[Page 1]

WE ARE SAVED BY HOPE

Philippians 3:17 - 21

In all dispensations, the people of God were practically sustained by hope. Though the hope might be different in all, yet its power, as a principle of action, was similar in all; and if we study the mode by which we are led along from one pursuit to another, and are sedulous in any, it is simply from hope. You enter on the drudgery of learning a language with the hope of being able to understand it; you sow your field with the hope of enjoying the fruits of it; and thus also in the details of life, there is always something in the distance which buoys up the spirit and encourages you to advance. It is the principle which begets all enterprise and is always active in a man, and never satisfied till shown by the Spirit of God what eye hath not seen nor ear heard. No present blessing has ever shut out hope. There is always, at all times, to the man of God something better beyond, and, if his mind fed not on it, things around unduly engaged him, to the prejudice of what was more blessed. Man is engrossed by some hope, and the nature of the hope gives him character. If christians are not led on by their proper hope, there must be failure in their service, as well as in personal blessing; for they are taken up with some other hope which distracts them, and prevents them from being engaged with their proper one. This, I believe, has been the cause of the church's great departure from its proper character and path on earth. Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. This hope did not save him (that is to say, if thereby be meant the remission of sins), but it made him turn his back on the stately structure of Babel, in the land of Shinar, for the city of God, which glistened in the

[Page 2]

distance. With his eye resting on it, he trod his weary way towards it through many a year, across this desert world. This made him a pilgrim and a stranger here; his hope was beyond this scene. Not so with Cain: his hope centred in his attempt to present this unredeemed earth pleasing to God by the fruits of his labour; and what have been the effects of his hope? Bitter disappointment on all hands, and worse! for with the same hands that gathered its sweet and beauteous fruits did he stain it with the blood of his brother. Philanthropist, he would mend the world and sacrifice his brother! How important, then, is it that we should ascertain distinctly the nature and range of our hope.

I fear the church has been looking for conversions and earthly extension, and the like, instead of that hope which, like a beacon-light, would not only encourage it to advance, but also guide it in its course. How seldom have christians examined into the nature of the place God has set the church in here below! Are we Jews? certainly not. Are we gentiles? Through God's grace, we answer, No! We are of the church of God. The Jews are displaced. Israel is broken off that we might be grafted in, and here is our earthly place; but the question occurs, 'How did we come there'? We were strangers to the covenant of promise. I believe the gospel of Luke is especially written to show us how God was preparing to disclose the mystery of the church. The language of Simeon is different from that of Hezekiah: earth is nothing to one as soon as Christ is seen, and he longs to depart. The prodigal son does not, on his reformation, get another living, but he gets a higher thing - even the father's house and the glories of it; also Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, for one who had been in no earthly blessings whatsoever; and, lastly, paradise opened out to Christ's last companion in this earth, too bad for the men of this world, the first to be with Christ in heaven! As a Jew, he asked to be remembered in

[Page 3]

Christ's kingdom, but he is taught there is higher blessing before that, where it is impossible for a man to utter the glories that surround him.

God made the last trial of Israel when He sent His Son. In His cry, every offer should be made to them. Hence, even the apostles were not instructed as to the destiny of the nation; their hopes were Jewish, and all their early ministration was to Jews. The stoning of Stephen, the witness of the Holy Spirit resisted, gave the grand blow to Jewish things. Samaria then hears the word of God and, stranger still, an Ethiopian eunuch, as he "was returning" from Jerusalem, is owned and received. Notwithstanding, the apostles were not prepared for the entrance of the gentiles into the root and fatness of the olive tree. The natural branches we see are broken off, and God is now about to bring in the gentiles. This is detailed in Acts 10 to Peter in a vision. He is shown a sheet knit at four corners, as comprising the whole world, in which were all manner of beasts (clean and unclean). It came out of heaven, and was let down on the earth, and was received up again into heaven. All these minutia are important, as instructing us in the characteristics of the new body about to take the place of testimony on earth. They were to be distinctly heavenly in origin and heavenly in hope: they came from heaven, they reached earth, but they returned to heaven. True, they were to fill up the hiatus caused by the breaking off of Israel and this only for a season, as we see in Romans 11. The error which has seduced the church into the world, was the idea that it was to take the place of Israel in respect to hope as well as in respect of testimony. Now, Palestine was never given to the gentile, and it alone God had claimed in a peculiar manner, but yielded into the hands of the gentile king when His people ceased to be witness for Him in it. The great power given over the wide earth to the gentile is not yet reassumed, because He,

[Page 4]

whose right it is, has not yet come. He is gone to seek for Himself a kingdom, but is not as yet returned, and until then no portion of earth could be claimed by the church now. Hence, the place given to them is in heaven: like the prodigal, it is to the Father's house and glories they are called. The word is ".. . blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ". Man on earth had dishonoured God, and it had been cursed on his account; and the man who, like Cain, attempts to make it a scene pleasing to God, not only subjects himself to bitter disappointment, but his spirit must be opposed to godliness. Man on earth has been tried: Jew and gentile, all are found wanting. He who is Lord of heaven and earth tarries for a little season ere He shows Himself as King of kings and Lord of lords; and during that season He is gathering out a people for His name, and heaven is His locality, for earth is yet unsubdued.

I am insisting on this point especially, because if we know not our present calling, we must be ignorant of the hope to which we are saved, simply because if our proper hope engaged us, it would put us in our proper place here. If I am actually now a heavenly man as to calling, and if all saints are so, my eye must rest on them as such, and my hope is not connected with earth or earthly things. The hope of a man now, holding citizenship in heaven, is to look for the Saviour who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like His own glorious body; Philippians 3. This is the first work of Christ on His return, and hence it is the hope of the saints, and it purifies them; 1 John 3. Christ is raised; then they that are His at His coming. He will manifest the sons of God. He will show the triumph over death in the thousands of His saints. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, the first in whom was arrested the power of death, at one and the same time gave Satan a presage of his final

[Page 5]

catastrophe, and the people of God, thus early in their history, an assured prospect of deliverance. For three hundred years he walked with God, and his testimony and hope ever was, "the Lord cometh". He did not, like Cain, expect that anything could be produced from earth pleasing to God, or that he could by any process remove the evil and violence then gathering over the land. Cain had failed. Enoch left it for better hands. Daily the earth grew worse, and what Cain, with the best intentions, if you please, could not effect in its infant state of evil, how can we, who are now in the condition spoken of in Jude's epistle? If Enoch had need in his day to look for the coming of the Lord, how much more have we? It is evident that the coming here does not mean Christ's first coming, for then Jude would not have referred to it as it was past, and moreover, Christ's first coming was not with ten thousands of His saints. The object of the apostle is to connect the minds of the saints with the only hope which could sustain as well as satisfy in the midst of evil and perplexity. If Enoch had not been walking in the faith of translation, would his hope have been in the coming of the Lord?

Thus it is we see that ascertaining my place now has much to do with my hope. If I am not looking to earth at all for blessing, but offering blessing to men on it from heaven, then I am not looking towards earth, but looking from heaven towards its Lord; and thus is the argument of the apostle in Philippians 3. He says there are certain persons "enemies of the cross of Christ"; and the summing up of their character is, that they mind "earthly things". Christ has quickened us with Himself above all these - not delivered by Him to be again immersed in them, but risen with Him with our affections set on things above, not on earthly things. These are still the theatre where Satan acts, and they that set their minds on them are enemies to the cross of Christ. The spirit of Cain is

[Page 6]

in them; alas! how it clings to us. Cain was a seeker of God, but in earthly things; and many a seeker of God nowadays, whom one could love and value, is found seeking and expecting blessings to spring up and flourish in this evil world. This being their hope, they are labouring for the extension of Christ's kingdom with an energy and assiduity which puts to shame the better taught. Cain's labour did not sanctify his service; and no amount of self-sacrifice or serving others can hallow such work. If it be minding earthly things, it is the act of the enemy, not exactly of Christ, but of the cross of Christ. Many a man would assert very positively that he was not an enemy to Christ; but is he an enemy to the cross of Christ? That cross put everything on earth to death. If you revive anything, and maintain that anything here is not crucified (Satan's great object), then you are an enemy. It matters little whether here, or there, or how I seek to produce an improvement in society, as making things and persons here more externally good and comely. If I am seeking for such a reformation either in a lesser or a greater degree, as bettering things here, I am minding earthly things; I am acting as a citizen of earth, and not as a citizen of heaven. The apostle says our citizenship is in heaven, and our hope is the return of Jesus. Let us not think of ourselves and the amount of good we are doing. So Cain thought. So said Saul, in sparing the beasts of Amalek for a sacrifice to the Lord. But let us honestly, in secret with the Lord, ask ourselves, 'Are we happily in the place of the Philippian saints, namely in heaven in spirit'? and is our hope as theirs, looking for the Saviour to change the body of our vileness into the likeness of the body of His glory? O, that it were, and the track of our footsteps would guide many to blessing.

[Page 7]

THE CHURCH'S CALLING - ITS PRACTICAL EFFECTS

Ephesians 4:1 - 6

This portion of Scripture contains two subjects, the one mainly affecting the christian himself, the other affecting the body of Christ through him. In fact, the deep interests of the church of God for one member, and all, are unfolded in this passage. Hence we can understand the emphatic manner with which the apostle presses them on the children of God. He beseeches them not as the apostle or the prophet, but as the prisoner of Jesus Christ; as one in whom was realised practically the fruitlessness of all earthly expectancy; a witness of what faithfulness to Christ in the world must suffer; and as one for whom the termination of earthly scenes would be a release and rest. Such is the character to give emphasis to the appeal he now makes to all saints. And, as such, he beseeches them to walk worthy of their vocation wherewith they are called. He had, in the preceding chapter of this epistle, opened out the nature and blessing of their vocation, and therefore, in this passage, he addresses the church as understanding it. It is evident that if one is ignorant of the nature and principles of his calling, he cannot walk worthy of it; a servant may be willing and obedient, yet he cannot fulfil the duties of his service unless he knows them; and, consequently, in every case in Scripture, we learn that our gracious God always establishes His servant in the practical blessing of his service ere he enters on it. Doubtless service deepens it, but the truth I am called to exhibit is my own strength and guide in the work, so that "he that watereth is watered also himself".

The Old Testament times were before the Holy Spirit was given as the witness of Christ's heavenly glory, the abiding unction of each believer, and the

[Page 8]

power of the unity of the assembly on earth; 2 Corinthians 3; John 7:38; John 14:26; 1 John 2:27; Galatians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:22. Then the nature and principles of the believer's calling, from which a corresponding service should flow, were explained in vision and inscribed on the soul of the servant, as by the finger of God, the deep truths he was to be a witness of; for God never left Himself without witness.

Moses learned in the burning bush (Exodus 3), the power and unchanging faithfulness of Jehovah to manifest Himself amidst the frail, contradictory things of earth, in wrath remembering mercy; and this scene sustained and instructed him in all his course, while conducting Israel from the iron rule of Pharaoh to the mount of Pisgah, where He should bequeath "the good will of him that dwelt in the bush" (Deuteronomy 33:16), as one who had largely experienced it. To Joshua (chapter 5) again, the captain, rather than the apostle of the Jewish calling, there appeared, with a drawn sword, the prince of the host of the Lord. Each had a vision suitable to, and characteristic of, his own peculiar mission. So, a live coal from the altar, in the circle of the ever holy glory, and the presence of the King, the Lord of hosts, touching the lips of Isaiah, not only set his heart ready for service but gave strength to him, and guidance in all the details of it. The nature and principles of that scene were embodied in all his testimony. The holiness and glory of the Lord, the uncleanness of His people, the purging of a remnant, judicial blindness of the mass, and the preservation and return of holy seed, were all comprised within the vision of chapter 6.

In the instance of Paul we have a remarkable sample. His first view of Jesus in the glory taught him the elements of all the great truths of which he was afterwards so faithful an expositor. He begins as unconnected with the earth; neither seeing, nor eating nor

[Page 9]

drinking, the great links with earth; and so he ends his course: at first, a bondman by Christ's glory; and, at the last, a bondman for His glory. Peter, as it has been strikingly observed, might truly style himself a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. But Paul was the converse of this. Paul was a witness of the glory of Christ, and a partaker of His sufferings. That heavenly Christ, whose glory shone brighter than noonday sun on him, and on him only by sovereign grace (Acts 9:7), called the astonished convert to know and to preach that the Lord of glory was the lowly Jesus of Nazareth, and that the church was one with Him in glory. "Why persecutest thou me? .. . I am Jesus whom thou persecutest".

These examples will suffice to establish the necessity (if any should doubt it) of being truly and accurately instructed in the nature and principles of our calling, if we really desire to walk worthy of it, and that we readily will not, is not only evident practically, but from the marked manner in which the apostle presses it upon us. He knew, the Spirit knew, the many hindrances which arise to our walking worthily of our calling. But why no effort, desire, or response to this touching appeal of our apostle? Do we know, in any energy, the nature of our calling? Have we patiently, like Mary at the feet of Jesus, sought from the Word the momentous meaning of our calling? Has every christian by the unction of the Holy Spirit sought after a faithfully desired acquaintance with a subject so earnestly put before us? Or, are we content with the ignorance of Thomas (John 14) on a kindred and connected subject: "We know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" I have said already, that the apostle, in the preceding chapters, gives a full and clear detail of our vocation, and as it must be first known ere practical effects follow from it, it may be well to ponder a little on it.

[Page 10]

First, let us enquire whether our vocation, as taught in this epistle, is a new revelation, and demanding a new and peculiar path on earth; or such as all, in God's line of witnesses, from the creation to the cross, had known, enjoyed, and walked in.

When we have it once a settled axiom before our souls, that God has been always, though in very different and even opposite ways, unfolding the various rays of His own glory, at one time His creative wisdom, at another His power and government; here, as a righteous Ruler, who guards and exhorts a peculiar nation on earth, and there, as a Father who seeks sinners in electing, though indiscriminate, grace for heaven: when this is simply and clearly seen, it follows as a consequence that the calling and walk of believers are modified, moulded, and governed by these respective revelations of God's character.

I believe each and all of God's people, in every age, knew that all their springs were in Him, knew that His loving kindness was better than life itself, and that in His presence was fulness of joy, and at His right hand pleasures for evermore. They reckoned their blessings to flow from Him, and the power, and in whatsoever place He would be, there would be glory, unspeakable glory to them; and, therefore, it does not interfere with their enjoyment, rest and blessing, whether their hope reached forward to the epiphany of Christ in glory on the earth (of which we have many proofs), or to the simply heavenly glory and the full blessedness of the church as the bride of Christ. Of this latter we have no intimation, save such passages as "heavenly" country, and "a city", in Hebrews 11, be supposed to bear that meaning.

The saints, before Christ was rejected from the earth, expected and waited for the accomplishment of the promises in an earthly glory; not human achievement, but an irresistible and universal halo emanating from Immanuel - from God manifest in the flesh.

[Page 11]

We do not indeed find that God had abandoned man in the flesh as irretrievable, until the Fairest - the Holy One of God - is allowed no place among them, but is cast out and dishonoured as an evil-doer.

We must not circumscribe our ideas to the narrow limits of human selfishness. Man was destined by God to fill a glorious place on this earth; he was made in the image and glory of God. Not only in Eden, but in the post-diluvian earth, and especially as an elect separated people in Canaan, did the Lord make trial of man. In all these cases man was set to maintain godliness and lordship in the earth. He had not fully proved himself as yet totally unfit for God's high destiny respecting him, for the destiny itself could not be rescinded. But now, every trial being made, and Israel under the power of Rome, "the fourth beast", the Son of God is revealed as one to repair all and to accomplish, through Himself, God's purposes respecting us. He glorifies God on earth. He proves himself fit and more than fit for man's high destiny, for He was, in truth, the brightness of God's glory and express image of His Person. But, while honoured of God, He is rejected and crucified by the very people to whom God had committed His oracles, and to whom He had been sending prophet after prophet to instruct and counsel - by the people whom He had chosen as His own peculiar people, from amongst all the nations of the earth.

The blessed Jesus who had as to manhood, and as a Man, accomplished all God's purposes and destiny respecting man, being rejected and crucified, rises to the right hand of the Father, not that God's great purpose in setting forth man as His image and glory, in this earth, has been frustrated, but to wait there till the period determined of God will arrive. Of that time and season there should be no disclosure. It is reserved in God. Yet the interval was not to be lost, for in this interval is the church being gathered, not

[Page 12]

to any earthly standing, for all had failed, but as in union with Christ in heaven, manifesting the characteristics of such a union down here, and this is properly our vocation; the revelation of a secret as to which there was profound secrecy since the world began; Romans 16:25, 26. We can aver boldly that it was emphatically Paul's gospel -- "according to my gospel" -

though it was also revealed now unto the other holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. A Jew, righteously, ought to have sought to fill the place to which God's favour had called him, if apostasy had not deprived him of it. But of this there could have been no doubt, for the power once delegated to David had passed into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, and was now swayed by his Roman successor over Israel; but yet they looked for a deliverer. Before the understandings of the disciples were opened to understand the Scriptures, they expected that Jesus would have redeemed Israel, that is, I suppose, by external power. They little expected that any power, not even death, could divert Him from this work. And again, after their understandings are opened, we find the apostles asking the Lord, as He was on the eve of taking His place above: "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Surely, up to this they had no hope of a purely heavenly glory, apart and unconnected with earth. Nor reasonably could they then, for the Lord had not made the last offer to Israel, of which we so largely read in the first chapters of the Acts.

We find the same thing in the penitent thief. With a Jewish hope, his eye rested (and it was eminent faith) on Christ's glory, in His kingdom, wherein he asks to be remembered. The Lord refuses it not, but He promises a still more immediate blessing, and this Luke alone of the evangelists notices, because, as the companion of Paul, and in all probability a gentile, he was led of the Spirit to every link however undefined, with the present hope of saints. Again, we can understand

[Page 13]

the resistance and the difficulty as to receiving the gentiles, and the consistency of those who argued that they should be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, for into mere Canaan privileges there was no other passport.

To Peter, in a figure (Acts 10) is shown the calling of gentiles as well as Jews into the kingdom of heaven, whose keys had been given him (compare Matthew 16, Acts 2).

To Paul, in person (2 Corinthians 12) unconscious of everything but the consciousness of unspeakable glory, is revealed the present portion of men in Christ, the gospel of the glory, the nature and privileges of "our vocation".

Man in every trial has failed. The Holy One, rejected and crucified, is set down at the right hand of God, Head over all things to the church, His Spirit now gathering members unto Him, to be shown by and by, as also now in truth His body, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all. And as we realise His headship, and consequently our union with Him (on the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven dwelling in us), we understand our vocation. Not union with Him only, but also union with all the members of His body, however disjointed here or failing to witness the traces of this blessed oneness, which as of one body we must desire, and, when in the power of the Spirit, express.

I think it is not possible to trace any similarity between the common notion of our calling, as held even by evangelical christians, and that enjoined in this epistle. The one owns, and so far rightly, the doctrine of free grace; but with this great truth is added, without proof or consistency and in much confusion, a hope (it may amount to assurance) of heaven when we die, not a heaven the sphere of our citizenship now, but the final and beatic abode of the redeemed by and by. With death earth is to be totally abandoned,

[Page 14]

and yet, strange to say, while we are on it (that is, christians) we are to embrace as much as possible of it under even our temporal rule, not only to propagate christianity in the hearts and affections of men, but to endeavour to induce the powers of the world to adopt it as the wisest governmental policy, or it may be, as the best political economy. Will any thoughtful person say that there is not great confusion and incoherency in this involuted notion? and, coupled as it is with the doctrine of free grace (glorious truth!), many are prevented from investigating the grounds for such ideas. The Reformation, in God's mercy, brought to light, as from the tomb, the doctrine of free grace and justification by faith. That was the first step, a grand stride, from the deep darkness and ignorance in which christendom was plunged; but, could there be no advance, no progress from it? In Ephesians 2 we are distinctly taught that grace confers more than life from a death in trespasses and sins. The argument of that chapter, in connection with the first, is that Christ, being risen and sat down on the right hand of God, is head over all things to the assembly, which is His body; that the power which raised Jesus and set Him there, forthwith fashions in continuance the members of that body, quickening us who were dead in trespasses and sins, raising us together, and making us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The means whereby this mighty work was effected we next trace, namely by the blood and death of Christ, who broke down thus the middle wall of partition, and reconciled Jews and gentiles unto God in one body by the cross. This new man, this one body, is called in Scripture, the church of God. It is not merely isolated believers here and there, but Jewish and gentile saints are now builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Hence, it is one body here below, where the Holy Spirit is sent down and abides. Still, its origin, its character, its privileges,

[Page 15]

and its destiny, are of heaven and not of earth. United to the ascended Lord, the church's blessings are where He is, and where she looks to be manifested ere long with Him in glory. Now, this is all of grace, "that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace". And yet how few christians seem interested save but in one portion of "the exceeding riches"! I cannot deny that part of it is enjoyed, for, if it could be denied, christianity would be unknown; but I am convinced that we all seem to value one portion of the "exceeding riches of his grace", to the exclusion of the rest, or mainly so. But if it be granted, and it cannot be denied, that being raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, is a component part of the gift of grace, then evidently it is important and essential to know it as one part of it. Our selfishness may be quieted by so much of it as assures us that we are alive from death in trespasses and sins; but, surely, we are not at liberty, nor are we wise, to accept our portion of a gift of God and neglect the rest; and we cannot excuse ourselves on the ground that the part we have learned is so full and blessed that we are satisfied therewith, when it ought rather to have been, from its very blessedness, a pledge and a stimulus to us to learn the remainder.

Now, the death, resurrection and exaltation of Christ at God's right hand is the foundation, as the mission from heaven and presence of the Holy Spirit is the efficacious agent, of the church; and we are even now one with Him whose glory is accomplished on high, and await a common appearing together. Does ordinary doctrine admit such a heavenly standing, even while we are here? I may be answered that christians generally believe that the spirits of saints will be raised to heaven after death and the dissolution of the body. But this, surely, is not what is taught in the passage before us; for if it were, their quickening

[Page 16]

from death in trespasses and sins would not occur till then also, which is a manifest fallacy. Hence, if the one is true, and declared and enjoyed, so ought the other, and, therefore, the notion that we belong to heaven only when we die is not a correct idea of "our vocation".

It was, too, plainly recorded that heaven was the portion of believers to be utterly repudiated; but, as ever with Satan, when he cannot destroy the "meal", the food of souls, he will leaven it. And accordingly our heavenly standing is not denied but postponed till we quit this earthly scene; and this device has succeeded in engaging the mind of christians with earthly things, and led them to hope for a repetition of Jewish blessings, as the people of God set on earth. But Ephesians 2:5, 6, is plainly contrary to all this. It declares that believers now are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There is no idea whatever (but the reverse) that heaven is postponed to any particular period and nothing whatever as to an earthly expectancy, seeing we are distinctly instructed in the foregoing chapter that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, entirely apart and dissociated from earth, even in that place to which we are now called by grace. True, we are actually on earth, but not with the power and interests of earthly blessing. We are here alive from death in trespasses and sins, and ought to be practically exhibiting here conformity to the risen Jesus, who is our head, strangers to all earthly maxims, and manifesting ourselves as the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, who witnesses of Him; and this is our vocation, however little we have learned it, or, alas! are disposed, because of our carnality, to learn it. "There is one body and one Spirit"

Again, I must repeat that it is not only important for us to know the nature and the principles of our vocation, because of our own blessing; but, furthermore,

[Page 17]

unless we walk worthy of it, we shall not be able to express rightly or adequately that testimony to which God has called us, even that practical use to which the apostle so earnestly applies it; and how essential it is for this purpose we best arrive at by considering the nature and extent of the demand on us.

As walking worthy of our vocation, the first stage in this interesting course, we are exhorted to cultivate certain dispositions and habits, in order to produce a grand result, even the endeavour to keep "the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace". No self-denial is to be refused which may tend to the accomplishment of this great object. "With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love". A right eye or a right hand is not to be spared, if any barrier to the jealous observance of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is the wonderful testimony to which christians are now called; and if it is little displayed and found difficult to be accomplished, it only increases the necessity of our acquiring proper instruction to enact it. It is one great point to know what ought to be our object here. There is a seven-fold oneness with which every christian has to do: "one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (verses 4 - 6); and, therefore, unity amongst themselves should be the manifest fruit of it, and would surely be testified if simply, and practically, and exclusively, enjoyed. I say exclusively, for it is evident that no division can arise if no other element but Christ engaged our hearts, for there is simple unity in each of the parts of that whole with which alone we have to do. Whence then arises division and the little manifestation of this duty? Firstly, I believe it is not felt to be paramount and all-important. Our real position around Christ and in Christ is not individually maintained and valued, and

[Page 18]

hence no ability or interest to manifest the effects of it corporately. Popery has retained the shell of this truth when it requires all its votaries to adopt the same language in every nation, and to proclaim themselves 'the one holy catholic church'. But, alas! how little have believers declared they had the kernel of this assumed unity and catholicity. Christians may be careful about their own personal walk, either to avoid judgment and promote their own happiness, or, still better, to please God; but I fear with very few is it of the deepest interest and labour "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace"; and, consequently, we know the sad effects of this indifference. No believer now can individualise himself, for all are baptised by one Spirit into (eis) one body. This was not known of old. True, an open transgression, by any member of the nation, as in the case of Achan, and such like, demanded temporal judgment and expurgation; but who will say that the sin of any one individual affected all the rest spiritually? In former times, they were baptised in the cloud and the sea unto Moses; now, we are baptised by one Spirit into one body. The Spirit has something more to do with me than merely to lead me into joys of salvation. He has an ulterior object, adopting me into that wonderful system, the body of Christ, and making me feel my interest and sympathy in it. "If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it". How so? Surely, there could never be any natural intercourse or acquaintance maintained with all; and if not, it must be spiritual, flowing from a very real union, if unseen, for we are one Spirit with the Lord, and members of one another. And there is mutual blessing, even "by that which every joint supplieth", as such are led practically by the Spirit; otherwise, one is not walking according to the mind of Him by whom we are baptised into one body. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, present in the church on earth - His ultimate object,

[Page 19]

for the body is the fulness of Him who filleth all in all; and we cannot walk in fellowship with Him unless we are agreed; and we cannot agree with Him unless we follow the same objects and interests with Him; and if we are not in fellowship, it is evident we cannot enjoy the strength, guidance and comfort which are derivable from Him. On the other hand, if we are, we participate in all the blessings which His presence affords.

It is important to ascertain why we have not more spiritual power. It is simply because we prescribe a limited selfish course for His operation, and not the large comprehensive purpose into which He would lead us. We cannot have one without the other, for He is one; and if we are deficient in one, we must be in the other. No believer, really labouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, but must know the power and comfort of the Spirit. It is vain to suppose that I can enjoy the power and comfort of the Spirit, and yet not aim to walk in sympathy with His desires. The object of the Holy Spirit is to edify the body of Christ - to build for the absent Jesus a glorious Eve, to be presented to Him by and by, but now curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth; and this, assuredly, must be at least my aim and desire if I am in unison with Him, and, if not, barrenness must enter into my soul; my right eye shall be utterly darkened; my salt will lose its savour. There is no such thing now as simply singular blessing. No one, however exalted, is the body, and no christian, however weak, but is of it. You are elevated and advanced in proportion to your use to Christ's body; you are weak, as you are a mere drain on it. I can never view myself apart from it, unless I return to nature, and truly, as I widen my separation from the body, do I re-establish myself in nature.

The Jew expressed union naturally, we must spiritually. The temple in Jerusalem was the centre

[Page 20]

of the one; Christ in heaven is the centre of the other. It does not lessen our responsibility, because there is failure, and a little expression of the Spirit's work; for if our responsibility can be lessened, then the Spirit may slacken in His purpose and object, which could not be true. Believers have been unwilling to submit to the sacrifices which the endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace inevitably entails. And if they have resigned the object and desire of the Spirit of God, they have accordingly forfeited the strength, grace, and cheer of Him in their own souls; and there is no way to obtain these blessings but by being renewed with purpose of heart, to be led by Him, and to fulfil all His counsel. Weakness, failure, and disunion are no grounds for our indolence or indifference to make the endeavours. I believe if a christian was cast alone on a desert island, that the energy of the Spirit in Him would lead him to seek the conversion of the natives, not only for the joy in heaven over one sinner repenting, but also that in communion with two or three, he might glorify Christ and fulfil the will of the Spirit, and it would assuredly increase his own strength and gladness. The Jew did not maintain the natural unity. The church has not endeavoured to maintain spiritual unity. But what was the strength and testimony of the faithful Jew, even in Babylon? Why, he prayed three times a day with his face towards Jerusalem. But where was Jerusalem? A heap of ruins! save in the mind of faithful Daniel, who could not forget Jerusalem, the city of the great king. And, in like manner, when the Jews returned from Babylon, Haggai admonishes them to go up to the mountain and bring wood, and build the house of the Lord, for the Lord would take pleasure in it, though that very temple was afterwards to be so defiled by Antiochus. A few walking in faithfulness could never forget or swerve from the object of God; whether, as with Daniel, there was no appearance of

[Page 21]

the expression of it, or as with the rebuilders a temple with another failure. And so with us, neither non-appearance of the object of God now is to dissuade us from endeavouring after it, nor a fear of failure to discourage us from making the attempt. Similar is the instruction of Paul to Timothy, in the second epistle, which we may well characterise as the last words of Paul. If the great house (christendom) has in it vessels to dishonour, Timothy's course is, while purging himself from these, to seek still an expression of unity with them "that call on the Lord out of a pure heart", 2 Timothy 2:20 - 22. None others could express the unity of the Spirit. This is important as the alone ground for discipline and separation from professionists; but no failure of magicians ( "Jannes and Jambres" ) or similarly (chapter 3) to godliness, should lessen his exertions, but rather promote them. So, his only remedy for such a state of things was continuance (verse 14), as we find Moses aforetime, when encountering the same opposition before Pharaoh. In fact, as a faithful one, he was to do more because others did less. And again we have the same truth enforced in Jude's epistle, which contemplates christians in a very tried state, and subject to great disorder. Yet a course is plainly marked out for the "beloved". "But ye, beloved (verse 20) building up yourselves on your most holy faith" (simple dependence on Christ, not yielding to growing laxity and self-will), praying in the Holy Spirit expressing unity in the Spirit as touching all your need and circumstances, and forthwith strengthened and blessed, not to omit searching after members, who, from one cause or another, are deprived of their fuller blessing. So that the expression or manifestation of the unity of the Spirit was never to be lost sight of, but was ever to be the aim and object of the faithful in the darkest time. Hence, in the Lord's supper, as well as in our mere salutations, there was to be an evidence of it. Thus was

[Page 22]

manifested, by the familiarity of the expression of affection, the great unity of christians. And this is simply what the church of God on earth was called to manifest. The Lord stir us up, and fill us with zeal for His house which lieth waste! But, alas! interest for our own things is mainly the cause of our neglecting the great end and object of the Spirit, which is a manifested counterpart on earth of that unity which is 'infallibly,' as another has said, maintained above, and this naturally follows from not understanding our vocation. For if conscious of our unity, there so unbroken and blessed, and if filled with the power and interest of it, we could not but endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Hence, in conclusion, is seen that if I do not understand the nature and principles of my vocation, my endeavours to keep the unity will only be right intentions wrongly attempted, and therefore ineffectual; and, on the other hand, I cannot have entered into the sweetness and power of my vocation. Thus, I must labour for a manifestation of that fellowship one with another, of which in "light" I am partaker. O Lord, revive thy work!

[Page 23]

"SO MUCH THE MORE, AS YE SEE THE DAY APPROACHING"

Hebrews 10:25

In the epistle to the Hebrews, an epistle peculiarly applicable to the saints nowadays, + the apostle warns us against a practice even then not without followers. And if in his day, when only the habit of 'some' called forth a censure, how much more in this day, when not only 'many' adopt the practice, but there are found among them advocates of it, "who seemed to be somewhat," Galatians 2:6. It is evident from the context (chapter 10), that the subject is connected with the care and service every soul which has drawn near to God must have for His brethren - followers with him in the same grace. We are not asked of God to serve others until we know how He has served us; for it is only as we learn of His service and grace to us, that we shall be able usefully to serve and care for others. "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet", John 13:14. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them", John 13:17. The Lord is no hard Master. He expects not usury where He has not given the principal. He looks not for grapes from His vine till He has removed every impediment to its growth. He fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also

+It is evident that the Hebrew saints were suffering, not from ignorance of Scripture, but from wrong and imperfect interpretation of it; so that the apostle had to contend with errors both in doctrine and hope -- nay, even as to the assurance of salvation, which are not alluded to in the epistles to the gentiles. So much for learning Scripture imperfectly. Easier to instruct the entirely untaught, than to correct the self-sufficient master of inaccurate theories, however extended his knowledge.

[Page 24]

made a winepress therein, and then He looked for it to bring forth grapes. God brings me into the circle of His own light and glory to meet my brethren. In the region of the mercy-seat, where my own soul sits happily before the Father in Christ, do I learn to care for my fellows in the same blessing (1 John 1:7), and know them as members of the body of Christ. The moment the soul gets into a lower region than this, that moment your service and care for the members of Christ must assume a lower character, for all my love for them I must acquire in Christ. The more I know that I am set in Him, the more I am for them. Religiousness apart from Him - even devoted religiousness - is but Cain's, and the brother is neglected; nay, worse, for he that gathereth not, scattereth.

Here the apostle had reached the climax, or rather result, of all his teachings in the preceding chapters. The soul has been carried through, and made acquainted with, all the services of Christ, and is now placed through the new and living way within the veil, in the bright and wondrous sphere of glory - in the holiest of all - in the presence of all the revealed majesty of God, fearful in praises, doing wonders. Yet it is from this height of bliss and wonder we are called to consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works, and, as a means to this end, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching". Now that the day approaches nearer, there is a manifest disposition to undervalue the custom of assembling together; at least, such an indifference to it as if it were but of secondary importance. It has been such an acknowledged custom for the people of God to meet together in all ages, that many have pursued the habit, not because they had learned it as imperative on them, but following the example of others; consequently, there is no principle in their conscience for doing so, and,

[Page 25]

therefore, necessarily no responsibility following them as to the observance of it.

Let us, therefore, enquire into the value and importance of assembling together. The church is constitutionally an assembly, as the word in the Greek (ekklesia) denotes; and if there be no assembling together, there would be no composition of the church here. There is no question but that the Holy Spirit sets all the living members of Christ in Him in heavenly places; but also, He fashions us for our place there by varied exercises here. After we have suffered a while, He perfects or matures us. Here the talent is to be put to usury. How, where, and in whom death and the power of Satan were dominant, must life and the power of Christ be manifested; and this not by one witness, but by many, in one strict unbroken testimony, which was at first exhibited, and produced such blessed results; 'the people magnified them'; the power of evil was suppressed and overawed for a moment. But though that may be passed, yet by the church now the manifold wisdom of God is learned by the powers and principalities in heavenly places. I err much if I consider myself individually apart from the family of God. All saints now are baptised by one Spirit into one body. The moment I become alive to the glory of my position in the body of Christ, I seek not the desert, like John the baptist, taking a position peculiar and uncongenial to all, but, like the regenerate Saul of Tarsus, I assay to join myself to the disciples. Vitality demands sympathy. Relationship, even without acquaintance, has its charms and its claims. In nature, a brother I had never seen has a ready passport to my affections. The church I am in is not one member but many, and, as in our natural body, power redounds from the harmonious adjustment of all the members, and from the happy consent of each to its peculiar office, so is it in the spiritual body; and the readiness of a member to engage or return to its place,

[Page 26]

nay more, to seek its place in the body, must be sought more earnestly and strenuously where there is spiritual life, inasmuch as the spiritual exceeds the natural, and, what is true of the natural must, after all, be but a faint representation of the spiritual.

Well, then, the principles of life draw us together. There is an immediate and necessary impulse, to be in association with saints, for our life, and power, and joy, are identical. But more than this - our benefits are contingent on one another. I am not only impelled to association from the power of a common life, but I find that in this association the varied powers of usefulness of the members towards one another are alone evolved. I cannot merely feel that I must associate with saints (which must be so, and could not be otherwise if I have any energy of life) but that my place is to receive blessing as well as to impart any. To every member there is given a gift of grace (Ephesians 4), not so much for himself but in his relation to the church "for perfecting of the saints." Where, then, can he exercise this gift, or be profited by another, but in or towards the assembly? If I sanction individuality, or even partition or multiplied sections, I must undervalue the gifts and services, through them, of those from whom I license myself to be absent. In the first enunciation of the church, the blessing of Christ's presence rests on two or three meeting together in His name. Now, those who argue for individuality or practise it, either disbelieve this or undervalue it - either bad enough. But it is with His gifts through the Holy Spirit His presence is known, so that even the unlearned may acknowledge that God is in you. He now is the messenger of Christ, the gift of the Father, giving power to one after this manner, and to another after that, to perfect the church unto the stature of Christ, of gifts for the perfecting of the saints. I shall not particularise any; but if gifts for this especial purpose are denied, then there must, as a necessary

[Page 27]

consequence, be a cessation of the perfecting of the saints; or, let such a one say how is the perfecting to be accomplished otherwise. Is any bold enough to say he wants no perfecting, and that he derives no blessing from others of God's people? Supposing for a moment (which we must) that his heart is deficient of that quality in life which, like light, blends with all parts of itself, no matter how disproportionate the amount from any source; but then it will be allowed that gifts did at one time exist for the perfecting of the saints, and then there was no doubt of the blessing of assembling together, that each might learn and be comforted and then it was culpable to forsake the assembling of ourselves together; but now it is not so, for gifts are so weak and profitless, that the benefit is not proportionate to the sacrifice. But, says the apostle, you are to be more careful not to forsake assembling, as you see the day approaching. So that the darker grew the night (the more, as some would say, that the gifts decline, the less the personal benefit there would be attendant on association), the more necessary that we should observe it. We must not relinquish that the saints are to be exhorted in the assembly the more the day approaches; and let us put the question: Is it the more spiritual or the less who are unedified by a small amount of gift in the assembly? I think it is always the less spiritual. The more spiritual, of course, can see and feel irregularity or want of power more acutely, but I submit that they bear with it better than others, as the cruse of oil and barrel of meal which God increases. Healthy men may require much food, but they can endure with a very little longer than the weak. Jonathan but tasted the honey on the end of his rod and his eyes were enlightened. The hungry soul closely hunts for food where it ought to be found. The keenness of need sharpens his scent for it. A jawbone of an ass refreshed Samson.

[Page 28]

Thus, then, if I depreciate the assembling together of the saints, I am disregarding the warning of the apostle, proving my little sympathy with the members of Christ's body; decrying, or at least undervaluing, the gifts for edification bestowed on the assembly, whereby the presence of Christ is known amongst them not only thus injuring myself, but also an injury to the church, for they lose my services; and, finally, I am unhesitatingly declaring that my spirit little blends in happy fellowship with saints around the throne, when I am so indifferent to them, and they so unattractive to me down here.

On the other hand, let us enumerate the blessings of assembling together. I am obedient to the word of the Lord, and obedience is greater than sacrifice, for it is the yielding of myself to His will. If Thomas had not absented himself from the first meeting of the disciples, he would not have been eight days behind the rest of the apostles in faith and knowledge. I am seeking the place where Christ meets with His people. At the supper table (John 13:14) He opened out the treasures of His grace to His disciples - the church in type - and where now, by His servants He edifies, exhorts, and comforts His saints, for that assembly is the proper sphere of the gifts of His grace; 1 Corinthians 14. I am joining with many witnesses to show forth His death till He comes; and the very act of my going to "one place" in company with others, is not only an evidence of my own appreciation of Christ in contrast to all around, but I am an example to others to do likewise. I go to feast, as well as to present myself before the Lord. Lastly, the more my heart rises into the glorious scene of the family group around the throne - ever praising, ever exulting in the Lamb that was slain, and yearning to take my place there - the more shall I value every even faint shadowing of it in this wilderness of sin and sorrow.

[Page 29]

In conclusion. I shall add but one word. Practically, it will be found that the most spiritual are always less absent from the assembly, and that the one who begins to absent himself seldom ends well. O, may we all be admonished, for surely the day approaches!

[Page 30]

GOD'S PURPOSE

Ephesians 2:6

The history of the Ephesian saints, from the darkness of nature up to the height of glory, and rest, apportioned by God's grace to the members of Christ's body, is evidently instructive to us, in order that we may ascertain how far we have consciously advanced in the same blessed path. We read in the end of Acts 18 that the apostle Paul had preached in the synagogue at Ephesus and subsequently that Apollos came to Ephesus, and he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. That the saints in Ephesus had advanced no farther than John's baptism is evident from chapter 19. Then we read the apostle again visits Ephesus and finds certain disciples, whose progress he ascertains by asking them, "Have ye received the Holy Spirit?" to which they replied, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit". The apostle then traces their ignorance to the limited nature of their faith and profession by a second question "Unto what then were ye baptised? And they said, Unto John's baptism". Now we must remember that the things of the Lord can be taught diligently, knowing only the baptism of John, and that saints can be disciples and not have heard even whether there be any Holy Spirit (I suppose not simply hearing but understanding), ere we can form any just idea of the state of soul such limited acquaintance with the work of Christ must entail. John's testimony went no further than declaring the coming of one mightier than he, awakening consciences to the ruin of their condition, demanding of them to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, calling on them to repent, for God's reign was commencing and judgment was concomitant with it, but giving man no

[Page 31]

new power to effect this change. The terror of coming and deserved judgments were pressed on the minds of all, while John himself as a witness of the judgment he pronounced, took a path in the world unfrequented by man and ate food not common to or provided by man. He led his disciples to confess their sins and express in the waters of Jordan their willingness to enter on another course, but surely there was no sense of forgiveness - of acceptance with God in the Beloved - of membership with Christ as bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh - of adoption, the Spirit of the Son in our hearts crying, Abba Father, or of sealing with the Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of our inheritance. All these are to be learned by the Holy Spirit of which the Ephesians had not as yet heard.

May we not fear that many disciples of the Lord even now have not advanced practically beyond the doctrines taught in the testimony of John the baptist? How many know nothing, at least almost nothing, of the forgiveness of sins, and as possessors of a new life and nature, accepted of God in all the excellence of the Beloved! If not, surely they too might answer, "we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit" - at least instructively so. But at this let them not be cast down, for such-like were the Ephesian saints, and yet after they believed they were sealed with "that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance".

Now it is as sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise that the apostle proceeds to instruct the saints of Ephesus into all the glory of their calling. He first prays that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened that they may know what is the hope of His calling, what is the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and 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,

[Page 32]

when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places. They had something more to learn than even being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, some greater enjoyment to be partaken of in addition - an earnest of our future inheritance. The soul is to be carried on to the hope of His calling and the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and, as leading to this, to know what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe. This is more than sealing - this is more than the earnest of the inheritance. Have we attained to it? and are the eyes of our understanding enlightened? If not, it is evident they ought to be. If, however, we know anything of the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, it is according to the power which wrought in Christ and raised Him from the dead, and set Him at God's right hand in heavenly places. It is here the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe has reached its limit. It raised Christ from the death into which He entered for us and has set Him at God's right hand in heavenly places, and it is the same power which is to us-ward who believe, according to the same quality, reaching onward and proved by the same limit, to the heavenly places where it has set Jesus head over all things; and the church, which is His body, knows no less a quality. It is according to His mighty power which He wrought in Christ. If it were a lesser power, it would have a lesser limit and a lesser quality; but the power is the same, and the limit and the deliverance must be the same. There may be different extents of power given in the heavenly places, but it is the one and the selfsame power which has raised Jesus there, and that our eyes ought to be enlightened to know as to us-ward who believe - and which the apostle goes to show in the second chapter, is the same power (whether we know it or not) which has blessed us in every stage, from death in trespasses and in sins till it

[Page 33]

accomplishes in us, even now in spirit, the same blessed result, as it has triumphantly in unquestioned majesty in the Lord Jesus Christ. The depths of our degradation have not countervailed. He has raised Jesus who entered into death for us, and having raised Him from the mire of our ruin, He quickens into the life of Christ, every member of His from the same scene, and raises them together with Christ and makes them sit together with Christ in heavenly places. It is the same power all through. The power which quickens is the power which makes us sit in spirit together in Christ in heavenly places. Not by and by, but it is now, the eyes of our understanding should be enlightened, to know the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, and it is now that we should know the results. If saints have not yet learned it, let us remember that it is from blindness and want of faith. The Ephesian saints were not left in this darkness, for they were willing to go onward. They were willing to be taught, their hearts were the good ground. In honesty and truth they heard the word. No one is straitened in God; but he who has a hard judgment of God will have a judgment according to it. Let us further take the evidence of Scripture on this point. What was taught in the crossing of Jordan? Was it not a full and complete deliverance from the wilderness into Canaan? No Israelite set his foot in Jordan till a clear and immutable path, an assured path of safety, lay fully before him. He entered on it rejoicing in the power of God which provided it, but that was not all. Mere faith in deliverance, wonderful and gracious as it is, is not fulness of our blessing. On Canaan's side of Jordan the memorial of deliverance was to be reared up. Where power was exercised, thence the material of the memorial was to be procured. Where the priests' feet stood, thence the stones were to be taken and set in the place where they lodged that night. Their first lodging-place in Canaan was marked by this memorial

[Page 34]

- a memorial of what? Not that they had hoped for deliverance - not they had seen by faith, through the intervention of the power of the ark of the covenant, an inobstructable path, across the wide flowing river - but that they really had crossed over, and as a remembrance of the power which wrought it, did they rear up a remembrance at the first lodging in Canaan. It is evident Canaan is not the scene of complete rest but of conflict in the scene of future rest and glory. We are taught the same truth in the thief on the cross. He as a Jew had sought to be remembered in the kingdom, but paradise is given to him as his present portion. So now the world's rejected one is quickened with Christ, raised up together with Christ, accepted and made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places.

Again, in Lazarus (John 12) we get a type of the church now. In chapter 11 we had our condition because of death, our only hope in Jesus: the male representing power or the lack of it, the female actual condition; the one marking the conduct of faith, the other the state. The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward, who believe in the Person of Christ, liberates Lazarus from the tomb, and thus quickened and raised up we find him sitting in happy communion with Jesus, denoting our calling, or that into which Christ has brought us; while the visible expression of the church on earth is symbolised by Martha serving and Mary pouring forth fragrance in reference to the death of Christ, from whence all fragrance to this evil world springs.

May our souls be more conversant with the wonderful mercies of our God, and we shall be prepared for still greater revelations of His unaccountable grace! Only let us prize what we do know, honour Him in our appreciation of it, and have readiness of soul ever to say when opening His word, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth".

[Page 35]

THE OBJECT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT NOW ON EARTH

1 John 5:2, 3

How many questions are resolved by rightly understanding the object of the Holy Spirit now on earth! What cause of misapprehension and diversity of judgment lies here! Some seem to make conversion the entire work of the Spirit, and they labour for it with great zeal. Others go a step further, and consider that converts should be edified and nourished in the school of God. Now, both hold truth, but neither in the large and glorious purpose of God. The prayer of Christ, when He surveyed the full accomplishment by Himself of all the Father's will, was, "That they all may be one", even "them also which shall believe on me through their word". This would be the most glorious expression of divine power, that as the Father and the Son were one, so all believing in the Son should also be one. And the Spirit in the apostle, in spite of all the apparent frustration (on earth) of this desire of Christ, lays it as a grand injunction on the saints to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, for there is oneness in all the highest blessings of the church.

Here, then, we have the object of the Spirit in the manifestation of unity, as members of one body. It is the witness on earth that the Father sent the Son. Natural selfishness and singular interests are lost in one common joy and glory; not as under the law, every man standing on his own rights, but "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others". And I believe it is here that "love one another", the new commandment, has its force and place. This commandment, like all commandments, is given for an object, and that object is that

[Page 36]

"by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples". The observance of the commandment would produce this effect; but we should remember that there is a mode for obeying. We are to love one another, not according to our sentimentality, but "as I have loved you" - with all the truth, and holiness, and self-devotion of Christ. Christ could denounce Peter as Satan. The loving sympathising Jesus, could remain two days in the place where He was when His friend Lazarus was nigh unto death. He could allow His disciples to pass into the dark gloom of despondency on the stormy sea, ere He appeared for their rescue. But I need not multiply instances of a like nature, where the blessing of His people is secured, though every former link be severed or forgotten. Christ had but one object, the glory of the Father, and He accomplished it. The Holy Spirit has but one object, the glory of Christ, and He will accomplish it. To be a member of Christ, for the body is Christ, is my glory; and the Spirit cares for me, and makes intercession for me, as baptised by Him into one body. He desires to glorify Christ.

It is not a question of conversion. Thus the evildoer in 1 Corinthians 5 was a converted person, as is evident from 2 Corinthians 2, but he would not suit the Spirit in His work and in His manifestation of Christ, constructing an habitation of God through Himself. Hence, the company whom the Holy Spirit could acknowledge and use, should come together, expressing unity of purpose, and formally disown any further union with one acting wickedly. It did not touch the question whether he was a believer or not, or whether he would be saved in the day of the Lord. He was not fit, in his present condition, for the Spirit's service in glorifying Christ, and he must be removed unless his soul were restored by a godly repentance. Thence I learn the principle, that it is not persons, but Christ and His glory, I am to consider, and,

[Page 37]

following this rule, I arrive at the truth, that the course of the Spirit, however in appearance harsh and repulsive, is the surest way to remove-obstacles and promote the love which is of God. Have no company with the disorderly one. Why? To show your superiority? No: but "that he may be ashamed". Following the guidance of the Spirit, who is faithful to Christ, and of course to all who are of Christ, is ever the divine way to clear away offences; because, as one member is strengthened, all the members are strengthened, even though strength be obtained in the judicial treatment of one or more. The very member judged is receiving strength, it may be imperceptibly yet surely, by the faithfulness of his brethren towards the Lord and himself. For there is one body and one Spirit, and therefore it is seeking the mind of the Spirit, which is our blessing, as it is what God regards, helping us in our infirmities. This, therefore, and not persons, should be paramount to us. And so our service should be that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; but ready to part company with any persons, no matter how honoured and loved, if they cause "offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned"; yea, even "avoid them", and simply because "they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ". Who so honoured as Peter? Yet, when truth was at stake, he is sacrificed to it; Galatians 2.

The trial, the difficulty, the heart-breaking of cutting through the longest and most cherished friendships, if need be, for Christ's sake, is admitted and felt. It was so when first we left all at the Master's call, and the same principle holds good the entire journey through. Following Christ never made, and was never meant to make, a smooth course through this world. If it be said, can a movement be of God which is attended by so much sorrow, shame, disappointment in its train? I can only reply, that such was the experience of him who was in nothing behind the chiefest apostles;

[Page 38]

Philippians 2:20, 21; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:14 - 18. He has warned us, that there must be also heresies in the church, that they which are approved may be made manifest. In this, as in all else, the only blessed place is to "walk by faith, not by sight". The Lord, when He comes, will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. Our bodies should be a living sacrifice to Christ, and this is especially the Spirit's work. There is reciprocity: Christ gave Himself for us; the Spirit in us aims at nothing but that we should be the Lord's. Every consideration outside this, individually and corporately, is repugnant to Him. Not persons, I repeat, but power in the Holy Spirit can strengthen the saints. One saint, glorifying Christ in the energy of His Spirit and truth, would do more than thousands lukewarm to cheer the hearts of all saints, because it is but one Spirit after all, and one body. Sectarianism is ever looking at persons, which are everything in its eyes. Love for the church looks to Christ, and labours to present every man perfect in Him, but only associating with those who aim to serve not their own bellies, but the Lord in truth and holiness. Here it is well to remark, that fellowship with one another is only in the light, the summit of Christ's service for us and he that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling (either himself or others) in him. His love is in the light, holy and radiant with the presence of God. He learns to add to godliness brotherly kindness.

But, practically, am I to warn my child to avoid the society of a person whose conversation is pernicious, and does that child, if I love him, demand no reproof, no discipline, because, though he frequents the company I deprecate, he assumes that he has imbibed none of the evil? Who can touch pitch and not be defiled? But the temple of God is holy.

[Page 39]

BABYLON, WHERE IS IT? OR WHAT IS IT?

Genesis 10:10; Revelation 14:8

The attentive reader of the Revelation (chapters 14:19) must be led to enquire the meaning of a term such as 'Babylon,' used without any interpretation annexed, and yet so connected with the sense that, unless it be ascertained, there can be no understanding of the subject matter. To the christian student, there is one simple rule in such enquiries, that the Scriptures can alone explain the difficulties of the Scriptures. This necessarily must be so, for by them a man can be "thoroughly furnished unto all good works", and consequently anything from without is superfluous. Moreover, the attempt disparages the sufficiency of Scripture, and exposes the mind, guilty of such contempt, to be carried away by false unscriptural glosses of ancient or modern tradition.

To arrive, then, correctly at the ideas the word 'Babylon' embodies, and to convey how it is used by the Holy Spirit, it will be necessary to gather from Scripture its characteristics, and how it first came to be the centre or symbol of principles which were to be so largely dominant. Constantly, in Scripture, we find that either a person or place, which is about to occupy a prominent position in the development of God's purposes, is distinguished at its first notice with the traits and lines of the unmistakable qualities which maturity will disclose, be they for good or evil; so that old age is only a return in a matured and concentrated form to the first and simplest efforts of childhood. Thus, in the first notice we have of David, we find the elements of the shepherd, who would "feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance". We see the same as to evil in Amalek. With the self-same

[Page 40]

spirit of envious opposition with which he encountered Israel in the arid plains of Rephidim, but only with increased bitterness and vindictiveness, did he in the person of Haman the Agagite, assail the remnant of the Jews in the palace of a king.

Accordingly, I think we are justified in looking for the embryo characteristics which Babylon embodies at its first introduction to us, or, as we might say, at its birth. In Genesis 10:10, we are told that the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babylon and surely his cities were designed in the same spirit which actuated himself. He was "a mighty one in the earth", a man confident in his own resources, and daring in the presence of the Lord to pursue, in the proud eagerness of his own strength, wherever his pleasure or profit, as in the chase, might lead him. The irresistible excitement which bears the huntsman along in his course aptly depicts the spirit in which the world seeks the attainment of its desires. Both are intoxicated with their purpose and doubtless a city with such a founder must only have been a wider sphere for fuller display of his principles and tastes, even as much as the materials for it were increased; and all still "before the Lord". This shows that there was religiousness assumed, together with the most open avowal of human selfishness and lust.

Still further are we instructed in the spirit and constitution of this city in chapter 11, where the name Babel, or Babylon, is given it in consequence of a full-blown manifestation of its founder's principles. Here we learn that man's confidence in himself had reached such a height, that they forgot even the expression of acknowledgment of God, and endeavoured to establish themselves independently of Him. God then confounded their attempt, and hence arose the name Babel (confusion), which men have retained without remembering its etymology. The building is discontinued, not thrown down - the builders scattered,

[Page 41]

not destroyed; hence the seeds of its origin were disseminated in the dispersion, and consequently we should be prepared to find the fruit of them in every man in every nation. In a word, whenever a man seeks his own gratification, even though he combines with it an acknowledgment, a religious acknowledgment, of God, there is the germ from which Babylon sprung, and from which will grow with proper culture the spirit which designed and built the tower. But let us trace through Scripture the varied features which the mention of this word, used ever so abruptly, conjures up before us, for unquestionably it is used in the Revelation as a word we should be familiar with, and consequently not needing an explanation there; so that he who needs one is ignorant of Scripture and to it alone must apply for instruction.

From the first notice of Babylon in Genesis 10 and 11 we have no allusion to it, till Israel's apostasy and failure as God's witness on the earth. Consequent on the confounding at Babel was the call and election of Abram to be as God's witness, seeking the city of God, in contra-distinction to the ripened purpose of the human heart, and accordingly we have no intimation of the revival of Babylon till the failure of the people (the children of Abram) who should have borne a testimony for God against its principles.

Until 2 Kings 17, there is no direct record in Scripture of such a place, for the word translated 'Babylonish,' as designating the garment abstracted by Achan from the spoils of Jericho, is Shinar, not properly Babylon, though of the country in which the city stood; and even this is far from militating against what I have asserted, namely, that Babylon only appears as the apostasy of Israel appears. Therefore, as the leaven of it was working in Achan, it is not wonderful to find there the shade of the forthcoming evil. But, in 2 Kings 17:24 - 30, after a long interval and in connection with the captivity of the ten tribes,

[Page 42]

we hear of Babylon again, and as a place whence colonists were supplied to replace the expatriated Israelites. From it sprung, at least in part, the progenitors of the Samaritans. Israel's supplanters in Samaria were Babylonian.

Let the star of Israel, let its testimony set, and that of Babylon will be in the ascendant, and Babylon is not without its religion (verse 30). It has its god Succoth-benoth, though we do well to note the motives which influenced them to adopt and profess the worship of God. "The Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them". In superstitious awe they seek acquaintance with what we may call, for uniformity, true religion, not from a sincere interest in the will of God, but simply to propitiate Him and thus uninterruptedly enjoy their own objects; and therefore we see, as is ever the case when God is only sought from fear and superstition, that though they are taught by priests "how they should fear the Lord", yet "every nation" (and Babylon the leader) "made gods of their own". Now, this is all instructive, as letting us into the very mind of Babylon, and in such plain characters, that if we read it here we cannot fail to trace its likeness wherever it is presented to us. Religion - yes, true religion - is adopted to subserve its interests; yet, it has gods of its own, professedly of God, positively idolatrous: Succoth-benoth (or tents of daughters) is the real object of worship.

In Isaiah 13 and 14 we have a prophetic announcement of both the rise and fall of Babylon, and it precedes by a few years the occurrences I have alluded to in 2 Kings. We read (chapter 14: 28), "In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden", that is, the burden of Babylon. Ahaz died in the third year of Hoshea, and the captivity of the ten tribes occurred in the ninth year of Hoshea's reign, and in the sixth of Hezekiah. Consequently, this precedes by six years the captivity of the ten tribes; but, even so, it is not

[Page 43]

a whit less interesting to us. We have in 2 Kings, the initiative of Babylon on the apostasy of Israel, and here we have the prophetic utterance of Babylon's greatness and doom. The Lord is warning His people not to confide in, or fear the nations around them. That judgment on themselves is not a singular thing, but a much greater and an irretrievable one awaits the nations, however exalted and established they may appear. God alone can be trusted. Egypt is but a reed. "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah". It is not for us to enquire whether Babylon had attained this eminence among nations at the time Isaiah prophesied thus. God sees not as man sees; and the unmatured Babylon presented to the Spirit of God the manhood of its purposes and desires, and is thus shown to the prophet, and thus appears to every spiritual vision. I become natural when I travel outside the demonstrations of the Spirit, or seek to do so, and must expect to be deceived. My blessing is to stand with the prophet, and see as he saw, and not as I with carnal eyes might see. One is spiritual, and so I can judge all things; the other is natural, and thus I am judging after the outward appearance, which is unrighteous judgment.

These chapters also disclose to us that there shall be a king of that city who shall aspire to be "like the Most High" - who shall personify all the ambitious projects manifested at the first Babel; he will (in his heart) "ascend above the heights of the clouds", and yet at Jerusalem, and not Babylon, will he desire to be enthroned "upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north". Now, we read of no king of Babylon who considered the mount of Olives of such eminent celebrity as to aim to set his throne there. In fact, in general, the kings of Babylon executed their purposes against Jerusalem through their generals. Nebuzaradan seems more the victor of Jerusalem

[Page 44]

than Nebuchadnezzar The latter does not seem to deem it as worthy of his royal presence. Yet the prophecy is very plain, and (may we not say?) it shall be fulfilled: a king of Babylon will purpose, yea aim, to set his throne "upon the mount of the congregation", to be king of Jerusalem; this has not come to pass; nor has the destruction here spoken of, to be consummated on the city of this king, been yet accomplished, for from Babylon is not yet "cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew"; and, surely, the time is not yet when it can be said in truth that "the whole earth is at rest, and is quiet, they break forth into singing". On the whole, I think the attentive, unprejudiced reader, will rise up from these chapters impressed with awe at the terrific proportions this mystic place and its king will one day assume. None of the world will be exempt from the ordination of its rule, for this king shall make the world as a wilderness, and all under the semblance of the Most High, as well as aim to set his throne on the mount of Olives, monopolising all religion in himself and leading us to the conclusion that this king, this mighty one, is not an ordinary king of Babylon, but the impersonification of its principles, and, in keeping with this, aiming at the sides of the north "the city of the great king", for his throne, and not as Nebuchadnezzar, who gloried merely in Babylon itself. If he were a real king of Babylon, then "the sides of the north" would not be such an object of ambition, for, as to external glory, the former surpassed; but, as to divine honour, the latter was alone distinguished.

We next hear of Babylon and its king, not prophetically but historically (Isaiah 39:1), when messengers are sent by Merodach-baladan, with letters and a present to Hezekiah, and with delusion so unseen but yet successful and perhaps unintentional, as far as the instruments were concerned, that Hezekiah is "glad". He interprets not their real objects, namely, "to

[Page 45]

enquire of the wonder that was done in the land" (2 Chronicles 32:31), but, self-satisfied he receives honour from the court of Babylon. Israel is enslaved "The days come, that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord", 2 Kings 20:17. Great and terrible judgment this, for merely, as man would say, accepting graciously the polite attentions of a foreign court! Surely, there was some mystic evil in Babylon; surely, the Spirit of God detected, in the principles of that city, some deep-rooted enmity and malice against the counsels of God. He could see the direful effects and mourn over His people, who should suffer from them, as the prophet because of Hazael. He warned and denounced, when Israel's king (and he was a good one) consented to terms - to terms of intimacy with the king of Babylon! Israel forgot its election. The genius of Babylon was again dominant, and Israel is again in the Chaldee country.

Next, the book of Daniel gives us a view of Babylon and its king; the principles which govern it; how it uses them; how the people of God are circumstanced there, and what shall be the end of each. We shall, therefore, turn to it, and continue our examination, by noticing its general features.

The second of Daniel furnishes the dream of the great king Nebuchadnezzar, which was gone from him; and it is well for us, for a moment, to consider the position which this king now held in the earth. We know power is of God. We know that Israel had power directly from God. Whether we look at Joshua, or Judges, or the Kings, the drawn sword was with them, and God fought for them. No one could stand before them; but now matters are changed, and the goodliest of them, even their princes, are eunuchs in the court of Babylon, and to its king, Nebuchadnezzar, rule is delegated. "Wheresoever the children of men

[Page 46]

dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all". Such is the king who is instructed in a dream, but it goes from him; he has no retention of the purposes of God, yet he would know them, and makes many efforts in vain. God alone could reveal. Daniel, even in Babylon, is superior to its allurements; he is separate from them, and consequently rises by divine strength above all the power and earthly majesty of Nebuchadnezzar; he rehearses the dream and interprets it. Now it does appear to me of all importance to ascertain the full accomplishment of this dream. We know, both from Isaiah and from the Revelation, that Babylon was to be an organised power, irresistible and widespreading in its domination; but from what centre, and where, and what it is, we should here get an outline to guide us. In the dream, there is but one image. Therefore, mean what it may in parts, it is still but one, and without the parts it would not be one; but then no preceding part can comprise the whole. This image, we know, exhibits the four great monarchies of the whole earth in one panoramic view; and though each successive one is deteriorated in quality, yet it embraces the same, or even more, territory and influence than the preceding one; and though all are here depictured in one image to the head of gentile power, yet one alone, and that successively, occupies the place of rule, and the last is only removed by the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and thus effectually and entirely. Though only one part of the image has a prominent and visible action at any given time, yet the spirit of each preceding part is not lost to the succeeding. The principles and motives which were fostered in the head of gold are still alive in the feet of iron: so that while the expression is a deteriorated one, as iron is of gold, yet the image is one; the identity as to mind and purpose is the same; There is no return to a better expression which

[Page 47]

has yielded to an inferior one; the head of gold never again appears characterising the power in the world. When anyone fails, it is not again restored. The Persian never was reformed again into the Babylonish, but again each continued till it was supplanted by another; so that if the successor is not manifested, then the predecessor still exists. We may, therefore, sum up that the fourth and last form of power, even the Roman, is still in exercise; that it is part of the image; that it is identical with it; that it has succeeded the other three forms of power, but still embraces all the principles and motives which were active in its predecessors; that it will continue till a stone is cut out of the mountain without hands, and breaks in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold. This stone will become a great mountain and fill the whole earth. Surely, this stone has not as yet smitten the image, for as yet there is gentile power, and while there is, there must still exist some of this image; and if the image exist in any part, it is evident that its successor, namely the stone, has not performed its great work in supplanting it. Nor need we have a resuscitation of the king of Babylon to ensure the development of its principles; for the image is but one, though it is variously expressed at different times, and consequently we cannot have a return to actual Babylon, though we have in Rome (as the feet have the life and action of the head) all the mind and spirit of Babylon. If the image was to be again in full exhibited, then it is evident that during the Babylonish kingdom there would be no Roman; nor actual Babylon, which some are so earnest in pressing, when we have the rest of the image; whereas, in the Roman which now exists, and which appears to me very simple, we have all the principles and identity of the image, though in an inferior form. Scripture gives us no ground for supposing that Babylon will be revived as the head of gold. It tells us that Babylon is the head of the

[Page 48]

image, that all of the image will be destroyed together, but that consecutively the parts of the image were manifested, and that the fourth is the concentration of the preceding ones. All are represented in it, all are embraced in this the last; when it is destroyed, all are destroyed; but there is no return to a dynasty already expired, and, therefore, we may conclude that Babylon must emanate morally from the fourth kingdom. We shall more closely examine this point by turning to Daniel's vision of the same subject, though differently represented.

Daniel is shown what carnal power is according to God's estimate. Four savage beasts represent to God's servant the four forms of power which were to arise upon the earth; and we must remember that this was to a Jew, who knew that power had departed from his nation, and he is now, in God's mercy, shown the course it would take ere it would return into the channel of his nation again. Hence his great interest in it. Hence our interest in it, because Christ is the promised seed, the Bridegroom of our souls, a Prince and a Saviour of Israel His people. Now, we can gather from no allusion here the idea that the fourth beast was to assume the appearance of the first, even Babylon. We cannot doubt but that the fourth had all the ferocity and evil purpose of the first, but it is not said to bear any resemblance to any natural animal: it is diverse from all the rest, and is a strange heterogeneous animal. It combines the spirit of the lion, but is something more than the lion; and this leads me again to conclude that we must look for the development of Babylon outside of the precincts of the first Babylon, though in principle it will be found to exist very distinctly somewhere.

I now turn to Jeremiah 50 and 51. Jeremiah remained with the remnant in Jerusalem but sent with Seraiah the prophecy respecting Babylon to Babylon. I do not think we can glean much from this as to the

[Page 49]

locality and nature of the future Babylon. It cannot be questioned that this prophecy had a prior fulfilment at the taking of that city by Cyrus, but yet it is evident that it takes a wider range than this, and instructs us as to that happy condition of Israel consequent on the downfall of Babylon which has not as yet been accomplished. Surely, they have not made with the Lord "a perpetual covenant which shall not be forgotten". Nor again (verse 45) could the prophet advise them, save in prophetic language, to go out of the midst of her, when in chapter 29 he had directed them to seek the peace of it, and in its peace they should have peace. So that I conclude from these chapters that another Babylon was in the eye of the prophet; and if it was not in the first form of power, it could not mean the material Babylon of the Chaldees, but its principles developed in another. As one of the remnant, he expresses in prophetic language their hopes.

In Ezekiel, we have no distinct prophecy with reference to Babylon; nor am I sufficiently instructed to say the reason of it. I merely mention the fact as it may suggest enquiry. The prophet's eye is Godward. I pass on now to Haggai and Zechariah, in connection with Ezra and Nehemiah. In these books we have Judah after the captivity returned from Babylon, their leader bearing the name Zerubbabel (i.e., deliverer from Babylon), but yet not with the power or in the high position which they owned prior to the captivity. Power still remained in the hands of the gentiles. An intelligent Israelite could not have been insensible to their lost glory. A gentile wielded the sword of power once committed by God to Israel. They reoccupy Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, thus shorn of a once unrivalled greatness. Though they might not there actually feel the oppressing arm of the gentile, yet humiliation brooded over their souls. Another had wrested and retained the headship which once belonged to them. Consequently, we find in

[Page 50]

Zechariah (whose prophecy embraces more the internal, as Haggai does the external) a distinct allusion to the destination of lawlessness or wickedness; chapter 5. Israel's power ceased when it became lawlessness. The gentiles then became the fit instruments for exercising it, but, as we perceive, its limit is announced in the chapter referred to. Their wickedness is seen, in a concentrated form, borne along until it takes a final stand and establishment in the land of Shinar, a re-embodiment of the principles which were first developed there, and which gentile power will embrace ere it arrives at its full maturity. The reference to the land of Shinar seems to be figurative, as all the other features in the vision unquestionably are.

Now, bearing in mind this hasty glance at the ideas which the word 'Babylon' in Scripture evokes, let us turn to the Revelation and see whether it corroborates what has been seen. In Revelation 14 we are told that "Babylon is fallen, is fallen", as if the fate of it was pregnant with great and untold advantages to a harassed and suffering people; the Jewish remnant doubtless, because we must ever keep Israel and Babylon in antagonistic positions, the glory of one depending on the downfall of the other. And in this chapter we have the hundred and forty-four thousand catching up the heavenly anthem and consequently the doom of the earthly usurper is announced contemporaneously; for when the earthly family are in unison with the heavenly, then the hostile power must be judged and condemned. In chapters 17 and 18 we are still further instructed as to the course of evil which will eventuate in the direful form which Babylon represents. The relations of the ecclesiastical and civil forms of power are described in these chapters - christendom's declension to its ultimate immersion in the principles of Babylon. And what is Babylon here? She is arrayed in purple and scarlet, she is bedizened with gold and precious stones, far, far different from the modest apparel which

[Page 51]

becomes the bride of Christ in this world. But what is all this to her abominations and the filthiness of her fornication? Her judgment is that of the great whore, "With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication; and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication". She was the mother of the harlots and abominations (or idols) of the earth, drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. This is God's characteristic of Babylon, written on her forehead. All else is subsidiary. Idolatry is the grand evil: not merely ecclesiastical corruption, but an idolatrous virus. Long had she ridden the beast, but at length it and the ten horns desolate and devour her with implacable hatred. Babylon shall be burnt with fire. The beast may thereby aggrandise his power. But true and righteous are God's judgments, for He will judge the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and will avenge the blood of His servants at her hand.

Of this let christians, let men, rest assured, that the judgment of great Babylon has not yet taken effect. Checks have been given to Rome, the centre and advocate of this evil harlotry. But be sure that until Babylon the great is fallen, that symbol of corruption will neither be reformed in its character, nor be lessened in its malignant influence. The great moral Babel in gigantic proportions, as having rejected every light of God in Israel and the church, as well as the latter-day testimony, and following out the principles of its birth and growth, namely, pride and idolatry, will thus bestride the world for a season. Alas! it is to this all merely human efforts at amelioration, peace and temperance societies, world-wide trade and commerce, education movements, progressive improvements, are now tributary and what shall be said of the attempt to enlist all nations in a joint effort which tends directly to the glory of man? May the saints

[Page 52]

be saved from the delusions which are abroad! No one will be carried down the stream which will yet swell into a mighty flood, and subvert all acknowledgment of God, but in part as he is carried must imbibe indifference to the ways and thoughts of God now. The evil is working; "the mystery of iniquity" or lawlessness doth already work. If Satan aids the ecclesiastical systems (even though men say we care not whence the aid comes, and we can use it beneficially), it must be borne in mind that Satan has an ulterior object, even the subversion of all christianity, and the establishment of lawlessness on its own base. Let us be warned, and walk separate from the evil principles which are everywhere afloat!

[Page 53]

GOD'S REMEDY FOR MAN'S RUIN

Luke 10:30 - 34; Luke 15:22 - 24

In the Bible only is the full nature of man's ruin exposed and depicted; and there only is a perfect remedy - God's remedy - revealed. If there be any limitation of the extent and depth of the ruin, there must be a still greater misapprehension of the remedy, because the remedy is not merely equal to the measure of the ruin, but, as the remedy is the gift of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ, it must from the mere fact of its source be divine, and far beyond the expectation or sensible requirement of man. It must be magnificent in every part.

Yet the remedy, however great, cannot be appreciated unless the need of it be felt. Hence the need of man because of his ruin must be the first sense, in some measure, in the awakened soul: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"; the awakening of the soul necessarily discloses to it its danger and its misery.

When the extent of the ruin is before the mind of the evangelist, when his heart is yearning for the good of souls, he would feel himself straitened and incapable did he not know that the remedy could in every detail meet the misery before him. If he see only a part of the misery, he contents himself with offering to and pressing on the sinner that portion of the remedy which will relieve that part. Hence the preacher must know the ruin not partially, for then he will present the remedy only partially. And very often the remedy known partially is, in the mind of the evangelist, that which indicates the ruin, instead of a knowledge of the ruin leading him to ascertain the divine remedy. It is when I am aware of the ruin that I look for the remedy; and, on the other hand, when I have true

[Page 54]

and right apprehension of the remedy and its scope, I must soon see the nature and depth of the ruin.

Let us take some examples of this in Scripture. There the remedy in divine measure covers the ruin. The famished prodigal son is not only kissed and clothed, but he is feasted in the father's house. The evangelist must either leave him "a great way off", where the Father kisses him; or he must set him in the Father's house, beginning to be merry. Has his ruin been relieved - has the remedy reached the full measure of the ruin and the need, until he is in the Father's house? One might say he was safe from judgment when the Father had kissed him; reconciliation had been effected; the terrible distance between God and the sinner had been crossed by the love that had found a ransom; but the prodigal's ruin requires much more.

The question is, Am I at liberty to propose to a prodigal part of the divine remedy and withhold the rest?

Take another case; that in Luke 10 - the man who had fallen among thieves.

"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him".

Here man's ruin is fully depicted, and here we shall find the remedy is in divine perfection in every part. Where the ruin is sensibly felt, where the sinner is

[Page 55]

consciously awakened to his state, he feels he is painfully incapable to refuse any relief, and he feels he wants it. No state could be more deplorable. He needs relief, and yet he would refuse it if he could. If he were not so broken down he would not accept it, so that it is his very misery that makes him fit for grace. He has the wounds, and wounds only. He has nothing to commend him but his need.

And now he receives wine and oil into his wounds. Christ comes as the neighbour. Under the law, but not confining Himself to the limits of the law, He magnifies the law; and, while He meets man according to the measure of the law, He travels out beyond it into the depth and breadth of God's love. He makes the law honourable in the way He fulfils and magnifies it; whilst He meets with a divine remedy the entire state of the poor sinner. He not only pours oil and wine into his wounds, that is, cures him (this, of course, is the first thing; the man is cured), but were I to limit the remedy to this, while I admit much would have been done for the sinner, yet I should come very short of the remedy given me by God for him.

If I am sent to a suffering person with three or four distinct gifts which the mind of the donor (who is fully acquainted with the need of the sufferer) considers requisite, am I at liberty to give him only one, because that one gives great relief, and to withhold the others? Certainly not. I should err in a double way. I should not fulfil the commission entrusted to me, I should misrepresent the donor, and I should deprive the needy one of the favours given me for him. The remedy reaches not only to the cure of the sinner, not only to an assured rescue from judgment and unquestionable safety, but it meets him in his powerlessness, as we read, he sets him on "his own beast".

The ruin of the sinner is only partially relieved if he be only cured. It is undoubtedly most necessary, but

[Page 56]

it is not enough for a perfect remedy, which God in His grace supplies. The cured one is set upon a new power - the power of Christ; he is now to be borne along by the power of Christ, entirely in a new way, not according to man's power or ways. He has tasted of the bitter end of all of man, and as a cured one he enters upon a new course - a new life and a new ability are given him. He may very partially avail himself of it, but this new power is as much part of the remedy as the cure is.

I must not limit it. The sinner should be impressed and convinced of the fulness and largeness of grace. Not only is a cure for the heart's misery sent through the work of Christ, but the life and power of Christ are also given to meet the powerlessness of his state. Otherwise, as we often see, a soul may be assured of cure - of forgiveness of sins - and yet have no idea of the power or walk which should characterise him now as a cured one. This part of the remedy may never have been made known to him. The remedy is one whole, though divided into parts, and I am not at liberty to insist on one part of it, namely, the cure, and be silent about the other parts of it.

Were I sent to minister medicine, money, and a home to any indigent person, should I consider I had properly executed my work because I had given the medicine? Surely I should, in such a case, have deprived the invalid of two very important items necessary for his state. No one with any integrity would excuse himself for so grievous a defalcation of service.

Now, in ministering to souls, there is not only the loss of the benefits of the remedy if any part be omitted or withheld, but there is a correspondent deficiency or lack of testimony to the grace of God in the life and ways of the convert.

Suppose I tell a sinner that Christ, through His work, will cure his sin-distressed soul, and he receives

[Page 57]

this truth in faith, he is cured. But, if I say no more about the remedy, this cured soul seeks to drag on in his weak, powerless state, the only real improvement in him being that he has been relieved of the fear of judgment - the penalty of his sins. How differently such an one would feel were I to insist that the same One who had cured him would now confer upon him His own power. For his ruin would not be adequately relieved unless he were given new power.

And this power is not the power merely of restored health; such as might be the effect of the cure. It is an entirely new kind of power - a power unknown before - the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, which necessarily would lead him into His line of things, outside and apart from man, to walk here as Christ walked.

And this power is not only offered; it is conferred. Thus it is shown in this parable. The relieved sufferer is set on "his own beast", the figure of the power in which Christ walked here. He brings him to an inn and takes care of him. Then his miserable condition is entirely met: cured, carried, and cared for. If the ruin has been terrible, the remedy is most effectual in every point.

Every convert may not enjoy the greatness or perfection of the remedy, yet it is important to assure every perishing soul of the full nature and scope of the remedy, so that he may be convinced, at least, that there is no limitation on the part of God, though he have not faith to grasp it. There is a vast difference between the state of the soul of the one who, though converted, never heard of the fulness of the remedy as set forth in these parables, and the one who, though he have heard it, has not sensibly entered into it. In the former there is no exercised conscience; there is no sense of failure, because not enjoying what has been conferred upon him; but there is a sense of lack continually - a feeling of wanting something to render

[Page 58]

him fully happy; for he does not know and has never heard of the fulness of God's remedy for him, and hence he turns to earthly mercies to fill his cup. But the one who has been taught the fulness of God's remedy, even though he do not enjoy it, is continually warned by his conscience of the greatness of the mercy vouchsafed to him. The one may not have, as far as his knowledge goes, the land from which he could produce all he requires; while the other knows he has the land, and that, if he would but till it, he would have all he needs.

How differently each must feel! The one craving and pining because he does not know what would fully satisfy his heart and relieve him of all the consequences of his ruin; the other knowing it, and as he uses the gift through Jesus Christ, appearing before men in a new and wonderful condition. Intensely happy, because not only cured of his wounds, but invested with the power of Christ; thus set in superiority to all that affects and overwhelms man here; and consciously, under the care of Christ while pursuing his pilgrimage through this dreary world, he is a beautiful testimony on the earth of what Christ has done, of God's remedy for man's ruin; so that every one seeing him will greatly marvel and glorify God.

[Page 59]

SANCTIFICATION

Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 10:8 - 22

The first thing to be assured of, in order to understand sanctification practically, is that we are, on believing, sanctified to God "By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all", Hebrews 10:10. "Both he that sanctifies and those sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren", Hebrews 2:11. If a believer died the moment after he believed, like the thief on the cross, he is sanctified and fit for the paradise of God, because in the act of death he would have been divested of all the old thing, and nothing could go into paradise but the new, and nothing else will at any time (no matter how long a believer may live here) go into paradise but what is new - what is of God.

When a believer is quickened he is born of God, and this is sanctification of the Spirit. But when he remains here, surrounded by the flesh, he learns practical sanctification. If he had died on believing, he would have been divested of all the graveclothes, but as he remains in the body he has to learn practically what it is to be divested of the influence of the old things, and to walk in the midst of them in the grace and Spirit of Christ; and, as he does, he is sanctified practically.

Now before there can be any step in, or knowledge of, practical sanctification, there must be a knowledge of what holiness really is. If a believer does not know what holiness is, he is like one looking for a thing of which he knows nothing at all - like a blind man trying to comprehend light before he can see. I cannot know any sentiment until I have been affected by it, hence

[Page 60]

it is said there is no word in any language for an idea which has not yet been apprehended. If a thing is not apprehended, there is no want for the word or sign which would convey it.

Now the work of Christ lands the believer in "the holiest of all". He is rescued from death and judgment, brought from the deepest and darkest distance in one step, through His work, into the brightest place - "the holiest of all". We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. That blood certifies the believer's title to be there, and his place is there for ever. There only can he acquire a sense of holiness - of that separation from all defilement which suits God. As God's own righteousness only suits Him as to conduct, so His own holiness only suits Him as to associations.

The believer has not entered into it, has not tasted of the true effect of Christ's work for him, if he has not entered into the holiest of all. True, many quickened souls do not enjoy the holiest of all, and very often they try to be holy in order that they may reach an assured resting-place before God. The fact is, like the prodigal, their very approximation to God in the sense of His love in receiving them, only awakens in them the sense of their unfitness to be near. They would fain brush up the old clothes, instead of seeing that they, the old things, are passed away, and that in new things only can they be really at ease in the Father's house.

Thus it is as divested of an evil conscience, and by the separating power of the word cleansed from our own surroundings that we draw near, the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and the body washed with pure water. It is here the believer first acquires the sense of holiness. An entirely new sense to him, and one which is wholly unique, even as no art of the apothecary could compound anything like unto the holy anointing oil.

[Page 61]

Many are led away by a spurious article because they do not know the genuine one. Thus Romanism beguiles many a one by propounding a severe self-mortification for holiness. When the believer has once tasted of holiness, what it only is, he must be aware of what is contrary to it; and when he has left his place in the holiest. I can never lose my place in the holiest, Christ's blood has obtained it for me. I do, alas! constantly lose my enjoyment in it. But the place remains mine, as David's place at the king's table remained his though he did not occupy it.

Now, when my place in the holiest is assured to me and holiness is known to me, if I had no connection with the flesh and the world, there would be no departure from it; but seeing that I am in a body of sin, and that I am constantly liable to defilement and consequent deprivation of the enjoyment of the holiest, I should be unable to recover my place were it not for the Lord's present ministry washing my feet.

This blessed ministry is to restore me to a place that I have already enjoyed. When I am defiled I cannot resume my place in the holiest until my feet are washed. If I have never enjoyed my place in the holiest, even though my conscience is distressed because of my failure, I have not the feeling that I am deprived of it, because I could not feel that I had lost anything which I had never enjoyed.

Now the washing of the feet sets forth the great principle of sanctification. It is not merely a confession of the error and thus a removal of it. At conversion all our sins were forgiven, as they affected us in the eye of God: being forgiven we were sanctified; we belong to God in the holiest through Christ's work; any sin committed after conversion is a return to the flesh. But the flesh has been judicially terminated in the cross, and if not judged by the believer must be judged by the Lord: "Our God is a consuming fire".

[Page 62]

When my feet are washed I am made sensible not only of forgiveness, but of the removal of the defilement which I had contracted. In Numbers 19 the defiled one was sprinkled with the water of separation, in which were the ashes of the sin-offering. The Spirit of God brings before my soul the ashes, the token of accomplished judgment. I am made sensible that I have gone back to that for which Christ suffered at the hand of God; so that it is not merely the offence which is forgiven, but the deeper work of judging the flesh, reaching the root from which the evil springs that is before me. When it is only the offence that is before the conscience, it is more the disgrace to oneself; but when it is the defilement, it is one's loss or estrangement from God and our true place with Him.

I have said we have the true principle of all sanctification here; it is not merely the stopping of an offence, but it is the supplanting of the flesh in its root by Christ, and this is real practical sanctification. Let us examine the mode by which this practical sanctification is produced.

If I had died on conversion I should have been divested of every atom of the old, and perfectly fit, because of Christ's work, to enter into heaven. If I am fit the first moment, I am fit every moment. I do not get more fit by living in a sinful body in a corrupt world; but as I should have dropped every atom of the old man had I died on conversion, so, if I remain here, the power of Christ's life in me is to supplant the old man which is corrupt. As I live in the Spirit I do not fulfil the lusts of the flesh - Christ lives in me. All depends on the garden I sow in. If I sow to the flesh, of the flesh I reap corruption; but if to the Spirit, life everlasting.

In John 17:17, the Lord desires for His disciples that they should be sanctified; and the measure which is to be effected is: "Sanctify them by the truth:

[Page 63]

thy word is truth". Now this refers to the new order of which they were as of God. The word here is the counsel of God; an entirely new order of the Father was now to come out. 1 John 3:1, explains it. "The world knows us not, because it knew him not". The sanctification resulting from this would be the manifestation here of the new order; not any improvement in the old, but a displacing of the old; as a tree when it grows displaces the soil by which it is surrounded.

I have real liberty when the flesh has no place, when Ishmael is morally cast out and kept out. There is a new growth in me. Christ lives in me, and as He increases I am practically more sanctified; the old tastes, the weeds that grew in the old soil, are overpowered by the new thing, like the way an aged evergreen shrub by degrees monopolises a plot in a garden. The soil that would ordinarily grow weeds is so completely overshadowed by the shrub that no weeds can grow; not that the soil is any better, but that there is no room for them.

Now in order to promote the growth effectually, the Lord adds: "I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified by truth". The heart of the believer drawn away from the things here to Christ where He is, would be practically dissociated from the hindering influence here; setting the mind on things above and not on things on the earth. The more I am of the divine order, the more I should be distanced from the men of the world; and the more my heart is drawn away out of everything after Him who had left everything here, the more detached I should be from the things on the earth and the scene of them. For practical sanctification I require both to know that I am of a new generation among the old, as a butterfly among caterpillars; and I require to be removed from the leaves on which caterpillars feed, in order that my old tastes should not be ministered to, and I should

[Page 64]

sow to the flesh. This then is the nature of sanctification.

Finally, there are two ministries by which it is promoted. One is the word, Ephesians 5:26, "That he might sanctify it, purifying it by the washing of water by the word". The other is discipline, Hebrews 12:10: "In order to the partaking of his holiness". Now these two ministries work hand in hand, one inside, the other outside. I do not speak of the chastening here for the works of the flesh; doubtless that is to silence the root that has not been judged.

There is then the ministry of the word by which the Lord leads our hearts into such enjoyment with His glories and interests as the queen of Sheba had with Solomon, so that there is no spirit left in us. There is a sensible dropping off of the old things. To God I am outside myself, so that things once thought indispensable and fascinating are now superseded. The graveclothes are for the moment gone, and I breathe freely in a holy atmosphere. The wonder and beauty of His mind and thoughts quite surpass the small selfish enjoyments of my poor heart. I am drawn nearer to Him; and the nearer I am, the more distinctly do I become suited to Him. Like Rebecca, who, when she saw Isaac, lighted off the camel and threw a veil over herself, so, as I see Christ by faith, I lose sight of myself; Christ's presence makes me suited to Himself. He refuses all that is not of Himself, and gives prominence and countenance to all that is of Himself: "While the king is at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth its fragrance". When I see Him I shall be like Him, and the more I behold the glory of the Lord, the more I am moulded into its likeness. His word instructs me in the greatness and beauty of His things.

This ministry is within me, but discipline is from without, and concurrent. "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are

[Page 65]

called according to purpose". There is chastening or discipline for unjudged failure, "On this account many among you are weak and infirm, and a good many are fallen asleep". The flesh unjudged is judged; but I refer more to the discipline, which promotes holiness. The earnest soul drinks Marah, refuses the things which minister to the flesh, looks not upon the wine when it is red, but seeks to be always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in the body.

Discipline helps in order to this. "We who live are always delivered unto death .. . that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body". It is to help those who are progressing; something like pruning to bring forth more fruit; but it is constant and unremitting, indicating that one is an unceasing object of interest. The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 all suffered for righteousness, but their sufferings tended to detach them from the world, and connect them more absolutely with God. As it has been said, every blow Stephen received was loosening him from all here, liberating him from all of man, that he might the more fully enter into all that is of God. Thus suffering is not only a testimony, but a help to holiness to the sufferer.

The aim of all discipline is to free me of everything which hinders Christ in me; so that, while the ministry of the word opens out to me the beauty and glory of my portion in Christ, the discipline through circumstances detaches me from the weights which hinder me here. It is ever where a believer has most vanity or self-confidence that discipline makes its mark. If Jacob be a very active man, he becomes lame. If Moses be a muscular man, he must learn by forty years in the wilderness not to trust in himself. And Paul is crippled where he feels it most. God will stain the pride of all men.

[Page 66]

The sanctified man is a body of light, as when the bright shining of a candle gives its glow; every dark part driven out, and Christ reigning in the heart; the body simply His vessel, or medium, for expressing His own will and pleasure.

[Page 67]

SINS AFTER CONVERSION

Exodus 15:26; 1 Corinthians 11:31, 32

Faith in the blood of Christ shelters me from the judgment, as Israel was safe from the destroyer because of the blood sprinkled on the lintel and the door-post. The worshipper, once purged, has no more conscience of sins. Judgment because of sins is passed over for ever. The blood has acquired for us this new footing, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more"; therefore there is no more offering for sin. Israel left Egypt under the shelter of the blood. That shelter could never cease; they are a redeemed people. The believer now is placed in an entirely new standing, because of the blood of Christ. He is our mercy-seat, in whom is concentrated the full revelation of God, according to His power and glory. He is that ever for us, through faith in His blood. There is no more shedding of blood. By one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

This being accepted and held to in faith, there comes the question, What about the sins after conversion? It will not be asserted that there are none. True it is, that earnest souls have tried to escape from the sorrow and shame of sinning after conversion, by assuming and attempting to reach a state of sinless perfection. In this case, always, there is a lowering of the sense of holiness, in order to relieve the conscience of the sense of sin. It is like damaging one's sight, so as to have an excuse for not seeing.

The truth is, that, on believing in Christ, we are, through God's grace, on entirely new ground, ever under the shelter of His blood, and, once purged, there is "no more conscience of sins". God, in His perfect grace, has not only forgiven our sins, but He has terminated judicially in the cross the old man,

[Page 68]

from whence the sins come. In the life of Christ we are "free from the law of sin and death". If we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, for the Spirit is stronger than the flesh. When the believer sins, he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. "The thought of foolishness is sin".

We have boldness for entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, where we enjoy the sense of being without a spot. Now, when we are defiled, when a spot occurs, however small it may be, there is a return to the flesh. We have returned to what God has set aside in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sensible of the defilement, for communion is interrupted; there is no enjoyment of the place or the part where Christ is. I need not say here that you must, of course, have known and enjoyed this place of nearness before you could lose it, or before you would seek restoration. I am supposing the case of the worshipper once purged; he has tasted of the ineffable blessedness of being in the holiest; his heart was sprinkled from an evil conscience, and his body washed with pure water. But he had lost it; he has been drawn away of his own lust, and enticed; he is sensible of his loss. The greater his love for the Lord, the more he feels it; for affection is not communion, but affection makes one long for what can only satisfy itself. Peter had affection, and had tasted of the Saviour's love, before he was restored to communion.

The course of grace now is, as in his case, that the feet are washed. It is not merely forgiveness, though that is included or connected with the washing. The forgiveness does not refer in any way to the safety of the soul, because God does not impute sin to anyone under the shelter of the blood of Christ; and yet with God, always, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die". God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; sin is of the devil. The washing is not in any sense a propitiation. The washing is to expose the root, or source, of

[Page 69]

the sin, and thus to free the believer of its working and defilement. It is the light of the word exposing the evil by substituting the good. This is done by the word, through the Spirit searching our conscience, often in much distress and confession; the latter (confession) because Jesus is our Advocate. The flesh having been judicially terminated in the cross, were it not for the advocacy of Christ, a returning to it in the believer would entail on him immediate excision from the life here.

Now, when the word has exposed to me the root of the sin which I have committed, I am in practical abhorrence of it; and the Spirit relieves me, by presenting to me what the ashes of the red heifer in the running water (see Numbers 19) typify; namely, that Christ bore the judgment of God for my failure. It is not fire now, but ashes, the token of accomplished judgment.

The effect on me of the washing is that I am cleared of the source of the sin; the root from which it came has been disclosed; the spot is gone, because the root is judged. "If we judged ourselves, so were we not judged. But being judged, we are disciplined of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world". Flesh must go wherever it is; we are not to be condemned with the world, but if we do not judge ourselves, we are judged of the Lord; hence it is, "many among you are weak and infirm, and a good many are fallen asleep". That is, there are cases when the works of the flesh are not forgiven; the flesh suffers here because it has not been judged. The flesh cannot be tolerated, and the more godly we are, the less can we tolerate it, or the more quickly is it judged. Real liberty is walking in the Spirit; for if I walk by the Spirit, I mortify the deeds of the body. The true course is, as Marah typifies, that I refuse everything for which Christ died; this is my real freedom. Hence, the man who has the greatest opportunity of gratifying

[Page 70]

himself, is the one who most distinctly feels that this is indeed a wilderness, where he cannot enjoy what he possesses, and what would so minister to him as a man.

Now it is evident that sickness may fall on us here because of sins that we have not judged; that is, that God will, in some way, silence the flesh in the activity in which it has exposed itself, unless it is judged. When it is judged, it is disallowed, and here real repentance comes in. Thus "grief according to God works repentance". "I .. . repent in dust and ashes". I loathe myself, and my one relief is to see myself crucified with Christ, and thus the flesh as far from me as, through grace, it is from God. Hence it is that, when one is sick, it is said (James 5:15), "and if he be one who has committed sins, it shall be forgiven him". Up to that moment they had not been forgiven him, and this forgiveness related exclusively to his sickness.

I do not say that every sickness is because of sin, for I read about one being "sick nigh unto death .. . for the work of Christ"; again, a man may have inherited a weakly constitution; or may have shattered his health before his conversion. In this case I suffer the consequences of my unrighteousness after I am converted. The thief on the cross, though going to paradise, dies a felon's death. And constantly, in the Old Testament, the expression occurs, "and it shall be forgiven him". This does not relate to future, but to present things. There are instances when there is not present forgiveness. This I have adduced; and again (1 John 5:16): "There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it".

Well, now that we have seen that the flesh must be practically set aside in the believer, let us examine briefly the difference between the discipline to promote holiness, and the discipline because of unholiness. I do not see how any one can determine for another which of the two he may be passing through. It is

[Page 71]

evident that the more anyone walks in self-surrender, the better he understands in himself the cross, the more he enjoys the Lord. And it is often because saints will not deny themselves that they pass through human sufferings; as it was said to Israel, in connection with "Marah" (Exodus 15:26), "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and do what is right in his eyes, and incline thine ears to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the complaints upon thee that I have put upon the Egyptians: for I am Jehovah who healeth thee".

We all have to learn, when it is not at all a matter of sinfulness, that the less the flesh is given a place, the more of the power of Christ we have. This Paul learned when he came down from the third heaven, so that he can say, "I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell upon me". It is thus the apostle can say, "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus"; nothing for which He suffered is to be allowed in me, "that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body".

Then follows, "we who live are always delivered unto death on account of Jesus". No doubt it was persecution in that day, for it checked and cut down the flesh; but very often, now, sickness is sent to produce what persecutions effected then. I can understand how when one is suffering sickness instead of persecution, one becomes sensible of being made more practically fit for the service that one has at heart. When a believer dreads any tendency of his nature, when he looks not upon the wine when it is red, the Lord comes in to assist him by bringing in death in some way. For instance, if he has a love for music, by spoiling his ear; but in such cases the heart is always conscious of favour in the discipline, and not of rebuke. It is a very different thing when there is rebuke for self-gratification, from what it is when the

[Page 72]

self-surrender begins with oneself, and the Lord rolls in death, to confirm and establish the longing of the true heart; like the man who determined to give up his jewellery for the Lord, and when he had done so, a burglar broke into the house and stole it. He was not sorry for the loss, but he was kept up to his desire by the Lord.

On the other hand, if any goes on gratifying the flesh, sooner or later his sufferings will spring from his gratification, just as Sodom became suffering to Lot. While, as with Isaac in Gerar, he not only reached Rehoboth, but, when he came to Beer-sheba, the Lord appeared to him that night. The Lord not only makes me glad of the surrender, but He more than compensates in Himself for any loss on my side: "manifold more in this present time".

Thus I have endeavoured to open out a little this interesting subject, assured that we do not sufficiently seek light from the Lord as to the bodily sufferings to which we are subjected. As I have already said, I do not think that one can interpret for another, but I am sure that if there were more exercise before the Lord because of our afflictions, we all should bear them better, and derive real blessing from them. Surely, when anyone is rendered thoroughly incapable here in mind or body, there must be something in it of the rebuke to Lot's wife, when turned into a pillar of salt. The Lord is full of compassion, and often one is allowed to go on in a carnal way for a long time, because one has no sense of the evil in one's conscience; but, assuredly, the day must come when all that selfishness will pass away by the stroke of His hand: "Our God is a consuming fire".

[Page 73]

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MILLENNIAL SAINT AND A CHRISTIAN

2 Corinthians 5:15 - 18; Colossians 3:10, 11

A newly constructed man, which the term 'converted man' generally implies, is a man for earth. It is interesting to learn from Scripture that there will be a man of this order on the earth in the millennium, and the better we apprehend his status, the easier it will be for us to discern the difference between him and an entirely new man; for doubtless many a devoted saint mistakes the former for the latter. First, then, the converted man is "born of water and of Spirit"; he believes in Christ, as typified by the two goats; Leviticus 16. Eternal redemption effected for him in the presence of God, and all his sins carried into the land of forgetfulness, and he is assured by the presence of Melchisedec that God has given to him the things on the earth to possess. Besides this, the law is written in his heart: "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them".

The converted man not only delights in the law of God but it is his nature; the resistance within has been removed and there is no opposition from without, and the Holy Spirit in him maintains him therein. The converted man loves God with all his heart and his neighbour as himself, while touching all the commandments and ordinances of the law, he is blameless; he is free of any fear of death or judgment; assured by the presence of Him who has the keys of death and hell. Deuteronomy 26 describes him; he traces all his blessing to the grace of God; he worships God; and he rejoices in every good thing which the Lord has given him. In all the sacrifices he calls to mind the death of Christ as the only ground and warrant for all his blessing; he is "like a tree planted by the

[Page 74]

rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper", Psalm 1:3.

When we have a true idea of a converted man, we are ready to say that there cannot be anything more, and, in fact, with christians generally, nothing beyond it is aimed at or expected.

Now the christian at the start is a man of a different order and type altogether. Here lies the great distinction or difference. The christian is not after the flesh, he is not earthy; he is heavenly and spiritual. "As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly". He has put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all; Colossians 3:10, 11. There is nothing of the first man of any nature or quality; Christ is everything and in all. No one can comprehend the nature and qualities of the christian but as he apprehends the nature and qualities of Christ. We know that because the children were partakers of blood and flesh, "he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil". As Christ died for all, then were all dead, ".. . that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.. .. old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God". "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature". "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven". The Son of God became a man, that through death He might make in Himself of twain

[Page 75]

(Jew and gentile) one new man, so making peace. The christian is a man of new and different tastes and order. The great exercise of a christian is to discern good and evil. There is nothing to correct or improve in the new man; as we put on Christ, we put on the new man; and the christian finds that even what was gain to him, as of Adam, he must count loss for Christ. Amiability or the best natural virtue is surpassed by Christ; and it is only as Christ is formed in him and he is kept by the power of God, that he resists the flesh. The flesh in the christian is unaltered, and hence, if he does not walk in the Spirit, he is carried away by the flesh. As Christ is in him, the salient traits of his nature are kept in abeyance, and as his conscience is good; he is sanctified, but he is the same person still. If the Spirit be grieved and hindered, he acts and behaves as he naturally would; but on the other hand, a christian led by the Spirit is an imitator of God; he surpasses the converted man; he magnifies the law of God. All the duties devolving on the man in the flesh, and all the ordinances of God are better fulfilled by the christian than by the converted man (the man as God required him to be). Under the law there is very little direction as to the domestic duties, save that children should obey their parents; while the man in Christ is most exemplary in the home circle, as we see in Ephesians 5 and 6. It is clearly shown that the nearer we are to God, the more we answer to every desire of His heart, and this, thank God, for the christian is par excellence.

I need not add that the christian is a man altogether suited to God; as the Son who is in the bosom of the Father is the Man of God's pleasure, so we, through the infinite grace of God, are of Him - we are of the new man, and as we walk in the power of the Spirit, we glorify God in our bodies which are His.

[Page 76]

HOW THE SAINTS ARE PRESERVED FROM EARTH-DWELLING

Hebrews 1:1 - 3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 12:1, 2

I sought on a former occasion to show what justification is. Then we saw in Corinthians how those who had departed from the true standing, as set forth in Romans, were corrected. They had given rein to the natural mind, consequently they were dependent on earthly things.

"Ye have reigned as kings without us", the apostle says to them.

There are two things that always go together, earth and flesh. A man who is earthly-minded is carnally-minded.

Then we went on to Galatians. There we saw another thing that keeps you on earth - the law. If you make the law a standard you give the flesh a place. I turn tonight to the pilgrim path. The great point of the book is how a saint may be preserved from settling on the earth. It is not a matter simply of salvation. If a man is not settled about salvation he cannot be occupied with the Lord. You must learn John 14 before 15.

I have read three verses in Hebrews 1, as in a certain sense they embrace the book. I hope to present to you the way by which a saint is preserved now from settling on the earth. Hebrews is written to Jewish saints who are naturally linked with earth. They had certain excuses that we have not. They were drawn to earth. If you are drawn to earth you lose the priesthood of Christ. He was not a priest on earth. The great thing to start with is that our sins are gone. It is not a question of sins. "When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down". It is not, as in the types, a constant repetition. If sin has been

[Page 77]

disposed of on the cross, how can you go on with it? Chapter 1 is that having purged sins, He is gone, He has "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high". In the second chapter we see how we are associated with Him (Hebrews 2:11), "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one".

Now, beloved friends, it is not only that your sins are gone, but you belong to another order altogether. You cannot understand this book at all if you are not on resurrection ground. This verse gives you your true position - "all of one". If you do not have oneness you lose the idea. "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren". It is not brethren after the stock of Israel, but as you get in John, "Go, tell my brethren," etc. Here was the Lord in His unique position, so delightful to the Father. He says, I shall abide alone if I do not die, but if I die, I shall bring forth much fruit, that is, many grains. If you sow a grain, you get many grains from it. When the Lord rose He said to Mary, "Go, tell my brethren", etc. He has brethren now. If you do not understand the position you are in you will never understand Hebrews. People say, Give us something for the wilderness.

In verse 12 he quoted Psalm 22:22. If you look at Psalm 22 you will see that it is taken up with our side of the matter. There are seven giants from the cup of judgment down to the horns of the unicorn - death itself. He is heard. What now? What does He connect Himself with? His own. He visits them first. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren"; that is the new company, not Israel, but brethren connected with resurrection. If you do not understand that you will never understand Hebrews. Here we get our relation to Him. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren". Then, "In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee", i.e., in the house of God, God's dwelling-place. Hebrews 3 opens with, "Wherefore,

[Page 78]

holy brethren.. . consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus", etc. He is both Apostle and High Priest, both Moses and Aaron. In verse 6 we get "Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we", etc. That is, we are not drawn to things here. Then he comes to the day of "provocation". "When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years". I believe that a christian is uncommonly little acquainted with his own history if he is not conscious of failure in the day of provocation. It is the day of difficulty. Israel took but one journey (Numbers 10), then they fell a-lusting and had a longing for the leeks and onions of Egypt. How many of us have failed there! We have longed for something from this world. Here we get a warning about the day of provocation. What made them turn back? There is the lusting first and then the actual refusing to go up. The spies praised the land immensely, but ten say, "We are not able to go up". That is the day of provocation. "For we are become companions of the Christ" (verse 14), "called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ", 1 Corinthians 1:9. Communion is the same word. Communion would occupy you more with things outside the world. We have got company. "We are become companions of the Christ, if indeed we hold the beginning of the assurance firm to the end". What do you understand by that? That you put your foot down solidly. Do not give that up. People are drawn back. The moment you begin to fail, you give up your brightest thing - the top-shoot - not the root. A person says, I am a christian. Yes, but you are like a forest tree in a flower-pot. There is no advance, no freshness and vigour about it.

Now we come to chapter 4: 11. How are we to meet it? We are on the pilgrim path. I do not deny there are difficulties, but the question is, do you set out as a pilgrim? A pilgrim is one who is going home.

[Page 79]

"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest", etc. You are going on to that rest. They failed to enter into Canaan. "Harden not your hearts". Mind you are on the pilgrim path. Do not be too confident. I never yet through grace sought to move on, but something was not thrown on my path - a leek or an onion - something to turn one off the path. I am a companion of Christ. I am on a journey. They declared they were strangers and pilgrims. You are on the way. It is not like Ephesians; you are seated there already. There is something that tells you are going on. Not like a tourist: a tourist tries to get the best accommodation here; but a pilgrim is set on where he is going: his object is to go on. Now the question is how you are affected by it: "lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (verse 11). Do not be too self-confident. The wilderness path is not the path to settle in, nor to make a place for yourself. You are going on and you are bearing testimony for Christ, "bearing his reproach". Just turn to verse 12: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful", etc. Now there are infirmities. The word of God will discover all your motives. In John the word used is 'sin,' here it is "infirmities". It is to correct you that you may receive support from the High Priest. It is not that you do not come to Him for grace, but you get sympathy from Him. A man might be aggrieved; he could not expect the Lord's sympathy because his vanity is hurt. The question is, How do you feel about the pressure you are in? The word will detect you when you are on the road. They would not go on. They would not receive the word mixed with faith. If a person were going on he would not mind how this one or that one offended him. He is going on. I am hindered by the rudeness of man. Yes, no doubt. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens .. . let us hold fast our profession".

[Page 80]

What do you expect from the sympathy of Christ? The word of God brings you into the light and you see where you are. The word is to correct you; what do you expect from the sympathy of Christ? What I find is that people do not know what to expect. He knows the way you suffer as a godly soul. It may be pressure of circumstances, sickness, bereavement. What do you expect? That He will remove it? That is not sympathy. Sympathy is that He bears you company in the trial, as He did to Mary in John 11. He uses the blank to make His interests more known to you. He "was in all points tempted like as we are". He is interested in me. I know He is. I do not find anyone enters into my sorrows as He does. He says, as it were, I use this grief to make you know that you have One who sticketh closer than a brother. See the effect of that. When she lost her brother she thought she had lost everything. If a woman had not a man to provide for her, her hope was gone. What does she find? In chapter 12 she finds that the Lord is going. She has found Him and a friend found in sorrow is never lost. She says, I know what you are; and I know you are going to die. I give up the brightest thing I have. She anoints the Lord for His burial. That is an example. What we get here is the Lord's sympathy; not as one who is on a level with me. He has been down here. Look at a verse in chapter 7. If we were better acquainted with the sympathy of Christ, our hearts would be more attracted to Him. "For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled", etc. (chapter 7: 26). He says to us, I see you under pressure of sickness or bereavement, I have been there and I will support you from heaven. See what companionship that brings you into. "Made higher than the heavens". It is not that you know something of the sympathy of a friend: he must know something of the sorrow himself, or he could not sympathise. He thinks of me. Sorrow always puts

[Page 81]

you into solitude. There is many a mother who would slave for her child, but she would not like to have the same malady as her child. The Lord says, I can bear you out in it.

I just add a word on chapter 5. The great difficulty with christians is, they have to do with milk - they are unskilful in the word of righteousness. It is that you have not got on to christian ground. Perfection is Christ glorified. I trust in a measure that a soul that is really waiting on the Lord for sympathy, is led to be clear from everything that would prevent Him from sympathising. When he comes to understand it, he will find what a resource he has. I believe he will catch the interest of Christ. I sometimes say to parents, You seek the love of your children; if you seek their interest you will get their love. It is not that He will allow anything that is contrary to Himself, He cannot, but He gives you sympathy.

Chapter 8: 1, "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum", etc. See what a wonderful thing you have, the Lord in the midst of His own in the church. He is a Minister of the sanctuary, etc. You say, The sanctuary is in heaven. I do not deny it, but you have the greater thing in Himself.

I pass on to chapter 10: 19. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest", etc. Beloved friends, now you have the High Priest in another relation - a great Priest. I used to wonder why chapter 10 did not come before chapter 4; that the relation of the priest to God, was not before the relation of the priest to man. If you are bowed down by circumstances, you do not enjoy the Lord's company. People say, We had a happy meeting. Yes, but were you in His presence? What Aaron could not do for his sons the Lord does for us. He removes the pressure, but whether it is gone or not, I have Him. He is my resource along the road. That is the High Priest. Chapter 8: 1 brings out the priesthood for us.

[Page 82]

Now in chapter 10 it is a great Priest over the house of God, who sustains us there. You are always in His presence, but the question is, are you always enjoying His presence? It is not that I am relieved from the pressure of my circumstances, but He makes me to know that I have passed within the veil, His own presence. By the Spirit you are there, but what you have to understand is that if you are not fit for Him you will not enjoy Him. If there is a shade of distance between Him and you, you will not enjoy Him. It is like this, I am going on a journey and the One who supplies all my resources is not here at all. He is in heaven. I am brought to approach God, where there is not a single thing to hinder, the holiest of all. I would like now to go on to it. You are looking for Him to come. In the meantime what are you doing? Running on. Chapter 11 is not examples of faith; it is what faith can do. The Lord is the Author and Finisher of faith. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith". It is joy to look out for Him. He is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. He is there to sustain me here; the effect on me is, I must go on to Him. I am so drawn out of things here, and drawn to Him there. As Ruth says, "Where thou goest I will go". I cannot part company with the resource there. It is not saying we ought to do this or that, but I will so attach your heart to the One who is there that your heart will run on to Him.

Chapter 12. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses", etc.

I am going on, it is not looking at what I am going to leave, but I am going on. Why? Because my heart is drawn there. You have found out what He is to you here in the place where you are, so that you can run on to the place where He is. Just turn now to chapter 13 to show what our position would be here on earth. There are two kinds of discipline, the one

[Page 83]

to correct; the other to help. In chapter 12 it is all to help. "Partakers of his holiness" - that is what God is in His nature. Chapter 13 shows what sort of people it will produce and what sort of people we are. It is, "be content with such things as ye have", and then where you are for Him, "Let us go forth therefore unto him .. . bearing his reproach" (verse 13). "Wherefore Jesus also .. . suffered without the gate" (verse 12). I do not know if you understand it, but a Jew would understand it as a very severe demand on him.

"Bearing his reproach" is that He was on the cross. How are you with regard to that?

What are you doing? "By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually". You are doing good to all men. You are praising God and serving man. I know He takes an interest in every worry and anxiety that crosses my path. Come down to the reality of it! Not merely is He touched by the feeling of my infirmities, but I am out of it. The apostle says, "I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me". I do not think anything is so misunderstood as Christ's path here. He was able to bear up in every circumstance He was in here. He did not get out of the circumstance. Look how He was sustained in everything here. He slept in the storm. The Lord grant we may understand better what an interest He takes in us. It is not only to remove our infirmities so that we may run the race but that our hearts may be so attracted to Him that we may run the race keeping our eye on Him, so that we may get to Him. The Lord grant we may know it better for His name's sake.

[Page 84]

TO BE DESCRIPTIVE OF CHRIST IS THE PRESENT TESTIMONY

Ephesians 3:8 - 12

It is a very serious question - a question of great interest to oneself, but of still greater interest to the Lord - What are we here for? He was here for us. Now we are to be here for Him. It is a great moment for your soul when you apprehend that you are here for Christ as a member of His body, that you belong to Him. Paul understood it when he said, "That I should preach .. . the unsearchable riches of Christ" - Christ and His body. We are left here to be descriptive of Him in the place of His rejection, to represent Him here as members of His body. As sons we are in the highest relationship; but as united to Christ we are in the highest position, and not only that, but we are brought into the fellowship of the counsels and interests of God.

If I look into the Old Testament history I see that God always had a testimony on earth. With Noah it was power in government; Abraham's testimony was as the man of faith - called out; Joshua's to bring the people of God into the land; David had the city, Solomon the temple. Christ came, and He was on the earth a complete testimony. Every effort was made to get rid of Him. Rejected here He is called to sit at God's right hand; and what comes out now is the mystery - that His body is here. It was revealed to Paul. It was made known to him at his conversion in the question, "Why persecutest thou me?" Until Christ was in glory the truth of the body was not made known, but when He was fully rejected (Acts 9) it was disclosed. It was the most signal defeat of Satan; and if you get hold of the simple fact that Christ was refused a place here, and that His body is here, it will alter the whole complexion of your life. They send a message after Him in the person of Stephen, "We

[Page 85]

will not have this man to reign over us", and Stephen delineates this new testimony for us. He says, "I see.. . the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". That is the Man I want to maintain down here. One believer or two could not set forth Christ down here. It must be the whole body - all the saints; but the feeblest member is necessary to the full description of Him here. All may not be walking consistently, but every member of the body is necessary to set forth the exalted Man here where He is refused. It is an immense thing for the heart to get hold of it. Paul tells us that he would have all men see what is the administration of the mystery. It is a thing which should be seen here. He preached among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of the Christ - the Head and the body. I have never found a man in power who was not occupied with God's present interest and testimony. If he is diverted from it he becomes feeble. You are not happy, and you are not in power if you are not set to be the expression, in the scene of His rejection, of the heavenly Man who is at the right hand of God. That is my chief interest. There would be no interest for me in this life if I did not know that I was a member of the body of Christ. What can affect our hearts like the fact that we are called to be descriptive of the exalted Man in the place where He is rejected - Christ in heaven, manifested on earth by His body? That is what calls forth all the opposition of Satan. If he opposed the Lord when He was on earth in humiliation, how much more now in His exaltation? What can move your heart more than that this blessed Man should be set forth in all His beauty by His members here where everything is against Him? Would you not like to be in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, testifying of Him and setting Him forth here? It is God's purpose for you. But you cannot be descriptive of Him here if you have not been in spirit with Him where He is.

[Page 86]

DIVINE PROSPERITY

John 15:26

I desire to get definitely before your souls that the Holy Spirit is here for a special work - a special purpose.

John 14:26 refers to what He is for us. But there is another side which I get in chapter 15: 26. There the Lord says, "He shall testify of me", that is, of Christ in heaven. Saints like to think only of what He is to them, and thus they separate these two; but I ask, Are you here for Him? All your blessing and spiritual prosperity depends upon how you are here for Christ. This is chapter 15. The Lord first sets us as He is in the presence of the Father, and then He sets us as Himself in the presence of the world. It is inconceivable delight and blessing to me to be before the Father as Christ is, and then to be as Himself in the presence of the world; that involves suffering - but it is the greatest privilege to stand here for the Lord. If you want to prosper in soul you must have both, you must be much in the first, or you do not advance in the second.

The Lord has an interest on earth, a chief interest, and if that is not your chief interest, if you are not set on it, you are not prospering in soul. Prosperity is a very interesting word in Scripture. In Psalm 1:3 we read, "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper". The peace-offering is called the prosperity + offering. The Lord has a chief interest on earth, and if that is my chief interest, I have divine prosperity.

"He shall testify of me". It is the Holy Spirit's work to testify of Him in glory, and I have the power

+Shahlom -- peace-offering -- is the same root as Shallom, the Hebrew salutation, meaning 'peace' or 'prosperity to you,' and often translated 'prosperity' (Psalm 35:27; Psalm 30:4 - 7; Daniel 8:25).

[Page 87]

if I am in company with the Holy Spirit. We often say, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; 'and' means distinction. If you are going on with that power to testify of an exalted Christ, you will know what fellowship with the Holy Spirit is. John's gospel was written after all the confusion had come in, and we read there that the Holy Spirit is down here to "testify of me". Paul says, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord".

If the Holy Spirit is here to testify of Christ, there is a vessel through which He does it. The church is the vessel. What we have to lament is that the vessel is defective, but there is no defect in the power; we must maintain that the power is the same. It was always the case that the prosperity of every saint was in keeping with his having God's chief interest before him. I see it in Abraham; he was called out of Chaldea to have no position here; so also with Jacob, and with Israel; 600,000 came out of Egypt - only two got into the land! These two say, We will adhere to God's calling. "If the Lord delight in us then he will bring us into this land". These two are singled out, and they went up to take possession. We see the same in Samuel, in Ezra, in Daniel. Daniel prayed three times a day with his window open towards Jerusalem, even when he was in Babylon, for God's chief interest was before him; Jerusalem was a waste, but he says, My heart is where God's chief interest is! And look at his prosperity! "So this Daniel prospered", chapter 6. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.. .. If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy", Psalm 137:5, 6. Can you speak thus of the church of God? Oh, to think that we may have as our chief interest in this poor world what is the dearest object of the heart of Christ. His treasure hidden in it! I see the same

[Page 88]

in the times of Haggai. The Lord says, "From this day will I bless you". There are many who would be entranced at the thought of being as Christ is in the presence of the Father, who lack the other side - to be as Christ towards the world.

It is very beautiful to see the Lord in the temple in John 2:15. He makes a scourge of small cords, and drives out those that sold in the temple, and says, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise". Could anything be more broken up than that was? Yet He called it His "Father's house".

Again, in Luke 21, the Lord was going out of the temple for the last time, going to die. He sees among the many who cast into the treasury one poor widow who cast in all she had. How beautiful to the Lord's eye, to see a person giving all she had for God's interests!

Now what is your chief interest on earth? Christ's interest is my chief interest. I say it boldly, and I am well supported, because the Holy Spirit is here. What is Christ's chief interest? Read Ephesians 5:25 - 27. There it is. In John 13 we get "his own". In Acts 9 He says to Saul, "Why persecutest thou me?" You see the Holy Spirit is here to testify of an exalted Christ, so there is no lack of power; but what is needed is that saints should be devoted to Christ. What is the defect with us? It is want of heart. If every one of you were able truly to say to the Lord, I am willing to stand for Thee, there is the Holy Spirit to back you up, He is the Spirit of power. None could carry out the thoughts of Christ but "his own". His body alone could truly express Himself, and in John 15:26 He announces that He would send the power to do it. The Holy Spirit is here, whether I avail myself of Him or not, and He is here for this express purpose to maintain the testimony of our Lord. The great mark of a person who is waiting for the Lord is that he is looking round to see that others are ready

[Page 89]

for Him. As a wife whose husband is absent looks round and says, Get ready, he is coming today; so the bride says, "Come", and turns round to another and says, You say, Come! and to another who is athirst, You are not happy, you come, come to enjoy. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". If you begin at the top you will work down. You ask the Lord to come; you see someone not saying, Come, and you say to him, Say, Come; to another you say, Get happy, and lastly, you say, Whosoever will, let him come; you sweep the whole earth, you are going to find out all who belong to Him.

The Lord lead our hearts to say, "Come", practically. The Holy Spirit, who testifies of Him, is sent of the Father for this special work and purpose to make us acquainted with Christ in glory; and there is no fear but that you will grow if you are in company with the Holy Spirit.

[Page 90]

THE HEART DRAWN TO HEAVEN, FOR WITNESS HERE ON EARTH

Hebrews 12:1 - 29

The epistle to the Hebrews has peculiar interest for us, because it was written to prevent the Jewish christians from settling on the earth. If you settle on the earth you must have an earthly system. This book is therefore of great service to us, who have been more or less connected with an earthly system, to detach us from it through grace, and to help us to recover lost ground.

Hebrews does not take you to heaven as Ephesians does; it does not treat of union, but it draws your heart away from earth to a Person in heaven. In Ephesians we have to go to a place to understand our relationship to a Person. Union is then known in the power of the Spirit. In Hebrews we are seen as the congregation of God - the consecrated company.

Christ has sat down at the right hand of God, having "purged our sins"; that is the first thing you must know in order to come to your place with God. If you are occupied with your sins, you have not yet found the place in which Christ's work sets you in the presence of God. True, I must reckon myself dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus, and I have to bear in my body the dying of Jesus; there must be death to everything that is set aside in the cross. But I start in the assembly of God with sins gone. The moment I introduce sins into the assembly I weaken the sense of His work that put me there. Many hymns are beautiful breathings, but are not fit for the assembly. The fact of His coming into our midst, puts us into the moral atmosphere of heaven. We have boldness to enter into the holiest

[Page 91]

by the blood of Jesus. This must have a great effect on us. May we know it more!

In chapter 2 we have, "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren". The assembly is a new family altogether; none of the old things is there. The corn of wheat has died and brought forth many grains, all of its own order. This is the character that belongs to us as the congregation of God; we are of the same order as Christ. Therefore in chapter 3 we have, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus". With a greater than Moses and a greater than Aaron, we come in as a company of priests. Christendom has lost all idea of the company of priests, as you get it in Hebrews. Christ is both the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. Moses proclaimed the mind of God, Christ declares the Father's name, and we go in with Him into the holiest as Aaron and his sons.

Now in chapter 4 we come to what is the great check in all our histories - the day of provocation. Happy is the man who has been able to rise above that day. Israel would not go up; they were intimidated by the report of the spies; they said, "We are not able to go up". With them "God was not well pleased". So it is with many now; it is not that they are not saved, but they are not racing to heaven. Every christian has been saved out of Egypt, but he is either set for Canaan where Christ is, like Caleb and Joshua, or he is looking back to Egypt. If by divine grace your purpose is to go on, you can say, The Lord delights in us and He will bring us in. We know now that the Lord does delight in us, and that in His own purpose He has brought us in. Caleb inherited the very place that frightened them all; Hebron, the city of the four giants, was his possession, and he was as fresh forty-five years after, as he was that day. But

[Page 92]

there is a day of provocation for every one of us, and if you have not passed and surmounted that test, you are not running the race.

In chapter 4 we have a great High Priest who is passed through the heavens; we approach the throne of grace with boldness. There is now no question of sins to settle, but we have infirmities. Well, He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and is able to sympathise. May we look for His sympathy! I believe we only get this support in order to free us for the company of the Lord. He sympathises with me in order to bring me to this. This is the difference between the effect of getting relief, and getting His support. Mary in John 11 got support before she got relief. This is the divine order. We are all looking to be relieved, and often we are relieved; but His support is something that you can never forget. It does not merely make you resigned. Many say, I see it is the will of God and I submit; but when I have His support I am led in triumph. In John 11 the Lord walks beside Mary, makes her sensible that He fills the blank; He carries her heart from the sense of blank to Himself. He so supported her that her heart is occupied with the Supporter, and though she obtained relief in the restoration of her brother, she never lost the sense of the support she had in the company of the Lord, as He walked beside her at that moment. In the next chapter at the supper table with Him, her action astonishes everyone. The great charm about love is that it does something unprecedented, and perfectly suited to the moment.

Therefore the Lord says of her act, "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached .. . this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her". How did she learn what was suitable to do at that moment? By the support she had found in Him - by the way she had learned His sympathy in the time of her sorrow. I do not think that any servant can speak

[Page 93]

of it until he knows it, and can look back to the moment when that hand was reached down from the highest heaven, with the assurance to his heart, I know what you are passing through, take My hand. When you know that, you rise above the pressure to Himself; that is support which you never lose the sense of having known. The more the pressure, the more your heart is drawn out to the Person who had supported you through it, and you are in company with Himself.

Then in chapter 10: 19 we see how this is fulfilled to the company; we go inside as His companions. The blood that has saved us from our sins has opened up the way into the presence of God. It is the same High Priest who has been touched with the feeling of my infirmities whom I find in the holiest - inside the veil, a great Priest over the house of God. You have travelled with Him from the deepest pressure upon yourself, up to the spot of inconceivable glory and beauty - the holiest of all. Were you ever there? You come in with your body washed with pure water, it is only as priests - the consecrated company, that we are there, and there is only one way to come in, and that is through the veil. Many saints never go in; though they eat "the bread of his God", they do not go inside (see Leviticus 21:22, 23). A blemish unfitted one of "the seed of Aaron" from going in; that was external, now it is moral. I have infirmities, but He has so supported me that I have risen above them into company with Himself, so that I find my infirmities have really endeared Him to me the more, and I can go in with Him as one of the consecrated company. This is a wonderful moral journey. You cannot plead that you are too weak. Has not the Lord met your weakness? He has gone before and He leads you in company with Himself, from the lowest place among men to the highest spot with God. We thus see how acquaintance is formed, how the heart is attracted to

[Page 94]

Him, how the Person attracts me from this place to His own place.

Chapter 10: 34. They had begun very brightly but they had been checked. How many of us come to a great check and do not want to go up! I see great eagerness to get out of Egypt, but great slackness to get into Canaan. They despised the pleasant land. Many who stop thus, say, The Lord is coming, and they think nothing of the race. I never like to hear a man praying or singing about the Lord's coming unless he is preparing for Him. The slothful servant prepared not himself. Are you prepared for Him? You ask the Lord to come. Are you really looking for Him? Do you trim your lamp and go forth to meet Him? I do not believe that anyone is truly looking for the coming of the Lord who is not walking in His pleasure here and who is not in spirit in His company now.

Chapter 11 is a parenthesis, showing what faith is. It has two qualities - power and patience. If there is faith there is power. "By my God have I leaped over a wall". I have power and patience to run a race. Where am I going? I am going to where Christ is. There are difficulties in the road, but I look across to that mansion yonder. A Person is there to whom I am indebted for everything; I must get to Him. You may have said, My sorrow lies too deep for human sympathy. Well, what did you do? You told it all out to the One who is higher than the heavens, and your heart is so drawn to Him that you are going to leave everything to go to Him. That is the race. This chapter (chapter 11) shows me how I am set "on his own beast" (Luke 10:34) in His own power. It is not here examples of faith but traits of faith. If Noah were in Abraham's circumstances, his faith would act like Abraham's and so on. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. He is not here, I am looking off unto Him, I am going to Him; chapter 12: 2.

[Page 95]

I know that He has gone the road before me. "When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice". "Consider him .. . lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds". We are not to be upset by difficulties. "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small". God's discipline is to remove the obstacles to our progress; He does not roll away the stone from the wheel until we are up to the stone. "We who live are always delivered unto death". God helps us by rolling in death. You turn out a horse to grass when you do not want to use him, but a useful horse is kept hard at work; all the time he is in favour he is kept in harness. The object of chastening is to make us "partakers of his holiness" - absolute holiness - immeasurable; it is a word only used twice in Scripture, and is in keeping with the passage in John 17"for their sakes I sanctify myself". It puts you clean outside of everything connected with this world, in company with God Himself. The more I think of it, instead of being reluctant to be on this road, the more I find what a wonderful road it is, and the more I long to be in the power that has borne Him there.

Chapter 13 is the appearance you should present here on earth. You are a witness, and this is your character. The angels ought to see christians like stars in the darkness of this world - as lights travelling through it, their Object completely outside it, detaching them from earth. The appearance which you show is that of the highest service - "brotherly love" - "perfect in every good work to do his will". Inside you are praising God; outside you are doing good to man. You do not forget man while praising God. If you suffer for Christ you will reign with Him. Ruth owned the field she had gleaned in. May we know the Lord's own ministry, to each of our souls, leading us to be witnesses to the heavenly One who has gone before, while running on to Him. If you have any weight,

[Page 96]

throw it off. Even if it be a harmless thing, if it hinders you, let it go. We are not to be discomfited by obstacles; they only become the test of His power. The "proving of your faith" works endurance. We have to count it all joy when our faith is put to the test, and to go on with more endurance and better ability for every step of the path down here on earth. There are two things which the servant of God is called to - to be a minister and a witness. Witness and martyr is the same word. We have all to be witnesses. Nothing has such moral effect on our associates as our testimony.

[Page 97]

ASSOCIATED WITH CHRIST IN HEAVEN SO AS TO BE FREE UPON EARTH

2 Kings 2:11, 12

The Lord Jesus is not now on earth. He has ascended up into heaven. What a very peculiar position then is mine here! Sensible of the worthlessness of the first man, and of the absence of the Second. My own life - that of the first man - I hate; the One I love - the Man who has glorified God upon the earth - I find no longer here. How can I get on? Only as united to that One in glory. He is my life. Once with Him I can walk here, not to cultivate my own life, but to manifest His, which is mine in Him. Thus the Lord says, "for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth". His sanctification as expressed in those words is positional. He has ascended up into glory, and is wholly apart from this scene, that we might by the Holy Spirit be associated with Him there, and this is our moral sanctification. But how am I led into this association? See Acts 7:55. Stephen, "being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God". Now there was a new and distinct action of the Holy Spirit, enabling Stephen's soul to penetrate through everything, and to find Jesus where He is, even in the glory of God. It was a new thing brought out at that moment. It was, in a sense, contrary to Stephen's own preaching, for he had been preaching that Christ was to come down - to return. In chapter 1 the disciples were distinctly told not to gaze up into heaven, but now Christ's rejection was completed, and there was no longer any present possibility of His return to earth to take His rights, and the Holy Spirit takes a new line of action. He finds Jesus in the glory

[Page 98]

for the saint, and links the soul of the saint with Him there, all hope for the earth being cut off. For Stephen, it was the preparation for his own dissolution, and raised him completely superior to all the tribulation of the scene here. Rivetted to that scene, linked with the One whom he saw there, he has only to bear his simple testimony, and to pray for his murderers - grand testimony to the mighty power of Christ, thus placing His disciple above all the misery here.

Now every new revelation determines the character of the action of the Holy Spirit during any given period. When everything has failed on earth, He directs me to where there is no failure, He turns my eye to heaven. He accomplishes in me the very same action that He did in Stephen.

In 2 Kings 2:11, 12, we get an illustration of the very same thing, that is to say, of the way in which the Holy Spirit leads the soul of the believer now, turning the eye upwards. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. The answer he gets is, "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so". Do you not think Elisha kept his eye fixed upon his master after this intimation? Gazing on the one who went up, the one who remains gets a double portion of his spirit. And what is his first action? He rends his own clothes; he has done with himself; he has the mantle of the one who has gone up, and in the power of that he can walk through the scene here. "Have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth; for ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God". It is the strangest of all anomalies that we should be left here to live, where our life is not. Tell me where your eye is, and I will tell you what your conduct is. We all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord

[Page 99]

the Spirit. There we get the moral consequence. One spirit with that Lord, the glory claims me as its own. It must, for when I am in company with Christ, I am in the very same order of things as Himself. Moses had to veil his face, but now, on the contrary, I can behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, and be transformed thereby into the same image. I have no shrinking from the glory, my heart rests in it. I can look up into that glory as one with the blessed One who is there, and who has made for me a free entrance into it by the ministration of righteousness and of the Spirit.

John 14 gives us the normal state of the saint now; the Spirit of truth is given to comfort us during the absence of Christ. But is that all? No, the Lord says, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". Aye, "know." How wonderful! It is "that day", the Spirit's day, that we are now in, the day of the distinct and peculiar action of the Holy Spirit.

If I am not in conscious union with the One who is there, I cannot 'hate' the life that is here. I must be in His life in order to turn from my own. He has ended the first man in His cross where He met every claim of God's righteousness, and endured God's righteous and terrible judgment, and having exhausted it, having borne the whole penalty of sin, He declares the name of the One whom He glorified when bearing the judgment to the uttermost. In resurrection He declares the Father's name: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee". We are freed from the judgment which He bore and, in the life of the blessed One who has borne it, we can sing praises with Him.

[Page 100]

THE STATE FOR RECEIVING GOD'S REVELATION

Genesis 28:10 - 17

God is not a respecter of persons, but for that very reason He is a respecter of states. It is no question how Jacob has got into the state in which we find him at Bethel, not by any worthiness of his own certainly. But there he was, in a scene of utter desolation, the stones of the place his pillow, and he quietly asleep and receiving therein a revelation from God. He is not distracted by the desolation, but he sleeps; he is in a state of self-insensibility, the highest condition morally that one could reach, and the only one in which God could reveal to us His purposes.

If my self has been set aside in the cross, shall I hold to the nature which God has judged, or shall I let it go, and enjoy that which He has obtained for me? "He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal". My old man is ended before God, because Christ was judged for it on the cross. How can I practically get rid of that which God has judged? By having that blessed One, who has judicially put my flesh away, morally before my soul. He who put it away judicially before God, puts it away morally from me - displaces it. God is in cloudless rest about me, unchangeable in the satisfaction of His boundless thoughts. If Christ be before me, self is as effectually displaced with me morally, as it is judicially displaced before the eye of God. And then I am prepared for His fullest revelations. I am in a state of self-insensibility. There is no hindrance to the Displacer, and the Displacer can declare Himself.

God in glory manifests Himself to Jacob as he slept. Sleep represents death - insensibility. Marvellous

[Page 101]

grace of God! He comes to make the poor, homeless, friendless wanderer learn His heart, disclosing to him what is the purpose of His grace, because he was in a condition to receive it. "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven". There is nothing equal to the revelation of God in glory in this scene of desolation and sorrow. But I must be asleep, not affected by the scene, and self set aside, in order to get the revelation.

The reason we enjoy so little what God has provided for us, and are so little prepared for His revelations, is that we are not in a state of insensibility. I must be conscious of the desolation here, but in quietness as to it, not occupied with it. I must be laid on the pillow when God comes to speak to me. I must have on the one hand the sense of perfect acceptance with God, and rest in His presence; and on the other, of quietness of spirit as to the desolation around, in order to enter into what He reveals. Who gets the revelation? The 'perfect.' "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect". When the natural man is set aside, the deep things of God are revealed to the spiritual man by the Spirit. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.. .. But we have the mind of Christ".

[Page 102]

ONE MAN GONE OUT - ANOTHER MAN COME IN

Exodus 12:13; 14: 30, 31; Luke 15:1 - 32

The grace of God as brought to us in the gospel may be divided into two parts: first, what we are brought out from, and secondly, what we are brought into. Many converted souls know something about what they are brought out of, but very few have the least idea of what God has brought them to, and no soul is entirely off the old ground until he knows what it is to be on the new. Moses' commission was to bring the people out of Egypt and into the good land. As soon as a soul knows he is on the new ground, he is out of the old. The gospel is that God has brought you out of the land of darkness and shadow of death into the land of light and glory. The defect in many souls is that they do not know the nature of the distance between God and the sinner. Only one Man ever knew that, and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone, even a pagan, knows that there is a distance between the Creator and the creature, but how few, comparatively speaking, understand the nature of the distance. Cain did not know it; he, like a bad physician, tried to cure the disease not knowing what it was, not understanding the nature of it, and there are a great many people who do likewise. The gospel from God's side shows us how God has removed the distance! Abel had faith in God, and knew that nothing could remove the distance but a victim not personally chargeable with the sins for which he suffered, and he offered of the firstlings of the flock and the fat thereof, but there was no resurrection in that type. The victim dies, and the sins are gone.

Here nine-tenths of those who preach the gospel stop. The gospel usually preached is forgiveness of sins, but not resurrection. There is no resurrection in

[Page 103]

the sacrifices of the Old Testament. No victim that was offered was ever raised again. And if resurrection is not preached there can be no real sense in the soul of the distance being removed. Death alone could remove the distance; the victim must be one not chargeable with the offence at the time of death, that is, there must be personal excellency in the victim; but it is in apprehending the resurrection that the soul gets the sense that that which caused the distance is removed. The thought of some is that the sinner can do good works, so as to please God, and that Christ's righteousness comes in as a set-off for his unrighteousness. But there is no victim there; you must come to own that you cannot remove the distance yourself, and when you take that ground you find that God has removed the distance, and from His own side, too: "Mine own arm brought salvation". To illustrate this, suppose a child broke a clock and was told to go to his room until he mended it. Could he mend it? How long would he try to do so? Why, the more he tried the more he would injure it. Then his father comes in and says, I will mend it myself. Now, this brings out two things: first, the love of the father, who does not like the distance to continue; and secondly, that as the father has mended it himself, he must be satisfied as to the way in which it is done. Thus the grace of God has come in, and God has removed the distance from His own side. He has done it. Every sinner is under the righteous judgment of God, because he has the nature of a sinner. You see it in a baby, the nature shows itself. When God addressed Adam, what did He say? Not, What hast thou done? but, "Where art thou?" Adam hid himself because of what he was; he said, "I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself". God said to the woman, "What is this that thou hast done?" She had believed the lie of the devil when he told her, "Ye shall not surely die". To man's eye

[Page 104]

they did not die, but in God's sight from that moment man was morally dead. How slow all our hearts are to accept the place of death!

We will now read Luke 15:24: "This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found". You see, it was not only that he was lost, but he was dead, too. "The wages of sin is death". The man that is lost and dead must go from before God's sight. Let me ask, Are you going to keep that man, are you going to dress him up and make him important? Never. Christ gave up His life that He might blot out that man from before the eye of God. That man is morally dead, and in the cross of Christ he has come to an end judicially before God.

When the children of Israel walked through the Red Sea they were out of the place of judgment. The first part was done, they were brought out, but not yet in. A person who is not out knows that Christ has died for him, but he is occupied with the difficulties of the way, though he knows that as to the past all is settled for him. But when he is out he is occupied with God, he is able to take up the song in Exodus 15, which is all about God, and it could not be otherwise: "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed".

To return to Luke 15. We have there a parable in three parts, and each one is all about the joy of the finder. The shepherd goes out and seeks his sheep up and down upon the mountains until he finds it; and when he hath found it he bears it in triumph on his shoulders and carries it to the house (not home) rejoicing. The point is not so much the safety of the sheep, but his own joy in finding it: "He calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost". Then you get the woman sweeping the house, and seeking diligently for the lost piece of silver. This is the Spirit of God in the evangelist

[Page 105]

seeking for everything that belongs to Christ in the world. She too rejoices, and we read, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy" (not of the angels, but) "in the presence of the angels".

Now we come to the third. A father has two sons. One of them gathers up all that belongs to him and goes into a far country, and you know the rest. We find this continually in the history of man, his soul starves, and he tries to satisfy himself with husks. Every man who is saved has been converted against his will. In chapter 14 you find God sending out His servant to compel them to come in, that His house may be filled. Suppose a sovereign saying, I throw open my gates to the needy, and not only so, but he sends out his soldiers to compel them to come in, you would say that is very fine; but the gospel surpasses all this because the spring of all is love. What makes a man turn to God? The fact that death stares him in the face. No man ever got saved till he knew he was lost. The thief found this out, he turned to the Lord and went to paradise; his body did not go there, the old thing was left on the cross. Of course we get redemption of the body through the work of Christ, but that had not come out yet. When Adam sinned he felt the difference in himself and hid himself among the trees of the garden; he knew what taking the fruit of the tree of good and evil involved. Death came in. What then? God says you must put the blood on, and "When I see the blood, I will pass over you". This we get in Exodus 12. It is a great thing to get hold of the fact as to how God looks at the blood - not how you look at it, but how God looks at it. It is a wonderful thing when a soul learns that God has His eye on the blood of Christ. That gives you shelter, but you are still in the doomed place; you are safe, you can say, I know I shall not be lost, but you are not happy, you are still in the place of death, and what occupies you is the power of evil. You are not out of Egypt. Now,

[Page 106]

in chapter 14 you will find that the children of Israel had to walk through the Red Sea before they enjoyed assurance. I do not say acceptance, but the assurance of salvation. You must get assurance before you get acceptance. A man might preach the word of God for years, and study what is called divinity, and yet he may never have learned acceptance. He may have assurance without having acceptance. You will not find acceptance in any book of divinity. You say, Where then can I find it? Where God finds it - in Christ. There is a great difference between assurance and acceptance. God says to Moses, Open the way through the Red Sea, let the waters become a wall on the one side and on the other! It was a wonderful way, but they walked right through, and they could look back upon it as a journey they had taken. I do not believe that anyone can understand what acceptance is unless he possesses it. God Himself has made the way through; I must travel that road. I had death on me, therefore Christ died for me. The fear of death is a right feeling. Look at Hezekiah, how he feared it; he was afraid to lose his body. We all shrink from death. What is to be done? The Lord comes. One born of a woman removes the sin. He bruises the serpent's head. "That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage", Hebrews 2:14, 15. The Lord died. What followed? He "has annulled death, and brought to light life and incorruptibility (not immortality) by the glad tidings", 2 Timothy 1:10.

Do not think you can slip easily into these things. I never knew a bright light shining for God yet without there being previously what I would call a severe conversion. God always begins with the bass note, and He never asks you to sing till you learn that note. Then you get higher. The real practical difficulty

[Page 107]

with souls is to find out that they have not only shelter and enjoy a measure of relief, but that God has something infinitely more for them. The ten lepers (Luke 17) were all cured - converted, if you will - but only one of them got to the Curer. The other nine were satisfied with the blessing, and they never reached the Blesser. Immediately the prodigal turns his eyes towards the father's house the father sees him. Now what I want to know is, not how I feel, but how the Father feels. When the prodigal said, "I will arise and go to my father", he was not far away, he had only to turn the corner. The prodigal felt it a great way off - it was the far country to him - but the father quickly ran over the distance. He "ran, and fell upon his neck, and covered him with kisses". Now this is a pattern of the grace of God.

'Returning sons He kisses,
And with His robe invests;
His perfect love dismisses
All terror from our breasts.'

We have to learn what is in the heart of God for us. In Matthew 27:50, 51, we read that the veil was rent the very moment Christ died. God rent it. God's heart was relieved, so to speak, and could come out to man in all the riches of His grace. If you have not got hold of that you can never be really happy. You must see that God can now be just and the Justifier of those who believe in Jesus. What did the prodigal learn when the father ran, and fell on his neck, and covered him with kisses? That his father was on the very best terms with him. And I can tell you here tonight that everything which stood against us has been so removed from God's side that the Father can come out and embrace His son in all his rags. In Matthew 27 God rends the veil and comes out. In Luke 23 the thief goes in. People speak of the thief as if he had something like a deathbed repentance. It was not that at all: he went straight from the cross

[Page 108]

into paradise. "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise". What I desire to press is that God's heart is set upon blessing us, and how the Father can receive the sheep on the ground of what the One who brought it back has done. And Christ's work on the cross has so removed everything from the eye of God that caused the distance, that He can receive the prodigal, fall upon his neck, and cover him with kisses. That is really what is stated in the original. The translators have given it "kissed him". The elder brother knew nothing of grace, either as to salvation or restoration. I never saw a man yet who was truly restored after a fall who did not get a step higher. No one ever understood fully the heart of God but the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore He meets the poor woman at the well, gives her the living water, and says, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work". Not her work, but His. God grant that we may all take a deeper interest in the gospel, that we may know more of His grace, which is bringing many sons to glory, and that each one here may see the nature of acceptance. You may say that you do not enjoy it - that is another thing. Well, if you do not enjoy it, you are entitled to it, and you cannot deny that there are many who do. God has removed everything to His own satisfaction, and you learn in the first eleven verses of Romans 5 the terms He is on with you. It is a great delight to the heart of a sinner saved by grace to know that he is received on the ground of another Man who perfectly glorified God. We are accepted in Him, the Beloved. In Romans 5, from verse 12, it is no longer Adam, but Christ.

The gospel is that God has sent His own Son, and He came and bore the judgment in such a way that man in the flesh is terminated. One man has gone out, and another Man has come in. May God give each heart here to understand the greatness of His grace for His name's sake.

[Page 109]

PART WITH CHRIST

John 13:1 - 20

When Christ had risen and the Holy Spirit was given, one might have supposed that everything would now be on the new line as it is with God - the Man in glory, the accepted Man, and the Holy Spirit the power, and the bond with Him. "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit".

But because the necessity of the feet washing is not seen, even by those who accept this truth in a broad way, there is much confusion and weakness in the saints everywhere. So that it becomes a question of great moment - What is neglected? The secret of it is that the necessity of the feet being washed is overlooked. The Lord is risen indeed, and the Holy Spirit has descended. These are established facts; but where the great deception and loss prevail is in ignoring the solemn fact that you cannot now have part with Christ (though you admit that the Holy Spirit has come) while there is a shade of distance between you and Him. The distance on God's side has been removed on the cross; you are reconciled by His accomplished work; but you cannot have part with Christ or conscious association with Him on the new ground on which He has entered, unless you know His present service in removing from you practically what is unsuitable to Himself on the new ground.

In John 13 the Lord opens out to His disciples the new ground, and how He gathers them to Himself on the ground that they are to share with Him where He is. When sitting at the supper table He rises and pours water into a basin, and begins "to wash the disciples' feet". We learn from this scripture the all-importance of the washing - the removal of that which causes any

[Page 110]

shade between us and Christ. If this shade or distance, which is caused by the feet not being washed, did not occur, there could not be the confusion and weakness which now prevail. The Lord has entered on resurrection ground, and He would conduct His disciples to this same ground. But though they had known Him in an earthly way, they could not share with Him on this new ground while they were soiled by connection with the corruption which He had put away in His death and resurrection. Hence, it is deeply interesting to note that He introduced the water as a necessity to ensure conscious maintenance on the new ground; He had been intimate with them here on earth - the place of their sin, but now they are conducted outside of everything that once barred them from Him.

It is a deception of the worst kind to suppose that I can have part with Him in the scene where He is, while I am in a scene where everything defiled by sin has been removed by His death, except as I am free from it by the washing of the water, which is emblematic of His death. In Christ's death, that which caused the distance, or any sense of it, was removed before God. This is brought home to the soul through the word, and is what is so little practically accepted. It is not that the scriptures are not read, and in christendom gospel work is insisted on, but there is no sense that, in association with Christ, we belong to a new place now, which we cannot enjoy while we are in any wise tainted with the things of this world, so that even in our daily life we should always be bearing about in our bodies the dying of Jesus.

It is of the deepest importance to see how the church began on earth. Though the Lord knew His disciples in the greatest nearness here, as we learn from chapter 10: 14, 15, yet now that He was going to the Father they could not enjoy Him there, but as they were in the moral benefits of the cross. Hence the church, which began in communion with Himself, is

[Page 111]

now one great mass of worldliness. Great truths are not denied, but mere professors assume the most prominent places. How differently the church on earth would be seen if we were morally true to the virtue of His work!

He surrounds Himself with us on this ground: every element which might be brought in from the world which would cause distance or reserve He provides for the removal of, in washing the feet.

It is very simple if you look at their place of nearness to Him here on earth. "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name". It was necessary when He gathered them round Himself, in view of the new ground that He was about to enter on, that they should be perfectly clear of that which would cause any sense of reserve. Hence He poured water into a basin to wash their feet. No one is troubled by a sense of distance or reserve who has not known the intimacy of love. If each one of a company surrounding Him was exercised as to the removal of anything that would cause a shade of distance, how blessed it would be! Who can conceive what a different state the church would be in if every member lived in the sense of his susceptibility to contract defilement in the scene through which we are passing, and that we thus require the present service of Christ, which is expressed by washing the feet - the entire removal of any sense of distance, before we can enjoy to our hearts' delight the intimacy of His love. The fact is that there could be no sense of distance unless there had been a sense of nearness. The exercise indicates simple truthfulness of heart that will not go on with any interruption of the sense of nearness.

The feet-washing is the Lord's own doing, not ours. We often know that there is distance, but do not know the cause of it. If everyone was in the solemn consciousness that only the washing of his feet could remove that which causes the distance, there would be

[Page 112]

more intimacy with Christ in the joy of the Holy Spirit. How different the whole church would be! If every one realised what it is to be cleared by His present service from what is unsuitable to Him, what joy it would be to Him, and what unspeakable gain to us! He in His grace fits us for the enjoyment of Himself. If we are not with Him where He is, we cannot be for Him where He is not. We must be inside the veil to be outside the camp. Instead of the church being on this ground - association with Him in His own sphere, it has become a great system, with orderly appearance, and satisfied with character among men.

[Page 113]

THE REMNANT

Revelation 3:7 - 13

The point in the verses before us is to see what the remnant is, and what characterises the remnant. The scriptural idea of a remnant is quite different from the human idea. In man's mind the remnant means an old, worn-out part, or simply what is left of the original; but in Scripture we see that the remnant is always characterised by the very brightest traits of the original. The remnant is really the tithe, or tenth, and is the conquerors' portion (see Genesis 14; Isaiah 6, etc.). God is the Conqueror through Christ. The remnant is peculiarly Christ's, and all that is of Him characterises it.

Look at Simeon and Anna. They present to us two prominent features found in the remnant. They were not all the remnant of that day, but, being two, they present a competent testimony as to the whole remnant as seen of God. The woman sets forth the truth of a condition, and the man the energy of the condition - the man the strength, the woman the affection, of the remnant. How brightly those two shine out in the dark day; and it was a dark day indeed, on man's side, in which their lot was cast. Simeon took Christ in his arms and blessed God (beautiful picture of the worshipper inside with God); Anna spake of Christ to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (beautiful picture of the worker outside with man). This shows us what occupied them - Christ, before God and before men. We must know what it is to go in to God before we can come forth from God to be here for God.

Now what is the first mark of the remnant? What characterises them here in Revelation 3:8? They have "a little power"; that is a trait of the original;

[Page 114]

only at the beginning it was great power. Three things are said commendatory of them: (1) They have a little power; (2) they have kept His word; (3) they have not denied His name. All this might not appear to be much in man's estimation, but, at such a time, it is everything in His estimation. The power of the Holy Spirit surmounts every difficulty; that is what we now have to learn. Under the Jewish order difficulties were removed for the people of God. Now they remain, and power is manifested in overcoming - surmounting the special obstacle that lies in our path. "He .. . set him on his own beast", Luke 10:34.

What is a Philadelphian? One who does not fail in the day of adversity; he has a little power. It is a solemn thing, though. There are five or six companies now claiming to have the Lord's presence: there can be only one right. If I were to come as a stranger to M - and ask to be guided to the company where God is, where would I find myself? Where is the company that is known and characterised by God dwelling among them of a truth? It is not what we say but what weare that carries weight. We have in these verses - what the Lord is; what He has; what He does; and the great point for us is that we should be in correspondence to Him. He is the holy, the true; holiness and truth should mark us: He has the keys of the King; we should seek His kingdom; He opens the door and none can shut it; we are to use the privileges that are ours. There will be imitation, opposition, difficulty; we are to overcome - and hold fast.

[Page 115]

DEATH

Romans 6:1 - 14

The Holy Spirit has come from the glorified Man at the right hand of God, to "testify of me", that is, of Christ in glory. He is against the man in the flesh - but "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you". This was fulfilled in Acts 2, when He sat upon each of them and filled all the house where they were sitting. He belongs to the company. My proper portion now is to have conscious knowledge - possession of eternal life by the Spirit. Every believer is clear about getting eternal safety through the work of Christ, but every believer is not clear about the excess of grace - that he has passed from death into life. Are you living the life of the second Man? That is the excess of grace. If your soul is not learning what it is to be dead to sin you are making no progress. You can make no acquaintance with Christ until you learn what it is to be dead to sin. You must become acquainted with Him on the other side of death. You have to travel through death as they travelled through the Red Sea. Paul was three days there, and now in your own individual path each soul must pass that way. You get it experimentally in Marah - you find death to drink, and the only thing that makes it palatable is the cross; arm yourselves therefore with the same mind. You see the apple, you would like to take it. It is sin to wish for it, but if you do not take it you have suffered in the flesh. No christian ever went astray yet but at that point. I have to die to sin in order to live in the Spirit, practically I die to reach life. Christ's death is the measure of your death, Christ died for that desire, His death alters the whole thing and practically you cannot allow in yourself anything for which Christ died. It does not change the circumstances, but it

[Page 116]

changes you; this is the way in which the cross is the power of God, it gets rid of your selfishness, makes the bitter water sweet. If you know what it is to be dead to sin, you come to Him, and the practical result is bearing about in your body the dying of Jesus. You do not give place to that for which Christ died, for He "loved me, and gave himself for me". Some of us know what it is, but we do not live up to it, and the result is there is no personal intercourse with the Lord. Christ died for us, that is the first thing. The second is we died with Him. He has opened the way through death for us. He is in resurrection outside of death; Romans 6. Death with Christ, dead unto sin (not sins), you have to accept by faith the fact that you have died with Him and to travel by faith through death to reach Him where He is, to take the journey that Elijah took. Elisha tears his own coat in two, because he is going to have another, he gets rid of the old one first. We have to walk about refusing the things that invite us, learning always to refer to the Spirit of God, proving that you have no friend in this world but the Spirit. If you live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit. He has the Lord before Him and nothing else. Now do not sow to the flesh. If you have been made partakers, companions of the Holy Spirit, and leave it, there is no hope for you; the christian has everything against him in this world, his only help is from the Spirit of God, and if he does not walk in the Spirit he is worse off than a good moral man of the world. You have to refer to the Spirit of God for everything, the moment you want any other help you are in danger. But if I know the love that the Lord has for me, I am seeking personal intimacy with Him in accordance with that love. May we desire it more for His name's sake!

[Page 117]

REST

Matthew 11:29

Neither attainment, nor devotion, nor service gives rest to the soul. We must do two things: "take my yoke upon you", and "learn from me". For the first, the great difficulty lies in our having a will of our own; and the more our intelligence increases the more our own will asserts its right to dictate; but this is not Christ's yoke. He, with unbounded and correct intelligence, sought and accorded to His Father's will. He did not reason that results ought to correspond with work efficiently done. This is our way, and therefore, strange to say, we are often in well-doing further from the yoke of Christ than when sensible of failure. The yoke of Christ is looking for God's mind and purpose irrespective of our own works, be they good or bad. No one worked so efficiently as Christ did, yet when He sees it unproductive, He is not only resigned, but He gives thanks! The Father's will is more grateful to Him than the result that He might have righteously expected. He bears to see all His work in vain, and rests Himself in the will of His Father. Now we go through many humblings before we take His yoke upon us. If we do right, Jonah-like, we think we do well to be angry. We have no rest to our souls, because our work is not attended with the deserved result. Jonah must go through the sorrow and humbling of the loss of the gourd before he will take up the yoke of Christ. Either I think God is not just in not requiting my deserts, or, that He is so righteous that He cannot have a gracious purpose towards me. In either case it is myself that is before me. It is plain that in both cases I only need to find His mind - the yoke of Christ - and I should be at rest. The more we feel that we are suffering for righteousness,

[Page 118]

the longer we are before we submit to the yoke of Christ. How often is the soul detained longer in trial when there is a feeling, possibly a just feeling (as Joseph had), of self-righteousness, while another is humbled and broken down at once in the sense of his sin as David was, or Peter. Joseph is detained in prison for two years, probably to teach him that in God, and not in his own righteousness, he must depend and wait His will.

When once you have submitted to the yoke, the learning begins - "learn from me". How blessed! God's counsel is opened to you, as to Jacob, to Jonah, and even to a David and a Peter. How each one is taught the counsel of God, and learns at length to be thankful because of it! a sore, and a death-like struggle in every case, crushing and death to one's own will and feelings, before ever the soul enters with Christ into the counsel of God. But once it is there it is at 'rest' - it must be satisfied.

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls".

[Page 119]

THE NEW MAN

Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10

In seeking light from the Lord on this important subject, we must first be absolutely clear of the thought which is so general in christendom, that God's Son became a man in order to repair and rehabilitate the first man - the Adam race. Many years ago it was said that man was broken china, but that Christ was like perfect china. This was absolutely denied by the most godly man of the day. Christ was not china at all, but unique, a man of His own order, and in His death the first man is clean set aside in judgment, and the new man is therefore according to God. Consequently we must not be deceived by thinking that the human mind can form an idea of any trait of the new man, or that it can imitate Christ, though many read the gospels with this object. Thus we start on this inquiry, looking entirely to God in order to understand the Man of His pleasure - "The holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God" - "the expression of his substance" - "the beginning of the creation of God". As another has said, the difference between Him and us is that with Christ all His springs were in God, whereas our springs are in ourselves.

We know from the types that in the meat-offering the fine flour was not only anointed with oil, but it was mingled with oil, the Spirit of God, for Christ the One typified was conceived by the Holy Spirit. "Since therefore the children partake of blood and flesh, he also, in like manner, took part in the same, that through death he might annul him who has the might of death". He bore the judgment due to the first man and righteously removed him from the eye of God; so that it is not in Adam that the believer appears before God, but in Christ.

[Page 120]

Now our inquiry is: What is the new man? We have seen what it is not; we have already seen that it cannot be learned by any effort of the human mind, that its structure and nature are entirely beyond the conception of man, and the next question is: How do we learn it? I believe it is not by reading or by the mere study of Scripture that we learn it, but by association with Christ, by beholding the Lord's glory, and being changed into the same image. You could not explain what you get, but you get that which corresponds with Him; as you are with Him you acquire it. "Having put on the new man, which according to God is created in truthful righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24), is addressed to a believer who is in conscious union with Christ, seated in the heavenlies in Him. Now He comes out here in a new way, beginning with the mind, "renewed in the spirit of your mind" - not making works prominent, but in the renewed mind which is able to judge of the works that suit Christ. As we read in 1 Corinthians 2:16, "We have the mind (nous) of Christ" - we "put on the new man, which according to God is created in truthful righteousness and holiness". A believer realises the tastes of the new man by association with Christ. It is important to see that we derive from Him, we are in Him and He lives in us, He is altogether sui generis - of His own order, and it is only by association with Him that His nature and mind become experimentally known to us. It is so little known because association is so little sought.

'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.'

[Page 121]

We get an idea of what His grace is, in what He says to the church of Laodicea; He offers association with Himself for restoration. "Behold, I stand at the door, and am knocking: if any one hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him, and he with me". No one can tell what he acquires by association; but he knows that he has acquired a taste for the company of Christ, and that when not in His company he has not that which suits his new taste: he finds it very partially here among His own and he is glad to return to His presence, and he knows the benefit of it.

This draws the great line of difference between mere students of the word and those who enjoy His presence, beholding His glory; the latter can form a conception of what suits Him which the former cannot. We see from Colossians 3:10, "Having put on the new, renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him that has created him" - that we cannot be with Him without getting enlightened; the word comes with more definiteness to our souls; we are "renewed into full knowledge", etc. Thus we see that as we become like Him by being with Him, we also get more intelligent in His mind, we know Him as Head and put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, etc.

The Lord give us to seek His presence more. Moses could say in a comparatively dark day, after he had seen all the mighty works of the Lord, "Shew me thy glory".

May our hearts have the rich enjoyment of being in spirit with Him in glory. Every one likes to think of Him as known in His great works, but how blessed the consummation of being partakers with Him in His glory!

[Page 122]

THE SAVIOUR

Psalm 22:1 - 31

There are two things that characterise the Saviour, and unless these two things go together in your mind you have an imperfect idea of the Saviour. One is, that He bore the judgment on man; the other, that He declared the Father. No two points are more remote from one another, but the very distance between them gives you this great idea of the Saviour. The One who went down into the lowest depths (of judgment and distance from God) is the One who communicates to you the highest blessing - all that was in the Father's heart as He alone could know it. If you do not know how deep Christ went down, you do not know how high He can take you up.

Truth exposes what man is, and it discloses what God is. And who brought out this truth?

The Son of God: "For this cause came I into the world". This is the blessed One who can span the depths of misery and human ruin, and yet can reach to the infinite goodness and greatness of God. Is there one here who, like Zacchaeus, wants to see the Saviour? One who has a sense in his soul that he is looking for this blessed One?

But have you thought what Christ underwent for you as a Man? Have you fully understood what He bore the judgment of? And can you allow that thing to be an object to you, for which your Saviour was judged? Those tastes, those likings, that nature of yours? Can anything come with more condemnation to you than that you are allowing it and enjoying it? Are you afraid to die? The nearer a sinner approaches to death, the greater his fear; but as a saint approaches death his fear vanishes, because he is finding out that he has a life superior to it; he is able to say, "Thanks

[Page 123]

be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"; and so it is morally with us all. Here was Satan's malice, he knew that God must judge a disobedient creature; so he says, I will bring sin in; I will alienate man from God. He shall come down and judge His own fair creation; He will have to lay His hand on the brightest spot in it - the one made after His own image - and if death supervene without the judgment being arrested, there is a perpetuity of it.

Now the fact of a sacrifice shows that there must be a substitute. The Son of God is come, the One who made everything, by whom all things consist, the One who was always the Expositor of the mind of God, who propounded the law as the expression of His claim, who attached a penalty to every infringement of it; He, in the fulness of time, is the One to come forth to bear the whole judgment of every penalty. He walked through the world as the only perfect One in it, the wonderful Expositor still of the mind and heart of God. He surveys all the ruin of man, all that is unsuited to the righteousness of God, and He says, I will be the Substitute - "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone". He was the solitary One, perfect, unscathed, spotless, holy, passing through the ruin here, and amid all the soil, the One unblemished Man in every relationship of life - subject to His parents, the delight of God, who had closed His eyes to all that was of man in his distance and moral death - now God's beloved Son comes in the weakness of man down here, manifesting God as Good in the midst of evil, ever triumphing over it; never allowing the smallest natural claim save in subjection to the will of God. But He did not deserve judgment in any wise. Did that lessen His suffering? No, it aggravated it beyond all comprehension! He who had never known a shadow on His soul even as a Man, who had never deserved the slightest reproach from God or

[Page 124]

man, who had lived in the sunshine of His favour, He is put into the place of deepest reproach. He takes it, "The reproaches of them that reproach thee have fallen upon me". The deepest shame, and distance, depths that none could fathom, were all spent upon that blessed One. He trembles as He touches the cup. "Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour". He puts Himself into the sinner's place, where He is treated as if He had done all the wrong, where He had the sense of all the sinner's distance from God. He had surveyed it all, and none knew as He did the righteousness of God. He knew what it would be to be forsaken of God, the only One He had ever had communion with, the only One He belonged to, in whose love and favour He had lived, whom He had trusted from His cradle. What was it to Him to be brought down into the dust of death? If I say to a saint, Suppose darkness come between your soul and God - what a place for you! Yet that is not a sinner's distance - Christ alone bore that! And mark, the moment the Lord touches the point of giving His life (John 12:25), He says, "He that loveth his life shall lose it". He would say, If I am going to give up My life in judgment for you, you cannot live in it, you cannot love your life. And is there a heart in this room who knows Him as the Saviour, who would say, I love this life for which my Saviour was judged? But practically we do not know the extent to which He was delivered over to judgment - the place of distance that He took - and hence we are slow to learn the place of nearness and blessing into which He has introduced us. Having borne all the judgment, He says, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren". It is for Him now to bring out what God is. As the risen One, He says to Mary, "Go to my brethren". He is "the beginning of the creation of God"; and He announces that He has "brethren" after a new order, that He will not now abide alone,

[Page 125]

but that "corn of wheat" will bring forth much fruit - He will bring many sons to glory.. ..

Is this the One that you are connected with? who has disclosed to you, not a paradise on earth, but heaven itself; who speaks of "my Father, and your Father; .. . my God, and your God" - and this it was the purpose of His heart to accomplish, cost Him what it would. Who could tell out the Father's heart as He could? The greatest joy His heart had in this world was in preaching to those poor ones in Luke 15, of the Father's reception of the prodigal! He was the One fit to tell it, He whose heart was straitened till it was accomplished, and this is His chief work - the work He delights in. May your hearts understand what a Saviour He is!

[Page 126]

THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD

John 14:18

Without separation you cannot know the presence of the Lord. At Beer-sheba, the well of the covenant, the Lord appeared to Isaac. To obtain such revelations we must give up, we must give the world its own way. There are certain stages through which the soul passes. Isaac digged three wells; the first he called contention; the second hatred; the third room. Then came Beer-sheba, and that same night the Lord appeared to him, and he built an altar there - he had reached the place where he could build one, and where God could bless him. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate .. . and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you". That is the Lord's word to every soul, and one who does not respond to it, though he may be converted, is not in the line of the Spirit of God, and he does not know the presence of the Lord.

We may know God's care of us without knowing His appearing. His manifestation to us is a wonderful thing! There is great significance in the promptitude of His manifestation to Isaac at Beer-sheba - that same night the Lord appeared to him! Why? Because he had reached the right spot - the place of separation where God can receive him. Now you may be a converted soul and yet outside all this. Has the Lord appeared to you? Are you conscious of Christ's coming to you? If souls knew more of it they would not regret isolation, they would rejoice in separation from all that is not Christ. But you can only know what the manifestation of Christ is by having experienced it. Nothing is more difficult than to describe a moral acquisition that you have no idea of, or to explain to you a feeling that you have never had. God moves in a certain line, and you must be on that line to be

[Page 127]

with Him. He will not appear to you on any other line. He could not reveal Himself to Lot. He could to Abraham. He sent an angel to Lot; He came Himself to Abraham and told him what He was going to do.

Souls are prepared for disclosures from God by discipline, but it is the act of faith that puts you in the place where God can reveal Himself; you can only reach that spot by faith. People say sometimes, How is it that I do not get the enjoyment that another does? Because you have not reached the spot where it is found, that is the answer. Melchizedek met Abraham after his return from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him. The activity of faith worked first. But it was after the offering up of Isaac that Abraham got the fullest revelation. Why? Because he had reached the highest point, the place of greatest faith and the place of the largest disclosure of God! If you long for light you must take the landing where it is found. To be in this place of faith we must be wholly cast on God. Where did Paul write the fullest revelation to the churches? In prison at Rome, where he was wholly cast on God. Where did John receive the revelation of Jesus Christ? In the isle of Patmos, when he was cast out for the testimony's sake. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; the meek shall He teach His way. Scripture is very definite as to these manifestations of the Lord to the soul. Do you understand them? Are you walking so that He can visit you? He says, "I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you". He knows that the joy of His presence is such that it takes away the sense of orphanage, and it is no small thing that delivers a bereaved child from the sense of bereavement!

But the sorrowful fact is that saints neither look for His presence, nor are they prepared to give up what hinders them from knowing His presence. They do not take interest enough in the Lord's thoughts, they

[Page 128]

are occupied with their own thoughts, or perhaps with their service. But intimacy with Him must precede true service for Him. You must know Him first, know that He has "appeared" to you, then only can you witness of Him and for Him. If I love a person, I desire to know his mind. The Lord says, I have not called you servants, but friends. Are you His friend? Are you daily getting a more intimate acquaintance with Himself? Unless you reach that landing-place of faith, where you are cast wholly upon God, you are not able to hear the disclosures of His mind, for there only - in the place of faith - are you fully cast on God. Did Isaac regret having been cast out of Gerar? Not only did he get the manifestations of the Lord by it, but those who turned him out were the very people who came to him afterwards.

If you mix with the world, you lose your Nazariteship, and you must go back to your starting-point and begin all over again. You cannot be a real witness to the world until you have given up that which it prizes and which it strives for, that is devotedness, and we see the effect of it with Isaac - his enemies are forced to acknowledge: "We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee".

When a saint acts in the energy of the Holy Spirit his action affects the whole body of Christ. He honours the Holy Spirit, and the blessing permeates the whole body.

The law of war was that the spoil was to be divided between those who went out to battle and those who tarried at home - thus the whole church gets the benefit of pure individual faithfulness. If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice. The Spirit distributes according to the law of war; those who went to the war gave to the priests, those who stayed at home to the levites; the first rose to priestly service, the second only attained to levitical. How the

[Page 129]

stedfastness of Paul was blessed to the whole church! He allowed nothing, and no one, to stand in the way of it; not Barnabas, Peter, or Mark. And Barnabas, though led away by nature, and thus separated from Paul for a time, returns to him when he comes right; and Mark, about whom they contended, and who was refused by Paul because he had returned to Jerusalem, thinking, no doubt, that his own house was pleasanter than knocking about in the work with Paul and Barnabas, comes right at the close, and is found by Paul to be profitable for the ministry.

What wrought all this? Just the faithfulness of Paul to God's principle of separation. It is no easy thing to get completely loosened from the world; hence it is written to those who are young men in the faith, "Love not the world", and, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him".

The world is not only around us, it is set in our hearts; it is oneself! How is one to get clear of it except by substituting Him for oneself? The Spirit of God will not leave His own line; nor can you get His strength except on that line. All the conflict you have to pass through is to put you on the line of the Holy Spirit. The conflict begins when conversion is known. Paul's conflict was not to bring forth the child, but to bring it to full understanding; he knew what a terrible power was against his children in the faith, and that to face the enemy without Christ was to fail. The eye must be on Him, the risen One. Elijah says to Elisha, If you see me taken up, the double portion of my spirit shall rest upon you; but if not, it shall not be so. Elisha saw him, and he rent his own garments and took up Elijah's. If your eye is on Him, if your heart is above because Christ is there, there is such positive strength in it that you can afford to let all the light here be put out.

The Lord's sympathy is lost to you if you be not with Him. Is it not well for you to ask yourself: Can

[Page 130]

the Lord walk with me? He could be with Mary of Bethany; she was submissive, bowing to His mind, to His word. If I am not on His line, He may in grace send a word after me, but He cannot walk with me, for He never leaves His line, and for Him to appear to me, I must give up the things that do not suit Him. But once on His line where He can walk with me, I know His sympathy all the way along.

True, it is a narrow path and there are difficulties in it, but light is most valued where it is most needed; "Wake up, thou that sleepest, and arise up from among the dead, and the Christ shall shine upon thee". I find the Lord is not here, I want Him and I miss Him; I give up all for Him and I find Him to be great gain, and that it is His delight to give Himself to us. Mary Magdalene was looking for Him (John 20), and at once He was beside her; she had only to turn, and He revealed Himself to her, for He was there all the time! If you feel that nothing can satisfy you but Christ you are sure to get Him. What is it then that hinders? You do not take the place of Nazariteship. "Come out", He says, "and be ye separate.. . touch not .. . and I will receive you". The moment you become mixed up with earthly things you lose your place of separation, the Spirit is grieved, and though the Lord loves you He cannot leave His line to express His love to you. He vouchsafes His care for you, but not His company with you.

It is so even with ourselves. If I love my child, I cannot let him be less than my child, I cannot put him in the distant place of a cousin - he must be in his rightful place with me or I cannot express a father's love to him. The Lord refuses to unfold His mind to us if we are in any position towards Him but the right one; and there is no greater expression of His love than that He should tell His mind to you, and if you do not know His mind, you are not of those He calls His "friends".

[Page 131]

WHAT IS OF CHRIST HERE

1 Corinthians 10:15, 16

"I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 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?" Here we have a solemn and blessed thing. Communion with the blood of Christ - communion with the body of Christ. The cup is put first here because it is His death, and of that I am to be the exhibition and manifestation here on earth. That is the first characteristic of the table of the Lord. The cup of blessing is communion with His blood. It connects us directly with His death and puts us in the place where we ought to be here on earth, that is, on the Canaan side of Jordan. It is, as it were, the stones taken out of the midst of Jordan, where the priests' feet stood firm, and set up in the land. No one can take the place of death who does not know the place of life.

The cup which we bless is not merely that we have the blessing, but we bless. We must have had the blessing, but it is not that which occupies us; we bless. We have 'communion' with His blood; that is not thinking that the blood has washed away my sins, but it places me in the position towards the earth in which He is, even that of death. Christ having died, I am out of this scene in spirit with Him, but I am to be the continuation of that blessed One on earth in the power of His life, but announcing Him thus in death till He comes! The Lord calls His disciples around Him and says, I am breaking every link for you here. He need never have broken one. He was on earth perfectly pleasing to the Father, every link He formed was perfect; but He says, I break them all for you. Thus with Christ above in spirit I must when I come

[Page 132]

down to earth be nothing but Christ here. I must represent Him, and this is the wondrous place the Lord's table presents. It is the communion of His blood (His death) and of His body.

Baptism is the declaration of the end of man in the death of Christ, that death was the execution of man in the flesh, and this is what I am called to do morally. The Lord says, I gave My body for you, and I call you into communion with Me that you may take this place on earth, where My death has placed you, as I left this scene, not as I was in it. To announce His death until He comes is to see every link broken by His death and ourselves outside the scene with Him.

The Corinthians were maintaining the links. Can I partake of His body and keep up that for which He died? I cannot. I thereby avow that I myself have been put out of the way, and in presence of that avowal can I leave the table to maintain and continue the existence of that which has been put out of the way? The more deeply the soul has entered into the fact of the Lord's body given for you, the more it must see the character of the presentation to be assumed down here by us. If He gave up all to carry me outside this scene, what can I be but a presentation of Him as He left it, to announce His death until He comes? The moment I take this ground I cannot return to the other. It is not merely that it would be wrong, it would be impossible. I cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of devils.

How touchingly the Spirit of God shows in this whole chapter what the saints ought to be here on earth! It is as though He said, Get rid of yourself altogether, remembering Him who gave Himself and desires you to be partakers with Him in the act, and thus calls you into association with Himself outside everything which He has broken with. Thus there is superlative blessing in the Lord's table, even to the ignorant. It is a deeper thing to be in communion

[Page 133]

with His blood, His death, than with His joys. Could I know a friend in bright circumstances and not walk with him in dark ones? It is because I have fellowship with Christ up there in His joys that I seek and have fellowship with Him in His death down here.

The Lord lead our souls to see what a bright path He has marked out for us - all that hinders or tries us is in ourselves. If we were rid of self practically we could be as happy as the day is long!

[Page 134]

THE LORD'S ABSENCE

John 14:18 - 20

Our Lord's words to us in these chapters, from 13 to the end of 17, have a very peculiar interest for us. They unfold to us how He compensates His loved ones for His absence, and during His absence. It is especially and entirely what He is to us where we are, but where He is not. It refers exclusively to the present time, and not to the future.

It is distinctly what I am to know of Him during His absence. The first and simple thing for us to lay hold of is His thought, and the scope of it with regard to us. We must first see the measure or the boundlessness of it, and then judge ourselves by it.

What we do ordinarily is the reverse. We measure His thought by our own experience of it, we admit its scope just in so far as we have proved it, instead of saying, There is His thought written down for me, as it is in His heart, and though I do not come up to it, I never can allow myself to be less than it. It judges me, and I do not reduce or qualify it to my own state.

The tendency with us is to accept as much of a truth as one enjoys, or as one thinks suits one; hence as a rule souls do not go further than Philip, that is, in heart and in practice saying, "Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us"; let us but know the omnipotent shelter and care of the Father and we are satisfied. Christ's absence, the dearth and difficulty of this scene are overlooked, provided the heart has rest in the assurance of the Father's care. It is going no further than the babes (1 John 2), they know the Father, but they are babes, strength is not used; they are taught their strength; 1 John 2:18 - 27. The young men use their strength; the third class walk as in Christ, fulfilling His pleasure.

[Page 135]

It is a great thing and most blessed to be as a babe knowing the Father, but it is not the fullest thing, and we have to guard against the tendency to content ourselves with that amount of blessing which relieves our misery, instead of pressing on to comprehend the mind and purpose of our God about us. A babe has to be taught its strength, the need and the good of it (see 1 John 2:27); though he is happy in knowing the Father, though he feels himself in the mighty paternity of God's eternal love, he is not to stop there; great as it is, he is to use his strength, to be strong, to overcome the wicked one, and not only this, but to walk in Christ, which is the scope of the purpose of God's heart for us.

You lose nothing of the babe's enjoyment because you are strong, and you forfeit none of your strength when you walk even as He walked; on the contrary, the more you come up to the summit of His counsel and the accomplishment of it for you, the more intensely does your soul realise every step that led thereto. The highest level imparts additional virtue to each lower one. In the lower level I am not quite out of my own personality, and not quite in the personality of Christ, which is the simplest intention and force of those words of consolation in John 14. As a babe I am enjoying my position; as a young man I am occupied with the strength vouchsafed to me; but when in Christ and He in me I have lost my own personality and my life is not only mine, but it is "not I, but Christ liveth in me". This is quite a peculiar and superior thing altogether. I am now conscious not only of living by Him, His life is my life, but by the Holy Spirit I "know", as He says, "that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". What knowledge for such as we are down here! What a place of strength and joy to occupy, amid the ruin and dreariness of this evil scene, during the absence of our Lord!

[Page 136]

Flesh and blood lose their demand and control when we are in the power of this - "all that a man hath will he give for his life". Flesh and blood is not our life. Paul says, "immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood". Why? Because "it pleased God... to reveal his Son in me". The Lord teach us to see His own thought and purpose for us, and to accept nothing short of it, as that which can alone support and solace us in the evil and difficulty of this world during His absence.

[Page 137]

BRIEF NOTES OF READINGS ON MARK'S GOSPEL

Chapters 1 and 2

This gospel gives us the Lord as the Servant. We are lacking in our understanding of Him as the Servant. It is where the sympathy of Christ comes in. He has addressed Himself to every grievance that is on man. His service closes with His death for us. Sometimes we see a person who is quite ready to go to heaven, but not so prepared to be on earth for Christ.

Chapter 1: 6: John the baptist was entirely different from Christ - his clothing, his food, etc., were outside the lines of ordinary men.

We do not get any account of the temptation in this gospel. But the Servant of God goes through it, and where the first man fell He stands superior to all Satan's assailing. Adam had everything in his favour, yet in the midst of the most favourable circumstances he gave up God. Christ, where all was against Him, never gave in.

Verse 23. He addresses Himself first to the worst evil that rests on man - the power of Satan - a man taken possession of by an unclean spirit. The devil is dispossessed by the word of Jesus. Never before was the power of Satan rebuked in a man. Now it is: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you"! The next is a case of fever, natural excitement. He treats it quite differently. The leper presents a new kind of evil, it is contaminating. He touches him and he is cleansed immediately. In the gospel narrative I am learning what a rich Saviour I have, what boundless resources are available to me in Him!

Chapter 2: 12 closes the first series of miracles. You find that there is no pressure on man that He cannot remove. In the case of the palsied man grace

[Page 138]

comes out, that which he did not reckon on is done for him. "Thy sins are forgiven", etc. He gives a practical proof in the man himself of the power of Christ. He relieves all the varieties of pressure on man. The first series of miracles has to do with things, circumstances, not so much with the person's state. It was a new thing for Satan to find himself mastered by a Man. A Man has walked down here on earth and cleared a way through it. He made a path for Himself through this world, and thus a path for me to follow Him. I am connected with a Man who gives me power to walk superior to the ills of time.

People say: Oh! that is my weak point. But we have no excuse for failure now. It is your perverse point; if it were weakness you would be helped to overcome it. It is not 'I take pleasure in my perversities,' but "in weaknesses". Suppose I am a nervous person and I am called to preach, what is the consequence? I am cast upon the Lord. He does not take away the weakness. He takes away perversity, but He stands by you in your weakness, so that your greatest weakness is the occasion of the manifestation of the greatest power. Then you come out in the strength of Christ.

CHAPTER 2

Verse 14: Levi is an illustration of all four preceding cases - a man who betrayed his country and his religion for money. He disregarded the fact of his nationality, as a Jew among the people of God. The Lord comes to this man and says, "Follow me". He arose and followed Him. That man is carrying his bed. He gave up all that which materially enthralled him, and the next thing we hear is that the Lord went to his house. Sometimes you think that the Lord is going to impose something very arduous upon you. Who thought the Lord would go into Levi's house?

[Page 139]

He says, I will go with you; and He went to eat at his house. That is where the Lord led Levi when he followed Him! There he became a centre for others to hear the Word.

Another thing in Mark's gospel is that you make acquaintance with the Lord. You get an idea of who He is, you learn the way He does everything. There is a divine idea connected with every detail. We know many people with whom we are not acquainted. We do not know their moral being. John could say, It is the Lord, I know Him. There is a touch about Him that I know. How many people would you know if their exterior were changed? John could at once distinguish that it was the Lord; there was something about Him that he knew. What is the great practical defect in people? Lack of spiritual ear. They do not feel the difference between an intellectual statement and a spiritual one. A poor man heard an address and remarked, 'As fine a lecture as I ever heard'; with a slight pause he added, 'but God is not with that man.' How often an intellectual thing is accepted as if it were spiritual! Did you ever notice how little remains with you of all that you read or hear? If you are addressed by what is spiritual, it will not pass away.

What is intellectual excites you. You are moved by it. A spiritual thought subdues you. You feel you would give anything to be alone - to be able to appropriate it.

Verse 16. In the first series of miracles the Lord addressed Himself to every affliction that was on man. He was relieving men rather than dealing with their state. He called out Levi as an example; he was a living witness, disentangled from everything. The Lord had set him free - out of the net, as we say. Here the Lord foretells His own departure from the earth (verse 20). He did not go into society to enjoy it; He always went to benefit it - a very different thing. We go to enjoy, and there comes all the mischief: this

[Page 140]

is important in all our admixture with men. The Lord was social, but not to please Himself, He carried about the fact that He was the man of God on earth. He was always a heavenly Man, even if He worked as a carpenter.

Moses and Elias failed - all had failed, but here is One who answered perfectly to God's mind, in private life as in public life; God could say, "In whom I have found my delight". The same salutation greets Him on the mount. Here they say, How is it that He eats with publicans and sinners? He is social, but how blessedly He illustrates it! "They that are strong have not need of a physician, but those who are ill". A doctor comes often, but not for amusement - he goes where the sick are. We go to meet our relatives or friends - or we may take a strict line like a monk - but was it the moral sickness of your relation that brought you to that house? or did you go to enjoy yourself naturally? That is the path for the believer now. Go anywhere if you can relieve the morally sick, but the moment you blend with the world you lose power. If you talk politics with them, you have lost your Nazariteship - you are on their level.

The disciples of John used to fast, but the Lord says, It is not the time for fasting yet, because He was with them. The sons of the bridechamber are those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. He was alluding to the moment when He was there with them, but He foreshadows the fact that He will be taken away - then would be the time for fasting. The moment He touches this, He introduces the fact that there will be entirely new creation. "New wine" - all new - the moment Christ is taken away. All must be new. No use to bring in christianity to improve man - a mixed christianity actually makes him worse. It is a familiar saying that christianity has made the world worse. In 2 Timothy the world is in a worse state than in Romans 1. In Romans there is a great

[Page 141]

moral evil, bad acts; but in 2 Timothy I get the springs of evil - the conduct is worse in heathendom, but in christendom the spring is worse. "Always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" - the spring is worse because of the light they had, there is a form of godliness. The secret springs are in that way worse than the open acts of Romans. In the present day evil is not allowed to be seen. It is like Saul when he destroyed the vile and refuse, but spared the king (Agag) all the time!

The world broadly has tried (verse 21) to work upon your old flesh to make it good, and some who do not see the end of the first man through the death of Christ expect the Spirit of God to do everything, but the Spirit does nothing but what Christ has done. People speak as if the Spirit were to complete the work of Christ. He is the seal of the work of Christ, He does not effect it. Christ's first work was to set me without spot in the presence of God; His present work is to keep me without spot in His own company. The work of the water is going on now; the work of the blood is done. But you cannot be occupied with the work of the water unless you know that the first work is done - you are in the virtue of the blood in the sight of God. The Lord rises from supper in view of the completion of the first work, to enter on the second work. He is acting by His word on your soul. Did you ever feel as if One were speaking at you, touching something in you which had to be corrected? There are three actions of the word: it corrects you, it directs you, and it reveals to you something about Christ. Martha had to be corrected. Mary was directed. To John and Mary Magdalene the word revealed Christ. When you read a chapter, does anything strike you? It may not always be to hit you - it may be to delight you in the Lord.

If we were walking with Him we should find each day two things addressing us - His word and

circumstances.

[Page 142]

There is instruction for me in every circumstance; I am an object of consideration to Him whether I understand the meaning of it or not. The Lord is addressing the tendency of one's weak point, as a sailor keeps his eye on the leak in his boat.

The psalmist says, "Be not silent unto me!" When out of communion you do not hear, you are asleep; Song of Solomon 5:2. You may have affection for Christ, but you are not carrying it out; or, like Martha, you may do a nice, kind thing, but not be in communion. Fasting is giving no quarter to yourself. The Lord shows that if the Bridegroom were taken away, they would find nothing here to enjoy; yet they would have the new wine. I can have the greatest joy, but not in things here. "Be filled with the Spirit". I am to be the very happiest person down here, but not from anything I find here.

Verse 23. Here the Lord takes the place of the rejected David. The disciples were hungry, neglected by Israel, like David fleeing from Saul, when he had to get bread from the priest. Then He takes another ground - "the Son of man is lord of the sabbath". He lets out a gleam of His right to everything.

CHAPTER 3

He indicates by the withered hand the state of Israel at the time, no power to work, yet they were to keep a sabbath day. He comes in and indicates the great sabbath He will keep, and shows them that they cannot do anything. He looked on them with anger, distressed at their hardness of heart. From every side they come to Him. North, south, east, west - outside Israel from all sides - beginning from the centre, which was Jerusalem. You get the opposition from the Pharisees, and from the Herodians, and also the acknowledgments from all parts of the country. He

[Page 143]

would not accept testimony from the unclean spirits. He changes His place again, and goes up the mountain and calls to Him whom He would, and He ordained twelve to be with Him, that He might send them forth to preach in concert with Himself. This is to increase the testimony. It is important to notice that as the rejection increased, so the Lord spared no means to correct it. He gives them every chance. Twelve is an administrative number. It was a favour of the Lord to send forth His word. Wherever there is gift there is favour.

Verse 20. His friends say, "He is beside himself", because they had not time so much as to eat bread. A beautiful touch for the servant. He was so intent on His work that He would do nothing else. Nothing is so mistaken as the way men speak of service for God. There is often great activity without communion, but the first essential is communion. The Lord helps us out of our own troubles, that we may be ready for communion with Him. He says, I will sympathise with you. There must be sympathy before there is communion. Then you can be occupied with Him, and you render to Him the most precious thing you have.

Verse 22 brings you to a more distinct crisis in the history of man, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The scribes had the word of God - they were the great writers-out of it - and here was God's Son, and they did not know it. What a comment on human intellect dealing with the word of God! You find the plot thickening - the opposition to Him increasing, but He is meeting it at every point.

Verses 28 and 29 were fulfilled in the case of Stephen. Such are never forgiven on natural ground again. There is no hope under the old system; grace must come in. Saul, we find, has to come out of the old system. He was a party to the murder of Stephen.

Verses 31 - 35. The Lord introduces another thing.

[Page 144]

He brings in a new relationship to Himself - it is of a new character. My relations are those who do the will of God. Therefore we find in the next chapter how He brings in His word. Natural relationships are to be superseded by new relationships. The word is the agent by which this relationship is formed.

In the present day I do not think there is lack of gifts, but there is a lack of devotedness, so the gifts are not developed. A man thinks, At any rate, I can preach the gospel; but if he seeks to be a servant to the church, he finds he cannot go on with the world. It has been said the first thing is to get a soul turned from hell to heaven, but it is a great thing to get one out of earth for heaven! It is a great thing for the servant to get hold of in any measure that God's Son was on earth yet never left heaven. If He sat with little children, or stooped to the smallest thing in ordinary life, He never left heaven in doing it. You may come down to domestic duties in the same way if you have your roots in heaven! A christian can say, I did belong to this scene, but I do not now. There is more power in your saying it than there would be in an angel saying it who never belonged to this scene. The power that wrought in Christ works in us. It is God's power, but "in us", that is the wonder. How little we meditate on what Christ was down here in His path of service and of rejection!

CHAPTER 4

The Lord had announced the new order of relationship. Here He sets forth broadly the different actions of the word, the varied effects of the dissemination of the word all over the earth, and these varied effects might be found at different times in each of us. When the word is received spiritually it subdues you - when intellectually it exhilarates you; "with patience"

[Page 145]

implies preparation. There must be preparation in the heart to produce fruit. It is important to see that preparation is necessary in order to receive the word. How often have we heard it, and it has slipped away. We did not really receive it.

The Lord is here describing His own ministry. Israel would not receive it, therefore it is according to Isaiah 6:10, "Make the heart of this people fat". God did not communicate His mind without having a distinct object in view. It is now, not hereafter, that He looks for thirty-fold, sixty-fold, etc. We are left in this world for a particular purpose, not merely to learn ourselves or for the business of the world, but to be expressive of Him who is not here. All things contribute to the purpose for which we are sent into the world. As harness on the horse is not the purpose, but it contributes to the purpose and the use for which it is intended, so we have to be in circumstances "for Christ".

Each one has a mission, women as well as men. I wonder if we could all tell what mission the Lord has sent us here for. Each one is called to set forth Christ in a particular line. The testimony is Christ, not some particular thing, and you are a person sent here to carry out Christ in the line that He intends; by His own desire you are left in this scene to be for Him here. That would give great importance to everything. If He has given you anything to do, you will never be happy until you do it.

In Mark you get the Lord setting forth the new order of things that He is going to establish on the earth; you have the virtue of Himself. We do not get the benefit of it till after His death but in 1 Peter we are to show forth the virtues of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.

Verse 21. Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel? The church was to be the candlestick, but

Christ was the light Himself. Putting light under a bushel is designedly putting it out of the way. Verse 22.

[Page 146]

There is nothing hid, etc. All will come out here, not only at the judgment-seat. There are two kinds of hypocrisy: one is concealing what you are, the other is assuming to be what you are not. In Luke 12 the disciples were in danger of concealing what they had. Verse 24 is a very comforting passage. If you take in a good measure, you will be given good measure. You are receptive. The more you take in, the more you can take in. The more you do, the more you can do. One great thing the Lord looks for is receptiveness. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it". "Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance". There is great encouragement to pray for one who is going on well.

It is important to bear in mind that in chapter 4 we pass into a new section, the moral side. The sowing of the word begins the new section. The sowing takes in more than the church - it is the whole course of the word on earth. The Lord is the Servant in this gospel, and the first character of the Servant is that He heals all that need healing.

Then there is a new action, the word is sown. He deals with man morally to prove to the Jews that everything would be offered to man. Mark's gospel is service. John comes in after the ruin, after 2 Timothy, and shows what God holds to in spite of what you are. There is what remains in spite of all man's failure. It is very interesting to note the difference between Stephen and Paul. Stephen's mantle is: All is over and I go to heaven. Paul's mantle is: All is over, but I will go on, though deserted by every one, proclaiming Christ. Many would accept Stephen's who would not take up Paul's. We are to have both - one for comfort, the other for service. The man of faith in every dispensation rises to the highest thought of God about His people. Nehemiah must have the feast of tabernacles, notwithstanding all the weakness and ruin. Nehemiah was in very different circumstances

[Page 147]

from Joshua. In Judges every possible expedient was tried. Then Samuel comes in - dependence on God - the same power that was at Jericho in Israel's brightest day. Samuel had no weapon but prayer, but that was enough. He took a stone and called it Ebenezer, saying, "Hitherto Jehovah has helped us". Mark gives three parables - Matthew five. One is the internal and two the external - one is the secret history of grace in the soul. Verse 31 is the external, the mustard seed - it has got out of its proper form and become a monstrosity. It has given an impetus to the world. Evil lodges under its shadow.

What has made the confusion in christendom is that God's thought was lost, and men tried to set things right by human means, according to their own conscience, instead of going back to God's thought, as Nehemiah did in his day.

The kingdom is rule, God's rule down here. The house is distinct from the kingdom, though in one sense they are co-terminal.

Verse 33. This gospel gives the manner of the Lord's ministry. He is always the Teacher. What touches Mark gives us! "He spoke the word .. . as they were able to hear", and "When they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples" (verse 34). If you have 'received' the word, the test comes. Now, can you stand amid the winds and waves? He had given them the gospel internally - now He brings them into external circumstances, where they have no one to help them but Himself. It is winter after summer.

He is here in the storm teaching them what they ought to have done. What ought we to do now if tossed in a storm? To be like Him. He was asleep. Now I am to be calm. I learn to be like Him by being in the happy sense of union with Him where He is; that is, above the storm. The first effect of the storm on a soul that knows the Lord is to make you turn to Him. The disciples did not turn to Him in a right

[Page 148]

way. The first thought is to ask Him to allay the storm; that is not faith in Him! Christ is always in the aspect towards me that I ought to have. He was asleep. He puts the winds, waves and all to sleep. There was a great calm. I should like to know what is the Lord's own feeling about what is now going on. He is not moved by any of these things that distress me. He knows the end from the beginning. You will often find that you had a taste for summer - green pastures for your soul - then winter comes, you have nothing. But winter is a good time to test how much you have received, and how much it has connected you with Christ, so that you have Him for your winter day. Here it is the Lord in the ship, and there is no help but from Himself. In this interesting gospel He is the Teacher all through, and all the pressure and difficulties are to teach and enlighten you. He would say, You are to learn in every circumstance that I am your only resource. Every devout person turns to the Lord in his trouble (that is Psalm 107); he is thinking of how he can get out of the trouble, not of how the Lord would act in the trouble.

Thinking of Him as in the storm would not make you act like Him in a storm. It is only the happy consciousness of being united to Him where He is that can make you act like Him where He was, because you get everything through His death and resurrection. He says, Where is your faith? If they had faith, they would say, We cannot sink because He is here. It is faith in Him who was in the ship with them, as it is now faith in Him at the right hand of power. It is of immense importance to see that if we are near Him for every moment of our lives, we shall always find that He is in the aspect toward us that we ought to be in. He was asleep, thus indicating to them that they should be quiet - at rest in spite of the waves. He said, "Peace, be still!" He put them all to sleep, even the wind and waves!

[Page 149]

For a young soul the Lord often removes the storm. To me it is the greatest thing to know, when a storm comes, what is the Lord's own feeling about it. He is not moved by it. He sees the end from the beginning. I come out of His presence calm, in peace. Further on, we find He does not quiet the storm. He will often act thus for a young believer as He does not for an older one. To the latter He says, You have learned that I am better than favours. I will give you Myself.

Which would you choose? There is a most necessary process, although we do not always see the necessity for it. There must be testing, winter must come. You see a fine tree; will that shoot bear fruit this year? It must be subjected to winter first before it will bear either blossoms or fruit. That is God's order, because He means to have established in your soul the verity of the truth you have received. "Tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope". People think they are going on and enjoying the Lord, but they do not get any additional truth until they go back and pick up the stitch that was dropped. You must go back and be like Abraham where he had the altar at the beginning - he was fifteen years away! He made no progress all that time! I believe it would be an immense help to the soul, and would give immense insight to the nature of Christ's present interest about one, to know that if I look to Him, He would indicate to me what should be my manner of life in this particular strait that I am placed in. It is not, as some say, surrendering oneself; it is that I am so occupied with Christ that He displaces myself. It is, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me". Take all the churches in the Revelation. He appears to each one in the aspect in which each one needs Him, and to us He would say, If you keep your eye on Me, you will get help, and the right kind of help. You will thus learn the particular manner of His grace towards you. He has a particular manner of grace for

[Page 150]

you and for me. It is wonderful to find the Lord looking down and seeing the various plants of His, as it were, in a desert. This one by the bedside of a sick friend; that one in domestic duties, another as a slave, and to see that He has a particular grace towards each one, and that He would produce something in each one, that each might adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Christ would give grace for this. It tells of angels, principalities and powers in heavenly places. The testimony now is not always before men outside. The testimony is before angels. "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?"

CHAPTER 5

Here you get the Lord dealing with the oppression that rests on man in a very full form. He is dealing with the state of man. In the former cases it was more the pressure of what men are suffering from. Fever is not will, it is the infirmity of the creature. So also leprosy was not will; neither was palsy. But in this chapter it is more the state of man, and it gives a new phase of the work of Christ. The three following cases describe the whole of man's condition. The first, the power of wickedness; the second, the extremity of weakness; the third is death.

This blessed One comes in to meet not only the distress, but He deals with the distressed one. The figure depicts the most distressed state that could possibly be. No one could bind him - no, not with chains. It is a fearful picture of the condition of man. No restraints would keep out Satan.

Education has been a tool in the hands of Satan. But One comes who can dislodge him. The unclean spirits know Him, they ask to be let go into the swine. The people had no right to keep swine. What they could not use for themselves they were keeping for

[Page 151]

others. It is a serious thing for christians to be selling to others what they could not use themselves. There is a moral action here - the Lord gets rid of their covetousness.

But what a change in the man; he is just the opposite of what he was before. He is clothed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, and in his right mind. Another interesting trait about him is that when Jesus went into the ship he besought Him that he might be with Him. You cannot get higher than that - "with him". It is what Paul longed for in Philippians 1. There are two prepositions that mark the christian, 'with' and 'for.' I long to be with Him, but if it is not His pleasure that I should be with Him, I will be here for Him. A person is not honestly saying 'Come' to the Lord unless he would like to be with Him. There is no value in your saying to a friend, I wish you to come, unless you care to be with him. The right state of soul for us is to be where He would be. The thought was really to be following Him, to be in company with Him. It shows what a change was wrought in the man. Before, he was dwelling in the tombs, now he seeks the company of Jesus, like the thief on the cross, what an alteration in his tastes! He used to be dwelling with robbers - now he would like to be where Christ reigns.

The Lord is doing His work on His way to the resurrection. The resurrection is really connected with Israel, but a poor broken-down creature gets His blessing on the road; she was the very opposite of the legion - that was the power of wickedness, but this in the extreme of weakness. I believe this is what takes place now. The Lord is not satisfied to see you merely relieved. He effects a wonderful change in the woman. Many are satisfied with relief; she was not only cured, but she formed an acquaintance with the One who cured her.

The point here is the ministry of Christ. He can so deliver a man from the power of Satan now that he

[Page 152]

can be found clothed and in his right mind, and with but one desire, to be "with Christ". He is the same for the extremity of weakness - life ebbing away. The One I have to look to is Jesus; He counts me as one of His own; thus I get two moral gains in my soul. I know that I am cured, and I have come to Him. I know Him. Many look to be cured who never know the Person. When she comes to Him, self is gone - she falls down before Him.

In the case of the ten lepers, when only one came back, what did he gain? Confirmation! So it was with the poor woman. As you go through this book you get a greater thought of His service. The man is delivered from his wretched condition; the woman goes away in peace. Verses 38 - 42 are typical of the restoration of Israel. Grace to the gentile had come in on the way.

This is the first place where death is called sleep. Resurrection power is present. We get the greatest power in this chapter, and the greatest weakness. The Lord is equal to both. He charged them that no one should know it, and commanded that something should be given her to eat. What touching interest He takes in His people!

CHAPTER 6

The Lord, as if beginning again His ministry, goes back to His own country. He gives them another chance, and they reject Him. His disciples follow Him. The many who heard Him teaching in the synagogue owned the greatness of the word He spoke, but they lost it all because they could not recognise His moral glory. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" They were offended in Him. There is no greater mark of a person being unspiritual than his not being able to accept the word of God without some

[Page 153]

outward thing to recommend it. It comes to me as the word of God, thus I might receive truth from a child.

In the gospels, to get profit you must seek to be in company with the Lord. Where He was best known they give Him no honour, which morally condemned them. In Matthew we see how He "bare our sicknesses". He has gone through all these scenes to show that He can help us in similar ones. What we suffer from is that while desiring to serve the Lord our own tendencies come out. Failure in our own house is caused when we expect to carry on natural things in a natural way, but I have a new power in which to carry out my relative duties, as the mill that was once worked by water is now to go by steam power. He could do no mighty work there, save that He laid His hands on a few sick folk and healed them. A beautiful touch! Consideration for the weak.

Verse 7. He called the twelve and began to send them forth two and two. There shall be no excuse; He sends the word everywhere, to every range of society - each sent one fulfilling his orbit would have a great effect. He does not allow those He sent forth to take anything with them, to see what manner of appreciation they would get. He gave them power over unclean spirits. The Lord always connects power with His own word. Thus Paul says (2 Timothy 4), "The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear". Where the Lord's mind is, there is power, if only two are in the testimony, like Caleb and Joshua among the spies.

When the Lord gave the word great was the company of those that published it. Divine force is connected with the witness. When the Lord is giving the word it must go forth. "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their language to the extremity of the world", Psalm 19:4. It has been said that exclusives

[Page 154]

had the gifts. Why? Not because they are better, but because the Lord will maintain the truth. The mass may go wrong, but I believe the gifts would be right. There were six missions; the apostles were sent out two and two.

Those who are neutral are on the dissenting principle. They assume to take right ground but do not hold it in faith. Nothing is more difficult to hold than the truth of the body, because it can only be held in faith. All the difficulties that arise are upon the truth of the unity of the body, and as to our power to maintain it in faith; practically also the self-seeking of one member injures the whole body. If I read a novel or visit worldly relations, I grieve the whole church of God.

In Ephesians I find I must get up to heaven (chapter 1) before I can act for God on earth; chapter 4. People lose sight of the magnitude of christianity. You cannot reduce it to a science. It is altogether above the human mind.

Verse 14. King Herod is on the throne. A more determined expression of opposition comes in. It gives an insight into the inward corruption that was on the throne of Israel at this time - a state of moral degradation - carried away by a foolish girl.

When John the baptist was cut off, it was an indication of the Lord's own rejection. Consequent on it a new thing comes out: you get the advantages, benefits and blessings of His people on the earth now, in contrast with those of the Jew. This is what you get in belonging to the new structure.

"Come ye yourselves apart". He goes to the desert, and the poor of the flock follow Him there and we get unfolded to us how the Lord will minister to His people after His rejection. He is setting forth the manner of His support in each new circumstance - five loaves and two fishes - very small resource, but the Lord teaches them that it is quite enough. He can

[Page 155]

use the smallest means to bring out more power. Here you have what is the nature of His support at the present time and how He meets you now; your resources are not adequate, but the Lord sustains you. The fragments are more than the means, for you must not look at the means. You are in a world from which your Saviour has been rejected. How are you to get on there? This question must come first, then you get the answer - He sustains you in it.

It is a great snare to use influence or to make an effort, to be looking for means. The Lord does not set aside means. I must not despise means. He might use my voice, but I must have the sense that means are inadequate. The Lord reproaches them (Matthew 16), not because they have no bread, but because they have no faith. When people use means in faith they do not go out of the way to get the means. David would use the stone in his sling - not Saul's armour. Elisha says to the widow, What have you in the house? And he uses the cruse. God never leaves us so that we could say we could not recover ourselves. You have all that you require - with faith, and more than you will use.

It is important to see that it is a new day and a new order. I get nothing from Judaism, nor from the world. I get all from Himself up there. It is very hard to get hold of the fact that the church is an entirely new thing. It has no antecedents, and you are always in this new structure.

You must act like a son in His house now. We get power, not from what is in this scene, but from Him who is outside it. In Mark we get the ministerial character of our Lord.

In Matthew it is dispensational, and you get what is to supersede this state of things, so there you get Peter in two ways - walking on the water and confessing that He is the Christ.

Verse 46. He sends them away to show how a

[Page 156]

little ship could bear up against the storm. It was not a power here that was to support them, but One who was not here. If I am in concert with Christ now, where He is outside this scene, He gives me grace to act as He would in this scene. "He also who eats me shall live also on account of me". You do not get Christ at all but through His death. What He was down here is the manna, but it is in resurrection you feed on Him, as the One who was the humbled Man down here. His walk down here is like the headline of a copy - I might look at it for ever and not be able to follow it, but I get skill, divine power to be like Him by being in concert with Him where He is, in the place whence the power comes.

I ought not to begin my day without a store of manna, I mean before any occurrence. I have not to go out to buy a store, I know I have resources in the Lord. I am conscious of my store in Him as the manna for daily need and daily vicissitudes. Feeding on the old corn of the land is my enjoyment of Christ in the scene where nothing can hinder. It is the same life here or there, but in different circumstances. If I am really feeding on Christ in heaven, it is as the old corn of the land. When He supports me in this scene, it is as the manna. Great harm has been done by trying to follow Christ as a Man - trying to adopt Him in a human way. It can only be in resurrection and in the power of His Spirit.. .. "I live by faith, the faith of the Son of God".

Suppose I visit a sick person, and, having prayed to be useful, I am not. Why? Because I was thinking of being useful - not of the Lord. Next time I go with my eye on Him, it is quite different. "Without me ye can do nothing." The church is left here for Christ. He says, You stay here for Me. Do not turn for anything to those people who cast Me out. Keep your eyes on Me, I will support you. Paul in 2 Timothy is an example of this. It is a great thing to

[Page 157]

mark that His grace has not stopped after His rejection - nothing could be more beautiful - as many as touched Him were healed.

In chapter 6 we see how Christ was superior to all the things outside. Everything in this world was against Him, but He was superior to it all. He made space for Himself. It would be the same now for us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Stephen was made superior to the suffering; he was sustained by the power of Christ. Much of our suffering comes because of failure. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you". But suffering may be not for anything you have done, but in grace to keep you from what you might do, and there is some suffering that we may glory in. In Peter's epistle there are five different kinds of suffering. The first is most common - the testing of your faith. The test is to prove to me that I have the faith, not that I have not faith. The whole of a believer's time down here is a life of faith. Christians ought to be like civil engineers - they rejoice in a difficulty which calls forth all their skill! We know what poor things we are in a difficulty, but a difficulty with us is always God's opportunity; with us there must be exercise. You can never lead anyone beyond where you are yourself. If a man (a servant) gets on in the world he must lead in the line of giving up. If prosperity comes to him unsought, and he has self-abnegation, he will not be a bit better off than he was before. Satan takes care that if you refuse one thing he has something else for you on the other side. The small stone stops the wheel.

CHAPTER 7

In chapter 7 we see how man is set aside. We learn that he is nothing in himself, but Christ is for him. In verses 3 and 4, washings, etc., that man

[Page 158]

might be comely in man's view. This is what we get in Colossians 2. Piety in itself is good, but when you are pious to make an impression it will not do. A Galatian seeks to stand well with himself. A Colossian wants to have reputation, a Corinthian is a self-indulgent character.

There is great lack when a person is not devout.

Ques. Is it right to bow your head at the name of Jesus?

J.B.S. It is right to bow your heart then your manner will be all right.

A person who has not a true sense of the nature of the union between himself and Christ is always religious outwardly. Whereas one who has a real sense of it feels that he never can be bowed enough, or controlled enough in heart. Watchfulness as to one's manner and ways is real godliness. If there is love to God, what is genuine will come out. It is the fictitious thing that I am against - when a religious person puts it on like his Sunday clothes.

The Lord was perfectly simple and natural when He came down from the mount of glory. He paid the taxes. A beloved brother used to say, Take care how you live before people. It was quite a new doctrine for a Jew to hear that all the evil was inside. They were accustomed to evil outwardly, but they are taught here (verse 15) that it comes from within. All the mischief was inside, and now all the blessing is inside!

Verses 24 - 30. In this scene we have an example of how the Lord relieved one from the power of evil. Man is in such a state that the devil can take possession of him. No title, but confidence in God. You must have the two things together. You come as one entitled to nothing, but the Lord is so good that He can give to one who has no title.

If you walk about this world with the sense that you have no title to anything, but you count on His goodness, God will surprise you with His benefits.

[Page 159]

Ques. What is the force of "For this saying"? (verse 29.)

Just that - no title but confidence in God. The difficulty is with us to combine the two. They must go together. I am no more than a dog, but there is such goodness in Him that He could not refuse me a crumb.

In Eden they doubted God's goodness, so helped themselves. The thief on the cross is the reverse of that. It is the way for either sinner or saint. No title on my side but perfect goodness in God. In Matthew 14 we get the power of the world outside us - winds and waves. But here it is the weakness in oneself. It is a question of immense importance how I can be superior to the power of evil acting in myself. The effect of the thorn in the flesh was to diminish Paul. "My grace is sufficient for thee" was the answer to it. That is the way I get deliverance given by the Lord now. All Job's suffering was in order to bring about this combination, he says, "I abhor myself" but I have confidence in God. Then he prayed for his friends.

The way we have confidence in one another is the sense that I would do as much for you another time. This is the very opposite principle to that of confidence in God. The feeling of having title clings to us. You are labouring perhaps, and you have a sort of expectation from the Lord on account of it. You are disappointed if you do not get the favour you expect. Having done all we are to say, "We are unprofitable servants". I am a poor thing, but there is grace in His heart for me.

Stephen is an illustration of chapter 6, and Paul of chapter 7. Paul's trial was much greater than Stephen's. All outside force was against him, but Paul had to carry the inside trial (assailed by Satan) all through his life. What crippled him was in consequence of the evil of

[Page 160]

the flesh. Otherwise Satan could not have got a hold - he would not have required the thorn but for the flesh. If we are simply where the Syrophenician woman was, we should be always surprised at God's goodness to us. It is an immense thing to walk about in the full sense of this. I am entitled to nothing, but God is so good He will consider for me. "He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind", Isaiah 27:8. He hears the cry of the young lions; Psalm 104:21. I should be afraid to afflict a poor person, even if he were not a christian, lest God should hear his cry; and to touch a christian is touching the apple of His eye. Much of our suffering comes from disappointment, which we should not have if we really took the low place - "I was brought low, and he helped me". Jacob, at Peniel, was in the state for grace; he had not a word to say for himself; he could not get lower, but he clung to the Blesser.

In verse 32 they bring one deaf and dumb to the Lord. We do not get this case in the other gospels. It brings out in a wonderful way the ministry of Christ. It was a great moral service. He comes to put the person in a receptive state, to make him both hear and speak. This man is a type of the nation. They had no ear to hear. It was peculiarly affecting to the Lord. He marks it with a sigh; but He will make him both hear His word and speak plainly. It is a great thing to get the ear; faith comes by hearing. If the word of God is heard, there is no doubt that it will come out plainly. There is a moral character in all these cases. The Lord is opening out the moral character of His grace. It was not the disaster that suggests what He will do. He had from God what He was to do far beyond the disaster - it was according to the immeasurable love of God. It was such pleasure to Him to elevate a poor creature on the earth that He had no thought for natural food. He charged them that they should tell no man. He does not want to be a popular

[Page 161]

character; He shrinks from publicity. It is a mistake when a servant becomes popular now. It is the time for privacy.

CHAPTER 8

This is the second miracle and portrays what belongs to the christian dispensation. In Mark it is not so much dispensational as instruction as to service - very interesting to us because it shows the lines on which we should work, the resources of Christ.

In the first it was, in spite of all the evils without, I will sustain you superior to them; the second, In spite of all the hindrances within, I will support you. My grace is sufficient. This we get in Matthew 15. It is the endowment of the church; chapter 16. What advantage have you from being a living stone? I have this: that all my resources are in Christ. But some who are living stones could not say this; therefore christendom has sought other resources. Here (verses 1 - 9) we see the simple provision that the Lord has for His people when they are cast out of Judaism and out of the world. He shows the character of the support He would give them - the world has its own order. But how am I to get on? All my resources are in Christ! It is a great thing to be simple in this. All is in Him to meet outside evil or for inside weakness. The hindrance is that people are looking for something here. It is what we find in Colossians. Judaism, the rudiments of the world were being built on. One practical difficulty is that we have all been more or less mixed up with the world, and we have lost faith in the provision which Christ has made for the new structure - the church. He feeds us Himself, as our hearts are in concert with Him. He gives us the same grace that He had. He gives us the manna. He had not two lives; He never left heaven. When He was down here He was the Son of man which

[Page 162]

is in heaven. If He were in the carpenter's shop, He never left heaven.

In Ephesians you come from heaven, and you must act like Christ. He is the only standard for everything. As a master I am to be like Christ - as a child I have to be like Him. It is not imitation of Christ, but the fruit of what I feed on comes out. We cannot get Him down here - we feed on Him up there.

Christ walked here as a Man, and left nothing untouched by His grace. He knew all the trials of domestic life. When He said on the cross, "Behold thy mother", He had done with natural things - He closed the manna day. Now He gives us the manna, His sympathy and His support. It is the same life - He is the same blessed Man, but in different aspects. Place makes all the difference. Paul says, "Beside ourselves.. . to God... sober... it is for you". If I am in the presence of God, I am enjoying Him. I am at perfect ease there. But we all know what the strain is here. I cannot ungird myself here. I must be ever on my guard. If I sit at the fire and then go out in the cold, I am the same man, but I brace myself up against the cold. "As .. . I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me". As I do this I am enabled to walk in the grace of Christ. I have to walk as He walked. I do not go to heaven now to stay there, but I do go there to get refreshed.

To lie down in green pastures is different from walking in the paths of righteousness. Men have put the gospels before them as though they could imitate Christ, but it must be His life manifested in you. You may have only a thread of gold, but it is gold, and the only thing that will stand. It is the measure of your resource in Him - all provision for you is up there. He says, I will take care of you down here. What did you get from Christ besides your salvation? That was a great thing to get, but is there nothing more? I get a double character of resource as set

[Page 163]

forth in these two miracles. I get what Christ is to me now down here - His sympathy. I get God upon earth and how He met things. It is not the person who believes that He is Christ who is said to overcome the world (1 John 5), but he who believes that He is the Son of God. I have to do with a divine Person who has been here in this scene, and I live by the faith of the Son of God. Paul preached that Jesus is the Son of God, and he says, "God .. . was pleased to reveal his Son in me". I have a new Person to direct me now. It is a great lack when a christian is occupied solely with what Christ did for us instead of seeing what Christ is to us.

Verse 10. They ask for a sign. If He had given any more evidence, He would have admitted that what was given was insufficient. The Lord wants to show that it is not what ministers to man, but what He Himself is to them. I get wonderful principles in the gospels, because I get God moving among men.

Verse 21 is the lament of the Servant. "How is it that ye do not understand?" He was grieved with the disciples reasoning about having no bread while He was with them! The great difficulty now is that people do not understand what they get beyond safety. The mass have not found salvation. If things were right, my spiritual father would have been able to tell me that I belonged to the wonderful structure (the church) with nothing visible, but sustained by One who is not here. A man says, That is a very low meeting, nothing to be got there. But where are your resources? You should be able to contribute to the meeting, like those who gathered the manna, everyone brought what he gathered to the common stock.

Verse 22. We have not this blind man in Matthew - a very interesting addition, it is the ministry of Christ opening the eyes, as in the previous chapter making the dumb to speak. At first he only sees enough to perplex him. Many now are in that state. The

[Page 164]

second touch is the completion of it. He made him look up, and he saw everything clearly - not only men, but every class of men. Things all came out in a clear light to him. It is a wonderful thing to get clearness of vision from the Lord, to see everything as God sees it, but we cannot do so unless we take heavenly standing. "In thy light .. . we see light". We try to see things with our own sight and from our own side, but the more I see God's things the less I like man's things.

The more God's things are magnified the more their perfections come out. The more you magnify man's things the more their deformities are seen. If we want to see anything here truly, we must look up first. How does it look in the sight of God? He made him look up - there is great force in that - it was not as if he did himself, but the Lord made him look up. If we want to see clearly, we must look up. "I went into the sanctuary.. . then understood I their end". There is beautiful moral instruction in all this, because it is preparatory to the fullest revelation.

It is interesting to notice that in this gospel He never hesitates or delays, goes on rapidly from one service to another. After all He had done among them, they did not care to know who He was, conjecture satisfies them. The man in John 9 says, "Who is he, Lord?" He had been preparing His disciples, educating them, for the new place they were to occupy on His rejection - all resources found in Himself. Matthew goes further and speaks of the new structure. We do not get that here, but He is educating them in the character of servant. We get the confession as to who He is, and also that He is to die. This Peter will not have; he refuses it, though he had borne testimony to His Person. By revelation from the Father Peter could see Him as Son of God, but he could not bear the setting aside of man in the cross. It is there that many fail now. It is not merely the

[Page 165]

cross for our sins, but it is the entire setting aside of man in the flesh. He rose again the new Man of the new order. This is fatal to me if I am satisfied with what man is.

The same Person who is the Rock on which the new structure is built is the One in whom man is set aside. We do not like the effect of the truth on ourselves. It is a serious thing to see that this is a gone life. There is a difference between the way the cross is put here and in Romans and Galatians. Here it is abstract and takes in the whole. "Save his life" is not refusing to be a martyr but keeping the old standing. The Lord shows that He is rejected by the Jews and by the world; therefore your resources cannot be from either - you have to walk through the world looking for Christ alone to support you in the circumstances down here. If you fail, it is because you lack faith in Christ - you should have the sense of plenty of store. Paul could say, I am going to face this world with Christ. He learns in the end to say, "I take pleasure in infirmities". He had such a sense of the power of Christ resting on him - an infirmity is all that is connected with me, as a human being, that is not sinful.

The Lord brings out in us the actual grace that was in Himself - He left the manna on everything here. I pick it up by faith in Him; it is only for the wilderness - I am a poor, needy person. He says, I will help you through. Christ as the manna is the same Christ as the old corn of the land - one will cease, the other never will. The manna was gathered before the influence of daily life began. You are drawing upon Him by faith; it is easy to understand what feeding is; you are sustained by the power of Christ, and your weakness is the occasion of His helping you. Luke 18 is a good example of it - first, the oppressed widow; secondly, the child, perfectly weak and willing to be supported. I reach Him in my weakness - He

[Page 166]

takes me up in His arms! Distress is no barrier to Him, though possessions are.

If you start right, you will end right. Even though you may go wrong in the middle, you have to learn yourself on the road, but the Lord will see you safely through, and will also carry out His own purpose in you.

Ques. Does verse 38 apply to a christian?

I think not. It is not safe to take these abstract statements to refer to believers. Peter was timid, but he was not ashamed of the Lord. It was fear, not inclination, that made him deny Christ.

CHAPTER 9

This chapter is properly the close of His ministry: the acknowledgment of His life since His baptism. It had been one of unbroken service. When He went up the mount He had finished the course of service. It culminates on the mount of transfiguration. There He is offered the glory and refuses it. He comes down to suffer. It is an interesting point in the history of our Lord; everything takes a new turn from the transfiguration.

He had given examples of how He could relieve man from every kind of pressure, and even grant forgiveness of sins. But He has not dealt with God about them yet. He is not yet the Redeemer. He obtained the glory for Himself as the perfectly righteous One. But He had to do a work before He could give it to us. He must effect sacrificial redemption. He must die. He had answered to the mind of God in everything as man. Glory salutes Him! From this point He descends to die, to be the Victim. Peter says, "We.. . were eye-witnesses of his majesty". But no redemption yet - He is not in the place of substitution. He is as the heifer that had neither wrought nor borne yoke.

[Page 167]

If we do not see where He came down from, we do not get the full sense of how we have glory. There was the suffering of the Servant all through; but no judicial or sacrificial suffering till the cross.

The voice puts Him in the place of pre-eminence. Now He brings out resurrection from among the dead. They do not understand Him. It was a new thought to them. It is by resurrection we get the glory. "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them" - that is not His essential glory, but what is given to Him as Man. People do not get deliverance fully until they see how the Lord's life as a Man entitled Him to glory, yet He will not enter into it without us! When I know that I have a Saviour in the glory I have no fear. Of men there were "none righteous, no, not one". But here there was One righteous, and glory claimed Him! Until the cross there was a demand from glory and man had fear. Now glory claims us, and we are transformed by it.

It is not correct to say of the Lord, from the cradle to the cross. It is from the cradle to the glory and from the glory to the cross. He obtained the glory for Himself by being perfect in everything according to the mind of God. He obtained glory for us by His death. I can be in the glory now without fear - if I have fear, I am not there! There was no place yet for the disciples in the glory of God, and though Jesus was there, they were afraid. Christ having wrought righteousness, magnified the law and made it honourable, is entitled as a Man to glory, and He says, Now I make you entitled to what I am entitled to Myself, and He comes down to die. Everything takes a new course as He comes down.

Ques. Was the transfiguration to show the estimate He was held in or the Father expressing His own delight in Him?

J.B.S. It was both. They saw His glory before

[Page 168]

they saw His suffering and death. Peter says God calls us "by glory and virtue". The Lord always gives the provision for it before the pressure comes if you are going on happily with Him. In everything we enter on we ought to ask ourselves, Can I count on the Lord's support in this? Even for the smallest things, if you can feel He will support me, then you are competent. We must go on in faith. Faith may fail, but if it is there, it will grow again, like Samson's hair; that is a comfort!

Verse 10. How little we enter into the feelings of the disciples in those days! They pondered and talked it over. The passage about Elias (verse 11) is explanatory to the disciples.

Verse 14. This is a remarkable contrast to Galatians 1:15, which shows us what God delights to make of a man. Here we see what Satan makes of a man, even from a child. Casting out the devil here is a wonderful bit of service. It is different from other cases, for the spirit is commanded to enter no more into him. It is also an aggravated case. The Lord connects the relief entirely with faith. Faith is the thing now to remove mountains, even as a grain of mustard seed.

Ques. Does verse 19 refer to the disciples or to the people?

J.B.S. To the whole nation - it includes the disciples, but it is addressed to the nation: "unbelieving generation, .. . how long shall I bear with you?" We sometimes hear it said how ungrateful people are! What else do you expect? They were ungrateful to Christ! I find that a man without grace is often superior in his ways to a man with grace who is not governed by grace. If a man be not faithful to God, he could not be faithful to anyone. You get in this chapter the two extremes: the honour God will confer upon man and the degradation that Satan will

[Page 169]

bring a man to. The father says, If thou canst do anything. The Lord turns the word back on him and says, The "If thou canst" is with you, not with Me! and that is the secret of our whole history now: faith.

I may use means, but I do not count on means. Moses did not see one single thing. He endured, seeing Him who is invisible. There is no use in watching providences - there is nothing more difficult to us than to walk simply by faith, because in spite of yourself you are looking for something to turn up. "This kind can go out by nothing but by prayer and fasting". The real meaning of that is the end of man. Dependence on God and disallowance of the flesh. If I am depending on God, I have no dependence on myself. Some think a good deal of fasting who do not pray. Prayer is dependence on God to keep you from the flesh. Fasting is not only from food - it is self-reduction, giving no rein to the flesh anywhere. It will not do to shut the hall door and open the side door. Self-denial must come into every part of my life even in social, that is to say, family affairs. The Lord says, If I die for the flesh, you must not allow it in any shape - add "to knowledge temperance". This goes along with the dependence on God. It is not only that I do not minister to the flesh, but I cut off its resources, like Samuel; 1 Samuel 7. There is prayer and fasting - no resource but God, no human energy. To get clear of Satan I must disallow that by which he has a hold on me, and I depend on God. If I had no flesh, Satan could not get at me. It was because there was flesh in Paul that he needed the thorn - self-reduction. But he says, "I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me".

Verse 31. Now we get His approaching death - the moral character of it. As I go on with Mark I see that He is instructing me in the path of the servant.

[Page 170]

Will you go in that path? I am learning what it is to go on really in company with the Lord. A man has to give up the best part of himself rather than be hindered by it.

Verse 32. They did not understand Him and were afraid to ask Him, afraid to know the truth; and in verse 33 is a most unaccountable thing, disputing who should be the greatest at such a moment! It is the flesh again. Seeking eminence is a great snare in the church. Ananias, Sapphira and Simon (see Acts) all sought eminence in different ways.

But the Lord set before them the course by which they should obtain their desire - one who desires the first place must serve. If a man desires to be first, the Lord will bring him down to nothing, in order that he may reach his desire. If a man assumes to be humble, the Lord will make him really so! One remarkable thing in the church is that everyone finds his level - going down is the whole principle. The point here is to show the variety of opposition that will meet you. John would have no toleration - the Lord checks him.

"Whosoever shall offend", that is, put a stumbling-block in the way. There is a great moral here. It is better to lose, to walk in self-denial, than to have self-gratification here and be lost. Everyone shall be salted with fire - every one shall be tried; but if you give yourself up, you will be a sacrifice. The salting process for the unbeliever is judgment, so in a sense for us all. If we will not accept the discipline, there comes judgment. No one will escape the fire. Every one's work shall be tried by it. Gold will stand the fire. Salt in christendom has lost its savour. Salt has a preserving character as well as that of communicating - "Have salt in yourselves". If I have salt in myself, I am correcting the badness in myself, and by it in others. The effect of that is that we have peace with one another.

[Page 171]

CHAPTER 10

In this chapter you get two very important things: the written and the unwritten law set aside. After the ascent to the mount of glory the Lord descends, and now we have a very different character of teaching. He refers everything to the beginning - takes the view of everything morally. He begins with a man - then a child. He is bringing out that development has done nothing. Reliefs have come in because of what man is, but it is not what God intended. He does not sanction putting away, so much the better for Israel. "Where is the bill of your mother's divorce?" He goes back to the original law. Putting away did not originate with Him. They put themselves away by their sins. He leaves it open for Himself to restore. You must come back to the child, no development of the human mind - you go back to the babe, when you had not an idea. When we are converted we are all in God's sight reduced to babes. A child has no history, it is helpless, will cling to anyone who cares for it, and it is thus a beautiful illustration of a true soul. The prodigal talked of his badness, the Pharisee of his goodness. On neither ground could he be accepted - you must have no antecedent. If you have a history, you must renounce it. You must drop all your development, all your acquisitions, and go back to the babe.

When the disciples rebuked those who brought the children the Lord is much displeased. What touches there are in this gospel! He did three things: He took them in His arms, put His hands on them, identified Himself with them, and blessed them - a touch you do not get in Luke. Who would not like to be a little child!

Ques. On what ground did He bless them?

[Page 172]

Because they were God's and had not rejected the testimony; born sinners, but will not yet developed.

In verse 17 we get a great contrast, a man of development. In Luke the examples we get before this are the distressed widow, the distressed publican and the little child. This is a contrast to all those, a most amiable man and with plenty of means. The Lord only mentions five of the commandments to him, and those in relation to his neighbour, and even in those He left out, "Thou shalt not covet". The tenth commandment touched the spring - the others only the outside. That is what the word does (Hebrews 4), it discloses the motive and secret spring. Did you ever judge your motive? What made you look like that? The more spiritual you are, the more you will find out what bad motives you have. It is not a question of doing wrong, but you discover that your heart is deceitful above all things. Here was a religious man - he called the Lord "Good Teacher", but when tested by these things he goes away sorrowful. There is a great moral in this - you see what development does. It does not want Christ, or rather wants possessions and Christ - he was sorrowful because he must make a choice of one. If I allow one single thing to stop me from following Christ, that will be my scourge - the small stone stops the wheel. It is only in Mark you get that the Lord "loved him".

People would like to get a millennial man, but Christ is rejected, and now comes in the heavenly man. Earth is in contrast to heaven - the Father to the world - the Son of God to the devil - the Holy Spirit to the flesh. There are two distinct places, heaven and earth; and two distinct families. Do you belong to the earthly or to the heavenly family? The earth was given to the children of men. The first man is of the earth, earthy; that is, he is so in constitution - he does not say worldly. The Jew thought that property was a mark of divine favour. The Lord's statement is

[Page 173]

most extraordinary to them. They say, "Who then can be saved?" Taking it humanly, it is impossible. Mark is wider than Judaism. It is the Lord Himself that comes out, and this chapter shows that the things allowed did not spring from God, and then you get this example of a man perfect to his fellows, but he did not follow the Lord. Peter says, "We have left all things and have followed thee". In following Him I have to give up everything that impedes. It is disastrous to suppose that you have made a clean sweep once for all, and that there is no more to give up. I find there is not a year but some fresh thing has to be renounced. But there is the hundredfold more in a new order of things - wife only is left out and fathers. Even in natural things the christian is placed in superiority to the natural man. It is not natural things that you get back, but if you give up a brother, you may get many; but you must not think you have made a sacrifice. You have not! For all you gave up you have a hundredfold more. Spiritual ties are deeper - you have heart-communion with them. If we really believed this word, we should welcome sacrifice, yet giving up, unless it be to the Lord, is no gain, for it makes you feel that you have done something!

In a worldly family I may help or contribute to them, but I do not find resource with them; I have other joys. Near relations know our weak points, and they try to please or to flatter in order to draw us away. The only way is never to blend - real giving up is all gain - you give up a farthing and gain a pound. The man who talks of loss never gets on. Paul felt in prison that he was better off than Agrippa. Stephen surpasses all the heroes put together.

It is a sure sign that I am superior to my circumstances when I never speak of them. Some speak of the grace given to bear up against such great trials. That is not being superior to them.

The Jew was first - and he is last - but it often

[Page 174]

happens. There is a principle in it - the first may be last and the last first.

Verse 32. The Lord takes the twelve and begins to tell what things should happen to Him - His death. Christ is the Servant all through this gospel, and He never loses an opportunity to give them meat in due season. It is encouraging to see that He knew all the character of ministry we should need down here; and not only that, but He ministered Himself in every way - even in prayer! He never had a companion here; He was alone.

Verse 35. They did not go beyond the Messiah's kingdom, they were looking for good places in it. He shows them the way to it. Baptism here has no reference to water baptism, though it explains what baptism naturally is, a change of standing, not of state. It does not refer here either to the baptism of water or to that of the Spirit - it is simply death - it takes you out of one standing and puts you into another. Baptism with water is the confession of having passed from Adam to Christ. The ten are jealous of the two apostles: Christ explains that He came to minister; He is leading them into His own path. He is the Model. But taking the lowest place in service runs counter to all the ideas of men.

In this chapter we had first the religious man, then possessions, then relationships - here it is self-seeking, and He shows that instead of that it must be the cup of suffering. The cup is fellowship with Him. For Him it was the cross; for them martyrdom. We have never yet grasped what Christ went through. It is only a thoroughly holy person who can feel a shade of distance from God; a sinner knows nothing of it. Christ bore judgment at the hand of God. He went through it beforehand in Gethsemane. One feels unable to enter into it, but in the offering of the red heifer we get a sense of what it cost Him. It is Christ suffering for what I have been allowing.

[Page 175]

The house is an actual thing, the kingdom is wider and is morally Christ's rights. He has not given up the earth; He has the claim still, but it is moral space I claim for Him. Satan has thrust God's Son out of the earth - that is the great sin on the world now. Originally it was the fall of Adam, but now they have refused God in the Person of His Son, and they have no cloak for their sin. God does not overlook what goes on, though man seems to have it all his own way. The difference between this time and the millennium is that then Satan is not on the earth and Christ is exercising direct judgment. Now He gives a long day - nothing can be right until Christ comes, until the right Man is in the right place; then it will be direct, and therefore immediate judgment. Now it is indirect, but I believe those who are in the house are under a discipline now which the heathen are not. Power was given to the gentiles, and that goes on still - you are to pray for the king and to be subject to the powers, but you are not to exercise power.

In verse 40 it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. He speaks there as a Man. God had prepared everything. Christ gives, but God has prepared it. Paul was called of God. He gives as they are qualified, but the point is the preparation. We get heaven without any qualification, but a place in the kingdom is according to qualification. They sought patronage.

Verse 46. It is interesting about Jericho here. In Luke we get the blind man, and also Zacchaeus; here it is only the blind man. What a contrast between the young ruler and this blind man! It is important to bear in mind that the Lord is on His way to Jerusalem from Jericho, the place of the curse, the very lowest place. Luke gives us Zacchaeus; the most unlikely man to get the blessing gets it; and here it is one who has no sight - really the state of Israel at that moment. He has no sight, but he cries for mercy

[Page 176]

like the faithful remnant. However low down you are, if you cry for mercy the Lord delivers you. You can find no depths where He will not hear you. What the Lord calls forth in the blind man is that he calls to Him, and He will not let the people stop him. He satisfies the longing soul. When I see a soul in difficulty I say, Have you cried to Him? He always delivers. In Psalm 107 there are four classes who cry to Him, and each one is delivered. The first have done nothing wrong. The second are suffering for rebellion. Third, a worse case. Fourth, they that go down to the sea do business in great waters. You undertake things and find there are difficulties. You come to your wits' end. Turn to the Lord - what does He do? He bringeth them to their desired haven. To cry is the one sovereign remedy for everything.

There is one Psalm (136) devoted to the mercy of the Lord. It endures for ever! I go on in spite of every discouragement - that is faith.

Verse 52. When the blind man had received his sight he followed Jesus "in the way".

CHAPTER 11

In verses 1 - 10 you get a momentary sample of the Lord's rule on earth, of the millennial day, when He will command everything. He claims the colt. He comes as King. Bethany is that which supersedes the kingdom. Bethany is the house of grace. What a wonderful day it will be when everything answers to the claims of Christ!

I do not know that they knew Him; but they owned His authority, they could not resist. Whereon never man sat - a new seat of power. It is only a sample of the kingdom. He is presenting Himself to Jerusalem for the last time. He enters into the temple. What marks the Lord is that He was always thinking

[Page 177]

of God's interests. It ought to mark us. A person is never right in service who does not make the church his first object, because that is the centre of God's interests on the earth now, as the temple was in Israel's day. You are marked by your object. You have no clear judgment about anything if the church, that is Christ's chief interest on earth, is not your chief interest. It is on the principle of David, who, after Saul's death, sent to ask if there were any of Saul's children to show kindness to, or, as the Lord says to Peter, "Feed my sheep".

In service we must have His interests first, even in preaching the gospel. It is not what I like, but what He likes.

It was the difference between Mary and Martha. Mary consulted His mind. Martha followed her own. If you begin with Himself you go from Him to His interests - His own, who are on the earth, and from thence it runs down all along that line to your own family and to every circle. This we see in the epistles. Where people fail is in trying to begin -- not where the circle of power begins. You must begin above and go from thence to every lower circle. Everything goes in circles.

There are two ministries, as we see in Colossians 2, the church and the gospel; but all things are for the elect's sake. No one was a greater minister of the gospel than the one who was the minister of the church - that was Paul. The question is, where do I begin? Is it with Christ's interests? Can I join a worldly man in his so-called works of charity? No. I have to begin with Christ's interests and go out from them to serve men - then I shall serve men better because His interest for them is in my heart. You get the order in Revelation 22:17. My heart is set on Himself, then on His people, then whosoever will, let him come!

[Page 178]

That is evangelisation in its fulness and in its divine order. All is now connected with the place where Christ is, at the right hand of God. He looked round on everything and went away. You get His sense of the moral state of the nation. He sees that state, figuratively, in the fig-tree. There were three emblems of the nation: the fig-tree (the natural one), the vine and the olive. You do not find believers represented by the fig-tree or the vine. You do by the olive. It was a final judgment on the tree because, when they get favour, it will be through grace and not as a right. It is a great thing to get the fear of God, the sense of having to do with Him. He never overlooks anything. If you do a good thing you may forget, but God remembers; the same when you do wrong.

Nothing so wonderful as the Lord's path here; He never looked to anything but God - never did a thing for Himself, carrying divine light through the corruption here, a beautiful moral path (verses 22 - 24). Have faith in God! People desire and ask often without faith. In Psalm 3, David stayed in the valley, and he laid him down and slept. He had confidence in God and He kept him in safety, defeating the counsel of Ahithophel. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart". If I am walking with Him I only desire what is suited to Him. I could not have faith for what He would not do. You cannot talk of your faith. You lose it if you are out of communion, for it is not a thing in nature. If the natural mind gets hold of it you have lost it. You have it in His presence. We sometimes look for the answer to come in some particular way. Habakkuk's desire was: "Revive thy work". The glory was the answer to it. Paul's desire was to serve the church and he was kept in prison, but how he served the church there! Tempting or trying God is not faith. I need not try Him when I am already sure of it by faith. The prayer of faith carries you to God;

[Page 179]

looking at circumstances makes you dry. Two things went together, the cloud and the manna. People look for guidance to easy places, but am I in the right place? Am I where the Lord will supply me? All may look very nice, but am I getting food - manna, there? If not, there is something wrong. We may start wrong though the desire be right, but God brings us down and then says, This is the way. I will bring you to the desired haven. Paul had manna in the prison, but if he had gone there himself he would not have had it!

Verse 25. I am not in the enjoyment of forgiveness unless I can forgive. If I am enjoying grace I act in grace. I am too happy in being a recipient of mercy to myself to make a demand from others. If I do not help the needy I cannot turn to God in my need; 1 John 3:17 - 22. If our heart condemn us not then have we confidence toward God. The Lord's prayer is a very interesting waymark as to where they were at that time. A person may use it honestly now, but if he does he is not beyond it. People's souls get clouded when they insist on their rights - the principle is the same.

Verse 27. He does not satisfy mere curiosity. If you do not know the least gift in a place you would not know the higher one. They would not have John the baptist. It was no desire for the truth that led them to ask as to His authority. The Lord respected authority. He would not let the people make Him king because they were not the authority.

How little we meditate on what the Lord was down here! The books that are written about it only give man's view, not what He was to the eye of God. It is instructive to see Him go through all things as the Servant. You get a great many incidents in regard to a servant.

'Each passage in Thy life shall be
A little between my soul and Thee.'

[Page 180]

CHAPTER 12

We have had three parts of the Lord's life. Now we are coming to the closing part. He has to die in order to bring believers into participation in what He is in. This cannot be except by death. The Adam man must be set aside. In Mark all is to show out the qualifications of a servant: what a Servant He was and how to perpetuate it. This parable shows that the way the Lord was dealt with was not a sudden thing. They grew bolder in wickedness. The Lord quotes, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner". When one thing fails God has another in reserve. The stone becomes the head of the corner. We get the church. We have what was in the mind of the Master Builder.

It is a great thing to see that though man thinks he carries his point, it is really only to make way for God. In Peter it is connected with "living stones". Paul calls it the chief corner stone. All endowment now is from the One who is Head of the corner. But christians went back to Judaism. "Without the camp" is outside everything of the constituted order. He will complete everything presently. The top stone shall be brought back with shouting, but He is now the Chief Corner Stone. The great thing in connecting the Lord with heaven is that we know Him in the scene that suits Him, and because He is there we have a place there; though we are in the scene that does not suit Him, yet our associations are where He is. What was the character of the man who was healed in Acts 3? He was "walking, and leaping, and praising God".

This passage, "Render to Caesar", has been quoted to show that we have a right to be in the world, but it was a reproach to them that they had the Roman penny. It was the condemnation of Israel that Caesar's coin was circulating. They rejected the Lord

[Page 181]

and were under bondage themselves. They wanted Him to say, if He was king, they must not pay tribute to Caesar. But it was a mark of submission to God and the Lord accepts it as such. It has been used as an excuse for worldliness, and to show that we have two positions here - one to God and another to man. But no! I am a christian always, and never anything else! There is no such thought as two things for a christian; I must do all to God and for the Lord's sake. The rule for concession is in self-denial, never in self-gratification. If I dine with one who cannot in conscience eat meat, I should say, I go with you, I deny myself for your conscience. But if you ask me to go with you to a flower show, I say, No! I cannot go with you there. When there is restriction for restriction's sake, the man is sure to indulge himself in some other way. You will find a person who is overstrict on one side is overlax on another. Let thine eyes look right on, not to the right hand nor to the left. In Proverbs 15:19, the antithesis of slothful is not diligent but righteous. The point is not if you go slow or fast, but if you are going right.

In verse 18 the Sadducees come to Him. We get the three principal shepherds - Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians - the leaders. Now all are convicted! Verse 25, "as the angels which are in heaven", little is known as to the future state. We have Christ's state now, and we shall be like Him by and by. His

state and His place are mine now. My place is where He is. This mortal shall put on immortality. It is an entirely new race. God has done with my old nature. My trouble is that I have not done with it yet! If we were more self-denying we should escape a great deal of suffering. I do not say of discipline, for the more faithful we are the more we are disciplined.

No man after this durst ask Him any question, for His ministry was over. In the scribe (verse 32) we have one side of the remnant, he is faithful in the thing he

[Page 182]

is in. A remnant is marked by being true to that for which the period or dispensation is peculiarly distinguished. In a regiment of forty, two kept the colours - those two were the remnant, not the thirty-eight who lost them. "As a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof", Isaiah 6:13. One might say it is the same old oak, but not the same leaves. I call the testimony the colours. It is what characterises this period - the presence of the Holy Spirit and Christ's place our place. Hence separation must accompany the testimony.

The Lord quotes Psalm 110 to show that He has ended here, and is called to go up on high - the widow presents the other side of the remnant character. She gives up all her living to what was God's on the earth at the time. She says, I give up all I have to preserve God's interests on the earth. Anna, in Luke 2, and this widow are each a pattern of the remnant of their day. The one greeted the Lord as He entered the temple, the other is seen by Him as He went out from it for the last time. She gave all she had. Others give what they can spare. It is not a question of your property - but do you give yourself? Some will freely expend their property, but will not expend themselves - will not take the servant's place. This woman is not thinking of anything but of that which is His interest at the moment. The Lord does not look upon the amount given, but upon what it is to the person. It is the cost to you He looks at. Are you ready at all costs to carry the colours? A departed brother used to say, It is easy to love Him, but are you ready to lose everything for Him and for the sake of His interests on the earth? If His interests are not your object on earth, your centre is wrong, and you will be wrong in your own house and in everything. Anna departed not out of the temple and the Lord

[Page 183]

came into it. The scribe and the widow here make up the characteristics of the remnant - the one shows the energy, the other condition.

CHAPTER 13

The temple was God's house on earth, yet the Lord says, "there shall not be left one stone upon another". God has a house now, but not of that character. The church is a place for God on earth. It is not the body, but the house. Jerusalem and the temple had been a scene of admiration; now, those who were true would be "hated .. . for my name's sake" (verse 13).

It is important to hold fast the fact that there are two ministries: the gospel and the church (see Colossians 1). The second ministry is almost given up! In reviving the gospel ministry, the ministry of the church was revived, but we have become feeble in it. Evangelists did not go on to Colossians 1:25. There was no greater evangelist than Paul. He says, "the gospel .. . which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister". One ministry was to be universal, the other select - a company - Christ's own body. When a man is wholly given to the gospel ministry the tendency is to overlook the church and let the one ministry stand for both.

It is right to have your own particular service, but it is not right to make it your object. Christ is your Object and the church is His body. He "loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it .. . that he might present it to himself". The ministry of the gospel had a wonderful effect in the New Testament. It was the offer from the God of grace to man when all was over. They were not only in the benefit and happiness of His death

[Page 184]

for them, but they walked here in the sense of the Lord's death, and that produces moral state. His death stamps everything to me if I see that He broke connection with everything here in order that I might be free from all that was upon me here. It is "for the elect's sake". It is cheering to see that in the midst of all the rejection He has a company - a Bethany (verse 30).

"This generation" is the Jewish people; but it is not merely the Jewish thing set aside. Christianity is of an entirely new order, and outside the order of things as set up on the earth. We do not enough consider this earth as the scene of divine judgments. The book of Revelation brings it out. The Lord acts upon souls in two ways: He attracts by Himself, and He cuts the cords which bind us to this place where He is not. It is like filling a balloon with gas and then loosening the grapplings, that it may rise. We find the two things in Peter's epistle: "the day star arise in your hearts" - that is attraction; and then in the last chapter all is to be burnt up; nothing left here and everything swept away with the besom of destruction. Then, "seeing .. . these things .. . what manner of persons ought ye to be?" Lot had only the one, he was driven out of the scene of judgment. Abraham had the two, and we must keep them together. If you try to get away from the earth without being attracted to heaven, you are only like a monk or a nun.

But if you are going on with the Lord, He will see to the cutting of the cords in giving you the sense that there is nothing here, that it is not worth while to be detained, and this is always blessed - there is the correcting to get us out of crooked ways, and there is the polishing in the good ways - Jonah in the whale, and Jonah losing the gourd. If you had only the one, you would be miserable; but there is great encouragement in it when you know the attraction and what I

[Page 185]

call the 'polishing.' Practically it is not done in a moment. Nothing is. Paul's will was broken in three days. With us it may take nearly all our history, but there is no 'polishing' till then, "that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work". You might learn your own will without going to the bottom of the sea, like Jonah; but you could not have the second part of Jonah's discipline without trials - we who live are always delivered unto death. The will must be broken for real blessing. Jacob was not broken for all those twenty years he was in Syria till he went back into the right path. Then God wrestled with him and he was broken. When your will is broken you are a subject person and are in the condition for the polishing process.

This chapter closes with the coming of the Lord. The place of God's favour becomes the place of the most terrible judgment - every stone to be taken down from God's own building. People look for the coming of the Lord as a relief, but I must see what manner of person I am to meet Him. Peter puts it thus as a practical thing. He skips the millennium and presses the end as a practical exhortation - all is to be burnt up. I suppose if Lot had known that Sodom would be destroyed, he would have left it and taken a new line of action.

In Luke 12 we get not only waiting but watching for the Lord. Watching is keeping awake - the eyes wide open, looking for Him. That is what the disciples are called to in this chapter. Watch therefore!

CHAPTER 14

In Scripture every little incident is like a tree of blessing. The Lord had to be betrayed. He did not take a conspicuous place. He was not distinguished

[Page 186]

from the twelve. Unlike a leader among men, one intimate with Him had to betray Him. "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he", that was the sign. When Satan enters into a man, he makes him do much more than he intends to do.

Verse 13: "A man shall meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him" - that was a token given them that it was the right place to which to go. There is a divine principle in it. Wherever there is divine refreshment, there God is leading. The manna and the cloud always go together. "Have ye any meat?" is a very serious test now for many places. There must be nurture, and there must be the cheer and the support of the Lord wherever He is. If I have good food in a place, I need not be anxious about guidance. How do I know that I am guided? By finding that I am fed. "And he will shew you a large upper room". How carefully the Lord does everything if it is left to Him! In a company of twelve think of one being a treacherous person. The Lord knew who it was, and what quiet waiting there was in Him till the time came for it to be manifested! It was grace, not indifference. Then He gives Judas the sop.

Verse 22 is a new subject - the supper. He took the cup, etc. The disciples were not thinking about their sins, but about losing Him, that death was what would take Him away from them. 'O head so full of bruises' was really what their thoughts were at that moment.

In commemorating the Lord's death the true sense of it is more what it was to Him than what it has effected for me. It is not so much the Lamb slain for sinners (though that is true) as the sense of His having entered into death, and being in the place where He died which intensifies the thing to me. His death casts its shadow over the place. His death was what was before the disciples. The advantages to flow from it they had not learned yet. They were

[Page 187]

behind us in some things, but before us in others. They sang a hymn - it was a solemn moment to sing a hymn.

Peter's self-confidence is the opposite to the treachery of Judas. It was a fall which not only compromised Peter, but the Lord. He denies Christ and swears that he did not know Him, all this was from self-confidence - "he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool". "Happy is the man that feareth alway". If my will were broken, I should not say, I would not do that, but, May God preserve me from doing it!

There are few who have confessed their will. Many confess their acts or their conduct. Saul confessed his will in those three days of blindness. The sense of having a will is distressing to a godly soul. God wants me to go to that side. I want to go to this side. Circumcision (that is the will set aside) was the first thing after the entrance into the land; Joshua 5. The first great characteristic of breathing heaven is, 'no flesh admitted here.' I must have no confidence in my own will. If I like to do a thing, that makes me suspect it, but if I know that God likes me to do it, it is safe. In Proverbs 9 we have the two characteristics of wisdom and folly. Wisdom is characterised by forsaking - "Forsake the foolish, and live". Folly is attractive and treacherous. Do not go there - the dead are there - her guests are in the depths of hell.

Verse 32. Gethsemane. In a few words is told the greatest occurrence that ever took place on this earth.

The Lord went through it first with God. Only a holy person could have any idea of what distance from God is. The holy Son of God taking the place of the sinner's distance, Satan was here seeking to crush Him, by presenting to Him what death would be to Him - the character of Satan's assault (as also with us) is first to seduce us and afterwards to crush us. He had sought to seduce the Lord in the beginning of His course here and was foiled - at the end he sought

[Page 188]

to crush Him. Before this time they could not touch Him - there was like a wall of fire round about Him - but now all was let loose upon Him; every power, sin, death and judgment. He is in the hands of the crowd - they all had their way with Him. "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me". "They laid their hands on him, and took him". Peter draws a sword. In another gospel we have the Lord's rebuke to him. What a rebuke! A person may have a false bravery - the unspiritual nature of an act is shown by the excess of it. The others forsook Him and fled; they were more right than Peter was, who followed Him, afar off, into the palace of the high priest. It is very bad to go to a place where there is trouble if you have not faith for it.

There followed Him a certain young man. It is beautiful to see sometimes that a man who fails in the bright morning turns up faithful in the dark evening. Mark failed in the bright day of Acts, but in 2 Timothy, when everything had failed, he turns up. It is very cheering to see one come out in faithfulness, in the closing hour of weakness.

Verse 42. Every power is now let loose on Christ. Satan's first temptation was to divert Him from God's service; here at the end it was to divert Him from serving man.

Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten". When the word comes home to me I call to mind that the Lord had warned me of this. Why do we not listen to His warnings? We can never say, He neglected me, if we are walking with Him. A person who is walking with the Lord finds out what his natural tendencies are by watching the Father's discipline and the Lord's word. We are warned by the ministry of the word and disciplined by the ordering of circumstances.

[Page 189]

CHAPTER 15

All through Mark the Lord is the Servant, and the account here given of His death preserves this character.

He could relieve man of everything, but He could not put man in a permanent position. He could and did relieve of every kind of grievance that was upon man, but He could make no relief permanent to man except by dying for him. All His service and relief to man, which we find in the gospels, He accomplishes morally now, and this is a much greater thing than mere bodily relief. He gave sight to the blind then. He removes moral blindness now, and this is much greater, it is a new power, you belong to a new order of being. You may be like a bird in a cage, and groan, being burdened; but, like Stephen, you are master of your circumstances - "in all these things .. . more than conquerors", through Him.

The Lord as a divine Person going through this world showed that there was not a thing which He could not set aside - sickness, sorrow, or the power of Satan. As a Man down here He lifted off all the pressure that was upon man; but in order to put man into a new condition He must die.

If we had but chapter 15, after all that has gone before, what would it be? To think that that Man who had been relieving men of every ill - not only of sickness and sorrow, but of death - that perfect Man had gone away and left Adam's family in the same condition as it was before! If He had not died, there could be no change in that condition. It is not the unitarian thought of bringing something new to man - of adding to him. It is not restoration nor recovery to the old condition. It is a Man risen out from among the dead and from under the judgment of the old condition, and bringing in an entirely new condition in Himself. If I read Mark 5, I say, Here is all I

[Page 190]

want. I find man delivered out of the power of the devil, out of weakness and out of death. But, notwithstanding all this, if He is to perpetuate us in that condition of grace and power in which He was Himself, He must die for us.

He made man in His own image. The Lord came (Hebrews 1) in the brightness of God's glory - the express image of His Person - to maintain God's image here. But He stood alone - the corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die in order to bring forth fruit.

If I am of that new order, how can I have a doubt? Everyone owns that there is a new work, but they do not see that it is a new creation. All things are of God, so that I can say, "Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased". I am like a bird in a cage singing to the glory of God. The cage is not in itself of God. We groan, being burdened, the outward man perisheth. Often the cage goes to pieces - that is for the emancipation of the bird!

This world is as the quarry to the stone - a person is taken when he is fit for the peculiar place which God has intended for him in the temple, where no sound of the hammer is to be heard. The preparation may be quick or slow - God knows when; I do not. But we shall all come out in perfect bloom, the complement of Christ. Here the leaves of the rose are scattered, there it will be perfect and in full bloom. Babylon will be the concentration of man's beauty, according to man's ideas. The New Jerusalem is the concentration of Christ's beauty in the divine conception of it. Everyone is working for one or other of those two cities. Babylon is to be destroyed because it is the rival of God's city. It is a great comfort that nothing that is of Christ can be lost - nothing that is the workmanship of God.

In that new order nothing is acceptable as good

[Page 191]

works but what is wrought by the Spirit of God. We need to be spoiled of will.

Ques. Is it possible down here to get altogether rid of our will?

J.B.S. No, it will be always cropping up; but the more I walk with the Lord and go on with Him, the more I am free from my own will. When I let my will act, the thing in which it acts may not be wrong in itself, but I have the humbling sense that it is will.

Ques. Is it possible to keep the will in subjection because we have the Holy Spirit?

J.B.S. Quite possible, but it is not watching the will but watching the Lord that gives power.

It is no excuse to say, I cannot get rid of will - if you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption. Paul found out in those three days that he had a will opposed to God. It was not a bad conscience, but a will that runs against God. When he went to Jerusalem at the end of his course it was not exactly will - he loved his nation as a Jew - but God's will was on a higher and a different level. Will is the flesh; the body is the Lord's. When the will acts through the body it is acting independently of God. The Lord would not eat, even when He was hungry, except in obedience and dependence on God.

You get great principles in this chapter. A murderer is preferred to Christ - a Roman governor going contrary to his conscience at the voice of the people. If you assume a certain position, you will have to take it some day. We assume the place of the church, but you may not have faith in the very thing you have assumed. Many accept the light, but have not the faith to follow it, and when tests arise they are greatly troubled, because they have not faith for the position which they have assumed.

From verse 24 every barricade is gone - the Lord's hour is come - Joseph craves the body. It is cheering to see how nobly a faithful person comes in at the end.

[Page 192]

He or Nicodemus could do nothing for the Lord during His life because of their position. Joseph was an honourable councillor, but he was of no use to the Lord in the council; but when he dropped his position and came as a suppliant he was a very useful man.

CHAPTER 16

Verse 7. The Servant character of the Lord comes out. He remembers Peter.

Verse 9. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. The one who was most in the power of the enemy becomes a trophy of divine grace.

In verse 15 He gives the disciples their commission. The point of baptism here is, accept the name of Christ on the earth. I must have Adam on me or Christ. Put on Christ. If I refuse Adam, it must be in the death of Christ. A man might believe and yet not take the name of Christ. Ananias would not believe in Saul's conversion unless he was baptised - that is the point in it.

"In my name". We do not put enough force on that, "my name". Everything is to be done now in Christ's name - the smallest thing as well as the greatest. Suppose I take a house. I should be very careful how I did it, but it would delight me to think that I had done it in His name. The highest practice in divine things is the greatest delight to your heart.

[Page 193]

OUR RELATIONS WITH CHRIST AS RISEN

John 12:1 - 3

John 11 is a death scene. The Lord came into it to show that life was to work in the body, and in all the ruin come to man. His power was there to overcome it all. He walks with those in sorrow until He plants them in resurrection.

It is the full manifestation of what His grace will do in quickening the body. Not only are beloved ones happy with Christ, but we shall see them in glorious bodies!

It is not the question here of the Lord dealing with sin, but of His service to man. Death is the thing not reparable, none can recover from the grave. Your loss is irreparable and the Lord comes to meet you in it. What to do? To carry you on to the morning of the resurrection. You are learning the Lord's heart in this valley of death, and as you learn Him practically now, so will you gather round Him above. In this chapter you get a green spot for the heart, a little oasis in the desert. It is an ark carrying the family of redeemed men through the flood.

The family of Bethany are in the valley of the shadow of death, but they are floating over it. In believers, as an associated company, all the beauties of Christ come out. Noah, in the ark, had everything; while the whole world is under the flood he goes over it, whether calm or waves, it was all the same to him. When the soul is able to walk in the power of the death of Christ, he may see the waves of judgment rolling round, but he is floating above it like the house of Bethany and he is more than conqueror.

In chapter 12, the Lord is giving a foreshadowing of Himself. He is at home with the family of Bethany. "Where dwellest thou? .. . Come and see!" This is one circle. Another circle is when the Lord shall stand

[Page 194]

on earth as the concentration of glory. But here He had come down to disclose to us the mind and heart of God - the will of God His only object, and here are we, turned aside by every trifle!

What a thought that God has disclosed His mind to one who is but a grasshopper! and that such an one has a portion in Christ, showing the very largest expression of His love! God could not love little; man's love is proportionate to his mind. The friend you turn to in sorrow is a real friend. You may have many friends in joy, but you have not confidence in them to tell of your sorrow. You stop short when it is too personal; that is just where the Lord's love comes in - it is never too personal for Him. The one who sorrows most will get the most consolation from Him; such a one is not to be pitied; he gets more because he wants more.

Bethany is one of the circles where the Lord is found at home. In Luke we find that ere He ascended He led them out as far as Bethany. Not from Jerusalem does He part from them, but from Bethany; there where His heart most lingered, where He had met them in death and brought them to resurrection, to understand that He was the resurrection and the life - not the life only but the resurrection.

Here we have a resurrection scene. The raised one sits at table with the Lord. What a place! in easy company with the Lord of life. If risen with Christ I must see the world as God sees it. There are two deaths - the death of sin, and death upon everything - on myself. Abraham must give up his son - death upon everything here - Jonah is taught death upon everything. Men forget that everything here is contrary to God and that judgment is upon it. What a difference between Lazarus in the grave and Lazarus at the table! There is no communion with the Lord in death. All three are seen here according to their place in chapter 11. Martha served; while troubled about

[Page 195]

this world you cannot serve. We find in Luke she had been cumbered, occupied with the service instead of with the One she served. Mary had been served in chapter 11. Many try to serve the Lord, but I believe they never can until the heart is free; trouble must be taken out of the way before you can be free. Paul was never in a better state to serve than when he was longing to depart. If I have not learned what the Lord is to me in the sense of chapter 11, I am not free to serve. What a place Mary has here! The Lord says, Let her alone. It is important to see that this is not commendation because of not being occupied with service, but because of the heart yielding itself up to Him as if there were no other object for it in the world. He had become everything to Mary. Her one single object was to make much of Him. She had learned that all her heart had lost in this death scene was restored in concentrated life and glory. It is not the question of service, but of devotedness; her whole object being to distinguish Him in the world which was rejecting Him. The reason we are so little up to this is that we are such cowards in showing to the world what Christ is to us; so little do we manifest the delight of heart it is to make much of Him. It is not gratitude (grateful indeed we shall ever be to Him, "who loved me, and gave himself for me"); but love goes beyond that; for love makes a personal sacrifice to make much of its object.

I believe the Lord will have a Bethany family down here till He comes, and it is a comfort to one's heart to think it. "Behold, I stand at the door and am knocking.. . I will come in unto him and sup with him, and he with me". Amid all the ruin here, such as these will be apart with Him, in conscious, happy communion with Him and with one another. When we come to know the mind and heart of a Person, we shall find out what pleases Him and what He would have us do. Then we do it, cost what it may.

[Page 196]

EBENEZER

1 Samuel 7:1 - 17

It is important for us to consider and apprehend how prayer is used in times of great difficulty. Samuel is himself the gift of prayer, as his name declares, and he in his service toward Israel uses prayer above any of his predecessors; in fact, he introduces and proves to us the power of prayer. Other servants of God were distinguished for works of another kind; Samuel peculiarly for prayer, and hence his ways are very instructive to us. Other powers had been used and other works wrought by devoted servants of God. Samuel sets forth the power of prayer. What made man something is now set aside in Israel, because of their failure. What God can be and do for them when called on is now declared and shown out by Samuel. He came in by prayer, and his power and the secret of his successful rule in Israel is prayer. We therefore cannot fail in obtaining from him how we ought to use prayer. We prove that we have used a thing rightly by the effect it has upon us, the good fruit shows that that from which it came was good.

There is the sucking lamb offered up wholly as a burnt-offering; this represents Christ, the ground of our acceptance. It is the day of acceptance; the accepted time (Psalm 32 and Isaiah 49), a great encouragement to prayer, as well as the ground of it, and then Samuel cried unto the Lord and the Lord heard him, and as Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel, but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines and discomfited them, and they were smitten before Israel. "And Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, and said, Hitherto Jehovah has helped

[Page 197]

us". When we have received mercy from the Lord it is most important that we own it. The monument that perpetuates the mercy is not the mercy itself, but the Eben-ezer is the acknowledgment of the heart of how God has helped and succoured us. The mercy conferred was great and singular - a bright page in their history, a day ever to be remembered for the deliverance from the Philistines, and the marvellous way in which it was effected for them. But it is not the thing done, nor the way the thing was done, that is the monument. The Eben-ezer is the testimony of the heart to the unfailing help of God. "Hitherto Jehovah has helped us". It is the thanksgiving which accompanies prayer. It is the acknowledgment that I know and own Him as my Helper hitherto. The mercy may remain or it may pass away; the Eben-ezer ever remains. I have not only received, but I know the One from whom I have received. I have a fixed judgment about Him, an Eben-ezer. It is the judgment I have come to and I record it, that is the monument, and this is the real strength of the heart. It is distinct and positive to me that it is His hand which has wrought. It is the basket of the first-fruits in Canaan. I believe souls lose immensely by not being able to record more distinctly that hitherto He has helped them. In the addresses to the churches, Philadelphia and Laodicea, two things must be noted and kept much in mind. One is how Christ presents Himself to us in order that we may have true confidence in Him, and be enabled, because of what He is, to go forward in spite of all difficulties, and the other is, that we should not have self-confidence. Our tendency is not to have confidence in Him, and though we have prayed, yet we have but few Eben-ezers, few monuments, fixed judgments in our hearts of the power of Christ, and then we seek for confidence in ourselves which easy circumstances tend to feed.

One prays largely and fully in proportion as one has

[Page 198]

confidence in God as He is for us, if one feels, as he must, the contrariety of things here. If I can thank Him as knowing Him much, if I have a sure Eben-ezer, I can easily and simply look to Him. The one who is doubting or questioning is only at best looking for an Eben-ezer - the one who knows Christ now as having the key of David, opening and no man shutting, is the one to whom an opened door is given. It is as he knows Christ in this power that he has the use and the knowledge of this power. If he does not know Christ as such he cannot know that he has an opened door. I cannot enter into the blessing promised to Philadelphia if I do not know Him after this manner, and if I do, I must be conscious of His help and support, and I simply own it. I am not self-satisfied, that is Laodicea. In Laodicea there is no sense of wanting or of using help. If I feel I want it, and am using it, I am not Laodicean, and if I am using it I must know the value of it, and it is simple honesty for me to own it, but this is not Laodicean. The state in Laodicea is a senselessness - at ease in one's circumstances, a need of nothing, no sense of the use of help, for there is no sense of needing it. In Philadelphia there is a sense of need of help, and there is the knowledge of the gain of it. I am in the one case senseless, and therefore at ease with things as they are; in the other, I am using the help and the strength given me to overcome the difficulties in my way, and I therefore own the favours conferred on me. It is not circumstances which afford me ease and confidence, it is success over opposing forces, a very different thing - the results of conflict, the cheerful, but yet the known results of conflict and of aid conferred on me, while easy circumstances tend to make me self-confident and independent of God.

The great principle, as I may term it, of prayer, is that I know whom I am addressing, and I am reckoning on His help, who I know can help me, and owning it, refreshing my soul, encouraging it with the fixed

[Page 199]

judgment - the Eben-ezer - I have of His help hitherto. If I ask, I must ask in faith, nothing doubting; it is expecting to receive and owning that I have received. We see this principle maintained in Solomon's dedication of the temple; 1 Kings 8. Whatever their difficulty, their eye is set on the temple that there should be help and relief, but then they knew what the temple was in its own place and glory. They owned its greatness and service as toward them hitherto while they recurred to it now again for help; you see this in 2 Chronicles 20:5 - 10. In times of great difficulty, when the true-hearted are struggling out of the confusion, as with Ezra (chapter 9: 5 - 15), there is a full acknowledgment of how God has given us a nail in His holy place and a reviving while seeking to be more conformed to the holiness of His name. You see he had proclaimed a fast and had sought the Lord, in chapter 8: 21; now with Nehemiah (chapter 9), the day after the separation (another separation besides the one in the days of Ezra), he recounts all the wondrous ways of God with them, and confesses that their guilt was that they "refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders" (verse 17), yet "many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies" (verse 28). The confession, it will be remarked, was consequent on the fast.

The same in Daniel 9:21 - 23; again in Habakkuk, the Lord God is His strength. We ought to regard prayer as the prelude to blessing. I know what and how God has helped, and am expecting and reckoning on His help. I find with our Lord, that great events occurred after prayer (see Luke 6:12 and 9: 18 - 28; so in the Acts 13:3; 14: 23), the precursor of blessing. It is not merely to own weakness and need, but to expect help and succour. If we pray, it is because our expectations are in God; Elias was a man of like passions, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain. If we ask anything according to His will He

[Page 200]

heareth us. We may forget that prayer is the great medium through which, as promised us, God now blesses. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name". It is to receive from God that I come to Him and to receive in addition to what I have already received, and hence there is encouragement of heart to pray for those who are progressing (see Ephesians and Colossians).

Prayer should be regarded as a mighty engine through which the resources of God are made available to us. As I have availed myself of this engine, and as I exercise my heart in my fixed judgment, my Eben-ezer, as touching what He has been to me, the more am I encouraged and in faith able to pray. And our prayers fill the golden censer, therefore continue in prayer with thanksgiving.

[Page 201]

WHAT THE CHURCH IS TO CHRIST

Ephesians 5:25 - 32

On a former evening I endeavoured to show you what Christ is to the church. He is the Head. That is the mystery in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I desire now to occupy you for a short time with what the church is to Christ. It ought to interest each one of us immensely that there is an object of the deepest affection of Christ here on this earth. I know nothing more calculated to touch the heart, and to give real encouragement amid all the wreck and tumult, the anxieties and sufferings, and feebleness that beset us, than to think that the treasure hid in the field, for which Christ sold all that He had, is still here. There is one interest here that shall last for ever - the interest of Christ in the church. He "loved the church, and gave himself for it". It is most interesting and encouraging, in the midst of prevailing confusion and uncertainty, to find souls really revived to think of this; that there is one thing to which Christ is as much attached as ever on this earth. He has not given up His affection for the church because it is in a paralysed condition. A man does not lose his affection for his wife because she is in feeble health. Our heart can go up to Christ in the happy confidence that He is as much devoted to the church now, as on the brightest day that it saw on earth. We have changed, but He has not changed.

It was when the apostle of the gentiles was in prison, laid hold of by the Roman power, that he indited this epistle, in which is shown the portion that the church gets by being allied to Christ. It may be asked, What do christians gain by being the

[Page 202]

church? You are doubtless all very clear as to what a sinner gains by being saved, but perhaps not so clear as to this other thing. This is the subject of the epistle to the Ephesians - in a word, it is the royal bounty. It is a gift, not an attainment. Of course it must be known to be enjoyed. A man might be by birth a prince; but if he did not know it, of what use would it be? Still it would not be by coming to know it that he would become a prince. A wife might not know at once all the properties and advantages she was brought into by marriage to her husband, she might find out only by degrees; yet all these things were hers before she knew about them. So with the church; the knowledge of the mystery is not an attainment, but a discovery. Attainment would be more like a servant in a concern getting on by degrees to the same position as the principals. What we have here is what the church gains because it is the body of Christ. What is presented in Colossians is that Christ is the Head of the body, the church; in Ephesians, that the church is the body of Christ.

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church". I just stop here to notice the very interesting fact that the most general domestic duty is to be learned from your knowledge of Christ's love to the church. I am sure many an amiable man does not know how to love his wife, just because he does not know how Christ loved the church.

I come now to what I spoke of at first - Christ's interests on the earth. His interest ought to be ours. Someone may ask, would you not take an interest in the conversion of sinners? Certainly, but what would I have in view? The body of Christ. The man most devoted to the church was the greatest evangelist - Paul. It is impossible for a man to be devoted to the church and not devoted to evangelising; but it is quite possible for a man to be devoted to evangelising, and not devoted to the church. He may have an

[Page 203]

interest in the benefit of souls - which is quite right - while he may have lost Christ's interest in those souls because they are members of His body, and this is a great defect.

Let us now consider what believers gain by being the church. I do not venture to give you any account of the epistle itself, but there are three things which I would bring before you, in order that as a believer you might in the Lord's goodness grasp what is yours. It is because these things are yours that I desire to acquaint you with them. Three things the church is entitled to because of its alliance with Christ: first, His state; second, His place; third, His power. The first we find in Ephesians 1:6, "Accepted" (or taken into favour) "in the beloved". Many believers are clear about the sin-offering who are not clear about the burnt-offering; they know that their sins are forgiven, but they do not know what it is to be in favour. Noah was safe when he was in the ark, but he was not in favour till the burnt-offering was offered, which was after he came out on the dry land. Then God smelled a sweet savour, and blessed him - put him in favour. In Romans 5 it is "by whom we have also access .. . into this favour in which we stand"; but here it is "accepted in the beloved". It is the character of our acceptance. Nothing could satisfy the love of God's heart but to find us in the very same acceptance as - not Christ, as has been remarked - but the Beloved. I admit it is difficult to grasp it, but when it is grasped, it gives great repose to the heart to be able to look up to God and say, It satisfies His love that I should be found in favour there, and nothing else would satisfy Him. Just so, God's purpose is that everyone who is saved by Christ's blood shall be "conformed to the image of his Son". We do not sufficiently enter into the delight that God has in carrying out these wonderful, gracious purposes. Think of a man now afflicted by disease, worn out by

[Page 204]

age, and think that the moment is coming when he shall be conformed to the image of God's Son!

The church is brought not merely into forgiveness by its association with Christ, but into His state. We have another view of this in John's first epistle. (To every student of Scripture I would say that he will find it very interesting and profitable to compare Paul and John together). Turn to 1 John 4:17, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world". I ask you to ponder that verse. Nothing could satisfy God's love (for it is His love He satisfies, not you), but to have us here in this world, where we were aliens and at variance with Him, and perverse, and everything but what we should be, to have us in the same state before Him as His own Son, sitting at His right hand. It is not merely as He is out of judgment, but in all His moral state; in the delight, the welcome that He is in with the Father. This is the perfection of grace, that I should be reconstructed or rehabilitated in such a manner - not in heaven, which would be a very great grace - but in the very place of my departure and disgrace "in this world". This is the first thing, and if you have it simply, the second will come easily.

The second thing is that the church has Christ's place. If we want to know the church's place, we must enquire where is Christ's place, because the church is His body, and you could not have a person's body in a different place from the person himself. True, the church is here, but it is missionary here, and comes from another place. If the queen of Sheba had been united to Solomon, Jerusalem would have been her place as it was his, but she might have gone back to Abyssinia as a missionary. This is the case with the church. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you", John 20:21. (See also John 17:18).

It is plain that we must be out of a place to be sent

[Page 205]

into it; we do not belong to the world though we are in it. The practical hindrance to a soul understanding his place is the want of knowledge of his state. If your soul is in the simple enjoyment of the fact that you have the same state as Christ, you will see immediately that no place would suit you but the place where He is. For an illustration of this, turn to Luke 15. What is to be noticed here is that there is no interval between being in a state for the place and being in the place. The moment the robe, and the ring, and the shoes are on the prodigal we find he is in the house, for that was where the mirth was (verse 25). Luke 15 does not set forth the future Father's house, which shall be our residence, but the place where our present supplies come from. The house in John 14 is the place where we reside; here it is the source of our supplies. Just as a Frenchman might live in this country, but have his estate in France and draw his revenue thence. Where do you get your supplies, your enjoyment, your gladness of heart? From the Father's house. How do you get the place? By being in the state. The prodigal is found in the house without any movement; the moment the robes are on he is inside. The great hindrance to a soul accepting its place is the question, Am I in a fit state? But God has put believers in a fit state; we give "thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light".

In Ephesians 2:6, we see what the place is. "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, .. . hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". A person may say, I never was there; but if you look at it that way, you are making it an attainment instead of a gift. What I wish to do is to discover to you what is yours. If I told you there was some property of yours in a drawer, would you not go and look for it? A person might have the key of a beautiful garden

[Page 206]

in his pocket, but yet never have been in it. I say, Turn the key and go in. I want you to understand what a wonderful position believers occupy now by being the body of Christ, and it is only the knowledge of this that can give you ability to act suitably to your high position. A man must be sensible of his position before he can act in accordance with it. Hence, in Ephesians, practice is not introduced till after the position is established. In Romans, the believer is viewed as on his way to heaven, and dropping things here that are not consistent with that; in Ephesians he comes down from heaven to act in the grace of Christ here after he has found what a wonderful portion he has as a member of the body of Christ.

How is this effected? This is the great difficulty of the whole matter, and brings us to the third thing - the power. This we find in Ephesians 1:19 to 2: 6. The first action of the power is in you to raise you up and make you sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This must take place before power can act from you, otherwise you would be a mere machine. To illustrate this - because it is a cardinal point - turn to Joshua 3. Commentators tell us (and I quite agree with them) that you cannot get into Canaan until you are dead. But if there was no other way of my dying than by my body being laid in the grave, I should never get into the heavenly places until the dissolution of the body. What meets that is that we died with Christ, and we have also been raised up. Thus we get a sense of divine power giving us a place as members of the body of Christ outside this world altogether. This is what the power effects for us. The one who knows he has been raised up is brought into the enjoyment of heavenly things; he gets a new and peculiar sense of the wonderful power of God to place him above every opposing element. As God said to Joshua, "This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel" - the heart is centred on Christ.

[Page 207]

Now if you have found the place, how did you get up to it? By the power. Then come down and let that power work in you here. The power works in us; Ephesians 3:20. Perhaps you may say, This is quite beyond me. But I am not putting it to your practice. Suppose I opened out a map to show you a property that belonged to you, would you not look at it? Would you not be greatly interested in it?

If you know these three things which the believer in Christ now has - His state, His place, and His power - you can come down to the world with the sense that power is in you to act according to His wishes. Hence in Ephesians 4 we have practice. As far as I can reckon there are six or seven distinct circles or spheres of action. The church is the first circle - "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace" - and it comes down, as I have already stated, to the most common relations of life - husbands, children, servants. How you will act in all these circles depends on where you come from. The believer is like the spider, that "taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces". Having been made superior to everything here by divine power, I come down to act in that superiority in the manifestation of the grace of Christ. Superiority does not consist in doing some great thing - like a man who leaps over a five-barred gate and stumbles in a furrow - but in not being affected by circumstances, I shall not be moved. You come down and act as a missionary for Christ in your circumstances, no matter what they are. A mother with a large family can say, I find I am in the same state as my blessed Saviour at God's right hand, and the delight of the Father's heart as He is, and here I am to act in the superiority in which He has placed me, not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Having tried to show you what believers gain by being the body of Christ, I would now press upon you

[Page 208]

what I alluded to at first: how we should each one be interested in that which is the object of Christ's interest here, the church. First, I call your attention to the apostle Paul, who was the greatest of all evangelists. Let us see how he was interested in the church. He writes to the Corinthians, who certainly were not a particularly bright company, "I am jealous as to you with a jealousy which is of God; for I have espoused you unto one man, to present you a chaste virgin to Christ". How thoroughly was he in unison with the heart of Christ! Are you, am I, likewise? Are we anxious to see those who are so dear to Christ, suitable to Him? Was it because the Corinthians were very nice people and peculiarly agreeable to the apostle, that he took such an interest in them? On the contrary, we know how shamefully they treated him and slighted him. There was a grievous case of discipline at Corinth, and we know how much we are affected by such cases, and how much we feel about those implicated in them, but what was the apostle's anxiety? "Not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you". I need not multiply examples. As an evangelist the apostle could say, "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some"; as a servant of the church, "I endure all things for the elect's sake". Another example is in Philippians 1:23 - 25. The apostle had an earnest desire to depart and be with Christ; it would be a great deal happier for him, but it was better for the church that he should remain, and that settles the matter at once - he would remain. What would have been most desirable for himself is of no consideration when compared with what would be best for the church. There is one object on this earth that should command the attention of every one of us. This does not concern gifted brethren merely, but all. Those women who laboured with the apostle

[Page 209]

(Philippians 4:3) were not preaching, I am sure. I turn to two examples of what should characterise

those who take an interest in what belongs to Christ. The first is in Luke 2, when the Lord came into the temple for the first time. He was met by Anna the prophetess, "which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day". What characterised her was complete devotedness to God's temple. And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years; let no one then complain of being too old or feeble to serve the church. I am sure we all own that the Jewish people were not at all equal to the church - the treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price - but who of us is so devoted to that which is the body of Christ as this old woman was to a temple built of stone? How little one serves, not merely because one is fond of christians or the like, but with the idea that I am serving what is dear to Christ. Still it is most encouraging to know, amid all the confusion around, that the pearl of great price is still here, and Christ's interest in it undiminished.

The second example is in Luke 21, when the Lord is leaving the temple, as I read it, for the last time. He was going away to give all He had for God's glory on the earth, and He sees a poor widow casting into the treasury of the temple all her living - two mites, which make a farthing. Let no one then say he is too poor to serve the church. Devotedness of heart is not dependent upon either age or fortune.

In conclusion, I give you a verse which shows us what characterises true affection for the Lord's interests - Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come". + This is what characterises the whole,

+Each of the apostles presents the Lordís coming in a different light. John is occupied with the state of those who should be looking, and watching, and ready for Him; Paul looks at the Lord Himself coming down with a gathering shout; Peter looks at the advantages we shall get by His coming; James, at the relief we shall get.

[Page 210]

but all are not ready, some are getting ready. Hence the next word is, "let him that heareth say, Come". I am not content to say it myself, but if I see any brother or sister not sufficiently detached from things here to invite the Lord back, I seek to get them in a state to say, "Come"; so that all may join in one united invitation to the One who was rejected from this earth, to come back. We go still farther, "Let him that is athirst, come". Here is one who is not happy. Well, ask him to come. Next, I am evangelical; "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". I sweep the world for everything that belongs to Christ; I want to gather them all up and have them ready for Him, as a nurse would wish to have all the children of a family in nice order for their mother's return.

[Page 211]

THE RESOURCES OF THE HEAVENLY POSITION

Ephesians 3:14 - 21

Last evening we were looking at the dignity of our position, if I may use such a word - the rank we are in. Indeed, we could not get any higher position, for it is not simply relationship, but position, because it is not merely that we are sons of God, but united to Christ, and therefore we could not be in a closer position. No company of believers has ever had so close a place as those who form the body, and we are able to carry it out, not only now, but to all ages. Thus we are the complement, that which completes Christ, the setting forth, the full display, you a little bit, and I a little bit; hence when the church comes down from God out of heaven as the bride, she comes down having the glory of God.

Now what we have to look at this evening is not the dignity of the position, but the resources of the position. A man might have a great position in the world, but be entirely without means to support it. And that is one of the dangers with us as far as we talk of our high position and have not the means to carry it out. Not that there is not power for it, but really we do not enter into what this is, what the blessed God has for us.

The world might say, I do not see you are in the high position you talk about. I reply, I do not say I am, but what I am saying is that I have the means to maintain that position. And you always find that if a man has the means to maintain his position, he does not talk of his position; while the person who has not the means is always more or less inclined to talk of his position, because he wants to get an acknowledgment for a position he has not power to maintain; if he has

[Page 212]

it, he need not remind persons of what his position is. Thus you will find with a person always reminding you that he is a heavenly man, very likely he is not walking at all as such, but wants to get the credit of the position he has not power to maintain. If he had the power for it he need not remind you of it, because he would be actually walking in it.

Now the resources are the consequences of a person having accepted his dignity; but if you have not answered to the latter part of the first prayer, this prayer would not touch you; you would not want it. Here is a person saying, I admit the wonderful dignity I am placed in as a member of the body of Christ, and now I want to know how to carry it out, for an empty title is nothing. Certainly this is a most necessary thing, and felt so amongst men, and in this country at least a man who has a title generally gets means to support it. What is a king if he has not a penny to support his dignity? A very great man, but he cannot maintain his dignity, he has not got the material support.

God grant we may enter into our resources more, for it is extremely comforting to us to know that the very place where people would deny the dignity is the very place where God gives me the power to support it. My dignity would not be denied in heaven; down here it is.

Well, tonight I do not dwell on my dignity, but on the means God has given me to support it. And I say it is the result of a person having taken his place in heaven, and therefore it is the prayer for it.

Now turn to two scriptures in the Old Testament in order to get types of what this is. And we shall find a great principle, and the constant order of God, especially during this period, that provision is made for the thing before the exigency arises - that is, that before God wants you to do anything, He has provided for it.

Deuteronomy 33:25 says, "as thy days, so shall thy

[Page 213]

strength be"; but that is not the character of the present time, as you have your strength before the day, and you could not carry it out if it were not so. Thus we find it in our blessed Lord, and He was the full expression of it, for He came from God.

As I was saying lately, when God wanted to prepare Moses for the great trouble down here upon earth, He did not tell him one word about it, but occupied him with the patterns for the tabernacle, and with the beauties of heaven. A person says, That is too high, would it not make me unfit for anything here? Not at all; on the contrary, if we were more occupied with the heavenly, we should be all the better prepared to meet things here.

Moses had not a word of preparation because he was well prepared. He had been occupied for forty days in the full view of the beauties of God's order, and he was imbued with it, coloured by it, with what suited God. He could say, I have what suits God; hence when he comes down here and finds what has come in, without a word of instruction from God he tells the levites to gird on every man his sword and go out in the camp and slay every man his friend, or neighbour, or brother. He knew what suited God, and without a word of scripture for it he was prepared. That is the character of the thing now, and that is what we have to learn. We all fail in not being up to the crisis. And why? Because you do not know what suits God in the crisis. It is not a question of an honest man, but you do not know what suits God.

Learn like the psalmist in Psalm 73! First he looks at the thing as a man here would look at it. But suppose he had first gone into the sanctuary, and had come from God, how would it have been then? I know well what a difference this makes.

Sometimes people say when a difficulty arises - and I am not objecting to the proposition at all - they say, Let us pray about it. Well, I ask, what do you expect

[Page 214]

from that prayer? Oh, I hope God will come in in some way and help us. Let me tell you, you will find that what you will get if you are really praying will be that you yourselves will be turned round to look at the thing in the way God sees it. The change takes place in you. Hence I have sometimes said, I will wait until you come back, I will wait to see what effect God will have upon you.

As I say, and I do believe it is true, there is a great effect that takes place in us. It is not that God comes in with some distinct manifestation of His power in the thing; the manifestation of the power is in me. He says, I have brought you round to my own impression about the thing. You were coloured with what you were accustomed to do, but you are now coloured with what I feel about it. And that is the practical difficulty; Nebuchadnezzar looks at the material power, and he sees a head of gold; Daniel looks at it, and he sees a lion. What made the difference? One looked at it with man, the other with God. They were both honest men, but not both divine. One was a divine man and hence had a divine mind.

Turn now to Deuteronomy 26. Here we get a type of the truth in the chapter we are considering. "And it shall be when thou comest into the land that Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein.. .". That is just where you are. You have got in, and are dwelling in the land, and there is where the power comes in. Well, what to do now? Why, then you are to turn and praise the Lord that you have got in. In verse 9 you read, "And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey". There you are brought to the place, and that is the first thing. Now what is the action of those who have come to the place? What do they do? The great action of that day was, as you get in the close of this chapter, that they worshipped. The first great thing

[Page 215]

is that you are brought to the land, and the effect of being brought out into this wealthy place is that you worship.

I know very well what may occur to some of you: I thought I had come out to fight; they were there to learn to fight. Quite true, but that was not the primary thing; I am a worshipper there.

Hence you get that beautiful doxology in Ephesians 3:20, "But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen". Glory in the assembly - that is worship.

The first thing I want to lay upon your minds is that, having come and taken your place like Israel, this is what you are now to do. He took the first-fruits in a basket, and went up to the place that God had appointed and gave it to the priest. And he said, "I am come unto the country.... And now, behold, I have brought the first-fruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God". They were worshippers. What would be the action of a worshipper? What did they do afterwards? What is the practice? Just what would be the practice in Ephesians?

Turn to Deuteronomy 26:12 - "When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.. .". The activity of a worshipper was tithing. What was the tithe? The tithe was rendering to God His dues of the property God had given him. If a man had not any property, he could not give any tithes. I believe if you do not learn the truth of Ephesians 3 you will never come out with the practice.

[Page 216]

He gives a tenth portion. The first time they came out was when Abraham gave them to Melchisedec. It was not properly what belonged to the priest, but to the conqueror, but he gave them to the priest, to Melchisedec; thus they became the portion of the priest. I only dwell on that as a type.

I ask you to pay attention to the fact that if you have been a worshipper inside with God, you come out to labour for God. There is nothing simpler. What do you call His dues? I call the practice in Ephesians 4 His dues. I come out to act for God in the power of the grace I have enjoyed inside. There is no question at all, I am to give Him His portion, that is my activity; therefore I do not deprive Him of it, no matter what may have come upon me. "I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead". I only dwell on that as a type of a worshipper, as a great thing; and that is what I want first to lay upon you, what is inside, and there is no difficulty in arriving at it.

Having come to this wealthy place, what is the first great thing our hearts are called to? It is to thank God I am there, and I worship. I often feel, as to Deuteronomy 26, that here was the great day for Israel, and I often lament that among ourselves, while I hear many thanking God that they have got out of Egypt, how very few there are who thank God they have got into heaven. Then, I say, Israel is beyond you. They could say, We are come to the wealthy place, and laying down their baskets before the Lord they could say, "I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us".

Now turn to Joshua 5 for a moment, and I hope you will study these scriptures for yourselves. It is impossible in an address to exhaust the word of God - that we never can - or in any sense to give the fulness

[Page 217]

of it. Joshua 5:10 -- "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day". Now that is inside Gilgal, and Deuteronomy 26 is beyond this, but if further on, of course it includes this. You must have come to this if you have come to the spot in Deuteronomy 26, you could not do it else. If I am come all the way to London I must get all the towns between this and London. Hence if you come to the fact that you are dwelling in the land, as in Deuteronomy 26, it is a clear case that you must have passed Gilgal, and Gilgal is the first great principle you start with, and that is what I am coming to view. That is where I learn to be a soldier. The first great thing that is to characterise me - and it is the ground work of the rest - is that I am to be a worshipper; but I am obliged to learn to be a soldier. If there were no enemies I should not want to be a soldier, but I must be so because there are, otherwise I should be always a worshipper, and go on always as such. No, no! I do not want fighting, and I would much rather not fight; but the best way where there is an enemy is to be prepared for him, for if you are not, he will beat you. Well, here is the preparation for being a soldier, the other is for the worshipper, but you are both, and you are formed for both inside. But the worshipper is to render his dues to God outside, and a soldier is to fight the enemy outside. But where is he formed? Inside. Where is the recruit made a soldier? In the barracks.

Gilgal is not Marah. Marah is that you refuse that which would gratify the flesh. In Gilgal you have rolled off the whole thing, the old man is left behind. That is exactly in figure like a recruit; he comes up to the barrack gates with his country clothes upon him,

[Page 218]

and his country manners and ways; but everything of this is left behind, and he has come to the barracks to be remodelled into a new kind of article altogether - a soldier. You are a soldier as to fighting, but a worshipper as to tithing. As a worshipper I am delighting in God and what God has brought me into, and my resources come out in this place, and I am going outside to labour. But whilst thus occupied, I find there is a terrible enemy, wicked spirits in heavenly places, the prince of the darkness of this world; but I am not a bit afraid, for I am a soldier and I am prepared to meet the foe.

Now in this chapter we see how the soldier is made; and the first great point is that your heart is made more animated with the love of Christ. It is love always that makes the soldier.

Look at a hen with her chickens, no dog will face her. She is a poor timid creature in herself, but love for her brood makes her valiant. Her love bristles up with such fervour that even a large mastiff would quail before her. What makes her such a valiant animal? Love. And if we had love for the Lord we would be wonderfully valiant. What is the really typical import of the Lord's supper? I am calling to mind what He went through to bring me into this place. I am in the place, but not thinking of the place, but of Him in the place of unclouded light - this divine ground where everything is according to God. Thus in spirit in the Lord's supper, I am really beside Him, brought to Himself who removed all the distance between Him and me, and I am thinking about what He did to bring me here, how He went down into death for me, and what He bore for me, to bring me into the place of gain; and the more the greatness of the gain comes before my heart, and what that blessed One went through to bring me there, the more I feel, as I leave that table, that I cannot face the world but for Christ. How does it come out? Look at the man of the world

[Page 219]

in his pride. I say Christ has died here, been driven from here; is this the place then for man's indulgence, for man's eminence, for man's glory? Never, never! I have reached the very acme in the delight of His own presence, found out what He has wrought for me, and am dwelling on the greatness of the love that made Him go through that terrible judgment that lay upon me in order to put me into that scene of unspeakable joy; hence I am a soldier. It is not that I go through the evolutions of the barracks - my heart is touched with love.

But there is the tomorrow. Another day over, another day begins. When you talk of the morrow, I eat the old corn of the land, Christ in glory. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings"; I come out then to have fellowship with His sufferings - there you are a soldier.

What is the nature of this prayer here? The apostle says, "I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named, in order that he may give you according to the riches of his glory.. .". Glory is the measure of God for everything now, and the glory is the expression of divine satisfaction according to His attributes - not a single thing left out, not holiness left out, love could not be, or the diadem of divine glory would not be complete. Everything is in its fulness; holiness is full, love is full, everything is full.

What is the first part of the prayer? That He would grant you to be strengthened. It is power. Power has acted for you to bring you up; and now you are gone up to understand the power that has brought you up, and so understand it that you may come out to act in that power. By and by when you come to the sixth chapter, it is to come from you, but I am acting in power in the tithing, and against the enemy in fighting. But the first thing your heart must necessarily delight

[Page 220]

in is "That the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts". It is not the place now, mind, but the Person of Christ - that He may dwell in your hearts by faith.

You see what a thing it is! You get a little of this in the type in the case of Isaac and Ishmael. It was not only Isaac who was in the house, but Ishmael was there - and Ishmael was there first. But at length Isaac was weaned and a great festivity took place; Ishmael was turned out. I call that the Coronation Day; Christ is crowned, and all the house is His. But you walk about the world with the thought, I do not see one who gives Him this place. I say there is a place He has got in heaven now, He must get His place anyway. And do you not like His place? There may be conflict or intrusion here, but there is a place where Ishmael could not venture; and therefore there is a moment in the history of the soul when Christ gets the throne of your heart. I do not say you will always maintain it, but there is a moment when the soul through divine grace lets Christ have the entire rule, and is that a poor thing? Christ has been rejected from this world, but is He king in your heart? Does He reign there? He is not reigning on earth yet, but is He reigning over you, in me?

He ought to reign in our houses, too; He said to Zacchaeus, I will dwell in thy house today. Christ has no property in the world yet, but if He has got our bodies, He ought to reign in them. As the little hymn expresses it

'Oh, for a heart submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer's throne,
Where God alone is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.'

I am sure it must be blessed to have a heart like that, but you never get it down here; you will get it up there perhaps. "That the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts" - that is actually, He is at home

[Page 221]

there, just as you get in John 14 - "We will come unto him, and make our abode with him". That is, the Spirit makes your heart sensible that your heart is a room, so to speak, for Them to dwell in. The same word is used in the beginning of the chapter. He has an abode for us up there, and He says He will have an abode in you down here in the world.

What do I gain by going up into that place? you hear a person say. I ask, What is the difference between the gospel and the church? In the gospel the joys of heaven come down to me through the Holy Spirit, home comforts before I get home. In the gospel you are a son while walking about the world here according to Romans 8, as the son of the highest and greatest potentate in the world; you are in the world like a man out in the bush all away, still you have the greatest personage for your father. That is the gospel. But in the church I go to where all the joys and comforts are. In the gospel it is the grapes of Eshcol come down to me, but in the church I go up to where they grow through being united to Christ. Individually I have them down here, corporately I have them up there. That is the first great thing. It is not even the thing before your mind, but it is the Person who brought you there, that is the Person who is now to dwell in your heart by faith.

Well, I say, that is a wonderful thing for power, and there is no one to disturb it. You say it is a great thing to get to a place where there is nothing to disturb. Just as in the language of the Canticles, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please". Just as you say, it was a happy meeting, there was no disturbance, the power of the Lord was present in the room and kept all disturbance out. No disturbance in His presence, that is the wonderful thing; everyone occupied with the Lord - there is power to keep out all disturbance. I delight to think He is in a place that suits me, and

[Page 222]

would I like to be there? That is what it is, I want Christ, that He may dwell in my heart by faith.

The next thing is, "being rooted and founded in love, in order that ye may be fully able to apprehend with all the saints...". Down here we have to hate "even the garment spotted by the flesh", but none of that there. I say, Come on, to every one of the saints; no matter how discordant, or how unfitted for company down here, all divested up there. You could not pass in with a bit of the old thing upon you. How could you get into the holiest with a spot upon you? It would not be the holiest if you did. No one with a spot does get in - but there is one with a spot, what then? He gets it washed off, and then he gets in. But he got in first through the blood, and has he lost his place there? No, but he loses the enjoyment of it, and that is another thing. He got his place first through the efficacy of the blood, but he loses the enjoyment of his place as soon as he gets a spot on him. What then is to be done with the spot? Why, wash it away, that there may be no sense of defilement. You must not bring in a speck. It is not a question of a little defilement, there must not be a particle. A great many have the sense of defilement - what are they to do? Go in as you went at first, your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and your bodies washed with pure water. A great many never come in.

People say to me, Well, you know, I am very dull today and very cold. And why? Well, one thing I say is that you were not always like it, or you would not be conscious of the dullness and coldness now. Some people never feel dull because they never felt bright. People are depressed, and I am not a bit sorry for it, for I say you can never be right until you go back to what is really yours; you could not have it and want it at the same time.

"Being rooted and founded in love... ". You being in a Person and now having a Person dwelling in your

[Page 223]

heart by faith, what are you looking at? "The breadth, and length, and depth, and height"; that is, the whole sphere of the domain of God's counsels. But how get the view except where the view is? How can I see Exeter if I do not come to Exeter? And how can I see heaven if I do not go up? And how can I see the counsel and domain of God's order if I do not go where it is? Moses went up mount Pisgah to look at the land, but here am I in it; and there you may be lost in the wonderful nature of the thing. What then do I fall back upon? The love you know - "and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge, that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God". You come back to the love, you know something of that.

What attracts the heart so to Christ? At one time we were looking at His death to get us out of the ruin we were in; then thanking God that we have got out through His grace; and what now? Now I am thinking of the love that brought me out; but up there, where I do not want it, I say, Now I can enjoy your love. Let me explain.

Very often persons do not understand love except in its activity. Let me ask you to ponder what I say. Some people do not understand love except in activity. In the world all insist that there must be love and love in activity, necessity makes it so. See a mother with a sick child attending on it so anxiously - how she shows her love to the object of her solicitude! But suppose the child gets well, has the mother lost her love for the child, now there is no longer need for the activity of love? I contend, and I believe everyone knows it, that the love is as great, and greater, where there is no necessity for its activity, than when there was. When the child is well, now the mother can say, How I do love that child. She was anxious about it, and slaving for it when ill - that was the activity of love; but now love enjoys itself, it is the known enjoyment

[Page 224]

of the love itself. If you know love only in its activity, you do not know what love is; you only know benevolence, you have not hold of love. You come to a needy person in order to benefit that person. That is only benevolence. Love delights in any sacrifice to accomplish this. Do you think, if a parent, I would not like my child to have the same happiness as myself? He went through all that terrible suffering to place the objects of His love in the same blessedness as Himself, and now He says, "He will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing". Think how God can delight in that love. Well, that is what we get a taste of here, the love that passes knowledge. How you expatiate on it where there is no necessity any more for its activity! Down here in the poor world I want it in its activity; but here you are quietly dwelling on the love you know, your heart expatiates upon what it is in itself when there is no necessity for its activity.

Then you reach up to the fulness of God.

Now the last two verses should not be separated - it is the outburst of worship. "But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen". There is what is to come out in the church, the glory of God. You must not separate the two verses, because verse 20 is the power in you, not the power in God.

Let me try and explain this a little, because I think there is a great lack in understanding what this verse teaches. One has constantly heard it used as though it said that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think according to the power in Him. Not so, it is according to the power in us. He has given me power to make me do something. He can "do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us". I cannot explain it to you in any better way than supposing the

[Page 225]

captain of a company referring to one of his men, John So-and-so; he says, There is a man I can do a great deal with, he is a man of great power, I can do a great deal with that man because the power is in him.

The apostle says something conveying the same idea. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". But the power is in us, not the power towards us. In the first chapter the power is towards us, in the third chapter it is in us, and from us in the sixth.

Here you are made acquainted with the power that got us up. Just like a bird - it has its wings, but does not know it until it uses them. So we, until we get up there with Christ, never do know our power; it is in you now yourselves. It is not as it was with Peter, he had the power merely delegated to him, but the power is in us.

You do not know what He can do with you? Can I do the tithing? Certainly. And why? Because by the power in you He can make you do wonderful things beyond what you ask or even think. Take Paul's thorn for the flesh. One might say, I should not be able to bear it in that way. He can make you do "exceedingly above all which we ask or think", not by the power that He will give, but by the power He has given you.

I do not know how you could carry out your great dignity without this power. Here is the resource to carry it out.

First I come out with Christ in me, and now look at the effect of that - Christ dwelling in my heart. Well, I will do the things according to His pleasure, all the saints are before me, too; I see the actual scope of things, all the wonderful things in the "breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of God's counsels; I have seen with all saints, and the love made to be more consciously before my heart. Now for the power; in us, remember. Now I am a worshipper: "to him be glory in the assembly in Christ

[Page 226]

Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen".

Thus you now have the power, the resources for your dignity, to support your dignity. Last evening we were considering the dignity of the position; now, the actual state, and the state in which you are able to come out. I need not tell you, beloved friends, you will find it is not always that you are in it. Little any of us know of it, but once you have tasted it, once you have had a divine taste of it, you will say, I would like to have it again, I would like to know more of it. This is what qualifies for coming out and rendering to the Lord all His dues.

The first thing is to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace - the Spirit's unity, the whole of the body of Christ; I am going with that unity. My eye keeps the unity of my body, my ear does the same. They do not talk about it, it is not a matter of sentiment at all; all conspire together, every member of my body conspires to keep the unity.

Well, I say, we are thus to be concerned here with what belongs to Christ in the world in which He has been rejected; maintaining for Him, and as in chapter 6, to be "praying .. . with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching unto this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints".

The actual mystery is the church, the body of Christ on earth and Christ the Head in heaven. That is the acme of consummation to look for on this earth. The apostle tells us, before we come to this prayer, that what he wanted was that all men should see the administration of the church upon earth - alas, little seen, little talked of now - "in order that now to the principalities and authorities in the heavenlies might be made known through the assembly the all-various wisdom of God". Why, in the writings of the fathers of the first century there is not a word about the church, not a thought! Until the present century there is no

[Page 227]

notice of it in any of the writings of christianity. They never get beyond personal attachment to the Saviour, they know nothing of union with Him. I am attached to the Saviour, too, but mere attachment always gives occupation with the attachment. When union comes in you are settled, and never settled until then. I see many looking for all manner of divine and beautiful feelings, all occupied with attachment; but attachment necessarily lives upon itself, for it is not settled. If there is no union, it is not established; union alone establishes. And the greater the affection, the more it revolves round itself. You do not lose your affection, but in union you get established, because in union you can occupy yourself with the object of your affection. Before that your affection revolves round itself, whereas when union comes you are occupied with the object of it, and you are established, quite settled now.

[Page 228]

CHRIST'S PRESENT INTEREST IN HIS PEOPLE

Revelation 3:7 - 22

The book of Revelation is of particular interest, because it is the book that was handed to John. In that fact is included this important truth, that all is now determined. It is the closing up of the word. It is final. From the moment it was given to John, there was nothing more to be revealed. There was no more progress. To use a familiar illustration, there were no more trees to be planted, although those that were planted might grow, and, of course, they did grow, but from that time there was nothing to hinder the Lord from coming.

In these seven churches we do not get the church looked at in the aspect of the body, for that is united to Christ, and can no more fail than Christ Himself. It is part and parcel of Himself. The very weakest member of that body is as secure now as ever it can be. It is the church in the aspect of the house of God upon earth that is brought before us here. It is as a candlestick - a light-bearer for Christ in this dark world, that put the Light of the world out of it, and we have seven churches representing seven different phases of the church as the vessel of testimony. The first three recall the church back to its original standing, as set up by God on the earth, and, in a certain sense, disappear; the last four suppose all hope of recovery gone, and run down to the coming of the Lord. All intelligent commentators agree upon that point, so that I am stating nothing new or strange. They are like the seven colours in the rainbow. You may not always see the seven, but still it is the rainbow. At one time one colour might predominate, and another colour at another. Sometimes it might be green, at another time yellow. So the particular feature represented

[Page 229]

by each of these seven churches predominates at a certain period in the history of the professing church. One feature predominates, though there may exist along with it some of the characteristics of the others in a less distinct degree, just like the colours of the rainbow. I do not speak more of that, however. It is not my present purpose.

What I want to show you - and it is the great thought before my mind, because so deeply interesting and so profound - is the Lord's present concern for His people, His thoughts about the church in its present state. The last four churches, as I have said, run down to the end, to the coming of the Lord, as all commentators of ordinary scriptural intelligence agree, representing four different phases of things in the church. Thyatira is Romanism; Sardis, Protestantism; Philadelphia, Separation; and Laodicea, Latitudinarianism, that is, no rule at all. These are the four phases, and they run down to the end, four concurrent streams running to a point. Thyatira and Sardis I do not mean to go into; but I am taking the two last in order to see Christ's present thought about His people. There is blessing even in thinking of it. How I wish I could convey to you the importance of studying this subject. Great blessings are ever derived from a patient study of true subjects, but nothing could give a deeper or more impressive blessing to your souls than simply occupying yourselves with considering what is Christ's present thought about His people. Just sit down for a quarter of an hour and consider what Christ thinks of His people, and see if you do not get a blessing. You will get a blessing, even though you may not get much light on it. Well, as I was saying, the book of Revelation is the last thing we get. It is not that the trees have not grown, but there have been no more planted. Trees may grow a great deal bigger, but the beech, the oak, the ash, is the same that was planted at first. So here, there is

[Page 230]

no more addition. There is growth and development, but there is no new element since, nor to come; therefore everything was ripe for the coming of the Lord from the time the book of Revelation, the last book, was given.

If everything was going right, it would be easy to understand what the manner of the Lord's dealing is; for it is the expression of His heart; and when everything is in accordance with His mind, He expresses Himself to that effect. Now, the first thing I ask of you is this, What do you understand about the heart of Christ? We will see afterwards how He expresses it. If everything is according to His mind, He is free to unbosom Himself to the soul in all the fulness of His affection without restraint; but if things are not according to His mind, He changes His manner; there is reserve. He never changes His heart, but He does change His manner. What, then, is the heart of Christ? You know already what the nature of His love is. I will turn you to Ephesians 5:25, to see what the heart of Christ is in itself: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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".

In this passage I get what the heart of Christ is, presented in three great characteristics, which I ask you to note - Christ's past, present, and future thought about His church. First, that He "loved the church, and gave himself for it". That shows the depth of His love, a love stronger than death. It is not only that He did great things for us, but He gave Himself. Beyond that, love could not go. Do you understand this, my beloved friends? - "Christ .. . loved the church, and gave himself for it". What deep meaning this conveys to the heart!

[Page 231]

The second characteristic is, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it". That is what Christ is doing now. Have you got a sense of the fact, that the same love of Christ which made Him give Himself for you is now occupied in separating you from everything that would separate you from Him? Nothing can express more the profound depth of the love of Christ for you than this, that His present occupation in heaven is devoted to removing everything that would cause distance between you and Him. When He was leaving His disciples, He poured water into a basin, girded Himself with a towel, and washed their feet, as expressive of His present service for us in the glory. I am going to glory, He says, but I am going there to serve you; My mind's attention will be rivetted on you, My heart's affection will be set on you, and I shall take care that nothing shall break the intimacy that subsists between us. I shall make it My business there to detach you from everything that would separate you from Myself. That is the wonderful nature of the heart of Christ, that He not only loved the church and gave Himself for it, but His present occupation is day by day bringing His word to bear upon you that He may set you apart from all that would hinder communion, and prevent any break between you and Himself. Nothing can - would that I could lead your hearts fully to respond to it - nothing can show more the depth of the interest He has in you than this - that he takes care that nothing interferes with the intimacy, that there shall not be the slightest reserve. A father loves a child, and a friend loves another friend, and their most earnest thoughts are to see the objects of their love free from blemish. But where love is connected with truth, you are very much more quick to detect any blemish either in your child or your friend than in any one you do not love so much. When you see the blemish, what do you think of? You think of the best means of removing it, because

[Page 232]

you want to see the object of your love without a spot. This is the nature of Christ's love, and that is Christ's present occupation for you.

The third characteristic is "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish". I do not think this means that we are all to meet Him in the air, though that is quite true; the idea here is that He might present us to Himself all fit and ready for Him. It is like Eve when she is presented to Adam; he immediately accepts her as the one ready for him, perfectly suited for him, and made for him. And so Paul, in some measure answering to the thought of Christ - alas! that there are so few like him - says to the Corinthians, "I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ". This is the heart of Christ about the whole church, and my heart must go out to that extent. I get Christ's heart here in its integrity, in its nature, what it is in itself. He "loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word". With this intention, for this purpose of presenting it to Himself thoroughly prepared for Him, "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". This is His thought about His church, and He carries out His thought. You hear people say, Oh, when we meet the Lord, we shall drop everything that is unfit for Him. That is not the idea here. It is that Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify it, set her apart from everything that would separate from Himself, and that when the presentation comes, He presents it to Himself all ready and fit for Him, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, holy and without blemish. So that were the Lord to come at any moment, the church is ready for Him. The same idea is in 1 Thessalonians 3:13:

[Page 233]

"To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness". Well then, having seen what the heart of Christ is, I shall now look at its expression. Love has got a manner. It has a mode of expressing itself; and the first thing I ask here is, What would be Christ's manner if there was nothing wrong, if all was going right, if there was nothing to check the expression of His love? There is no question of the love being there. He has the love; we have already seen that in all the marvellous fulness and profound depth of its nature; but the manner in which He expresses it is according to the state in which He finds saints. He expresses it either in approving or disapproving as the case may be. A father may have reserve towards his child, but that is his manner; his love is still the same.

Now I turn you to a scene in John 20, to show what His manner would be if there was nothing to check His love. It is the first interview Christ had with His disciples after He rose from the dead. He enters the room where they are gathered and He enters it as the risen One, in all the magnificence of His new position, and standing on this new, this wonderful platform, He introduces them into the same new place as He is in Himself, and imparts to them the benefits that belong to that place - benefits which were never imparted to any before. Read from verse 19: "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week". Everything was new, you see; it is a new day. "When the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord". What I have read this for is to show, first, that I know the nature of His love; and secondly, I know how He would express that love if there was

[Page 234]

nothing to check it. Here we see that everything was in order. The disciples are assembled together on the first day of the week. Christ comes into the midst of His gathered saints, where they were shut out from all else, and imparts to them what belongs to His new position. This is never repeated, though we get a fresh benefit ever from it. What I mean is, if you lose your peace you seek the same peace that you lost. You do not get a new peace. It is elementary, this scene, I admit. It is the alphabet. But one who learns the alphabet does not lose it when he gets further on; he is always using it, could not read if he were not using it. Now I want to show you from this passage what would be the expression of Christ's love, if everything were according to His mind. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful or more cordial than the way the risen Lord expresses Himself to these disciples thus met together. So complete is the absence of all reserve, not a symptom of restraint. There is perfect freedom to tell out His love, nothing to hinder the outflow of His affection. He salutes them with "peace". He shows them His hands and side. He imparts to them all the wonderful benefits which belonged to Him in His new position. How magnificent the whole scene! What could exceed its beauty and grandeur to one who values the heart of Christ?

We have thus seen (1) what the expression of Christ's love would be if there was nothing to hinder it. Let us now (2) look at the expression of the same love when things are not according to His mind. I am going on carefully, you see. As I have said already, Christ never changes His heart, but He does change His manner. It is not because there is any change in His heart that He changes His manner, but because we are not acting according to His mind, and I turn you to Revelation 1:14 to show this: "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow;

[Page 235]

and his eyes were as a flame of fire". Is not that a change of manner? How different from the scene we were looking at just now. John, who knew Him best of all the disciples, fell at His feet as dead. He says, I do not know that manner. Christ's heart was not changed; only His manner. Where is the person who does not change His manner, if things do not please him? I ask any affectionate parent in this room, and I say, Do you never change your manner towards your child? He replies, I do change my manner towards my child if I am disappointed in what the child does. I cannot express my love in the same way to a naughty child as I do to an obedient child, though I love the one as dearly as the other. If I did not change my manner, if I treated them both alike, it would show a want of truth. You change your manner soonest to the one you love best. So with Christ here. He is indignant at the state of the church. "His eyes were as a flame of fire". I ask any person to contemplate the huge break-up and desolation of the house of God, the sad failure and ruin of the church as God's candlestick in this dark world, and the dreadful things that are going on under the name of Christ on the earth, and say if he can look on all that with a calm eye. And if you cannot look upon it with a calm eye, can you wonder that the Holy One of God changes His manner? What are His eyes like naturally? "His eyes are as the eyes of doves"; but here they are as a flame of fire. Why the change? Because He is indignant; His affection has been slighted. He has changed His manner because of a change in your condition; because of the condition of the whole professing church. Ecclesiastical corruption has come in. He feels His love has been trifled with, and nothing makes a person so indignant as slighted affection. I never preach to people about ecclesiastical corruption, but I preach nearness to Christ; and I find that if anyone is mixed up with

[Page 236]

ecclesiastical corruption, he very soon gets uncomfortable if I can get him near enough to get but one look of those eyes that are as a flame of fire. A man may go on long enough with it if he does not get so near Christ as to see those eyes, but the moment his eye meets Christ's eye, he begins to feel uneasy. There is a person who has got relief to his conscience; he says, I believe Christ died for my sins, and I am quite happy and contented where I am. That may be, but I say that person has never made the acquaintance of Christ, has never got near Him. If you have learned what Christ has done for you, you must make the acquaintance of the Person who did it.

Take the woman in Luke 7. She goes into the house of Simon the Pharisee to make the acquaintance of Christ. What did Jonathan do after Goliath was killed? Before he saw the head of Goliath in David's hand, he thought of nothing but Goliath, but from the moment that he saw David with Goliath's head, he knew deliverance was wrought. He says, I will now make the acquaintance of David. Would the acquaintance of David make Goliath more dead than he was? Not a bit of it; but the acquaintance would bring out what his relation was to the one who killed Goliath. Now, what I want you to understand is that if Christ does not find things according to His mind He changes His manner. When He came into the midst of the disciples in John 20, He was as free and cordial as possible, because He was there in all the delight of reciprocated affection; but here, in Revelation 1, He has so changed His manner that John, who knew Him best, does not recognise Him. The love of the church has cooled down, and corruption has set in; His affections have been trifled with, and He feels the slight - feels it all the more keenly because His love has never cooled, His heart has never changed; but you see what a change has taken place in His manner. Many an honest person seeking to get near the Lord, instead

[Page 237]

of the effect being happiness, is made uneasy and uncomfortable, gets alarmed and afraid. Why? Because of the condition of things in which he is, because he is mixed up with what the Lord disapproves; there is something wrong, and the Lord changes His manner. Those searching eyes search the person through and through. He looks round to see where he is, and the result is he wants to get out of the position he is in. Does Christ love the person any less? Has a father lost his affection for his child because he treats him with reserve? Certainly not. Just so with Christ. If you are going on badly, depend upon it Christ will change His manner, and treat you with reserve. Not because He does not love you, but because He loves you, because His affection is unchanged. You often hear a person say, I do not find the same enjoyment in Christ that I used to do. Surely Christ must be changed towards me. No, Christ is not changed; the change is in you. You have turned aside from Him in some way, and He has been obliged to change His manner, but His heart is as full of love towards you as ever. There is not a conscientious person in this room, who is going on with the Lord, but knows well that Christ takes him to task - I use the plainest language possible - for the way he behaves himself. Many of you are afraid to be alone with the Lord, to go into His presence, because you know He will take you to task. See how Christ deals with Peter. He had got the most wonderful revelation from Christ ever made to man, in Matthew 16, and a few minutes after, what did Christ say to him? He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan". Do you think there was no change of manner in that? He does change His manner, not His heart, and, therefore, I have to learn a great deal from His manner.

In the chapter I have read, the manner of Christ towards the church of Philadelphia is clearly described. "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

[Page 238]

These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an opened door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". I am not going to interpret the passage. My only intention is to show Christ's manner in dealing with these two phases - the Philadelphian phase and the Laodicean phase. This, my beloved friends, is a very grave subject; but still, I thank God that the very thought of the subject is a comfort to me, and I have this comfort in my heart, too, that every one of you who occupies himself with it will get a blessing.

This message to the church of Philadelphia is to me one of the most marvellous exhibitions - I was going to say the most marvellous exhibition - of divine grace recorded in the whole history of God's dealing with man. He says, Before the catastrophe, before judgment clears the scene, I will have a people who are an expression of faithfulness to Christ. That to me is a most wonderful thing. Before the final close, before the great catastrophe, God says, I will revive the truth through Philadelphia, that is, separation from evil, and faithfulness to Christ, and He is doing it. I am not going to interpret the passage, but I want to point out two things: first, what the mark of a Philadelphian is, and second, how God makes a Philadelphian; that is, how He extricates the saint out of entanglements of ecclesiastical corruption. If you allow me to use a homely figure, it is like a great cobweb, and saints are the flies entangled in that cobweb. The disentanglement of God's children from this cobweb is like that most remarkable event in Scripture history; I refer to the bringing up of the captives from Babylon. The manner of their deliverance, the exercises of soul through which they passed step by step from Babylon to the house of the Lord, are given in the fifteen songs

[Page 239]

of degrees, Psalms 120 - 134, of which I have already spoken in a former address, but I ask you to look at a verse in Psalm 124, to see how they spoke of their extrication from the entanglements of Babylon. Read verse 7, "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped". That was the most wonderful emancipation, the most blessed unfolding of grace. It was turning them from captivity to liberty, setting them free from all the entanglements in which they were, and bringing them into the happy enjoyment of God's house. This is exactly what the Lord is doing now with souls who are entangled in the Babylon of ecclesiastical corruption. He breaks the snare. He extricates them from the cobweb. He has not only converted you, but He has disentangled you, liberated your feet, and brought you into a line of separation, into a holy walk with Christ, and for Christ on earth. Well, then, there is a mark, a distinct mark, so that anyone may know that you are a Philadelphian, and that is, an opened door, which is the very opposite of Laodicea. There the Lord is looking for a door, here He gives a door. I do not agree with the popular notion of what a door is. You hear people saying, Oh! there is a great open door at such a place, a great ear for the gospel, crowds coming to hear.

Look at Paul at Corinth; Acts 18. He wanted to leave it because he did not see much fruit of his work, but the Lord says to Paul, Remain in the place; do not leave, I have much people in this city. He stayed there for a year and a half. There was a door opened up to him by the Lord leading him on in true service. A door is the way of the Lord. A door is to faith. Take the case of David himself, for the Lord presents Himself in this address to Philadelphia as the One who has the key of David. Take his history till he reaches the throne. Everything is against him. He is beset with difficulties on every hand. He will not

[Page 240]

succeed, is the thought about him in the minds of Israel. David thought so himself. He says, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul". When everything is against him the Lord finds a way for him out of all his difficulties and trials. That is a door. It is the wonderful sense that a soul gets that there is no fear of not getting through; the Lord saying, I will open up a way for you. It is not a person making a great proclamation of his services or what he is doing, but the settled conviction that all will be right, be the difficulty what it may. Paul's mantle is that which every saint should wear: "All men forsook me.... Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me.... And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work". Stephen's mantle must be worn in relation to the earth, and Paul's mantle in relation to the church. Take another example - the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were faithful for God in their day, and had to go into the fiery furnace for it, but there was a door God opened up, a way out of it, and such a door as few of us would like. What was the effect of this wonderful deliverance, this open door out of the fiery furnace? The whole kingdom of Babylon was revolutionised as the result.

So it was with Joseph; see how the Lord opened a door for him. In fact, if there is anyone who is faithful to Christ in the day in which he lives, Christ opens a door for him, and that is the mark I am now speaking of. I will not dwell on it longer, but what I have been anxious to show is the manner of Christ towards those in the present day who are true to Him in the midst of general ruin and failure, and that is, whatever the difficulties, Christ will open up the way, use them, there set before them an opened door. The Philadelphian is the only one in all the time of failure who escapes censure. Nothing that you can say can affect the circumstances, but Christ will open a door for you if you are faithful. You may be like David

[Page 241]

at first, you may not feel you have a door, but David had a little one as he knew himself. I have to do with the One who is the Holy and the True, and my path must be holy and true, and I have to do with the One who has the key of David, and He will open a door just as He did to David, be the difficulties and trials what they may. I come from Christ, that is my base; Christ opens a door, and that is my course in service.

Now, I will try to address myself to a much more difficult point, my second point.

How does God produce a Philadelphian? A Philadelphian is one who is extricated out of Thyatira, which is Romanism, and Sardis, which is the Reformation, Protestantism, out of all ecclesiastical systems to walk a path of separation from evil, doctrinal and moral, in holiness and truth, and refusing to have to say to the latitudinarianism of Laodicea. As I have said, these four phases, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, run like concurrent streams on to the Lord's coming, and the only one that escapes rebuke is Philadelphia, which is characterised by a "little strength" to rise superior to all the evils, and retain and maintain pure ground as Christ's witness in the midst of general failure, having purged itself from the corruptions of christendom, and returned to the simplicity of keeping Christ's words and honouring His name. But the point I am now desirous of showing is how a Philadelphian is produced, and with a view to this, I turn you to Hosea 2, where you will find the great principle by which this is effected. You there get the mode in which God brought the captives out of Babylon, which, in principle, is the mode of extrication the Lord employs to disentangle His saints from human systems. I never saw a godly man yet, whatever his system, who did not confess that he was hampered by that system. And what is his excuse for staying in it? He says, I do not see anything better. That may be quite true, because that

[Page 242]

is the state of his intelligence, but still he owns that he is hampered. There are in this chapter two actions in the Lord's mode of extrication. The first is in verse 6, which I shall read: "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths"; and on to the end of verse 13. Time will not permit me to enlarge upon this, but you will see at a glance that what is meant here is adverse circumstances. God makes circumstances irksome to you, things go against you, and you are thrown back upon Himself. He begins by putting His hand on what nature lives upon, and trusts, too, that He may draw the heart to Himself. How true this is when we come to deal with the history of souls. Look at Naomi. She had left the land of Jehovah and gone to the country of Moab. The God of Israel had been neglected, and she would have been content to stay in the far-off land. But God had His eye upon her. He takes away her husband; but still she remains. He takes both her sons, and snapped every link that bound her to the country of Moab. "Then she arose", Ruth 1:6. How wonderfully the Lord deals with His saints - faithfully, yet tenderly. The beautiful thing about Hosea 2 is that it was written long before the captives went into Babylon, and yet there you have described the modus operandi by which God delivers them out of the captivity.

The second action of God's mode you will find in verse 14, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt". This action is His own word, "I will... speak comfortably unto her". What pains the Lord takes with souls. If you find a person who has been delivered from all his entanglements, and he tells you

[Page 243]

his history, the way he has been led, there is nothing strikes one so much as the great pains the Lord has taken to extricate him, sometimes breaking down a man's health, and this to prepare the way for his second action, His own word entering his soul, and showing him God's mind about things. He not only uses circumstances, but He will allure you, draw you into the wilderness, speak comfortably to you, give you a vineyard, a door of hope, and you will sing as in the days of your youth. How wonderfully true this is in the case of souls now. This is exactly what he does. I will give you another passage, which will perhaps express this more definitely to you. I turn to Luke 24, and you will find there how beautifully it is set forth in verse 27. I think, my beloved friends, this is of immense interest to you, because it shows you how the Lord leads people into the truth. Does any person here tell me he clearly understands any doctrine? Then I say you neither learned it from your parents nor from your pastor. What doctrine? Any doctrine. Take eternal life, anything you please. For instance, there is the church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, how do you find it defined in the standards of orthodoxy: 'The church is the congregation of faithful, where the sacraments are duly administered and the gospel faithfully preached'? Where is that in the Bible? "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself". As a godly Presbyterian once said to me, I have been reading the Bible for fifteen years, and I never saw Christ in it before; but now I see Christ in every page. I trust I am conveying the meaning of this to you. I feel it deeply myself, that God should take such pains to enlighten me. Why should God vouchsafe this deliverance in these latter days just before the final catastrophe? To magnify His grace. Why am I extricated out of the entanglements? Why am I not like others, in

[Page 244]

the confusion and darkness of human systems? Yea, many more besides me delivered out of them too, thank God. Is it that we were any better than they? Is it due to anything in ourselves? No, but because Christ Himself has taught us, and taught us about Himself. What brought out heresy, do you think? It was advocating one truth apart from Christ. Read all the heresies, from the days of the apostles downwards, and you will find that they were all the result of good men, so occupied with a particular truth, that they distorted all the other truths. Like a man who was so much occupied with his eye, that he spoiled his whole face. That is how every heresy has sprung up; well-disposed men so advocating a truth, and bringing it into such prominence at the expense of other truths, that they became unsound in the faith. What ought they to have done? Brought out Christ. Here you find the Lord expounding unto the disciples in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Not about this truth and the other truth, not about the presence of the Holy Spirit or any other particular doctrine, but the things concerning Himself. Thus you have the Lord's mode of instructing His people. He enlightens them about Himself. I need not say anything more upon this, but I trust the Lord will lead your hearts to understand it. But some may say - many who have been newly converted - I was never in the cobweb. Well, you must learn how to keep out of it, or you will never be established or settled.

Having seen what the mark of a Philadelphian is, and how God produces one, we will now look at the last phase - Laodicea, where it is not a question of system either, for Laodicea is as much out of system as Philadelphia; but there is no rule at all. It is latitudinarianism, not of the other three. There is no testimony for God in it, and Christ presents Himself as the Amen, the faithful and true witness, so completely had they lost their standing as to witnessing for Christ,

[Page 245]

or a testimony for Him that He has to take the place of witness Himself. And this is not all. He is the beginning of the creation of God, because they were asserting that they had need of nothing. The Laodicean does not deny grace, but he is so embellished by the morality of Christ, that he can dispense with Christ Himself - imagines that man can be improved without the new creation. There is nothing within or without on which Christ's eye can rest. There is no fine gold and there is no white raiment. There is not the creation of God within, and no walk for God without. The tried gold of divine righteousness is wanting, and the white raiment, the true and proper clothing of the saint, is lacking, and the eye is defective, there is no apprehension of what meets God's mind. But all is display and boast. There is great success, all is going on beautifully, everything is thriving, there is great prosperity, and all in the garb of a so-called christian profession. "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing". But where is Christ in all that? You are talking of how rich you are, but where is Christ? You are embellished by the form of godliness, but where is the power? Like a Christmas-tree, many beautiful things stuck on to it, but not one of them grew on it. This is exactly like Laodicea, many things derived from Christ, but Christ Himself left outside. And why? Because the moment you bring in Christ you displace man. In Laodicea man is everything. I am this and I am that, but Christ nowhere. Christ is the beginning of God's creation, and therefore, where the improvement and embellishment of the first man is all their concern, no wonder He is distasteful, for Christ sets aside the first man and brings in Himself. This is the secret of why, when Christ was on earth, that one singular Object of divine beauty, that unique Man, who walked for God in this world, and was separate from everything else, men did not like Him. He set them aside. It is not that

[Page 246]

there is a denial of the truth; there is a general acceptance of the truth and of the place where the truth sets one, but there is indifference to Christ, lukewarmness. This is what Christ complains of. He does not say there is no warmth, but the mixture of two opposite elements, hot and cold; the result of which is a state of things highly satisfactory to man; it is, in fact, in a human way altogether, but a mixture extremely nauseous to Christ, which He is to spue out of His mouth. This kind of thing is very difficult to deal with, and becomes a great snare, a splendid appearance, with Christ left outside. Nothing could be more decided than the manner Christ assumes towards this mixture. He very markedly expresses His disapproval in terms that cannot be mistaken, and what will be the fearful end of it? It makes one shudder to think of it. But what is so interesting is, He does not give up His heart. The manner is unmeasured rebuke. The heart is the same, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock". For what purpose? That "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me", in order to make Himself known as the object of love. The idea is taken from the Song of Solomon, quoted from chapter 5: 2, "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night". "I sleep, but my heart waketh". A sleeping saint has no activity, though there is life. "It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me... my dove, my undefiled". This is one thing most interesting to my heart, that Christ always works upon the affection of His people. When He comes upon the sleeping virgins, what does He do? Threaten them with destruction and desolation? No; the cry is, "Behold, the bridegroom". The word 'cometh' should not be there. He reckons on the fact that there

[Page 247]

is affection there. Do you tell me that if a message were to come to this room that the Lord was at the door you would not be roused. up? You know in your hearts that you would. The Lord knows there is affection for him in your hearts, and he appeals to it. The bride in the Song rises to open, and He withdraws. He does not answer to feeling or impulse, He withdraws. If your feelings are only excited, you will suffer under great depression when they subside. On listening to a very interesting preacher on Sunday, I used always to be afraid of the dullness of Monday. What comes after that? When you are in a dull state, you read the Psalms. And why the Psalms? Because you like to read an account of a person who was in the same state as yourself. But the man who wrote these Psalms did not write them till after the exercise, so you must be in the same state as the one who penned these Psalms. A psalm is always the record of what a soul has gone through, a hymn is praise, and a spiritual song is the exuberance of the mind. Well, He withdrew; and, when challenged, what does the bride say of Him? Mark her description of Him, from verses 10 - 16. And what should you be occupied with? With the beauties of Christ. You say, Where shall I find them? In the gospels. There you get the features of Christ. Let me try to explain it. Here is a mother disconsolate because her only son has gone away, and she has not heard of him for a long time. I come to comfort her, and I say, Here is a beautiful photograph of him. This cheers her heart, and when her heart is cheered up, I know what I am about, and I open a side door, and say, Here is your son for you. She has now got himself, and she is overjoyed. If you read chapter 6: 2, you will see the bride has found Him. "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies". I have turned you to

[Page 248]

this in order to show the lovely attitude of Christ towards Laodicea, so far as His heart is concerned. Though unsparing in His rebuke, and threatening unmitigated judgment in the vessel of testimony, He says, I will never give up my love. I look for admission, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock", and where I get admission I will sup with that one, and that one with me. Now, if Christ comes in and sups with me, my heart is established through His word, and I am so occupied with His beauties, that I am actually getting His features, so to speak. And what follows? "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices", etc. I do recommend you, my beloved friends, to study the beauties of Christ, for then you will find out where Christ lives. He has gone down to His garden. There is no more distress because of His going away. "My beloved is mine, and I am his". The Lord lead us to understand this. I am sensible of how little I am able to present to you a subject of such depth - the nature and character of Christ's interest for His saints on earth at this present time. Still I feel immense encouragement in it, because it must have given you a clue to the true state of things.

We have, then, seen Christ's present interest in His people. What His heart is in itself, in all its unchanging affection. We have seen His heart in the deep lines of His love and purpose, apart from and above any check or anything to limit or circumscribe it, in giving Himself for us, in separating us from everything that would separate us from Him, with the intention of presenting us to Himself, according to His own mind, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish. We have seen, too, that though the heart of Christ never changes, He does change His manner. He has one kind of manner when things are right, and another kind of manner when things are wrong. His mode of expressing His heart when things are to His

[Page 249]

mind is the free outflow without check or hindrance of what He is to the objects of His love - the most beautiful and cordial exhibition of the closest intimacy; whereas, if things do not suit Him, do not please Him, He alters His countenance, His eyes are as a flame of fire, He wears an awe-inspiring aspect, He puts you under reserve.

We have seen His manner towards Philadelphia, and His manner towards Laodicea, and we learn much. Christ expects us to learn much from His manner towards all these different phases in what bears His name. He has expressed Himself towards them all, and surely nothing should be of greater interest to every true saint than to see what He approves and what He condemns. No information, no instruction, should be more prized by every one who has a heart for the Lord, than that which shows what He rebukes, and what He regards favourably, because it ought to be his joy to avoid the one and adopt the other. Is it nothing to you that Christ has distinctly marked what is distasteful to Him and what suits His mind, has informed you of how He views everything in the professing church? Are you then to remain identified with what He condemns? Do you say, Oh, I am saved, and it will be all right in the end; it does not much matter where one is ecclesiastically? Alas! that so many should thus speak and act, and even persons who preach perfection are themselves found mixed up with all kinds of ecclesiastical iniquity. Is that how you treat the One who died for you? He gave Himself for you, and it is no concern of yours to please the One who saved you? Is your own salvation all you think of, and is the Lord that bought you never to be considered? I admit it is not a question of salvation, but it is a question of what suits the Saviour. Does He approve of one course and disapprove of another, and is it nothing to you whether you meet His approval or are spued out of

[Page 250]

His mouth? Has it ever struck you what could be the meaning of that alarming appearance of Christ in Revelation? If it does not much matter, why is the Lord so changed that John, who knew Him best, falls at His feet as dead? Why is He in the midst of the churches in that terrifying and unapproachable character, I want to know? He is judging and rebuking, and is it a matter of no moment to you to escape His censure? Is ecclesiastical corruption a light thing with Christ? Behold here the sense which He has of the failure of the church. The very terribleness of His manner intimates the extent and depth of His estimate of its evil. Why should He appear among the candlesticks in that altered and fearful aspect, if not to denounce the condition of things, to reach the conscience of every living soul, and in deep searchings of heart cause it to turn to Him in true separation from all moral, doctrinal, and ecclesiastical evil? It ought to alarm souls unto death to be mixed up with the disorder and corruption of christendom when they see the Lord's attitude towards it. It caused John to fall at His feet as dead. You say, What am I to do? What did the captives do? They left Babylon, and went up to Jerusalem to the house of the Lord. But I want to be sure of the right thing, you say. Well, whether it was right to remain in Babylon, or to go up to Jerusalem? There cannot be two answers to the question. It was no question of their being Israelites; those who remained were as much Israelites as those who left; but who met the mind of the Lord, I ask, who pleased Him? Those who went up to Jerusalem undoubtedly. It is not a matter of your salvation; if you were not saved, I would not speak of it at all; but just because you are saved, it is what the Lord expects of you, that you endeavour to please the One who did it. Well, I will put another question, Were these few captives who left Babylon and went up to Jerusalem to the house of the Lord right, and all who remained

[Page 251]

wrong? There can only be one answer to this question, though it is a very annoying answer to those who remain in Babylon, and are not willing to leave it. It is by no means a choice of evils, as many put it, to ease their consciences. Choosing evil can never be according to God. I must "cease to do evil; learn to do well". Supposing all were evil, would that make my position in the sight of the Lord any better? My position would in that case be admittedly evil, and I must give up the evil and follow the good; I must have nothing short of the right place if I am to answer to the mind of Christ. No lover of holiness could be satisfied with less. You say, What is the benefit? Well, in the first place, there is responding to the desires of the Lord, and meeting His approval, which is the chief thing, and which ought to be to the delight of every godly soul. But there is more. This handful of captives, despite the failure and ruin of the nation of Israel as a whole, counting on the faithfulness of an ever-faithful God, were enabled, though a feeble few, to give such a beautiful expression of faithfulness to the Lord, and got such blessing to themselves as had never been experienced by any in the nation, since its very palmiest days. They actually kept the feast of tabernacles, which had not been kept since the days of Joshua.

We have seen what makes Philadelphians, and how God produces them; how He disentangles souls from the cobweb, how He extricates them from the corruptions of christendom, just as He did these captives from Babylon; and like that little faithful company, all such will find now, in returning to the simplicity of keeping the word of Him who is the Holy and True and not denying His name, blessing such as was only experienced in the brightest and best days of the church. The darker the day, the brighter may the faith of individuals shine. This little delivered company, while fully owning the failure of the church as their common

[Page 252]

sin, too, believe it to be their strength and blessing to have faith in that which never has failed and never can fail; and, though in weakness and feebleness, endeavour to act on the imperishable principle of the church of God, for "there is one body, and one Spirit", counting on the presence of Christ. The Lord lead us all into the full apprehension of the interest of Christ for His people at the present time, and keep us faithful till He come.

[Page 253]

MY GOSPEL

Romans 16:25 - 27

In order to be able clearly to apprehend what the apostle Paul calls "my gospel", it is necessary for us to understand what preceded it. Judgment, which is so great a quality of the spiritual mind, is the power of nicely distinguishing between two points in which there is the least difference; and where there is a spiritual mind its aim is ever to distinguish things that differ; and whenever this distinction is not made, and in proportion as this is lost sight of, there is not only ignorance, but defect in the exercise of the spiritual mind, which would have grappled with it and through grace have counteracted it. The word is given us to guide and instruct the spiritual mind, and to lead it to that judgment which would set the truth in its due place and order. I propose, therefore, to examine the gospel which was proclaimed and taught before there was any revelation unto Paul; and having done so, to present as clearly and fully as I can the gospel entrusted to Paul as to its nature and characteristics. I know and feel that I undertake a task which, though so interesting, is so little known that, if I had not the assurance of the Lord's mercy in helping and encouraging every little effort of His people to clear His truth of any mixture which leavens it, I could not attempt it. But with this conviction I assure myself that any, however feeble, tracing out and presentation of the truth as it has been revealed will be helpful and useful.

First, then, I would examine the nature and scope of the gospel preached during our Lord's walk on the earth; and then the gospel preached after His resurrection until the revelation given to the apostle Paul. I trust that every student of Scripture will admit that

[Page 254]

there is some difference, at least in the gospel preached in each of these three periods. It must surely need but few words to convince a christian that the gospel which was preached before the death of Christ could not be the same as to fulness as that preached after His resurrection. It is true that when Mark commences the narrative of our blessed Lord's ministry he calls it "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God"; but this passage indicates the nature of the narrative which he was about to give, that is, good tidings relating to Him as the Son of God, rather than the nature or subject-matter of the gospel preached. This last (the gospel preached) is definitely stated in verse 14 of the same chapter, where it is said, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel".

Now what was that gospel? Surely not the same as that preached by the apostles after the resurrection, or as that revealed to Paul. It was the gospel of the kingdom of God, as Mark plainly tells us; and that was, that God's kingdom was now offered to the Jews in the person of the Heir. Now the effect of repenting and believing this gospel is set forth in the prayer which our Lord taught His disciples, who, as the faithful of that day, had accepted this gospel. It was good tidings that God was offering to man, His kingdom and His Son, the Heir of all. The disciples believed this, and hence our Lord teaches them a prayer expressive of the state of soul which they as believing in this gospel should have; that is to say, they through grace were bound to have the sentiments which that prayer comprised. Prayer, when true, properly expresses the relation in which the soul stands with God. You cannot, if you pray truly, take higher relation than that in which you are set. When you pray to God you present yourself in that relation

[Page 255]

which you feel is alone justifiable before Him and that which you can truly assume. If I pray to God assuming a false relation, I must on the face of it feel in my conscience that I disown the nature of God - that I lose the sense of His being God. Even ordinarily, if I make a petition to one who knows my condition, I am careful not to represent it in a false light, not to presume on my claim and relation beyond what I think will be acceptable.

We find in Luke 8:1 that the Lord "went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings [or gospel] of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him". And then in chapter 11, when He had ceased praying, "one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil". In this prayer the Lord teaches His disciples to address God as their Father, because He had been exhibited here on earth in His Son, who could say, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father". Hence He requires of them to address God in this name. "Hallowed be thy name" shows that they were on earth and desiring that the Father might be hallowed on earth; and as hallowed, that His kingdom might come - the kingdom of which the good tidings, or gospel, had been proclaimed by the Lord Himself. The gospel of the kingdom was a gospel, but this prayer shows the extent and position in which, under divine teaching, that gospel placed souls before God. No one can study the subjects contained in this prayer without seeing that the condition of soul described as expressing itself therein does not go

[Page 256]

beyond this earth. And while it treats of one believing in God on the earth, there is no thought of heaven in it. The 'kingdom' is God's earthly kingdom, and the highest desire is to have God's will done here as in heaven, while for oneself daily bread was the measure of desire, a looking for forgiveness according to their practical power to forgive, and this with preservation from temptation and deliverance from evil.

Surely all this very clearly describes to us the state in which the believers in the gospel of the kingdom were placed. Nothing was assured - everything was in expectation. They had accepted it; they believed in God; but as such the Lord could not teach them more than this prayer embraced. He gave them the words which to the utmost suited their condition, and no believer could now really be satisfied with a condition which did not go beyond this. God is addressed as Father, it is true, but when this relationship is fully known, as now, through the "Spirit of his Son", it only makes the condition in which this prayer supposes and sets one the more unsatisfying, for surely as such I should expect and ask Him for more than is here set forth. Surely the prodigal, the thief on the cross, every christian now knows Him in a higher, an inconceivably higher way than this prayer presents. I adduce it merely to show the position in which the gospel of the kingdom, as preached before Christ's death, set souls before God. And if I go further and note the manner and ways of the apostles at this time, I see in them no moral power, no correct idea of the things of God, though they, to the joy and rest of their hearts, were in a surpassing way sheltered by Jesus in person. Would saints in the present day approve of being or consent to be no better in power, hope or intelligence than the apostles before the resurrection, who slept when asked to watch with Him, and who all forsook Him and fled?

And "as yet they knew not the scripture, that he

[Page 257]

must rise again from the dead". Now these were believers in the gospel of the kingdom, and in the spirit of their minds they were according to the prayer in Luke 11. Hence, when saints nowadays limit their standing to that prayer, they cannot practically rise above the apostles at that hour in power, hope or intelligence, and, sad as it is to say it, they literally do not!

Now on the resurrection of Jesus the gospel obtains a remarkable breadth and fulness not known before that great event. The Lord not only stands in their midst a risen One, assuring them of peace, but He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit", John 20:19 - 23. Now they are to realise that they not only believe in God, but also in Him. And they receive from Him the commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned", Mark 16:15,16. Here in precise and unmistakable language is declared to us the blessing of the gospel now to be proclaimed. The gospel at that time was that every one believing in Jesus risen, and taking his place in accordance with this fact on earth through baptism, should be saved. The gospel now conveyed salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit on earth, but nothing beyond this. "These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover". And we read (verse 20), the apostles "went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following". It is important to notice the nature and character of the gospel presented, because according to it must be the consequent blessing, and if I, like Apollos, preach only the baptism of John, as he

[Page 258]

did at Ephesus, is it any wonder that the believers at Ephesus, as we see from Acts 19, knew nothing more and never had heard that the Holy Spirit was now on earth? It is of all importance what gospel is preached, for though God (blessed be His name!) saves and secures blessing for me according to His love in Christ, still my sense of it, my joy and strength because of the blessing, must be determined by my knowledge and faith in the nature of the blessing.

Now if some have not advanced beyond the gospel preached during our Lord's life here, many more think they have gained the heights of grace when they proclaim with much energy and faithfulness the truth that salvation follows, and is assured to the soul on believing in a risen Christ. It is doubtless a truth of unspeakable magnitude that a lost sinner, at a distance from God and under fear of judgment, finds himself now through faith in Jesus Christ fully and finally saved by Him. It marks a new and wondrous era in the grace and mercy of God, and on the descent of the Holy Spirit Peter insists on this blessed truth, showing that the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit was indicative of the time when it should be fulfilled, and "it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved", Acts 2:21. And further (verse 36), "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ". The Saviour was Lord and Messiah, and hence in verse 40 he calls on them, "saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and

[Page 259]

had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved".

I give this large quotation in order to show where the gospel then preached set souls. The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved [or, the saved]. Saved was the great leading characteristic of those who had accepted the gospel. And on earth they were in the unity of Christ's body by the Holy Spirit, though that truth had not as yet been revealed. Now this gospel, as far as we have seen, does not present heaven before the soul, nor does it separate man from the earth. True, it sets man so in the power of the Spirit that selfishness has lost its influence and rule, for they "had all things common". But a hope apart from and outside earth is not presented, nor are they regarded as no longer connected with man as men on earth. On the contrary, they are a beautiful expression of God's grace to man on earth; individual selfishness set aside in the power of the bond which united them; "they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart". They kept up the earthly order divinely established, while they maintained the new bond and the testimony to it at the same time. The gospel that they had received was that Jesus was risen, and that He was appointed of God both Lord and Christ. And now in the power of the Holy Spirit they were in unity, but still as yet their hope was not apart from earth, nor did they regard themselves as apart from relation thereto, though they held that relation in view of their risen Lord, whose return to it they

[Page 260]

announced. It may seem almost unnecessary that I should dwell so long on this point, but it is of great moment in tracing the history of the gospel; for it will be found that practically many earnest souls in the present day have not got beyond the gospel of Acts 2, though, alas! without arriving at the blessed results manifested there, which could not really be manifested now because the earthly connection has terminated. Are there not saints now who, being assured of salvation, meet as saved ones to support an earthly order, while admitting also an expression of spiritual union, which the breaking of bread indicates; who are thinking more of their relation to earth than of their hope and place in heaven; and who regard the coming of the Lord in the light of His return to the earth, more than in that of their meeting Him in the air?

But to proceed. In Acts 3 Peter and John go up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, and there, at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, they, in the name of Jesus, tell the lame man to walk. And when all the people ran together unto them, greatly wondering, in the porch that is called Solomon's, Peter answered them by an address, in which, if we read to the close of the chapter, we shall find that he impresses on them two points - one, that Jesus, whom they had crucified, God had raised up; that His power was present to bless; that His name, through faith in His name, had made this man strong. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out". This is the first point, because to them first, as we read in verse 26 - "God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities". Now the other point which comes out in this discourse is (verses 19, 20), that "the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto

[Page 261]

you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began". Up to this moment this was the hope presented to the church. "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven". They knew their Lord had gone into heaven, but they expected His return; and they connected all their ideas of the place He went to prepare for them with His return. His promise to them in John 14 was that He would come again to receive them unto Himself, that where He was there they should be also; but however they understood this, it is evident from Peter's sermon, as well as the testimony of the angels, that up to this moment His return to earth was their great cardinal hope.

In the next chapter (Acts 4) we find that the "priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them [Peter and John], being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day". Now after this marked rejection of their testimony by the leaders of the people and the heads of the nation of Israel, the apostles, it appears to me, adopt another style in their testimony. It is from henceforth more of the character of warning and denunciation, as from men forewarned and prepared for the rejection of it. Peter addresses the rulers of the people and the elders of Israel, and for the first time alludes to their rejection of Christ. "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved". Salvation is the great point insisted on; a Saviour "under heaven", not yet as seen in

[Page 262]

glory; and the more unpromising everything seemed around, the more distinctly and entirely would their testimony be confined to this momentous subject. And hence we read (verse 33), "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus". "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women", Acts 5:14. But now the high priest laid hands on the apostles (not only on two now), and put them in the common prison; and when they were brought forth, and set before the council, Peter and the other apostles answered and said, "God must be obeyed rather than men. The God of our fathers has raised up Jesus, whom ye have slain, having hanged on a cross. Him has God exalted by his right hand as leader and saviour, to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit also, which God has given to those that obey him".

Now two things are presented here: Christ risen and a Saviour and the Holy Spirit here on earth in testimony thereof. And this is the last recorded exposition of the gospel which Peter preached before the death of Stephen; for in the next two chapters we are told how the people and the elders and the scribes came upon Stephen and caught him and brought him to the council; and then deliberately they not only rejected but stoned to death the witness of the Holy Spirit, who by the word of God appealed to their consciences not to resist the Holy Spirit. Thus, as before in the death of John the baptist, they had proclaimed their opposition to Him whom John proclaimed; so now by the stoning of Stephen they openly unmask and expose the hatred and rebellion of their hearts to a glorified Christ. It is now declared that there is no acceptance of Him on earth by His own people, but on the contrary, there is in act the open avowal, "We will not have this man to reign over us".

[Page 263]

Hence it is easy to see that the hope of Christ's return to earth, which was the hope of the gospel preached by Peter and the apostles up to this time, can no longer be insisted on. Stephen is taken to glory with Jesus instead of waiting here for His return to earth as its true and only King. Now, taking into account that the gospel up to this moment set forth three things especially - first, salvation through a risen Saviour; secondly, the presence of the Holy Spirit here on earth; thirdly, Christ's return to earth as King of Israel - it is plain that if the hope, which necessarily is a very important part of the gospel, has been set aside a very great and momentous change must take place in the gospel to be presented. + I study to be very careful and accurate here, because the point of transition, the point of juncture between the gospel hitherto preached by the apostles and that which, consequent on the death of Stephen, was committed to Saul of Tarsus, is one of extreme interest and importance. Christ coming from heaven to earth has been deliberately, defiantly and outrageously refused. His witness, being stoned, has been taken to be with Him where He is; now comes the call of Saul of Tarsus; and the gospel which is now revealed and committed to him sets forth how God in His grace and according to Himself will disclose the purpose and fulness of His heart.

The Lord Jesus Christ tells Saul, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee". And what does Saul see? Not only Christ risen, but Christ in glory. Stephen had seen Him there, and had consigned his spirit to Him whom

+We see from Peter's epistle how he impresses on the saints who are scattered abroad that the inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, and fades not away. How suitable and fitting when everything here had been broken up!

[Page 264]

he had seen there; but Saul sees Him and is commissioned to be a minister and a witness of the things which He sees. Here, then, was the introduction of the gospel of God according to the fulness of His heart and purpose. To be a minister and a witness of the things which he had seen, defined and embraced the principle and scope of Paul's commission. Can any one for a moment hesitate to accept the beautiful order of this wondrous gospel, beginning and consummated in the bright, full circle of God's presence and glory? We have seen that salvation through a risen Saviour could be and was known, and the saints maintained, through the Holy Spirit here on earth, in one mind, one soul, remembering the death of Christ in the breaking of bread, while they were still linked to earth and to the temple services, and their hope entirely connected with the earth as awaiting their Lord's return. But now that this hope could no longer be presented on account of Christ's rejection from the earth, God unfolds + through Christ the deep, full counsel of His heart; and the scene where all this can be displayed is the glory into which Saul of Tarsus is now introduced; and seeing Jesus in the glory is the pivot and the centre of that gospel which is now entrusted to him.

The nature and scope of this gospel we shall best ascertain by tracing the lines of truth expounded in Paul's writings, which, like rays emanating from Christ, the Centre and Source, lead the heart back to Himself and feed it with His excellency and glory. Saul's first sermon gives us a clear idea of the power and greatness of the gospel committed to him. "He preached Christ .. that he is the Son of God", Acts 9:20. It is not merely His official dignity or His immediate use to souls; it is not that He is a "Prince

+The apostles are now, as promised in John's gospel, enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to the true hopes of the church.

[Page 265]

and a Saviour"; but that He is the Son of God. What good tidings! what wondrous tidings for any believing soul - that his Saviour is the Son of God and that through grace he is united to Him! The moment I get to this I get to the outside of what merely belongs to man, to earth and to the first creation, and am set in God - how blessed! And then I begin to comprehend the wonderful unfoldings of Him and His life as set forth in John's gospel. Saul has seen Christ in glory in the divine region, and as he has seen Him there he can accept nothing lower. He has been introduced to the highest level, and according to this must his gospel be in everything. The higher we go the more we are dissociated from that which is inferior; but further, we seek the more to rise to and maintain the level to which we are raised. One may be restrained, like Joseph, from expressing oneself, or be like our blessed Lord while walking through this world; but no one can know a higher order of things, and know it so as to find his life only there, and be contented to ignore it or to surrender all hope of reaching it. To be so is to be a moral Nebuchadnezzar, reduced from the highest dignity to take his place among the lowest. It is impossible, I say, for me to see the high origin from which I spring, and be content, Nebuchadnezzar-like, to take a low, carnal place; if I keep true to my origin I must resist and refuse everything which opposes or checks the maintenance of it. I may put up with any manner of thing here as long as I do not know my high origin in Christ; but once I know it there is a moral necessity that I should accept nothing which would mar, cloud or interfere with it; nay, on the contrary, I seek and cultivate everything which will contribute to and establish me in my true condition.

Hence it is of great importance that I should see and present to the soul that Christ is the simple object of faith; and as He in glory is the object of my faith,

[Page 266]

and as He who is there controls my heart, I learn that everything I have to do with must be consistent and in keeping with Him who is the foundation of all blessing to me. Christ is the Son of God, and the soul once in faith laying hold of this truth, according as it is occupied with Him, grows in knowledge and strength, and longs to see itself in everything in conformity to Him. As He is known to be the spring and fountain of blessing, so everything is refused and set aside which is not of Him. The Saviour in glory before God once seen by faith is a starting-point of incomparable value, and when simply maintained the manner and ways of God's grace are then easily seen and apprehended. We sometimes try to comprehend the manner and ways of His grace without seeing the simple starting-point of the gospel now. Christ, God's Son in glory, is the centre for the soul to rest in, and it is as this, the foundation and starting-point, is rested in that we are prepared to understand the nature of our position before God, as opened out in Paul's epistles.

Let us turn to Paul's epistles, and seek to gather from them the characteristics proper to those who have received the gospel committed to Paul. The characteristics indicate the origin and nature, and the nature and origin in action always express the characteristics.

In the epistle to the Romans, where Paul calls the gospel "the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1), "the gospel of his Son" (verse 9), and "my gospel" (chapter 16: 25), the first characteristic we find of it is justification through faith, because God's righteousness is revealed in Christ. Here the line and order of truth is that man, whether under law or not, is without righteousness, but that outside and apart from man God has brought in righteousness through His Son, and that He is therefore just to justify every one believing in Christ. The righteousness of God is thus a characteristic of Paul's gospel. If you have received

[Page 267]

this gospel, you have found yourself in the righteousness which God in Christ reveals to faith.

Now the righteousness of God is established in the cross of Christ - He bearing in Himself the judgment on man, so that there is an end of that which offended against God. He was made sin for us, that we should be made the righteousness of God in Him. There is then an end of man as man was; the old man is crucified with Christ. Hence, with righteousness of God there is another characteristic, namely, the end of man in the flesh. Then comes life eternal: grace reigns "through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. A further characteristic is that "ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit". It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which has made me free from the law of sin and death (chapter 8: 2), and "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (verse 9). Here, then, we have four leading characteristics of Paul's gospel, and if I am established according to it, as he prays that I may be (chapter 16: 25), I must have learned that it confers on me, and sets me in, four distinct blessings (1) In righteousness according to God; (2) The end of the old man; (3) In eternal life in Christ Jesus; (4) Possessing the Spirit of Christ - all summed up in Romans 8:10: "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness". Let the soul endeavour to embrace all that is in this epistle conferred on it by Paul's gospel: righteousness - the righteousness of God established by Christ, the ending of the old man, the gift of eternal life, the Spirit of Christ; so that Christ in me is the summing up as well as the fulness of blessing. One who has received and is established in this gospel is in divine righteousness, is freed from the old man before God, is in the eternal life of the Son of God, has Christ's Spirit, and

[Page 268]

Christ is in him. What deep and wondrous blessings!

The gospel in this epistle only reaches so far as to set the soul in Christ, and, as may be seen from a study of it, the Spirit of God first shows how both Jew and gentile have failed as men to do anything to please God; but, on the contrary, that there is none righteous, no, not one; and at this point the apostle introduces his gospel.

Now in the epistle to the Galatians we get this highest point - being in Christ - fully explained and unfolded. In this epistle the saints had gone back from the teaching of the gospel, which had set them in the Spirit, and they were now seeking perfection in the flesh. They were not like the Romans, who were ignorant of the gospel. The Galatians had retrograded; they had begun in the Spirit, they did run well. And hence the way the apostle brings the light of the gospel to bear on them is quite different from the way he deals with the Romans, and therefore he opens out powers and properties in the truth of it, which are not so fully declared in the epistle to the Romans. In Galatians, as it is most interesting to observe, the apostle begins with the fact of being in Christ the Son of God, outside of man altogether. He is an apostle, "not of men, neither by man". And again (Galatians 1:11,12): "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ". And then he explains in verses 15 and 16 what he received himself and what it was. "It pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me". This is the great point. God had revealed His Son in him. This gives a definite character to the nature of the gospel. In Romans we are gradually brought to this point as the grand total, as indeed it is. But here this total is the starting-point.

[Page 269]

Paul now addresses those who had declined from the true path, the path of the Spirit, outside and apart from the flesh. If I have begun with Christ, God's Son revealed in me, it is not in the flesh I live, but Christ liveth in me. And "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me", Galatians 2:20. And I myself am crucified with Christ; and if I be crucified, it is senseless to revive that in myself for which He was crucified. The great point the apostle insists on as conclusive against the existence of man in the flesh, and therefore against the re-assumption of it by a christian, is that "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ". Paul's gospel is definite and conclusive on this point. The believer receives the Spirit of Christ; Christ lives in him; and if he departs from this, he departs from Paul's gospel, which he preached to the Galatians in infirmity; but they had received him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. And now that they had gone back from it, he has only to tell them, I must go over all the old ground. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you", Galatians 4:19. This is the point they had lost sight of, and this is the one which he will take all pains, travail in birth again, until it be restored, even that Christ should be formed in them. I need not pursue this further; but it is important to see how simply and fully Paul's gospel sets us in Christ, and that "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts". Everything of it is ignored and set aside judicially; and if judicially set aside, it cannot legally be resumed. But this truth certifies and simply

[Page 270]

determines man's state as in the flesh before God. And the apostle does not make this an attainment - an advance in knowledge, but shows it as affecting the foundation of christianity; that it is the kernel of his gospel, and that anything else is not the gospel, and not to be attended to, even though preached by an angel. Nay, that "if any man preach any other gospel .. . let him be accursed". In this epistle the great point is that I am in Christ. Hence, it is not certain great characteristics and virtues that I have received which are presented to me as in Romans. It is impressed on me that I am in a new order of existence, after another order of man. Christ lives in me. It is not that the old man has received additions and advantages as in a legal religion, but that I am made anew of Him who is the Son of God, and that the old man has been superseded and judicially put an end to in His cross; being crucified with Christ, it has no longer any recognised existence before God; while I, in my new creation, am in Christ, and He lives in me. These are two points of the very highest importance, and their presentation in this epistle, as the very kernel of Paul's gospel, is most interesting and complete.

Thus far we have, I trust, seen how the gospel places the soul before God in relation to Him, and also with relation to the old man. Now this was very partially unfolded in the gospel preached by Peter. He preached salvation, perfect and final, through a risen Saviour, and the present indwelling of the Holy Spirit; great elements, it will be admitted, in the truth revealed to Paul; but they did not set aside man as entirely and judicially ended in the cross of Christ, nor connect the soul with Christ as its life and head, though the saints possessed it through the Holy Spirit.

But there is another characteristic of Paul's gospel which we must notice before we attempt to say

[Page 271]

succinctly what it embraces, and that is the hope connected with it, as well as the appointed inheritance attached to it. In Colossians 1:5 we read, "the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel". And again, in verse 23, "be not moved away from the hope of the gospel". Also, in verse 27, where the hope is presented as connected with Christ, "Christ in you, the hope of glory". Now these quotations establish the great fact that there is a hope connected with the gospel, of such importance that it is one of its main characteristics; nay, that the apostle comprises all the blessings conferred by the gospel under two heads, namely, faith and hope. As for faith, it will easily and readily be admitted as that power by which the soul enters into and enjoys one great part of the provision of the gospel - what we are in Christ; and hope - what we shall be - must also be admitted as securing and embracing the rest. What we have hitherto seen as characteristic of the gospel committed to Paul peculiarly referred to the grace and the manner of it, by which we, who were of the first Adam, and under judgment, have been delivered therefrom, and raised into an entirely new and inconceivably higher existence in Christ, so that we have found ourselves set in Christ. But now comes the inquiry, Are we for heaven or for earth? What is our proper sphere, and what our inheritance?

Now if we turn to 1 Corinthians 1 we see that the wisdom of God is made ours through the cross of Christ (chapter 1: 30), "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom". Now this wisdom is described in chapter 2: 9: "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". They do not enter into man's heart; they are revealed by His Spirit, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Then in 2 Corinthians 3 the apostle sets forth that, as the

[Page 272]

ministration of death was connected with glory which was to be annulled, how much more should the ministration of the Spirit be from glory. "If the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory". The argument is, that if that which condemns is from glory, how much more that which is the expression of God's righteousness! Thus righteousness is the ground for the opening out of the glory fully, and of our unhindered entrance into it. While there was a demand for righteousness on us who had none, it was, of course, a ministration of condemnation; but when there issued from it, according to its own majesty, a ministration of righteousness established in the Son of God, there could then be no longer any check or veil to the glory in its fulness. When the citizens on earth refused the Lord from heaven, Jesus in the glory was seen by Stephen, whose spirit departed to be there with Him. Hereon, Paul is called to be a minister and a witness of the things which he had seen; God will now open out in glory with Christ a place for His people. Christ has been refused His rightful place on earth, and God in His wondrous grace now opens out glory where Christ is as the home and hope of His members on earth. There is a ministration of righteousness from the divine presence so complete through Christ, the ransom for our sins, that the glory in divine freshness and fulness is able to receive and be the home of every one who is in Christ.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". It is the sphere where Christ is, where God in all His greatness and intrinsic blessedness expresses Himself in His Son. And to this sphere we are introduced by the gospel, because Christ is there. Thus it is to the apostle the mark known to him at his conversion, but kept in view and followed after all through his course, and to each of us, according to our acquaintance with Christ, it is or should be, the same. But it is also our

[Page 273]

hope, for we rejoice in hope of the glory of God; and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.

Now there are two things connected with glory which give a finished view, a complete idea, of Paul's gospel. One is our inheritance there, from which we derive our present position in heaven, and the other, the resurrection of our bodies. The apostle says in Romans 8, "We are saved by hope". And as I have already noted from Colossians 1:5, the word "hope, which is laid up for you in heaven", was "heard ... in the word of the truth of the gospel". The gospel includes this hope; nay, the hope was a main part of it, and is therefore called the "hope of the gospel", from which the saints were not to be moved, and which many, seeing it so distinctly insisted on, and not understanding what it truly meant, explained as the hope of salvation eventually. Now it is as set with Christ in glory - glory being the sphere proper to our membership with Christ, that the formative process morally to that glory takes place in us - that we are "transformed ... from glory to glory". But in this glory there is an inheritance for us. Therefore the apostle prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, "that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance", of which the Spirit is now the earnest. It is beyond my subject to speak of the inheritance, but I merely desire to assure the heart of the fact that in connection with Paul's gospel, and because of the sphere in which the believer in Christ is thereby set, there is "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, .. . reserved in heaven for you", as Peter speaks of it, in that glory in which our association with Christ is now through the Spirit (and not merely in the future), and where we are now transformed into His image.

For besides having an inheritance which is future, as Peter presents it, and which is properly the 'hope,'

[Page 274]

we are now seated in Christ in heavenly places; we are through faith made now to know that we have a place 'prepared' for us in heaven. In a word, heaven as a definite place is our place, and that to which we belong even now. Glory is too indefinite an idea, for wherever God manifests Himself there the glory is; but heaven is a definite place, and in this definite place we are now seated in Christ Jesus. And hence we are the heavenly family as surely and distinctly as there will be an earthly family. It is not only that the inheritance is in heaven, but we are now by faith seated there, because partaking of the power of Him who has been raised up above all principality and power and has sat down at God's right hand in the heavenly places. He is there the head of the body, the church, of which the Spirit is the unity, which truth Paul calls "the mystery of the gospel" (Ephesians 6:19); and we in spirit now reach up through His power to a sense of our exaltation and our true locality in heaven because of Him. In fact, as we learn from Colossians 3, if we are risen with Christ we seek the things which are above, where Christ is. We set our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. We are a heavenly people, though for a season on the earth; and "our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body", or "his body of glory". The body of glory will be the consummation; for when we see Him, we shall be like Him, and when He appears, we shall also appear with Him in glory.

Thus, very inadequately I know, but as carefully as I could, I have endeavoured to sketch Paul's gospel. It tells a man, hopeless and undone, what God is in His own nature, and what He is for him. That He has established righteousness in Christ; that He has condemned sin in the flesh, having ended judicially

[Page 275]

there the body of sin, and that now His grace can reign through righteousness unto eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. That He has set aside the first man judicially in the cross of Christ; and on the ground of righteousness He forms us anew in Christ Jesus in His life, so that we are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit, Christ dwelling in us, and we in Him, and in His glory because of the same righteousness. That we now know by faith heaven as our definite place, our spirits' present home as well as our future inheritance, for which we shall have bodies of glory when our Lord comes, and we shall be for ever with the Lord.

To sum up. The parts of this great economy committed to Paul are: -

First, we are [in] God's righteousness.

Secondly, so complete is God's righteousness that all in man which compromised it has been judicially ended in the cross of Christ; the old man crucified with Christ.

Thirdly, eternal life in Christ is given.

Fourthly, we are in the Spirit and not in the flesh - it is Christ liveth in us and we in Him.

Fifthly, the glory of God is our hope and we are there, through the same righteousness, in Christ.

Sixthly, we are now united to Christ in heaven, and as we realise this, we are for Him on the earth.

Seventhly, we look for Him to come to change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His own glorious body.

The Lord give us grace to realise somewhat in our hearts the amazing elevation to which the blessed or happy God, in His ineffable wisdom and love, has raised us through the gospel in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

[Page 276]

THE SECRET OF POWER

2 Kings 2:9 - 12; 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 4:10,11

I have read this passage in the Old Testament because it tells the secret of how we get power.

There is a difference between what Christ has done for us, and what He has done in us. A person though only a babe is as perfect in the former respect as the greatest saint that ever existed. That is Christ's work.

Then another thing is what that person is now. Hence the apostle says to the Galatians, ".. . of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you". That was not the question as to what Christ had done for them. A person may say, I admit all you say, but what I want to know is, How do we get the power now? The secret is told. I have read it in the Old Testament. "If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so", 2 Kings 2.

And I may say, in passing, I commend the reading of the Old Testament to you. We suffer from a great defect if we confine ourselves too much to the reading of the New Testament, and neglect the Old; and no less so, if we confine ourselves to the reading of the Old, and neglect the New. In the former case we become dry and critical, and in the latter legal. We require both. The New Testament is the science of navigation, and the Old is the log-book where you get the account of the history. A man who does not study the Old Testament does not know where he is historically - does not know what he has learned by the grace of God for himself. There are two ways, so to speak, in which we learn this. First, the christian, like a bird, flies at once to the top and sees everything accomplished; and then he, as it were, comes back and creeps up every inch of the way. We are not only

[Page 277]

going to heaven, but we have to understand the nature of the road, and the way there.

Now the point here is that Elijah was to be taken away. That is the first thought. You must get hold of it simply in your heart - Christ is not here.

Elijah was going away, and this causes him to put the question to Elisha, "Ask what shall I do for thee, before I be taken away from thee". Give me, said Elisha, "a double portion of thy spirit" - a competent portion. Very well, but there is only one way in which you can get it. "If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so". Now, beloved friends, whether you think it simple or not, that is the only way to get power. If you see me when I am taken, it shall be unto you; and if not, it shall not be so.

Now, mark, Elisha loved Elijah, and what is more, was extremely devoted to him; and yet, had he not looked at him when taken, he would have had no power. This is as clear as possible. If he had not observed this simple direction, he would have had no power.

Now there is no question about Elisha's being a true-hearted man, but true-heartedness is not power. I meet many a person true-hearted, but not powerful. You say you are truthful. Quite true, I do not doubt you are, and in earnest, but you have no power. Power is quite another thing. It is simply the reproduction of Christ in me. It is all right; where Christ is, there is power.

Christ comes into a poor, wretched earthen vessel, as we read in the chapter we looked at just now, 2 Corinthians 4:7 - 9. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels". Here are four things stated about us - half inside and half outside. That is what we are. At the same time the excellency of the power is in us. But how do we get this power? You say, I am a believer, a member of Christ. Yes, certainly. Accepted

[Page 278]

in the Beloved. Yes; but what I say is, it is another thing to have power; the apostle says, "I have strength for all things in him that gives me power", Philippians 4:13. Power is a peculiar thing. Power is simply that a poor, weak creature, as I am myself, who am a child of God, a member of the body of Christ, that I should be walking here, meeting things here, and acting here, according to the power of Christ.

You find this in Elisha. He gets the secret of what I am dwelling on now. And I will show you in the New Testament that when the christian acts in power, that is the secret still. If you see me taken, it shall be so.

It would be an interesting study to examine the passages where we read of the Lord being "taken up". In the first chapter of the Acts we get it no fewer than four times.

In John 15 we have a passage which contains the whole truth of which I have been speaking. It says, "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine", and adds, "no more can ye, except ye abide in me ... for without me ye can do nothing". That brings out the principle of the secret of power. "Without me ye can do nothing". It is not 'without me ye are nothing.' It is not service there, but really you can do nothing.

One says, I want to do something. Well, you cannot do it without Christ. You want to go and preach, or to go and visit the sick. You cannot without Christ. But you say, I am a christian. I do not doubt you are a christian. I am not raising that question at all. That is not the point. It is a question of power.

Many a person may be a strong man but not able to make a watch. Why not? He wants ability to make the watch. He wants the necessary intelligence and skill. It is not because he is not a strong man. He does not know how to apply his strength; he has not had the necessary education. You require to be

[Page 279]

taught. The most talented man can never do one single thing aright the first time. I believe it was never known for a man to do the thing rightly at first. Take what you will - take the most skilful driver of horses; when he began to drive, depend upon it he took the reins the wrong way. A man must be taught to do everything first, or he is sure to do it awkwardly. He has not the knack.

And so it is when we come to divine work. You are going to visit that sick person - who is going, I want to know? Is it some nice christian - some kind lady or gentleman? That will not do. It should be Christ. And now just think of the gravity of Christ's doing it. If you are going for Him, you must be in unison with Him about it. The very fact of the importance of the work, and the danger of your misrepresenting Him who does it, shows your need, and that is the secret -- "Without me ye can do nothing". Neglect of this is the secret of all the failure. It is the cause in every instance. It is the cause of all our failures in service. I will sit lowest here if you like, but I repeat it, that is the cause of all failure. It is not that the motive is bad. You say, I am well inclined. Inclination is not power. This is the only secret of power - to see Christ taken up. The apostle is contrasting the law with Christ in 2 Corinthians 3. He says the law comes from glory, and was written upon tables of stone, and now Christ is come from glory too, and must be written upon the fleshy tables of the heart. The law was written in glory, and of course Christ must be. The law was written in glory upon tables of stone, and Christ, the greater thing, which is the ministration of righteousness, not written in stone, but upon the fleshy tables of the heart in glory. I say it affectionately, dear friends, you cannot get the impression of Christ but in the sphere where Christ is, and that is the real cause of the little knowledge of what Christ is practically. You have not been conversant

[Page 280]

with Christ in the sphere where He is. Here the tables were written in glory, and if the ministry of condemnation, which is annulled, was in glory, how much more shall the ministration of righteousness excel in glory. It must be in glory that Christ must be written upon the fleshy tables of your heart.

I do not want to distress anyone, but I want to account for it. You say, Why have I so little of Christ about me? The simple answer to the question is this: you are not receiving the impression of Christ in the only place where you can receive the impression. I must go where the Person is to get an impression from the Person. We cannot know Christ except where He is. It is as simple as possible, but the argument the apostle uses is this: the law, which is the demand for righteousness, was from glory, then how much more the ministration of righteousness from glory. You have Christ in the glory - you have a Man in the glory of God now.

He is raised from the dead, and now there is a Man in the glory. He met all the righteous demands of God, not only in Himself personally, but on account of me; and therefore I have now a Saviour in the glory. I have a Saviour, not a law now but a Saviour in the glory. That is exactly the difference. This was what so astonished Saul of Tarsus. He had gloried in the law, but now he sees a Saviour in the glory.

I say, then, to every christian, if the glory is not the easiest place for your soul, even when you fail, if the glory of God, the brightness of His own personal glory, is not the easiest place for your soul, you have not yet found, and you have not a Saviour in glory. Where would a child feel happiest and safest? By the side of his father and mother. And where should I feel happiest and most secure? By the side of my Saviour and my Lord. Firstly, how we acquire Christ; and secondly, how we express Christ.

[Page 281]

I think it is often the case with many of us, that we know a great deal more of the Lord than we can show. Else, why do we feel so distressed when we have not acted rightly? Why, we know more of the Lord than we express, but have not been able to act up to it. How is this? Why, there is something the matter - something wrong. You see in 2 Corinthians 3 the secret of acquiring Christ. I have a Saviour in the glory of God, and it is the easiest place for my soul if I belong to Him. I will show you presently how a man finds it so, and how a man walks in the grace of God. "The Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" - liberty wherever there is a good thing to do. I have liberty to go wherever there is good; I do not want to go where there is bad. Then, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord". You have an object, and you take in the object because you have a mirror. The Lord is there, and we behold Him with unveiled face. There is no veil upon His face, nor on ours; and you go in and look upon Him. You say that is very simple. Yes, it is all very simple if you practise it. Try it and see what you will be. "If thou see me .. . it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so". It is the same principle. When we first came to Christ, we looked at Him. So with the brazen serpent - they looked and were healed. So with the thief on the cross. He looked - he did nothing else.

The glory is the expression of the divine satisfaction in Christ. But the apostle says it shines out from us.

Then we must have it in us if it shines out. But how do I grow in this? Beholding with unveiled face, I catch the image, and I am formed into the same image. Beholding the Lord's glory we are transformed - not changed - into the same image of

[Page 282]

glory. The glory now claims me. At mount Sinai man could not get near it. Now it claims me. What does it do? It draws me to the Saviour - "from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord". There you acquire Christ, and most blessed it is. I am sure I trust you know what it is to sit alone with the Lord, gazing upon Him, taken up with the glory of His Person - and there is no expressing Him without it. The more I know of Him, the more I am able to express Him.

It is like a man standing on the sea-shore gazing on the sun. He sees it there, but he gets on higher land, and the sight increases. He goes on a mountain and the object grows larger still. He ascends one yet higher, till at length he sees nothing but the sun.

And so it is as to Christ: the higher I go, the more immense I see the One I have to do with. And this is the secret. I am looking at Him - beholding Him. The first blessing I got came by looking at Him, and every blessing comes that way. But how do I know I am looking at Him? Because I am not looking at anything else. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God".

People often think this so very simple. It is very simple, but I say, let me see you practically maintaining it, then it will throw you in dependence on Him, and that is what faith is.

What hinders souls is that they get off this ground. You go in like Paul, perhaps, into the third heaven, and very happy you come out, but someone meets you and says something disagreeable to you, and you reply with something naughty, and you say, I wish I had not come out. I was so very happy, and now I am come out it is all wrong. What is the explanation? You were right in acquiring Christ, but failed in expressing Him. And why? You did not walk in faith. You were trusting to your enjoyment instead of

[Page 283]

walking in faith. And how many have damaged the truth after enjoying, and talking of their enjoyment of it, by then going home and failing in one of the most common details of life. This comes from trusting to your enjoyment and not to the Lord - not walking in faith. The apostle Paul comes out of the third heaven, but the Lord says, You must depend on Me. You must not boast about these wonderful things you have seen there - you must go down and be nothing. The principle is the same all through. I do not dwell upon it further. He took the poor man up and set him upon His own beast. You must be carried all the way by Christ. Do not say you must get along by your own power. If you think to go on your own legs you will come down. The principle is the power of Christ upon me. Thus the apostle learns in that lesson the power of Christ resting upon him. You see in heaven it was the enjoyment he had, but now he comes down into the world, it is the power of Christ resting on him. That tells you the secret. You say, I have been very happy in the Lord, but going out into the cold world you button your coat around you, for you feel there is an enemy outside and so you must get ready for him. It is the principle of Ephesians. In the first chapter, the power is used against Satan for bringing me up to God, and turning it round, I must bring that same power to bear upon the enemy; chapter 6. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might".

For a person to live Christ, he must have Him. How can a person live Christ if he has not got Him? You cannot express more of Christ than is in you. That is the truth. You can never go beyond what you know. You may use all the adjectives in the dictionary, but you cannot get beyond it. Some people abound in the use of adjectives, but it is of no use, for they only qualify their nouns, and the noun is the idea.

And you never bring a person beyond where you are

[Page 284]

yourself. You may give them the desire to go further. You may awaken the desire, and, if you are a minister, then they will leave you. That is the way people sometimes leave off going to churches. Their ministers awaken desires which they cannot meet, then they go somewhere else. And that is the right principle.

The point is to be where the Lord is, and it is important to get hold of it simply. The apostle's desire, as expressed in Philippians, was, "Christ shall be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ". But then he had acquired Him. I will explain this a little, and then pass on.

I will give you one passage to keep simply before you in Matthew 14. It is Peter walking on the water, and what he wants is power to do that. Christ's rejection is come in; He goes to the wilderness, the multitude follows Him there, and He goes on in His marvellous manner feeding people in spite of the power, and by the power of death, He feeds them on the earth. But there is another thing: He walks on the water. What is the answer to that? Why, He is above it. He allows things to go on as they are, but He is calm. He walks on it. Wars and rumours of wars now, but where is Christ? Above all. "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come". Well, then, I say, what will I do now? What says Peter when he sees the Lord? "If it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water". And he came down from the ship. You have the waters now, the waves are here, the whole thing acted upon, and Christ above it all. If I say, I will leave the ship, where am I to go? I will go on the waters with Jesus. What is the secret of this power? The inclination for it? The courage for it? No, the faith. "Bid me come unto thee". Now the secret of the power comes out. Jesus said, "Come", and Peter went down and walked on the

[Page 285]

water to go to Jesus. And here he found out what this power was. While walking on the crest of the wave to go to Jesus, where was his eye? How did he get the power? In the same way as Elisha. He saw the Lord above the waters, the figure of His resurrection, "far above all principality, and power". He is the exalted Jesus. My eyes are upon the exalted Man. Where is your eye? If my eye is upon Him, I am equal to anything and everything. To walk upon the water? Yes.

The cause of the declension of the church is visible means - that is the hindrance. Where there is the most visible means, there God is showing that there is no power. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius had visible means, but neither the one nor the other had the power. The poor children of the captivity had the power. The one king had the fire, the most powerful of material forces, and the other the lions, the strongest of beasts, but neither the one nor the other could get the mastery of these poor captives.

People talk so much of means. There are plenty of means, but they have not power. The secret of Peter's power is that his eye is upon Jesus. But now he misses that power. How is this? He sees the wind boisterous, and the power is gone. Is not that the case with you sometimes in your domestic circumstances? Do you not look at the things that trouble you? And do you get great help by doing so? Do you not get more confounded? But you turn your eye from circumstances to the Lord, do you not get a wonderful sense of support and strength to get above it?

Let me tell you, beloved friends, the mistake that souls make, and I have made it, too. You think if you get into any difficulty or trouble, God will change the circumstances. No, God will make you superior to the circumstances. And which is the better? Would you be superior to them, or inferior? If the latter,

[Page 286]

God must come in. He says, I am not going to take away that thorn from you, but I will bring you up to it. "My grace is sufficient for thee". That is the wonderful position I see Paul in. A prisoner, and yet able to say what all the emperors of the world could not say, "I have strength for all things in him that gives me power". Beloved friends, it is a most magnificent thing to be a true saint here! Peter turned to look at the things around him, and it was all over with him. Listen to people - listen to myself - listen to rumours - think about the things around you - and what do you get by it? Do you get out of it? I look at the Lord - the Lord who is above everything, and what is the result? I am above everything, too. You have to come to this real comfort. I have known it for myself.

But suppose everything does go wrong, and the crash comes, well, the Lord will come. What an immense comfort that is! You are walking on the water now. Now you have brought Christ in, you see perfectly. But mark, beloved friends, you have to do with Himself, and when you have to do with Himself, He will impart power to you.

I cannot tell how He actually presents Himself, but the moment I look to Christ, I see Him in the very aspect I want to be in. To give you an example. When the Lord was in the ship in the storm, He was asleep. The disciples were in trouble on account of the storm, and they see the Lord asleep. If they had had sense, what would they have done? Why, they would have gone to sleep, too!

Let me just give another practical example of it in Stephen, in Acts 7. There you get more the principle. In verse 55, "But being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven". It is of immense importance where your eye is. You will find if your eye is turned to things down here, you have no power for anything. But here Stephen is a pattern man. He inaugurates a new order of things. Heaven is opened to him.

[Page 287]

"Being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus". And he comes down with the expression of Christ on him. But he acquires Him first, and then he expresses Him. Now he has got his look and he comes out in that sense as a soldier well drilled, up to every evolution, every exercise, comes out now to battle. He has not now to learn his steps. He has learned them all. If he had not learned them, he would fail in the day of battle. But now, what is the preparation required? The preparation is, I have to do with Jesus in the place where Jesus is.

I remember well a sister saying to me once, she had been in a storm at sea, and at the time she was thinking of Jesus asleep in the storm. I said, That is not the way to look at Jesus. If you had been looking at Him where He is, He would have made you like what He was in the storm. You must get your connection with Jesus where He is. How do I get skill to be as Jesus was here? Let me give you one single statement to keep definitely in your souls. You must see Him where He is, to be like Him where He was. You must see Him where He is: not be looking at Him where He was.

Many a person is greatly hindered by merely studying Jesus in the gospels, as if Christ was to be his pattern, as He is depicted there. Morally He was a pattern; but it is not in the gospels I am to be occupied with Him. I must be educated. I must get power. I am indeed to be like Jesus where He was, but I am in conscious connection with Him where He is, and He enables me to act as He would have acted in this scene. Take a case. Go to visit a sick person. What are you looking at now? You say, I have my eye upon the Lord. That is right; and very likely the Lord will come out and make the thing perfect. You see a person nervous and anxious sometimes. He says, the only thing I feel I can do now is to get my

[Page 288]

eye upon the Lord. It is not that I do anything. It is the sense of dependence upon Him.

Let me illustrate this. It is like a flower and the sun. Take a little daisy. It has not opened today. What is the reason? There is no sun. The daisy will not come out, for there is no sun. Take the finest, the most expanded flower you ever saw, and put a cover on, and hide it from the sun, and you will wither it up. Its dependence is upon the sun.

Many a saint is like a plant you sometimes find in the garden-house with a long taper stalk working its way out at the door or window. There is no real development about him. It is not a question of root. There is a difference between root and flower, and between root and fruit. You have the root but no fruit. You must have blossom before the fruit, and the reason you have not got blossom is that you have not got sun. Look at any plant you like, and if it has not got sun, it is flowerless. Many a christian is like the stalk travelling out of the garden-house to get light from the sun. No flower can do without that, and no christian can do without the light of Christ.

I often ask myself, Have I had the glory of Christ shining upon me this morning? The Israelites did not want to go to the baker's shop for the manna. They gathered it in the morning, before the sun was up. Before the influences of the day, the soul gets the sense of what Christ is, for a provision for it. The soul sees in the light of the glory of that blessed presence all he wants, and nowhere else. Do you think that a sorrowful thing? It is the most joyful thing a soul can see. "Without me ye can do nothing".

I say, Thank God! "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus". It is not up there. If I look up to the glory I get it. I say I have Him now. But you say it does not come out. What is the reason? The flesh is the difficulty, and the glory will not do to set aside the flesh. You must bring in Christ's death.

[Page 289]

You must mortify it, "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus". He gives us the cross to open the way to the glory. I must use the cross to be the expression of Christ on earth. I can tell you what prevents the expression of Christ. The very thing that gratifies you most, that is the thing that hinders.

Mark the latter part of the verse - "that the life also of Jesus" (not the Lord Jesus) "may be manifested in our body" - in our body. The life is there, but I want it to be seen outside. I say to a coachman on a dark night, Have you got your lamps? Yes, he says. Are the candles good? Oh, yes, the best that can be got. Well, what is the state of the glasses? Oh, I quite forgot to clean them. Then, I say, your lamps are not worth a farthing. The light is there, but no one will see it because the glasses are dirty. The light is there, but it has to come through the glasses and cannot because of the dirt.

I use a word well known to some of you, though perhaps not to all - the reason the light does not come out is that your body is opaque. I was speaking on this subject the other day in the country, and a countryman said, When we want a light we take a large turnip and scrape it till it is so thin that the light can shine through it. That is just what you want - no 'flesh' in your body, and then your body will let out the light. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus".

You say, How am I to know the dark thing hindering? Have you a great taste for music, or for drawing? Yes, you say, I have quite a passion for it. Then I say, Take care, that is black. That will hinder the light. You say, Why, there is no great harm in it. It is not a question of harm. It hinders the expression of Christ, the light. You do not allow yourself to become an unhindered vehicle of grace. You say, I must do my work. Certainly, work never does harm. It is care and absorption through nature that does harm. Work is the very thing given to man, and he will

[Page 290]

never do well without it; it is the care that does the mischief. Care is the doubtful issue of your work. It is not work that hinders. That is no excuse. There is nothing so useful for a man as labour. "He brought down their heart with labour". No man has his health if he is not a labouring man. A working man is a true man, whether it is for the Lord or not. Let no person talk to me and excuse himself by saying, I must do my business. The duties of life are the banks of the river within which you ought to flow on. After mingling in the bustle of a godless world, when I get home there should be the "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price". What a wonderful thing that is! There is something to teach me what God is. The duties of life are the very banks through which that river shall flow. If the river had not banks, where would it be? I am not answerable for people if they make what I call canals - make ways for themselves. You never saw a canal without a dry dock. That is not God's way. That is a canal that you make for yourself to ride on.

But as an actual force, what is to hinder me? The hindrance is whatever is self-gratification - that will bar the expression of that which is Christ.

I look at a man like Stephen. He is the expression of Christ. He is under the cross - under death. Flesh gets nothing. There is no self-gratification to hinder him, and then he comes out as a beautiful expression of the divine. We should live here "always delivered unto death". God is extremely gentle with us, beloved. He will never leave us to say He neglected or overlooked us. But if He does not find you tractable - if He finds you are like a self-willed horse, you will have your own way, you will not go - Well, He says, I cannot make any hand of him, I will turn him out to grass. He will not use you, but leave you just to feed, and some people say, perhaps, he has a fine time of it.

[Page 291]

I do not think so. He will be brought in again some day, and the collar will be put on again, and it will gall all the harder for having been off so long. What the Lord does when He sees us willing to do anything is, He comes in and helps us.

You should live "always delivered unto death". Then all is easy. Suppose a person says, I will give up my ornaments and such like. I have no doubt the Lord comes in and helps you in that way. But where there is a strong desire to retain the thing, He allows it to go on till circumstances bring the soul into the right place.

Just like Paul. Paul was full of Jerusalem. This was a real and true thing in one sense, and the Lord allows it to go on, and by and by, in Philippians, we find Paul in his right place. He says, I am like a balloon on a string. All I desire is "to depart, and to be with Christ". Nothing can draw him here now - not even Jerusalem. The Lord brought in the pressure of circumstances, and he says, "We .. . are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake". And the Lord does not remove the pressure. As a man sometimes says of a pony, I never keep the saddle off him. He is a tractable, useful animal, I have always work for him. That is exactly what the Lord says of us, when we can say with Paul, "We which live are alway delivered unto death". I will never take the pressure off you. I will always keep the pressure on you, because you turn it to some account. Now, what people are looking for are fine, easy times - and that is really to be out to grass. I do not know if any of you are looking for easy times here, instead of saying, I am in the world, and Christ is gone away. And because Christ is gone away, what are you doing now? I say, my eye is upon Him where He is.

[Page 292]

PURGED OR JUDGED

John 8:31, 32

The sure way to discover and elicit the hindrance and the nature of the hindrance to the truth which God has revealed, or that which He is reviving at any time, is by simply pressing it. The obstacle to its reception and adoption, as that which blocks up a narrow passage, must then be discovered and encountered, in whatever form it may exist. God reveals His mind and will, and the way this is received discloses the real state of man. The mind of man is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be; and the effect which follows from pressing the truth and mind of God at any time is always the same, namely, some are purged by it, and the rest are judged. + It is evident this must be the case. Let us bear in mind that man is in his nature opposed to the will of God, and that where the nature is unjudged and unmortified by the Spirit of God, Satan can use it in direct antagonism to God.

But how is it, one may say, that man, if thus opposed in purpose and intent to the mind of God, seems often in some sort to accept truth and to range himself under it? The answer is simple. Man will accept and bow to anything which exalts man as man; and assuredly christian ethics do this, inculcating high elevated relations between man and man, and thus contributing to man's sense of his own dignity. Hence they meet with approbation even from those who recklessly deny the author of them. It is only when the truth is pressed as God's word to man that there can be the savour of His knowledge, which is to one the savour of death unto death, and to the other the

+By 'judged,' I mean one openly proved to be unwilling to accept the leading of Godís Spirit.

[Page 293]

savour of life unto life. To elicit the real state of man's mind regarding God's mind, the truth must be so pressed that God's claim is paramount and man convicted in His presence. This man naturally rebels against; and hence it is that, as truth is plainly insisted on, the nature of the hindrance which opposes its reception is in every case touched or elicited.

But we must draw a distinction between those who have no link to God at all in their souls, and those who have, but who are choked and embarrassed by their associations and the indulgence of nature; and also those who are inwardly sighing for strength to escape from a state of things which is intolerable to them. There are these three classes of persons to be found in the professing company of God's people on the earth whenever general declension has set in. The first we have noticed are merely professors, and are in nature opposed to God's truth and mind; the second, not in soul opposed to it, but because of circumstances and associations, warped and disobedient; the third, tried and oppressed, but ready and longing for divine light and guidance.

Now declension cannot set in unless there be an imperfect reception of the truth; for it is the carelessness and inaccuracy with which it is held which, like breaches in a garrison, open a way for the entrance of those who assume the guise of the converted, but who are in heart opposed. It is most important to bear in mind that if the truth of God were faithfully maintained, no one not of His Spirit could long submit to it. True, the good seed may be received for a time in the evil soil, but the surest way to expose that it has no root, is by the increased faithfulness and self-surrender of those who have received the word in truth; for if it be maintained in any careless way, opportunity is afforded for the indifferent, mere professors, to follow in the wake and company of the true-hearted. What is to stay, order, or determine the

[Page 294]

course of man, but the mind of God? God has revealed His mind. If this be imperfectly presented, then the standard by which everything of man must be judged is lowered, and error escapes; therefore it is the insisting on the truth of God which the Holy Spirit authenticates and confirms to the soul, which alone exposes all the elements of nature which clog and hinder souls from adopting and following His will. Hence when the testimony is revived, it is always with this effect: some are purged from the confusion, and the rest judged as immersed in it. I think the servants of Christ ought to lay it to heart how far they are accountable before God for the low slumbering state of the church. It was when the servants went down and did eat and drink with the drunken that the kingdom of God was likened unto ten virgins who slumbered and slept, and the two great evils in the professing body took place. Had the servants done their duty, had the wise virgins kept lively and wakeful, walking according to their vocation, the foolish would have shrunk from association with them. When God revived His work, and there was a cry made, the effect was evident enough: the wise were purged and the foolish were judged.

Now among the third class of persons I have mentioned above, the really true-hearted, there is often a complaining that we are in the midst of evil association and the like; but while ready and desiring to escape from it, they do not see that the only way to do so is by becoming practical exponents of the truth committed to them, in the power of which they would be purged from their false associates, and the false associates would be judged. There is really no other way to emerge from the confusion, and it is a way in which, as the difficulties increase, the moral power of overcoming them is known also. Thus Paul exhorts Timothy that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. But what does he then enjoin

[Page 295]

on him as his duty and the only remedy in such a state of things? "Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry". He has not to be a careless, unexercised servant, mixing himself up with the world, but to make full proof of his ministry. Thus also does Jude address the faithful themselves: "But ye, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit", as the sole and adequate remedy and power to counteract the confusion in which they were.

It is plain enough that the upholding of the truth of God, not only in His grace and mercy towards man, but in the scope and purpose of His own mind as He counsels and devises, is that which alone can separate His people from hindering associations, and that when they simply walk in it, they are purged from them through the power of it, while those from whom they are distanced are at the same time judged by it. A double effect follows, blessed to the faithful, but disastrous to the blind and wilful. It is after this manner that God effects deliverance for His people from time to time, when declension and intermixture have set in because His mind and counsel have been departed from or feebly maintained. Thus was it at the very first, when the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and took of them wives as they chose. When the consequences of this confusion (for it is always the case that the good degrading itself to the evil, the high to the low, leads to a greater corruption than evil by itself) were manifest to Noah, as God's servant - the one used by Him to effect deliverance out of such a state of things - God's mind is declared; and through it he was purged, as we know, and the rest judged. How simple and unique the principle! There is one course and only one for the faithful on earth, and that is to maintain the truth of God committed to them, as we shall not fail to see if we pay ordinary attention to the way souls have allowed

[Page 296]

themselves to slip away from the distinct counsel of God, while they preserved the appearance of being His witnesses. For instance, Israel for 490 years, and even in the days of David, neglected to keep the seventh or sabbatical year. Alas! how often without noticing it at the time do we drop important parts of truth, which, in years to come, bears its sad consequences.

Now the point of moment for us to examine is the mode and manner in which souls are diverted or hindered from accepting the deliverance which God offers. There is no difficulty in seeing why an unbeliever cannot yield himself to the mind of God, when it is simply and distinctly pressed on him. This is class 1. But the question of interest and anxiety to us is, What would hinder saints from adopting and following the counsel and will of God? What, in short, is the cause of the difference as to the reception of it between No. 2 and No. 3 of the classes I have mentioned? It is, I believe, that the one has been prepared by exercise and discipline for the acceptance of increased light; while the others, on the contrary, are by their habits and self-indulgence so warped, and so blinded by nature, that they are unable to accept it. We learn from Scripture that at no time did all who professed to be God's people, and who had taken their place as such, accept and follow the word of God pressed on them in order to revive His name and power among them. And hence the effect of that word was to mark off some as faithful, the rest as unprepared. It purged the one and judged the other. Now the cause of this unpreparedness is not because of the difficulty of the course prescribed by the call of God in order to revive His testimony at such a time, but because of the habits and tastes which have been allowed and fostered previously to the call. If there be any unjudged selfishness which I allow to preponderate, I am unable to let the Word have its true

[Page 297]

force with me, and I lose it. Hence it is said, "Lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God". There is a preparedness of heart for rejecting the truth offered, as there is for accepting the truth when presented. When a strain is made on anyone, the strongest element, good or bad, is tested and declared. If you fail in the day of adversity your strength is small, simply because if you have any strength at all it will be called into exercise when the pressure comes fully on you. Many a one floats on as solvent and capable who collapses into insignificance and shame when times are trying. Difficult times test and bring out latent strength and ability, according as it is there; and then also will the dominant purpose be disclosed.

This comes out in various ways. Mere contention will oftentimes disclose it, which, though it happens unexpectedly, is ordered of God to test and prove His servants at the time. The contention between Paul and Barnabas confirmed and established Paul in the right course, while it exposed how Barnabas had previously suffered from association with the Jewish element connived at by Peter (Galatians 2), and when the strain came, he betrayed how much he had been injured by it; Acts 15:37 - 39. Had there been no contention they might have gone on apparently smoothly; but the contention brings to light the strength of the truth in Paul, and exposes Barnabas, who, having allowed himself to tamper with Peter's inconsistency, is unprepared for divine action when the call for it comes; the result is, he separates from Paul and sails to Cyprus. It is thus that the moral atmosphere is purified. When Abram's herdsmen contend with Lot's herdsmen, the faith of Abram is elicited, and at the same moment Lot's worldliness is disclosed and finds a vent for itself, so that the future course of each and their relation one to another is determined. When the Philistines contend with Isaac and eventually

[Page 298]

drive him from their territory, the moral greatness of Isaac is made apparent to Abimelech and he follows him into his separation, because he sees that the Lord is assuredly with him. What the king did not see while Isaac was mixed up with them, he does not fail to see when Isaac is purged and separate; and in following Isaac he acknowledges his superiority, while he admits the deficiency of his own nation. The weakness of the one is exposed while the moral power of the other is distinctly expressed. Neither appears in his true light and character until there is a strain; the demand elicits the good of the one and the evil of the other. Thus the good are purged and the evil judged.

At first David and Saul seemed to harmonise; but when the test came, and the conflict arose, and as it increased, the moral virtue of the one was exhibited, while the treachery and baseness of the other were open and palpable. The more the evil pressed against the good, as set forth fully in our Lord's life here, the more significantly and finely did His excellency shine forth and strike the line between what was of God and what was against Him. Those who followed Him were purged, the rest judged. It is the conflict of the opposing forces which elicits the qualities of each. Hence when there is slumbering, the foolish virgins appear similar to the wise; but when the wise take their true place and maintain the truth by responding to the cry, separation instantly ensues; the good is marked off distinct and separate, and the evil marked off as evil and worthless; "the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten", Jeremiah 24:3. Principles are disclosed according to their true nature and intent. Hence there is always with supineness a feeble demonstration of power, as there is corresponding feebleness of opposition to it, or rather of the virus of the opposition. But when a stir comes, the slumberers are disturbed, and elements arrange themselves according to their order; the true and good are

[Page 299]

strengthened by their own, and the evil are supported and swollen by their own. The closer the conflict, the more clearly and fully are the moral qualities, the purposes, and aims of both discovered and patent.

But besides this - and it is a solemn fact - it is when the conflict occurs, when the day of testing comes, that the causes and habits of life, which have prepared and led a man to oppose the truth, or which have blinded him against his right course, are found out. We often forget that we are weaving blinds for our own eyes by not studiously cultivating the activities of divine life. We often deceive ourselves by concluding that because we steer clear of certain evils we are preserved in capability and fitness for service in the field. But this is not enough; we must walk in the Spirit. Life is a positive thing; it does not merely sever one from certain carnalities, it declares its own virtue and power, and thus prepares and qualifies one for any emergency. He that lacketh these things - he with whom the activities of life are not present - is blind, short-sighted (see 2 Peter 1). If the activities of our new existence in Christ are not maintained, we cannot be proof against the direful influences of this evil scene. There can be no preservation for us but by the power of the Spirit rebutting the antagonistic and damaging elements. Now if we grow blind and short-sighted because of our neglect of these, or from habits of selfishness which we always drop into when they are not displaced by those of grace, it is evident that when a stir comes, when we are told the Philistines are on us, when the conflict occurs, we shall be like Samson, unable to meet the foe; and like him we shall have to say that we wist not that the Lord had departed from us. And still more: our inability to act in the crisis, discloses the cause of our weakness. With Samson it was that he had allowed his hair to be shorn off by Delilah; with Barnabas, that he had connived at Peter's dissimulation. In neither would

[Page 300]

the feebleness have been found out had there not been a call for action. Saints think at times that they have nothing to do but to shake themselves like Samson and to be free when the strain for decision and action comes upon them, forgetting that the influences of their previous course have warped and damaged them; nay, that if the activities of life are not kept up, they will be incapable - they will be blind and short-sighted. It is not merely that they must be proper and orderly, it is much more. There must be the continual "adding". "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity", 2 Peter 1:5 - 7. I must be active, growing in my new existence, or I shall become short-sighted. The more fully grace occupies me, the more simply and effectively will it express itself by me, just as wine long in bottle imparts to it a bouquet peculiar to itself.

When Israel refused to go up and possess the land, they let out the real thing which hindered; they had still in their memory the fleshpots of Egypt, and therefore were unable to accept the word which Caleb and Joshua were ready and prepared to respond to. Thus was it also with Demas, who "loved the present age", 2 Timothy 4:10. The greater the pressure, the more difficult the time, the more simply must the soul be set for God. It is then that the live coal from the altar is needed by the one who would stand for God. Then it is that we must put on the whole armour of God. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things". Hence the apostle adds, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest.. . when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway". I may be like one of the 9,700 who followed Gideon, who were neither fearful nor afraid, ready in courage for anything; and yet when tested

[Page 301]

by the mercies here, the things which address themselves to man's nature, they are unfit for service; and out of 10,000 only 300 are temperate enough to follow Gideon - to understand or walk according to the Lord's mind. This is very solemn; but does it not explain the inability of many in the present day to take advanced ground, while it accounts for others falling back after having taken it? The action, the fruit of truth, is the same in every age; some are purged and the rest judged. Some are marked off and girded up to be more devoted to the Lord, while the rest drop more openly into the current of the world and are lost in its systems and ways.

One word more as to the third class; those who are oppressed and tried by the state of things in which they are, and who are prepared and sure to be delivered as accepting the call of God.

The "good ground" always receives and fructifies the truth presented to it; it is the "honest and good heart". It is not the amount of intelligence or of usefulness, but it is the honest and true heart prepared by the Spirit of God to accept the word of God. Such an one knows the voice of the Shepherd. He may be very ignorant, like Mary Magdalene, but he has, like her, an honest and true heart; he has a taste for the good seed, for the truth, and there is nothing to prevent its acceptance. Thus it is the poor of the flock, devoted in heart, who are ever ready to follow the call of God when He revives His testimony among His people. I do not mean those merely poor in circumstances, but those who are of that character of soul; of a broken and contrite heart -- such are always guided. "The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way". It is easy enough to see it. The one who really trembles at the word of God will accept whatever of it is given, be it little or much. It is all a question of condition of soul before God. There is a great deal put down to the

[Page 302]

abstruseness of fresh truth and the want of clearness in the delivery of it, which in reality is only attributable to the want of that state of soul which eagerly bows itself to all that is of God. You will never find souls bow to increased light who have slighted or been unmoved by lesser light. The Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptised with the baptism of John; but the publicans justified God, being baptised of him. And it is a well-known fact that the most earnest and devoted in the higher lines of truth have been distinguished for faithfulness and zeal when they knew much less, and were in far lower lines. It simply turns on condition of soul. The Simeons and Annas are sure to be led on and instructed; the Mary Magdalenes, no matter how great their ignorance, are sure not to be left in ignorance, but will be led on through grace to the fulness and blessedness of the truth; and not only so, but with accompanying power to testify of it. If we have but the "good ground" in the heart, we need not fear but that every truth that is given will in mercy be cast therein by His own blessed hand, who nurtures and cherishes each of His members. Nothing can be surer than this! Be the truth cast forth where it may, all that have honest and true hearts share in it, be they at the antipodes from one another as to place.

But besides this readiness, like good ground, to receive and imbibe every word of God presented, there is another remarkable quality belonging to those who follow the Lord and His word. It is their sensitiveness as to the company they keep; this may be termed exclusiveness, but it is in reality a desire to be for the Lord and His truth in this day of surrounding defilement. Thus they shrink from everything not of the truth, even as a Jew, who, in accordance with the word delivered to him in his day, would not eat with a gentile, and would shake off the dust of his feet when he entered his own land. Even as Daniel and his

[Page 303]

companions would not eat of the king's meat, so he who would maintain the truth of God now, must abide by it, even as he is enjoined, "do not receive him into the house, and greet him not". God's principle of separation to Himself has been the same in all dispensations. The whole regime of Israel was a holy exclusiveness; and now the meek, the teachable, those who bow to the word and are ready to be formed by it, will be found the most careful about their associations. The good ground is not only 'good,' it is also 'honest,' and hence it shrinks from unhallowed intercourse. It does not turn away from the weak if true, but it does from the strong and the busy if not true. And by true I do not mean merely true to certain doctrines, but true in their sensibilities as to the holiness which becometh thy house, O Lord, for ever! One without this sensibility is never prepared to accept the leadings of God's Spirit; and hence, when others are led on and thus purged, he is judged. If Moses had not had this sensibility, he could not have seen the course of God's Spirit when Israel had made a calf and worshipped it; Exodus 32:26, 27. If Phinehas had not had this sensibility, he, a priest, would not have grasped the sword and have done strange work for him, by which the plague was stayed, and the covenant of peace was ensured to him and to his seed for ever; Numbers 25:7 - 13. If Ezra had not had this sensibility, he would not have rent his garments and plucked off his hair when he heard the people of Israel had intermarried with the gentiles. And if Paul had not had this sensibility, he would not have withstood Peter to the face, and the truth of the gospel would have been risked to the church; Galatians 2:11. And, above and beyond all human instances, how do we find this sensibility in its perfection in the Lord Himself, who could rebuke Peter even so far as to say, "Get thee behind me, Satan", when he, in the tenderness of human nature, would have spared his Lord the

[Page 304]

terrible judgment by which only sin could be put away, because he savoured not of the things of God, but of the things of men?

Can anything be simpler than that, if I am really true-hearted for Christ, the first desire of my heart must be to keep myself separate from everything in word and deed unsuited to Him? Hence, when words which "eat as doth a canker" (2 Timothy 2) - not merely leaven - were allowed to be babbled in the assembly, the apostle tells us that the vessel to honour and fit for the Master's use is not the gifted one, not the laborious one, not the amiable one, but the purged one, the one who purges himself from all association with the rest who tolerate that state of things. I do say, and I anxiously press it on the hearts of saints, that there is a great want of this sensibility in this day, and I believe many souls are delayed and hindered from blessing from the want of it. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is that if I tender an ordinary salutation to an unsound teacher, I am partaker of his evil deed; 2 John 10,11. The spirit of indifference to Christ which leads me to do so generates in me practically a similarity of deeds; if I allow the flesh, I allow the works of the flesh, and it cannot be otherwise. If I am absolutely for Christ, while, on the one hand, everything and everyone that would subserve to His honour will be valued and welcomed, on the other, everything disparaging to Him will be refused and repudiated. There must be this twofold action - the soul tremblingly eager to hear and to follow every word of God, and at the same time increasingly sensitive to keep separate personally and in association from everything unworthy of Him in doctrine or in practice.

And this will not be as with the Pharisees and Sadducees, who opposed because they were blind, and condemned what they could not correct. This is just the difference between those true to Christ, and those who oppose because they are blind. The one

[Page 305]

true to Christ, while he repudiates anything trenching on the dignity of Christ, always, because he is purged from that which he repudiates, exhibits in his own walk more temperateness, because Christ is with him as a defender of the faith; and he is satisfied, because hereby he ensures the company and co-operation of the "pure in heart", those who are distinctly for Christ; while the one who opposes as a Pharisee or a Sadducee drops down into a lower order of things, and seeks support and countenance from the mixed multitude, the unpurged; from those to whom, if he had maintained his separation to Christ, he would never have had recourse.

May the Lord's beloved ones be up and doing; loving one another with a pure heart fervently; washing one another's feet; that is, so ministering His word in speech and practice that the stains of the world and its associations may be removed from them; and may all of us be more ready to follow every leading of His Spirit, knowing that we shall be purged if we follow Him, but judged, if on any account we are unprepared to do so.

[Page 306]

"ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD"

2 Corinthians 5:5 - 18

It is a well-known fact that Satan, when he cannot entirely set aside any truth of God, seeks to pervert it; and the most advanced saint has need to watch, and be prepared, for such perversion. Nay, so subtle is the nature of it that invariably the most effectual instrument in the hand of Satan is the one who hitherto has progressed furthest in truth; for the higher one has reached, and the more one has learnt, the more extensive the injury he perpetrates, if he be perverted. The higher and the larger the building, the greater the crash when it falls. A small one might be unnoticed, but a great one necessarily involves great damage.

In every day it has been according to the vigour in which truth was presented that there was opposition to it; but the most successful opposition, and the one most difficult to counteract, has always been that which comes within a shade of the truth. The greatest lie is that which is nearest to that truth which it seeks to supplant, and to be accepted instead of. And often the line of difference is so fine that to give a definition of it is difficult; and it can only be determined by the eye being set on God, and not on man; for it will be found that the perversion of the most dangerous and injurious order takes its rise from having the eye turned to man, and seeking to make the truth suit him, and not to conform man to the truth; so that the way to resolve this almost invisible line of difference is by the simple question, Is it God-ward I am looking, or man-ward? When Satan turns Eve's eye to herself and her own advantages, God gets no place in her mind; but on the contrary, His will is refused, and His nature denied. Cain thinks only of man, and

[Page 307]

what suits the creature as such, without any reference to what God in His nature may require of the creature now under judgment because of sin. Lot thinks of himself and what suits his own interests; he does not leave Canaan, but while remaining in it he thinks of things entirely in relation to himself. God is not thought of, and thus His object and purpose in calling Abram out of Mesopotamia is entirely overlooked. This is a sample of the most dangerous and effectual order of opposition; and that to which the people of God so continually fall victims.

Lot does not depart from the call of God but while acceding to the letter of the truth, he thinks only of himself and is eventually found in Sodom, his righteous soul vexed from day to day with their ungodly deeds. Jacob, in the same way, thinks only of his own interests and what suits himself (and that, too, after he had been taught in the wrestling that God is supreme, and that man is set aside in his presence, as his halt ever after declared) and settles down at Shalem. He might say that as within the land he was within the territory of God, the limits of divine call; but yet he was thinking only of what suited himself. God was not in his thoughts, but with reference to himself, his altar, El-Elohe-Israel; and hence not only, like Lot, does he personally suffer, but he and his family become an offence instead of a testimony to the world. If God had been simply before his eyes, how differently would he have acted! It appears very small at the beginning; but with what grave and singular consequences is this almost imperceptible departure attended! Moses, in another way, is an example of how the most earnest and devoted may be turned aside by having self before the mind more than God. He in the zeal and freshness of his heart attempts to deliver his brethren by his own hand. He rests on his own strength, fails, and has to retire discomfited and helpless into the land of Midian. And forty years afterwards he is as slow to

[Page 308]

stand for God where he had failed before, as he was in the former instance rash. Why? Because his eye was on the failing Moses again, and not on God.

I need not multiply examples. For 490 years, even during David's time, Israel neglected the observance of the sabbatical year, which was the most distinct and blessed opportunity and call to them to declare their dependence on God, and how He was for them; for, though apparently God's kingdom, they at the very time refused to confess Him in an act of the greatest moment and significance, and which, more than anything, would have marked them on the earth as His people. What a testimony to all around for those three years, and to their own souls, too, that all things were of God! If God had been before their eye, and not what suited themselves, how His favour and blessing would have enriched them! In one year they would have received a supply from Him for three years. They could have rested without care on the sabbatical year, and have said daily and hourly to themselves, in the joy of their hearts, "All things are of God". The brightest glory of the kingdom, the chief brilliant of the crown, is surrendered thoughtlessly, almost imperceptibly, and without an expression of regret, just because man is thought of and not God. I do not speak of the gross evil into which the people of God fall, but of the indifference to which the most advanced are exposed, and into which they fall, while apparently on the right ground, and going on in the line of His counsels. I do not speak of Israel as idolaters, or as corrupted among the nations, but I would refer to such as the captivity in the days of Haggai, who had returned from Babylon, who had sought the Lord's glory on their return, but being hindered, had now contented themselves with being in the right place, and had no longer thought of the temple and of God's things, but simply and entirely of their own. They are in fact as the slothful man,

[Page 309]

who will not roast what he took in hunting. They had surmounted all the difficulties, had braved everything, and had openly declared for God, according to His mind in Jerusalem; but now they went away every one to his own house, and the house of the Lord lay waste! The point I desire to impress is that those who are most right are liable to religious selfishness, their altar is El-Elohe-Israel; and that their self-occupation is more damaging than the grossness of the ignorant or unbelieving.

Now our Lord's disciples in His day were examples of the snare of self-occupation and self-seeking, of which I speak, more than the Pharisees. The latter were open and avowed opposers, never accepting nor assenting to the truth, while the disciples were openly and boldly on the right ground, but were continually misinterpreting the Lord and His purposes, simply and solely because their eyes rested on man, and not on God. Who told the Lord to send away the hungry multitude? The disciples - they who, of all others, ought not to obstruct His will or check His grace. Who prayed Him to send away the Syrophenician, "for she crieth after us"? Was it not those who ought to have understood His mind, and not to have attempted to thwart it in its finest purposes? Where young children were brought to Him that He might touch them, who rebuked those that brought them? The disciples, "but when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased". Who suggested to Him to call down fire on the Samaritans but the disciples? Peter, the most earnest and the foremost of them, rebuked Him when He foretold His rejection and death; which subjected him to the severest reproof from the Lord. "Get thee behind me, Satan: .. . for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men". Do not all these instances declare to us that being on the right ground, and being nearest to the Lord in zeal and affection, does not preserve from the self-thought

[Page 310]

which one falls into if the eye rests on man and not on God?

I have not referred to every instance in which the disciples attempt to check or compromise the work of the Lord; but I have noticed enough to convince any true heart that if the eye is turned to man, no knowledge, no zeal or purpose, will preserve from false judgment and false apprehension of the Lord's mind. No amount of enlightenment or practical walk in the right path will secure from perversion, if the eye is turned man-ward instead of God-ward. Not only will a Mark return from Pamphylia, but a Barnabas will be carried away by the dissimulation of a Peter. "Of your own selves [the elders] shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them".

Nothing can be more distinctly set before us in Scripture than the fact that among the most advanced, and the most earnest, some have been turned aside, and have slipped from the true line, because in a crisis their eye considered for man, and not for God; while on the other hand, when God simply controlled the vision of the soul, everything opened out according to His mind. And hence, in every time there was a reaching forth, and a yearning for that era of full blessing, when it shall literally be true - that "all things are of God". And it is in this connection that the apostle uses those wondrous words; 2 Corinthians 5:14. He had said that "if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again". And then, to make this more decided and unequivocal, he adds, "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ". Failure in saints is always

[Page 311]

attributable in one way or another to the eye being turned to man instead of to God; and there never can be any real strength or ability but as the eye rests simply on God.

But now we are not struggling by faith outside the being and the world in which we are, as were the saints before the death of Christ, but by the Spirit of Christ we are before God on the ground that all is swept away. They (the saints of old) occupied a creation which had fallen from God, and which by faith they saw as one day to be set aside in resurrection. This was all faith could do before the death of Christ; but now we are on the ground of all things being new, all things of God.

The understanding of the difference between the faith of the most advanced saint before the death of Christ, and what it is now, is of great moment and value, both for our blessing and testimony. We have seen that the great and unfailing balk to the saint is man, and that in every instance, where any servant of God walked with Him, it was in proportion as God in His own purpose was before his soul. Be it an Enoch translated, an Abraham ascending mount Moriah, the children of Israel passing through the Red Sea, or Peter walking on the water; one and all are great only in proportion as man is overlooked, and God is only and entirely before the soul. But in each of these cases there was no knowledge of the ground where faith now puts the soul. With each of them it set them before God, and all was pure blessing; but it could at best be but as expectant of the removal of all that which stood in the way. There was by faith a flight above and beyond the old creation, but there could have been no clear or distinct perception of the fact of its removal, for it was not as yet removed, which is the only true place for faith now; for "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new".

[Page 312]

Faith did carry a saint before the death of Christ unto God; but though it filled his soul with God, it could not give him a clear and positive assurance that old things had passed away, for they had not passed away; and faith, while connecting the soul with God, and blessing it in God, could not lead it to see and know that there was an end to the flesh (even Christ in the flesh) until the fact was accomplished. And the knowledge of this fact is the simple yet momentous difference between the saint who has only the faith in God which those before the death of Christ had, and the faith which saints now are entitled to have. The faith proper to me now asserts not only that I am before God, but that there is nothing remaining which is not judged in the cross of Christ, and therefore judicially passed out of existence before Him; so that on this ground man in no wise appears. "Old things are passed away". It is not that the eye rests on God, stepping over the old creation, but it rests on God now, all the old things have passed away. There is nothing to cross or to skip over, for all are removed, as judged in the cross; they have no recognised existence before God; and when I am in faith, I am entitled to see that no such thing exists; the ground is cleared, all things are of God.

I fear many in the present day fall back to the faith known to the saints before the death of Christ, instead of dwelling in that proper to them now - realised, I suppose, in its blessed extent by Stephen only, when he saw his place in the glory with Jesus. It is impossible to explain fully the difference; but the spiritual will at once see how morally important and wide is the difference. In the one case I must as it were close my eyes to all I am in, and by faith remove myself away from it, because I am in the standing of the first Adam which is at enmity with God, and hateful to Him; Romans 7. The body of this death must depress me, and I necessarily have a conscience ever

[Page 313]

anxious and harassed, and seeking absolution in a satisfactory sacrifice: for there is no assurance, nor indeed could there be, of the judicial removal of it; and consequently, if not removed, I am, while in it, answerable for it according to God's claim on it; whereas by faith in Christ Jesus I am not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and entitled to see the flesh as entirely removed, judicially terminated before God. And if I return to it I have not to seek a sacrifice to atone for the delinquency of that which is a recognised, responsible existence; but I have, because Christ is my advocate, to take in confession God's side against myself, and to repudiate in toto that which, being judged and removed from God's eye in judgment, I have no right to return to or acknowledge; and the more I am in His light the more do I see, not only how blessed it would be to be borne over it and at rest before Him, but that I may search for it in vain; for "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God". Oh, how blessed! My true standing now is, "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". In the one case, I mourn over that which is unequal to its imposed responsibility; in the other, I denounce its intrusion with horror, because judged in the cross, and I return it by the power of the Spirit to the burial from which it had escaped.

Now if this truth be clearly apprehended, it must produce very marked practical effects. Man, as man, would not be consulted or ministered to. Christ alone would be the guide, strength, and motive for everything. Now as we have seen, there is no strength or rest but as faith reaches above and apart from man; and this at every time, even when man was still standing on the ground of responsibility before God, and when there could be no escape from it.

To be in a dry and barren land, where no water is,

[Page 314]

was always the trial to faith. And the Lord says to His disciples, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak". There was then a demand on the flesh. Though weak, its existence was owned as still responsible; and there was no escape from it. There must have been a very different exercise of soul then, when the flesh was required to please God (which in the Person of Jesus on earth was truly fulfilled), and now, when we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. To understand clearly the consequences of being in the Spirit, and not in the flesh, is of great moment; for if there is confusion in the mind on this point, the conscience suffers accordingly. If I could realise ever so distinctly the goodness and love of God, as the disciples did in Christ (by whom, while present, they were preserved from open evils into which they, according to the weakness of nature, fell when separated from Him), I still must feel myself bound (and the more I knew His grace, the more so) to make my flesh do its required duty to Him, and even if it did, my distress must be, "Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Its very weakness, not to speak of its wilfulness, would be unceasing trial to me, and this weakness the disciples betrayed the moment they were, even for a little while, separated from the Lord. They could not watch one hour. The moment He was betrayed by Judas they all forsook Him and fled. The immense difference cannot but be plain, whether I am regarded by God in a creature existence which is entirely inadequate (or worse) to meet His will - one positively under judgment; or that, this existence being judged in the cross of Christ, I can now enjoy every revelation of His love, without the mortifying feeling that the more He shows me of Himself, the more I am convinced of the weakness and wretchedness of myself, as His creature, to walk before Him. The knowledge of His

[Page 315]

love and grace to me, a sinner, saving me eventually, would not in any measure relieve this exercise of conscience; nay, on the contrary, would aggravate it. What could more distress me than to be led to see God's love and mercy for me as it is in His heart, and yet to know that I am a creature before Him, never pleasing Him; and that, as such a creature, I am under judgment, which indeed He had redeemed me from, yet that He required me to meet the duties which He had enjoined, and to act up to the law which He had given? In a word, though assured of my final redemption, because of the virtue of Christ's sacrifice, which in perfection did all that the offerings under the law proposed to do; yet that I was still in the flesh, and required of God, as now a partaker of this grace to do exactly what those under the Jewish economy were enjoined to do, but failed to accomplish. If this were true, which many think, my conscience would be always in Romans 7, and never rise to the happiness of even a saint who had by faith, through the types and shadows, reached God.

The nearer God comes to man, as in the case of Job, the more is he, however amiable, made to feel how entirely unfit in nature he is for His presence. There cannot be devised (unintentionally, I admit) a more effectual way for depressing and saddening a soul than to proclaim to it all the grace of God in Christ in redemption, and then tell the man that, as man, he is bound to maintain the law as the duty of one so largely indebted to God. Why, nothing can so aggravate my sense of misery as to show me all I have received because of my ruin in the flesh, and then say that I am expected to live in the flesh, as if I were not ruined and helpless. It is surely singing songs to a heavy heart. It is, in a word, to declare to me how gracious God is in redeeming me, a poor undone sinner; and telling me to live henceforth because of this mercy, in the flesh which needed the

[Page 316]

mercy, as if it had never needed it - that it is a duty I owe to my blessed Saviour, to live now as if I had never required a Saviour, and that the very grace shown me as a sinner and undone, makes it obligatory on me henceforth to act as if I had not need of any Saviour, because I should now do and keep the law. The favour, though inconceivable, is counteracted by the obligation attached to it.

What would be thought of the one who would pay all the debts of a bankrupt, but insist that, as an obligation, the bankrupt should resume his former business without capital, and never get into debt again, and thus show that his getting into bankruptcy could have been avoided by the exemplary manner in which he now gets on, though he had nothing but a clearance of debt in resuming his business? It is plain that with such a notion as this, there could be no clear or true apprehension of how all things are of God. Everything of man in the flesh is ended judicially in the cross for God, and now I am, through grace, not only freed from the burden of my sins, but I am a new creature in Christ Jesus. Old things have passed away, I am to live in Christ, and thus I am higher in moral life than ever the law required me to be.

It ought to be hardly necessary to go into this point; but the more one inquires into the condition of souls, the more will it be found that there is more or less a sense of obligation because of the grace conferred in Christ, that though I could not, before partaking of this grace, make my flesh please God, yet now I can; and hence, the greater the sense of the grace, the greater the distress of soul, because of the inability to answer to the obligation. Conceal it, cloak it, or call it what name you like, but if I am in the flesh, in the old man, I must, if I have any conscience, seek to make it answer to God's demand on man, and I cannot get rid of the sense of obligation without getting rid of the man to whom the obligation

[Page 317]

would attach. Hence I should regard sins in a very different way as a man still under obligation, and as one who is not. Not that the enormity of sins could be lessened; sins are sins whatever way they are dealt with, but let us see for a moment how the soul is before God in His grace, if the flesh has no longer a recognised existence, and is therefore no longer under any obligation, but is to be regarded really as dead.

If the existence of the creature, which I am in by nature, is under judgment, and if judgment has been passed on it in the cross of Christ, and I by faith accept this judgment, surely I do not desire or expect it to be revived. If I by faith accept what Christ has accomplished for me, I am delivered from the judgment. If I do not, I refuse the only door of escape, and the judgment resting on me is not removed. The judgment for sin inflicted on man has been borne by the Son of God, but He has risen out of it, and as the risen One, is the Author of eternal salvation. Having judicially terminated the existence of the man under judgment, and on the ground of full victory over death, He says that He draws all men unto Him. Every man is under judgment, but every one who looks to Him, the risen Man, receives life from Him, just as he had received death from the first Adam. Everyone who does not has the judgment resting on him, and if it be not removed it abides on him; John 3:36. Christ's death has ended man for God, and God no longer addresses him as capable of doing aught to please Him. The old man is crucified in the cross of His Son, and anyone who walks in the first Adam practically denies the death of Christ, and still links himself with that which is under judgment, and that in the presence of One who has borne the judgment. The gospel calls man to accept Christ as the One who bore it and is therefore the only door of escape to him out of it; but if he disbelieves or does not find the mercy, the judgment on himself is not arrested, he has not participated

[Page 318]

in the benefit secured by Christ's death; he has not life eternal but is lost eternally under judgment.

Thus we see the fact of Christ's bearing the judgment on man, and judicially ending man before God, does not of itself entail the salvation of every man without exception. It opens the way in righteousness for God to save every man; but on everyone who does not receive life through this open door for mercy, the wrath of God abides. God is quite free in righteousness to go forth and bring everyone into this blessing; but if man lingers in the place of judgment he will find that the One who would have been his Saviour is his Judge; and simply because he preferred his own life to the life that cometh from God. The believer accepts Christ, and finds life in Him, outside that life and being which is judged in the cross; and as he lives in this life, now his in Christ, he is consciously above and apart from all of that - man - which is judged in the cross, so that he seeks to live no longer unto himself, but unto him who died for him, and rose again. As he enters into and understands the place of life and new creation in which he is in Christ Jesus, so the more fully does he see that he ought not any longer to live to himself, but to Him. In a word, living to himself is incompatible with the fact and the blessing in which he is set, namely, that he is dead, as the death of Christ for him proved; and that if he lives in that which was thus proved to be dead, he contravenes the necessity and value of Christ's death; for if he recognised the necessity and value of it, he could not dare live to that for which He died, for "he died... that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again". How could I live in that which He by dying proved to be dead, and prefer it, too, to Him who died for me? The fact of grace is that every man in Christ is a new creation. It is senseless, as well as defiant to Christ, to live to myself

[Page 319]

in that standing which is not only counted dead by God, but which was judged in the cross.

If I am alive in Christ, and outside of myself which is dead through His death, can I nullify and make nothing of His death by returning to myself, at one and the same time losing my own blessing, and despising His love and service? No. If I am true to that which is true, namely, that I myself am dead - which is proved not merely by judgment having had its course, but because that judgment has been borne by Christ, who died for me - I must live outside of that which is dead, and in Him who is my life, and in whom I am a new creation; for "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God".

If I go back to that which is dead, I am returning to the things which have passed away. I am in that flesh which cannot please God; I am reviving that which is not only weak, but which lusteth against the Spirit of God and is not of God. And still more, I have despised the truth that I am outside of the old creation, because made a new creation in Christ. Old things, and the very best things connected with the flesh as flesh, have passed away.

Hence, if I go back to the flesh and walk in it, I am placed in a very different position from the transgressor before the death of Christ. Such an one had to relieve his conscience by an offering, which never purged the conscience, because "the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins". But he was not purged, even though by faith his soul rose up to the mercy of God, as did an Abel, an Abraham, or a David; he was still in that being which was held responsible to God; yet never able to stand before God as required, for by mercy only could man be preserved from the judgment which rested on him.

As to the law, so long as the law was kept, the

[Page 320]

judgment was staved off; but the moment he departed from the law, not only was he exposed to the judgment lying on man, but also to penalties attached to the breach of the law. Hence, under the law, the saint before the death of Christ sought to keep the law, in order to stave off the judgment under which he lay; and therefore the law was a great boon to him as living on the earth, for if he had kept it, it would have saved him for the time from the penalty resting on all men. Hence, the sense of a transgression was only felt or known when it was committed; for it was only after committal that the law declared the act as one of transgression; so that, though the law condemned evil, it did not prevent it, but condemned it when it noticed it, only to exact a penalty for the breach of it.

Now, with the knowledge of a full sacrifice in Christ, there is in the present day an effort to appease the conscience for a transgression committed after believing, in the thought that if the transgressions are put away one is saved from the judgment after death; thus, where the gospel of salvation is apprehended, the effort of the conscience on practical failure is to assure the heart of final salvation, while approving of its exercise as to present forgiveness. But this gives no real rest or power. If I, as a responsible being, sin, I need an atoning sacrifice to free me from sin; but if I return to that man which was once responsible, but now is dead, because judged in the cross of Christ, and sin thereby, I find that the way for me into the presence of God is by the Priest and not by a sacrifice. The Priest before God, in all the efficacy of the sacrifice, assures me of my acceptance before God. I confess my sins, repudiate them, as utterly abhorrent in me, because He suffered for me. I judge myself, and find my link before God in the Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the source of, and link to, all blessing for me, and in Him only do I find my place of acceptance with God; and in place as His child before Him,

[Page 321]

I do not seek to have a set-off for my transgressions in the repetition of the sacrifice. That set-off I have had, but it was by One who not only bore my sins in judgment, but in whom was crucified the old man in and by whom the sins were committed; so that I do not seek to relieve the old nature of a burden lying on it, but I now repudiate it in all its working as that which is already judged, which I ought not to touch, and with which it is horrible to be connected, because in the cross I see the gulf between my flesh and God. In the one case I seek to obtain a righteous exemption for a fault committed, so that the failing thing might still remain; in the other, I acknowledge my sins as that which I denounce, as that in which I ought not to be. I have no standing to maintain in that which commits the sins; and hence I confess them, not because the law or any one else condemns me - I condemn myself, I do not wait for exposure - I expose myself, because I now stand against myself, instead of for myself; and I am freed in my conscience through God's grace according to the extent of my confession. If I have a standing to sustain, I wait until I am exposed or found out; but now having none, I discover myself unto God, because I repudiate the flesh and its works. I am the first to throw a stone at myself; any return to the flesh is darkness, and inconsistent with the place of light in which I am set. I own my sin, and repudiate my apostasy, and my heart finds its assurance and solace in doing this, because Jesus Christ holds all my interests in Himself, and is the righteous One, and has been the propitiation for my sins, and for the sins of the whole world. Is there not then necessarily great practical effect from seeing that I have not to recognise the standing of that which cannot please God, that I have no standing in the flesh, and that when I touch or tamper with it I am the first to expose and denounce myself as having returned to that which I have renounced? Surely

[Page 322]

there must be, for thus practically I begin to see how all things are of God; and how, in order that all things should be of Him, everything of man, as to his first estate and condition, must have passed away. I then see, too, the force and necessity of the expression: "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more".

Nothing of the once order of the flesh remains. The flesh is an ended existence before Him, and the man now is of entirely another order: not an order in any way predicable, or to be determined or known by that which is judicially ended, but by the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. It is not that the first man has reached up to God, but the Son of God, who has taken flesh and blood and has borne the judgment in the first Adam, forms the new creature now, entirely in Himself, and thus in the place and life in which He is Himself. It is not man exalted into heaven exactly; nor is it the Son of God come down to man. It is a new beginning, the Word made flesh, and ending in His death the man under judgment; but then rising out of the judgment, He is the beginning of a new race and order, which is in no wise comprehensible to, or like the first Adam as to nature, though like in bodily appearance, and as God made man in His own likeness and image.

One word more in conclusion: if man in his first standing is still the existing one before God, then God must require of him; and if he fails on another trial, then there must be another sacrifice. The man must have been fully tried, and his total inability and depravity under all trial proved and exposed. The truth is that both have been done; there has been made full trial and full exposure of his depravity, and the Substitute has come, and has ended in Himself through judgment the standing of the first; old things have passed away, and there is no dealing with that man now from God, but with regard to the offer of

[Page 323]

mercy, which he now presents to him through Christ, risen up from among the dead. If old things have passed away, there ought to be no return to them; though the will of the flesh would ever seduce one into them, and this in every specious way.

The humanising of Christ, and the introduction of natural feelings into christianity, allowing one's own feelings to influence one more than Christ's mind, are among the many devisings of the flesh to connect the soul with the old things passed away. If old things have not passed away, God cannot condemn man on the ground of refusing the light; He can condemn him for having been ever rebellious and self-willed; but if old things have passed away, God on this ground condemns man for not accepting the mercy which He freely and fully offers. Nay, "he that believeth not is condemned already" because he refuses to accept God's grace offered to him on clear ground - ground where there is nothing, no barrier, between him and God; nothing to bar his acceptance of it, no, nothing! The offer of mercy is on the very terms that every barrier, every old thing has passed away; and the condemnation necessarily is not on account of disobedience, as in the day of the "old things", but because man does not believe on the name of the only-begotten Son of God. By that Son God has cleared away all; and hence there is condemnation if I do not believe in Him who has effected this wondrous work. Man adheres to the old things as if they were not put away, and refuses the Son of God, who now before God occupies the place of the old things; and hence the wrath of God abides on him. If old things have not passed away, we cannot say, "Behold, all things are become new".

[Page 324]

SYMPATHY AND COMMUNION

Jonah 4:1 - 11; Philippians 1:21

You have to get through Jonah 4 before you can know what it is to be in Philippians 1.

You find in this book of Jonah that there are two deaths that must be gone through by the soul to whom "to live is Christ". First, death on myself; then, death on everything around me. Martha and Mary show out exactly these two classes of saints: those who have only learned the first, and those who have gone through both.

Jesus talks to the one; He walks with the other; He talked to Martha, He wept with Mary. There are none of the saints He will not speak to, but there are but few He walks with. You get the two together in Hebrews 4"The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart".

That is the talking. And then: "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need". That is the walking and the weeping.

You must know what it is to have learned Him in the path of death, before He can say to you, I will bear you company. It was there Mary learned Him; and it was thus she was fitted for communion. It was first sympathy, and then communion, and so it must always be.

There is this difference between sympathy and communion. Sympathy is when the Lord comes to

[Page 325]

my side of things; communion is when I go to His side. You must know His sympathy before you can know communion. I have a Person who accompanies me on my path, and my heart forms itself by Him, and is occupied with His thoughts; and this is communion.

It is a wonderful thing to see that death, which has been the terrible blot upon us, should have been turned right round by God, and made the door of so much blessing to us. Death is the great difficulty for the soul to learn. When I know deliverance, I am devoted; but I must learn Christ in the death of all dear to me before I am a devotee.

I can give you examples of this in the Old Testament. Jonathan sees David, who is a beautiful picture of Christ. He risks his life for his sake. Now in reaching perfect deliverance, there are three stages for the soul. David meets the foe, and first, I am anxious to know the result of the contest. Second, I am hopeful, Goliath is down. Third, I am assured, his head is in David's hand. Then comes a change, Jonathan thinks no more about himself and Goliath; he is occupied with David. He says, David is my object! And he took off "the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle". He did it before all the army, for he thought of no one but David; he was devoted.

Now I come to Ruth, another example. Ruth is a widow, and her only friend is a widow. Naomi entreats Ruth to leave her, and go back to her own people and country; but Ruth says, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me".

[Page 326]

Now she is a devotee; she will follow Naomi anywhere.

There are two instances in the New Testament, that I can give you, the two alabaster boxes. In the one in Luke 7 it is the sinner. She comes into the Pharisee's house and says, That is my Saviour.

Scripture not only communicates light to you, but it tells you how light will act upon you. It is not only the wardrobe to supply me with clothes, but it is the looking-glass to show me how they are on. She is behind Him weeping; that is the private thing, it is between herself and Him only. Then she takes the alabaster box and anoints His feet with the ointment; that is the public thing. She gave Him what she might have kept for herself; that is what love always does; it makes little of itself to make much of its object.

The second alabaster box is in John 12. Lazarus has died, and has been raised again, and now, at the supper is sitting at the table with Him, whilst Martha serves. "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment". Why was this? Why did she take all that she had most costly to expend upon Him? It was that He had taught her in that hour when death had done its worst for her heart, that she had "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother". And now that the dark hour is past, she comes out in the saint's house with her alabaster box - not in the world as the other had done. She had done it in the Pharisee's house: the world can see when a man is converted, and makes much of his Saviour. But Mary is in the saint's house: the world cannot appreciate or see a saint making nothing of himself, and burying all of natural value in the grave of Christ.

People are very unwilling to accept death; but I believe no one can know what Christ is personally until he has passed through death with Him; until he has had to say, I have nothing but Christ. We all have

[Page 327]

some links to earth, some enjoyments here. I say, You are not equal to being deprived of everything; you are not fit to be without a gourd. As to Paul, Jerusalem was a gourd to him.

I remember a poor woman once telling me of a time when she had been left with nothing whatever in the house, and she said, It was the happiest moment of my life! I asked why; she answered, Because, do you not see the honour the Lord put on me to trust me?

The gourd was really a thing that softened him, and comforted him; and when God took it from him, he was angry with God. Scripture does not conceal things; it just tells out the plain truth. You may be saying all sorts of nice things outwardly, and be as angry as possible all the time in your heart. He says, "I do well to be angry, even unto death". Now, says God, I brought you through all this just on purpose to teach you My own feelings.

The fact is, death is a wonderful blessing, not merely for the person who passes away through it, but it has a wonderful effect on us who remain. I must find out Christ now in the place of the one whom God has taken from me. God lets you into His own feelings. He says to you, You are talking of your gourd: why do you not get into My thoughts? He took it away in order to get Jonah into His line of things. That is communion with God. He wants to show you what His heart is occupied with.

I do not say you always have to learn it through bereavement, for I believe you ought to learn it at the Lord's table. There I pass through the greatest death that can ever come upon me - the death of Christ. I am going through this scene as one upon whom death has done its worst; but to whom also at the same time death has opened out the most wondrous Person. I have communion with the blood of Christ, and with the body of Christ.

There is no spiritual elevation without natural

[Page 328]

humiliation. There is no natural elevation without apparent exaltation. Supposing the Lord is wrestling with Jacob and he gets a great blessing, he is lame first. In another case - Lot - he gets natural elevation, and he gets exaltation, "Well watered everywhere... even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt". Supposing the Lord takes my child to Himself, that is spiritual elevation, but I am humiliated. Now instead of spiritual elevation, we are too often looking for natural elevation. I can never know what the Lord is until I am thrown entirely alone with Him, and nobody else there. That is really the force of those words in Psalm 73"Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee". Are we then to lose everything - to lose everybody? No, no! for God knows exactly what is best for me to have, and what I really need, and that He leaves me. But, when He does come in, and take loved ones from me, the heart must fall back upon this: This is a moment when I shall discover something in Christ that I never had an opportunity of discovering before.

I say to Ruth, What do you follow that poor old woman for? She says, I have found in her in the hour of sorrow what I could not find elsewhere. When none other cared for me, she stood beside me. She has been my stay, she has been my prop, she has been my solace, my comfort, the companion of my heart; and my heart is bound to her; I will never leave her.

Another point in the second alabaster box is that He is going to die. Then there is nothing of value to me here that I will not put into His grave. And that is a wonderful thing to do; it goes farther than Jonathan: his was devotedness; this is devoteeism. True, devotedness must come before devoteeism. People may object to the word; we know that it is used in heathen worship, but I cannot find a better for what I mean.

[Page 329]

Now it is a fact that you never get near Christ that you do not see His death. When John looks into the glory he sees "in the midst of the throne.. . a Lamb as it had been slain". The One who is on the throne is the One who has settled the whole question between us and God; this is what Scripture sets forth to us.

As to the difference between the New Testament and the Old, I say that the New Testament is, as it were, the science of navigation, and the Old Testament is the log book. A man says to me after reading Ephesians, Oh, I see the heavenly calling perfectly! I say, Come to Exodus and let us see. Are you out of Egypt? - Yes, indeed I am! Are you across the Red Sea? - Oh, yes, I hope so! Are you across the Jordan? - Well, I cannot say that! Oh, then, I know where you are! The scripture measures you. A man who reads the Old Testament without the New will become legal. But go to the Old Testament with the New, and you will always get a practical illustration of what you have learned in the New.

What has made some poets celebrated is that they have dared to reveal thoughts that others never ventured to express; and that is just what the Bible does: it does not cover over things; it brings out the naked truth. It tells us Jonah said, "I do well to be angry, even unto death". As to the meaning of the words "God repented of the evil, that he had said he would do unto them; and he did it not", repentance in connection with God means that He went back to His original thought. When we repent we cannot go back to our original thought; we have to repudiate our own thoughts altogether. There is a natural shrinking from death, and yet it brings out all that is great and true by its presence. As a poet says, 'There is no great thought but is allied to melancholy,' because if you want to get to reality, you must get to sorrow.

When I come to look at the death of the Lord, I must say, All that came in order that God might say,

[Page 330]

I bring in a Man now according to My own counsels and after My own heart. We must take Jonah as a converted man. God wants him to do a thing, and he will not. Then, says God, I must break your will. Jonah insists on going his own way and, instead of bringing himself into easy circumstances, he brings himself down to the bottom of the sea. There is a moment in the history of a converted soul when he finds he is absolutely good for nothing. It is then that he becomes devoted, and then he is tractable.

Jonah begins to trouble about the work. He says, "I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil". And he sat down to "see what would become of the city". Now, says God, you must learn that you have nothing to trust to but Me. The gourd goes, and then he learns to be a perfect servant.

It is an extraordinary thing, but even in the world, a man who passes through trials is always hardened unless he gets sympathy. When I see a saint, who has gone through a great deal of sorrow, very hard, I can only say, He has never had Christ's sympathy in it.

[Page 331]

THE POWER OF GOD

John 14:26; 15: 26

The peculiar mark of this dispensation is that the Holy Spirit is here. This is just what christendom has given up. God gave man power in the days of Noah, power to govern everything here. When Israel failed, this power was given to the gentiles; the narrative of this you get in Daniel. The image represents the four kingdoms that had power - the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. That was the power on earth and still is - "the powers that be". We are bound to be subject to them. We are subjects in this world, though not citizens of it. We are properly citizens of heaven. There is now the power of the world, and also the power of God. It is this latter I wish to bring before you. The power of God came to the church; the world had refused Christ - the Roman power, for it was really the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ. It was not Israel; they said, "By our law he ought to die"; but it was the Roman governor who did it.

When failure came into the church it lost the power from God, for it gave up the Holy Spirit and sought power from the world. They could not hold the two together; the power of the world and the power of the Holy Spirit can never work together. I would we were all more jealous to use no other power than that of the Holy Spirit. It is a new power given to us since Jesus has been glorified, and we find great results from using it. The power that God gave to man, man used to drive God's Son out of the world! You cannot use that power after that. How could you use the power that crucified Christ? But christendom gave up the power of the Holy Spirit and sought worldly power, and set up a man, the pope, as the

[Page 332]

vicar of Christ. I say, No, the Holy Spirit is His Vicar on earth!

When the Reformation took place they refused this spiritual head, but set up a temporal head; they made the sovereign head of the church. It is still the power of the world, and how glad they are to get the support of the world or its countenance upon their work; but does the influence and the power of the world help you - in preaching the gospel, for instance? I say, Certainly not! You say, I want to make an impression on souls. It is only the power of God that can do so, the power of the Holy Spirit. This was not given to the world; the world does not see Him, and you will find that the moment you try to make a display for the world to see, you have lost the power. It is a secret work, like the still small voice. Elijah had to find that the Lord was not in the wind, neither in the earthquake, nor in the fire. The moment you become conspicuous you have lost the power of the Holy Spirit, for the world neither sees Him nor knows Him. It will help you much to keep before you the distinction between the power of the world and the power of Christ.

Now it is the same Spirit of God in both these passages. In John 14:26 He is the Comforter, that is what He is to you. In John 15:26 it is how you are to appear to this world. One is outside - your testimony. If you are not standing for Christ here in company with the Holy Spirit in His testimony as to Christ, you will not have the comfort of the Holy Spirit in your heart. You cannot separate the two actions of the Holy Spirit. The first is for our own individual comfort; think of His sending such a Messenger to me - it is not an angel.

The Lord is going away, and He tells His disciples what He will do for them; He will send the Holy Spirit, "whom the Father will send in my name". He will reproduce Christ in their hearts.

[Page 333]

They had seen the Lord, walked about with Him, known all about Him. He was talking with them here in private - very different from the way He spoke to the world; frequently taking them aside and teaching them, as we see in Matthew 13. After giving the first four parables to the multitudes, He takes the disciples inside and expounds to them and gives them three other similitudes. You will find it very interesting to study how He told things in public, and then privately, when they were alone, how He expounded them to His disciples.

The presence of the Holy Spirit here is in connection with Christ's rejection. He had offered Himself fully to Israel, and had set forth what God was in the world; but they would not have Him.

"Whom the Father will send in my name". I do not think we really take in what a wonderful thing that is; the Holy Spirit comes here not to speak of Himself but of the absent One. He is sent "in my name"; the name conveys the thought of the Person, therefore God puts great importance on His name. He tells Moses, "By my name Jehovah was I not known". Abraham knew Him as God Almighty.

When the Lord was gone away, the Holy Spirit was to come down, a divine Person, not to speak of Himself, but of that blessed One; to recall to the apostles all that He had said to them - thus it is that we have the gospels. And now I can always know when the Holy Spirit is leading me, because He always occupies me with Christ. True, He may have to occupy me with my own state, but if He does, He leads me to Christ, not merely to condemn me, but to relieve me.

The Lord tells us that He had come in the Father's name; everything He did down here was showing forth the Father; and hence the wonderful position we are in now, that we derive from the Father because we have to do with the Son.

[Page 334]

In the gospel narrative He is setting forth the Father as lifting you out of every pressure, so that if I am in a storm, I have confidence in my Father that He will bear me out of it. Do you think He will send a calm? No, He sends me to look at the Lord asleep in a storm! We are looking for Him to make circumstances comfortable for us; that is the way people speak of the Father. He can do so, no doubt; and when I come to look at what God is, I can say, like Paul, "My God shall supply all your need". God is able to make all grace abound toward you. But when I look at the Father it is that He lifts me above all the pressure here.

The Lord comes into the synagogue and sees a man with an unclean spirit; He casts him out thus practically saying, I am come from My Father to relieve you from all this. Satan obeys Him; the Lord begins with the devil. Next, He finds a woman in a fever - natural excitement; He takes her by the hand and lifts her out of it. The next is the leper - sin and condemnation. The fourth was palsy - inability, absolute powerlessness; to this last the Lord says, Take up thy bed and walk. These four things comprise the whole pressure on the human family.

Now we come to Levi sitting at the receipt of custom, one thoroughly in the world. He had sacrificed his country and his religion to make money. The Lord says the word to him, and immediately he is lifted clean out of it all. He does not plead inability, or sin, or his own natural feelings, but just simply obeys the word of the Lord, and is delivered from it all.

It is to me a most interesting study that the Holy Spirit has to bring that Person before me in that way; He shall come "in my name". What a wonderful Comforter! See the deep interest the Father takes in us to send this divine Person, whom the world does not see, neither knows, to revive in them the things the blessed Lord had said to them. You may say they had a great advantage over us. No doubt they had,

[Page 335]

because they had been with Him in the world and had seen Him; yet what He said to them did not come in divine power to them until the Spirit came; and what the Spirit produces in us is what He brought out then, and that is what the Spirit is in relation to ourselves. You say, What a time of enjoyment we might have! But you will not have it without the aspect which is presented to us in John 15:26. Many are defective in this, they have not taken the place of testimony. It is not a question of what you are doing, but you are to set forth Christ here. "The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me"; this is of Christ in glory, not merely Christ in resurrection. Many souls have apprehended Christ risen who have not an idea of Christ in glory. The testimony is to be descriptive of that Man, to set Him forth on earth as Elisha set forth Elijah.

The world is against His own, this new company who are of Him in the world, like an island in the sea, with all the force of the world against it. But I learn that the same Holy Spirit who brings Christ before me in all the blessedness of His work on earth, showing me in the gospel narrative how He is able to lift me out of all the pressure here, then shows me that I am to stand here for Christ; to be a soldier, to wear my proper colours, to come out in a new style in testimony to the One whom the world has rejected. It is not you that do it, it is the Holy Spirit, representing here on the earth the glorified Man who is in heaven.

The apostles had to bear witness to His resurrection, and we find in Acts that one had to be added to them for that purpose, Paul was seen in that testimony; he was not with Christ in the flesh.

If you get this one thing from God tonight, you will pray to Him, not only for the comfort of John 14:26, but that you may better understand John 15.

Now if I turn to chapter 16: 8 - 14, I find the character of the testimony, and what flows out of it. "And

[Page 336]

when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". He absolutely exposes the character of the world. When He is come He will convict (not convince) the world of sin. Now you must be on the side of the One who convicts, or among those who are convicted. The one is distinctly opposed to the other, and this is the reason that you have not the comfort of chapter 14: 26, because you are not distinctly with the Holy Spirit as in chapter 15: 26. Suppose the Lord asked me what I think of the world, I believe in its thorough badness because it will not have Him, and because the Holy Spirit is here. I want no other evidence. The Holy Spirit is here because of sin, "because they believe not on me". The moment the church amalgamated with the world, it gave up the Holy Spirit.

Now can you go on with the world, and with the One whose presence condemns the world? He is the proof that Christ is rejected, that there is no righteousness here; you must go to heaven to the Father for righteousness, and that is what people know so little about - divine righteousness; they have not found it in the presence of the Father. "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged". There is a greater power on this earth than that of the devil, a greater power seen in us, that is, speaking of ourselves individually. It is an immense comfort for us to say, I know the Comforter. "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world".

"The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh .. . so that ye cannot do the things that ye would". Thank God there is a greater power in us than the flesh, but we must have this mission of the Holy Spirit in this twofold character, and if you are to have the deep blessed enjoyment of the Comforter, you must stand for Christ here. Where will it put you? Straight against the world. It is like the tide and wind blowing in different directions, and if

[Page 337]

you will not go with the wind, you must go with the tide, like the dead fish - the living ones swim against the tide. You think it a difficult position; but remember you have a greater power than any in the world, an immense power! He is here to set forth that wonderful Person whom the world would not have. By the power of the Holy Spirit I am to be descriptive of Him down here. I cannot think of anything more wonderful than for the Holy Spirit to be here to enable a poor feeble creature like me to be descriptive of Christ as a member of His body. Of course it is only a minute expression, as you are one little member, but I speak of the power. It is that which makes known to us the exalted One, the heavenly Man, and which makes us descriptive of Him here where He is rejected. Nothing exasperates Satan like that, and he will not give you easy times; but the One who is your Comforter, and also your power, is above the power of all the evil here. He demonstrates the character of all man's organisation here, because He is connected with God's organisation, the church.

Now we come to the gain of verse 14: "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you". In Acts 16, when Paul first came into Europe, he had a vision. He went and worked on as any man should in the work. At last a woman with a spirit of divination followed them and highly commended them as "servants of the most high God". You can understand men in their position thinking, What a favour from God, this woman proclaiming us thus! If one of the local newspapers began to praise me up as a preacher, you might think it a fine thing, and say, You will get plenty of people now to come and hear you. No, I say, it is not divine power, there must be something wrong, I cannot have that power. It is remarkable that it was in Europe that the church first accepted patronage under the Emperor Constantine, and thus became allied to the world. Paul says,

[Page 338]

"In the name of Jesus Christ" - that is the power we want here. Is not this a power greater than that in the world? Well, did the apostles have an easy time of it? No, they soon found not only the authorities against them, but also the mob. You see now what the devil does to these men. It is very solemn when you think that he - for it was the devil - had first been proclaiming them as the servants of the most high God.

The jailor goes to sleep thinking all was right; all the power of the place had done it, and therefore the matter was all settled. But another power comes into action. Do you believe that there is another power? I often ask myself that question, and I do not find many who believe in that power. I have seen a little company in a place, and a man has said to me, I could drive them all out with a stick. I simply defy him to do it. I say, No, the power of God is there.

Now what follows at Philippi? God comes in with great power; there is a great earthquake, the prison doors are thrown open by it and everyone's bands are loosed, and the jailor - the man the apostle is sent for - is brought out! He cries, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" I want to show what the power of God is. The Holy Spirit has put you against the world, but what a wonderful position you have arrived at in verse 14! Alas, beloved friends, I know many and I love them, who have not this compensation. "He shall receive of mine" -- Mine, what is that? Is it nature? No, it is things heavenly - heavenly things, things that "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man". What, in a Man? Yes, the Holy Spirit is come to show me all these things. From man? No, nothing from man. I have lost the world, but have I nothing in the place of it? Yes. "He shall receive of mine"; then I am well off, yes, wonderfully well off! And let me say, I never saw a man that served God and honoured the Spirit of God, refusing to have any other power for Christ's

[Page 339]

work, but that man got the heavenly things down here. He lost the world, got suffering from it, but he was not only able to stand for the Lord, and to do true work for Him, but he had the deepest enjoyment in the blessed fact that he had better things than the world could give him. I commend to you these two verses, not only to look at them in their own greatness, but that your heart may be so sensible of the divine nature of what the Holy Spirit has come for, that you may not try to have one without the other. Take them together, and be able to say, I am so drawn to Him that I am glad to be here as a vessel of testimony, though it puts me right against the world, so that I have to stand against it; not aggressively, like Moses - I have not to knock a man down, but I have to take a different course altogether from the world, saying, I have nothing to do with you; yet obedient to the authorities over me, but as a subject, not as a citizen. I am not looking for favours from it, though thankful for quiet times. We are to be patrons of the world, not the world our patron. The church should be the friend of the world, not looking to the world to support the church, but the contrary. We are told to pray for peace always, and I am glad when one is led to pray for the peace of the country, and the establishment of order according to the power God has established. But I would do nothing with the power that crucified Christ, nor attempt to carry on the Lord's work with a power that would not have Him here. The Lord grant us to understand the wonderful place we are set in in this world, and the wonderful nature of the power that God, in His grace, has given us to stand for Christ here.

[Page 340]

THE TESTIMONY OF OUR LORD

2 Timothy 1:8

From the beginning, there was some special truth revealed, to which alone for the time the testimony of the Lord was attached. The truth was committed to some chosen vessel and, if it was accepted, the servant through whom it came was well received; but according as the truth was rejected, so was he refused. The treatment of the servant to whom the truth is committed is the index of the value which man attaches to the truth. If there has always been a truth which bore this great mark - the testimony of the Lord - how much more must it be so now, when the word or the counsel of God is fulfilled (see Colossians 1:25). To the apostle Paul the final testimony of the Lord was committed; and when the saints were ashamed of that testimony they were ashamed of the servant - His prisoner. "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me", writes the apostle; 2 Timothy 1:15

Thus they proved their disregard for the Lord's testimony in the way in which they disregarded His servant, who was the apostle of it. It is important to see first that there was always a special truth with which the testimony of the Lord was connected; and, secondly, that the effort of the enemy is to divert the people of God from it, and to hinder them from strictly and fully maintaining it; while on the other hand wherever there was faith in any, even in the darkest moment, there was always distinct succour from God to enable them to do so. Faith in God only could surmount the opposition which the people of God had to encounter in maintaining the testimony at any given time.

The testimony being of God, nothing but the power of God can enable one to maintain it. A portion of

[Page 341]

truth has always been held by the people of God. But to hinder the testimony being maintained in its fulness is Satan's great aim, and nothing but divine power can enable us to resist him.

Now the truth which most distinctly vindicates God with regard to man, because it was revealed consequent on the breakdown of man, is the one necessarily most outside of man. God revealed Himself gradually, but as each successive trial made of man proved, more than the preceding one, that man is irrecoverable and unable to maintain the testimony of the Lord, He at last sent His Son, and consequent on His death and rejection He called out Saul of Tarsus to maintain the present testimony. This new testimony is not connected with the trial of man, but was given subsequent to it.

The trial of man was closed on the cross. Every previous dispensation had placed him under trial, and the testimony of the Lord at that time, if it had been maintained, would have given man some place as man; it conferred distinction on man according as he maintained it. Had Adam maintained the testimony given to him in Eden, he would have added distinction to himself. Had Noah maintained the testimony committed to him he would have distinguished himself. Had the fathers - had Israel done so, they would have risen in the scale, and secured a name for man in the flesh, as subject to God. But in each and all man failed, and finally proved his entire ruin in his inability to comprehend the excellence of every divine and human beauty in the Person of the Son of God manifested in flesh.

If man was found incompetent to maintain the testimony of the Lord when the maintenance of it would have exalted himself, how evident it is that he can get no place in that testimony which is subsequent to the cross, where the history of man under trial closed. We must bear in mind that our blessed Lord

[Page 342]

was refused both as a man on earth and as a man in heaven -- "He came unto his own, and his own received him not". They said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours". So they cast Him out and killed Him. The perfect Man, the Son of the Father, is disallowed of men, but God raised Him from the dead, He having given His life a ransom for many. Secondly, in the refusal of His servant Stephen, whom they stoned to death, they refused the testimony of the Holy Spirit concerning Him as risen, and avowed, "We will not have this man to reign over us". Hence the testimony of the Lord, brought out now, must be characterised by that which will express the effect through grace of this double rejection. Therefore, it does not now subject man to any fresh trial.

The trial of man was over on the cross - in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom God has set forth as a propitiation for our sins, that He might be just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. The testimony is of the Lord Jesus Christ - the one Man who has entirely met the mind of God in everything, and who also has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. It altogether ignores man as he was under trial, before the cross; there is no offer to him to recover himself, and the maintaining of the testimony now would in nowise add distinction to him, but the reverse, because the testimony now is of the One who died for him, and who, when refused and disallowed of men, was called by God to His own right hand.

Before the death of Christ, while man was under trial, although the maintenance of the testimony always required divine power, yet, as it was maintained, whether by Noah, Abraham or Moses, it gave distinction and place to each - as men in the flesh. But the cross sets man aside in a double way. In it there is atonement for man's sin, which of itself is evidence

[Page 343]

that there was nothing in man through which he could live before God; and that there was no other way but the death of Christ to reconstitute him according to the mind of God, or to plant him in the likeness of Christ. Therefore, if man in the flesh be allowed a place now, there must be at the start an incapacity to maintain the testimony of the Lord as committed to, and preached by, Paul - the prisoner of the Lord. The testimony is that there is one Man in heaven who has answered in every way to the mind of God on earth, and who then died for our sins, glorifying God while bearing the judgment which lay upon us - that He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and has sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high; that this one Man in heaven is not only our Saviour, but He is our Head, and we, the members of His body on the earth, draw our strength from Him and find our life in Him, through the Holy Spirit who is here consequent on His exaltation, dwelling in each of us, and thus uniting us to Him and to one another. This is the testimony which was committed to Paul, and from this all in Asia had turned away. Hence, the apostle warns Timothy (the servant of the hour) not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of himself - His prisoner.

Now the failure of "all they which are in Asia" is that to which every saint in the present day has a tendency, or is in danger of, even though he may have suffered on account of the testimony; for those who turned away from it in the apostle's day had been personally taught and led by himself. It is not that the truth of christianity as a whole is relinquished, but there is a return to a previous testimony in order to escape the peculiar and exacting nature of this the greatest of testimonies. Hence, for nearly 1800 years, this great testimony has been in abeyance, and now that through unspeakable mercy it has been revived, we are not one whit more secure against the adversary than were those in Asia.

[Page 344]

The danger of those who have learned the testimony is that, while owning the truth as the Colossians did, they should reduce it to a theory - for instance, holding the doctrine of the unity of the body merely as a doctrine, instead of as the known result of union with the Head. Hence the apostle had great agony for them that they might realise and enjoy the unprecedented blessedness of association with Christ. This was the paramount energy of the Spirit of God, and if it was so in that day before the universal demoralisation had set in, how much more now in our day when through God's unaccountable favour the truth has been partially recovered!

Whatever God is most set upon, that Satan most opposes. 'Be anything, or do anything' is in fact the language of the great adversary, so that you do not aim at being what God desires you to be. Do any good work you like; be earnest preachers; be anything, except maintainers of the testimony of the Lord. For hundreds of years Satan has succeeded in keeping the most faithful servants of the Lord in the dark as to this great truth, and if he can succeed now by any means, be it even by withdrawing opposition to the spread of the gospel, or any good work, he will do so, I am persuaded. Surely to any godly and enlightened soul it is the gravest question whether he answers to the apostle's appeal: "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner".

I have no hesitation in stating that the greatest duty that now devolves on any servant, and the one attended with most honour from the Father (see John 12:26), is the maintenance of this testimony. It overrides all gifts and services. It is, like the colours of the soldier, the first and unmistakable expression of every true servant. He owes the Lord a higher duty than he owes any one. It is true that gifts and services are for men, and to be used for their benefit. But the servant of this hour is mistaken when he places even the benefits

[Page 345]

of the gospel above the colours under which he serves (the testimony), as if the former were superior to the latter. The servant who through mercy has been taught the testimony, and who has emerged from the general demoralisation, cannot but feel that he has one duty paramount to all others, and that is, that he is not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord or of His prisoner; but he glories in the Lord's wondrous favour to him in calling him to the front of the battle, and in order to please Him who has chosen him he wears His uniform, and in everything he is a marked man in maintaining what is due to his Lord; all his ways declare that the man here is superseded, and that all that is of the blessed One in heaven is to be fostered and contended for.

[Page 346]

THE GREATEST SERVICE

Isaiah 59:19; John 12:26

The greatest service is to stand openly for God when the opposition is at its height. "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him". To stand for God when there is no one to help, when everyone is opposing, manifests my dependence and confidence in God, as well as that I am so led by His Spirit in true devotedness, that the more I see Him assailed, and His name dishonoured, the more I must lose sight of every one and stand for Him. I know also in whom I have believed, and I can endure "as seeing him who is invisible". The more I see Him slighted by His own, the more I feel that I must stand for Him, even if it be single-handed.

It is remarkable in the history of God's servants how this trait appears very soon in their course. Enoch seems to have been in a very lonely, separate path, and doubtless it was a great day for him as a servant when he pronounced: "Behold, the Lord has come amidst his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all; and to convict all the ungodly of them of all their works of ungodliness, which they have wrought ungodlily, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him".

Noah adopted a very singular and isolated path when he first began to build the ark, and he had reached his greatest service when he, with his family, stepped into the ark; he only for God in the whole earth. When a servant is well supported by his fellows, it is easy for him to be bold and decided; but when he is left, not only alone, but every one opposed to him, to stand forth and declare for God, there requires the devotedness

[Page 347]

of a true heart, and this is the greatest service, for it is so appropriate.

Joseph not only learnt in his own personal circumstances when entirely alone and abandoned, how through God he was enabled to stand with unfaltering integrity, but alone and unsupported, to declare the mind of God before the king of Egypt. His devotedness had an opportunity for its expression.

Still more is this exemplified in Moses. Early indeed, in the ark of bulrushes, a lonely, suffering life

was foreshadowed, and yet what a day it was, "when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.. .. For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not". Alone he acted for God, "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season". Devotedness always does the greatest service. In the beginning of his course he learned the characteristic of the greatest service, namely, to stand for God, alone and unsupported, in the face of universal opposition. It is a great thing for the man of God when he really has known the solitude of light, which he only enters on when entirely excluded from every influence of man, then it is he sees and becomes acquainted with the Son of God. There is never a full and true sense of the vanity of all human things, and the greatness of the personal company of our Lord Jesus Christ, until this solitude has been known. And assuredly the greatest service is when one is able to count on God, and act for Him, as thus known to oneself, in the teeth of all opposition; expulsion from man is not the same thing as opposition from him, but the one prepares us for the other.

What a time it was for Moses when he faced the whole of Israel, when he came down from the mount and saw them wholly given to idolatry. He thought of

[Page 348]

no one but God; he feared not the wrath of man; he stood for God in a new unprecedented way, without any direction, but simply from the devotedness of his heart. When he had stood singly and openly for the Lord, then he could afford to stand in the gate of the camp, and say, "Who is on the Lord's side?"

No one can apprehend the greatness of such a moment if he has never experienced it. What a moment when one man can confront his fellows, and everyone dear to him, in unperturbed decision, his heart swayed and sustained by the power of God! God's glory is before him, and he so realises His presence, though invisible, that man, however visible and active, is as nothing.

It is an unequalled moment when one has the Lord so fully and exclusively before one, that one thinks only for Him, and acts in this devotedness. Then one learns, "Thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me".

I desire to convey that it is at such a moment one is made personally acquainted with the sufficiency of God, when one's own incompetence is patent. I suppose to every one of us there is given an opportunity of rendering the greatest service, even to declare in some new and distinct way one's purpose to follow the Lord fully. Thus Caleb separates himself from his fellow-labourers or explorers in the land, and in presence of the unbelieving congregation declares, "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us in". Surely devotedness which declares for the Lord when all are turning away from Him, and which arises as a light in the darkness is most pleasing to Him. A very small light shows in a time of darkness, but it is very singular, and yet it is but simple faithfulness in a time of unfaithfulness.

It is interesting and helpful to note that the opportunity for this devotedness cannot be foreseen, as if

[Page 349]

one could be ready for it. Suddenly and unexpectedly the opportunity offers; like an eclipse the sun goes down at noon-day. It is then that the real purpose of the heart towards God is disclosed. The opportunity is given on purpose to call it forth. The true heart is never unprepared.

This was very marked in the woman in Mark 14. The state of things at the moment at once evoked the desire of her heart to honour the Lord. She does not appear to have consulted any one. Her act is the ready offspring of her devoted heart. In whatever degree she had heard or noticed the prevailing opposition to her Lord we cannot say, but as the dark storm was rising, she, out of her own heart, without any suggestion, draws from her little store the best thing she has, and fearlessly and happily anoints Him with the precious ointment before all present. Most seasonable indeed! Singularly pleasing to Him! There is at least one who will expend her best on Him at the very moment when the hour of darkness was setting in. Hence, "wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her".

It is not the opportunity which should be before one's mind, but the cultivation of that devotedness to the Lord which would be able in a very distinct way to act for Him when the opportunity occurs. Love delights in finding an opportunity to express its devotedness. You will always find that where this devotedness is there is neither an imitation of what others have done, nor is there looking for countenance or support from others, but a course of action quite original and singular, yet eminently effective, not only in answering to the heart's devotion, but for the glory of the Lord and the service of His people generally.

"When Daniel knew that the writing was signed" (Daniel 6:10), his true heart adopted a course that eminently testified of his devotedness to God and to

[Page 350]

His interests. Thus, in the present day, when many feel the darkness is thickening, and the truth has fallen in the streets, there is an opportunity for the devoted heart in a very distinct and peculiar way (conspicuous to all whom it may interest) to show its devotedness to the Lord.

When David visited his brethren at his father's request, he had not in any way foreseen that he would have to confront Goliath - the terror of his people, but he was equal for the occasion, not because he was prepared for it, but because he so counted on God that he could act for Him and His people in the emergency.

There is ever the tendency to blame others, or bemoan the state of things, when one is not devoted enough oneself to take a stand or make a surrender which will fill the house with the odour of the service.

The more I see failure all around me, and deficiency of true godly action, the more it is my special care and duty, like a Caleb or a Daniel, to set forth what devotedness only could set forth at such a time. There is something peculiarly lovely about devotedness. It has a way of its own, and, however unique, it is the most excellent service. The greatest service is evidently the one most needed at the time. The falling away of others does not dishearten the one who is truly devoted. Gideon's great army is reduced from 32,000 to 300, but he is as valiant as ever; he does not spend his time lamenting over the great defection, but he says, "As I do, so shall ye do". "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant", not he who can give a withering description of our falling away, and the errors which have crept in, and the laxity which is tolerated; but who, while seeing that everything is most deplorable, can come in, in some new, distinct way, and act for the Lord, which, like Samuel's prayer (1 Samuel 7), will obtain from the Lord a marked intervention and relief from the enemy.

[Page 351]

We see how our blessed Lord, in a perfect way, always rendered the greatest service (because the most necessary) at every crisis; and simply because of His devotedness to God as a man. He will bear hunger because of His devotedness. He alone can make a scourge of small cords and drive all the mercenary company out of the temple. In the darkest hour when He said, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness", He then pre-eminently, effects the greatest service. In devotedness both to God and to man He goes into the death of judgment!

We learn from His ways that though He could see the utter ruin and failure around, He does not content Himself with seeing things in their desperate condition. No! He is the very One who uses the present misery as an opportunity, in His devotedness, to do the most effective service. I have never known complainers really devoted. No one would like to see a defect in his brother if he really felt that he was to remove it.

We never find Paul more confident in God, and more vigorous in maintaining the truth, than he is in 2 Timothy, when the defection of saints and the difficult times of the last days are before him. Is a man to see his house on fire, but, instead of using every effort to save some of it (at such a crisis the measure of his ability would come out), to fold his arms, casting the blame on someone, or reprehending the mode by which some have checked the flames?

To him who is most set for the testimony of our Lord, and hence most devoted, there is now a wonderful opportunity of rendering the greatest service. May each of us, while wide awake to all the error and laxity around us, not try to excuse ourselves, as not having caused it, but may the very desperateness of things as they appear to us be only a fresh incentive and opportunity for us to come forth in true devotedness to the Lord, to do the greatest service, which will redound to His glory and to the blessing of His people.

[Page 352]

THE HOME AND THE RACE

Psalm 84:1 - 12

There are two subjects here, the home and the race - what is commonly called your mission. You must know what it is to have a home before you can rightly start on the race. Even in the commonest walks of life a man who has not a home is not looked upon as a desirable man. There is something about a man who has a home which gives him character. Home is the great place of education; it is always at home a child's manners are formed, not at school.

Home is the place to which a man returns after the toils of the day, and from which he can start out fresh for his work in the morning. I have boldness to enter the holiest (that is the believer's home), and I have patience to run the race (Hebrews 10:19; 12: 1) - boldness up there, patience down here.

The first time the Lord Jesus entered the temple - God's house on earth - He was greeted by two saints, Simeon and Anna, and these two represent the double condition of every saint. Now, Simeon says, I know what He is for me; and Anna says, I am for Him. These two things ought to characterise every saint now. Simeon could let go everything here the moment he saw the infant Jesus, and Anna continues in fastings and prayers, and then she makes Him her object - she "spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem". This was the first appearance of the Lord, and they did not know much about Him. We surely know much more, but the question is, have we the marks that these two saints had? I do not think a person could be an Anna without being a Simeon first; you must know Christ for you before you can be for Christ. People often make the mistake of thinking they must do something here for Christ in

[Page 353]

order to understand and become happy about what He has done for them. That will not do; you must have the home before you can run the race. If you have not a home you cannot come orderly to your work. If you have this home you are not like the Old Testament saint crying, "O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest"; but you have the wings, you have a place to retire to. It is just as if a man had a room in his house of which he could say, When I go into that room all care vanishes, I have perfect relief and rest. How often he would retire to that room!

You can never properly fulfil your mission without first knowing your origin. "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world". Then you were taken out of it before you were sent into it. The most exemplary man will fail to understand his mission if he does not know his origin. You are come into this world as one who was outside of it; everything turns upon this.

Now we come to the second thing, your work or mission. "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee". A child converted today has a mission; everyone has a mission. You start with an origin outside this world and a home outside it - a place to which you can retire and where there is no interruption or check; "they will be still praising thee". Thus the apostle could say that to God he was beside himself, to men he was sober. "Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well" - you come to the world as a channel of mercy. No man was ever sent into this world by Christ to make business his mission. It has its place, but your mission is to bring into the world some of the blessing and knowledge of the grace that has given you a home outside it. That is making a well, and there was never yet a well the water of which did not come down from above. I am not now talking of special gifts; everyone has got grace and everyone

[Page 354]

has got a mission. Grace and responsibility are always kept distinct in Scripture. Everyone gets grace when he is not entitled to anything, but having got grace he is responsible. Thus the apostle could say of himself to the Corinthians, "By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured", etc., and ".. . receive not the grace of God in vain".

You come from your home into this wilderness not expecting anything from it but to be a contributor of blessing to it. This is what the Lord announces in John 7:37, on the last day of the feast of tabernacles, when the people were delighting in the abundance that God had caused the earth to yield to them - it was something like a harvest-home in this country. Up to this point the earth was made the sphere and the channel of blessing to man, but now, on the contrary, by faith in a glorified Christ, man would become a channel of blessing to the earth. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". Thus the church takes a very different place towards the earth from what the Jew did.

This is of interest to every saint here, for every one has it in his power to be a channel of blessing in this way. Does anyone say, I cannot be of much use; it is but little I can do? I ask you, are you as old as Anna or as feeble - a widow of eighty-four years? She did two things: she served God day and night, and she spoke (not preached) of Christ to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem - and Jerusalem was a larger place than this. That was the activity of one who felt she was here for God. A few Annas would make a wonderful difference in this town. How true it is, that where there's a will there's a way.

In Romans 12 we have seven gifts: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, ruling, showing

[Page 355]

mercy. This chapter is the responsibility side of the gifts; 1 Corinthians 12 is the action of the gifts in the assembly; Ephesians 4 is the derivation of the gifts from the Head. Have you no gift? Is there anyone who could not show mercy? I certainly would rather have this last gift without the first than the first without the last. I would rather be a man showing mercy with cheerfulness than a prophet without this. What everyone can be is a greater thing than what is special.

The next point is: whom am I to serve, to whom am I to direct my attention? This is a difficult subject, because we find philanthropists occupied with the very same things that we are. How are we to distinguish between a person who is simply a philanthropist and one who knows that he has a mission from God? I see one doing a kind act and the other doing a kind act, how am I to distinguish? Everyone can distinguish for himself. If a person is acting as the agent of a society and getting his directions from a committee the case is clear enough. If one is acting for God he will, on the contrary, be looking to the Lord for direction and grace. Suppose you found a man with a broken leg, what would you do? I would see to getting his leg mended. A philanthropist would do the same. But I believe I would not be occupied so much about the broken limb as about the man. This is the difference between benevolence and love; benevolence is occupied with the misery of its object and when the misery is removed its interest ceases, but love is more occupied with the object after the misery has been removed than before. A mother has more delight in her child when it is well than when it is sick. So much as I know of the old philosophy there was no such thing as love in it (except in a very low miserable way); there was benevolence in it. Man never knew love from philosophy; it was brought in by the gospel.

[Page 356]

There are two spheres in which you are called to act according to your mission. One is your private circle and the other the church. We are members one of another, and we are members of Christ's body, but each of us has his own individual orbit as well; just as the earth has a diurnal motion and an annual motion. Both go on at the same time, but the one is greater than the other. The private is subject to be challenged by the corporate, so that in your private circle you do nothing that would affect your connection with the corporate circle. Have you a right to interfere with me in my private circle? No, unless I infringe on the privileges of the corporate. An evangelist may say, I can preach where I like. Yes, you may, but if you preach what is wrong then the assembly will pull you up. If a person is not walking right in his private circle he affects the corporate circle, and then he is amenable to it. "If one member suffer all the members suffer with it". Is that when they come to know it? No, it is a fact, whether they know it or not. No one can be a help to the church who is not walking with God in his individual sphere. This is what gave rise to the plan of a week's preparation, but that will not do; for you always belong to and affect the corporate circle - not only on Sundays. There are two houses, your own house and the house of God, and the person who could not rule his own house was not fit to be a bishop to rule in God's house; 1 Timothy 3:5.

The next point is, how am I to know my mission? It is no doubt a difficult question, but it is a great help to see that my behaviour in my private circle will determine whether I will be of use in the corporate circle. A child in a family has first to be obedient and dutiful there. It is a most serious movement to bring the service of Christ and the ordinance of God into collision; when a child must go contrary to his parents' commands or a wife to her husband's in order

[Page 357]

to serve God. It is a sad moment and a moment that no one ought to hasten. In such circumstances I should submit to anything so long as I am able to keep a good conscience towards God. Would you sacrifice your rights? Certainly. The Lord works wonders when a person walks in that way - the walls of Jericho fall down.

Another interesting point in connection with your mission, and one which very often marks special gifts, is that one may be a long time serving his apprenticeship, so to speak. One does not become a practitioner all in a moment. Even Samson went through an education before entering on his mission; Judges 13:25. God bestows much time and care on us to fit us for our calling.

Next, as to employment. I do not believe a man is sent into this world for employment, but also I do not believe a man would be fit for his mission without employment. It is a proper and necessary discipline. A horse must submit to the curb or the bearing rein if it is to be made useful, though it may have plenty of mettle. One man who is obliged to work nine hours a day perhaps envies another man who only works three hours, but that man would be worthless without that nine hours a day. Men who give up their employment often come to grief.

God gives distinct gifts, and there must be along with the gift a nature to carry it out, which God also gives, and this is charity. Much of the discipline that God's servants go through is to produce this which makes the gift of value. A horse may have plenty of strength and spirit and willingness but he must be submitted to a deal of exercise and training to make him tractable. Very often a man who is richly gifted is not at all tractable. Charity is tractability - that quality which makes a man turn whatever way the Lord would have him go. Every builder must have two things - materials and skill. Look at Moses -

[Page 358]

had he not got a will and purpose for service? Yes, but he had not the nature. When God brings him back after forty years' training he is fit to receive a gift. And Moses gives us a very clear idea of how one gets at gift. A certain presentation of the Lord Himself is made to the soul, and that man's mission is according to that presentation. The highest thing that Moses could ever speak of was the blessing of Him who dwelt in the bush. So Paul was to be a minister and a witness of the things which he had seen (Acts 26:16); the same also with Peter and the rest; Acts 1.

What makes a servant is this distinct personal sense of the Lord; then he gets information from the word; and thirdly he gets preparation - that is, the heart so kept before the Lord that those points in the information which are needed at the time may be brought out. Each servant comes to act for God according to the impression He has given him. Thus no one can in that sense entrench upon another; no two are at exactly the same thing. There are not two flowers of the same kind in God's garden; He has not a second of anything.

What a thing it is to be within the compass of every saint, to show mercy with cheerfulness! To come as angels of mercy from God to this world, as missionaries from the Lord Jesus Christ, all my domestic duties and daily employments subserving this grand end!

[Page 359]

FAITH'S ANSWER

1 Kings 18:41 - 46

The great blessing of faith is that it links our souls with God. It is a secret communication establishing relations of confidence and repose between the heart and God. Faith exists unknown to anyone but its possessor and God. Its vitality is seen by works, but its enjoyment does not consist in its demonstration.

The history of its action is an interesting, instructive study. Dependence on God, or faith, is the first element of our new existence, the great antagonistic principle to the old nature - "whatsoever is not of faith is sin". My will in nature being errant, all my power, natural or acquired, acts so as to sustain what is wrong, that is, my natural will. But in the life of Christ and in the sensibilities of His nature, I am constantly finding that difficulties occur to me in my path here, all the greater because my will runs counter to God's will. Nay, more, I find that many new desires are awakened within me, which I have no power in nature to gratify. In both these cases I learn that I must lean on God; and as I lean on Him, and know what is His mind or intention towards me, so I have faith or confidence in Him about any given result.

It is evident we know too little of this blessed sentiment, and this arises from our great self-dependence. Whether it be as regards difficulties in our path unsurmounted, or good desires ungratified, we do not lean sufficiently on the Lord, and have not the sweet and invigorating consciousness of His direct assistance in supplying our need. We are constantly helped by His mercy and providence, and though we may then recognise His hand and thank Him for it, yet this is not walking in faith. Faith, I repeat, is the great principle of life. I open my eyes, confident that I

[Page 360]

shall see - if I did not see it would be a marvel to me; and every demand that my natural mind makes on me assumes that my life and strength are equal to that demand, and will accord it. So likewise with living faith. My difficulties and desires are before the Lord. I know that they are, and I know that He is the true source of help; and as I make demand on Him, I know that He will answer me according to my sense of His power and grace as engaged for me. A man who estimates his own powers aright would never tax them beyond their ability, wisely ordered, but so far as he knows their ability, he can tax them to the utmost; so faith draws on God in proportion as He is known. It is a secret conviction, known only to myself, of God's grace towards me. I rest in it; my heart is strengthened and blessed by it. There is nothing more blessed than to have an individual secret between our souls and God - that God who gave His Son for us. This is always the proof to us of what His heart is, for "He that spared not his own Son... shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

Now then, seeing that faith is an individual secret, how comes it that so many desire that that which is so close, personal, solemn and divine should be demonstrated by evidences that will convince the crowd? Your secret exists, and you cannot and ought not to explain it, it is too sacred; and yet you wish that the public should know that this sacred confidence has produced certain results in a very distinguished manner. That there will be results there can be no question, perfect results, according to the demand you made, and according, as I have said, to your sense of God's power and love as engaged for you; but that the results or answer should be palpable to anyone outside the range of the necessity, I cannot and must not expect. Suppose I entrust my difficulties or desires to a human friend, who I am sure will co-operate with me and relieve me; is it necessary that in doing so he

[Page 361]

must publish his assistance and service? By no means. If he has convinced me of it, no matter how he accorded it, he has assured the affection and confidence which reckoned on him; and this we desire from a friend far more than that others should acknowledge what he has done. God in His love wants to make known His heart to our souls, and He answers our faith so as to make us feel that it is He alone that has done it; He does not demonstrate it to others. Nay more, He will often make it of very insignificant appearance, in order that the soul may be kept in the blessing of the secret assurance of faith, which will progress, step by step, with the evidence, if the evidence is not too great to make faith no longer necessary. The moment we walk by sight we are outside of faith. God would never have us outside faith; hence, even in answering our faith, He so answers it that we want it again the next moment, even while we are enjoying the result of it. He cannot distinguish man as man, but He loves man and will make the man who is depending on Him to feel it; consequently, in order to keep the soul in full blessing, the Lord must keep it in dependence; and if He communicates to my own heart the answer to my faith, He has done all I have required of Him. The apostle Paul knew God's love and power in the answer which he received to his faith in the salvation of the crew (Acts 27), though to human eye it was a sorry provision and a scrambling escape to save 276 souls, "some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship".

But what matter how man judged, if the heart of the apostle had its secret confidence in God responded to? If he knew that the power of God had interposed for him, he was not careful that others should know more than the result.

In the passage before us, 1 Kings 18:41 - 46, which is referred to in James 5 as an example of "effectual fervent prayer", we find, first, the faith which can say

[Page 362]

to Ahab, "Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain". Faith cometh by hearing; the intimation had reached the prophet, he had heard the sound thereof; he had the secret consciousness in his soul that he was drawing on the power and goodness of God to meet the case, and he could speak of what that power would accomplish, though as yet he had no more intimation of it than a "sound". No one understood this "sound" but himself, neither could he communicate it to another, although he could speak of the effect of it. This conviction the soul obtains in communion with God. It is but a conviction - a "sound"; but yet it is the warrant to the soul, knowing the strength and grace it rests on, to expect an amount of relief commensurate to it. In a word, I am resting on the strength and grace of God, and my soul receives the conviction of what His power can and will do. Elijah can without hesitation propose to the king to get up, eat and drink, in the assured hope of rain. But what is his own course? He retires to the top of Carmel, casts himself upon the earth, and puts his face between his knees. This teaches us the condition of a believing soul. It has the intimation of the coming blessing, and can speak of it. But this does not lead to indifference or indolence; nay, rather, the soul, filled with the wondrous reality of trusting God, is engrossed with Him the more as the answer approaches. According to the exhortation in Colossians 4:2, it continues in prayer, and watches in the same with thanksgiving. The prophet sends his servant to look toward the sea, but there is nothing to be seen at first. The word is, "Go again seven times"; prayer and watching must be perfected. "And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he" (the servant) "said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand". Could there possibly be a smaller indication of coming rain? A cloud the size of a man's hand is hardly visible on the horizon. What patience

[Page 363]

to send seven times! What carefulness of observation to discern anything so insignificant, and after all to learn so little! But faith wanted no more; the soul rested in God, and only prayed and watched until demonstration was granted; and at the smallest notice the heart was entirely assured, and the prophet tells Ahab, "Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not". Thus are we instructed in the nature of the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man", that is, one seeking to go rightly. No one can lean on God to be sustained in what is wrong; but to be sustained in and strengthened for what is right is not only to be expected, but it is a sin if we seek relief elsewhere, because we must, in that case, be leaning on something besides God, and whatever we lean on we magnify.

In conclusion, we need, first, faith, the secret conviction of help from God, and from Him only, to invigorate the soul with a sense of the power and love which is engaged for it.

Secondly, we need the praying, wakeful condition of soul which is conscious of the solemn blessing vouchsafed to it until the moment of fulfilment comes.

Lastly, not to seek great or pompous evidences of the fulfilment, but with the true sensibility of affection to interpret the smallest notification, because I know the One whom I count on. The more intimate any one is with another, the sooner and more easily will they understand their simplest gestures.

The Lord give us grace to walk in the life of the one blessed Man who was down here, ever leaning on God, ever sensible in Himself of the sweet consciousness that He could count on the power and love of God; who could say, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always"; and this is the blessed One, who is our life, and who lives for us, "to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen".

[Page 364]

INFLUENCE OF ASSOCIATIONS

2 Corinthians 6:14 - 18; 7: 1

The end of God's discipline is "that we might be partakers of his holiness"; to make us as separate from everything of this world as He is. As born of God, we are sanctified by the truth. The Lord says, "for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" - which sanctification, as has been said, is immeasurable. We are called to a new and singular position, not known or understood by men. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [children] of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not".

When you are established in grace you are called to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your intelligent service. And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God". Now as born of God your tastes are divine, and, as the body is the Lord's, it is subject to Him for direction in everything, as a horse would be subject to its owner.

We are bought with a price, therefore there is a lack of integrity if we swerve in any degree from this; our simple duty is to glorify God in our body, which is His. If it be His will for us to have employment or relationships or any such claims here, we have to glorify Him in them.

Now nothing diverts us from the perfection of our calling so much as the influence of unspiritual company. It is not only that a worldly or foolish idea is suggested to yourself, but you see it confirmed by another. Thus from childhood to old age we are

[Page 365]

affected by the company we keep; as the old saying goes, Tell me what company you keep, and I will tell you what you are. It is only as we keep fresh and vigorous in the position in which we are set by grace, that we are able to detect the harm that comes to us from our own company.

One might say, But I have to do business with men. True, but in business you are not seeking company, and if you keep separate socially, though you may be regarded as silent and austere, you are genuine, and you will be respected in the consciences of those with whom you have to do. There is most danger for us with our relatives, because we are less on our guard with them; but if we are truly on our guard with them, they will have confidence in us, and will turn to us when in any serious difficulty.

The first thing is to get distinctly before us the danger of being soiled, and thus losing the devotedness which is in itself so enjoyable, and so honoured of God. Nothing can be more enjoyable than absolute devotedness to One whose goodness, love and worth command your whole heart. As the Nazarite lost his separation by the touch of a dead bone, so in the sense of such a loss can we appreciate the better the Lord's present service in washing our feet, to keep us fit for His own holy presence.

We see all through Scripture how the man of God is separate from man's thoughts and ways. Abel is not influenced by Cain; he takes a new and distinct path, because he has faith in God.

Faith makes God your Object; man makes himself his object. The more man can understand his fellows, the more dangerous is the influence. When man at Babel betrayed his desire to be independent of God, confusion of tongues was sent as a check to man's confederacy.

Now when God called out Abram, His word to him was, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy

[Page 366]

kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee". No doubt he was detained in Charran by his father's influence, for we read in Acts 7, "When his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell".

Lot, his brother's son, went with him, but subsequently on his return from Egypt, he determined to be separate from Lot; and "after that Lot was separated from him", the Lord said to him: "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever", Genesis 13:14, 15.

Our subject is to see how we are influenced by those with whom we associate. Isaac was influenced by Esau "because he did eat of his venison" (even very small attentions can influence one), and he sought to confer on Esau the blessing which was for Jacob. He did not lose the truth, but under injurious influence he would misappropriate it; as has been said, We do not lose the truth, but when out of communion we misapply it.

Jacob, after his return to the land, swerves from the path of faith, for he buys a parcel of a field from Shechem; Genesis 33:18. No doubt he had bad influence at home for Rachel had idols (Genesis 31:19), and his altar, as is always the case, showed his true state, for he called it El-elohe-Israel; he was an object to God, but he had no sense of what was due to God. Hence in chapter 35, when God tells him to go up to Bethel, he remembers the holiness of God's presence (chapter 28: 17), though it was twenty years since he was there, and he says to his household: "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: and let us arise, and go up to Bethel". In responding to God's call he got a sense of the exacting nature of God's presence.

I need hardly multiply examples for you. Moses is

[Page 367]

taught that it is a perilous thing to undertake the Lord's service without a pure conscience. God sought to slay him because he had not circumcised his sons, all through the influence, no doubt, of his Midianitish wife; Exodus 4:24 - 26. Solomon, the wisest of men, the most highly favoured of God, is turned to false worship by the influence of his wives; 1 Kings 11:1 - 5. Alas, that the man who dedicated the temple of God should disclose such alienation of heart from God!

Israel is warned not to allow any of the inhabitants of the land to remain lest they should become influenced by them (Exodus 34:12 - 16); but instead of driving them out, they made a compromise with them (Judges 2:2, etc.), and learned their ways and eventually fell under their influence.

When Balaam was not allowed to curse the children of Israel, he taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before them (Revelation 2:14); that was, to mingle with them, and thus to corrupt them. It is remarkable that of all the varied forms of Satan's opposition - Pharaoh, Amalek, Balaam, and the seven nations - we are not warned against any of them in the address to the seven churches, except Balaam's, which sets forth the baneful influence of company, and was the one which was most successful in corrupting the church.

In the foregoing scriptures we are distinctly taught the baneful influence of worldly company. I do not mean having to do with men in business; company is when there is interchange of thought and social intercourse. If the saint does not at once refuse it, he is influenced by it and sinks to the level of his company, whatever level that may be; and the first evidence of it is, he loses his freshness and vigour, like a tree losing its top shoot. The first result of Israel's declension was that they had no rain; Deuteronomy 11:16, 17.

[Page 368]

It may be helpful to trace a little the serious nature of this snare and the insidious way in which this device of Satan works. For instance, a christian marries and furnishes his house with the intention of declining the visits of his worldly relatives and acquaintances; this is his intention; but often while the front door is closed to them, they find admittance, so to speak, by the side entrance, and he is eventually swamped imperceptibly to himself by the worldly element, especially if he has means. The blessedness of the injunction to the bride in Psalm 45 is lost sight of, not only to leave, but to "forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him".

Those who know anything of the blessedness of communion with Christ will soon detect that they have lost ground when they lend their ear to the worldly element in their company; talking of their relations, and the like, they are liable to fall into the snare of the enemy, and they will become unhappy like the bride in Song of Songs 5, until their feet are washed and they are again in communion with the Lord.

It is right to think of our relations, but when we talk of their progress or their interests the worldly element is uppermost. Many a one is turned aside by adopting a relation or undertaking a responsibility to which God has not appointed him. It is just the difference between a river and a canal. A river has its natural bed, while a canal is of man's construction and often has a dry dock. Whenever we see the worldly element in any of our company, especially in a christian, unless we immediately judge it in ourselves, we are sure to become leavened by it.

Many a one goes on happily for years until his family is grown up, and then he gets so interested in their progress and advancement that he is leavened by it, and his worldly prepossession seems to have revived. Barnabas would not have separated from Paul (Acts 15:39),

[Page 369]

and would not have been carried away by the Jewish element in Peter (Galatians 2:13) if he had judged it in himself.

'When you are true to what is new,
You grow in beauteous grace;
When you decline, and drink old wine,
The fool is in your face.'

"A fool .. . saith to every one that he is a fool", Ecclesiastes 10:3.

"No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better", Luke 5:39.

But the Corinthians are a warning to us; they not only lost sight of what was due to God in His own house, but they were a reproach in every circle, both at home and abroad. That highly gifted church became so diverted through association with unbelievers that the apostle has to say to them, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God", 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 18; 7: 1.

[Page 370]

FAITH AND ITS ALTERNATIVE

Genesis 13:10 - 13

In every step I am led either by the Spirit of God, and then it is in faith, or I refuse His leading, and then I turn to the natural, that which the natural mind would suggest and conscience commend. "The path of the just" - or righteous - "is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day". There is advance. If I am led by the Spirit, I grow, because there is ever a new exercise. I am like a tree planted by the rivers of water. The branches advance concurrently with the roots. The works of the believer indicate the nature and measure of his soul's progress. When the root or the internal state is damaged, the external, the manner of life or the course betrays it. Growth is marked by the divine superiority in which faith leads: "By my God have I leaped over a wall". If I am not in this superiority, I am baffled, and I resort to a humanly approved expedient. The cause is plain enough, you have departed from faith, you have refused the Spirit's leading, and you trust to your own heart. You are like a bird that has lost its wings, and you are in a way worse off than if you never had wings. It is not merely that you make no progress, but you talk of what you did when you had wings - your past is your brightest day. When there is faith there is growth, a fuller apprehension of the truth, and a vigour in testimony; but when this is checked, there springs up a variety of human resources: "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways". If he had walked in faith in the Spirit's power he would have advanced in everything, he would have reached a sense of wanting in nothing. When this is refused, there is a taking refuge in the next best thing. It is not that the grace

[Page 371]

already possessed is forfeited. God's work cannot fail, but it becomes almost dormant while there is some new activity to compensate or conceal the loss sustained, and with this peculiar mark, that the alternative, the new course adopted, commands the approbation of the unspiritual, because departure is not from the spiritual to the worldly, but from the spiritual to the natural conscience. I mean that which is commendable to man's judgment, and therefore outside faith, which cannot be understood except by the spiritual. The attempt to win over the many to even a right judgment by an appeal to the natural mind, is fraught with much injury. The few led by faith, and thus able to leap the wall, will do more real service than any number who, because they have not faith, adopt the alternative, which is the human way of getting out of the difficulty. It often commands general commendation, and thus it is promoted.

It is very evident, that if I do not walk in faith, I am drawn into another path. Now there is a peculiarity about this latter. It is not an openly worldly one, but it is the path that the human mind suggests, and natural conscience supports. This is ever the alternative to faith with the godly, and it is here that he is so often deceived and led astray.

When Abram loses faith he adopts the alternative that every sensible man would approve, he goes to the land where there was plenty of food.

When Lot is permitted to choose, he does not think of faith; that is, he does not look for the Lord's leading, the green fields sway him; any natural conscience would approve of his course. The desire to do the commendable thing, in which the human conscience will support me, is always the alternative where there is no faith. Rebecca had a poor opinion of Isaac's reverence for the word of God, which is always the guide to faith, when she descended to work on his senses; but this is ever the alternative to

[Page 372]

faith. One may assert that he succeeds, like Rebecca, when he has wrought on another's feelings, when he has moved him to a right decision, forgetting that a bad beginning can never have a good finish: "That which is crooked cannot be made straight". Isaac, though divinely repentant, eventually sanctions and recommends Jacob's return to Syria, which his own father had strictly interdicted on his behalf.

It is clever, but most deceitful and eventually most injurious, when I induce a person to enter on a right course by any means or instrumentality except faith in God. It is like inducing a man to accept a post for which he is not qualified, pandering to his vanity, forgetting that very soon he must betray his incapacity to his own great discomfiture. One man in faith is more helpful than thousands of supporters without it, who approve because a lower motive influences them. The hard bondage in Egypt drove the mass of Israel out of it, but what a burden and a spectacle they proved to be because they had no faith.

But this is not all. When once you are induced to accept the alternative, you never recover lost ground until you return to faith. Be it Abraham, Israel, Mark or Barnabas, you are never in divine power until you return to faith.

The alternative is the course which the natural conscience approves, and is therefore adopted by the conscientious when faith is not in exercise. Faith would not omit anything due to the conscience, for it works from the highest point: it begins with God, and acts by Him and for Him. The alternative always savours of the things of man, the leading element ever in it is 'Pity thyself'; man's rights are prominent.

Possibly nothing has wrought more mischief and hindrance to souls than the way by which many have been induced, by working on their feelings, in one form or another, to take a stand for which they had not faith. Some have advocated a lower ground when

[Page 373]

they felt their inability to stand for God; but the alternative, though commanding more followers, could not be as effective as the few led by faith acting for God.

Again we see in every case where anyone declines from the path of faith, as Mark had done, the alternative is a return to a lower measure of light and truth than had been accepted; and, as with Mark, there is no real progress until there is a return to the path of faith.

In the one case, if I decline from faith I descend to man's power and judgment, like Israel, who when they failed to drive out the old inhabitants, adopted the alternative of making them tributaries. They lapsed from faith, and were eventually overcome, though in the land. I may influence many, but it is building on a bad foundation, and great will be the fall thereof. In the other case, when anyone departs from faith as to his calling - Mark, Barnabas or Demas - he necessarily descends to a lower walk, and he cannot recover until he returns to the path of faith which he had abandoned. In the alternative there are no evidences of spiritual power beyond man's benefit in the gospel, and works of benevolence, and consequently there is no ability to give or to receive the portion of meat in due season.

[Page 374]

THE PARADISE OF GOD

Genesis 3:24; Luke 14:23

To the simplest reader there is a great difference between these two passages of scripture. But first, beloved friends, what I desire before the Lord to present to you is the new order; that everything is entirely new. The man of the earth has failed, and now it is a Man from heaven, everything is new, everything is of divine order. And there is no spiritual blessing that is not heavenly, for while God takes care of us in the circumstances here, every spiritual blessing is heavenly. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ - a very great point to hold clearly. Therefore I begin this evening (you may think it elementary, but it is a great thing to have the foundations settled; in fact, if you have not the foundations you never can get on) with what God has done, for that is unchangeable. I do not say this to permit of laxity, but that you cannot lose it; you own it; it is your place, and that which God has given you; no one can take it from you. You may pass through this world - alas! a great many do - without enjoying your property, but it is yours, it belongs to the youngest by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; all has been accomplished by that blessed One for His own. I cannot insist upon this too strongly; but there is another side that I must insist on, too, and if you do not accept it from God, you will not have a good conscience; that is, you must be in moral correspondence with your calling. You cannot enjoy it otherwise; but that is not the side I am on at present.

But to resume, any reader of these two passages must see on the face of them a very great difference.

[Page 375]

In Genesis, God drove out the man. In Luke 14, the servant (no doubt the Holy Spirit) compels him to come in. There is an immense difference between driving man out and compelling man to come in. I know that it is popularly said that coming in here is coming to Christ, but that is not the meaning of the passage. Anyone who is at all thoughtful will understand that it is coming to the house, to a place; it is not coming to the Saviour merely. This is the finish, it is coming into the house. That is the correct reading of the word, it is the same word that is used for going into the ark. The meaning of it is that the servant was to go out into the highways and hedges, to the most distant spot, and then to compel the sinner to come to the brightest spot. It really was fulfilled to the thief on the cross. The Lord at one stroke conducts him from the very lowest conceivable point to the very highest conceivable point, all by His own work; the thief had no opportunity to do any work himself.

Now the first thing we require is simple faith to see what God has done. The man who was driven out of the garden of Eden is both guilty and lost. He has sin on him, and he is under the judgment of God, he was driven out of the garden. But you are to learn now that not only is man, believing in Christ, forgiven, but he gets a better place than the place he lost. And it is all of grace. All the part you had in it is, as someone has said, your sins. I trust that you will lay hold of this grace before the Lord, that you will be able to say, I see that God has transferred me, a believer, from being driven out of Eden, as Adam was, and that He has compelled me to come into His own house. I will explain what that is presently, but the first thing to believe is that God compels the sinner in the most distant spot, driven out of Eden, to come into the house - "that my house may be filled".

First let us see how this has been effected. The

[Page 376]

first word God said to Adam was, "Where art thou?" the second, to Eve, "What is this thou hast done?" Now, as a rule, you will find souls are troubled with what they have done. I am not at all objecting to that proper exercise, but they must also learn the answer through grace of the other question, "Where art thou?" It has been familiarly said, Adam was like a gardener who was turned out of his place for bad conduct. Now would it be enough to tell a gardener who had lost a good place that he was forgiven for his bad conduct, without a word about reinstating him, or of giving him another place? Many souls are here and therefore not at rest. No soul is restful until he knows that he has a home in the Father's house. You are not asked to do anything (the prodigal son was not asked to do anything); you must learn how your own soul is provided for in grace before you are fit to do anything. You are not fit until you learn that you are not only a forgiven sinner, but that you have a place in the Father's house.

To proceed: look at Abel. Both Cain and Abel had a sense of the distance between them and God, and Cain tried to remove the distance, and I need not say it was ineffectual; but Abel had faith. Now the great mark of faith is that I have God before me. It is God I am thinking of, that is faith. The failure of Adam and Eve was that they turned aside from the word of God; they had not faith. It does not say that Abel did what he was told, it is said that he had faith; and his faith was that as he was under the judgment of God, nothing could relieve him of that judgment but a victim, not chargeable with his offence, bearing the judgment of his offence, and at the time of bearing it having personal excellency. He offered of the firstlings of the flock and of the fat thereof; and God accepted his gifts, and he was declared righteous; but he got no place. And many are not beyond this, because they confine Christ's work to His blood-shedding,

[Page 377]

so they have not solid peace, are not justified, are not at home in the paradise of God.

I hope no one will misunderstand me; you see that there is nothing in the type showing that the power of death was broken. And it is remarkable that when you come to know the state of one who has really believed in Christ as far only as the type goes, that such an one has not solid peace. Why? He does not see the enemy annulled. That is the great thing brought out in Hebrews 2:14, "Since therefore the children partake of blood and flesh, he also, in like manner, took part in the same, that through death he might annul him who has the might of death, that is, the devil". Now the word 'annul' is a very peculiar word. It is the same word as 'abolish.' It is to annul the condition in which a being is; it does not say you annihilate him. Now Christ has broken the power of Satan as the power of death and judgment; that is, as in the type, the Pharaoh aspect of Satan is abolished for every believer. I do not say that the Amalek aspect is gone, or that the Balaam aspect is gone, or that the seven nations are gone; but the Pharaoh aspect is gone for the believer. To the believer I say, You are no more under judgment; the power of the enemy has been destroyed, and all your enemies have sunk, as Pharaoh's host, like lead in the mighty waters. Therefore in Romans 3 you get shelter, and most blessed shelter; but in the end of Romans 4 is justification, "Who has been delivered for our offences and has been raised for our justification.. .. Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God". The morning has appeared! the morning of the resurrection! you are on entirely new ground.

Well, beloved friends, that is more than we learn from Abel; yet the scripture shows the intent of God to anyone who studies it. The next person whose faith is spoken of is Enoch, and Enoch is the seventh

[Page 378]

from Adam. Enoch is brought in by God to show how God Himself will not allow the course of man to run to a sevenfold victim of death, but that the seventh shall be translated. In the other line, the Cain line, death is continued; but in the Seth line you get that the seventh from Adam "was translated that he should not see death".

I do not think that I need dwell any more on this, but I want you to understand how this distance has been removed. Man cannot do it, and yet man was bound to do it; man brought it in, and therefore it must be removed by man; as death came by man, resurrection must come by man. Now, beloved friends, you cannot remove the distance on your own side, but God comes out in His grace, and He has removed the distance on His own side. And you have learned, I trust, in your souls, the infinitude of God's satisfaction in the accomplished work of Christ.

I turn now to Matthew 27:50, "Jesus, having again cried with a loud voice, gave up the ghost. And lo, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom". God has "laid help upon a mighty one". You must look unto God. "Look unto me, and be ye saved". Everyone knows that the sinner has an interest in the gospel, that the distance between him and God should be removed. But the marvellous fact is that God Himself takes an interest in the removal of the distance between Him and the sinner! That when man could not remove the distance, it is indeed good tidings that God has removed the distance on His own side. The infinitude of His satisfaction in the way He has done it none of us can ever know. We have to believe that He has done it: "God sent forth his Son, come of woman, come under law", and He goes down into death and bears the judgment due to us. He glorifies God in death so that, the moment He dies, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. By the veil God was kept

[Page 379]

secret and impenetrable, He was dwelling in clouds and thick darkness; but now, if one might use a plain expression, the door of heaven is thrown open. It answers to the type, when the blood in Exodus 24 was sprinkled, "they saw... the form of heaven for clearness"; the distance was gone on God's side. May it be written in divine power in each of your souls tonight! The distance is gone completely on God's side, according to Himself. Mark the effect which will accrue to you, even that the nearer you are to Him, the better off you will be. Why? Because the removal of the distance originated with Him. We will come to our side presently, but first He calls you to look at His side; and His side is, that when you were bound to remove the distance and were not able to do it, God sent His own Son to remove the distance on His own side, and now it is so wonderfully removed that God can say, I have nothing any longer to keep secret. You can understand how a pious Jew would look at it. He would say, Something wonderful must have happened, the veil of the temple has been rent from the top to the bottom. Now I come to ourselves. We have "boldness for entering into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way which he has dedicated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh". The first thing for the heart to get hold of is the fact that for the believer in Christ all has been effected to God's infinite satisfaction in relation to Himself. A Man has glorified God, and God has glorified Him.

You see now that all is clear and open on God's side; and if you turn to Luke 14 you will see the result. In verse 15 a pious Jew says, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God"; he meant the millennium. The Lord then announces that there will be a great supper, not in the land, but in the house. And in verse 23 the servant was to go out and compel - whom? The very good, and very

[Page 380]

pious and excellent? No, he was to go to the most distant spots, the highways and the hedges, and bring them to the house. Oh! you say, they must be converted. Yes, but that is not the point. The point is, they are brought to the spot that will suit the Father's heart for them. It is not simply that God has removed the sinner's distance to His entire satisfaction; but in bringing many sons to glory, He brings them to the satisfaction of His own heart, to His own house, not merely out of misery, but to the very highest spot. Of course conversion must take place, but there is more than conversion here. This verse 23 shows how great the distance is. It is like the thief upon the cross; I need not say that the thief was converted, and that no one could go in otherwise. Like the prodigal son, he had to come from the far country; he is converted, and he is fitted for a new place. I want your souls to get hold of the grace of God: the moment you are justified, you find that the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit which is given unto you. The sinner has an interest in the gospel, but that is not all. The Father delights in it; it is like what is said of Jeremiah's father when he heard of his birth, "making him very glad". Now Luke 15 describes the joy of the father. The blessed God has joy in your being found. "It was right to make merry and rejoice, because this thy brother was dead and has come to life again, and was lost and has been found".

I hope that now you definitely accept that you are not only forgiven, but brought into a new place - into the house; as you get it in the first part of the chapter, the sheep that was lost was not only brought home, but as the more correct reading is, brought to the house.

It is interesting to see this in type. Look at Exodus 15:17, they sing, "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made

[Page 381]

for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established". That was the song. They had only come out of Egypt; they had not been brought into the land, for that is over Jordan; I am not touching on that now; what I want is that you should lay hold of this solid rest to your soul, even that the Father has accomplished and secured in Christ all that His heart desires, that you should have a home in His own house, one that you will never lose, however you may neglect it. You may say, I do not enjoy it. I am not asserting that you enjoy it. The father had a place for the prodigal in his house before the prodigal went in, and he had everything ready for him. It is wonderful how pleased such are to hear that all is ready for them. Every soul has to learn, that not only is he forgiven, but that he has now a home, the Father's house. I know how this truth is evaded. They say, We shall be in heaven when we die. That is quite true; but if the Father's house is not your home now, earth is your home. A soul is never restful, nor has he made acquaintance with his Father, until he knows that He has fitted him for His house. I am now on what is very important. I believe that here lies the root of the little worship there is in the assembly. You have not pleased your Father; you have not acceded to His wishes. You believe that heaven is your place when you die, but He wants you to accept heaven as your home now. If you accept forgiveness only, you will cleave to the earth, because you have no new place. Be assured that the effect of a new place is that it displaces the old place. In the old place you are an exile, driven out of Eden, but in the new place you know that you are according to your Father's pleasure. And until you know this, I believe you will never have the sense of pleasing Him; you certainly have not accepted the spot which He has given you; there is a reserve of heart. You can pray to the Lord, but not to the Father, because you have

[Page 382]

never pleased Him yet, you have not answered to the first desire of His heart; you have not accepted the fact that the Father has fitted you for a place in His own house. You may say, We are not there yet. I quite admit that, but I will not admit that the joys of that house do not come down to you here. I believe they do; and this the great supper symbolises. True, it is a parable, but it is a parable to express a great reality. What did Peter mean when he said to the Jews, "joy unspeakable and full of glory"? "Full of glory" does not mean full of earth, it is just the opposite. It is not earthly joy at all; it is heavenly joy.

Now just look beloved friends, and learn the wonderful portion given to you, the greatness of the place, and the rest it gives. Suppose Adam could say he was forgiven. That is where many souls are. They have no sense of being in the favour of God; they have not come into the house. They expect to reach heaven when they die. Now the thief on the cross got both. He asked to be remembered in the kingdom; he is assured in reply that he would be that day in paradise - not the one Adam had lost, but the paradise of God.

In Romans we read, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord".

I have given you what I may call Paul's side, and now I will give you John's side. When the Lord addresses the woman of Samaria, He does not begin with conversion. He says, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him" shall be in the most blessed state here on earth - "shall never thirst". All the language man could bring together could not explain the magnificence of this state, and that in the very place where you were degraded to the lowest point. Now you do not get this in Luke, because there it is that the prodigal is brought into the house,

[Page 383]

and you do not get anything about his new state, the state God has put him in. The new state I have in John 4. You are called to be in the most unbounded satisfaction by the Spirit of God in this poor vessel on the earth where you were in the most degraded position. Would to God, beloved friends, it was experimentally true to us! though, thank God, it is ever true for us. And the Father delights in our enjoying it. "They began to be merry". And not this only, I am to worship the Father in spirit and in truth, the very highest blessing; therefore I must rise to an entirely new order of things; I must rise to where the Father is in the unclouded light, in the perfect holiness of His own presence, and there find myself a son, in the Son's light, worshipping the Father. I trust that your heart will bow and say, Well, that is not what I have any hand in at all; that is gift, that is not promise.

I have thus far dwelt on God's grace to us, His gift; the blessing to which He has called us. You may say, I do not enjoy it. Well now, beloved friends, I must turn for a moment to set forth how enjoyment comes.

But first I must recapitulate. God has not only forgiven you all sins; you are not only in the infinite satisfaction of all that Christ has accomplished, but through divine grace you have a home in the Father's house, and the joy of that house is now yours down here upon the earth, and you should be enjoying it, worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. How could you worship the Father otherwise? How could you worship if you were not yourself at home? You may say you are not yet in heaven. The great point in John 14 is that you know Him who is in heaven, and your joys come from Him where He is.

I turn now for a moment to point out where the failure lies. There is a tendency in the conscientious to be occupied with their state before they are assured of their standing. Do you understand me now? Do

[Page 384]

you admit that God, in His grace, has called you to His home in heaven? You might say, I admit it, but I am not up to it. I repeat, But do you admit that it is God's own purpose, and that He has obtained it for you, and that you must be in it some day? I want you to admit this fully and freely; next I ask, Would you like to enjoy it at the present moment? If, like the thief on the cross, you were to die, you would be in it; there is nothing about experience there, you would be in it. And, thank God, you will go straight out of this world one day into it.

When in faith as to your standing, the Spirit leads you into the state corresponding to it in your path here upon the earth, that is, your course or the race, and then you enjoy your standing. Well, I must come to your path here. I have dwelt upon the grace of God and upon your actual inalienable right. But, beloved friends, if you live down here, you have to encounter everything; everything is antagonistic to you, and you must overcome everything; your standing, though inalienable, cannot be a reality to you unless you do.

Now, beloved friends, I believe we cannot hold both earth and heaven. Are you realising what God has made you, and that you are in Christ God's unchanging delight? If I read His heart, I read there what He has accomplished for me through the Lord Jesus Christ, and what I am to joy in and enjoy for ever. But am I enjoying it now, when I am in a scene of antagonism? You may say, Look at the difficulties. There are difficulties, but you have the Holy Spirit, He dwells in you. And you, like a little child, are in absolute dependence, ever clinging to Christ - the dependence of faith because you know you may depend. No matter what amount of wealth or position a man has, he has to learn full dependence on God; hence faith, which sees nothing but God, is harder for a rich man than for a poor one. Next you

[Page 385]

surrender anything which interferes with the dependence of faith. Thus you will be the most blessed on the earth, you will have "manifold more in this present time" from heaven; Luke 18.

Now I turn for the doctrine to Romans 6. In the end of chapter 5 you are brought into the new position. Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord; a wonderful blessedness! But now he says, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" No, beloved friends, you must accept death morally. There is no other way by which you can be free from sin. "He that is dead is freed from sin". Perhaps one might say, Am I to die? I answer, if you were dead you would be out of everything here; but if you want to enjoy your standing now before you pass away from earth, then I say, you must travel through death; "Reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus". Look at verse 8. "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him". Therefore, "Reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus". I find that I am dead with Christ; and that it is not merely that He died for me and accomplished everything, but you must accept death morally. Do you think you can go on living in the flesh, which is obnoxious to God, and at the same time enjoy all that has been wrought out for you by the death of Christ? Impossible! Therefore it is not a question of a man's light; but no man is enjoying heavenly things except as he reckons himself to be dead unto sin. It is not that I am giving up things; I am not speaking now of giving up, I am explaining Romans 6. The Lord says in Luke 14, if a man "hate not .. . his own life, .. . he cannot be my disciple". What will you do then? You now derive from Christ; you have a better spring in Him, and you are not to turn to yourself; Christ liveth in you. If you have His life, you know Him as your Head; you have the

[Page 386]

best motive for doing everything. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God". "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus". It is not simply that that man is gone. That is true, or God would not be able to raise you to the wonderful position He has; but He has called you to it. It is yours before you arrive at it, and if you died you would be in it without any hindrance, to God's satisfaction, because according to His pleasure you are created in Christ Jesus. But are you living in it? I say, you must reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. The great secret is that you must pass through death morally - "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body". And therefore the apostle adds, "We who live are always delivered unto death .. . death works in us". Death is a higher thing in a sense, because it brings you into the practical enjoyment of Christ's life. A monk or a nun is trying to shut out the world; that is vain while you retain yourself. The thing is to shut out yourself, that is, abnegate yourself, after the example of the leper, drop yourself. He dropped himself; Luke 17. In Romans you do not get farther than being dead to sin, because you have only touched the border, as it were, of death to everything, which is Christ's death. But in Colossians you are over Jordan, because you are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world; you are on new ground, and you cannot enter on it but as you are dead to the old ground. I trust that your hearts will lay hold of your home in heaven. Nothing ever gave me such a turn from this world as laying hold of the simple fact - I have a new place, a home in heaven; I have not only salvation and my sins forgiven, but I have a home in heaven. Mark the consequences which follow. What would the world be to you if you were enjoying your

[Page 387]

new place? What would be the character of your life here? Every thing would be in reference to that place. A man cannot help himself; he is sure to be occupied with his home.

In conclusion, I pray you, beloved friends, to lay hold by faith of the home the blessed God has obtained for you according to the satisfaction of His own heart, accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "I come to do thy will" - not merely to secure the sinner's benefit, but to do God's pleasure. And therefore He 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". Secondly, although you may see all this you cannot enjoy it but as you accept Romans 6, and take the place of death.

[Page 388]

OUR POSITION ON THE EARTH

John 10:16; Hebrews 13:20 - 21

The subject I desire to bring before you this evening is a large subject, it is our present position on the earth. I am not referring to our heavenly calling, but to our present position on the earth. A former evening I was dwelling on what Christ had done for us, and our own individual portion - clear of everything; in the acceptance of the Beloved, with a home in the Father's house to the delight of His own heart. All this belongs to every believer. What I have now to present is the position of believers here upon the earth. I refer to "the flock", as it is in this passage in John, "There shall be one flock, one shepherd". It is translated 'fold,' but the first person, as well as I remember, who translated the Greek into English, translated it 'flock'; but those who followed him were afraid to adopt it, because it would convey that there was no fold now; but only "one flock, one shepherd".

I will turn first to John. The difference between John and Paul is very interesting, and worthy of your attention. John is God's side, and tells you what God gives. Paul conducts you into what God gives, so that he looks at you in keeping with what God has done. Therefore he speaks of the great Shepherd of the sheep working in you what is well pleasing in His sight. There is no lack on God's side at all.

Now I must ask you to keep your Bibles open, because I wish to show the connection of passages.

First, you must be assured that there had been a flock of God upon the earth (Israel), and that there is now a flock, but of another order; and you will find in Hebrews that the flock is still continued, but after a new order. As the Lord says, "Both he that

[Page 389]

sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren". He has brethren after a new order, and the brethren after the new order are the flock. I am not speaking of the church, but of those who are of the church.

But turn now to John 9 and you will see what light effects. The blind man has faith in the sent One; he washes "in the pool of Siloam, which is by interpretation, Sent". He has faith, and he goes and washes, and gets his sight from that Blessed One who is on the earth, whom no one will understand or accept, although His works testified who He was. The power of God was there; a man who had light could see, That is God's work. As the blind man said afterwards, "If this man were not of God, he could do nothing". But how did the people, the old flock, receive Him? The blind man is led out of the old flock and led into the new. And this is the course every one must go through. Well, he gets light, and instead of his neighbours rejoicing in his gain, they bring him to the Pharisees, and the Pharisees condemn the work because it was done on the sabbath day. The Jews are not satisfied, and they call his parents, to hear what they will say. They are afraid to stand for him, and say, "he is of age, ask him". They are afraid of the religious element. There is the religious element in this day, too, and you must get outside that religious element. The Jews cast him out. They had already refused the Source of light, and now they refuse the man who had got light. He is now outside the religious order under the law. This man had been blind, but he received sight from Him who was on the earth, the Light of the world, if the world had eyes to see; but it had not eyes to see; though their not seeing Him did not make Him any less the Light Now this man cast out from the synagogue is in the solitude of light, outside everything of the religious

[Page 390]

man on this earth - a grand place, beloved friends. And let me exhort you (as Paul said to the Hebrews, "Suffer the word of exhortation"), if you have never been in the solitude of light, outside the religious man - not the worldly man merely, but the religious man - you have never found your true place upon the earth. The first step is, you are outside of the religious man. If you have not been in the solitude of light you cannot know the great things made known there.

Well, in verse 35 we read, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" He had seen the end of all perfection in man. "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". The last time they met he did not see Him; he sees Him now, and that is one of the effects of light, he sees Him; and "every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life". "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him".

Now this man is one of the new flock, that is his position on the earth. You are not left on this earth merely as emigrants on the way to heaven. You are left here to be for the Lord, sent into the world by Him, as you get in the last chapter of Hebrews: "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach" - the reproach of a Man dying on the cross. That is the reproach our Lord bore, that is what He was in the sight of men, and that is what you are called to bear.

I turn now to chapter 10. That chapter opens with telling us that the Lord came into the fold. "To him the porter openeth". He did not remain in the fold. But "when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them", "putteth forth" is the same word as

[Page 391]

"cast out" in the previous chapter. The Lord did not stay in the fold; He went in, He was entitled to go in, He magnified the law and made it honourable, but He does not remain there; on the contrary, He leads His sheep out; that is a thing you must distinctly lay hold of.

For our practical course I shall presently turn to the Hebrews. I am now showing you God's side.

Let us turn to John 10:9. There you are told where you are, and the change which has taken place. Now it is of all importance to understand the change; the sheep are of a new order. "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved". To be saved is not known in the fold. They were preserved and that is all. If you were in the fold, keeping the law for a thousand years, and then left it, you would be lost, you would be under the judgment. In this verse I get the christian charter, if I may say so. "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out" - that is, he is at liberty. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". There are no walls, and he finds pasture. There is no pasture in the fold, that is a misconception that has obtained from modern customs; because now in agricultural districts they fold the sheep on turnips in order to feed them. But that is not the idea of a fold here. An oriental fold was simply four walls built in a square in order to protect the sheep from the wild beasts, something like a country pound. The Lord states the contrast, they "shall be saved", and not only saved, but at perfect liberty, they "shall go in and out, and find pasture". I do not dwell longer on this, because it will come out fully when we come to the practical side. In the end of verse 10 the Lord says, "I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly". Here we have the moral state of the sheep. This is a very great thing; would that it were known to all our christian friends! Would that

[Page 392]

I could address all of them on the face of the earth tonight! I should say to them, If you do not see the immense difference between a sheep, a really converted soul in Israel before Christ came, and a sheep called by Him since He came, you have not apprehended His gift, namely, "I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly", which He fulfilled when He rose from the dead, and breathed upon His disciples. He tells you in the next verse how He brings it about: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep".

Then in verse 14 He states a very important change as to the relation of the sheep to Himself. He is the good Shepherd, and He not only bears the judgment of the responsible man, and gives life in Himself who has borne the death due to us, which is a most wonderful thing, but more, in verses 14 and 15 He says, "I am the good shepherd, and I know those that are mine, and am known of those that are mine". The same kind of knowledge subsists between the Shepherd and the sheep as subsists between the Father and Christ. Now, beloved friends, where could you find such a portion in the whole range of the Old Testament? Ponder it, "I am the good shepherd; and I know those that are mine, and am known of those that are mine, as the Father knows me and I know the Father". That is the nature of our intimacy.

In verse 27 the Lord completes the new position, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them life eternal, and they shall never perish, and no one shall seize them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one can seize out of the hand of my Father. I and the Father are one". Not only does He "give them life eternal, and they shall never perish", but that is not all. Seeing that they are down in a world of difficulty, where Satan is, He adds, "No one can seize" [the same word as is used earlier in the

[Page 393]

chapter] "out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me" - see the place the Father has - "my Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one can seize out of the hand of my Father". That is your preservation. The new order of sheep must have a new preservation. A fold would not do. Just as if a horse were changed into an eagle, a stable would not suit it. The Jewish fold would not suit the sheep of the new order. In His hand, in the Father's hand, that is the greatest favour that could be known. You may not realise it, but it is yours; just as a man asleep does not see the sun shining, but who is to blame, the sun or he? The sun is shining, but he is asleep. And so it is with christians who do not know this wondrous position, far beyond anything that could be known in the fold. You may say, I never knew that. Well, you ought to have known it. The Lord expects us to know His will concerning us.

Now, beloved friends, I turn to the Hebrews to see our own side in relation to this great position in which we are set. I begin at the first chapter, because I want to show the moral condition you start with. In the third verse we read, He having "purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high". If you take your place on the earth, you must take it as a redeemed people. Israel was in figure a redeemed people. The line is continued, but in a new order. It is an unbroken line in one sense, only there is a great difference in its character. God had spoken by prophets, but He now speaks by the Son. We have looked at His side, very insufficiently I know, but I trust it will induce you to study the scripture for yourselves, and I look to the Lord to turn this little into much for you. The first thing to apprehend in faith on this new ground is that, having purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. The moment you are occupied with sins in the assembly, you have left your new position. You start

[Page 394]

with His having purged your sins, there is no more remembrance of sins; and there is a stronger word. The worshipper once purged, has no more conscience of sins, that is, God has no more claim on me for sins; if He has, there must be a fresh sacrifice, which cannot be, for by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Christ our passover has been sacrificed for us.

Now you cannot understand your position on the earth unless you believe that your sins are gone. I have already presented to you that you are out of the fold; you are saved, you are at liberty, and finding pasture; you are in the greatest intimacy with your Saviour, the same kind of intimacy as there is between the Father and the Son; you have received eternal life; and you are preserved in the most perfect way on the earth, you are in the hand of Christ and of the Father. Hence, if you refer to sins, you have gone back to the sheep in the fold, and therefore some say, 'Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners.' Such an one does not apprehend the new position.

Being assured of the first - sins being purged - we now come to the second, that, while your sins are gone, there are infirmities. But before touching on infirmities, let me show you the position you occupy here now with relation to the Lord. We read in Hebrews 2:12, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee". That is the twenty-second verse of Psalm 22; twenty-one verses describe what He went through on our account, and in verse 22 He turns round and brings in a new thing altogether, as much as to say, I have cleared away all on your side; now I will unfold to you from God's side. He is in the midst of the assembly; and hence we read in chapter 3, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus". There He is, and in verse 6, He is

[Page 395]

Son over God's house, "whose house are we" now upon the earth. The apostle is showing how far the christian is beyond the Jew. Now we come to Hebrews 4:11, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief". The apostle looks at us here upon the earth; in fact, we 'run' on to heaven in Hebrews: the word is, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest". Where are you going? This does not come out in John 10, because there it is only God for us, and how He cares for us here on the earth. But when we come to our side, the practical side, I find that everything depends on the object that is before us. Where are you going? You are going to God's rest. It is here that infirmities are encountered, which is the second thing. But infirmities are not sins. An infirmity is a man's natural weakness on the earth. There are three great classes; the pressure of circumstances, bad health, and sorrow - bereavement. There are given to you two great helps - namely, the word and the sympathy of Christ. The word discovers your motives and sets you right. In John 13 it is to detect you, but here it is to direct you, to put you on the true road - the road to God's rest. Israel had not received the word in faith, hence they turned back. Therefore we read, "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it". I am now presenting to you how you are here on the earth, not to stay on the earth, but to travel through it as God's people, His assembly. We are going to heaven, and, as in Israel's time, the tabernacle was in the midst of the people as they journeyed to Canaan, so now we are actually connected with the true tabernacle, and the house of God here on earth, and we are going on to heaven. The epistle to the Hebrews shows the failure into which christians have generally fallen. A christian often begins brightly and then loses ground because he is not going on to

[Page 396]

heaven, but seeking something on the earth. Thus the ten thousand of Gideon's army were tested. "Bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there". Water is an earthly mercy. Only three hundred men stood the test - they had a higher object than the mercy for the day. Many are turned aside in this day by earthly mercies. You have the word to set you right; it will direct you to the right course, and also expose the varied hindrances in your way.

Next, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need".

Here the great thought before us is Jesus the Son of God. It is interesting to connect this with John 9:35. He has now passed through the heavens. He is not now in your circumstances; He was in them; and He ministers to you from the height where He is.

If you were in the water and a rope were thrown to you from a ship, if you laid hold of it, you would be brought to the ship. So that to you still here, it is of great importance that He has passed through the heavens. To you, weighed down by the pressure of circumstances, or by bad health, or by sorrow, He can say, I am wholly out of it, I have gone fully through it, and I will help you out of it. He not only supports you under the pressure, but He cheers you with Himself, you know Him now by the Spirit sent down from heaven. Suppose that you are in a storm under some pressure, and you read of the Lord in a storm; He was asleep. But merely to read that He was asleep will not put you to sleep. You see the Lord can sympathise with you, and if you receive of His grace you will be tranquil in the storm. He was asleep in

[Page 397]

the storm because He rested in His Father. He is not in the storm now, He has passed through the heavens, so that He not only sympathises with you and enables you to be calm, but you, by the Spirit, taste of company with Him; you are brought to His side. As the Lord was here on the earth, we, as His people, are bound to be. Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace for seasonable help.

As a rule, circumstances are not altered for us until we learn the grace of Christ in them. Like Paul and Silas in the prison they are supported there by the grace of Christ, and special mercy was subsequently vouchsafed to them. It is wonderful how little our hearts enter into the sympathy of Christ.

Next let us read Hebrews 8:1, "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man". All the chapters between the fourth and the eighth are taken up with describing our High Priest, One who sympathises with us in our infirmities. It is not merely that you are supported, but you are brought into company with Himself, that is your place in Hebrews. We have seen that in John 10:14, 15 it is the intimacy between Him and us. But here it is from your own side, your infirmities, because if you are engrossed with them you are not enjoying intimacy with Him.

Well, I need not dwell longer on this subject, because one's heart must be exercised about it in order to understand it. Mary, in John 11, is in deep sorrow because of her brother's death. Jesus sympathises with her and walks beside her, so that in chapter 12 we find that she has passed right over to His side; she is not thinking of her sorrow now, but thinking of Him; she is in company with Him, and

[Page 398]

that is the greatest gain. This I know is above all human thought, I cannot explain it. You will never understand divine things but outside the natural mind. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God". Trying to understand has done damage to many souls. You can enjoy what the Spirit of God gives you, though you cannot explain it to others. And therefore no one can explain to you anything divine; he can state clearly to you the word of God, but the Spirit alone can open out its meaning to you. If I were to try to explain "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding", I should only show that I did not know it. How could I explain what "passeth all understanding"? And yet you would know that you had it, because you enjoy it. It is not by your natural reason; but "we have the mind of Christ". That is very different from a man's mind, and therefore, the spiritual man judgeth (discerneth) all things.

Now in the second verse of chapter 8 we read, "A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man". As you are in company with Him, and enjoy His presence, you are associated with Him, the Minister of the holy places.

In chapter 10 you will find still more. We read in verse 19, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus". You are in the presence of the Lord, the High Priest over the house of God! That is your wonderful position, even while on this earth, because the house of God is here, and it is over this house the great Priest is.

Thus you are in the holiest of all; there is no veil; you taste of heaven, though still on earth. His presence is your home, even in your own room; how much more may you enjoy the Lord's presence in the midst of the assembly! You remember He is "a great priest over the house of God". I would ask you now, Do you apprehend your position on earth as to infirmities,

[Page 399]

that you have a High Priest passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God? And as you know His sympathy you are in His company, and you are sharing the oil of gladness that He has; you are also in the house of God, and He is a great Priest over the house of God. Hence, not only in your own room may you enjoy the presence of the Lord without a shade, and know that you are fit for His presence, but, like the consecrated company in Leviticus 8, you are in company with Him in the holiest of all. And when you thus enjoy Him, though you have not yet gone to heaven, you have a taste of heaven, and we ought to have a taste of heaven in the assembly. Morally it is heaven itself. God grant that our hearts may know it better. Aaron's sons went in in company with their father. We go in in company with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the great Priest over God's house, and we can say what Aaron's sons could not - He died for us. Hence the first act in the assembly is to remember Him in death; our hearts revert to what He was for us.

Lastly, I turn to chapter 12. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; 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 need not remind you that the tabernacle was heavenly; there was not a pin of it that was not heavenly in type; and we have now to do with the true heavenly. In the assembly you find that, though you are on the earth, you have to do with heavenly things. He sustains me here, and He maintains me there. He, the Author and Finisher of faith, is in heaven, and your faith is derived from where He is.

[Page 400]

As we read, "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec". As I may say, the Captain is on shore, that is, in heaven, and though you are not there yet, you have tasted of His company, the heavenly Man, you have His Spirit, and He is your life. Now for the race, you run on to Him where He is.

Chapter 11 had set forth the traits of faith; remember the word 'trait,' because the general impression is that chapter 11 sets forth the examples of faith. Traits of faith acquaint you with faith. Noah would have the same faith as Abraham if he were in Abraham's place. The point is to convince you of the wonderful qualities of faith. Have you faith in Jesus? "Ye believe in God, believe also in me". The apostle shows them - the Hebrews had the Old Testament scriptures - all the way from Abel down, the qualities of faith. And faith is the power, the horse figuratively, which is to carry you to Jesus where He is. He has gone all the road Himself; and therefore you are told that the greatest obstruction that could be, the cross, was in His way; thus the cross is used here. "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (that He might get to the top), "despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God". You will find many a difficulty in the way, but if you walk in faith you will be able to say, "By my God have I leaped over a wall". It is a race, and you are to "lay aside every weight". If you have too much business, lessen it; anything is a weight if it hampers you. "Ye .. . took joyfully the spoiling of your goods". I have seen Him, I have tasted of the presence of the heavenly One, and now I am running on to Him, and I lay aside everything that would hinder. A weight is outside; the sin is inside; it is not any particular sin, but the nature that is in you. Faith has power to overcome opposition, and you have now to confront every opposition. "Ye have not yet

[Page 401]

resisted unto blood, striving against sin". You have not died yet. If you had died, you would have finished your race. You say, I had a great pressure this morning, and the Lord bore me above it, and now I am facing every difficulty, every obstacle, looking out unto Jesus. I am going on to that wonderful spot where He is. I am not seeking for some little spring in the wilderness. No! but I am going straight on to heaven, and power is given me before I start. Keep looking out unto Jesus, looking to the end of the race, the goal. You will be surely borne on to it, if you keep your eye on Him. And you will be found in the practical path set forth in chapter 13; you "go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach".

Well, as I said at the commencement, it is a very large subject, but the youngest here can, I trust, apprehend the outline of it, and understand better the great position in which grace has set you, how far it is beyond anything that ever was before on the earth in relation to God, as His house; it is altogether new.

The Lord grant, beloved friends, that each of us may apprehend better what is our new position on the earth, for His name's sake.

[Page 402]

THE LORD'S MINISTRY

John 14:1 - 27

The subject I desire to bring before you this evening is the new ministry, the ministry of the Lord to His own. Chapters 13 and 14 should be read together, there is properly no break. At the end of chapter 14 the Lord says, "Arise, let us go hence". He leaves the supper table, where He was with His own. In that sacred enclosure He opened out, not only the trials and difficulties which would arise amongst His own during His absence, but at the same time the nature of His ministry to them. Let us turn to chapter 13 first, because there we get the service which prepares us for chapter 14, which is His provision for us during His absence.

In chapter 13 it is of deep importance to understand His action. He rises from the supper table - the supper table properly represents His death - and pours water into a basin, and girds Himself with a towel and washes the disciples' feet. Now this is of the utmost importance, because He says, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me". It is here all anticipation. Now while the Supper is going on He gets up and introduces this new service, the washing of their feet. You see the ignorance of Peter, yet it is the first service. You cannot have part with Christ now without it. It is entirely new to the disciples; there they were in the closest intimacy sitting beside Him, and He says, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me". Peter then wanted him to wash both his hands and his head, but the Lord answered, "He that is washed" - bathed properly - "needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit". The Lord is about to take a new place, as it is stated in the Hebrews, "Such a high priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled,

[Page 403]

separated from sinners". "Separated" is the right word, that is, He is entirely outside them, and has gone into the heavens. If there be a soil of any kind it must be removed. You might be restored to affection for the Lord as Peter was, and yet your feet not be washed.

This service is at the beginning, and without it you would lose the ministry of the Lord. You must know the service of chapter 13 before the ministry of chapter 14. If you are not in communion with Him you cannot understand His ministry; you may have what are called believers' meetings, with a measure of enjoyment over the word, but nothing could satisfy the disciples but to have part with Him. They had enjoyed His presence, and nothing could make up for the loss of it. In one sense we are never out of His presence; the veil is rent, but to consciously take your place there is quite another thing. If there is any soil on you, communion is interrupted. It is not only that you have sinned, but that you are conscious that there is a shade of reserve between the Lord and you. Just like a child which has soiled its dress, and though the mother may tell it to change its dress, still there is a sense of reserve between it and the mother. The washing of the feet is to remove this sense of reserve. Now this is the beginning, the start. If you seek the Lord's presence anywhere, even in your own room, the word remains true, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me". What hinders us is that we are at a distance. He always cares for us and helps us, but it is from a distance, you are not near, because the effect of being near Him is that you are transformed. It is not only that you are satisfied in His presence, but there is a wonderful effect produced on you by being in it.

If you study John 13 carefully, you will find it to be a little epitome of church history. You get here all the elements of disturbance, but at the same time

[Page 404]

you get the service of Christ for His own. I ask you to look at the order; here the Lord rises from the supper table, which prefigured His death, to present another lesson, in order that they might be kept without a soil to enjoy His presence. It is all-important to know that you cannot enjoy the presence of the Lord while there is a shade of distance between Him and you.

Next look at the state of things in this little company; there is treachery there, Judas ready to betray his Lord and Master. How terrible! But the Lord is washing His disciples' feet. The true nature of love comes out in this service; it is not giving something desired, but it is removing some obstacle to communion. People often confine charity to giving. I get the chief service of love in John 13, where it is to remove an impediment in another; while in 1 Corinthians 13 I prove my love by discarding my selfish motives. As one has said to another, who was finding fault with everybody, You improve the world by one man.

Now in verse 31 you get another thing, "Therefore, when he (Judas) was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him". This blessed One is to be glorified, and with Him, the glorified One, we have to do, now glorified in heaven, from where He will come in glory.

Now in the end of this chapter you come to another great trouble, the unfaithfulness of Peter. Not one of us with any conscience but must own with sorrow that we have at times lowered our flag in the presence of opposers; that is, we shrink from opposition. Thus Peter denied the Lord, and yet there was no one he loved so much. Peter was like Isaac with his wife, he did not give up his affection, but he denied his relationship. To deny your relationship to Christ is unfaithfulness. When you are socially at home with people, even your own relations, your danger is that you

[Page 405]

morally deny your relationship to Christ, because you accommodate yourselves to your company; the beginning of every failure is in social intimacy with company morally below you. "Evil communications corrupt good manners". The more spiritual a man is, the more he seeks company spiritually above him, because he wants to be helped on. When he wants to be loose, he seeks company spiritually below him. And the general order of failure is that he seeks company spiritually below him and socially above him. Now this is the other element of trouble in this little company. Thus there are two great sources of trouble, as we may say, in the assembly; while the Lord, who could arrest and counteract these troubles, is going away, so that the trouble is intensified. Hence chapter 14 opens with "Let not your heart be troubled".

The general idea is that John 14 is for one going out of this world; on the contrary, it is for those staying on the earth. It is the new ministry, the provision which the Lord makes for His own on the earth during His absence. It is a wonderful chapter. I cannot expound it, though I can see glimpses of it. Its object is, "Let not your heart be troubled", and when He has detailed His ministry He ends with, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". You are not only out of it, but do not be afraid of it. You cannot fail to see the elements of deep trouble which were there, but thank God, at the same time all the blessedness of Christ's heart for His own is declared; and the first thing He will do is to remove every soil, that you may have "part with me" - that you should share with Me, as in Hebrews, be My companions. And what a gladness it is, when we are really in company with Him where He has the oil of gladness above His companions! There is our place.

In chapter 14 two great subjects are presented: one is faith, and the other is love. Faith runs on to the end of verse 14, then it is love.

[Page 406]

Now the first thing is that you should have the same faith in Christ as you have in God; you have faith in God though you do not see Him. Many speak of faith in God, most important, but you are to have faith in the Lord Jesus, as you have in God; as we read in Colossians, "faith in Christ Jesus", faith in the One who was a Man down here, and is now a Man at the right hand of God. It is not faith merely that He was here, but that He is in heaven. That is the first thing.

The next is His provision for you in His absence. The greatest relief to the troubled heart is, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you". You are thus assured of your place in the highest spot, and thus detached from this scene of trouble. In the gospel the prodigal tastes of the joys of his Father's house. But that is not exactly the same as here. I think it is important to bear in mind that here it is not merely the festivity of the Father's house, but something more definite, even that you have a place prepared for you in the Father's house; this I believe will have a great practical effect on you. It is not merely that you have a home there or a place of enjoyment, but what I have in chapter 14 is a place, and I would press it much, because nothing could have a greater effect on you, in the absence of Christ from this world, than that you have not a place here, but that you have a place where He is. The effect this will have on you is that it connects you in heart with the place where He is, and it displaces you from the place where you are. I remember the effect it had on myself. You have a place where He is, and this must give a new character to you. It is not as in Ephesians, where you are raised to heaven. A place is prepared for you there; the Lord says, "I go to prepare a place for you". It is not that He is preparing it now. When He entered heaven it was prepared.

[Page 407]

You have a place there now. You may say you are not in your place; yet it is prepared for you. Not only are the joys of the Father's house yours, as a son in the Father's house, but also the Son has gone back a Man to the Father's house, and He has a place for you there. Remember He is speaking to Jews. As Jews they looked for a place on earth, and now they are troubled, overwhelmed with the circumstances they are in. The Lord does not propose to give them a green spot, a happy retreat for the evening of their days here. No, on the contrary, He says, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you". The Son of God has gone up a Man into the Father's house, and having done so He prepared a place there for you. In Ephesians you are raised up to the place where He is; and many commentators have tried to weaken that word "heavenly places", and call it "heavenly things".

The reason of this is obvious. If you have a place there, you must be dissociated from this place. Let a husband tell his wife, I have a beautiful place for you in Australia; what is the effect upon her? She is involuntarily interested in the things which suit Australia; her heart is in Australia; she is here, but her chief interests are there. The nature of the place is before you, and you want suitability to it. Each of the disciples could say, and surely you ought, My Lord and my Saviour has gone to the Father's house, and, thank God, I have a place where He is. I press this because I know the effect it will produce. Nothing ever so dissociated me from this earth. Your heart will follow Him to heaven, where He has a place for you. Just as a wife might say of her husband, He has gone to Australia, and he has a place for me there, and he will soon come and fetch me. But the Lord is far beyond what any husband could be: he cannot convey to her, though still here, his life in Australia.

[Page 408]

I do not enter into details down to the end of verse 14; I must ask you to study it, and the more you do the more affecting you will find it. The ignorance of Thomas and Philip indicates our own. Thomas does not know the way, and Philip says, "Show us the Father". The Lord replies, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", and "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". Now when you lay hold of this word, you will read the gospels in a new way, unfolding to you how the Lord Jesus Christ was sustained in every contrariety here, and this by the Father. Not only will He come again and receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also, but He makes known to us the Father, who owns the house, before we reach the Father's house. There are some at whose house you have never been, but if you went you would be quite at home because you know the owner of the house. So here, you know the Father. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father".

It is wonderful to see Him down here declaring the Father, and as you read the gospels by the light of the Spirit of God, you learn the heart of God. You can say, That is the Father.

In verse 14 He adds, "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it". The Father is to be glorified in the Son. He would that you should answer to Himself here, just as Stephen did. Stephen was a transcript of the Lord. He passed triumphantly through what the Lord endured. True, he found the Lord had overcome them, yet he had to encounter all.

Stephen realised that "whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do". This with reference to the place where Christ is, and Stephen here.

Turn to verse 15, where we get the practical effect of love, even obedience, "If ye love me, keep my commandments". You all know very well that you like to keep the injunction of a loved mother no longer here, because as you do so you are reminded of

[Page 409]

her. The Lord gives you injunctions, not, like the ten commandments, to discover your inability, but to help you; He enjoins on you what He would do Himself. Therefore, if you love Him, you like to keep them. You live near Him if you keep His commandments. Now the Lord announces, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth". It is not only that He prepares a place for you in His Father's house, it is not only that you know the Father who owns the place, but the power of God, the Holy Spirit, who belongs to that place, is given to you in this place. If a husband could say to his wife, I have prepared a beautiful place for you in Australia, and though you are not there yet, I can send all the virtue and blessedness of that place to your heart down here, and the knowledge of myself as I am there - how inconceivably great! But it would be quite impossible; such a thing was never heard of. No; but divine things go beyond all the deepest conception of man's mind. The Holy Spirit has come down from heaven, and He is invisible to the world. The Lord Jesus Christ was visible to the world, but they would not have Him. They saw His works, and even said that no man ever did the works which He did, but they had nothing in them that could see God; as the Lord said to them, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" - there is not a particle of good in you to come to God. Some talk of having a will to go to God. Nothing of the sort; nothing but the power of God has removed all the distance, all the darkness between you and God, and nothing less than the power of God could have brought you into that light.

Now let us proceed. The Lord says, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you". That is Himself, not the Holy Spirit. "I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you" - that is plural. "The

[Page 410]

world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also". It is the union of life. And "At that day" - now mark the wonderful place you are in; though you know little about it, you can delight in it, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". Now think, He is made known to you in the place where He is. You must keep in mind the order; a place is prepared for you in heaven where Christ is. Are you looking for Him to fetch you, and while here to bear you over every obstacle to that place? You will not truly appreciate the Holy Spirit come down from heaven, if you do not value the place where Christ is, from which the Holy Spirit came.

Then comes verse 21, "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him". A wonderful statement. Paul says, "The Lord stood with me". This is individual, as the other passage was collective. Judas, not Iscariot, says, "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" Then the Lord explains. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him". Mark the word 'abode,' it is the same as the word for 'mansion' at the beginning of the chapter. The first is that He has prepared an abode for you in the Father's house, and He Himself is the way to it; keep Him before you and you have the way. That is exactly what Stephen found, that Christ was the way. But not only are you by Him at home in that place; but as you are dependent on Him, you receive power from Him to rise above all obstructions, because He delights that the Father should be glorified in the Son, that is, that you should be here, in any measure, in moral correspondence to Himself. Then as the Holy Spirit has come down, you now know what it is to be in Him. "At that day", that is, the

[Page 411]

Holy Spirit's day, "ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". Then He says to each individual, My Father will love him, and we will come and have our abode there. It is not only that you have a place where He is, but also that the Father and the Son would have an abode down here with you. It does not say on the earth, but with the believer. What a wonderful thing! Do you really believe it? It is like a room in a house of which you say, It belongs to such a person, and that room is never occupied except by that person. It is not that you are always conscious of it, perhaps, but still the fact remains that He has an abode here. Could I dilate on it, beloved friends? I think the more I talked of it the less I should convey it to you. I find constantly, the more spiritual a theme is, the less will human language fully explain it; you must have faith, believe what He says. The Lord says, "We will come .. . and make our abode with him". Do you mean to say that I shall be always engaged with this wonderful company? You may not be always engaged with it, but still your privilege is that there is an abode there for Them. You may lose communion, and the sense of it, but nevertheless this favour has been known to you.

In verse 26, the Comforter is sent by the Father in Christ's name to recall to the disciples all that He was, to teach them all things, and to bring all things to their remembrance which the Lord had spoken to them; what He was here would be reproduced to them.

I trust the Lord will enable you all to understand better the great subject which I have tried to lay before you, even the Lord's ministry to His own here on the earth. In Ephesians 3:17 we read, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith"; that is the same idea. The difference is that in John 14 the Spirit makes us know that we are in Christ while down here;

[Page 412]

in the other we are made to know that He is in us up there.

I need only recall your attention to it, and I think the more you consider it before the Lord, the more you will be delighted at the wonderful provision that the Lord has made for us during His absence. It is not only that He has a place for you where He is Himself, but the Holy Spirit has come down from that place to make your heart sensible of what it is to enjoy Him. And it is not only that; but you live because He lives. All those statements, the more you dwell upon them, the more you will see they are beyond the human mind.

In conclusion, I ask you to believe that this is your portion, the Lord's provision for you on this earth during His absence. I ask you, is there anything more derogatory to us than the little we feel His absence?

I need not add more now, only that I trust that your hearts may be drawn out in prayer to the Lord - how much we have overlooked it! that you may understand the provision which He has made for us during His absence. Hence He can say, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid".

[Page 413]

THE POWER

John 14:26; 15: 26

The subject I desire to bring before you this evening is the new power, the power upon the earth for the Lord. When Noah was saved, and had entered upon what we call a cleansed earth, he offered a burnt-offering, and was accepted. Then God gave him power to subdue everything. This typifies the new order of power. Noah had been redeemed, and he is now declared to be in favour with God. "The Lord smelled a sweet savour"; he is now in favour with God where he was before under judgment, and not only in favour, but he was given power; all typical of our times. Alas! he soon lost his power by not ruling himself. The measure of your power is always the measure in which you are able to rule yourself; you never have power beyond it. The apostle says of those who were puffed up, I will know not your speech, but your power. Power is the gift of God. "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power". Noah was a striking type of the wonderful grace we are set in; we are not only a redeemed people, not only in divine favour, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Romans the order is, He was "delivered for our offences, and has been raised for our justification", which is the effect of His work; and then, "having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we have also access by faith into this favour". We are in favour, but that is not all; "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us".

I have read these two verses in John, because one sets forth the power of the Holy Spirit with respect to Christ as He was on the earth; the other sets forth

[Page 414]

how the Holy Spirit testifies of Him in glory. The one is for our own individual comfort, and the other is for the testimony of the glorified Man. We will look at them in their order.

In chapter 14 it is the Father who sends the Holy Spirit. May we understand the gravity of it. No christian denies the fact that the Spirit of God works here. It is denied that He is dwelling here. In John 14:17 it is thus insisted on: "He abides with you, and shall be in you". The world would not see Him, but in a twofold way He would be here - in the individual temple (or sacred edifice, for that is what temple means) and in the collective temple.

The Lord, before He leaves the earth, is here opening out to His disciples, as I have already gone over, His provision for His own during His absence. In verse 26 He tells us how this great power comes. The Father sends Him! May we enter into the wonderful nature of this favour - a Messenger from the Father! An angel? No; but a divine Person.

The Father has sent the Holy Spirit in the name of the One dearest to our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the Messenger of the Father. The first thing is that He is sent of the Father. "Whom the Father will send in my name". I ask you to meditate on it, that your souls may enter into the reality of it.

Mark that the Holy Spirit is sent in the name of Jesus, who had declared the Father, as He, the Lord, says in this chapter, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father". It is not here the Father as He is in heaven, which we get in John 17:1, "Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee". Here it is how the Father has been declared on the earth.

I turn to Mark 1 to present to you a line which will interest and help you. I turn to Mark's gospel because it is so completely in the servant character. I want

[Page 415]

you to see how the blessed Lord set forth the Father here. This book presents everything in a new fashion. A Man come upon the earth, declaring the heart of God, of the Father from whom He came - that is the subject.

In Mark 1:23, "There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit". I must speak of it briefly, because I want merely to set you on the line of inquiry, and as you pursue it you will be helped. Here there is an unclean spirit in a man in the synagogue, but there is a Man there also who is the Son of God. The unclean spirit cried out, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And .. . he came out of him". Just think of such a thing. He came to "destroy the works of the devil". He will set forth the heart of the Father. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". The unclean spirit must come out of the man. He will lift off the pressure on the human family.

Mark 1 and 2 embrace the range or scope of human suffering - the unclean spirit, satanic power; the fever, which is natural excitement; the leper, which is sin contaminable; and the palsy, which is natural powerlessness. Each one is relieved of the pressure under which he lay. Thus Jesus sets forth the heart of God, though as yet the soul is not turned to God.

The first thing I want you to accept is that the Son of God has come, and that He has opened out an entirely new order, never heard of before. Great as the pool of Bethesda, the ministry of angels, was, there is much more here. Jesus declares that He can remove all the pressure on the human family. In the first two chapters He deals with the pressure itself - the unclean spirit, the fever, the leper, and the palsy.

Turn now to chapter 5. Here He is dealing with

[Page 416]

the man's state, not merely with the pressure. The man with the legion is not only relieved of the pressure, but follows the Lord and desires to be with Him. He changes masters. The unclean spirit was his master; Christ is now his Master. The woman that touched the hem of His garment is made whole; she has now found Christ. And thirdly, the damsel, at His word, arose and walked. But I trust I have given you samples enough to induce you to search for yourselves. As you study the gospels you will learn how the heart of God has been declared; not in helping man through the world, but setting him morally above all that is in the world, as Christ was here.

The Father now sends this great, this competent Person, the Holy Spirit, in Christ's name. The Lord lead your souls into the magnitude of this grace.

In a former day we get a figure of this great blessing. Elijah was going away, just as here Christ was going away, and Elijah turns to Elisha and says, "Ask what I shall do for thee". What was the answer? Oh! beloved friends, often it rebukes one. The one thought in Elisha's heart was that he might have the spirit of his master, that was the one thing paramount with him. If the Lord had put that question to you, what would be your answer? If I put it to christendom, what would be the answer? Elisha said, "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me". As much as to say, If I have your spirit, I can face this world without you; nothing can make up to me for your absence but a double portion of your spirit. Can you honestly say that it is even so with you, that nothing can make up to you for the absence of your Lord but the Holy Spirit? The Lord does not say to you, Ask what I shall do for thee. He asks the Father to send to you the Holy Spirit. "I will beg the Father, and he will give you another Comforter". "The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all

[Page 417]

things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said to you". You may say that is addressed to the apostles. But we derive from the apostles; and in the gospels we learn the way the Holy Spirit came in Christ's name and brought all things to their remembrance; and I believe, however little we manifest it, that even here we can part company with our own surroundings for Christ's. When Elisha received Elijah's spirit, what did he do? He took up his own clothes and tore them in two pieces, as much as to say, I have done with them. He was ready for the mantle of Elijah which fell from him, the very mantle in which Elijah walked here. Can anything be more attractive to your heart than that, in the very scene where you had been contrary to God, He by His favour should enable you to be here in any wise similar to His own Son when on the earth? Can anything move your heart more? Yet here is the cause of all failure; and surely, unless the Holy Spirit thus comforts you in the absence of our Lord, by unfolding to you from Christ in heaven His manner of life here, you will not be able to enter into verse 26 of the next chapter, which sets forth the power to testify of Christ in glory.

This is another mission, but the same Comforter. "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". This is very definite. He is not only a Comforter to you, as we have seen in chapter 14, but now "He shall testify of me". The construction of the passage is very peculiar; because naturally it would run thus. When the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, you shall testify of me. The Comforter is sent to you, but it is definitely stated that He is the power to testify of the glorified Christ; it is not, You shall testify of me, but "He shall testify of me".

[Page 418]

Let us revert a little to the preceding part of the chapter. John 15 refers to profession and service, how we are found here for Him. The Lord says, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" - a known thing in the world, that you would die for the brethren. In chapter 13 it is the love that washes the feet, that is private; this is public, you are thus known. Then He announces to them that while they would be a company most devoted to one another, they would be the object of the world's unrelenting hatred.

The Jew here is called the world. Christ's "own" are outside the world, a company most devoted to one another, like an island in the midst of a ruthless sea; but the world, like the sea, would oppose and hate them. The world is man's organisation, and therefore it is opposed to God's organisation on the earth. "They have both seen and hated both me and my Father". In such a case one might suppose that the world would soon swamp us. The Lord then tells them of this new power: "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father .. . he shall testify of me". The Holy Spirit will testify of Christ in glory. He who was rejected here, from the glory sends the Comforter. There is now on the earth a competent Person, the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, to testify on earth of the glorified Jesus. On the one side, the Comforter opens out to you Christ as He was on the earth; and the more you dwell on Him as thus presented, the more profoundly will you be entranced by the disclosure; you learn the Father through Him on the earth. The Holy Spirit from a glorified Christ can only reveal the Father as He was known to Jesus on the earth. But there is another side. The same Holy Spirit, who has brought down to you from heaven Christ as He was on the earth, now enables you here on earth to testify of a glorified Christ.

[Page 419]

I am bringing before you the Holy Spirit in the two aspects.

I would now call your attention to John 15:26. In chapter 16 the Lord says, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take (receive) of mine, and shall shew it unto you".

I wish to show you how the Holy Spirit acts for Christ, and how He leads you in connection with the testimony. There are two actions quite distinct. One is that you are contrary to the world. Here the Holy Spirit who comforted you in John 14 connects you with the testimony. If He leads you, you must be in the testimony. The Holy Spirit is the same Person with two offices. A man might be a father and a husband, two distinct duties, but he is the same man. You cannot enjoy Him in chapter 14 and be indifferent to Him in chapter 15. You cannot separate Him; you cannot say, I will have one service from Him and decline the other. Elisha desired to represent Elijah; and you are here to represent Christ, to be in any wise a testimony of that One whom the world rejected. Can anything be more wonderful than that you are left down here to be a witness of Christ in His exaltation?

[Page 420]

It is not only that your heart is comforted and supported by the wonderful revelations of His life on the earth, how His resource was in the Father; but besides this, the Holy Spirit has come down here to testify of the glorified Christ in the scene of His rejection. You have to learn Christ in His humiliation in order to walk here. This is the first service of the Comforter, and an immense one.

You have not to make out a path for yourself; you are led into His path here, and His grace in it. The Holy Spirit also comes from the glorified Christ to "testify of me". He does this in a two-fold way. He demonstrates the condition of this world, "He will reprove the world of sin"; the world is exposed by Him. It is not that they are convinced by Him; and though no one is converted without His work, the world is simply exposed or convicted. Many a culprit is convicted who is not convinced; conviction is not conversion. The Holy Spirit here is a direct witness against the world. No language could present the world in a more fearful light. If I descend to an illustration, the Holy Spirit is in the witness-box, and His incontrovertible testimony of the world is sin. Three letters, "SIN", are written on it, "because they believe not on me". I do not want the statistics of crime to prove the world's guilt. The simple fact is that the Holy Spirit is here because the world would not believe in Christ; this is their sin. If you have the Holy Spirit who is here for Christ, you cannot have the world who would not have Him. If you are in company with the Holy Spirit, you must convict the world of sin. As sin is on the world, there is no righteousness there. Hence, "Of righteousness, because I go to my Father". Finally there must be judgment; "the prince of this world is judged". Thus you are in direct antagonism to the world. Compare the world to the current of a river; you in company with the Holy Spirit are the wind right

[Page 421]

against the current. The Holy Spirit and the world are diametrically opposed to one another. I believe nothing has damaged saints more than the countenance of the world. Someone has said of a handbill announcing a preaching, that it was trafficking on the world's admission of christianity. Nay, it is more - it is superseding the action and power of the Holy Spirit. The world and the Spirit of God could not amalgamate. You must co-operate with one or the other; you will be found in the dock or in the witness-box. Most anomalous is the picture of a christian with one foot in the dock and the other in the witness-box. You like to be of the Spirit, but you do not like altogether to give up the world. The Lord deliver us from half-heartedness in following Him!

Turn to Acts 16, that we may learn the right way to meet the countenance of the world; naturally we all like it. In history we read how the church first accepted countenance from Constantine; that was in Europe, where we are; we are in the Latin kingdom. In Acts 16:9 we read, "A vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us". And in verse 12 he came "to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days". This is Paul's first visit that we know of to Europe. As the book of Acts is a book of precedents, we learn there how things were done. It does not appear that Paul met with any man, though in the vision it was a man of Macedonia who besought him to come. When in this strait, a woman with a spirit of divination proclaims him in language he could not object to. "And this did she many days". Paul refuses this help or countenance; he was distressed, "turned, and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her". The spirit came out of her, and forthwith as a consequence

[Page 422]

not a power in the place, from the magistrate down to the mob, that was not against Paul and Silas. They were beaten and cast into prison. It was illegal to imprison a Roman uncondemned; Paul does not object. The jailor, having been charged to keep them safely, "Thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks"; then he retired to his rest. But when all was in the deep silence of midnight, another power, the power of God, is made known. It is this power I want you to believe in. If we had trusted in no power but God's, we should have made a remarkable impression on our brethren in the world. The power of God shook the prison, and the bonds of all were loosed. The jailor, the man of Macedonia, is awakened in his conscience: "he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas .. .and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

Here we learn to refuse the countenance of the world, and to reckon assuredly on the power of God.

Let us now turn back to our chapter, John 16. The Holy Spirit will lead you in moral contrast to the world. The presence of the Holy Spirit demonstrates the guilt of the world. May God keep us from touching it, and from accepting any countenance from it. You should not accept a dead wall for a placard, because you have the power of God for Christ on the earth. If you are not in communion with the Holy Spirit as to the world in refusing it, you will not know His recompense. If you do not accept Him in the first, you cannot have the second. He exposes the world to you on the one side, and on the other, "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you". He will show heavenly things to you on the earth. Now you have Ephesian light. "Mine" here means things; heavenly things are made known to you, what "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of

[Page 423]

man" - that is, the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit, who has enabled you to take a stand against the world where Christ was rejected, compensates you by making known to you the Father's things. And I have remarked in my experience that the servant who refused to receive support from anyone except the Holy Spirit, the only One competent to bear witness of Christ in heaven, was largely compensated by the knowledge of heavenly things. On the other hand, I never saw a man who accepted the world's support and availed himself of every help he could for the Lord's work, that was given the heavenly compensation; he could not get it, because he was not in the way to get it. May we understand the blessedness of the compensation! It is not merely the place; "Mine" imparts to the things the greatest charm. "He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you".

I need not add more, beloved friends. The greatest gain from an exposition of the word you will acquire in your private meditation. The Lord grant that each of you may learn the immense blessing this scripture unfolds to you as you draw near the Lord. There is much of scripture known to you, but until you have been drawn to the Lord to lead you into it, you are not really in it. He only can make true to you, that which He has in His infinite grace made true for you. When beholding the Lord's glory we are transformed. You may be as clear as possible as to its meaning, but until in prayer you are before the Lord, counting on Him to make good His word in you, you have not faith in Him. Your prayers are the measure of your real desires, and be assured you get what you value. "He that seeketh findeth". It is very humbling; "he that seeketh findeth". There is an immensity belonging to us of which we have apprehended very little.

[Page 424]

The Lord bring before our hearts that the Holy Spirit has come down to reside in each of us, has been given to us. It is not that He can come and go; you can grieve Him and you can quench Him, but still He is here. The Lord grant that we may enter into the reality of this new power. To you has been given a power equal to the power which effected everything for you according to God's pleasure, in order that all may be true to you which is already true of you, and thus what is true of you will be true to you, if you are walking in the Spirit of God.

The Lord grant that each of our hearts may be more before Him, so that we may understand the greatness of His gift to us.

[Page 425]

CHRIST IN HEAVEN THE CENTRE

Acts 7:55 - 60

In these addresses I have endeavoured to bring before you "the creation of God" - the new order. The first was man's new position with God; the man that was driven out of Eden, the prodigal, is now through grace enjoying the festivities of the Father's house. The second, the new position which the people of God have upon the earth, was altogether outside of the Jewish fold and the religious order inculcated there. The third was the new ministry, the ministry of Christ in John 13 and 14 for His own during His absence, the preparation for testimony. The fourth was the new power, the Holy Spirit come down from heaven in a twofold way; sent by the Father, and sent by the glorified Christ. This evening I come to the next, which I call the new centre, or as another has named it, the new metropolis. If I can present it to you according to its greatness, you will find that everything now is determined from this centre. It is from heaven, the right hand of God, that everything of God must come. Stephen says, "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God"; that is the new centre. The first point is that everything now must come from the Lord in heaven. The more you study it the more you will find that this is true. Paul's gospel comes from heaven; he says, "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ". It is evident the mystery comes from Christ in heaven.

If you do not apprehend the new centre, you cannot understand Christ's interests at the present time. Stephen set forth, from Abraham down, that man was a failure; and now he charges the Jewish nation, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers, ye

[Page 426]

also". Stephen is the first witness. He is for us a pattern man.

First, you must lay hold of the simple fact that Stephen sees Him where He is. He is altogether apart from the earth; there is no longer any connection with the religious order on the earth. The great practical work in the soul of a believer is to loosen him from the earth; not merely from the world. In Luke 14, one man went to his land, another to his oxen, and another to his wife; there was nothing morally wrong in any of these, but they all belonged to the earth, the wrong place. If you are really true to the right place, other things will be subservient and in their right place. It may be alleged, If I have to make so much of heaven, how can I attend to my duties here? The answer is, You will attend to all to which God has called you a great deal better, because in every ordinance of God you would have divine guidance and support. The example for a husband and wife is Christ and the church; they are not referred back to Adam and Eve. If a wife understands the relation of the church to Christ she will behave rightly to her husband. And if the husband understands Christ and the church, he will understand how to behave to his wife. The highest circle, the one of the deepest interest to Christ Himself, is the only one to guide you in your greatest circle of interest here. It is very striking that if you want to behave yourself in the circle of interest nearest to your own heart naturally, you have to learn Christ in His highest interest. And if you do not apprehend Him in His highest circle, you are defective in your own. Hence the more heavenly you are, the more you are associated with Christ, the better you will be in the details of all your duties here. It is the man of the greatest power who does the smallest thing best. Even a man's handwriting is characteristic of his ability - a particular faculty, though he has not universal ability. A man

[Page 427]

of divine ability is not only good at one thing, but he would be good at anything which was his duty.

Now let us turn to Matthew 22:44: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool". I ask you to consider this. Are we impressed by the fact that our Lord has left this earth? How little is our personal attachment to Him! He has been refused here. Would you like to be great where He has been refused? Here it is, "Sit thou on my right hand", as in Psalm 110, "till I make thine enemies thy footstool".

He has gone from the earth, but He has sent down the Holy Spirit. "He shall testify of me". If you read the early chapters of the Acts, you will find that the disciples in chapter 1, as they gazed up into heaven, are rebuked, "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven". And as you read on, you find Peter and John imprisoned, and then all the apostles. Thus it was made manifest that they will not receive the Lord from glory; already they had refused Him on earth; "by wicked hands" He was "crucified and slain". This is referred to in Matthew 22. Now you get a further thing. They refuse the testimony of the Holy Spirit; hence Stephen says, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit". They commit now nationally the unpardonable sin. There is no repentance for the nation; never. There is repentance for the individual. Saul was at the stoning of Stephen, standing by. The new centre is now opened out, even in the new place where Christ is. There is no further offer to Israel; they have sent a message after him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us".

Now you see that the new centre is from our Lord, rejected from the earth, but set down in the highest place in glory. It is from Christ in heaven that the mystery of the body was revealed. It is important to

[Page 428]

see this, because there is often a confusion in our minds between the house and the body. The house was announced when Christ was rejected by His own on earth, as you find in Matthew 16. His body was revealed consequent on His rejection when offered from glory. You have to apprehend that Christ is now at the right hand of God. Stephen is first instructed in this. This fact is the testimony now. Stephen becomes the herald of this new era, the centre from which everything now emanates. All place for the religious man upon the earth is over; everything now must come from heaven.

The servant we find is first instructed; a very important principle here. Before Stephen suffered, he was instructed in the new order of things, and he in a moment apprehends the change, even that the seat of government is changed from Jerusalem to the right hand of God: a change of the utmost importance. Christendom has fixed the seat of government at Rome, the seat of the Roman power, the very power which was given to Noah, and descended to Israel, and when Israel forfeited it, it was given to the gentiles, who, in the person of Pilate, crucified Christ. Christendom has sought and courted this power; but eventually the nominal church will be cast out of Christ's mouth, then the beast (Rome) will carry the harlot. The first failure of the church was losing sight of the new centre in heaven. The new era is from the Lord in heaven, and the new power is the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. Could anything more fully betray the strange fatuity, the deceitful influence, which swayed the church, than that Rome should be fixed upon as the seat of government, and that the secular power should be sought for and accepted to support the church, instead of the power of the Holy Spirit sent down from an exalted Christ, to connect us with Him in that place?

Now Stephen, the servant, is prepared. The Lord

[Page 429]

never sends anyone to war at his own charges. You may be sure that if the Lord would send you on any service for Himself, He first leads you into blessing to fit you for it. You find that this is true in the history of every servant of God. Paul, as far as I see, was caught up to the third heaven before he went to Jerusalem. I am contending for this principle, and I can see that the worth or usefulness of the servant depends on his being conducted into a conscious knowledge of the truth he is to minister. Stephen was brought into the power of the new order; the new line is now open, and he has travelled it. The heaven was never opened to you till now. The Forerunner has entered it. A place has been prepared. Stephen is in advance of John 14, for he is conducted to the place prepared: "being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven .. ". he was carried by the new power to the new metropolis. Therefore Paul can say to the Colossians, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God", where Stephen saw Him. That is the new centre. Christ's death has opened the way for you; there is nothing more to be done to open the way, it is open; but you have to travel it by the Spirit of God, and hence every one in the Spirit of God is over Jordan at the time. I do not say that he has accepted Jordan; that is another thing. When you accept Jordan you renounce this place; you are out of it, before you die out of it. Stephen was out of it before he was cut off. It is not that a man is loosened from everything on his deathbed before he is cut off. No; but you accept that you belong to heaven, and that you have died with Christ, and that morally you have been loosed by association with Him.

"Being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus". Now turn to Ezekiel 1:26: "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne,

[Page 430]

as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it". That was the vision to Ezekiel when the glory was about to retire from the earth. The perverseness of Israel was so great that the glory was removed from them. Ezekiel sees the retiring glory. In the brightest spot of the retiring glory he sees the figure of a man, and that man upon a throne. Remember that it was on account of the wickedness of Israel that the glory was going away. Stephen sees the glory of God, and Jesus, the Son of man, in the highest place. And now, having reached the new centre, having been borne to it, he is prepared. The servant, who comes from Christ in glory is prepared for the opposition here.

Now Stephen turns round to his audience - it was not a mob, it was the council, the great religious body - and he announces to them the fulfilment of Ezekiel's vision. He says, I see the Son of man - he does not say Jesus - "I see.. . the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". Was that an outrage to the feelings of the religious under the law? Weigh the statement. How could it be offensive to men who boasted that they were God's people, to whom His word was given? You might have expected them to say, What a majestic thing, we are delighted to hear it, the Son of man in heaven! But instead of this, the statement evoked their worst hatred. "Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord". The devil's work - "whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer". Do you think the religious world has changed? Do you think you would get a better reception if you were to insist upon it to the religious world that there is a Man in heaven, and that is the Man for christians? "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly". We are the one or the other. Thank God,

[Page 431]

I trust every one of you delights in the assurance that it is true. But, alas! to this day the religious world rejects the idea of a Man exalted in heaven; it prefers a man flourishing on the earth. In 2 Timothy we read that all in Asia had turned away from Paul, where he laboured most. Why did they refuse him? Because he insisted that christians are called to a heavenly position. And my desire is that you should find association with Christ in heaven, by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 3 you get the actuality of your association: "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".

Now I would ask you to seek the things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. If you have true affection for the Lord, you will seek Him where He is; you will go there at all costs. The Spirit of God leads the heart, really learning, to inquire, Where is He? Mary Magdalene was in true affection for her Lord when she said, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him". In John 1 the disciples following the Lord, said, "Where dwellest thou?" Would not each of you like to be where Christ is? Are you satisfied with the prospect of being with Him when you die? I have shown you that you have died with Him; if you accept this in faith, you are led by the Spirit into association with Him. Though union had not been revealed to Stephen, yet he is in the power of it. He does not know it as a truth, for often we are in the sense of a grace before we have the authority of the word for it. Stephen had found his Saviour in the place where the Saviour is. Can you conceive anything more satisfying to your heart than to find Him where He is? True affection could not otherwise be satisfied. Take for a pattern Peter in Matthew 14he sees the Lord walking on the water - above all earthly power, and says, "If

[Page 432]

it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water". What induced Peter to desire this? He desired to be with the Lord, and you are better off than Peter; Peter had not the power to go, but you have the power to go - every one sealed with the Holy Spirit has the power. The Holy Spirit has come down from the glorified Christ, and if He has come down to this place where everything is incongruous to Him, surely He can bring you up to the place where everything is in accordance with His mind. You see in Peter that he had affection that longed to join the Lord. Now that is our lack, we fail in the affection that longs to join Him. Here the church of Ephesus failed - "thou hast left thy first love". First love is not satisfied without company; favour will not satisfy it; company is indispensable to first love. Ephesus is unblameable as to doctrine and works, but they had left their first love. Mary Magdalene had first love, she was satisfied when she knew where He was.

Well, I cannot impart a spiritual idea, I can only present it to your conscience; but as soon as the conscience bows to it, the Spirit of God will lead you into it. May nothing be more attractive to you than His company. May you in your heart say with Ruth, "Whither thou goest, I will go". If you love the Lord, I believe the Spirit of God will satisfy that affection, because it is an affection created by Himself. If you realised union with Christ, I could not ask you to be attached to Him. I could not ask a hand to be attached to the head. It is its own interest and joy to be so.

Now we must look at the unrelenting nature of the opposition to Stephen's announcement. They "stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city" (the city was their metropolis), "and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit". I press

[Page 433]

earnestly on your attention the bitter persecution which awaits you if you testify here of the Man in heaven. Do not be surprised at the way Stephen was treated; as you are faithful you will be treated in a like way. The more thoroughly heavenly you are, from affection to your Lord, the more you will be opposed as Stephen was, especially by the religious man, the man who regards the law as the rule of life. Any one in any way seeking perfection in the flesh is bitterly opposed to a Man in heaven, because a Man in heaven must be a man after an entirely new order. Hence Israel, represented by their council, kill Stephen; for his testimony absolutely superseded all carnal religion. In a later day we read, "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me". All the saints in Rome deserted Paul when he stood before the Roman tribunal. But he can say, "The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the gentiles might hear".

I turn you now to Psalm 22. In this psalm you learn how our blessed Lord encountered every oppression upon us, and He was superior to all. So that every man of God who is associated with the heavenly Saviour finds himself here in Christ's superiority. He realises the fulfilment of Joshua 3:10, "And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites", etc. You get the same truth set forth more fully in Ephesians 1 and 6; namely, that you can predicate from the effect of the power on yourself that you will be superior to all your opposers. You become acquainted in chapter 1: 19 with the power for your own benefit, before you understand how that power will make you superior to every antagonism in chapter 6: 10. This is typified in Joshua 3:10. The power of God which opened the way over Jordan is the same power which will

[Page 434]

drive out all the nations. Thus in Ephesians 1:19 the power that took you up to heaven is the same power that gives you superiority over all your foes. I do not ask you to be occupied with the opposition; I press on you that you should have conscious knowledge of His power, by which you are borne over everything into His presence. And consequently you can face all the opposition. You know that you have been raised above every obstacle here; hence the power which has been so effectual for yourself will enable you to withstand the force of the enemy. When you know association with Christ above everything, then you will be able to withstand everything. Therefore we read in Ephesians 6, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" - the very words that are used in chapter 1: 19. The power is first toward you. In chapter 3: 20 it is in you, and in chapter 6: 10 it is from you. It could not be from you if it were not first for you, and in you. You can judge of the nature of the power from this deliverance vouchsafed to you. Turn again to Psalm 22; you read there all the Lord encountered for us. The first verse describes His drinking the cup of judgment. He has borne the judgment that you should go free - you triumph in His triumph. The next is, He was a reproach of men, the despised of the people - He was above it. The third, the bulls of Bashan, the magnates of the people, beset Him round. He was above them. It is very affecting to see Him upon the earth superior to all that is contrary to God. Then next we read, "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death". The Lord encountered everything against us, and was superior to all. Stephen consciously knows Christ's power; by Christ he is superior to everything here. If all the heroes of the world were joined together in one, Stephen would be a greater. When Stephen encountered the dogs, he knew experimentally the triumph of

[Page 435]

Christ. Then next the lion, Satan. And lastly, the horns of the unicorns - death itself. It was necessary for the witness of Jesus in heaven, the heavenly Man, to die here; submitting to everything, but superior to all. And now he consigns his spirit to Jesus in heaven. Surely he is a brilliant example of the grace of God. In man's extremity, he rises to the greatest moral height; he overcomes evil with good. Thus the witness of the new order, of the heavenly Man, expires.

Well, beloved friends, only the Spirit of God can lead into this association with Christ. The Lord grant that you may not rest satisfied with listening to my attempt to explain it to you, but that each of you may go to the Lord, and seek from Him that He would unfold to you the depth and blessedness of the fact that He is a Man in heaven, and that your heart may be so set on association with Him; and because this is so real and great to you, that you are prepared to encounter all the opposition here from the religious world; because as His sufferings abound in us, so also do our consolations by Christ.

[Page 436]

THE TESTIMONY

2 Kings 2:9 - 13; John 15:26; Ephesians 4:13

I would first remind you how far I have presented to you the new order, or the creation of God; for everything of God will last for ever.

The first lecture was man's new relation with God: driven out of the garden of Eden, but now compelled to come into the Father's house, and find that the joys there are his portion here on earth.

The second was our new position upon the earth. Outside the Jewish fold and all the Mosaic economy, under the hand of the Shepherd Himself, and "my Father's hand", and so kept on the earth.

The third was the new ministry; John 13, 14.

The fourth was the new power; the Holy Spirit sent by the Father, and sent by the glorified Christ from the Father.

The fifth was the new centre, or the metropolis, as it has been called; that Christ is in heaven at the right hand of God, from whom, and in accordance with whom, everything comes - both the gospel and the church.

I desire to present to you now the new testimony. There always was a testimony, and witnesses, but there is a present one, and the more we enter into it, the more our hearts delight in it - it is to be descriptive of an exalted Christ here in the place of His humiliation. Nothing could be more attractive to a loving heart than to be descriptive of Him where He was rejected. You are united to Him in heaven; for though union had not been revealed to Stephen, yet he was led by the Holy Spirit up to the place where Christ is: Stephen, by the Holy Spirit, was conducted up to heaven. And this is true of every believer, though not in the same ample way; with Stephen it

[Page 437]

was an inauguration, the opening of a new line, the Spirit's line, conducting to the spot where Christ is the new centre, and from Him there, everything springs. The professing church made Rome the centre, the metropolis, and we are more or less leavened by it, because we are looking continually for aid from man or the world. I say, No; it all comes down from heaven, both the gospel and the church. True there was a gospel before, but not of the same fulness. Hence Paul says, "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ".

If we are leavened by our association with christendom, we cannot find our true centre. But Stephen, having seen Jesus and the glory of God, encounters the greatest opposition when he declares that he sees the Son of man standing at the right hand of God - exalted to the highest place in heaven. We cannot account for the terrible opposition and objection to this declaration if we do not know our own hearts. Who objected to it? The religious man on earth, because it ignored that man altogether, and all that order of things; while to the true heart, to Stephen, it was a delight to see Christ exalted. And to be a witness of it here is now the testimony. Stephen turns round and says, "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God". Now all the council, the chiefs of the people under the law, there assembled, instead of being enraptured with such tidings, "stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city" (their metropolis), "and stoned him".

I ask you, beloved friends, to weigh it, because I believe there is nothing so offensive to the religious man - I dread him most - as to insist that a Man is now at the right hand of God, to insist on the heavenly Man; because then every attempt to improve the man here, and all that could give credit to him, is over. That is all over, and that is set forth here.

[Page 438]

Stephen in a moment accepted it, and gave testimony to it.

I think it is very simple - that I am responsible to be descriptive of the Lord Jesus Christ as the exalted Man, in the scene where He was rejected. I read 2 Kings 2:9, to furnish an example of this testimony. Elijah is going away, and he says to Elisha, What shall I do for you? And Elisha answers, as it were, by saying, The only thing that would content me is a double portion of your spirit; because he is going to stand here for Elijah when he has gone away. I take this as an illustration, an incident which must touch every heart. If the Lord were to ask you what you would like best, would you not like to have a power commensurate with Himself, in order that you upon the earth might describe Him in His exaltation? There is one thing more. Elisha sees Elijah taken, he fulfils the condition. The same condition, in a measure, is required of us, and with us the power is given to carry it out; Stephen was made conscious of the blessedness of the new position before he uttered a word to anyone. I believe the lack with us is that we are not in conscious knowledge of our new position. Our power is according as we do know it; therefore the apostle in Ephesians first prays that the saints might have conscious knowledge of their great position. Our power down here is in proportion to the measure of our power to rise up to our position. You cannot descend in power, but as you have ascended. It is not a question merely of right, but the more it is your right, the more dependent you are on God for it. Hence the apostle prays that they may be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith". Thus you are endowed in your great position, and consequently: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church". Then

[Page 439]

follows the fullest range of practice, but there you encounter the whole force of Satan (see chapter 6: 10).

I trust you see that it is the Lord, the exalted Man, at the right hand of God, who is to be testified of.

There is another act of Elisha which you should bear in mind; when he received the power, "he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him". The old thing is over; he has the new. Nothing should satisfy you here but to describe Christ; this constitutes the testimony.

Now I turn to John 15:26, the power by which it is effected, "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". Now here it is not Elisha receiving from Elijah in answer to his request, but the Lord Himself initiates the gift. "The Comforter... whom I will send... he shall testify of me". He is the only power to effect it; there is no other; it is very definite. The Lord does not say, You will testify of Me; but, "He shall testify of me".

I trust that the youngest here will learn from the Spirit of God that you are left down here, the Lord having gone away, with the power of the Holy Spirit. "He shall testify of me". The Holy Spirit has come down and for this purpose. The church generally does not look for the Holy Spirit's testimony, they seek the power of the world, the power that God gave man. But man has used this power to expel God's Son from this earth, and God does not use that power to testify of Christ exalted to His right hand. The church had fatally fallen when they accepted and used the power of the world. And anyone who ever receives countenance from this power to help in the gospel or any work for Christ is damaging his service; he is introducing a carnal element - like a flaw in a chain. No one but the Holy Spirit can testify of Christ.

[Page 440]

The great thing is to get simply before your mind the testimony itself. Of whom do you testify? Stephen was the first witness. I believe if a man were really true on earth to Christ in heaven, he would suffer persecution from his fellow men (see 2 Timothy 4). All the saints forsook Paul, he was reduced to a unit, but he can say, "The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion".

May your heart lay hold of the word of God. When your conscience receives the word of God, you will turn to Him to make it good to you. You know that you are not up to it, but as it is from God, you are responsible to answer to it, and as you depend on Him, He enables you to be in keeping with it. He has given you the power to answer to it. When you say that anything to which He has called you is too high for you, you betray that you are not dependent on God to make it good to you.

Now turn for a moment to John 16:7 - 15. Here you learn how the Holy Spirit will lead you. He demonstrates the state of the world. You could not accept its co-operation. You could not amalgamate with it. You might as well expect light and darkness or fire and water to amalgamate. No, the Holy Spirit leads you altogether apart from it. If you are with one, you cannot be with the other. But great is your gain when you are in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. "He shall glorify me" - that is the very thing you desire; the deepest satisfaction to your heart. "He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you"; He will bring heavenly things to you. I know some say "Mine" is Christ Himself; but it is plain enough, "He shall receive of mine .. . All things that the Father hath are mine". You are brought into a new world; you have turned away from the old world, but a new one is opened out to you which will last for

[Page 441]

ever. It is not merely that you have acquired a great property, but you have obtained the object of your heart; the Holy Spirit glorifies Him to you: "He shall glorify me" - there should be a small stop - "for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine". You are brought into a sphere connected with the Father, and therefore not of the world. 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: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God", 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10.

Let us now consider the testimony dispensationally in connection with the church.

Before I pass to Ephesians, I call your attention to Acts 9:4, "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Bear in mind the word "me"; it does not say 'Mine,' but "me". That is the first allusion that we know of in Scripture to the church as the body of Christ; now you find that that "me" is the medium or vessel by which this testimony is to be carried out, namely, by the church which is His body on earth.

Now turn to Ephesians 3, and see how the apostle speaks of it. "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,

[Page 442]

which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God".

Surely the youngest believer here can take in the fact that Christ has a body upon earth, for no one could be fully expressed without his body. I want you to accept the momentous fact that Christ's body is here. It is a great thing to accept a fact - Christ's body is on the earth, "Why persecutest thou me?" An astounding fact for Saul of Tarsus. Mark, it was never made known until Christ was fully rejected by His own on the earth, until after Acts 7. He was rejected by His own when here in humiliation; but after He sat down at the right hand of God, He was offered from glory; in the stoning of Stephen they sent a message after Him, "We will not have this man to reign over us". And what comes out now? Israel has resisted the Holy Spirit. As a nation they have no forgiveness. Their restoration depends on "the sure mercies of David". Now arises the question - Has Christ forsaken the earth, because He has been refused and slain here? No; emphatically no! The Holy Spirit has come down from Him, and "he shall testify of me". Next, it is revealed that His body is here. I know well how some refuse this truth and think it is impossible. I simply ask you, Do you believe Scripture? See what is involved in it. If Christ has not a body on earth, Satan has succeeded in driving Him away from it; and consequently - what could not possibly be - we are simply individual saints in the place where Christ was rejected. The only possible solution of our being here where He is not, is that we are His body; otherwise, if you take the place of individuality, you are assuming that you can remain in the place where He was not allowed to do so. You therefore cannot take the ground of individuality, but that each

[Page 443]

believer is a member of His body, and in no other way could you be on the earth. And as you are true to Him, you must be descriptive of Him as united to Him in heaven. One might say, If this is true it would alter my whole course. Are you, because of consequences, to refuse the word of God? You may be quite sure that the more simply you accept the word of God, the better off you will be. Do you think you have lost by losing the world? No; you have received a greater world. It may be asked, Do we see the body? We do not see it, but we believe that it is here, a far better thing. Unless we are members of Christ's body, how could we be in a world of opposition, from which the Son of God has been called away? "Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool". How could this place from which He was called away be your place? It is not. You enter on the place where He is, because you are united to Him. It is not only that He is your Saviour, but you are united to Him. And to this the apostle refers here; he wants all men to see, to be enlightened in, the fellowship or administration of the mystery. It will be so by and by, when the new Jerusalem is displayed. If you say, I do not see it, you will not be any help to it. If you believe it, you will say, Thank God, I believe it, and look to Him that I may be true to what He has called me to. I think the language of Mary would become us; when an astounding communication was made to her, she said, "Be it unto me according to thy word". Would that every heart in this room tonight said in faith, I am by divine grace a member of the body of Christ: He not only saved me and placed me, once a prodigal, in the joys of the Father's house, but, blessed be God, I am united to the One who saved me. If you look at the earth merely, He is the Shepherd who rescued you; but if you look at Him in heaven, He is the Head of His body, the church. The apostle labours to set forth

[Page 444]

Christ by His body, through the Holy Spirit. It only could be descriptive of Him on the earth.

The apostle does not speak of practice until he has made you acquainted with the power. Like Stephen, you must be acquainted with the power for yourselves, before you display it in the face of the opposition down here. This is the course of education in the Ephesians. The first prayer in the first chapter is the counsel of God, where the power is toward you. You there learn that the power has carried you up to Christ, where He is. Next, that the Christ is to dwell in your hearts by faith; you then survey the domain of glory, the things of God, the breadth and length and depth and height: the effect of the power which has taken you up. You must learn that you have gone up and that you have acquired much, the Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith, before you can be here in the grace and the beauty of the heavenly Man.

I trust I have in some measure presented to you the testimony, what it is. I have brought before you how Satan led man to expel from the earth the Lord of life and power, and that then was divulged that wonderful secret that Christ's body was on the earth, and that thousands of men would be here to describe the rejected Christ now exalted to God's right hand. He is set there, head over all things to the church. Do you believe that you are united to Him? When you are acquainted with the effect of the power and your gain from it, then the power is in you. Then you can understand how God is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" - not the power merely that is in Himself, but in you; you cannot measure it.

Thus Stephen testifies according to the power that worked in him, he was in the effect of it. And no one is able to stand for Christ here, but according to the measure of the power which he knows for himself.

[Page 445]

We read that all in Asia turned away from Paul, where he had done the most of his work; they had never known the effect of the power, though it was their right, and they did not believe in the wonderful grace which had come to them, even that they were united to the heavenly Man in heaven. If they had accepted this they knew that they were bound to be descriptive of the heavenly Man on earth. What could be more beautiful? What could delight the true heart more? I can understand the apostle wishing that all men might see it - all the saints here in one body descriptive of the exalted Man in the very place of His rejection. Such a testimony would exasperate Satan. If you set forth, according to the measure of the grace given you, the heavenly Man in your life down here, Satan will give you no rest; he will hinder you if he can, though I do not say you will lose, "because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world".

Now in chapter 4: 13, you get the measure or standard to which we are called: "until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ". I know that this verse is enough to discourage one. I have heard one, trying to get out of the difficulty, say that it is future. I submit that it is not future, it is the standard the ministry must work for. You may say, We are very far from it. I admit it; but if you lower the standard, you lower the ground of your prayers even; you not only lower what God has called you to, but you lower your own dealings with God, you are satisfied with a lower order of things.

I will just recapitulate before I close. I have brought before you, first, the Person that you have to testify of, and I have presented to you a pattern in Elisha.

Secondly, I have set forth the power of the Holy Spirit, who will enable you to testify, and the wonderful

[Page 446]

gain that you acquire in doing so; though you lose the world, you gain heavenly things.

Thirdly, each of you is not an individual like Elisha, but you all are members of that wonderful structure, the body of Christ (the mystery which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world, but is now revealed), and should be descriptive of Christ upon the earth, to the wonder of men. We know the corporate testimony is lost, but we cannot give up the testimony which in God's grace has been given to us. Corporate responsibility must ever remain.

Fourthly, not only should we know the power by which we are united to Christ in heaven, but we should know the effect of being there; as in the case of Stephen, or as it is typified in Joshua 3:10, "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you". The power that has borne you over Jordan is the power that enables you to triumph over every force here. Stephen had to encounter the whole force of evil here, and he was triumphant all through. One might say, I never could stand like that. I am not saying what you could stand, but would you not like to be found in heavenly colours for Christ on the earth where He was rejected?

I want your hearts to apprehend the wonderful relation you are in to the One who did everything for you. What is the aim of all ministry? "Until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ". Then all the force of the enemy will be against you.

In conclusion, I would confirm you in what I have already advanced - namely, that the more fully you apprehend where His grace has placed you, the better will you be descriptive of Christ. It is not merely that you are the channel of His grace, but you yourself are glad to be the exponent of what you enjoy.

I turn to Romans 12. This epistle presents the

[Page 447]

believer as a justified man on the earth. We have the practice of the justified man in this chapter. Your body is the Lord's, and your practice begins with the church. That is always the first sphere where the manifestation of grace begins. In chapter 13 you are to walk about this world in the armour of light, preserved from the darkness; and therefore it is added, "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, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof". That is Romans.

Turn now to Colossians 3:11. Here it is not merely a justified man upon earth, but a christian in the knowledge of the Head. "Wherein there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is everything, and in all". Then you know the Head. Now you enter on the new testimony. You get two circles: the first is always in connection with the saints, and the other with your home duties. The home circle you do not get in Romans. You have not gone high enough to enable you to reach down to the smallest thing. That is a great principle.

Lastly, turn to Ephesians; for there you are united to Christ in heaven by the Spirit's power.

In Colossians you are not actually in heaven, you "seek those things which are above"; but in Ephesians you are raised up and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. Here again there are two circles the church circle and the home circle. You are now competent to act in every ordinance according to God's pleasure who appointed it. If I were to counsel a man and his wife, I should not say, Learn from Adam and Eve in a state of innocence. No; but I would give them the chief circle of interest to Christ as their example for the most natural circle; for it has been ordained of God, and therefore the nearer you

[Page 448]

are to God the better you will behave in it. If the wife is defective, I should say to her, Go and learn what the church is to Christ; and if the husband is defective, I should say to him, Go and learn what Christ is to the church. The more you are occupied with Christ, the more exemplary will you be in your own most interesting circle here. You have not to learn from Adam and Eve, nor from Abraham or Moses. No; but from Christ and the church.

I need not add more. I look to the Lord to fix the subject by the Spirit in your hearts. May your hearts cleave to Christ as your one delighting Object; and then nothing will satisfy you except that you are according to His pleasure here. It is not a question of the greatness of your service; but like Mary of Bethany, who sat at His feet, and heard His word, and then was ready, when the time came, to render the most touching service, even to testify before all present that He was the One to be pre-eminent above all others.

If your hearts are with Christ in heaven, you will be a peculiar people here, you will testify of His worth in some unprecedented way. The Lord grant that you may in faith accept your great position, and be here in true testimony to your absent Lord. Each of you may be greater than Elisha. May you abandon old things, in order to live Christ here in His absence, for His name's sake.

[Page 449]

THE ATONEMENT

Leviticus 17:11

There can, in one sense, be no true understanding of the nature and value of atonement but as there is a knowledge of the state of man needing it. If the need be fully seen, then the remedy must be according to it; if only partially seen, the remedy needed will be estimated amiss. Hence the first point for us to examine is the state and condition of man in the eye of God, for we may rest assured that it is an imperfect apprehension of man's state which lies at the root of the general indifference to this subject.

Adam was set in the garden of Eden, in innocence, subject to God, and while he remained in the subjection due from the creature to the Creator, he enjoyed the goodness with which he was surrounded. Against insubjection he was warned, and told that an infraction of the divine restriction (for it was not an exaction but a restriction, one which demanded nothing from him - merely described the line which he must not pass over) would be followed by the penalty of death. His life would be forfeited if he acted in self-will. Adam did not remain subject to the will of God. He acted for himself, Satan being the tempter to the transgression, and the penalty fell upon him. Now death is the penalty, it is the wages of sin; but it is not a penalty which is only endured while passing through it, as would be the case with one inflicted by man; but, because it is inflicted by God, its full extent is not known till after it has been realised, as it is written, "to die, but after this the judgment". The sense in my soul that I die because of a penalty laid on me, in itself places me under a sense of God's judgment, and that for eternity; hence, it is not so much death itself which the sinner shrinks from, as the after

[Page 450]

consequences, even judgment from which there is no hope or possibility of extrication. The life is forfeited, and when the forfeit is paid man is then conscious of the nature of the penalty. The suffering is not merely the act of dying, but the consciousness of being under judgment to which dying consigns one.

Adam's life was forfeited in the state and condition in which he was set here, and dying he must die; not to escape all suffering afterwards, but as a penalty introducing him into a state of suffering. He is now without a life, at least without any real possession of one that he can call his own, for he is insecure and uncertain as to the moment when judgment may begin. His life is forfeited. The forfeit has not been paid, but over a thing forfeited I have really no claim or power; it is the property of the one to whom it is forfeited. Man cannot count upon his life now for anything; according to God's will it is forfeited, and when the forfeit is paid, the soul enters into judgment. Man's state and condition is now that of having a forfeited life awaiting judgment. God's righteousness demands this, it could not exact less. Man set upon the earth in blessing dependent on the Creator acts contrary to Him at the suggestion of another. This moral anomaly exists - a creature of the highest and most perfect order, setting up a will, a line of action, contrary to God's will. Hence the question whether man is to be suppressed, or whether God will be indifferent to him as a creature, made in His own likeness, acting in spirit and deed in contravention to His will. If God's will is righteous, man is unrighteous, and can God in righteousness suffer man to continue in that condition in which he can contravene the righteous will of God? The answer is simple: if it could be so, there would be an end to righteousness. Hence, God forewarned him that if he should do what He had told him not to do, the penalty would be death, and the penalty of death, as we find by Hebrews 9:27,

[Page 451]

reduces him to a state in which he is conscious of the extent of his loss and his distance, in judgment, from God. Death for the lost is only the prison door of one eternal night of misery, where the sense of distance from God is ever maintained in weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We shall now better comprehend the nature of the atonement, which could enable the holy God to set up man on another footing. To meet the righteousness of God there must be a victim, not in himself chargeable with our offence in any way, bearing the penalty of death. But not only this, there must be a personal excellency, over and above the life offered up. The life is offered up in substitution, and the perfection elicited in the time of offering is that basis which forms the ground for the re-establishment of man in another condition. It is evident that man could find nothing of this kind in himself; he could not offer up a life, for he had none to offer, it was forfeited, and there was nothing to be found in him but what would aggravate the judgment under which he had fallen. Once overtaken by the penalty, he could not be released from it; he had fallen under it. If a sinner has no soul, he is neither conscious of being under judgment nor of being delivered from it; but if he has, and is to be released from it, the release must take place before the judgment overtakes him.

Abel's offering through faith sets forth the main points of the atonement. It is the primitive offering, and we may conclude that it was the one appointed of God. Abel offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. A victim not chargeable with its offence, giving up its life, and not only this, but it is added, "and of the fat thereof". The blood was the life given in substitution for one who had forfeited his life, and the fat, the acceptable thing on which God could deal anew with the lost one. Now the sense first awakened in the sinner's soul is that there must be

[Page 452]

something offered between him and God. Even pagans attest this in their propitiatory sacrifices and the like; and the law is distinctly on this ground, for it does not simply exact obedience to a code, which in God's mind is only worthy of man, as His creature, but it insists on the need of the intervention of sacrifices, of many and various kinds, to meet the many and various states of the old man. And this was consistent with the law, for the law addressed man as still alive; but, while it did so, it could not overlook the sense on the conscience of distance from God and of impending judgment; hence sacrifices and rituals were imposed - until the time of reformation - which could not purge the conscience. On it there was the sense of judgment before God, from which there could be no relief until there was an atonement which would perfectly answer for the life under forfeiture and judgment, and open out a new way for appearing before God. The law dealt with man as still alive, and hence offerings were repeated, as expressing that there was need for intervention, because that which needed it was still in existence, or recognised as so. If the being under judgment had been superseded by an atonement having been offered, then there must be an end of that which required the atonement. Either the being continues waiting for an atonement, and consequently remaining in the state that needs it, as was the case under the law; or the atonement has come, and the state of the being needing it no longer remains. Both cannot stand together. If the atonement be a perfect one, it supersedes in the eye of God the being needing it. If it has been accepted, the state of the being needing it does not remain before God for anyone connected with the substitute. The law could not propose that man should be superseded, for if he were there would be no occupation for the law; and hence, while it suffered man to remain in his state it demanded from the worshipper continual sacrifices which never purged the

[Page 453]

conscience because, if they had, they would have ceased to be offered. The moment the sacrifices effected the end desired, they ceased to be required. The error abroad is that the atonement is not seen as setting aside the being under judgment, and consequently there is a sense of needing something expiatory still, which, as I have said, involves two things - one, that the sacrifice is not a satisfactory one; and the other, that the state of the being needing atonement still continues before God. The sacrifice is properly the substitution for the being needing it, and, if a true and sufficient one, then that for which it has been a substitute is not dealt with, but the substitute. The substitute must have a life like that of the being to be atoned for, only guiltless, and unchargeable in any way with his offence; and must, after proving its faithfulness in every way, give up this unforfeited life for the forfeited one, which exposed man to eternal judgment; and not only so, but the substitute must be One who has life in Himself, in order that He may rise again as perfectly acceptable to God - as it is said, "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father".

Christ having so perfectly answered every demand of God, and having borne the judgment on man, pours out His life at the bottom of the altar, and from thence is quickened by the Spirit, to establish man in His own life for ever. In His blood there is for every believer a substitution for the forfeited life - for death, that door into the eternal prison - for man in Christ has no longer a forfeited life, but life in Him who has risen out of death and judgment; and hence the life atoned for does not exist as needing atonement.

The great points for us to see are that the state of man because of the fall was not remediable, because the life which was forfeited was the very life of the condition in which man was set on earth; and this forfeit was the penalty, only really known after it was paid, and not in the mere act of dying, and hence the

[Page 454]

substitute for this state cannot repair this forfeited life. The first terms of atonement are that a Man's life, sinless, unchargeable, and meeting every demand of God under His judgment, is to be given up, before He can do aught else in the way of blessing us. If the life were under probation (and probation could never atone for a state of offence) it would be open to man to repair it. This was the course observed under law. Man is there under trial, and the life is prolonged, judgment is staved off while it is kept. It did not propose to atone, but offered a continuance of life while its demands were observed, and for the obedient it intimated through the sacrifices that the life was not an acceptable one with God, even though, through obedience, its doom might be respited, as will be fully manifested in the millennium. But atonement must meet the state as it is. Atonement is positive, and no tentative measure could be atonement. Hence in the paschal lamb, which was an offering instituted before the law, the blood is poured out. This is the first and great thing. This satisfies the eye of God, and He says, "When I see the blood, I will pass over". The state of man as he is is met by that blood, typical of Christ's blood - "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us". The blood, meeting the eye of the Judge, atones for man's state. Man's life is forfeited, and here is a life poured out for it. It does not remove the forfeiture, but it removes the consequences of it. The forfeiture has been incurred, and there can be no removal of what has been incurred, but there is removal of the consequences, and this removal is effected by the substitute taking the man's place, and being exposed to his judgment, bearing the whole weight of it, in man's nature; and then giving up the life, in substitution, for the forfeited life. One, with an unforfeited life, bears all the distance and agony due to the forfeited one, and having perfectly done so, gives the life up. He not only endures all that was

[Page 455]

due to man for his offence - all the suffering which a forfeited life eternally entailed - but having perfectly and righteously met all this, He gave up the life which. was not forfeited, and hence, having answered not only for the forfeited life but for its consequences, neither the one nor the other remains to the one who is in Christ. A new path, a new position, is opened out. He has cleared off the old, and now, risen, is the Head and Founder of another race. In the passover the people of God were safe through the blood shed, but more than this, they were inside, feeding on the very lamb whose blood had saved them. The victim's place exposed the substitute to the judgment resting on man.

For man, death itself was but the door to the state of judgment. Christ bears the judgment, is made sin, put in the sinner's place. He who had no sin, is treated as if He had, and freely and of His own accord gives up His unforfeited life. Substitutionally He should die, "not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad". He gives the unforfeited for the forfeited, after He had endured in Himself before God every agony due to the forfeited life, thus perfecting the atonement. Having been put in the sinner's place, treated as the sinner in suffering, He resigns that life by which He was able to connect Himself with man's state of suffering. He shed His blood and then closed for ever the history of man for whom He had atoned. The blood righteously sets free the being who is sheltered in a new life, because he trusts in it, and not in the state which required it but in that of the Substitute now risen from the dead. As the paschal lamb, I feed on Him, roast with fire. My entire engagement is with Him, and He supports me, as before by His blood He saved me from judgment due to my life and state.

Under the law we get properly four kinds of offerings, which in their various ways set forth what God

[Page 456]

required of man. In all but the meat-offering the blood was shed. In the burnt-offering, which set forth the devotedness of Christ offering Himself to God, we have the blood sprinkled all round about the altar, and then the offering is offered up. The victim is first accepted as an atonement, the hands of man being laid on it, and then the life is given up. This was necessary even in the case of a burnt sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord. In like manner in the peace-offering the blood was sprinkled round about the altar, and it too was an offering made by fire of a sweet savour unto the Lord. The excellency of the victim is the special thing offered, as setting forth the ground and basis of all blessing, and hence giving full rest and peace to the soul before God. Christ's own personal excellence is the food of all the offerings, and the sure guarantee for eternal peace.

Now it is evident that if God required those under law to meet the demands of righteousness, the first thing is the surrender of life. Even in the burnt and peace-offerings, where there is no notice taken of actual sin, the blood was given up - that is, the life of the substitute must be surrendered previous to the acceptance and sweetness of savour accorded to the offering; and this atonement and sprinkling of blood was consequent on the laying on of hands of the man needing it. I understand the laying on of hands to imply the attributing of man's state to the substitute. The substitute's life was poured out, itself without blemish, but having been charged with man's state previous to death, it surrenders its unblemished life for his, and is accepted in perfect sweetness before God, as outside and apart from that life for which it had atoned. Hence it is, as I understand, that when in Exodus 24:5 - 8, the blood of burnt-offerings and peace-offerings was sprinkled, there was an open way for the elders of Israel into the presence of God. The atonement is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), but it is

[Page 457]

plain that when the hands were laid on the victim the penalty and the consequences of that which rested on him who laid his hands thereon were made over to the substitute. Thus Christ was placed under all the weight of man's state before He died. He suffered because of what was placed to His account. He was made sin, and then poured out His life, and presented Himself in His offering capacity in every acceptable way a sweet savour in the very highest degree to God. In the sin-offering the blood was not only sprinkled, but all of it was poured out at the bottom of the altar, and besides the fat being burnt on the altar the carcase was burnt in a clean place without the camp. That is to say, there was no longer to be an admission of the existence of the being substitutionally represented in the carcase. There was the excellency of the victim and the giving up of the life of the victim; but with Christ there was also the suffering of being made sin, the Just for the unjust. His death ended before God that order of being which had sinned. He was justified in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened - made alive (that is the opposite to death) - by the Spirit. In the fulness of time God sent His Son in a body prepared for Him. He was made flesh and dwelt among us. After thirty years of patient growth, passing through every phase of man's life here below and fully conversant with it, He came forth into public ministry, satisfying the long-restrained desire of His heart to be about His Father's business; and then, as is recorded in the first three gospels, He went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil; He set forth that there was no state or infirmity of man in this present life which He could not relieve or remove. He raised the dead, expelled devils, healed the leper, gave sight to the blind, cured every disease; and yet, with all this, He was not able, in the days of His flesh, to place man in likeness to Himself as God's man on earth. For this He must die;

[Page 458]

hence He says, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone". It can never produce one like unto itself unless it dies; "but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit". Sad and sorrowful as was His walk and pilgrimage here for thirty-three years, He now (John 12:24 - 28) foresees the terrible season when as the sin-bearer He would enter into the suffering of a sinner's distance from God. Hence He adds: "Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour". He now - a man, in man's life - undertakes to bear in Himself from God all that was due to man. He has walked in every circumstance here well-pleasing to God. He has been the Father's delight in all the ways of a man; and now, as the burnt-offering, He offers Himself freely without spot to God, surrendering every privilege and power to which He was entitled as the Holy One on earth. Unprotected and unguarded, He is open to all the attacks of men, and exposed to all the malice of Satan; and not only this, but when He takes the place of the victim in giving up His life - His unforfeited life - for man, then the consequence of this falls upon Him on the cross. He endures, trusting in God, bearing in His soul, for a season, the suffering and agony of one consigned by death unto eternal distance from God. Then He trusts, and then He prays, and then is succoured, because He had done no wrong, neither was any deceit in His mouth. He, in conscious and restored favour, gives up the ghost, pours out His life, sheds His blood at the bottom of the altar; but being holy throughout, yea, the most perfect sweet savour to God in it all, He does not see corruption; He is not holden of death, He is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; He is quickened by the Spirit - man, alive again, but after a new order, and now the fountain and source of eternal life to as many as come unto Him. And in proof of this He breathes on His disciples, and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit". He

[Page 459]

can now impart to us His own life, by and in the power of the Holy Spirit. While He walked here for thirty-three years, however close His contact, however He imparted of His virtues to man, He had never placed man on a level with Himself, as a man here. He still abode alone. The corn of wheat by no amount of contact with men here had brought any to His own order. The greatest miracle did not effect conversion apart from the word. "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" (Luke 17:17.) The one who returns to give glory to God is the converted one, and the one in whom the word of Christ creates rest and assurance. There was no meeting or remedying the state of man until the Man Jesus Christ placed Himself under the hand of God, as One in Himself utterly and entirely irresponsible for man's state - having first proved in every stage and circumstance of life that He could walk in the flesh, in every way well-pleasing to God - to undergo all that was due to man, and in the searching agony of it to be proved to the utmost, as to whether any thought for Himself could arise apart from God. Nothing but self-renunciation and simple subjection to God marked Him throughout, and His perfect life He then pours out. It is not that He pours out the life merely, but He does so after having exposed Himself to the judgment which the deprivation of life entails. He surrendered the life in which He had thus exposed Himself to judgment; and then - though the one holy, perfect Man, born of a woman in man's estate, who had been in every way well-pleasing to God - having been made sin, treated as the guilty, He offers Himself, sheds His blood, surrenders an existence which righteously He had held and lived in, and on which there was no claim, as substitution for that which had been forfeited by man. He had a life which had not been forfeited, but which had endured, in the hour of forsaking, more than any man had endured, in suffering and distance from God.

[Page 460]

He had a life which was perfect in every way, most pleasing to God; but He gave it up, and, before giving it up, endured in it all that was on man because of his evil and sin. "Now is the Son of man glorified". Having so endured, having glorified God as a man, He bowed His head and gave up the ghost. The life in which He, as a man, had glorified God, and in which He had endured man's judgment, He does not retain - He pours it out. The atonement is in the blood. We are reconciled to God by the death of His Son. The reconciliation is effected. The sinless One has been made sin, and has given up a life which He might have retained, in substitution for a life which was forfeited. But He has glorified God in it all, and hence, He is raised from the dead; we are saved by His life. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins". The resurrection is the proof of acceptance, but it is for our justification. That which represented the resurrection in the typical offerings was, I suppose, the fire feeding on the fat. At any rate the fat was the excellency of the animal, and the fire consuming it indicated its acceptance. Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and the resurrection is the proof and evidence that He has indeed offered Himself without spot to God, and that it was impossible that He should be holden of death. But then, having destroyed the power of death and abolished it, He has brought to light life and incorruptibility. In His resurrection He is the quickening Spirit. He can impart life, His life, to those whose death He has borne. Being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, "much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life". He shed His blood for us, and, now risen, He is the second Man, able to communicate of His life to those whom, before He died for them, He could do nothing but relieve. He must die for them where they were, in order to set them in the life in which He is. He must bear their death and

[Page 461]

its consequences, before He could share with them His life which is eternal.

The resurrection is the proof that Christ had in everything glorified God, and hence it is for the glory of God that He should rise from the dead. It would have compromised the glory if He had not risen. Having given up His sinless life for man's sinful life, He is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and also declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection is the proof that there was life outside of death. The atonement required a life not liable to death, and this being delivered up, His life, as the Son of God, asserts its place; and it is for the glory of the Father to raise Him from among the dead, manifesting the "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". The penalty incurred by man is not only borne, but borne by One in no way liable to it, as the Substitute for man. He gives sacrificially the life which in every step and walk here was so honouring to God; and more than this - He rises not only because He has life in Himself; but the glory of the Father requires that One so perfect here as a man, and so glorifying God in submitting fully to all His righteousness, with the end and the aim of unlocking the heart of God, giving Him full liberty to deal on new and eternal ground with His people once under condemnation - the glory of the Father requires, I repeat, that such an One should be in life again as a Man, though not in the life which He had poured out, but should, without seeing corruption, be raised up in the eternity of His own life.

The first man, being under sentence, has received sentence in the cross of Christ; and not only this - a sinless life is offered for the sinful one, and He, the Substitute, being raised from the dead, is the source and founder of a new race in eternal life and perfect

[Page 462]

holiness. We are cleansed from all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. We are made nigh by His blood. Nothing remains to interfere or interpose, seeing that the life in which all the offence has been committed has been judged in Christ, and that He has given up His perfect, unforfeited life for our sinful, forfeited one. But He is raised from being the dead Man into a living Man by the Spirit of God, in the power of an endless life, and the Man is on the highest ground, and in the highest connection, glorified now in the Son who has done all the Father's will and finished His work. The first man is set aside judicially in righteousness, and the Son of God, who as Man met the righteousness of God and bowed to it in judgment, is the One to express in fulness the love of God. He bore the righteous judgment fully. He, when here, in a region where sin abounded, answered to God's nature in righteousness, and He expresses in fulness and perfection that nature which is love, when sin has been for ever put away.

Blessed mission! Blessed Missionary to our heart of all the grace and goodness of the living God! As we live by Him, may we live to Him, in joy and purpose of heart. Amen!