenly family is "in the Beloved". You cannot get higher than Ephesians 1. There you are brought into the highest position individually before you get one word said about union. "Accepted in the Beloved". The acceptance of the earthly family is "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more". "I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord".

T.H.R. Does not the incense give more the thought of acceptance in the Beloved? You come in in the cloud of incense according to all the personal perfections of Christ. It is a great help to get a true idea of the difference. It would be a great help to us practically.

J.D. Is not new birth a point of similarity? It is as necessary for the kingdom as for us.

J.B.S. I do not touch that at all. When I get to the virtue of the blood I am beyond new birth which is necessary for the kingdom. We are all looked at in this chapter as redeemed, having new birth; it is approach here. New birth makes them of the family; this is farther on. Until the day of atonement God could not bless the people as He wished. He can do His will now; He has got rid of man in the cross, and can set us up in any order He likes. He puts us within

[Page 328]

the veil in Christ in a new order altogether, morally apart from the man here, and the place where Christ was rejected. Man will come out in a new way in the millennium.

The next important difference is with respect to the Holy Spirit . He is in us, and on them. Peter makes the addition in Acts 2:33. Jesus being exalted, he established the fact of the Holy Spirit coming down - what was expected by Israel according to Joel. He then speaks of the "promise of the Father", which carries us back to John 14:17, after he had quoted the prophecy of Joel to prove that the Holy Spirit was to come down.

Ques. What is the difference of the Holy Spirit upon them?

J.B.S. I think it is immense. He is in the assembly, and in that sense also on those there. He does keep order no doubt in the assembly.

F.E.R. In the millennial day, when every person will know the Lord, He has control; He will set them all in a right direction; Psalm 133.

J.B.S. Yes; but that is all outside, like the wind to a ship; the Holy Spirit on them. In Hebrews 6 it says, "partakers of the Holy Spirit", because they are in the house.

F.E.R. The result in Psalm 133 is, that they dwell together in unity, that is unity in the great congregation. The result in the assembly is unity. The Holy Spirit will not indwell the believer in the millennium.

J.B.S. The wonderful position for us is that we are morally outside of everything, man and the earth, and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us while on earth. In Hebrews 6 they were in the place where He was. It is very rare for a man to leave Christianity for paganism or simple Judaism. When we use the word 'assembly' in a wide sense as the house of God, it takes in profession.

[Page 329]

F.E.R. The assembly brings in the idea of the body as well as of the house.

J.B.S. When you speak of the house you do not necessarily bring in the body.

F.E.R. There is another point with respect to the Holy Spirit dwelling in us: we live in the Spirit.

J.B.S. Yes; we shall come to that when we come to the difference between the way we have eternal life and the way they have it. Many do not understand the Holy Spirit, but as an influence. Wesleyans regard Him as the motive power. He is more than that to me, He is the spring of everything; we live in the Spirit. I have nothing on earth but the Holy Spirit, and so far from that meaning that I am short of anything, it is the magnificence of my position. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". The Spirit of God does not connect me with earth, He connects me with Christ in heaven.

T.H.R. It is a great thing to see that the Lord in John 20 came into the assembly, and then in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came to that same company, and made it His dwelling place. That gave it a character it had not before. Therefore it introduced a new thing that never had belonged to saints before.

J.B.S. By-and-by even all creation will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.

F.E.R. In John 20 they had the Lord actually present, risen from the dead; they had a mission then which none had before.

J.B.S. It was not established till the Holy Spirit came, but this was the pattern of the assembly. The next difference is, all our blessings are inside, heavenly; theirs are outside, earthly .

J.R.B. Does the "inside" represent heaven?

J.B.S. Inside is heaven, all our blessings are there. Someone who denied the priesthood of Christ once asked me, "What did the priest do when he came

[Page 330]

out?" I said, I want to know what He did when He went in; He is within now: -

"In Him we stand a heavenly band
Where He Himself is gone". (Hymn 12)

A man not priested in the Church of England cannot pronounce the blessing. Where did they get that idea from? When the priest came out he pronounced the blessing; Leviticus 9. It is assuming the ground of the earthly family; and, though we are quite beyond that, it is wonderful how much we are drawn away by the blessings of the earthly family.

Ques. What do you mean by that?

J.B.S. Well, it is humbling to confess it, but I have before now wished to be of the earthly family, for the enjoyment of earthly things.

T.M. It is difficult to withstand the influence of these things.

J.B.S. Yes; unless you are in the power of the Spirit you cannot withstand the natural influence. You never give up till you get something superior. We have a life that belongs to heaven. I can understand a monk or a nun shutting out the world, but he does not shut it out of his own heart. I used often to say to a brother, You are only a monk - you are like a man in prison shutting yourself away from things here, and yet when the light comes in through the keyhole you say, What a beautiful thing! Paul said, "what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ". It is easy to understand a man giving up his sins, but to give up the "things that were gain to me"! The beauties of nature, your tastes, etc., would all be included in that. It is not, what harm is there in this or that? But the things that were gain to me, those I count loss.

Geo.C. You were speaking just now of enjoying that tree outside.

J.B.S. Yes, I enjoy it, but I do not possess it; all is given to me to enjoy. We have to take care that we

[Page 331]

do not minister to our tastes. The Corinthians were doing so when the apostle said, "Ye have reigned as kings without us".

Ques. May we take it as a settled thing that Aaron and his sons represent the heavenly family?

J.B.S. Yes; Aaron and his sons always represent the consecrated company, as in Hebrews. Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his house. Aaron offered for himself and for his sons. Christ is Son over God's house, "whose house are we ". There will always be the priestly family even when the congregation comes in.

T.H.R. As far as I understand it, the glory comes down to the temple. I believe that is the new Jerusalem.

Ques. It will not be on earth?

T.H.R. No; but I think it will be the new Jerusalem coming down, the heavenly company. It comes down to reveal God; it connects itself with the earth, having the glory of God; it comes down.

J.B.S. It is the heavenly city which all the patriarchs looked for. I am very ignorant on the subject, but the more we look at it, the more it will open out. The more we look to the Lord, the more we get the 'capacity for reception.' I was sorry you did not tell us yesterday how we got the 'capacity,' I believe it is in keeping a good conscience.

T.H.R. You would connect administration with the city? You were speaking of Aaron and his sons?

J.B.S. Yes; but I think they minister grace to all ages.

T.H.R. The glory of Ezekiel and Isaiah is a little different. One is more governmental glory; the other (in Isaiah) is more the shadowing of heavenly glory. It is the glory connected with the seraphim, what God is in His own nature. In Ezekiel it is the cherubic glory connected with government. Angelic glory comes in there. In Ezekiel you get "the place

[Page 332]

of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet". In Isaiah it is far more what God is in Himself. It is a beautiful thought in Isaiah of the heavenly glory shining upon the earthly. All the glory of the Father's house; that is what it will be. That connects itself with the heavenly city.

F.E.R. What is characteristic of the heavenly city is divine righteousness.

J.B.S. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory". All that we are speaking of connects itself with that. The first verses of Revelation 21 are the eternal state. The new Jerusalem comes down in the millennium, and the new Jerusalem is in the eternal state. E.H.C. In the millennial description it is only called the "holy city",; "new" in connection with the eternal state. The promise to Philadelphia is in connection with the new Jerusalem, eternal in its character.

J.B.S. The next point of distinction is relationship . We are sons; individually we are sons. In Ephesians we have the adoption of children by Christ Jesus unto Himself. I get the very highest possible relationship with God, a son. Before a word is said of union with Christ, I am in the highest relationship as a son. When we come to relationship here, I should think we are members of Christ, and they are subjects of the king. If we were not sons and were not accepted in the Beloved, we could not be qualified to be united to Christ. Son is heavenly relationship, so is union; but unless I am of the same order I cannot be united to Him.

F.E.R. I am not a son as a man down here.

J.B.S. No; it is, chosen in Christ before the world was; outside the course of this world altogether. Abraham and Sarah are an illustration of it. Sarah was of the same stock as Abraham. I spring from Christ; it is the great subject in Hebrews, we are

[Page 333]

companions of Christ. If you are not fit to be a companion of Christ, there could not be union; you would not be suited for it. If you do not understand this, you cannot understand union. There must be suitability.

Ques. It is a heavenly relationship though a son on earth?

J.B.S. Yes; but our communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ in heaven.

"Our hearts resort to where Thou liv'st
In heav'n's unclouded rays". (Hymn 25)

F.E.R. If you come to sonship in its true power you have neither male nor female; Galatians 3:28.

Ques. "My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty"?

J.B.S. That is in connection with natural things down here. We are "brethren" in the assembly, not brothers and sisters that is a natural distinction. Sons now. In the kingdom they are subjects. Pious people now speak of the King, not of the Head of the church.

Ques. The epistle of John is to a lady?

F.E.R. Yes; but that is to an individual. Even in the assembly the woman has to bear the mark of God's order here, and has to keep silence.

J.B.S. They maintain their divine position. Until Christianity came in, woman was never put on an equality with man. The most enlightened nation (the Greeks) never put the woman on equality with the man. When Christianity came in, it did. The woman always came in when there was a lack in the man. She comes in in a crisis. You find it continually, as with Mary Magdalene, Sarah, Rebekah, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, the great woman of Shunem.

As to sonship, although we possess it on earth, we must be morally outside of earth to enjoy it. Christ teaches it you Himself. Christ was a Son here on earth, and instead of looking to His Father for something

[Page 334]

here on earth He was ever receiving from Him in order that He might be superior to everything here. Paul in prison could say, "as to me, I have learnt in those circumstances in which I am to be satisfied in myself".

F.E.R. Paul uses the terms "son" and "child" almost interchangeably.

Ques. Does not 'child' carry the thought of nature; 'son' of position? You might have position without relationship. Moses was the son of Pharaoh's daughter.

J.B.S. "Son" is relationship. We are predestinated to be sons, or to sonship, by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the Spirit of adoption.

Ques. Were the Old Testament saints children but not sons?

J.D. In Galatians they were babes. There a child means one under age, a minor. It is not a question of relationship. "We have received the Spirit of adoption".

F.E.R. They are sons of the resurrection. It says they are sons of God, being sons of resurrection; Luke 20:36.

J.B.S. Adoption means a real son in Scripture. The word there is not used in the way we use it. In a certain sense Israel could say, "We have one Father even God".

F.E.R. In sonship the thought is, you are placed before God as the fruit of redemption. Children is more what you are from God; born of God, etc.

J.B.S. Now we come to the difference of standard or rule of life, with the character of holiness belonging to it.

The rule of life, or holiness of the earthly family is the law. The mass of Christians think they would have perfect holiness if they kept the law. Even those who set up a system of holiness by faith have no idea of holiness beyond the law. In Christian holiness, Christ is our rule of life. See John 17"Sanctify

[Page 335]

them through thy truth". There you get the personal sanctification of the believer on earth. The other sanctification is positional, "for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth". In the first (verse 17), I am a different kind of being here, though I am on earth amongst others. It is my constitution. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God". The world knows us not; Why? Because you are a new order, therefore the world does not know you. It is not only that you are personally entirely outside what is here, but you are called to be outside of the place. "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth". I am outside the place. I remember once saying to Mr. Darby, "Then holiness is immeasurable?" 'Yes', he said, 'it is immeasurable'.

Ques. What is "partakers of his holiness"?

J.B.S. That is most abstract - God's own holiness. We all more or less appropriate what belongs to the earthly family. I am quite sure the thought of holiness amongst us often does not go beyond that of earthly holiness. A beautiful nature, lovely ways, all go for nothing. Unless you have holiness according to John 17, you have not the right thought of it.

G.H. It says, "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord".

J.B.S. That is another word, sanctification, not holiness in the abstract.

J.R.B. In John 17 is the first sanctification what God works in me, and the other what He has become for me?

J.B.S. Yes; exactly.

J.R.B. The one is practical day by day.

J.B.S. Yes; as I go on God helps me. When you feel a thing in the way He helps you by removing it. "We which live are alway delivered unto death". I do not think, as a rule, God removes a thing from

[Page 336]

us until we feel it is in the way; then He takes it away. A person may attain to any amount of holiness, according to common notions, and yet not touch the holiness of John 17. The young man in Mark 10 had nothing beyond man. The Lord put to him the five commandments connected with man. Many could say that much. The Lord did not put the other five to him; none relating to God. Paul could say, as regards man, according to his natural conscience - "blameless". We shall not have holiness fully till we reach Christ where He is. The last breath that was knocked out of Stephen accomplished it for him; he was dead. The moment I learn the fact that it is through death I reach heaven, I come back as one ready to die a martyr's death. You come back to die, not to live.

D.G. Is the measure of sanctification Christ in heaven?

J.B.S. Yes, exactly. It must be so. He is the holiness of God.

Ques. What is the difference between the new nature and a clean heart?

J.B.S. As regards the earthly family, God gives them a new heart, writes the law in their hearts. It is not the law in my heart, but Christ! That is more than the law. "They shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest". I do not think they know anything about Romans 7. I think their inclination is to do right; for them it is said, "No more offering for sin". They are there with a nature inclined to do good. They are there rejoicing in the fact that they are cleared from everything, and they will delight to do what the law enjoins.

D.G. Will they be free from an evil nature?

J.B.S. If they have a heart of flesh instead of stone (see Ezekiel 11:19; Jeremiah 31), I cannot see that you can talk of an evil nature. Satan bound, too; no evil one to work upon them; God governing;

[Page 337]

they living under the rule of God, and enjoying the earth and everything to their heart's content.

Geo.C. What of those who are cut off?

J.B.S. They were never born again.

F.E.R. The Spirit of God will be over them; not a wicked spirit corrupting them, but the Holy Spirit poured out on them, and the administration of heaven to the earth. We have no idea what it will be then.

J.B.S. Now God has removed for us everything of the first man in the cross, and we have Christ . The goat was burnt outside the camp as well as the bullock. What God does for me is to say - you are entirely independent of everything but Christ; apart from man altogether. With the millennial saints Christ comes to reign on the earth. God makes the man a subject for Christ on earth in the millennium. Christ will be here reigning on the earth.

F.E.R. We have to remember there are the two things: there is the new birth, and the law written in the heart.

Ques. Why could righteousness not dwell in that state of things?

J.B.S. Because sin can come in. There will be those who are born during the time; when they sin they will be cut off at once. The greater the power in the church now, the speedier the judgment. They will have both new birth and the law written in their hearts. Christ having a place in our hearts accomplishes this for us.

Ques. The vast numbers of those on earth will not be born again at all, will only yield feigned obedience.

J.B.S. I am speaking of Israel and Jerusalem; the blessing which centres there and extends to the nations. Those that apostatise in the end are not Jews, but of the nations. None born again would go wrong; they go into new creation, the eternal state. In the new creation, as I understand it, they enjoy eternal life in completeness. They are not in the

[Page 338]

scope of eternal life till the new creation, the eternal state. When the kingdom is given up it will be all according to God's pleasure. There will be no possibility of defilement then. Everything here is against us now but everything then will be in their favour.

T.H.R. The heart is the centre of the man; it is used constantly in Scripture as understanding, intelligence, "Keep thine heart with all diligence". The promise is "the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God", Deuteronomy 30:6.

J.B.S. There is a vast deal to learn on the subject.

The last difference, as far as I know, is the character of worship . They celebrate the Lord's glory; we celebrate or remember His death. In nothing perhaps are we more deficient than in worship. Our worship now often does not go beyond the worship of the millennial saints. Their worship is always remembering the benefits of His death; and under the shelter and benefits of His death they enjoy the earth.

Ques. With them the sacrifice will be commemorative?

J.B.S. Yes; but they remember the benefits; we have intimacy with the Person inside; we worship there; we not only begin with the blood, but the cup of blessing is the fellowship of it; they begin with it. We have boldness by that blood to enter the holiest and enjoy Him where He is. We are inside the veil; they are under His rule. The veil will still be up. They could not see Him save in the new Jerusalem. He is now the Lord of glory. They do not see Him as such. He goes once through the gate and then the gate will be shut for ever; Psalm 24; Ezekiel 44:2.

Ques. "Every eye shall see him"; His feet shall stand on the mount of Olives?

F.E.R. "He comes to be glorified in the saints and admired in all them that believe", but there will

[Page 339]

not be access. He will appear: "Thine eye shall see the king in his beauty".

J.B.S. It is through the assembly, the city, His glory will shine. When He comes out they will see Him, but it is only once He will appear. In Ezekiel 44 He enters in, and the door is shut.

F.E.R. The point is, they have no access.

Ques. Who is the Prince (verse 3)?

J.B.S. One of the house of David.

Our worship is to worship the Father. How can you worship Him unless you are where He is? You do not get so far as that in Hebrews, but you get the way to it. If you do not learn the way you will never know where He is. Their worship will be according to the levitical order, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more". They are commemorating what has been done for them.

F.E.R. The state of things will be totally different.

J.B.S. They see His glory, but not Himself, as far as I see.

J.B. I think they will be disappointed if they do not see Him.

J.B.S. My object is to show what we have, not to limit what they have. We worship the Father in spirit and in truth. How little we know of worship shows where we are. We rejoice in the benefits which Christ's blood has conferred upon us, but even at the Lord's table we are more occupied with our gain than with remembering Him . They will be rejoicing in all the benefits which Christ's death has conferred on them. I suppose the prodigal son, after he was feasted in the Father's house, began to worship; it was what he knew of the Father made him worship.

T.H.R. Saints have so little sense of the presence of Christ, we are so little in His company.

Ques. Would you worship Christ in the assembly?

J.B.S. Certainly; I begin with Him, and He leads us on to worship the Father. They celebrate His glory,

[Page 340]

we remember His death. It is not remembering His sufferings but His death; the terrible thing to me is - Christ died - is dead as to the earth. I do not separate them, but it is His death that is before me. He has broken the link with man here. "The golden bowl" is broken.

F.E.R. They celebrate what they are in communion with, we remember or celebrate what we are in communion with.

Ques. You would not shut out His sufferings from the table?

J.B.S. I do not shut out anything, but there is the greatest suffering - His death . At the table His death is before us: we are in the place where He died; nothing equals His death; we remember His death till He comes; that shows He is not here now.

F.E.R. The fellowship of His death is different from the fellowship of His sufferings.

J.B.S. His death puts this world in quite another light to us.

Ques. What is the place of worship?

J.B.S. The presence of Christ. In Christ's presence when we worship it is morally heaven. Christ's presence brings heaven morally into our midst. I must be as fit for His presence now as for heaven. His death puts this world in quite another light to you. Christ comes into the midst as the heavenly One. As I draw near to Him I am morally in heaven.

F.E.R. It is the contrast of Hebrews 9 and 10. He is actually in heaven in chapter 9. We have boldness to enter the holiest in chapter 10, that is, morally. The holiest is the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. I have the presence of Christ, who is the minister of the holy places. "The house of God" could not be heaven. We have a great priest over the house of God.

J.B.S. One point more. Some might say that they are better off than we are! Not at all! The nearer we

[Page 341]

are to Christ now the nearer we shall be to Him, and the better off; when He reigns we shall reign with Him. Every one will be in relation to Christ in the kingdom as he works for Christ on the earth now. All will be alike in heaven; the youngest babe will be in heaven as the most advanced, as the apostle Paul. It is on the ground of His work that we go into heaven. All on the same ground. But we are on the earth on the ground of our righteousness.

[Page 342]


John 14:26; John 15:26

I have read these verses because they set forth the power which remains with us. These two verses are in as much force today as they ever were. The resources from God are the same. It has been said that John's gospel was written after the ruin which we find in 2 Timothy; and this is very interesting, because it shows how, notwithstanding the ruin, God remains; that His Spirit remains here on earth, not in the same demonstration, but in the same power. These two verses which I have read, remain in all their force and efficacy. I do not say they are appropriated. The sun shines, but a man who is asleep is unconscious of its light. The Holy Spirit is on earth, and in the same power today as ever He was; and He is here for this double purpose: one, to comfort each believer personally (chapter 14: 26); the other, to "testify of me" (chapter 15: 26). You cannot separate these two any more than you can separate light and heat from the sun; they come from the same source. It is important to see that they go together. The Holy Spirit is here in these two distinct ways. We have gone over it often enough in this place, but I just call attention to it again.

I should like briefly to sketch in a measure what Christianity is. I know I am undertaking a very large subject, but I do not intend to dwell on it much, only to set forth certain things in connection with these two verses. Properly, Christianity is established by the descent of the Holy Spirit. It begins consequent on the resurrection of Christ. When He rose He said, "Peace be unto you". That is our side; all is cleared. On the first day of the week a new order of things begins, but it is not brought into efficacy

[Page 343]

till the descent of the Holy Spirit. When our Lord rose, He breathed on His disciples and said, "Receive ye Holy Spirit". When He ascended, the Spirit was sent down in this double way; and what I would press now is that the resources of God are on the earth during the absence of Christ; and that for faith nothing else is required, nothing from man. What you have really to learn is that there is nothing for you from man, and nothing from the place where man is. I know the practical difficulty of learning it, but learn it you must, that there is nothing for you from the place where you are. The Lord tells them in John 13, If you are not clean, you cannot have part with me; that is, in the place where He was going. He goes to prepare a place. We are in the place where Christ was rejected; we are connected with the man that rejected Him, but we are to be morally apart from both. That is the first great point of Christianity. I am apart from the scene in which I am, and apart from the man in it, but I have another place and another Man. You must keep the two together, the Man and the place. You will see presently, I trust, how the Man will command your attention, because Christ is the testimony, not the place.

I would not speak of this if I did not understand something of it. No man ought to speak of what he has not touched on himself in exercise of soul, because, if he does, he is propounding an unreality as to himself. It may be that one has touched it very faintly, for who touches it deeply? but I trust I can say that, though found on the earth, yet in some measure I am able to say, I do not belong to this place, or to the man that is here; I belong to the place where Christ is, and to the Man who is there.

If we do not know Him as He was, the Man down here, we shall never be the expression of Him as the Man up there. I think we make a mistake sometimes

[Page 344]

in making Christianity too easy for people. The Lord turns and says unto those that followed Him, If you do not forsake all that you have you cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:33). He says, as it were, I am not going to offer you a bed of roses. I know very well the reluctance that is in the heart to accept it, but if we do not accept the path of His rejection here, we have not the sense of what the Comforter is to us in His absence. The Holy Spirit is here, the Comforter, in the absence of Christ, and He has come from heaven where Christ is. Christ was rejected here, the Holy Spirit is sent here, and He comes in these two aspects; one, to sustain us personally, the other to testify of Christ.

Before I go into that, I must show how the sense of this has been lost to the church. It is ever good to faith. Our danger is knowledge without faith; I see it on every hand. Knowledge is assumed to be faith. In paradise God was first distrusted, and the point of departure is the point of recovery. Everything now is to faith. If I turn to the Acts of the Apostles what do I find? The first failure that came in was the non-recognition of the Holy Spirit in the assembly, in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who, seeking credit for a devotedness that they were not entitled to, lied to the Holy Spirit. Do we not see this now? It is one of the crying sins among us. It was exposed in a minute then, because it was a day of power; now, perhaps twenty years may elapse before it is condemned.

The next thing, which has become an ecclesiastical crime, we see in Simon Magus, who thought to obtain spiritual eminence by money, that is, human means. Do we see nothing of that now? Paul presses the importance of the Old Testament scriptures on Timothy. Someone asked me lately, Why did Paul press upon Timothy the Old Testament? Because I learn there, what man, such as I am, is; I learn there

[Page 345]

also, what God is in His ways; I see traces of my Lord in His servants. Every bit of good in any one is Christ. Every man, when he was right, was a figure in his measure of what Christ was on earth. In the end Jesus Christ comes out as the full expression of what God delights in. Christendom sets up man on earth in place of the Holy Spirit; and for power they seek the support of the world. Romanism sets up a man and calls him the vicar of Christ. You say: That is very bad! but have you no touch of it in yourself? Is there no ignoring of the Holy Spirit in you? You know very little of yourself if you do not know that there is. It is true that man set up in a religious position by the power of the world, is Christendom; but you will be affected by this leaven unless you are preserved from it. The church generally has given up, has lost faith; and as to ourselves, I think faith is very weak amongst us. We know much of the word of Scripture, and we take that for faith; but that is not faith. Do you know what faith is? Faith is you do not seek anything but God. You are looking entirely out of this scene. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith". In faith you are outside everything here. I will show you examples of it presently.

The Holy Spirit is invisible. He could only be given to the church. He is only visible to faith. We are where He is. Christ when here was God manifest in the flesh; and now He has sent the Holy Spirit, who is invisible except to faith. We have to face this terrible opposition here in the place where Christ was rejected. I often wonder at myself, at the hardness of my own heart, that I have not more the moral sense of His rejection. If a relative or friend were badly treated here, should we not resent it? The Lord was crucified and slain here by my fellow-men; by man, by myself as to nature; and if a person offers me a little distinction here, I accept it, and think it

[Page 346]

an honour! Why, it is a disgrace to me! How little we have a moral sense of Christ's rejection! Man broke down in the garden of Eden because he lost faith in God. He was influenced by what he saw. Eve "saw that the tree was good for food". Take care of what you see! Beware of your natural eyes. "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity", Psalm 119:37. Faith does not look for support; it endures, "seeing him who is invisible".

I think we do not really see that everything now must be by faith; whatever it may be, it is "according to your faith, be it unto you". If you minister, you must minister according to your faith. You have to do with the Lord; you cannot see anything, no evidence. Faith is not providence. If that were the case, Paul was all wrong in the shipwreck (Acts 27), he besought them not to sail from Crete. But the south wind blew softly; providence was against his counsel, and they thought they had gained their point. But what happened? Not long after a mighty wind arose; the tempest came upon them, confirming Paul's counsel. Faith is not being led by providence. Do not misunderstand me: I do not make little of providence. If I am going right, providence may help me, but I am not to be guided by providence. We are, as to temporal things, to be content with such things as we have. The prophet was not to despise the little the widow had, one pot of oil; she was to go on faith and to borrow empty vessels not a few; 2 Kings 4. When the Lord fed the multitude, He did not despise the five loaves and two fishes; He went on with them, and by divine power made them enough. To the human mind there was not enough; but God is enough. That is faith. Faith looks outside everything here, and only sees God. I do not know what to compare it to, except to a sailor in a storm. If he can see the sun he is all right; he can take the bearings of the ship. It is

[Page 347]

said of Moses, "he endured, as seeing him who is invisible". That shows you what faith is in its character.

Faith has three characteristics. Firstly, what is outward is that it obliges me to take a new course. Secondly, it is always accompanied with exercise of soul; that is inward. If you lose it for a moment you are like a bird with a wounded wing, you are worse off than if you never had it. The third characteristic is you do a work. That is the "work of faith with power". There is always exercise with faith. Take the case of Abraham, the "father of the faithful". He believes God, he sees the skies, the stars; God says to him, "So shall thy seed be". "And he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness", Genesis 15:6. Paul quotes that, and says he was justified by faith. Forty years after was, as James states, the work of faith; he goes up mount Moriah. God tells him to go up, and with his own hands to put out the light, to cut off the one whom he had received from God, and in whom all the blessing was to be. That is the exercise of faith. God says it: God told me that this son of mine was to be the parent of all; He tells me now I am to put him to death. I will! I have faith in Him. Any one who understands faith can understand what an exercise that was. How he was cast upon God, who was able to raise him from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure! Three days Abraham was going up mount Moriah. Have you gone up that road? It is exercise that forms you; the exercise of faith is divine formation.

One remarkable characteristic of faith is that it never grows old. Like Caleb, who could say, "I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me". You can thus ascertain how far you have walked in faith. The measure of your strength is the strait you have passed through with God, and the faith remains. David is

[Page 348]

another example of this. He could say, "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them". That is the exercise of faith. He encounters the giant, and slays him. That is the work of faith. Faith has, as I said, a new course, and an inward exercise which no one knows anything about but the one who has it. There must be exercise. It may be a very long one, like Noah's. He went on for 120 years; whatever the scoffers might say, he went on day by day, counting on God. What was the end? What scripture calls "the work of faith with power". It is a wonderful time for the soul when one counts upon God for anything. Everything must be in keeping with it. It must be a work and walk of faith now. If you have means, take care how you use them. I see our blessed Lord in this world, the dependent Man. He had the means; He could turn a stone into bread, but He would not because He was dependent; He counted upon God. We break down when we do not count on Him.

I return now to the two verses that I read in order to see the difference between the two. In chapter 14: 26 the Holy Spirit unfolds to me Christ when on earth. This I get in the gospels. Commentators say the miracles are recorded to prove Christ's divinity. No one here would accept that. The gospels were written after the Holy Spirit came down, to set forth what Christ was upon the earth; a Man according to God's pleasure from the very lowest point, the babe in the manger, up to the mount in glory, and from the glory to the cross. I could not now go into the details of His blessed path, but the declaration of it is that He had while on earth a Father in heaven. He had not a penny in His possession, but He had a Father in heaven, and He was sent by the Father. It is not as people pray to their heavenly Father and ask Him for this or that favour; the great testimony

[Page 349]

of Christ was that He had a Father, and that made Him superior to all the distressful circumstances He was in. He slept in the storm, He was in divine tranquillity and superiority. He never altered circumstances for Himself. He went into death. The more we are in faith the less does God alter our circumstances; He alters us by the power of His grace. Christ on earth declares the Father in heaven. He shows how He can make you superior to every circumstance here. The Lord Himself walked in divine superiority to every circumstance in which He was found here. "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head". Have you learned Christ as the One who can maintain you by the Holy Spirit in the like circumstances in which He was Himself? When the disciples left Him alone, and that in the most trying moment of all, He said, "I am not alone, because the Father is with me". Thus He could say, "I have declared unto them thy name".

One might say, I do not see miracles now, I do not see a lame man walk. I reply, I see a greater miracle, I see a lame man so superior to his lameness because of grace, that he comes earlier to the meetings than one who has two legs. Grace makes him superior to the infirmity. Paul says, "that the power of Christ may rest upon me". Believe me, you will never be descriptive of the glorified Man, Christ in heaven, unless you have learned Christ in humiliation here. Why? Because learning Him as He was here makes you morally superior to yourself. He was in our circumstances; He declared how the Father sustained Him in the circumstances so as to be morally superior to them. Look at Him in the storm. Asleep! That was as much divine power as when He arose and rebuked the wind. We talk of the wonderful mercy when God removed the storm, or trouble. It is mercy; but when you are seeking to be relieved,

[Page 350]

you are not seeking for the power of Christ as He was on earth. When You are faithful you will find that the Lord does not remove the pressure from off you until you are asleep in it, until you are able to take it quietly. You learn His grace first, and then His mercy. Look at Paul and Silas at Philippi, singing praises. Look at Peter asleep in the prison. People seem to forget Deuteronomy 8, "thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee". You remember the mercies, you forget the trying of your faith. You are troubled and have no faith; then you cry to Him and He relieves you, for He is full of tender mercy. You may wake Him as the disciples did, when they cry, "Lord save us", but then you lose His power which would have sustained you in the trial.

The first great thing I have to learn is, "whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you". By the Holy Spirit I make acquaintance with that blessed One as He was here upon the earth; how He was sustained by the Father; how He walked in moral superiority to the circumstances He was found in: and there was not a pressure on the human family that He did not remove. He would place you, as He did Matthew (see Mark 2:14), morally superior to every power or influence which would debar you from following Him. You may think that is exactly what you want. Alas! we do not want it. We are glad to be relieved of physical infirmity, but we do not seek the grace that makes us morally superior to the trial. In Mark 5 man as to his whole state is relieved. The unclean spirit is cast out by Christ's word. The woman who had spent all that she had and was nothing better, is cured by touching Him in faith. The girl is raised from death into life.

I turn now to chapter 15: 26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from

[Page 351]

the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". Here the Holy Spirit is sent by the Lord. In chapter 14 He is sent by the Father. Now we come to the battle-field. A soldier is preparing for the battle-field in the barracks. Chapter 14: 26 prepares us for chapter 15: 26. In the former, you have learned a Person who was here on earth, who has taught you to be superior to things here with relation to yourself because you have a Father in heaven. That is what I call the barracks; that is where you learn to be a soldier. You must be settled about yourself before you can be a witness of Christ in heaven. No man is a soldier, unless in name, who has not learned to be one. When you go to the battle you come from the barracks. In chapter 14: 26 the Comforter is come, sent of the Father. In chapter 15: 26 the same Person the same Comforter comes, sent by Christ. Thus He comes in a two-fold way. In chapter 15 you come to the battle-field. There is a power here on the earth to testify of the Man in heaven, that same Man whom you have known as on the earth; you have learned Him as He was here on earth; He has taught you His path, how He was here, the full expression of God's pleasure, and now the Holy Spirit is sent to testify of Him in glory, and we are here now to be descriptive of this exalted Man, the Lord of glory.

Now I turn to Acts 7 to show the nature of the testimony. In the end of that chapter, verse 55, a new action of the Spirit takes place. "He, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus". You have Stephen there as a man of faith; he is on the earth; he sees the Man in heaven by the Holy Spirit who is here. His operation is now to lead Stephen up to the place where Christ is. He sees the glory of God and Jesus. Then he turns round and tells the religious world: "I see .. . the Son of man standing on the

[Page 352]

right hand of God". Everything is altered; everything is come out now in a new way; a new order of things. The Man in heaven, the One at the right hand of God, is the centre and power of everything for God. Stephen declares to the Jewish elders what he sees. Instead of receiving it with acclamation they cast him out and stone him. Nothing is so offensive to the religious man as the heavenly Man. Nothing so intolerable to a religious man, because if there be a Man in heaven he is out of court, eclipsed. It was not a wicked mob who killed Stephen; no; it was the elite of the Jewish nation; they murdered Stephen. God shows the infinitude of His grace to one of the witnesses who kept the raiment of them that slew him; and now both the gospel and the church come out together in chapter 9. They come out by the same person. The light of the glory of Christ shines out from heaven, and turns Saul from darkness to light; he hears the voice of the Son of God, who now declares that the saints on the earth are Himself: "Why persecutest thou me?" He says.

The body of the exalted Man is down here on earth, to be descriptive of Him where He was rejected. The members of the body of Christ are to be found here in His power, descriptive of Him as exalted to God's right hand. I repeat, you must learn first how that Blessed One was morally superior to everything here. You must learn this for yourselves before you can be witnesses of Him in glory.

The Lord grant that each heart may know Christ as He was on the earth, and as taught by the same Spirit may be able to testify of Him here as the exalted Man in heaven.

[Page 353]


Ephesians 1:19 - 23

I need hardly say that this is the calling of God. We have all this whether we enter into it or not. Not that I like that statement in itself; but still the calling is ours, and I desire to present to you the way in which we reach it experimentally. It is true of us whether we practically reach it or not, but the question is, How do we reach it? I will put it in as plain language as I can, and for illustration I will say it is our commission, so to speak. For instance, a young man gets a commission from the Horse Guards. He gets his commission though he may not know his work as a soldier. He is taught to be a soldier. He is in the position of an officer before he has learned to be a soldier. It reminds me of an anecdote I heard long ago. An officer on his trial for some offence, when asked by the judge, 'Was that the conduct of a soldier?' interrupted him and said, 'I am an officer, my lord'. The judge retorted, 'Mr. Officer and no soldier!' That was a reproach; it is, of course, a reproach to be an officer and no soldier. This is just an illustration to show you what I mean when I say that you have received your commission, but you have to learn what it confers. In the army a man is a soldier before he knows the nature of his calling, though as a rule, workmen (a carpenter and the like) are not employed until they know their work. But a soldier is one as to calling before he knows anything of the life of a soldier. And so God gives me a position before I know anything about it. I trust you see what I mean when I say there is no question about your commission. You are put by grace into the highest position, but are you in the enjoyment of that position? Have you entered into the realities of it?

[Page 354]

You are a commissioned officer though you may not know much about the life of a soldier; but it is not to your credit if you do not. And though I know but little about being a soldier myself, I desire before the Lord to show you what the life of a soldier is. I desire to trace God's ways with us, how He leads us into the realities of our commission.

I mean to refer to two or three things spoken of previously. I may have to allude to the steps spoken of in the epistles. I do not say they are exactly steps, but they are necessary as stations on the line. I go back to Romans 5:1. You start with being justified. "Being justified by faith we have peace with God". You get peace by being justified. The state of a justified man is peace. A justified man is a man cleared of everything because he believes God has raised Christ from the dead. There is a Man outside all the ruin here; one Man is out of it all. My eye rests upon Him. All my guilt and the judgment that rested upon me He has borne; and not only is the guilt taken away, but the One who bore it is risen out of it into a new condition. The removal of guilt is continually set forth in the Old Testament in type, but there is no type of a victim raised from the dead. Now in Christ I see the Victim raised from the dead. I believe on Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. "Being justified by faith we have peace with God". I am outside everything. My position before God could not be improved. I am justified on the ground of the risen Man, the Lord Jesus Christ risen out from among the dead. God Himself has justified me. Sin is no more imputed; "there is no more offering for sin". Two things are now manifest; one, that my position before God could not be improved; and secondly, if I depart from it there is no reparation for my departure, "no more offering for sin"; but unless there be self-judgment, I shall be judged of the Lord for the destruction of the flesh.

[Page 355]

Well, I trust, beloved friends, that all of you in this room have come to the wonderful spot when by the eye of faith you see Jesus risen from the dead. The eye of Jonathan rested upon David with the head of Goliath in his hand, the beautiful shadow of the ever glorious substance. Jonathan saw that all that was against him was gone; and now he is occupied with David who has cleared the ground. Thus, too, your heart rests on a greater than David; the One who has cleared the ground occupies the ground, as in the type the soul of Jonathan is knit to the soul of David. Our justification is perfect, and if we died when we were justified there would be no more trouble. All is accomplished; all is obtained for you; you would go straight to be with the Lord, according to the position He has given you; you would be in the practical realisation of it all. But God's purpose is not only to save me and to give me heaven, but to set me up here in the scene of my disgrace in a new way, in the same acceptability as His own blessed Son. I think we often lose sight of what God's purpose is. I see a man who up to a certain period of his life thought of nothing but pleasing himself, like Saul of Tarsus. See what the grace of God has wrought! That man who thought much less of God than of himself, God will have that man, or that woman, in the very place where he or she was once thoughtless of Him, and opposed to Him, as His own Son is before Him. "As he is, so are we". In heaven? No; "in this world ". It is a marvellous word. God has saved me, and given me heaven; I could understand that; but the marvellous thing is that "as he (Christ) is, so are we in this world ". Someone said to me lately, You talk to people as if they were to enjoy heaven now. Yes; now . If you do not want to enjoy heaven now you are content to be where Christ is not; you do not seek deliverance from all here. Nothing less can satisfy God's heart than that

[Page 356]

the believer should stand before Him in this world as the Lord Jesus Christ is at His right hand. Love could not have a second standard. It is an immense thing. We are never fully cast upon God until we see the immensity of truth, till we know that it is beyond our conception. Now then we start; according to Romans 5:11, we "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ". There is nothing between God and me. Like the Father kissing the prodigal, as if to say, There is nothing between Me and you. That is reconciliation.

I am seeking to set before you the journey of a soul experimentally. Now the next station is in Romans 6. Sin in me, not sins now, but sin. "He that has died is justified from sin". You are clear from everything before God in the death and resurrection of Christ. There is in His death a judicial termination of myself morally. I am clear in the sight of God in the death of Christ. But it is as I appropriate that death that I am experimentally free from sin, "reckon yourselves dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus". A soul has to accept this in faith, and here the practical difficulty lies. I have gone through it myself. It is not that I gain position by experience, I only become practically acquainted with what is through free grace my own . It is all accomplished for me by the death and resurrection of Christ. As I appropriate His death I am delivered from that wherein I was held. "Reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus". I am out of the one and ready for the other. I think that one who can assert that he knows deliverance and all the time continues to live in the things which he assumes to be delivered from is an outrageous Pharisee. I repeat, it is all ours at the outset, but it is only gradually that we enter into it.

Romans does not go beyond dead to sin and alive unto God . When Israel went three days journey in the wilderness they found no water to drink. It was

[Page 357]

Marah; they could not drink it. Man cannot drink death. The tree, Christ, makes Marah sweet. Some try to reduce Marah to wilderness circumstances. It is not merely circumstances. Israel had gone through the Red Sea, and now they were to drink the water of the Red Sea. We are in all the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ; now we are to be in practical keeping with what has been accomplished for us. God showed Moses a tree; that made the bitter water sweet. That passage helped me much years ago when I was tried by circumstances, and was wishing them to be altered. God, as it were, said to me, I will not alter them, but I will alter you . We are freed from selfishness in the cross. You get clear of the bitterness when you get rid of your will. Therefore Peter says, "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 sin is gone when I apply the cross to it; I do not gratify myself. I have not gratified myself, but I have suffered in the flesh. If I suffer in the flesh I cease from sin. That is the history of a soul; I am thankful that I know something of it. God does not send angels to teach us; we have to teach one another. You cannot teach another unless you have been the same road yourself. A guide must know the road. It is preposterous for a man to assume to teach me a road which he has not travelled himself. All the journey is by faith. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man". I know what it is to go the wrong road. I once thought I could manage myself. I had great ideas of self-culture. I found that to be profound fallacy. Thank God! Now I know that it is as I appropriate the death of Christ that I am delivered from myself. You would not lose your temper if you were living in the appropriation of Christ's death. The body of the flesh was destroyed there; sin is

[Page 358]

condemned. Alas! the way with souls generally is sinning and confessing. The relief of the conscience, the sense of forgiveness, is all that is sought for. I do not believe that one who is occupied with his sins is really out of them. If he were out of them he would be praising the One who saved him. I believe no one is a true soldier ready for battle until he is clear of himself. He must be free from self-occupation to quit himself as a soldier and a witness for Christ. It is not that he does not find sin rising, but he can treat it as an intruder; it has no business there. Practically, if I live in the Spirit I do not fulfil the lust of the flesh. When you are overtaken you find that you have not reckoned yourself to be dead with Christ. You do not learn from experience and try again where you have failed; no, you do not trust yourself; you avoid the circumstances where you failed. The more delivered you are the more you fear the thing from which you are delivered. You fear to be entangled again. Instead of saying, I am delivered, I am not afraid of it, you fear it the more:

"When we our tastes deny,
Where we could gratify,
We suffer bitterly,
But sweet is liberty!"

It is not that I am out of it once and for ever (before God I am, but I mean practically) but I know there is but the one and self-same line always. I reckon myself dead, and I know what a great thing deliverance is, but I have to learn it practically over and over again. Some seek holiness really to stand well with themselves. They always have a low standard; they do not regard anything as sin except a breach of the law. In true deliverance you have ceased from sin; the cross makes the bitter water sweet. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus". Nothing for which Christ died is to have place in me. The more your heart is attached to

[Page 359]

Christ, the more you appreciate the privilege that you can reckon yourself dead with Him, and refuse the thing for which He died, and that you are now alive unto God in Christ Jesus, which is liberty.

In speaking of the history of a soul, I think that the next step in faith after Romans, in which you have learned justification, deliverance and liberty, is Hebrews. I think, as a rule, Hebrews is learnt before Colossians; that is approach to God. It is sorrowful how little we know of approach to God. With Israel there was only one offering for the sinner; that is Exodus 12. All the other offerings typify approach to God. Romans is escape, and more; Hebrews is approach. You will find that souls know very little of approach to God, because to approach Him you must drop yourself. The ten lepers in Luke 17 are an illustration. All were healed, but only one approached Him, and that was the one who came back and fell down at His feet. Self must go. In the Spirit you are always free of yourself; in liberty you are outside of it all. A believer able to say, "Abba, Father", is at the moment free of himself, happy in the presence of his Father, he has great joy; and yet afterwards he may be in great distress if he does not prove deliverance by reckoning himself dead with Christ. This may arise from defective teaching, but such cases prove the importance of knowing deliverance in the divine way. I do not now dwell upon Hebrews, but I think the way of approach is very interesting. We have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus". Many dwell on blood who do not reach in faith this boldness . The blood got you out of your misery, saved you from Egypt. Do you know boldness by the blood to enter the holiest? By the new and living way we enter into a scene where everything is of God. Not a soil there. Just think of travelling such a path! That is not future but present.

[Page 360]

Now I turn to Colossians for more of the journey. The more fully you hold the Head, the better you will be up to your commission; Colossians 2:19,20. You are "dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world". It is not a question of sin here, but that everything morally that is not of God is gone through death with Christ. As I appropriate His death I am outside of everything here. We sometimes sing:

"The cords that bound our hearts to earth
Are loosened by His hand".

No doubt we require them to be loosened by His hand, but they are all loosened by His death . Jordan is entrance into present heaven, not future heaven. It is a mistake to make it future; there is no fighting in the future heaven. Canaan is the type of heaven before I get there, and while I am actually still on this earth. I am while here in a mortal body brought by divine grace into acquaintance with heavenly things where I shall be bodily by-and-by; for this you must cross Jordan. All is accomplished for us in the Red Sea. We appropriate what is accomplished for us. In crossing Jordan I do not see a drop of water. In the Red Sea the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left. The more Christ is to your heart the more you accept Jordan. You are on this side, He is on the other side. The true heart can say, "Whither thou goest I will go".

There are two experiences in Joshua 3. The first is, "This day will I begin to magnify thee". Christ is paramountly before the heart. The second is, "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you". That is power. If you have not crossed Jordan you are not a soldier as to power yet. In Colossians it is not only Christ's resurrection, but I am risen with Him. "If ye then be risen with Christ". Next you are at Gilgal. Your action now is the same as Elisha's on receiving Elijah's power; he took hold of

[Page 361]

his own clothes and rent them in two pieces; 2 Kings 2. I know the first verses of Colossians 3 are used as practice. I do not think it is practice; I think it is practical. As a man going to work, you take off your coat; you are disencumbered. No doubt when the prodigal received the best robe he did not retain his rags. You come out in new conduct, the conduct of the new man. What is typically set forth in Israel is, they cross the Jordan and then come to Gilgal, circumcision. There the reproach of Egypt is rolled away; that is, the entire removal of all that was connected with Egypt. That is practical. In Romans 6 I reckon myself dead to sin; but in Colossians 3 I am risen from the dead in faith. In this new place I am in the life of Christ. Therefore I come out in a new colour upon the earth. I repeat, a new colour upon the earth; because in Colossians you are not seated in heaven. It is true that you have not done with the old country; you have crossed Jordan; but you are not yet keeping possession; you are not seated in heaven as in Ephesians. It resembles the forty days that the Lord was on earth after His resurrection. You are risen with Him, and as risen with Him, you put on the new man. Therefore practice comes in, in keeping with it. You are not as high as in Ephesians, but you are on new ground, alive in the life of Christ; and you have the practice answering to that even down to the slave.

Now I pass on to Ephesians 1:19. Here we come to power, "the exceeding greatness of his power", the practical knowledge of it. The apostle prays that we may know the power that wrought in Christ. As has been often said there is nothing about conversion there; nothing about the journey of which I have been speaking; it is all God's counsel where He has set you; nevertheless, you have to take a journey to reach the ground experimentally; and then you find out where God has brought you, that you are

[Page 362]

where Christ is. Peter in the ship, when he saw Christ walking on the water, would go to Him. Stephen saw Christ where He is. Are you ready to go to Him? You may say, I shall go there when I die. You can go there now, if you will take the journey. Are you willing to go now? "Wilt thou go with this man?" If you are willing you will find that you have the power. The power that brought Him up has brought you up. When He rose you were raised. If a bird flies up all its feathers go up with it. I may be only a little feather, but the smallest goes up with the bird. If you want to know His power you must believe that His power is given to you to go to Him. The apostle prays that they may know His power. If you read Joshua 3 you find, "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you". If you yourself are not brought into the sense of Christ's supremacy over everything, you cannot turn round in His power and face all the opposition to Him on earth, as Stephen did. All the power on earth was arrayed against Stephen; he was above it all; he was not only superior, but he was in supremacy; he prays for his murderers. He was standing for the Man in heaven, and in the power of that Man against all the accumulated forces arrayed against him. He was in Christ's supremacy. Everything that Christ encountered from man in Psalm 22, Stephen encountered. Seven things in Christ's triumph are mentioned; sin, reproach of men, and despised of the people, bodily weakness, bulls (the Jewish hierarchy), dogs (the Gentile), the lion's mouth (Satan), the horns of the unicorn (death). Stephen is a man in power; a soldier fighting for the Man in heaven; standing for Him against all the accumulated forces of the religious world. In the type Israel, after crossing the Jordan, confronted the seven nations, the whole force of man. When you come to Ephesians 6 you find all the power of Satan unmasked. You find that it is not

[Page 363]

flesh and blood, not merely man, but the devil. Here on earth, in spite of all the opposition of the enemy, in the face of all his power, you can withstand him, "having done all, to stand".

Let me supply a link alluded to yesterday; the way this power works in me. In chapter 3 Christ dwells in my heart by faith. It is not place that dwells in my heart, but it is the Person who is in the place. He dwells in my heart by faith. The difference between a Person and everything else is immense. His mind, His tastes, His power, are mine. I do not then ask myself, Is this or that heavenly? I used to do so; but if Christ is dwelling in my heart, I have His tastes. It is a wonderful thing to have a Person controlling one. No amount of teaching, nothing can make up for a Person, the Lord Himself, who is the eternal life, and everything dwelling in your heart by faith.

One thing I must add. Every step you travel you must hold as a wise general; every position he gains, he holds and fortifies. Where you fail, there you must begin again. You see it all through Scripture. Traces of imperfection come out generally where you have prospered. When Israel was in possession they failed. Danger is imminent when we rest from war. Israel was in the land when they suffered from the Philistines. As a rule one has learned the heavenly position before there is a falling away; at least it is then more noticeable. Any change of circumstances test one's faith, even a new house, or an affliction. You will find that a very small thing turns one aside. Abraham because of a famine left the land. Isaac (the saddest tale that ever was told) was warped in Esau's favour contrary to the word of God, because he did eat of his son's venison. Only for his wife where would he have been? She had more respect for the word of God, "the elder shall serve the younger", than Isaac had; though I do not commend her way of showing it.

[Page 364]

When he sees his error, "Isaac trembled very exceedingly". A great moral revolution occurs; man is displaced; God gets His place. Isaac then says of Jacob, "I have blessed him yea, and he shall be blessed".

I close now, trusting that each of us will better understand the great position to which we are called; officers, if you like; but we are learning to be soldiers, and we learn first to be superior to ourselves in any circumstances. Then in Ephesians 6 you come out in His power: "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might". What is a soldier or a man up to his commission? He has not merely to overcome circumstances; he confronts the whole force of the enemy down here, and "having done all, to stand". You live by faith. You must keep on the armour. You must not leave it off. Like the armed men going round Jericho, you are invincible when invulnerable; that is the principle of the fight. If you are drawn aside by the world, and it is sad how we are drawn aside, even in a social way sometimes by conversation, sometimes by unsuitable books, self-elevation in some form or other; but whatever it is that you are drawn into, you revive the man that has been consigned to death; and to be restored you must judge yourself. If you do not judge the man whom God has ended in the cross, God will judge you. As it is said, "deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh"; the idea is the same. If you do not judge the flesh, judgment will come on you here, because sin has been condemned in the cross. "Our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin".

The Lord grant that each of you may understand the marvellous dignity of your commission. Are you walking worthy of it? Are you a soldier? You are not really standing for Christ until you have passed

[Page 365]

Gilgal; until you have in circumcision thrown away the old clothes. The recruit drops the civilian. Have you always the appearance of a soldier? A soldier never parts with his scarlet coat, even for mourning; he cannot give up his high position.

Finally, let me repeat that it is only in the power of the Spirit that our heavenly portion can be enjoyed; and if the Spirit is to be unhindered in us to this end we must accept and walk in the truth and reality of Christ's death.

The Lord grant that every one of us may leave this room thanking Him for the wonderful position He has given us, and seeking grace that we may occupy for Him here on earth where He was rejected.

[Page 366]


John 17

J.B.S. The very opening of the chapter, as has often been remarked, gives the character of it. He "lifted up his eyes to heaven".

Ques. In what way?

J.B.S. You see if you revert to chapters 13 and 14 that the Lord is inside with His disciples. In chapters 15 and 16 they are walking on the earth; those chapters have reference to the path of service. Now in chapter 17 He connects them with the Father.

G.G. Is chapter 17 not at the supper table?

J.B.S. No; nor chapters 15 and 16. Only chapters 13 and 14 are at the supper table. At the close of chapter 14 the Lord says, "Arise, let us go hence". He then refers to the vine. Israel had failed as the vine; the Lord is the true vine. The Lord could say at the moment, "I am the vine, ye are the branches". The vine is for the earth. He was going away, and He uses the figure of the vine in order that they should abide in Him though He had gone to heaven. They are branches, and they would be of no use except they abide in the vine. A branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine.

D.L.H. You were saying yesterday something as to the comparison of this part of John with the tabernacle. You spoke of the brazen altar and the most holy place; we should like to know something more of it.

J.B.S. I only used it as a sort of illustration. Chapter 13 opens with the Supper - that was the passover. The Supper prefigures His death. Then He rises from Supper to wash their feet. The Supper answers to the altar, the washing the feet to the laver. Chapter 14 is like feeding on the consecration offering

[Page 367]

in the holy place. In the holy place was the candlestick and table of shewbread. The candlestick would be the place of Israel on earth. Chapter 14 you are inside feeding.

D.L.H. Does chapter 14 answer to the table of shewbread?

J.B.S. Well, though you are inside feeding the effect was to be seen outside. The candlestick and table of shewbread were in one place. We have to learn, and this is very interesting, the way, as we read in Hebrews, the tabernacle or heaven itself is thrown open to us, and we are the priestly company to accomplish His service. In John you get the essential quality of the grace imparted to you while on the earth; but nothing from earth, and nothing from man.

G.G. But on earth?

J.B.S. Yes; that makes the grace the more marvellous.

Ques. No veil in Hebrews?

J.B.S. No; heaven is thrown open to you; therefore if you enter the holy place as the consecrated company you will find the "most holy" thrown open to you.

F.H.B. While on earth we are brought to the enjoyment of what is in heaven.

J.B.S. In a sense heaven is brought to us; and not simply the place, but we are introduced into it morally by and through Him who is there. In this chapter the Father is the subject. In chapter 14 the Father was made known as Christ was seen here, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father". Now the Father is declared as He is in heaven.

G.G. In John 17 everything is looked at as accomplished?

J.B.S. Yes; it is all anticipation. "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end". To use a theological term, He is giving them a charge. You see it makes it a wonderful thing

[Page 368]

to be on this earth, and not of it. A Jew could not understand that you were to be on the earth in unbounded blessing, and yet nothing to come from the earth nor from man. It seems to me there is a break at verse 13, "And now come I to thee and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves". That verse gives the turn to the chapter. It is connected with "I come to thee", not with "Now I am no more in this world". The great thing is acquaintance with the Father. There are two ways in which we learn the Father. You learn Him as Christ personally declared Him on the earth, and now as He is in glory. The last verse of this chapter embraces both; "I have declared unto them thy name", that He has done; "and will declare it", that is what He is now doing.

D.L.H. Is that in connection with the operation of the Spirit of God now?

J.B.S. Yes; it is all by the Spirit. It is only by the Spirit we can say Father. As you get nothing from earth, and nothing from man, you must get all from God. It is very definite. If you are outside man and earth, you cannot receive from either.

E.R. The important thing to see is that He is doing all by the Spirit. It could be in no other way. T.H.R. Only He is doing it from His place in glory.

J.B.S. Everything comes down from heaven even the manna must come down from glory. Some read the gospels and think they are picking up manna; they are not; you cannot get manna except down from heaven. I must get the manna fresh from Himself in heaven, where He is. The manna is Himself, what He was; but I must get it from Him. He is made higher than the heavens. Some leave out the last part of that verse, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens ". If you receive anything fresh, any comfort at all, it is from Christ,

[Page 369]

fresh from heaven. That is very important. I knew a brother who used to read the gospels to imitate the Lord. I think some know very little of what is in the gospels; they know much more of the epistles.

T.H.R. We all go to the epistles first.

J.B.S. It is the way to learn, but you must go to where He is to get Him. If you want to know the ways of the Lord on earth you must go to the gospels. "He shall ... bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you". You must receive it fresh from Himself in heaven. The Holy Spirit is come down to us from Christ in heaven, and He makes Him known to us as He was down here for our help and comfort; and He makes known Christ in glory that we may be able to testify of Him. Everything comes from heaven now.

F.H.B. The great thing in John is that we are brought now into what will be our eternal portion.

J.B.S. There is nothing we shall have by-and-by but we are given to taste of now. John gives us the essential quality. John is looking at the gold, so to speak, and not at the quartz. Paul eliminates all the quartz.

Ques. What is the difference between "Thy word" in verse 6 and verse 14?

D.L.H. J.N.D. says in a note on verse 14 it is "the word of God in testimony".

F.H.B. Is it not always the Father's testimony?

T.H.R. In verse 8 it is a different word, the divine communications.

Ques. What do you mean by divine communications?

T.H.R. There are special communications in those "words". The word is the whole scope of verses 6 and 14.

Ques. When you speak of the whole scope, you mean the whole scope in connection with the Father?

[Page 370]

J.B.S. We shall come to that presently. The first thing is, "Glorify thy Son that thy Son also may glorify thee". He will declare the Father in glory; the last verse of the chapter embraces both. In two ways you learn the Father: one is as Christ when on earth turned to Him about everything; the other is as you learn Him in His own circle. In chapter 14 He says, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father". To make this known to us the Father sends the Holy Spirit in Christ's name (verse 26). In chapter 17 He is declaring the Father in His own circle. In the gospels, Mark's gospel, for instance, the Lord, instead of altering your circumstances helps you by altering you in them. The Lord never changed a circumstance for Himself. He showed that the Father would always raise a man superior to evil. Even when He was at the lowest point, deserted by His own, He says, "I am not alone, because the Father is with me". People generally look for help in natural things by the removal of troubles. As I understand the word 'Father', I derive from Him. It is the great point in John. I am brought into the divine circle. We constantly are looking for Him to come down and alter our circumstances here to suit us naturally, instead of rising up to His circle and entering on His things. The Lord when down here ever turned to the Father, and He was ever above things here according to the Father's circle. He had no model but that. Thus in the storm He is as placid and as quiet as if there were no storm; as restful in the care of the Father in the storm as in the calm. He was ever in communion with the Father. He brought everything into consonance with the Father, and He did not seek that the Father should bring anything here into consonance with man. God was displayed in man's circumstances. You cannot know Him in glory, you cannot enjoy Him there, if you have not learned Him in your own circumstances. If you do not know His sympathy in your own circumstances

[Page 371]

surely you cannot be in communion with Him, in His circumstances.

W.B. What is "we will .. . make our abode with him"? (chapter 14).

J.B.S. The idea is He has a room in your heart. The word 'abode' is the same as 'mansion' in the early part of the chapter. We, as a rule, think most of His path down here; He was down here; but how was He sustained down here?

F.H.B. We are called to go through the circumstances down here in the same power that the Lord went through them.

J.B.S. When I am in a storm the natural wish of the heart is that the Lord would remove it. If I were in company with Him I should be as He was in the storm; He did not look for the removal of it.

Verses 1 and 2 are wonderful words. "Father, .. . glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. As thou hast given him power over all flesh", etc. He now takes the place of the last Adam. The first Adam gave names to the animals according to the special quality of each. He gave them nothing. He was a man of great ability to discern their qualities as they passed by him. He designated them. The name was descriptive of the quality. But the last Adam can say, "thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him". He has all power in heaven and in earth, and His will is that those whom the Father has given Him should share in company with Himself. You cannot share with Him but in the circle where He is. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". He gives it. "The last Adam a quickening spirit".

D.L.H. So we derive altogether from Him.

J.B.S. Every one in Christ is a new creature. We all derive from Him. Christ the first fruits, then they that are His at His coming. We did come from Adam;

[Page 372]

we come now from Christ. It is not only identity; we have His life where He lives. I have the life of Christ. I enjoy all that Christ is, but I am not all that Christ is. This verse shows I have a capacity to enjoy the Father and the Son. A little child in the company of his father hears and sees and in a degree enters into the things of his father, he has some of the tastes of his father, he is in a sense in communion there. We are often seeking something down here, instead of seeking to enter into and to enjoy the things of the Father.

F.H.B. In connection with His giving it is important to remember how He gives: "not as the world giveth, give I unto you". He shares all that He possesses.

J.B.S. It is important to note the mode in which He imparts life. He breathed on them. He is a life-giving spirit. He shares with them of His own.

F.H.B. And does not the mediatorial manner in which we get it come out in verse 21?

J.B.S. We derive from Him; we are of His order. "Members of his body". It is not anything of Adam improved and made suitable to Him; it is all new. Some think that the old thing can be reconstructed, but that is not Christianity. Dear Mr. Bellett used to say, 'Sublimate the flesh as much as you will, beloved, it will never yield spirit'.

"I have glorified thee". The work is finished, all is done. It is important to apprehend, and a great help in the gospel, that Christ finished the Father's work, not merely the work for the sinner. Generally it is said the sinner has an interest in the gospel; no doubt he has, a very great interest; but the Father, blessed be His name, has an interest in the gospel. "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do". Everything that the Father desired for the sinner has been so done that the Father can kiss the returning prodigal. It is wonderful that all was finished for

[Page 373]

God before the sinner knew of it. All has been removed; all has been done to God's infinite satisfaction, so that the reception of the prodigal is boundless. The nearer you are the better off you are.

Ques. Was it not too to bring out all the Father was to the sinner?

J.B.S. Until the work was finished God could not make known His heart to the sinner. Hence the gospel of the glory must be known before union with Christ is known. I do not say for the soul's salvation. Many a one is saved who never yet had a taste of the gospel of the glory. Here (John 17) all is done, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do". There is nothing to hinder everything of the Father coming out. The love flows out of the mighty volume of His own heart, and according to His own righteousness. No "live coal" now, as in Isaiah 6. He has not abated His holiness one bit. Now that the work is done He can fulfil all that He had purposed from eternity.

W.B. What is propitiation? (1 John 4).

J.B.S. He had to make propitiation. Man was under the judgment of God; all under judgment must be removed in judgment. All has been removed in the cross.

J.S.A. The entire question between God and man had to be settled, and then the Father's heart could come out.

J.B.S. That is the gospel of the glory. You find, as you approach the glory, instead of it repelling you, it invites you. In chapter 13 you have a Man glorifying God. In chapter 17 the Son glorifying the Father.

Verse 5: "now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was". He goes up to the essential glory. We do not share in that.

T.H.R. Still it is wonderful that a Man has gone up there.

[Page 374]

J.B.S. Yes, and that we belong to that Man.

Ques. Is that the glory we shall behold?

J.B.S. Yes, but not what we shall enter into.

Rem. In doing the work for us He has obtained glory.

J.B.S. He obtained glory because He glorified God in doing the work. He obtained glory in bearing our judgment, and the glory He thus obtained He shares with us.

T.H.R. Is it not wonderful that God has taken a Man up there, and is going to be displayed in that Man?

J.B.S. Yes, it is. I often say the Bible is the history of two men - Adam and Christ. Which man do you belong to? It is uncommonly hard to get rid of the old man; only God can do it for us.

T.H.R. You were saying, No one can take down a stone out of the old building but God.

J.B.S. You and I may try to get rid of ourselves, but God only can pull down or break the will. When you would like a stone to be taken down, God takes it down for you; but I do not think that He will remove it unless you desire it. "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake". If you really feel anything a hindrance, God will take it away. "We which live"; mind He rolls in death on the living . It is the stone before the wheel; it is relief to you when removed.

Ques. What produces the desire?

J.B.S. Walking in the Spirit. The purpose of heart is to go on, and then the hindrance is discovered. Bearing about in my body the dying of Jesus is connected with 2 Corinthians 3. You are so transformed, so blessed, in beholding the glory of the Lord that you shrink from everything which interrupts you. You are glad to be dead, insensible to every distraction. You like to keep in the sun.

F.H.B. What is the difference between manifesting

[Page 375]

the Father's name, in verse 6, and declaring it, in the last verse?

J.B.S. Manifesting is not the same thing as declaring. Declaring is rather explaining or teaching, the word 'exegesis' comes from it. Manifesting is presenting a thing whether seen or not. The Lord was manifested here, yet few saw Him. Manifesting is in chapter 14, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father".

F.H.B. Then the declaring His name is His ministry by the word.

J.B.S. The word translated 'declare' at the end of our chapter is properly "make known", and not the same word used in John 1:18. The Holy Spirit brought to the remembrance of the disciples all that had been manifested.

Ques. What is the force of "I kept them in thy name"?

J.B.S. They were under a peculiar kind of protection; they did not comprehend it; they were under this divine control. I think we have but little idea of the effect of the Lord's presence with the disciples on earth - His great moral influence.

D.L.H. "To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life", and "Did not our heart burn within us?" would be an illustration of it?

J.S.A. If they could not know the Father, except by the Spirit, why did the Lord say, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?"

J.B.S. It showed their dullness; they were qualified to say, "Our Father which art in heaven", because they had seen Him in Christ; they did not enter into it, but they were entitled to it. He did not put words into their mouths that they were not entitled to use. Faith could use them then; if that prayer was suitable to them then it was not suitable to them when the Holy Spirit came.

[Page 376]

D.L.H. With regard to the mode of expression, "Our Father which art in heaven", does not that same word characterise the mode of revelation which characterised the Lord on earth?

J.B.S. Exactly so; we could not speak in the same way now. Luke does not say "in heaven".

G.G. Does the expression "in heaven" give an idea of distance?

J.B.S. Yes, it shows you are looking up to heaven as though you had no access to it. Literally speaking we know very little of the Father. I am surprised how little we turn to the Father - pray to Him. You feel more confidence in turning to the Lord who knows all about you; but "the Father", when He is apprehended, carries you into a divine order of things; you know you are in another circle. I do not think I could ask the Father for a fine day.

Ques. "My God shall supply all your need"?

J.B.S. Yes, God loves us; He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? But the moment I say "Father" I feel I am His child belonging to His order of things. In chapter 16 praying to the Father in Christ's name plants you in another order of things - Christ's things.

T.H.R. His name carries you there into His own circle. I ask for things concerning Himself. The Father has set His Son up there in His own circle.

Ques. How does prayer come into that?

J.B.S. When you seek to be acquainted with the things belonging to Him. All things that the Father hath are mine.

T.H.R. He has gone to the Father, and that makes a new circle altogether, because the Son is gone to the Father. In His name you pray now; you are in a wholly new circle, and you are asking for those things that concern Him. You are not praying for the benefit of yourself down here.

[Page 377]

J.B.S. That explains clearly the force of the Lord's words, "that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name he may give it you". I ask for the church, for all that concerns Christ. It is a wonderful thing to be assured that in the place where He was rejected if you ask the Father in His name He will give it. You ask in the interests of Christ. Peter says, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ", etc.. .. He has gone to the Father, and you rightly take His name here. Ever so small a thing, for instance, a meeting room, if you can ask for it for Christ, it shall be given to you.

A.C. Who is the Lord of the harvest?

J.B.S. Christ, of course. I look to Him now as the Head of the church to send gifts according to His pleasure. I believe He has sent many gifts, but they are not all developed. There is a lot of "bearing" that hinders the gifts from development. If you lived in a coal district you would understand the word 'bearing'. You must remove the bearing before you can get the coal. You must get rid of the hindrance to the gift before you can exercise it.

Ques. Would you go to the Lord or to the Father about that?

J.B.S. I think that gift is chiefly developed in the assembly. As to your service you should pray to the Lord. We should find out as we were near Him. A child soon finds out whether it should go to its father or its mother about a thing. I could not lay down a rule. You may change in a moment from the Father to the Lord.

Ques. What of chapter 14: 13? "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do".

J.B.S. That is connected with power for yourself. Stephen is an example that you can be brought up to Christ where He is. There can be no greater work than that you should be superior to yourself by divine power.

[Page 378]

It is not service in John 14; it is preparation for service; it is individual. It is lying down in green pastures. It is preparation for service. Stephen is prepared; he is in power for the work; he is for Christ now. It is like walking on the water. Christ is above everything; and it is not now with you, your own circumstances, but Christ's service; and you are so fitted, that you are able to rise above everything and stand for Him here in spite of everything.

G.G. "Full of the Holy Spirit". We ought to be that.

Ques. You often hear people address God in prayer as "God and Father". Is that right?

J.B.S. I like it. I think they ought to be connected. I am rather afraid of saying Father without God. I am afraid of losing the sense of His greatness. In history you read of a prince who addressed the king as "Sire" in the beginning of his letter, but ended it "your dutiful son". You have both the dignity of the Person and the knowledge of relationship. You would not like to lose the sense of who He is.

D.L.H. Ephesians begins with "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ", and in the two prayers (chapters 1 and 3) he divides them.

J.B.S. The reverse of the order in John. John puts Father and God. Paul puts "God and Father".

The way to learn to pray is in Luke 11. I know that I can come to Him. I have confidence in Him. I know that He has what I want; I have it not; and I cannot get it anywhere else. I must continue asking until I get it, for I have no other resource. That is the way you learn to pray.

Rem. We must remember, too, we have the Spirit of His Son.

J.B.S. There are two ways to pray: one way is, as a man on earth I make known all my requests to God. I may not get any answer at all, but I get much better, the peace of God which passeth all understanding.

[Page 379]

The other way is, I am asking according to His will; I am asking for the Lord's things. You do not know how the answer will come, but you know that it will come.

Ques. How are we kept in the Father's name?

J.B.S. The Father has children. You are to come out in this world as of a new order, a new stock. "Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth". A new constitution, a new order of being according to the counsels of God. "See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God". There are two conditions in sanctification. The one is, you are a new kind of being in the old place according to His workmanship; the other is, that as Christ has left this place altogether, you are dissociated in heart from this place. You are in nature not of the man here; and positionally your heart is apart from it because Christ has gone away.

You get the principle in Philippians 3. The apostle says, I prefer Christ to everything in man; that I call constitutional; you are a new creation. But then also you are "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are before"; that I call positional.

E.R. The truth made good in us by the Spirit.

A.H. The truth of the Father. The truth, as worked out in us; it is progressive.

J.B.S. You are a new creation, formed according to His own mind, naturally outside of this world, and positionally also outside of it. I said to Mr. D. when he was speaking of it, 'Then sanctification is immeasurable'. 'Yes', he said, 'it is immeasurable'. To be as much apart from this world as Christ is.

A.H. Did you not once say our present sanctification has all the elements of the future glory in it?

J.B.S. We have now morally all that we shall have actually. All that belongs to heaven, all that we shall

[Page 380]

have by-and-by forms us for heaven now. Nothing has the same effect on the world as sanctification. There are two things which should mark the saints, unity and sanctification. The more truly we are sanctified the more are we in unity, the more are we one. The more you are sanctified the more weight you will have with others. They may sneer at you and refuse you, but yet they respect it, and are impressed. It reminds me of Isaac and Abimelech. Abimelech did not seem to think much of Isaac when he was in his country, but when he left his country he sought him out and honoured him. True separation from the world has the greatest effect on people. Years ago the comment was, 'how uncommonly separated they are'. The testimony breaks down when we are not what we bear witness to.

A.H. What is the difference between the Father keeping us in His name and the Son having kept His disciples in the Father's name?

J.B.S. Christ was now going away unto the Father. While He was here He kept His own in the Father's name. They learned the Father from the Son upon earth. Now He has gone to the Father, and you are brought to the Father in and by Him; and now you are directly kept by the Father, kept here as the children of the Father.

Ques. Is the "and will declare it" in the last verse identical with the first?

J.B.S. I think in the last verse He is carrying out what He referred to in the first - I have made known and will make known. Then follows "that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them". That is the love that keeps you from the world. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him". If I know the Father loves me, that I am the object of His love, it is wonderful the dignified separation from the world which it confers.

Ques. What is "I in them"

[Page 381]

J.B.S. We are never apart from Him. He is the source of everything to us. Your greatest gain is that He should dwell in your heart. His tastes and pleasure would then be yours. This is to "win Christ". You get it in Ephesians 3, and in Colossians, "Christ in you, the hope of glory".

A.H. Will you say a word on the three unities in the chapter?

J.B.S. Verse 11 refers to the disciples alone; verse 21, "one in us", that takes us all in. It is not so much unity as oneness. It is unity of mind, "perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment". What a spectacle to the world the saints of God would be if all were of one mind! The Son had one mind with the Father. That is the pattern of the oneness. I believe this chapter will be fulfilled in the new Jerusalem - every one in his place; no dislocation. The nearer we are to the Lord the more unworldly we are. If you could find two brothers equally sanctified they would be exactly of the same mind. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind". Many a thing a man does not understand because he is worldly. If he got out of the world he would understand it. Many a thing that is abstruse to him, if he were out of the world, he would see clearly. There will be no such thing as any difference of mind in heaven - all perfectly joined together in one mind, one judgment.

D.L.H. 'All the mind in heaven is one'.

J.B.S. Exactly so.

[Page 382]


The Two Volumes

John 13:1 - 3

I do not read more, for my thought is to give a little sketch of John's gospel. I read these verses at the beginning of the second volume of the book. There are two great volumes in John's gospel; the first relates to us, "heavenly things" for oneself; in great measure the gospel. The second volume relates to Christ, "heavenly things" for His service. You may not see this division at first; but I think when you look into it more closely, you will find that I am correct. I begin at the public ministry of the Lord. In chapter 2 man in his best estate is a failure; and in his relation to God in a ritual appointed by God, he is a scandal. Man is unmendably bad.

Chapter 3. You must be "born again". "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up". When the Son of man which is in heaven is lifted up, heavenly things are offered to faith. In chapter 4 the work begins. The Lord announces to a Samaritan, one by birth and character degraded, and in every way most pitiable, "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". (John 4:14) The blessed Lord offers to this miserable woman heavenly things, which characterise John's gospel; blessings which are outside of earth, and outside of man; to start with, they are beyond all human conception. It is wonderful to behold! Here is a poor sinner in the most deplorable condition, shrinking from the face of man, but the Lord is waiting for her. His grace will set her up in this

[Page 383]

world in a style which transcends all human conception. Never thirst! Brought into a region of satisfied desire. Let a natural man even read that offer, and he would have to admit that such a thing was never heard of before, and that it is a state altogether unknown to man. A soul is taken from the lowest conceivable condition, and given the highest conceivable condition. Beloved friends! all this blessedness belongs to you. Chapter 4 is the contrast to chapter 2 where the wine is out. Now you are to receive "heavenly things" where there is no lack, and no sense of deficiency. Now instead of worshipping God according to the ritualism of chapter 2 you worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

In chapter 5 you have the impotent man, incapable of availing himself of the house of mercy. The Lord tells him to take up his bed and walk. Until man has been relieved from the terrible judgment of death on his body there will be no real sabbath. The Son of God has come to bear this judgment; "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live", (John 5:25) so that he does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life. You are passed out of that state of death altogether. "They that have done good unto the resurrection of life". (John 5:29) You shall never come into judgment; all the consequences of sin are gone. Heavenly things for the body, as well as for the soul.

Chapter 6 is the practical enjoyment of that life by feeding on Christ's death. There is no other way of reaching life but through death; not your own death, for your own death would not remove the judgment, but Christ's death. You must appropriate it or you have no life in you; you have the sentence of death in yourselves. "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life (therefore you eat His flesh and drink His blood): and I will raise him

[Page 384]

up at the last day". (John 6:54) Heavenly things in their divine nature are now enjoyed.

Chapter 7 is the contrast, as to natural things, to chapter 4. The feast of tabernacles is the celebration of the highest order of blessing on the earth. The Lord had made the earth to teem with its produce for man. Now the best thing on earth is superseded by "heavenly things". The Lord says, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink". (John 7:37) I will do better for him. From the earth? No; the feast had been the celebration of God's favour to them on the earth. The Lord now offers heavenly things, which are outside of earth, and outside of man. In chapter 4 you see a woman in the deepest misery raised to an inconceivable state. Now in chapter 7 we find that to man in the brightest circumstances on the earth the Lord announces, I can give you better. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive". (John 7:38) This heavenly thing on earth, and from the glorified Man, surpasses (it is always so in John) every earthly blessing.

In chapters 9 and 10 you find the flock of God. I would just show you the position the flock holds. Look at chapter 9. It describes the position in which the man who was blind finds himself. He is outside of the old fold, cast out, and the Lord finds him, and says to him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" (John 9:35) He answered and said, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him". (John 9:36 - 38) I trust your heart takes in the greatness of that moment - "he worshipped him!"

Chapter 10 describes the new position of the sheep

[Page 385]

on the earth, and it is very sad to have to say that it is this that Christendom has lost. The Lord leads His sheep out of the Jewish fold. He has given His life for the sheep. They are still on the earth, but of an entirely new order. They enter in by Him, and are saved, and go in and out and find pasture. There is the fullest intimacy between Him and the sheep, verses 14, 15. "I am the good shepherd and know my sheep and am known of mine, as the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father". (John 10:14,15) These two verses must be read together: the mind of God is plain in the passage, even that the same kind of intimacy is to subsist between the Shepherd and the sheep, as between the Father and the Son. If any soul apprehends this he apprehends what is inconceivably great. "Heavenly things", and, blessed be His name! which are to continue for ever.

Chapters 11 and 12 I pass over.

Now in chapter 13 a new volume opens. The Lord is going away. Do you miss Him? It is a very simple question. Are you here for Him? Is the first volume quite enough for you? You may truly say the first is wonderful! Indeed it is, Heavenly things given to yourself. It answers to the gospel; but the second volume recounts the heavenly things given to you in relation to Christ. He has gone away. There comes a moment in the history of every loving soul when the heart exclaims, Where is He? He is not here. What are you doing then? Are you disconsolate like Mary Magdalene before she finds Him? That is a very good beginning, I admit. But if you have learned His grace to you in chapter 10 you must know Him; you are in His hand; no one can seize you out of His hand. "My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand". (John 10:28) You are in an intimacy with Him which can be created and sustained only in the Spirit.

Now to return to chapter 13. I ask each one of

[Page 386]

you, Do you miss Him? No one cares to see Him who does not miss Him. If you say, I do miss Him, then what are you doing? The true answer is the key to these five chapters, 13 to 17. I know but little of them, but I know enough to be delighted with them. It is a wonderful revelation! I might use the tabernacle as illustrative of them, beginning with the Supper, a figure of His death - the brazen altar. Then He washes His disciples' feet - the laver. Then He feeds them inside; chapter 14. Then they are outside, His witnesses - the candlestick; everything in heavenly order; while chapter 17 answers to the holiest of all. This sketch may help some here who have not studied it closely, so that they may be attracted to the study of these wonderful chapters.

The first thing is, your feet must be washed, in order that the intimacy may be maintained. It is here that all failure begins; you have not kept up the intimacy by having your feet washed. If I review my own history I see that is where failure begins. You may not have given up a good conscience; that is, a sense of forgiveness of sins, but you do not know intimacy; you may be quite clear that on confession you are forgiven, but that is not intimacy, and you cannot maintain intimacy if you do not know it. You are not intimate with Christ until your heart is assured of the love of His heart. You are intimate with Him when you know His perfect love. "We love him because he first loved us". (1 John 4:19) See how Peter learns His love when he fell down at Jesus' knees. The Lord said, "Fear not". These words have a great effect on Peter and on all of them. They brought their ships to land, forsook all, and followed Him. The most exemplary conduct and a remarkable instance of divine favour had not removed fear from Peter's heart; but the words of Jesus, His perfect love, cast out all fear. When His love is thus known, you seek His company, and in His company you know

[Page 387]

intimacy. That is where the church of Ephesus failed; and where we all fail. If you have known intimacy and do not maintain it, your love has waned. You have no part with Him if there be any shade of reserve between Him and you. Peter's conscience was relieved in chapter 20, but his heart was not at ease till chapter 21. Many are untroubled at the Lord's table though they are not in communion with Him! Such can say, There is nothing on my conscience; but, though there may be nothing on your conscience, you may not be in intimacy with Him. The Lord grant that you may see the importance of intimacy. If you do not maintain intimacy, all the heavenly things which follow, and are unfolded to you in these chapters, will be practically unknown to you. When you are impressed before the Lord with the importance of any truth you are sure to pray; you are conscious that no one can enlighten or lead you into this grace but Himself.

Chapters 13 and 14 are one; mark, they are inside; it is not the world at all; we are inside with Him. As an illustration, Aaron and his sons feeding on the consecration offering is a representation of it. They ate it in the holy place, "For seven days shall he consecrate you". (Leviticus 8:33) They did not come out to serve till after that; so in chapter 15 the disciples come out to serve after chapter 14. Judas is seen here as the worst specimen of mankind, because he was making merchandise of Christ with the design of getting the money, thinking that the Lord would escape. It is such a combination of wickedness that I cannot explain it. It requires a man to be well versed in wickedness to understand wickedness, though one can stamp it at once as evil. The man who best knows the good at once detects evil; a banker knows when a note is bad because he thoroughly knows a good one.

You have to learn in this chapter the Lord's provision for His disciples on earth during His absence; the elements of disturbance and distraction inside

[Page 388]

come out: the treachery of Judas, and the unfaithfulness of Peter, and the Lord Himself going away, an epitome of church history. But, blessed be His name! In view of all the distraction He provides "heavenly things" for His servants. In chapter 14 He says, "Let not your heart be troubled". He says this with respect to Himself. He was going away. There are three circles of blessings which He gives to support you in His absence. The first is The future. He has a place for you where He is in the Father's house. This will have a great effect upon your heart. It is like a man emigrating, who says to his wife, I have a beautiful place for you in Australia, which is my place; thus all her thoughts are turned to Australia, and her tastes are formed by this prospect. The Lord adds, "I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also". (John 14:3) Knowing the Father makes us feel even now at home in the place. We are at home in the place because we know the Owner of the place.

The second circle is The present. In verse 20 He says, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". That is, as it were, You shall know Me as I am in that place at the present time. You know Him as He is in heaven. The Lord is in heaven. Look at the way Paul sets us in heaven in Ephesians. The parallels between John and Paul are very striking. It is very interesting to study them. Besides, He comes to us individually and collectively; individually to the one who keeps His word. Marvellous! "we will come unto him and make our abode with him". (John 14:23) And He also comes to us collectively, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you", (John 14:18) that is plural.

The third circle is The past, verse 26; "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you";

[Page 389]

that is, that you may know Him as He was here where you are. Now put these three circles together. First, He has prepared a place for you where He is; that has a wonderful effect. Naturally, one likes to be connected with the earth, but now you have a place outside of this world where He is. How it dims the glitter of everything here! It is the place most attractive because He is there. Then, the second circle is, you know Him as He is in that place; and the third, the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to make you acquainted with Him as He was in this place where you are. We all know that the moment a person is not present, no human power can bring back the effect of his presence. You can recall his words, but you cannot recall his presence; he has left a blank. In absence the heart discovers the value of the presence which it has lost. No one can fill the blank but the one who made it. No one can fill the blank caused by our Lord's absence but Himself; therefore He says of the Holy Spirit, "he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you". (John 14:26) The Holy Spirit has come to make known to you all that Person was down here. Thus in chapter 14 you are inside.

In chapter 15 you are outside; you have left the supper table. Chapters 15 and 16 are the testimony, the candlestick. The word now is, "Abide in me". Here the servant fails continually. The Lord says, "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you". (John 15:7) Here it is responsibility. "Abide in me". He takes up the vine as a figure. Israel was the vine, but had failed. Christ was the true vine; all through John everything presented before on the earth is surpassed by Him, the marriage, the passover, the feast of tabernacles; all is surpassed, because the Son of God is come, and heavenly things have come down here. The Holy Spirit is sent from a glorified Christ (verse 26). Here we have Paul's ministry in parallel, "He shall

[Page 390]

testify of me". (John 15:26) He will declare and testify on the earth of the glorified Man in heaven. It is not, "You shall testify", as we might think, but "He shall testify of me". "He" is emphatic. If the Holy Spirit testifies there is no use in human means. The only power upon this earth to testify for Christ is the Holy Spirit. Nothing is effective but in the power of the Holy Spirit; no matter how beautiful or how admirable, it has no divine effect because it is not in the power of the Holy Spirit. "He shall testify of me".

I do not dwell long upon chapter 16. There are two displays of the Holy Spirit. His great object is to testify of the heavenly Man. This testimony began with Stephen, "I see .. . the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". (Acts 7:56) We have heard today that a witness is a martyr properly speaking. The highest honour ever possible for a servant of Christ in this world is to die for his Lord. It is a great favour to die in harness, and to be in fellowship with the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the rejected Christ to the end. Many Christians as to their career have fallen on the earth; as with Israel, of whom it is said, "whose carcases fell in the wilderness". (Hebrews 3:17)

I have said that there are two displays of the Holy Spirit in this chapter. In one He demonstrates what the world is in the eye of God. "And having come, he will bring demonstration to the world, of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". Having received the Holy Spirit, you are in a new line, outside this world. The world is thoroughly exposed. "Convict", or "demonstrate" is a forensic term. Many a one is convicted who is not converted. The world is the culprit, and the Holy Spirit is the incontrovertible witness against it. If you are with the Holy Spirit you are outside of the world. Christendom has abandoned the power of the Holy Spirit, and has accepted the power of the world. This began in the

[Page 391]

days of Constantine; and the end will be that the beast will carry the harlot - Babylon. If Saul spared Amalek, Amalek did not spare him. If you spare the world, the world will not spare you.

The second display is in verses 13 and 14. If you are with the Holy Spirit against the world He will compensate you. "He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine". (John 16:15) Mind all the things of the Father. What "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit". (1 Corinthians 2:9) Heavenly things are made known to you while you are on the earth. What a portion! "He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you". A wonderful compensation! If you look at Paul he is occupied with the saints; and if you look at John he is occupied with the resources of God. However great the lack in the saints may be, all you require, to maintain you in Christ's service, is as true now by the presence of the Holy Spirit as in the brightest day of the church.

One word as to verse 23. "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you". (John 16:23) Have you ever entered into the greatness of that verse? It should afford you the greatest consolation, that in this world where Christ has been rejected, if you ask the Father in His name for anything for His service, you will receive it. Peter could say, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee". (Acts 3:6) You should have the greatest confidence that anything you require for the Lord and ask for will be given to you. If you want a room for His service you will get it. "Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full". (John 16:24) What a cheer in the midst of universal opposition!

[Page 392]

Now I come to chapter 17 for one moment. It opens by saying, "glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee". "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world". (John 17:6) How wonderful to make known the Father to us as He is in heaven! "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it". (John 17:26) What a portion! What heavenly things! I shall never forget when the light of it broke in upon my soul; it was in a lonely place, and on the Lord's day. "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them". (John 17:26) Here it is the Father's love for the Son; His love as He loves His own Son is to be in them. Could you get a greater portion? Heavenly things indeed! If all the emperors in this world joined together to say, We can do something for you; we can say, No, you can do nothing for us; all that can be done to satisfy and delight us has been done, and made known to us here on the earth. The Lord delights to declare the Father's name. I wonder at myself, and I wonder at others, how little we are surcharged with this divine blessedness.

May the Lord grant that each one of us may have an increased sense of the wonderful portion, the heavenly things the Lord has given us, and a deeper sense of all to which He has called us!

[Page 393]


1 Timothy 3:15

I would, beloved brethren, that each one here might be conscious of the gravity of this subject, namely the house of God. I would say first a word on what it is.

When once God had a redeemed people His word is, "I will dwell in them and walk in them". (2 Corinthians 6:16) This you get in the end of Exodus 29, "I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God". As has often been said, He did not dwell with Adam in the garden of Eden. The wonderful thing is that when redemption came in it was marked by this, as He says, "I will dwell in them, .. . and they shall be my people". (2 Corinthians 6:16) The more you study the Old Testament the more you will find how great a thing it was, and how much God made of it. Well, it is not a lesser thing now but a greater. Of this I would speak first. I am not going to dilate on it, but merely to touch the headings of this vast subject, so that each one may work it out before the Lord, and learn what the Spirit is leading us to at this present time. I do not think any one can ponder it without great satisfaction of heart.

I turn to Exodus 15:1, 2. As soon as you are in rest of soul, as expressed in the first verse: "I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously", then comes the second: "The Lord is my strength and song; ... he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him". I know there is a new reading of that verse, but the thought is, God is to be exalted where I am in peace. Therefore I can understand the language of David in another day: "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out

[Page 394]

a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob ". (Psalm 132:4) Beloved! are we really sensible that God has an habitation on the earth? As we read in Ephesians 2:22 "In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit". But we shall come to that passage further on, I only just allude to it now. I know that the Spirit of God only can lead us up to it. Thank God, it is His work. The work of the Spirit is to make true in me what is true for me. All is true for me, but all is not true in me, and the great characteristic of the real servant is that his heart is set on this work of the Spirit in the saints, as Paul says, "that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working which worketh in me mightily". (Colossians 1:29) That is the labour of the servant; and the earnestness of the individual who enters into it is expressed in prayer . I need not dwell more on this; when once you get the divine idea by the Spirit of God, He by the word will be always adding to it. It will be getting fuller and fuller; if you are occupied with it, God will open it out to you.

Well then, God has an habitation on the earth. I turn now to see the order of it. First, what is the qualification for being of it? You may say, every baptised person is in the house; but I am not speaking of man's building, but of Christ's building, and of your apprehension of being builded together for an habitation of God. There are many in it who have not the apprehension of what it is; I mean the apprehension which one acquires when really of this great structure. It is a point of deep interest to us all.

I turn to a few verses in the New Testament. First, Matthew 16:18. One very simple rule in Scripture I will give for the sake of the younger ones here; and it is well to keep it in mind. When anything is mentioned for the first time in Scripture its great characteristics are given. For this reason I turn to

[Page 395]

the passage where the assembly is mentioned for the first time. This is not the first mention of the word 'assembly'. We read of the assembly in the wilderness, but here in Matthew 16 it is peculiar; it is "my assembly". The Lord says, "I also, I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and hades' gates shall not prevail against it". (Matthew 16:18) Now, beloved friends, this is a new structure on the earth, and after a different order from anything that had been before. The temple was His house, and our blessed Lord cared for that house. When He found it made a "house of merchandise", He made a scourge of small cords and drove them out of it. As it is written, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up". (John 2:17) The glory had departed from it, and yet the Lord calls it "My Father's house". With adoring reverence the heart is moved in looking at Him there in the midst of all the ruin, all the defection, still refusing to allow anything that was inconsistent with the holiness that "becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever". (Psalm 93:5) His disciples remembered that it was written, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up". Would that we had this zeal!

Here then in Matthew 16 we learn what constitutes each of us a part of that divine structure. I would that the Spirit of God would conduct every soul here into it. If any one has not begun at the beginning it will be well for him to begin now. What was your apprehension when you came into the assembly? How did you take your place there? I ask you earnestly. I want to know how you know that you are a part of that great structure. Here the Lord accepts that He is rejected. He had been educating His disciples for this great structure, and when He had ended, He asks, WHO AM I? That is the first question when you come into the assembly. To whom are you coming? You say, To the meeting; but are you coming to the company where the Son of God is,

[Page 396]

where Christ is supreme? Then you are truly built in. That is the great point; and that is the education that the Lord had vouchsafed to His disciples in the previous chapters. See from chapter 14; the world rejected Him; He walks on the water, He is above all; and the man of faith joins Him there (verses 28, 29). In chapter 15 His grace is sufficient for you, and in chapter 16 I come to the building, His assembly, where He is supreme. Now let me ask you with what sense do you come to the assembly? Is it with the sense that it is not merely to a meeting of saints, but to where Christ is supreme? "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, .. . ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house". (1 Peter 2:5) You may say, Is not every Christian a living stone? Yes; but every Christian is not built in, has not taken his place in happy subjection to Christ's supremacy. That is the point. He has not learned what it is to be a part of Christ's assembly - His building.

It is a great thing to apprehend the Lord's words, "Thou art Peter", a stone. It was not that he was not a stone before, but he is now a stone in its place. You are a stone in your place when you believe in the supremacy of Christ in the assembly; then it is that you are gathered together to His name.

I pass on now to the state connected with owning the supremacy of Christ. Turn to John 20:19. There we get the first opening out of Christ's own circle on earth. The Lord is risen; and He comes to His first circle of interest; it is on this earth; according with Psalm 16. "The saints that are in the earth, .. . in whom is all my delight". (Psalm 16:3) He is now risen from the dead. Mary Magdalene sets forth what I may call the heart of the assembly. She has an ear to hear and she receives from Him. But, further, He comes into the midst of the assembly (verse 19). I need not tell you that this is only a pattern. Christ's circle of interest marked the opening of the new

[Page 397]

day, the new creation day. The old creation finished up with a man. Everything failed in that man, and the whole creation was made subject to vanity. Now the Lord is risen from the dead, and has become the Head of the new creation. It begins with a Man now; it opens with the risen Lord. Every living stone now dates from the assembly. One might say, I date from my own house or from my country. No; you date from the assembly, because it is the first circle of Christ's interest; He is Head of the new creation, and the assembly is of Him. It will come out eventually as the new Jerusalem. We read, that He comes into the midst of His disciples, and says, "Peace be unto you". (John 20:26) That is the state you are to be in there, PEACE. I am supposing an individual coming into the assembly. He comes to the company where Christ is supreme, and his own state through the work of Christ is PEACE. There is not a disturbing element between God and you. Christ has risen. It is nothing that you have done, but what He has done, and there is not a disturbing element now; He has made peace.

Now what I want to set before you is, what is our gain from the assembly, and what an object the assembly is to the Lord. First, as I have said, you are in peace; a peace effected by Himself. The disciples see Him there as the One who had been dead, and they were "glad when they saw the Lord". (John 20:20) Now is fulfilled what you get in John 14. Would that I could convey to you more fully the nature of this enclosure! The disciples are apart from the world, at the Supper table; the Lord is instructing them, preparing them to be missionaries. In chapter 15 they leave the Supper table and come out.

In Matthew 18:20 we read, "where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them". I think there is often great defect in looking at that passage. There is not enough stress laid upon the word name - "my name". You cannot bring in a

[Page 398]

second name: if you are in the name of the Lord everything else is shut out. So here in John 20:19, "the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews". That is the pattern of it. The religious element is outside. Now they are in that enclosure, the fulfilment, as I have said, of chapter 14, where they learn what He confers for the first time, PEACE and LIFE. And from thence also they are sent forth, "as my Father hath sent me even so send I you". (John 20:21)

I turn now to 1 Corinthians 10. Perhaps nothing has been a greater index of the state of souls than the way the Lord's supper is received in Christendom. Many of you here may have not studied church history, but you have all heard of the sacrifice of the Mass. The Romanist would tell you that the real presence is in the bread and wine. They have some idea of the Lord's presence. They say you partake of it in eating the bread. They do not give you the wine; it is what they call the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass. Much is borrowed from Romanism. You may say, None of us is a Romanist. Yet there is not one of us who has not been leavened with it. It is very difficult to get leaven out, very easy to get it in; and no man can get it out; the Spirit of God alone can. Well, What has the perversion come to? An Israelite feeding on the slain lamb was looking for salvation. I am not so bad as that, one will say. Well, take care of the leaven. There are pious men who call the Lord's supper a means of grace, and even go so far as to have it the last thing before they expire. Every one here would say, I am beyond that. Well, I go on further. Do you see your sins of the past week gone in the remembrance of His death? If that is your thought you do not understand the Lord's supper. There is nothing about your sins there. But it is better to present the right than to dwell on the wrong.

[Page 399]

Now look at 1 Corinthians 10:15. The apostle had been speaking of the house all along up to this; he does not touch on the body till verse 16. Then in verse 21 he dwells on the Lord's table. It is the only time in Scripture that it is mentioned. The Lord's table, mind you. Mark the distinction between that and the Head . He is Son over God's house. The way you are at the Lord's table is an index to your state. The Corinthians had been giving themselves a loose rein. Now the apostle says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16) That is identity with Christ's death here. Who is in this identity? Beloved friends, see what a place you are in, that of identity with Christ's death! If His death had not relieved you, you would be chargeable with it. But having been relieved through His death you are now identified with it here. I know how people try to explain it away, but it cannot be done. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16) You are identified here with His death.

The effect the Supper has on me is that my heart is drawn out in the sense of His love in dying for me; and the more it is, the more my heart says, No other path would suit me on earth but to be identified with His death. You do not get properly the Supper here in 1 Corinthians 10. It is the responsible side, but the apostle deduces from it that you cannot have any other place here; it is not that you must not but you cannot, it is impossible. You cannot have the two any more than you can be light and darkness; it is impossible if you are light to be darkness. You will find great help in reading those chapters. The apostle says in chapter 11, "Despise ye the church of God?" (1 Corinthians 11:22) In all these chapters you find he is opening out the church. I think I have now said enough as to it.

[Page 400]

I can look to the Lord to make up for my lack, and to lead your souls into this wonderful subject, the knowledge of the assembly. The Lord is able to make much of very little.

It is a great thing to apprehend your place in the assembly. You are where He is supreme. You know where you begin. You remember Him here taking the lowest place on earth. You are identified with His death, and you show forth His death until He comes. The glory of man is gone. What are you where your Lord died? You seek nothing here! Many a sorrow saints have heaped to themselves by looking for something on this earth where Christ died. You are right when you are truly showing forth His death "till he come". There is nothing between the two - His death and His coming - nothing to intervene. Many a one speaks of His coming to appease his conscience, who has no idea of being identified with His death. But there is no fidelity of heart in looking for Him to come unless you can say, "Where thou diest, will I die". (Ruth 1:17) I am identified with His death, therefore my heart looks for the only bright day here, when He will come. You are not looking for Him, if you are not in company with Him.

I have spoken so far about ourselves. I turn now to the Lord in the assembly; Hebrews 2:12. His delight is to be here with us. The Lord's treasure is not in heaven, it is on the earth. You are in spirit with Him in heaven, and the more you are with Him, the more you will be occupied with His interests here; it is the only consolation, and it is the greatest to every true heart in the midst of all the dilapidation, that Christ's treasure is here. The missionary comes from Him to be found here for Him. In Hebrews you do not find anything about the Lord's supper. The great object in that book is to detach you from the earth, though you are still on the earth. The one thing to establish to a Jew was that all had been

[Page 401]

accomplished; therefore in chapter 1: 3 your sins are purged. Chapter 2: 12 is quoted from Psalm 22. Twenty-one verses of that Psalm describe Christ's death. From verse 22 He is in the midst singing praise. At the Lord's supper we are calling Him to mind; we remember Him who has done it all. If you are not in the benefit of His death you cannot remember Him, and you cannot be in company with the Lord if there be any soil, any shade between you and Him. In Christendom there is a week's preparation for the Lord's supper. To you the word is: "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat". (1 Corinthians 11:28)

Well, in Hebrews 2:12 we read: "I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly will I sing thy praises". That is Psalm 22:22. Now you are in the Lord's presence. What do you expect? I find it a very useful question to put to souls: What do you expect in coming to the assembly? Possibly you will say, I am going to meet the Lord. That, so far, is the right answer; but do you expect to enjoy His presence? I cannot conceive anything that would more delight a young believer (I need not say an old one) than His presence. Would you like to be in the presence of your Saviour? I could understand a true-hearted believer saying, I would go any distance to meet Him! May you, beloved friends, seek to enjoy His presence? I do not think that it is enough to have the right doctrine. It presses much on my heart at the present moment that so many know in letter the right way of meeting and accept it, without seeking for the Lord there, without enjoying the presence of the Lord. How do you know that you are in His presence. The answer is very simple. If you are in His presence nothing will occupy you but Himself; everything else is excluded. I do not enter into the immense gain from it, but I trust you are conscious of it. He says,

[Page 402]

"I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee". (Hebrews 2:12) I think a great many go to the meeting for the breaking of bread only. I do not believe they are occupied with the Lord, or they would know that there is something more. First, you are calling Him to remembrance. Then you are receiving from Him. He is not only your High Priest greater than Aaron; you come in as of the consecrated company with Him, as Aaron with his sons; all come in in the one common fragrance. We have often a poetic idea of it, without the divine reality. You must be there first before you can know the effect of it.

In Hebrews you find that the Lord from heaven, higher than the heavens, vouchsafes His support to you in your infirmities, so that you are borne above them, be it sorrow, affliction, bereavement, or whatever it be, in order to be in company with Himself. There is nothing said of communion in Hebrews. There you are in company with Christ as High Priest, but you are entitled to go to the very brightest spot, like the consecrated company, going into the holy places. As we sing,

'His presence is our home'.

- there is not a cloud -

'In Him we stand a heavenly band,
Where He Himself is gone'. (Hymn 12)

"Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father", Ephesians 2:18. In the holiest of all there is no cloud, no sense of any moral discrepancy.

I have already referred to John 14. The preparation is in chapter 13. There your feet are washed; there must not be a shade of distance. Would to God we knew it better! I desire it for myself, and for others, to be sensitive as to the least shade to interrupt or hinder communion. If you are not conscious of the

[Page 403]

shade you cannot be conscious of the removal of it. I believe the failure of every Christian originates here, a shade or soil being allowed to remain. You are not practically dead to sin. I am speaking now of always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus. You must carry it out to the full measure of Christ's death, otherwise you make your own death the measure of it, and you are legal. It is accomplished for you, and the Spirit's work is to make that true in you which is true for you. Here is the beginning of decline in every Christian; and as to myself I look back and see it has been so. One's feet were not washed. Peter was already cleared as to his conscience; but in John 21 the Lord washed his feet. He was restored in heart. You may walk with a good conscience and yet you may not have unreserved intimacy with the Lord. Possibly you never had the intimacy. Well, it is plain that you cannot enjoy the Lord in the assembly without it. You must have your feet washed that there may be no hindrance to it. If one of Aaron's sons had a blemish, though he could "eat the bread of his God", he could "not go in unto the veil", Leviticus 21:21 - 23. Many a one is not ready for the Lord's presence. You must be as fit for the Lord's presence as for heaven. Through Him we go in. Thank God! through Him we have access unto the Father. And what then? He declares the Father; see John 17. He says, as it were, I have removed all on your side, I will declare now to you God's side. "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them". (John 17:26) Now in conclusion, I would say, How great is His house where He makes known His interests! I must add that the organisation of the assembly is derived from the Head, who is Son over God's house. 1 Corinthians 12 refers to the body in function. "As the body is one, and hath many members and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body:

[Page 404]

so also is Christ". (1 Corinthians 12:12) It is the only allusion in Corinthians to the mystery. "By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body". (1 Corinthians 12:13) I can understand it, though I may not be able to convey it. If we were all conscious that we are under the same Head we should be fully under His direction. If He directs me to give out a hymn I do it. It then comes from the Head, and not from me. What a beautiful organisation that would be! I am not able to elaborate it as I desire; if I knew it better I should be able; but I am sure that there is not one in this room who delights in the Lord who would not like to enjoy His presence and to be impressed with the effect of it. "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee". (Psalm 84:4) "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; .. . who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well". (Psalm 84:5)

You come out from the house of God impressed by His presence, even if not a word was said; you are beside yourself; and the effect of His presence is that you are so interested in Christ's interests on earth that when you come out you take a distinct course here. If a man wants to know how he is to serve the Lord, I say to him, Stick to the assembly. It is there you will find out your mission. In the circle of the Lord's interests you are near the Lord, and surely He will tell you what to do. Knowing Him in your own room is not the same thing as knowing Him in the assembly. In the first, I know Him about my own interests; but thank God, in the assembly I know Him in His interests.

Have you read the songs of degrees? Have you taken those steps experimentally? You will have to do so in this day. The last step is, you have arrived at the house. "Bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord". (Psalm 134:1) Out of all the confusion and dislocation, I have arrived at the House.

[Page 405]

Beloved friends! I need not add more. The Lord grant that each one of us may be more deeply interested in that spot where He is here upon earth for His name's sake!

[Page 406]


Ephesians 1:15 - 23; Ephesians 3:14 - 21

I suppose there is hardly an exercised soul but would admit that we are in the difficult days, the perilous times; yet it is one thing to see the difficulty, and another to understand the remedy for the difficulty. Are you exercised as to the remedy for the difficulty? In 2 Timothy 3 we read of the perilous times. The apostle did not live in those times, but he prophesied of them. The remedy that he gives is "my doctrine" or teaching, and the Holy Scripture. Many are ignorant of Paul's teaching, both as to the gospel and the church. I do not say that the gospel is not preached; but Paul's gospel and the church came out in Acts 9. That was the first time either the one or the other came out; and these two are embraced in Paul's teaching. Paul thus encourages Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. "The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also". Now note, that that day was a darker one than this day. All in Asia had turned away from Paul; there was only one man whom he could in any measure count on. See how the saints forsook him! In chapter 4 he writes, "all men forsook me". He foresaw the spiritual wickedness that would obtain. Now from what had they declined? From the truth specially committed to Paul. They did not depart from Christ nor from the hope of salvation; but what they gave up was holding the heavenly position, which has been already spoken of (effectively I trust to many), as the truth against which the power of the enemy is specially directed.

[Page 407]

Let me explain that when you hold your heavenly position, it is not merely that you go to heaven, but that you cleave to Him who is in heaven. That is the secret of true love. "Whither thou goest, I will go". Here the church at Ephesus failed. It is a great help to read the Old Testament; you get there the great principles of truth. God is the same there as in the New Testament, only He has a different circle of interest. You will find all the way through, that the man who adhered to God's circle of interest for the time, was specially supported by Him; while the one who deviated from that circle, even though seeking another dispensation, was powerless and disaffected. Many a pious man now sticks to the dispensation which was in line when Christ was on earth; they love Jesus, are devoted and zealous, do many good works, but they are not in the line of God's chief interest. Now in the difficult days, what is the remedy? There is no remedy unless you adhere to the truth as it has been given. You may say, We are a feeble few. True, but that is all the more reason that we should adhere to it. It is an immense cheer to us in our insignificance to feel that, feeble as we are, we are identified with God's chief interest. The remnant is always most exemplary where the departure began. Like a man out of health. Supposing he has a bad eye, what would mark his restoration? Would it not be an improvement in his eye? Thus, the point of departure is the point of restoration. See how the church of Ephesus failed after all the favours shown to it. You find that church spoken of four times in Scripture. In Acts we have the church of Ephesus in their first fervour, where they burned their books. Then in the epistle to the Ephesians, where the greatest revelation of truth ever committed was given to them. Again, to Timothy, the servant at Ephesus, the apostle writes of the two great evils,

[Page 408]

popery and radicalism. Lastly, we have the epistle to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, where John joins with Paul. It is important to note that John always gives us the essential nature of the divine quality. It is not easy to explain it. The Spirit and the bride say "Come". Mark the recovery! The true remnant is most exemplary at the point where the failure began. If the church (represented by Ephesus) has left its first love, the remnant is marked by the love of the bride. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". How could any one know the feelings of the bride but the bride? The bride in company with the Holy Spirit is distinguished for her personal attachment to Christ. This is paramount. True affection never overlooks its responsibilities. It is an immense cheer that the great thing that marks spiritual power in a day of ruin, is that you are true to the truth which the Lord has committed to you. Now as to the Scriptures which I have read, the first subject which I would press upon each one here is Christ's first circle of interest. I am addressing many of His servants. Surely His first circle of interest must be yours also. I daresay that you have heard some say that the corporate thing is over. Christ's chief interest is unknown to one who can say that; and if it is unknown to you how can you understand His mind about anything? If I have a friend am I not interested in his chief interests? Do you know Christ's interests? Remember that His treasure is here, hid in the field, as we read in Matthew 13. The field is the world, Christ's treasure is in it. I have read these two scriptures that we may see our calling, that we may have conscious knowledge of our great position. However we have failed in our corporate testimony we cannot escape from corporate responsibility. The apostle writes: "I ... after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you; making

[Page 409]

mention of you in my prayers". You may say that every one is not up to the knowledge of the mystery. This I admit. But why are they not up to it? Where is the defect? Because they are not established and restful in the gospel. You are not up to the mystery until you know that you have a Saviour in glory. You would not enjoy union with Christ if you did not know Him in glory; that is, if you did not know that all the distance between God and you had been removed on His side, so that the nearer you are to Him the more assured you are of His grace. You have a home in the Father's house. That is the gospel. That is the gospel from God's side. The prodigal found that the nearer he came to his father, the better off he was. The apostle presses upon the Corinthians that they would be transformed into the same image by beholding the Lord's glory. I would ask the youngest believer, Are you at home in the glory, and do you enjoy a Saviour there? That would be "changed into the same image". No one can tell how it is effected; but it is not merely by reading the word; it is by beholding the glory. The glory is God's satisfaction, according to all His attributes, resting upon the Lord Jesus Christ your Saviour. The effect upon you through beholding the Lord's glory is that you are altered completely. It is not only that your judgment has changed; we find that in Psalm 73, but you are personally changed.

'Yet sure, if in Thy presence
My soul still constant were,
Mine eye would more familiar
Its brighter glories bear.

And thus Thy deep perfections
Much better should I know,
And with adoring fervour
In this Thy nature grow'. (Hymn 51)

You may taunt me and say, If that is true, why are you not more there? I am ready for that, for I am assured that if I were more there, I should be more

[Page 410]

affected by it, and then I should be a more effective servant.

I have not yet touched on the church, the mystery. If you are fully in the grace of the gospel, you will be ready and glad to know that you are united to the One who has wrought all this blessing for you. It may be said, All Christians are united to Him, and so we are, the moment we receive the Holy Spirit; but how many of us consciously know union? Believe me, union is a wonderful reality. The first sense of union is, He is my Head, He dictates everything. No doubt you will feel humbled at times that you are not under His dictation.

But before I proceed I call your attention to the exercises indispensable to the Christian. The first is, you know that every purpose of God has been accomplished for you. There is immense satisfaction of heart as the light of this is known to you in detail. The second is, that the Holy Spirit's work exclusively now is to make true to you the grace which is yours, to form you in the reality of all that which has been done for you; and for this the servant of God ministers the word. Finally, your own soul waits upon God in prayer, that you may apprehend that for which you are apprehended. The apostle prays that they might be given the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I would press earnestly upon you the value of these words. Often as I have read Ephesians those words seem to be increasingly wonderful to me. You may know every word of the epistle, you may know what is stated in every line of it; but if you have not the spirit of wisdom and revelation, it is no good to you; you will not grasp God's thought in it. I am lost in the immensity of it; and I am glad I am lost in it, because then I turn to God. The mystery is that when Christ was rejected here, then was divulged that His body was here. John says of the things that Jesus did, "if they should be written

[Page 411]

every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written". Nothing of Christ will be lost; all will come out in His body, the assembly. Can anyone compass the vastness of the structure which has been here over eighteen hundred years; and all will come out in the new Jerusalem, each of us being a. part of it? I do not dwell upon the hope of His calling, it begins with the place (verse 4); then the state (verse 5); then the relationship (verse 6). That is the calling of God. Now I turn to verse 19: "what is 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". The word 'know' in verse 18 is the same word used in other places for conscious knowledge. It is important to apprehend that you should have conscious knowledge of the 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. All the members went up with Him then in God's mind. To give an illustration: all the feathers of a bird go up with the bird, and every feather came from the bird. Just as Eve came from the rib of Adam, so every Christian derives from Christ. The body is the complement of Christ. No one can know his place as a member of the body of Christ until he has conscious knowledge of the power which is to us-ward who believe. Now I turn to chapter 3: 14. The subject is quite different. In chapter 1 it is that you may have the conscious knowledge of the counsel of God, of His calling. In chapter 3 you have the Spirit's work in you. Here you are made heavenly in tastes and interests. Hence we read, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith". Do you note the

[Page 412]

greatness of the power to effect this in you, and that nothing but the power of God could displace what you are in nature? The old has to be displaced. God only can displace the old, and God only can erect the new. He has made an end of you in the cross, and He only can make this which is true of you true to you. When we contemplate this passage, we can account for the small number of Christians who know that they are heavenly, however true it is of them before God. You must be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, that the Christ may dwell in your heart by faith. It is not merely heaven which is brought into our hearts by faith, but it is the Man that is in heaven, who is dwelling in our hearts by faith; and, thank God, when the Christ dwells in our hearts, we are heavenly in life, and tastes and interests. Many have thought that they would become heavenly by renouncing the earthly. No; the real way to renounce the earthly and to be heavenly in taste is by Christ dwelling in your heart by faith; the Man who is exalted to the right hand of God dwelling with all His tastes and interests in your heart. Blessed be God, it required the mighty power of God to accomplish this for you. You are in Christ. That you get in chapter 1.

Now in chapter 3, Christ is in you. You have first to learn that you are in Christ, and next Christ is in you. No one can explain the blessedness of Christ dwelling in your heart by faith. Think how He would control you, according to His own will and pleasure. What a truce it would be to your will! Christ Himself swaying you in everything, for His service and testimony. In Galatians Christ lives in you. In 2 Corinthians 3, Christ is your object in glory. In Colossians, Christ is your Head. But great as He is as your life, or as your object in glory, or as your Head, there is much more here in Ephesians 3; "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted

[Page 413]

and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height" (the whole domain of glory; then) "to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge". If the church at Ephesus had continued in the work of the Spirit in them, they would not have left their first love. Here you have come to the acme of the Spirit's work in you; and the consummation is, "that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God". It is only now that you realise the power which wrought in Christ. You are now by the Spirit's power in the heavenly position. The blessed One who is in heaven is dwelling in your heart by faith. You are not merely made acquainted with the heavenly scene where He is, but Himself dwells in your heart by faith; so that it is not the scene of glory that is in your heart, but the Christ who is there. Divine power has brought you into this heavenly position.

"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". The power is now in you; it is not merely that you are in the conscious knowledge of it as in chapter 1: 19, but you are in the power now. Hence the doxology - "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen". You have power now to be descriptive of Christ in this world. It is most blessed. In the house aspect you are fruit-bearing, and going forth as missionaries, as in John 15. But here it is more John 17. Christ first sets us as Himself in the presence of the Father, and then He sets us as Himself in the presence of the world. One might say, Is not the body in the house? Yes, it is; the body is the organism; like the machinery of a clock, it is inside. In a clock you do not see the internal working, but if the machinery is in good order the time is correct. If the time is not correct, you know that the defect is in the machinery.

[Page 414]

I would now dwell on the heavenly ground, which evokes such terrible opposition. The whole force of the enemy is concentrated on the heavenly position. Now that you are in heavenly power you are to be on the earth descriptive of the heavenly man in every detail of life. Then you must begin at the beginning. Every good thing comes down; you come out now with Christ dwelling in your heart, and you begin with the church (chapter 4), "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". If you fail in the first you will fail in all the rest. As you enter on the heavenly ground, all the force of Satan will be arrayed against you. Nothing aggravates Satan so much as to be descriptive of Christ in exaltation in the place where Christ's rejection, the most diabolical act, was perpetrated. I say, with deep sorrow of heart, that I never made an attempt to accept the heavenly ground, without there was a bait thrown in my way. Satan has only two forces, like a double-barrelled gun; the one is a bait to allure you; if that does not succeed, he will try to crush you. You see it in the children of the captivity in Daniel; he first offers them the king's meat, and when they refuse that, he says, 'I'll burn them'. The same God who delivered them from the one can deliver them from the other, and in a more distinct way. May every one of you be so assured in spirit of your heavenly position that Balaam may not succeed in diverting you from it. Balaam is the social element which corrupts. I have seen it. Where did our children pick that up? In association, in company with others. I suppose there is not a father in this room who does not know what damage his children have got by association, social intercourse with the children of worldly Christians. It is the social element that corrupts the church.

What is your vocation, brethren? What could be so dear to a man of real affection for his Lord as to

[Page 415]

stand for Him where the many are declining and lukewarm? The hardest conflict manifests the deepest virtue. You have heard of the officer who in face of the enemy tore down the colours and bound them round his body, saying, You will take me before you take the colours. That is what I call fidelity. Take me before you take them. You must not give up the colours, however things go. If you have reached your heavenly position in divine power, you will maintain for Christ in His exaltation as long as you remain here. I do not ask you to surrender anything; I ask you to have Christ dwelling in your heart by faith. You may say, Show us a pattern man. We all like to copy; but there is no gain in copying. You have to learn the Lord for yourself. All you learn for yourself will remain, and nothing else. Everyone has his own history. In closing I would refer to the evangelists and the last three parables in Matthew 13. They are deeply interesting. I can rejoice in the evangelist's work, and I think his gift is the highest. The evangelist is given by the Head, but if he does not know Christ's chief interest he will not fit his converts for their right place. Formerly, a recruiting officer recruited for his own corps; you may be sure he selected his man. If you do not understand where or what the corps is, you have not the object in recruiting. Many an evangelist thinks only of saving souls. It is right,

surely, to seek to save souls; but this would not the less interest and absorb him if in his heart he could say of the saved one, he is a member of Christ's body; to sweep the house diligently, not for the benefit of man merely, but to find the silver piece and to put it along with the other nine pieces; see Luke 15. You must know where the other nine are or you cannot put your converts with them

The first of these three parables is the treasure hid the field; the second, the pearl of great price, the

[Page 416]

value of the church to Christ; the third, the net. I would ask you to sit for ten minutes alone and meditate on Christ's interest in the church, the one beautiful thing dear to Him in this world; the one thing that His heart is set on, hid here in the midst of all the distraction and evil. As an illustration, think of a man who had a beautiful garden which a horde of robbers had devastated. When asked why he retained that garden, he would reply, I keep the garden because of the arbour in which my wife sits. The church, Christ's interest, is still on the earth, notwithstanding all the devastation. If evangelists do not keep this before them, they will not gather the good, the converts, into vessels. We read, they "sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away". The Lord grant that each of us may so enter on our heavenly position, that in the power here made known to us we may be ready to withstand all the force of the enemy, and "having done all, to stand". The words which are used in chapter 1: 19 are the same words that are used in chapter 6, where we read "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might". No man can face Satan until he knows the power of God for himself, as we see in Joshua 3:10, "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you".

The power which has brought you over Jordan is the power by which all the force arrayed against you will be overcome. You must be first in your heavenly position, before you can face the enemy. In the type in Joshua 5 you do not meet the enemy until you are met by the captain of the Lord's host. You are in the heavenly position yourself. The same power that brought you there is the power which enables you to resist all the power against you down here. In conclusion I give you Stephen for an example; Acts 7:55. The Holy Spirit 'ope'd' (for him) 'the

[Page 417]

heavenly door'. That is your privilege. Union with Christ was not revealed to Stephen, but he knew the power by which he was united to Him. He first faithfully declares, "I see.. . the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". This is the true testimony: and now in the same power that made him a witness, he can encounter all the varied power of the enemy unswervingly, so that the finest quality of grace, overcoming evil with good, was expressed in him in divine lustre ere he died. The more they pressed him, the more Christ was manifested by him. The great virtue comes out most under the greatest pressure. "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out". The Lord grant that you may believe that you are called to a heavenly position, and that you may not be discouraged by the dilapidation with which you are surrounded. Though all is failure on our side, may our hearts be faithful and true to Him who has called us, and who is as true to His own, and as ready to help them as ever He was. May the sense of His love be revived in our hearts! The better you know His love, the better you will love Him; and as you love Him you will keep His commandments, and thus He will be able to treat you as His "friends", because He can safely trust in you.

[Page 418]


Matthew 16: 15 - 18

J.B.S. The first thing to lay hold of is that it is in connection with our Lord's rejection this new structure was brought out. What marks it is that the Lord speaks of it as "my assembly". Hence it is an entirely new thing. God always had an assembly on earth since the calling out of Israel, but "my assembly" is a new structure, and is consequent on Christ's rejection. Chapter 14 gives us the rejection of John the baptist; he is beheaded, and everything takes a new course. The Lord is preparing His disciples for this new structure. No one understands this new structure unless he is instructed in the two previous chapters. I do not say he is not a stone, but he is not confirmed as one. Chapters 14 and 15 are what the world would call the divinity school. It is learning how we are fitted for the new structure. In chapter 14 we learn Christ's supremacy over everything in this world. In chapter 15 we find that He is able to relieve us through grace from the lowest point, as we see in the case of the Syrophenician woman, whose daughter was vexed with a devil. Then we get the feeding of the multitude, and the seven baskets of fragment -- full supply as to ourselves; twelve indicates administration. We must learn this. There is no doubt that many have been blessed in their souls through preachers who do not apprehend the church. What are they to do? How are they to learn it? They can learn it here; and to learn the nature of the church we must go back to the beginning. The Lord asks, "Whom say ye that I am?" Peter answers, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God"; he does not only say the Saviour, though that was true. Many are gathered to the Saviour who do not understand the house of God. I

[Page 419]

do not say they are not stones, but they have not taken their place as such. Peter was called Cephas, "a stone", at first (John 1), but he only takes his place as a living stone now, on his confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God".

J.S.O. The name given to him involved the revelation of Christ as Son of the living God made to Him by the Father.

J.B.S. Quite so. Only confirmed now; we must learn the immensity of coming to the place where Christ is as Son over God's house. In Acts you get nothing of the body. In the house aspect you first understand the church. A dissenter has the idea of membership. A churchman has no idea of this, but he has an idea of the house. With a churchman, all in the parish belong to the house of God. Still we may learn from a churchman in his reverence for the house. He takes off his hat in his respect for the building; I should do so for the company. If I had a cough I should not come, lest I should disturb the meeting.

I do not think one of twenty, of the labourers even, understand the mystery. You must begin with the house. I was a long time in the house before I knew what the house was; but that is no excuse for you. J.S.O. Here (Matthew 16) we get the foundation on which He builds, Himself confessed as Son of the living God.

J.B.S. Exactly. I do not think that I should hinder simple souls because I press that you are going to meet the Son of God, not simply the Saviour, but the Son over the house of God. It is very important, because unless you give Christ His place you will never find your place. He is above everything here. Everyone understands heaven or earth, but do they understand a place outside this world? Such is God's house. The Colossians had not apprehended the mystery though they were a very nice company.

[Page 420]

W.H. If that truth were better known-that Christ is Son over God's house, it would suppress a great deal.

J.B. S. Yes; but we must begin at the beginning. The beginning of this in a soul is, "To whom coming as unto a living stone".

Geo.C. What do you include in owning the Lord's supremacy?

J.B.S. That He is above everything here on earth. That He is supreme over all the evil, and comes in as supreme over all the evil and storm here. Peter had the right idea when he left the ship to join the Lord on the water. It is a great thing to go to a spot where the supremacy of Christ is owned.

J.S.O. Is there any difference between the aspect of the church in Matthew 16 and the way Paul presents the church?

J.B.S. I do not think there could be any other way but on the foundation.

F.E.R. As regards public testimony, Paul was the first one who preached that Jesus is the Son of God.

J.B.S. Paul was the first historically who preached Him as such; he went into the synagogues and preached Jesus that He is the Son of God; and he says, "Who revealed his Son in me". Read Hebrews; he begins with the Son of God, and you must be listening to the Son all the way through: it is the ministry of the Son.

F.G. How is it we get the house of God in Hebrews, not the church?

J.B.S. In Hebrews it is the congregation of God and how we become companions of Christ. The house may include professors; partakers of the Holy Spirit; chapter 6. You are told that if you leave the house there is no hope for you.

Ques. Are you in the house before you are in the body?

J.B.S. If you speak of counsel, we are all in the

[Page 421]

body; but as to learning it, as a rule we learn our place in the house first. Many devoted men do not understand the mystery.

W.H. Would it be correct to say, Peter was a stone for the house. but not in his place till the Spirit of God came and put him there (Acts 2)?

J.B.S. Yes; but you do not get that order of things now. The Spirit of God had to put him into his place.

There are two errors against which we must guard. One, the notion of "believers' meetings", and the other, an imitation of the true company. To be the right company you must call on the Lord out of a pure heart. I do not go to Matthew 18 to learn what the house is, I go to chapter 16. That is where you find out the right thing. In Matthew 18:19, it is, "if two of you". They were on the right ground already.

Ques. Would you be looking for a company where the supremacy of Christ is acknowledged? J.B.S. Certainly. How could He have an assembly unless He is there?

Ques. Do not all own that?

J.B.S. They do not; they own the Saviour. Imitators generally use the right terms.

F.E.R. They would take their ground on Matthew 18.

J.B.S. You must begin with chapter 16. You cannot rightly have the ground of chapter 18 without having first chapter 16. You cannot have the assembly without the Person, whose it is, as revealed in chapter 16. When you are on that ground, chapter 18 must not be left out; it is your prerogative-a blessed consequence.

F.E.R. You have enough in chapter 16. You get there "my assembly".

J.B.S. How could you have "my assembly" without the Person who calls them together? The

"Speaker of the house", so to speak, is there. You

[Page 422]

do not understand "my assembly" if you do not see that. It derives its character from "my assembly". If a man invited me to his assembly, and I found he was not there, I should retire disappointed. Every local gathering is on this ground.

J.S.O. Chapter 16 introduces the new structure, and the foundation on which it rests. It has nothing to do with gatherings, but is Christ's building, not yet complete, composed of all saints.

F.E.R. The assembly was to take the place of the synagogue here on the earth where His authority was owned.

J.B.S. Chapter 18 is rather a deduction from chapter 16. In dark times we had to go to chapter 18 to get round to it, but it shows we had lost chapter 16. Chapter 18 contemplates chapter 16. Verses 19 and 20 would, I judge, apply to any two or three who really know what church ground is, who might go to the chamber of a sick saint, or give themselves to prayer, because it says, "if two of you", that is, those who are of the church.

J.S.O. The assembly has been mentioned in chapter 18 before verse 19, for we read in verse 17, "Tell it to the assembly".

J.B.S. We have not only the assembly there but privileges belonging to it.

D.L.H. It has been thought that Matthew 18:20 refers to the assembly. From what has been just said as to the two or three in the sick chamber, or giving themselves to prayer, it would seem that it does not refer actually to the assembly.

J.B.S. Two or three may go to a sick believer on the ground of being gathered to His name, but they are of the assembly beforehand. It must be that they act as those who belong to, and are on the ground of, the assembly. The Lord would be in the midst of those two or three. Matthew 18:20 is a rallying word in the darkest time. The first thing in the revival of

[Page 423]

truth was to see that Christ had an assembly of His own. If you accept Matthew 16 as the ground on which we are met, why not accept any privilege conferred in chapter 18. You have the foundation first. "If two of you", opens out an important benefit. The assembly had been alluded to. Now he says, "If two of you".

F.E.R. It is really supplementary to the other; if any two of you who are gathered on the ground of the assembly.

J.B.S. In order to be a Peter you must acknowledge His supremacy in the assembly. He is Son over God's house.

J.S.O. The Son of the living God must be owned as the alone foundation of the assembly. We always have connected the two things -- the truth of the one body, and the Lord's presence in the midst of the two or three gathered to His name.

J.B.S. We are gathered on the ground of the one body -- all who are members of it; otherwise it would be sectarianism. In 1 Corinthians 10 you have passed from the house to the body. You are ready for any privilege when you have the foundation.

J.S.O. I think I understand your point as to having the revelation in chapter 16 in your soul before you can be truly gathered to His name.

J.B.S. No one can understand the assembly except he has been taught of God in these chapters. Chapter 16 is the foundation. Chapters 14 and 15 are, as I said, the divinity lectures to prepare me for the new structure. "My assembly" is connected with Christ's rejection. He is now rejected from the earth and received on high. Whenever He moves from there the church moves. Nothing of church order will remain after Christ has moved from His present position on the Father's throne. It is here only during Christ's rejection. The body belongs to heaven. We

[Page 424]

have not a word about the body until He is refused in glory.

J. What do you mean by Christ moving?

J.B.S. Directly He moves off the throne the church moves also. The mere professors, the foolish virgins, then become "the harlot", and the beast carries her in order to subserve its own objects. Man is greatly helped in his projects by Romanism. But at last the beast will burn the harlot with fire; all of Christianity will be swept away. Then Babylon will be judged and then comes the marriage of the Lamb, Revelation 19. Until the rival is disposed of the marriage does not take place.

W.H. We are not proposing any new ground, but owing to the many meetings it is important to press Matthew 16.

J.B.S. I have been pressing it for years. You must know the foundation of the church in chapter 16. If you do not understand the foundation you are not in your place.

F.E.R. Saints may be gathered professedly on right ground. At the present time there are numerous companies coming together owning certain truths, and pre-eminently the truth of the one body. The point for us is to see that we are really gathered in the truth of what the assembly is -- the nature of the structure, and that each stone is a component part of that structure.

J.B.S. Gathered on the ground of the one body is characteristic; the tendency is generally to congregationalism with a certain creed-souls linked together on the profession of certain truths.

T.H.R. There is a place between earth and heaven; we require to understand an out-of-the-world condition of things consequent on Christ's rejection. He has a place on earth, though rejected; that is the assembly.

J.B.S. John 20:19 is pattern. Though not earth

[Page 425]

nor heaven, this place is on earth. The Son has His assembly here.

H. Will you give us a word on the difference between the church and the kingdom of heaven?

J.B.S. It is the kingdom in verse 19 -- introducing people into the kingdom, the keys opening the door. It is here on earth. A common idea is that the kingdom now is in heaven, but it is here on earth, and we have the word without the presence of the King. The kingdom is the authority of the word when the King is not here. The word of God without the King.

Turn now to John 20:19. The Lord comes into their midst, the doors being shut, without opening the doors, and He says, "Peace unto you". That was the first time it could be said. It was virtually saying, I have cleared away all that was between God and you. No one can take his place in the assembly who has not peace with God. He breathes on them, and says, "Receive ye Holy Spirit"; and He then sets forth the object of the assembly -- that it is the place for His things. He gives them their mission, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you". No one could be in the assembly but on the new ground of peace in the Spirit. This may appear to shut out many. The more important a step is, the more necessary is it that the step should be taken in faith. There is always more blessing in waiting until you have faith than in assuming a place for which you have not faith.

F.H.B. John 20 is a beautiful example.

J.B.S. Yes, the Lord fulfils Psalm 16, "In whom is all my delight". He seeks His own on the earth. Instead of going to heaven He comes to the assembled disciples; "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord". In Acts 2 you have the church formed. The Holy Spirit came down; He fills the house where they were sitting, and He fills each believer. You do not get beyond that in the Acts. You can never go

[Page 426]

beyond a revelation. In Acts 2 the revelation of the one body had not come. You will not understand the mystery, the one body, unless you first understand Acts 2. The house being filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit filling each believer, is an entirely new action of the Spirit. In the millennium the Holy Spirit will only be on them.

Ques. Which do you learn first, the body or the assembly?

J.B.S. In the purpose of God we are all set in the body as it hath pleased Him; we get the assembly as the house first. Believers learn the truth more correctly who learn the house first and then the body. They are often awakened to the truth by bearing of the body.

F.E.R. Have not things come out of late years rather in the reverse way? Was not the body seen before the house?

J.B.S. The Head was seen before the house. The light about the Head, which was as perfect as ever, was given of God before that of the house, which was in ruin. The house was in dilapidation, but the body was not, so the truth of that was restored to us first.

Ques. Is there a difference between holding the Head and understanding the body?

J.B.S. Yes; if one apprehended the body, he must apprehend the Head; but in recovering the truth of the one body you must begin with the Head.

F.E.R. I had an idea of the body years ago, and that brought me out; but I had no spiritual apprehension of the Head, and therefore could not have had it of the body.

J.B.S. Nay; some of the brethren began pretty much with the evangelical alliance idea that all Christians should congregate together and for the time sink their differences.

Ques. Was there not the idea of one family more?

J.B.S. I think the family idea was a refinement of the evangelical alliance idea. There was a feeling that

[Page 427]

wherever you heard of a Christian you should try to become acquainted, in order that you might induce him or her to join the gathering. In 1848 the truth of the house came out. There are professors in the house, but the aspect of it that we have been having before us today is that of the real thing.

F.G. I have been thinking I have spoken of the body, and know very little of the house.

J.B.S. The truth of the one body is more attractive than to find and accept your true place in the house where there is every disorder and confusion. Acts 2 is not on the ground of the mystery. The Spirit of God is there, and all is set up in divine power; but you do not get beyond that there. The body was not revealed until Acts 9. Many pious souls seek to be led of the Spirit who do not understand the mystery. The danger in such a case is impulse -- saying, "It was on my heart": that is Quakerism. Having it on your heart is no authority. Very good to have it on the heart if the Head had directed it. As the assembly is the Lord's place my care should be that I get from Him that which I give out; when you are near Him He directs you.

Ques. A person may think that he got something from the Lord at home?

J.B.S. I do not deny this; but if he has, it is sure to be confirmed in the assembly as the Lord's mind. If I am near the Lord in His own house, He helps me to act according to His pleasure. It is there, too, I learn what my gift is. Many a person does not know what his place in the assembly is, because he has never been near enough to the Lord to learn it from Him.

Ques. What would correct taking a part because I had something on my heart?

J.B.S. A knowledge of the Head. In Colossians 3 you get the Head. The Holy Spirit always makes Christ paramount.

[Page 428]

T.H.R. If we follow what we have been going through -- you get the structure, and then the Holy Spirit comes as the power of the structure. If a person does not understand the structure, he does not understand the Spirit in the structure.

J.B.S. The Head is how Christ stands in relation to the assembly.

T.H.R. You might have the power of the Spirit in a congregation.

J.B.S. There are a great many very true who do not understand the Head. Many love the Lord who are not holding the Head. If you speak under the direction of the Head, you edify the assembly. In Colossians 3 you touch the Head (verse 11). Christ everything and in all; you are outside everything of man and every order of man.

F.E.R. Is it too much to say outside of my own individuality?

J.B.S. It is individually that you hold the Head, but you are outside of your own head. You are in a new state while in the old state; you are outside the world. Jordan is not dissolution, but you have gone outside of your natural life while still in the place of it; because you are still here.

Ques. Is the assembly across Jordan

J.B.S. The Lord is risen. Many have enjoyment in the assembly who have not realised the presence of the Lord. It is not merely the ministry there, but the impression from the presence of the Lord in glory. If I am there in truth, I am where there is nothing but the divine glory. In the assembly you are outside the order of things here. The assembly is not the place for your necessities. When a brother gives out a hymn about our sins, he has lost the idea of the assembly. The great thing is to see that we are there outside man's order of things, and that it is Christ's interests that are to occupy us.

[Page 429]

In Colossians 2 it is the individual who is spoken of as not holding the Head; but I have not got to the Head there.

T.H.R. You do not reach the Head till you have learned that Christ is everything; chapter 3. There you are off human ground and you are on divine ground.

F.E.R. There is another point in chapter 3: You have put on the new man; you are off natural ground.

J.B.S. You are off human ground and you are complete in Him; and nothing can be added to you.

F.E.R. You get in chapter 2 the virtues of the Head, but you do not touch Him till chapter 3.

J.B.S. It is a great thing to see that in the assembly everything is from Christ. I feel in the assembly sometimes I drop what I had in my own mind; presently I receive from the Lord. When you take part in the assembly, you are the organ of the assembly, therefore you ought to pray in the Spirit. In giving out a hymn you are leading the praises of the assembly. The Lord would dictate to you there a word for the assembly, and you get light and expansion as to the truth that you never had before. Now in Ephesians I not only derive from Him, but I am united to Him in heaven. In Colossians I am on new ground in the old place; you do not get to heaven in Colossians. They were not beyond the house. All the sensibilities of the Head come out in Colossians: "Bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering", et seq.

F.E.R. All the grace of Christ comes out in the assembly.

J.B.S. And such is the object and end and gift to man that the grace of the Giver may abound to the blessing of the assembly.

Now when we come to Ephesians, we are raised up and made acquainted with His power and His place. There is very little about power in Colossians, you get

[Page 430]

life there: He is our life. You cannot know union except in the place where the Person is. You get life in Colossians, not union.

Ques. What is the force of "fulness of him", Ephesians 1?

J.B.S. In chapter 3 Christ is the complement of God. In chapter 1 the church is the complement of Christ, as Man exalted and glorified. The church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all; Ephesians 1:23. He would not be complete without His body; it is of Him; we do not add to Him, we all derive from Him; we are the expression of Him. My thought about "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26) is, that the Lord would have us so apart from everything here unsuited to Himself that if He were to walk in, He would find all to His pleasure. I have no doubt Stephen tasted union, though he did not know the doctrine. In Acts it was all there in principle, for they had the Holy Spirit, but they knew nothing of it.

J.S.O. Everything belonged to them, though the whole truth was not unfolded till Paul's ministry.

F.E.R. Take a saint who has the Spirit; everything is there, for he has the Holy Spirit. You must seek to establish souls in what is their portion.

[Page 431]


1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Ephesians 5:30

I desire, beloved brethren, to seek to interest you a little as the Lord may help me, in the difference between these two passages; the one presenting the truth, that your body is a member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit; the other, that you are a member of His body. I believe the two are often confounded, and some quote the former as though it were union, whereas in this passage we have our responsibility; not our position in, nor union with, Christ: "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, ... ye are not your own ... therefore glorify God in your body" which is God's. The translators have put in the words, "in your spirit"; just as in Colossians 2:11 they have introduced the word 'sins'. They could better understand the idea of glorifying God in your spirit, than in your body. The words, "in your spirit", are interpolated, they should not be there, the thought is the body.

The first thing we have to learn is where the gospel sets us; and you must learn it first before you can understand your position. The bright and blessed day of grace bursts in on this dark world, when the thief on the cross was taken to Paradise, taken to the very brightest spot. All the judgment that lay on him removed, he goes up with Christ to that heavenly scene; not as he asks, to the kingdom, but to the very brightest spot, for all the judgment due to him was gone. The just judgment of God lay on every one of us, for God had said at the very outset, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die", Genesis 2:17. This is the judgment of sin on the body of fallen man. The blessed Lord went under the whole

[Page 432]

weight of judgment. He went down to death and drank the bitter cup. As the victim, He took the sinner's place and rose from the dead. Never did a victim rise from the dead till then. In the types of the Old Testament we have death, but none ever arose. Christ is the only victim who arose from the dead. This guilty man (the thief) is brought, apart from all that he was in himself, to the very highest spot in company with the Lord. "with me in paradise". Not only so, but his body is now the Lord's and He will raise it a glorious body like His own. We do not sufficiently apprehend that we are to glorify God in our bodies; and it is the sense of this that has led me to speak on this subject. Now, as to the gospel and the work of Christ, I do not find that it is adequately apprehended that the benefit conferred by the gospel is far beyond the need of the sinner. You cannot measure the benefit by the need. You may say, "Does it not cover the need?" It does; but you get no clue to the benefit from the measure of the need. You must go elsewhere to find out the character and measure of the benefit, you cannot find it anywhere save in God's heart: you cannot find it in your own thoughts or expectations. How little indeed, do we enter into the fulness of the benefits of the gospel! The elder brother in Luke 15 did not object to his brother being forgiven, but it was unwelcome to him to see the wonderful excess of grace bestowed on him by the father, "Thou hast killed for him the fatted calf". Many have the sense of forgiveness without the knowledge of this excess, this wonderful thing, this marvellous abounding which no tongue can tell, no human ability can explain. The next thing is, the blessed Lord having relieved the body from all the weight of judgment which lay on it, now owns it. That body is to be a display of Himself in this world now: so as to be hereafter in

[Page 433]

relation to Himself in the kingdom. According as it is used for Him here, so will you be with Him in His kingdom when He reigns; and according to the works done in the body, you will be in relation to Him when He reigns in His kingdom by-and-by. He says, as it were, 'I have relieved that body of all the judgment that lay on it, and it is Mine; the Holy Spirit dwells in it, and it is to be down here descriptive of Me; and according as it is, so will it be in relation to Me in the kingdom'.

I now turn to Ephesians 5:30: "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones". There are two points here. First: we are of His kindred; and second; the position which belongs to us as united to Him. We are of His kindred, of the same order as He is. That is where the gospel puts us. It is very evident that if I am a member of His body I must necessarily be of the same order as He is. What supports this is the quotation from Genesis 2:22, 23: "And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man". When the woman is brought to the man, "Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh". The great thing now is to be brought to the man. To do this, to bring the soul into conscious knowledge of union with Christ, is the great work of the Spirit of God in this day. It is an immense fact to get hold of, that nothing of moral disparity could be united to Christ. If there were not suitability to Him, there could not be union with Him. We have to learn, and to help others by our own learning, the difference between kindred and position. Nothing is more erroneous than to think a believer is elevated by being united to Christ. If he were not of the same order as Christ he could not be united to Him. The first thing to understand is, kindred; and I believe here is the lack. In seeking a wife for Isaac, the one thing that Abraham's servant

[Page 434]

was sworn to was with respect to his kindred. "Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac", Genesis 24:4. You are of the same order as Christ. Turn to Hebrews 2:11; we read, "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren".

Now it is not union that we get in this passage, but relationship, kindred; "all of one", a new stock and lineage. So in John 12:24 . "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit". The Lord never had brethren till He rose from the dead. It was necessary that He should die, or He would abide alone. But after His resurrection He can say, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God, and your God". Now He has brethren. Even Israel will be "sons of resurrection" by-and-by. What we get in Hebrews is that we are companions of Christ. He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows, His companions; and it is most important to get hold of this truth, for, as I have said, if we are not fit to be His companions, there could be no union with Him. There is no allusion to Him in this connection until after He rose from the dead. Hebrews, whilst not presenting union, shows that we are in company with Him as Aaron's sons were in company with their father.

In Ephesians you get "accepted in the beloved" before you get union, and in Colossians we are made "meet to be partakers .. . with the saints in light". As an individual, you are, like the prodigal, brought to the Father's house, and you find yourself a son there. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God". Individually we are the children of God, we are of that order, hence "the world

[Page 435]

knoweth us not because it knew him not". And in John 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth". That is putting them in altogether a new order. Until you get hold of this, you cannot get hold of union. The great work of Abraham's servant (the Spirit in type) was to procure a bride who was of Abraham's kindred.

Now I would ask, and it should greatly concern our hearts; Are we really answering to God's purpose about us? I do not ask whether you are saved, but whether you are answering to God's purpose about you? A great many cannot answer this question because of the teaching in the present day, for it does not go beyond the delight of the prodigal in being in the Father's house. But I wish to engage your hearts with the purpose of your Father about you; and that is, that you should not only know you are saved and called to share in the festivities of His house, but that you should apprehend that each of you is a member of the body of Christ. God hath set each one of us in the body as it hath pleased Him. Are you seeking to answer to His purpose for you? If you can say, I do seek to answer it, I thank God. You may know little of it, still you seek to answer to His purpose; you are set on God's aim, His end. In Christendom the salvation of the sinner is the ultimate, but that you should form a part of Christ's body is God's ultimate.

Referring again to the type, Abraham's steward asked for a sign by which he should discover the damsel of the true kindred, and it was by her grace and readiness to serve that he discovered her. No one is prepared to be conducted by the Spirit to Christ in heaven who is not walking in His grace and service here. Unless you are in the Father's house and happy there; unless you know that you are of His kindred, you cannot apprehend the greatness of your Father's purpose, and that is, that we are members of the body

[Page 436]

of Christ, and brought into the realisation of this wonderful blessing. You are united to Him, you have a new position; your kindred cannot be improved, but you get a new position. The great burden of the apostle's prayer in Ephesians is that this union might be known. The prayer in chapter 3 is that you may know the good of it. I trust that these two points are clear, namely, that we are of the same kindred, and that we are by union with Him in the dignity of His position.

Turn now to Romans 12, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service". That is your responsibility; your responsibility is always in keeping with your capacity. Listen to a man's prayers; if he is exercised he seeks to know his responsibility: your position determines your responsibility. There are many who try to reach up to a higher course of action, but they must first apprehend a higher position. It is not easy to explain, but as an illustration, at college the grade of each student is known by his gown; and in the army, an officer is distinguished from the common soldier by the cloth which he wears. But before we dwell further on Romans 12, let us turn to a more general statement. In Luke 11:34 we read, "The light of the body is the eye, therefore when thine eye is single thy whole body also is .. . light"; that is, luminous; not "full of light". The body is the vessel of testimony. The light should be seen in it. I take it to heart myself how much I have overlooked this truth. I used to speak a good deal of the testimony itself, but I should now like to speak more of the witness.

In Luke 10 to 18 we get the traits of the new company. The Lord is about to go away, and He sets forth the new company and their traits. The second is that the body is luminous. There is a moral weight

[Page 437]

about a person whose body is luminous. The whole body luminous, having no part dark: as when a candle doth give its light. If there is a flaw visible in a Christian, a "dark part", the defect is inside. If a doctor finds an external symptom he will say there is something wrong inside. If a shepherd wants to know what is wrong with a sheep he looks at its eye. "When thine eye is single thy whole body also is full of light, .. . as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light". How can you be this? As you apprehend your position you take in the light better, and you are able to answer to it; your responsibility is to be according to it. You are set here to answer to His purpose, not merely to behave yourself better, but to answer to His purpose; to stand "perfect and complete in all the will of God". As you apprehend your position your body becomes a reflection of it. The external indicates the internal; you must begin inside. The Pharisee began (verse 37) outside. A Pharisee hears Him and asked Him to dine with him, as if they were on the same line. The Lord corrected the inside, not the outside. The outside is in keeping with the inside, "He setteth himself in a way that is not good" -- the external. "He abhorreth not evil" -- the internal. Then in Luke 12 there is neither fear nor care. As we apprehend by faith our position, the body becomes an answer to Christ here; a display of Him, according as our position, through grace, is consciously accepted in the power of the Spirit. One may say, I should like to arrive at the highest practice. Then you must apprehend by faith your highest position. The highest position gives the highest practice. A child's practice is lower than that of a grown-up son.

To return to Romans 12, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind". You have first what is negative, and next the positive, even a new mind. It does not mean

[Page 438]

the old mind made new, but an entirely new mind. The previous part of the epistle sets forth how we are justified, sons of God, led by the Spirit of God, and there is now neither condemnation, nor separation from His love; then we learn that the body is the Lord's, to be presented a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. It is all in keeping with what we are. In Romans we learn experimentally to be dead to sin. Further on, we are called to "put on the armour of light", not the armour of God; we do not get that, but in Ephesians. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we have the same word, transformed, though there translated, changed. I have a new mind which turns me from the course of this world, to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, I am transformed, transfigured. We have in 2 Corinthians 3 an advance on Romans, though still it does not carry us beyond the gospel.

Now the Corinthians had departed from the ground of Romans, and the apostle, in trying to recover them, is presenting to them Christ in glory. He shows that they are not only, as they learnt in the epistle to the Romans, clear of all unrighteousness, but they are brought into the righteousness of God in Him; where there never was sin at all: in the justification of life. They have not simply a new mind, but he shows how they would, beholding Christ's glory, become transformed from glory to glory. This word 'transformed' or 'transfigured', occurs four times in Scripture; twice in connection with our Lord at His transfiguration. The believer can behold Him in glory. The glory is the expression of God's satisfaction, according to all His attributes, resting on that blessed One. Beholding the Lord in glory is a condition of things: you see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and the effect is, that you are transformed. I illustrate it by the queen of Sheba: "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's

[Page 439]

wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cup-bearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her", 1 Kings 10:4, 5. What were the things? The house he had built, the meat of his table, the sitting and deportment of his servants, the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his. cupbearers, and the ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord. They are not great things, but if wisdom so permeates small things, it shows how it permeates everything. In Philippians 4:6, 7, you go to God burdened and you come out with His peace; you get so near Him that you lose your care and acquire His peace.

Now turn to the Colossians. Practically they were true to the assembly, the house of God, but like many a true-hearted one in this day, they had not apprehended in faith the mystery of God. In chapter 3: 12 you are a display of Christ; having put on the new man, you are in the virtues of Christ. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering". You may naturally be rough and uncouth, but you have died and risen with Christ, and you are now to put on His sensibilities and affections. You have died out of the old man, and having risen with Christ, you have lost your own position, and have entered on His, in the sphere where He is "everything, and in all". You derive from Him now, and you come out in the moral traits of Him from whom you derive, and first in the circle of His own. Everything now is of Him. Also, you come out in a new way in your family, because you derive from Him. He is your Head. You get direction and dictation from Him.

Now in Ephesians it is not simply that we derive

[Page 440]

from Him, but you are a member of His body, and your individuality is merged, and your heart is occupied with His interests. Christ dwells in your heart by faith. You comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, length, depth, and height. You know His love which passeth knowledge. You are in the power of the heavenly man. How could you carry out His pleasure unless you are in your true position? Your walk will correspond to it. A higher responsibility can only be reached by the soul's entrance by divine power into a higher position. It is not merely fulfilling all the duties of life, but you do so as Christ. No one can conceive the wonderful nature and capabilities of his position till he lays hold of it.

And again, you must know your position and the great capabilities you receive there, in order to withstand the power and opposition of Satan. You are to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might". The words used here and in Ephesians 1, "the power of his might", are to unfold the greatness of the power toward us, in order that we should consciously know our position. Hence you are to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places". The church's rapture will terminate Satan's power in the heavenlies . then he concentrates his power on earth.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10 we read: "We must all appear before the judgment-scat of Christ: that every one may receive the things done in his body". In Revelation 19 the bride has passed the judgment-seat, "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints".

[Page 441]

Every one will receive what he has done in the body. Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. According as we have acted for Christ here, we shall receive from Him there.

I trust that we may have a deeper sense of the greatness of our position and responsibility, and that He may be magnified in our bodies by life or by death. The Lord grant that each of us may seek to be according to His purpose, so that we may in some measure be a display of Him in this world; so that each of us may be found when He comes acting in His power and for Him according to His desire for us.

[Page 442]


John 14:26 - 31; John 16: 7

I desire to present to you your gain in serving the Lord. I am thankful for the word which has been before us, that the more we know God the more we get to know what must be, which I call the individual path.

Up to the close of John 10 we get the individual path. It is with reference to the Christian himself: you will find there all that you require. But in chapter 13 we come to our service for Him; and how we are prepared for His service. Here in chapter 14 the Holy Spirit is given for a different service from His service for the individual blessing. In chapter 4 His service is distinctly individual, a fountain of water in the believer; while in chapter 7 it is, "Out Of his belly shall flow rivers of living water"; you have deeper joys than earthly joys, the joys of God. But now in chapter 14 it is His things, and how you are for Him here. This is what I would dwell on, the immense gain it is for you to be here for Him. You must first have learned His grace to you, how He has been here for you. If you do not know His grace you cannot start in His service. We have been hearing of the wonderful way in which He has blessed us. That is the first part; but having learned this there is immense gain to be in this world for Him, and occupied with His interests.

In chapters 13 and 14 the Lord is going away, and there is nothing left for you here; but the Holy Spirit is given, to enable you to be here for Him. In chapters 14 and 15 we have the sending of the Comforter; in the one, He is sent by the Father, and in the other by Christ. Christians have some knowledge of Christ's

[Page 443]

work here for them; but they have little or no apprehension of the way they are to be here for Him. There is often a thankful readiness to appropriate the benefits of His love for us individually; but there is little apprehension of how we, who have been so blessed by His service, should be here distinctly and abidingly for the furtherance of His interests. It is an immense fact to lay hold of, that you are here for His interests. Do you know this?

Then there are two parts in this service; as it was said to Paul in Acts 26:16, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose; to make thee a minister and a witness". There are many, I doubt not, well inclined to be the former, who probably do not know their responsibility as to the latter. In your individual path as you feed on Christ's death you are sustained by Him; as you reckon yourself to be dead unto sin, you are alive unto God in Jesus Christ; but in these chapters you have more; the Holy Spirit is sent from the Father that you may learn the path of Christ here, the way He taught us the Father. The Father was His compensation for every loss here. No one knows how to be a true servant of Christ, unless he knows how Christ was borne up by the Father all through His path here, superior to everything; in the storm, in the ship, asleep. He never, that we read of, altered a circumstance for Himself. That wonderful word, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you", follows verse 26. The great qualification for a servant is His peace. He will lead you into that serene path, the path of life which He made here. Has not the servant gained immensely? In chapter 14 you have not come out in service yet. It is preparation for it. In chapter 15 you are instructed as to the work of the minister, while in chapter 16 you learn the witness character.

All service begins with His own. The Lord says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love

[Page 444]

one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another". This is your private service to one another; and publicly, you should be known as so devoted to the saints that you would die for them. Then comes His word, "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you". This will draw out the hatred of the world; and now the Lord adds, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". The Holy Spirit comes from Christ in glory for one special object. "He shall testify of me"; not for me (as I used to think), but "of me".

At one time I dwelt more on the testimony itself and too little on the witness character. It is on the witness I would now speak. The Lord says, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". The Holy Spirit comes and demonstrates to you that the world is "sin". The world does not believe in Christ. The world, man's organisation, is therefore sin; and the presence of the Holy Spirit demonstrates this great fact. The witness is led and controlled by the Holy Spirit; and he testifies of the One whom the world refused, and he is altogether apart from the world. Then there is no righteousness in the world. Righteousness is with the Father; "of righteousness, because I go to my Father". You must go there for righteousness: and thirdly, "of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged". The witness is set by the Holy Spirit in a marvellous position here. The world morally exposed to him, all righteousness with the Father; altogether apart from the world, and yet divinely conscious that the power of the world is broken. But consequent on, and concurrent with, this demonstration as to all that is adverse, he is

[Page 445]

compensated most abundantly. The Holy Spirit is here to glorify Christ. "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine".

Can anyone conceive the wonderful blessing with which you are blessed when you are a witness (the same word as martyr) for the Lord. It is not a place of earthly possessions, riches, or position; but Christ is glorified to you, and the Father's things are shown to you. I have noticed that those who have been turned aside never understood the counsels of God, never truly apprehended the interests of Christ. You will find that a man who either retains a position in this world, or seeks one, never understands God's chief interest now. The greatest place of favour that you can be given in this world, is to be led in the line of God's chief interest. Some would call preaching the gospel God's chief interest here. I should say, that it is the means to an end. God's chief interest now is to form a bride for His Son. No one on loose, or independent ground as to the church, could either write or give you any correct idea of it as it is in the counsel of God. I have been asked, 'How long did you take to learn the truth of the church?' I did not answer, because if I have been dull, and slow to learn it, that is no reason why it should be so with you.

The apostle prays for the Ephesians, "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". Often those who can read the Scriptures in the original increase their difficulty in understanding them, because they only see more clearly what has been stated, and divine truth is quite beyond the natural mind. Man's words reveal his mind, but you must know God's mind in order to understand His words. I have seen many a one regarded as learned in the Bible, well up in the interpretation of Scripture, who never grasped God's

[Page 446]

chief interest on the earth at this present time. They never apprehended the church. You cannot be a witness otherwise. You cannot be a witness unless you are led by the Holy Spirit sent from Christ in glory, and by Him you are here for Christ and for His interests. It is of all importance to see that the one great object of your being left here is that you should make His chief interest your chief interest.

It is an immense help in a day of confusion to know that Timothy is told by Paul that he had not only known his doctrine, and manner of life, etc., but "that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures"; that is, the whole scope of the divine communications. If you study the Old Testament you will see the divine course all through. There have been always professors as well as men of faith. Look at the history of Abraham and Lot. Abraham had faith in God's purpose. Lot had not; it was soon seen that he was not in God's mind. As soon as Abraham takes the path of faith, division occurs; Abraham gives place to Lot, and Lot chooses the green fields of Sodom; he walks by sight. Abraham is true to God's purpose that he should be in the land, but not to have a bit of it yet. Apparently Abraham had the worst of it. Lot seeks a share of the world's advantages, and he comes in for its trouble; he is taken captive. Abraham goes forth to extricate him; for if you are in God's purpose, you must be a servant. Abraham arms his servants and goes forth with his life in his hand to rescue his brother who had gone into the world. Abraham would be a servant; a servant is a sufferer; he gives up all his comforts that he may serve. Lot was rescued, and all his goods were restored to him. In man's judgment he was the best off, but there is another side for the spiritual eye. Where you are slighted for the Lord's sake you are sure to be honoured. There a table will be prepared for you by the Lord. Melchisedec came forth to

[Page 447]

meet Abraham and blessed him. What an immense thing he gained! How different from Lot's portion.

I hope you see the wonderful blessedness of the one who is true to God's purpose or chief interest at any given time. If you do not know the joys of the Father's house for yourself you will not be for Christ here. There can be much service, like Martha's, which is not simply for Christ. A young believer, at rest as to his own soul, can be occupied with Christ's interests.

It is a great thing for a servant to be assured that he is truly occupied with that which concerns Christ: but when you are, you will be confronted by the direct and persistent opposition of Satan. Look at Moses on the mount, and Aaron with the people making a golden calf. Moses coming out from the presence of God and seeing the terrible state of things knows at once what to do; while his own brother who had started with him, and been his expositor, had been so influenced by the people that he made a golden calf for them. Great indeed was the division between them. How striking the faithfulness of the one, and the unfaithfulness of the other I The difference between them was, that Moses had been with God, and God is before him, while Aaron is swayed by man. Moses faces the whole 600,000 of Israel; he stands alone, with the exception of Joshua, before that great multitude. What was it that kept him so firm? Because God's chief interest was his chief interest. It is no matter the measure of opposition against you if God's interest is your object; all God's power is there. No one is steadfast unless he has the church of God for his interest.

The Lord says, "If any man serve me, him will my Father honour". You may be able to do very little, but your heart should be absorbed with His interest. The mark of being in the conscious knowledge of union with Christ is, that His interest is your

[Page 448]

interest. You are merged in Him, hence His interests are yours. See how Moses was honoured. Not only did he see the glory of God, but he is afterwards with the Lord in the mount of transfiguration. He had stood for the Lord, and He brings him along with Himself. The more you serve Him, the more He honours you. Thus the testimony of the Scriptures stimulates and encourages us.

One passage more in the Old Testament. Elijah said there should be no rain but according to his word. Now rain is a mark of God's favour. No rain is evidence of departure from God. To Israel it was said, 'If ye shall hearken diligently, and serve Him with all your heart, I will give you the rain of your land. in his due season ... and if ye turn aside, there shall be no rain', Deuteronomy 11. And nowadays you will find that when one has declined in soul, the first evidence of it is that he is dry, no freshness in his conversation or ministry. Elijah is openly honoured of God and slays the priests of Baal, and then he promises rain. Afterwards Elijah is afraid of Jezebel, and flees into the wilderness, but the Lord brings him to Horeb, and tells him of His unfailing resources. The Lord then takes Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire, and afterwards he too is seen on the mount of transfiguration.

We might also adduce instances from the New Testament. There is a remarkable example in Luke's gospel. Anna, the prophetess, "departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day". Her heart was undividedly occupied with the interests of the Lord, and she sees what all the learned doctors could not see. She is brought into the knowledge of His mind, and she speaks of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

I ask, Have you found God's favour? Are you satisfied with it? If you are, you must be occupied

[Page 449]

with His interests. People talk about communion, but they do not know what communion is. You may have a good conscience without communion; and many a one has. Communion is having common thoughts with God, being in concert with Him. Anna was in concert with God about His interests at the time, and she came in just at the right instant, to the very spot where the Lord was.

One passage more, Acts 15:36 - 40. Division began early. These verses give us the contention between Paul and Barnabas, which led to their being divided. Barnabas wants to take John with them, who had previously deserted them in the work of the Lord. Paul stands firm, because he has God's interests before him, and parts from his friend; and we find in the next chapter, Paul finds the man he requires. Timothy more than compensates him for the loss of Barnabas. You will receive a distinct mark of God's favour in the very place where you have lost through faithfulness to Him. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you". He is cast out of all here, and if you try to be acknowledged here, you will not be in His confidence.

If you follow the course of John and Paul, both are brought very low as to things here. John in banishment, Paul in prison; and there Paul writes the epistle to the Ephesians, saying, that "ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ". He was in the full knowledge of God's mind about the church; he would that all men might see the economy of it. An old divine has described the church as a white rose in full bloom. The little daisy, called hen and chickens, is a good illustration, Christ the great centre, and each individual saint deriving from Him the source of everything.

When all in Asia had turned away from Paul and he was still a prisoner, what does he say to Timothy?

[Page 450]

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them". "And the things that thou hast heard of me .. . the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also", 2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:14. Paul is a unit in the second epistle to Timothy; all the saints deserted him, not only his countrymen, as with Stephen; but the Lord strengthened him, and he enjoins Timothy to commit what he had heard from him to faithful men.

While John is in exile, he learns the counsel of God as to all that would happen on earth, and the glories of the kingdom. Would you be ready to accept the low place here that John and Paul had (exile and imprisonment) in order to receive the mind of God? While your own portion individually is inconceivably great, the more you are attracted to Him where He is, the more you will come out for Him in His interests here; and the more He will open out His mind to you.

The Lord grant that in simple faith we may be devoted to His interests, being assured that He will turn all in the end to our present and eternal blessing; and may this word remain with us -- "IF ANY MAN SERVE ME (not merely doing good works), HIM WILL MY FATHER HONOUR".

[Page 451]


Revelation 22:17

The subject I desire to speak on is the bride, the relationship in which the church is to Christ. The marriage is the display of the relationship. I have read the passage where we get the word 'bride'. The body is of Christ, properly "the Christ". I desire to show you the nature of our relationship, and how it is known, before the marriage takes place. Before the marriage it is said, "his wife hath made herself ready", Revelation 19:7. The epistle to the Ephesians could not be effectual if we did not know union. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him". The epistle to the Ephesians is that you might know that you are united to Him; it is conscious knowledge. Every believer is united to Christ in heaven, but the apostle prays that they may know it. You cannot understand the relationship of the bride until you know union. You cannot be in that peculiar concert with Christ which the name of bride expresses. If you say the bride is only future, you ignore the words, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come", which is present, though it is after the marriage in Revelation 19 that she takes her place publicly with Him.

There are three stages to be passed through (I use the word 'stages' for want of a better) before you are conscious of union with Christ. It is a matter of the deepest moment, for if known it would have a wonderful effect on us here. When I know that I am united to Christ I am so identified with His interests that they are paramount with me. Few know it. Every distinct truth has its own characteristic. Christians in general are characterised by the knowledge of Christ as their Saviour; they praise God for the blessings

[Page 452]

of salvation, but the leading characteristic of union is, that your individuality is merged in Christ; you belong entirely to another. The bride is merged in the Bridegroom.

As to the three stages, turn to 1 Peter 3:18 for the first: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God". I need hardly say much about this stage, but the point is, that the man under judgment has been removed in judgment, and you are brought to God. All that stood against you has been cleared away to God's infinite satisfaction, and you are brought to God, and like the prodigal son, you are at home in the Father's house. The Son of God has accomplished this great work. You must know this first. Here you must begin. There is a grievous leaven in Christendom, a great defect in preaching the gospel. Christ's death is presented to the soul after the manner of the sacrifices under the law, where the pious Jew found relief for his immediate sins, but he still retained the flesh which is enmity against God. The illustration of a man pressed for the army, and finding a substitute to stand in his stead is not the gospel. The gospel is that you were under the judgment of death, and that Christ, the Son of God, has borne that judgment, not that you should keep the man who was under judgment, but that you should be completely severed from him in Christ's death. The being who sinned must go in judgment. It is not renouncing your bad works; every Christian would be ready for that. Are you ready to see all that is nice and amiable in you under the judgment of God?

It is an immense moment to your soul when you learn that you are crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that Goliath is not driven away, but dead, judicially ended, and therefore cannot be righteously revived; there is no reviving of it on God's side, "There is no more offering for sin".

[Page 453]

You ask, Do I not sin? Yes, but there is no more offering for sin. If you do not judge Yourself for reviving what He has judged and condemned, He will judge you; the thing that did the sin will suffer for the sin; hence in Corinthians we find a man delivered "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh". As God has got rid of that man in the cross, He will not tolerate him in you. "Our God is a consuming fire". The man who was under the judgment of God has been judicially terminated in the cross, and the Man Christ Jesus so glorified God in the most distant spot, that He was "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father". He is glorified, and now God is free to go out to the most distant spot, to a Saul of Tarsus, and receive him to Himself.

The next thing is, Is the man who was under the judgment of God, and who is gone from God's eye in the cross, gone from your side? Read Romans 5:12 to the end. It is not only that you believe that God has raised Christ from the dead, and that you are on the field of battle as clear as Christ is. "As he is, so are we in this world". Jonathan was in the victory of David on the battlefield, so are you in the acceptance of Christ who fought the battle. Now it is no longer a question of your sins, but of sin in you. How are you free, "free from sin"? Romans 6:22. You have died with Christ. You have changed your man; you have passed from Adam to Christ. You have died with Him who died and you are in Him who is risen. Hence in chapter 6 we are told, "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Christ Jesus". Most beautiful! There you touch life, the abounding grace for the first time; you touch it for relief; that is liberty; hence in chapter 8: 2 we read, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". You have the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the second Man. You are free. "Stand

[Page 454]

fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free".

Now we read, "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live", Romans 8:13. For years I was distressed; I had not this liberty, although I knew I was fully clear in God's eye. At length I found that I was trying to improve the flesh, instead of walking in the Spirit. If you are walking in the Spirit you are outside the flesh; it is "mortify the deeds of the body"; take no notice of the flesh, walk outside of it. I do not say mortify the body, as a monk would do, but mortify the deeds of the body. You are under another rule; like Jonah in the whale's belly; he was alive, but under the will of another. The Christian is under Christ's rule, and glad to be so. In the Spirit you are experimentally and practically clear of the flesh. I do not say you will not have conflict, but "walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh". If you do not walk in the Spirit you will walk in the flesh. If you are under the government of Christ you will be directed by Him. If you are walking in the Spirit, you fulfil all your duties to your fellows in divine power. In Romans nothing is said of your family, but in Ephesians, where you are viewed as united to Christ in heaven, you come out in your family, in every relationship, in the grace of Christ. The nearer you are to God the better you maintain the ordinances of God.

So far is the first stage. Now I turn to the second stage. "For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren", Hebrews 2:11. If you have changed your man, if you are severed by death from the first man, you are in the life of the Man by whom you have been severed, and it ought to be easy to accept that you are of one stock, if I may so say, with Christ, "all of one". This is not union. In Hebrews we have nothing about union, but there

[Page 455]

is companionship; and for it, as well as for union, there must be the same kindred, one stock. There was only one thing Abraham's servant was sworn to, in seeking a wife for Isaac, that she must be of the same lineage. It is not only that the fir