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"Christ God's power and God's wisdom", 1 Corinthians 1:24. Now these are two distinct lines of truth; the one, which is the power of God, for the conscience; the other, which is the wisdom of God, for the spiritual mind. Christ comprises both. The apostle says, "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect", etc. Now to the wisdom the babes in Christ should be gently led on; but the power, what the grace of God is in dealing with a ruined sinner, ought to be within the comprehension of the true hearted, however young in the school. Nevertheless it will be found, in daily converse with souls, that even this, elementary though it be, is very feebly apprehended; nay, that the divine idea in renewing a soul is seldom or never laid hold of; and if this be not laid hold of there can be no correct or adequate conception of what new birth is. I believe it is at the very foundation that the real cause of weakness in souls is to be found. And one of the evidences of how the will is in this weakness -- for it is nothing but the flesh -- is the obduracy and slowness of souls to lay hold of God's idea in sending His Son to bless them. If you ask believers in general what they consider is elementary, you will find that it is something which is to contribute to man as man is. Now the grace of God begins entirely outside, reveals His Son in me. I am daily more convinced that the reason why souls call God's idea -- and, blessed be His name, His accomplished purpose, that He has given us eternal life in His Son -- 'high truth', is because they do not want to cease conferring with flesh and blood.

Surely our Lord's wondrous words in John 4 as to the "gift of God" were elementary; or, at least, He considered that they were not above the reach of the poor, ignorant, and abandoned woman of Samaria; yet

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if such truth were insisted on in the present day, there is no doubt that all who desire to gratify their reputable tastes and foster their ambition, would designate it 'high truth'. It was the definiteness of God's idea for man that our blessed Lord then enunciated: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". This I believe is what is not sufficiently insisted on in this day, though most elementary; and, to the true-hearted soul, it will always be with the voice of the Son of God.

Souls like forgiveness to be preached, and they like to enjoy it; and though forgiven, to lie on their beds just as palsied as ever (see Mark 2:8 - 12), only more comfortably as to conscience, which is quieted by being delivered from the fear of judgment; but they have no idea of what is God's thought for them by the gift of eternal life in His Son, for if they had they would take up their beds and walk. I fear what people call 'high truth' is too often, even as it was with the scribes and Pharisees in our Lord's day, something which they do not wish to understand.


Serving the Lord in order to be happier in Him tends to legality. The work done is the source of the happiness and not Christ Himself. In John 14 I learn what Christ is to me, and there is no service enjoined beyond obedience, which is the proof of love. If I love, I obey. Mary Magdalene is an example to me of one whose heart was so true to Christ that apostles or angels could not divert her from Him; but as soon as she has seen Him, her heart is satisfied. His calling her by name is everything, a personal, individual link. What can surpass it? She is so controlled by Him of whom her heart is full, that she obeys Him even at the loss of His

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bodily presence, because a truly loving one could do nothing less. I believe that deep, personal joy in Christ is a very quiet, unexpressed thing. Where there is great fervour in expression there is not likely to be so much depth, though there may be real conviction. Demonstration expresses first discovery rather than a home sense of personal enjoyment. How much demonstration and rapture do we exhibit to our most beloved friends when we are at home with one another? When we meet them after an absence, there may be rapture, but this is an evidence that there has been absence. Alas! we are often absent from our Lord; and the renewed sense of His presence may doubtless produce rapture in its contrast with what has gone before; but it is the lower thing, and the restful enjoyment of His personal nearness is the greater thing. Let us therefore not make everything of rapture, but rise from it to the deeper occupation of abiding communion with Him. It is from this communion that the service ought to flow; for communion with any one is in fact a common mind with such a one; and if I have it with God, I know my Master's mind. It is not the hardest working servant who is the most confidential in the household, and it is the confidential servant who is the highest. I am willing to keep the door, if no other work be allotted to me; but I should like so to keep it that my Master should trust me with His mind.

The saint is never to think himself proof against the evil in the world. No doubt by faith he is kept from the evil; but then he must not shut his eyes to the special form it takes in his day, if he would be free from it. The reverse is the fact. Any evil working in the world finds its way into the hearts of saints in a refined, specious way. Now sensationalism is one of the means by which Satan is blinding the minds of the people of the world in this day. Be it the novel, the concert, or the stage, a sort of mental intoxication is sought and produced. And may not this in a specious form enter

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into spiritual things? Was there none of it in the revival meetings? Is there not a leaven of it now? And should not souls see that their rapture and delight is not that in which the flesh takes part, but on the contrary, that which ignores the existence of the flesh, because they are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit?


God, out of the spontaneous feelings of His own heart, has come in and taken out from among this world certain persons who were devil-possessed, led captive, full of evil passions. God has come in, taken them up, revealed Himself to them, and made them the body of which His Son, seated at His own right hand, is the Head in heaven. The Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is now on the throne of the Father, of the Highest; and God has down here on earth an answer to what He is up there. He is making good His name on earth, in spite of all that Satan can do. What grace! God is in heaven, His Son Jesus is set down at His right hand, the Holy Spirit is here; and here, in you and in me, He makes good that which is the answer to the position of His own Son as Head of the body. This is grace passing understanding; grace which for height passes measure, for it reaches to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; grace which for depth comes down under all our ruin, and which reached to us when we were rolled round and round by Satan, like withered leaves in autumn. And here in us He makes good this answer. To us He says, 'You are the proof that my Son is sitting up here as Head'. And this is the position in which we are to "stand"; as it says in Ephesians 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth", etc.

Here is our position; and in stating it, grace assumes that the hearts are all right with God. Oh! when one sees how God takes this for granted, how the heart

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must desire to live as constrained by the love of Christ! How ready we are to be taken up with a hundred objects, with any save that One with which the Holy Spirit thrills in us! Our houses are unpurged, ourselves unjudged; but still He sees us as the living members of His own Son, the living Head; and the soul is supposed to have a character suited to the sons of such a Father, to vessels sealed by the Spirit. Oh! how it shames us to see what the church of God was; how single-eyed, esteeming beyond every object that which was dear to God; seeking to be Christ-bearers in the world! God sees how decrepit we are, but He looks at us now as connected with the Son at His right hand. How far have we a single eye? No eye is single but that which sees God continually. How little one finds in souls the knowledge of the true God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, even among those who make a profession of knowing it, having received the truth as to the mercy and grace of God; but the imagination may play with truth which is not in the heart.


One cannot help feeling that there ought to be a chivalry about us now beyond anything ever known in the church of God of later times. Luther did not get beyond justification. Like the woman in Luke 7, there was great true-hearted devotedness, but all to distinguish Christ on earth.

He never got farther; even Melancthon would have reformed the national church. We now profess to know Christ as the One with whom we are quickened (quickened is always used, I believe, for the whole work of life, including the body); and hence we ought to declare, "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world". We should distinguish Christ by renouncing it for His burial, like the woman in John 12 who devoted the most precious thing she had to His

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burial; or in other words by being dead to it altogether, because He has died out of it. This truth necessarily imposes on us a much more chivalrous and self-renouncing path than that of Luther or Melancthon. We have not merely to contend with indulgences or gross corruptions, but we have to brave the coldness and distance of 'our own', the saints who refuse what we seek to enforce -- that the one living by Christ now is also crucified as to himself with Christ. If one term of the proposition be true, the other is true also. Weaken or limit the scope of the one, and you must weaken and limit the scope of the other. How many say that they have Christ as their life who, instead of seeking to be as crucified ones here, argue and contend for acknowledgment in the flesh here in position and self-gratification, satisfied so long as there be no degradation of man naturally, which is their standard. Now this is a great and growing evil. The truth as to grace is increasing, and is pressed with such clearness that there is general acceptance of it; but the great testimony which should flow from an acceptance in power is nowhere to be seen. "Whose god is the belly" could be said with too much truth of the mass of the professing people of God. That is to say, their own tastes rule more than God's mind. The saints have to be warned and preserved against being legal, as we see in Romans and Galatians; but there is another and a worse form of evil, and that is, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness -- practically denying that in the flesh we were crucified with Christ, while professing that we live by Him; and this we know will be the final form of evil in and among the people of God on earth.

There are two distinct lines of truth which require to be presented with special distinctness. That first is, What is God's thought in saving us? This thought He has consummated in His Son, and we require to have the scope of it before our souls. Every priest in Israel did not comprehend the temple and its furniture; but

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the temple and its furniture presented the mind of God about Israel, and each, at least, saw what he was called to attain to. Now in the present day the truth is lowered to the measure of man's need; hence if the need be met, which grace does, the convert makes no advance; he rests in the satisfaction of his need, instead of being directed to the scope of God's thought, which only begins at his need. Where would souls be put if they were simply and definitely instructed in Christ Jesus and Him crucified, connected by faith with the living One, who was here crucified, and whose death terminated man in the flesh?

The second line of truth so needed is, the place and walk incumbent on us who have received Christ here on earth -- the nature and character of that place. For it is not in the glory that we shall set forth the power of the risen Christ; it is here where He died, and where we are dead, that we ought to display the properties and virtues of Christ risen from among the dead.


Intelligence in truth depends on the spiritual state of the soul. It is quite impossible, before you have apprehended your union with Christ, that you should comprehend what the effects of that union are. Now we are hid with Him. When He shall appear, all shall be put in order, all shall suit His presence. Now all is confusion. The world has cast out Christ; but He has gone up to the right hand of God, and is gathering His saints until He appears, shows Himself to them, and puts all straight. The moment Christ shows Himself, He must have the upper hand of all evil. It was a matter of promise to the saints of old. Would it be your delight if He fulfilled it? If we are settling ourselves down here, we shall not desire that day; we shall not look for His appearing. We have to go through this world, an immense system of which Satan is the head; but our

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hearts ought to have communion with God, conscious of Christ's separation from it all, and of our association with Christ Himself. Now we have the same as He, all but the glory. You cannot separate the Head from the members. There is nothing which Christ takes up but what is ours; suffering is thereby ours also. You cannot separate Christ and all He has from the saints. He is in them and with them, and when He shall appear, they shall be like Him. Ever since the Holy Spirit came down from heaven, this is our place. One thing that characterises Scripture is that the highest motives are supplied for the meanest things. Servants are exhorted not to purloin (see Titus 2:10 - 14). Brethren are not to go to law because they shall judge the world. In the most minute and commonplace actions the coming is brought in as a motive; nothing less is contemplated but that the very thing which moves all actions in the saints should be that they have, and are to have, Christ's presence.

The Lord Jesus having come and reconciled us with Himself, all His object was to set us in the same place with Himself, and nothing short of this. You cannot put Him in a place in which you do not necessarily, and in virtue of it, put me. And what is the consequence? I have this hope -- the realisation of this union. Associated, identified, mixed up with Christ. You cannot separate the two. The world and Christ are now at issue. Christ retires as it were; He does not assert His rights. But by and by the world will have to succumb, and it shall be manifested then that the church had its place in Him before and beyond the creation of the scene in which it was to be gathered. Our hope is that which flows necessarily from connection with Himself, the being with Him for ever, connected with Himself everlastingly. He will come again to receive us unto Himself. And what more? Nothing? "That where I am, there ye may be also". For ever with the Lord -- that is all! And that is full blessedness.

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The thought or the practice of co-operating in work for Christ, while there is not communion with the truth which He has communicated, implies that I can separate His work from His mind.

Communion may exist with very partial knowledge. Communion with another is common mind with him, while the scope and extent of it is according to knowledge. My child and I may have communion to a certain point. I know all he knows; he only knows a part of what I know; but so far as he does know and is engaged with it he has communion with me and I with him. So it is as to co-operation in Christ's work. To say that it can exist without communion in truth implies that two can engage in Christ's work without common ideas of Christ; but it is not a question of the extent or fulness of the idea. If my idea of Him be of the same order, I am after all, however feeble, in communion with the most advanced and apprehensive, for the greater includes the lesser if it be of its own order. I do not rise up to its fulness, but I am not occupied with anything not of it, or apart from it. If I am occupied with any thing apart from it, then communion is at an end. I am occupied in my mind with that which is not of His mind, and this must necessarily damage my service for Him. The question narrows itself to this: 'Can I preach the gospel in conjunction with another who sees quite differently from me respecting the church of God?' We agree as to the way, and the necessity of salvation; can we work together while we differ about the church and its order and place on earth? I should say No; for though there is an agreement in one point between us, we are in fact working for different ends, so that the agreement loses its value. We preach the gospel together and souls are saved, but as to the question, 'What is Christ's mind for the

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saved ones as walking here for Him on earth?' we are entirely at variance. One as an evangelist remembers that he belongs to Christ's body on earth (see Ephesians 4); the other does not; and if this be a matter of indifference to us, we make our service the link between us, and not the mind of Christ. If Christ's mind be really my aim, I could not happily co-operate with one who would lead His people into a form bearing the name of 'the church', but which I know to be contrary to His mind. Is it then Christ's mind that I seek for co-operation in work, help from one who supports and advocates that which is not His mind? Surely if I am walking with Christ, His mind must be what I seek, and nothing lower. Any one who has the same end in view, any one who is following His mind, however darkly and distantly, I can happily co-operate with; but if His mind be my aim, and nothing lower, however good, it is evident that I could not co-operate with one avowedly and practically committed to act contrary to His mind. There could be no communion between us. The supposed communion was that we desired together to win souls by presenting the grace of God. If both were really and simply confined to this, and were committed to nothing else; if neither had light or thought as to what Christ would have us do on earth; and if each were quite willing and ready to be taught what His mind was, then there could be co-operation. But when there is co-operation in work without communion in truth, the work is made the object of communion, and not the mind of Christ. And thus Christ's servants are reduced to the level of mere philanthropists, who cooperate with one another merely to promote a certain good for man.

For instance, teetotalism is philanthropic co-operation after this order. All that is required in the co-operation is zeal and purpose in promoting a certain good. The simple and entire object is to promote sobriety, and it is no matter what are the sentiments of the co-operator,

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provided he earnestly and devotedly gives himself to the advocacy and promotion of teetotalism, which is the limit and end of the agreement and co-operation. Now this is the principle on which it is supposed in this day that one may co-operate with another in preaching the gospel, however wide and avowed may be their difference as to what is Christ's mind for His people on earth; and this principle implies that a certain good for man is the end and limit of the co-operation, and not the mind of Christ. But surely the mind of Christ ought to be the end and object of every servant of Christ. Where it is so, there can be co-operation with any one who seeks the same end, however distant such an one may be from a full knowledge of His mind. But this is a very different thing from essaying to agree with another about preaching the gospel, who at the same time avowedly supports and advocates what is contrary to Christ's mind. The question then entirely resolves itself into this: Is it man's gain or is it Christ's mind that is my end and object? If the latter, I can co-operate with any, however ignorant, who also makes His mind the end and object, but clearly not with one who ignores what His mind is, or who is supporting that which is contrary to His mind. I am debarred from communion and co-operation with such an one, not by his ignorance but by his wilfulness. An Apollos is ignorant, but he is not wilful. It is a very different thing to co-operate with an ignorant servant, than with one who is determined and committed to maintain his own system; with such an one I cannot co-operate for the purpose of effecting any good for man, if the end before me be the mind and service of my Lord and Master.

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If we are the church militant, whose soldiers are we? Is it with us conflict or pleasure? How far is the word laid on our hearts as the spring of the soul? How far are we counting that all connected with Satan is shortly to be bruised? But nothing shall be bruised that is connected with Christ the Son of God. Now warfare must be exercised. He has broken your bonds that you may be free to go on in His service; it will not endure for ever, there will be a blessed contrast; but now we are servants, learning to endure. What, then, is the provision made for service? "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth". It is only lately in this country that we have begun to understand the worth of the girdle; the heavy weights of railways have taught us something of its worth and use. In foreign countries it is much counted on for gathering up the strength, and increasing it, and letting people know what they can do. It is just so with truth to a christian, it comes searchingly home about the loins; it surrounds us, while it tells of His grace. The word lets us know what is true according to God and what is not. Now if you have the word close round about you, you will find it uncommonly searching. The eye of Christ was on the word when Satan tested Him in the wilderness. 'This', said He, 'is not consistent with truth. I am not bound there'. See the specious attempt of the adversary to mis-state truth, and to bring out thereby some single feeling for self; but he could not find in Christ's heart one single feeling for Himself and not for God, whether the question was as to what He was as Man, or as to circumstances around Him. Whatever it was, the deliverance to the Lord's mind was, "It is written". It was not that what Satan said was not Scripture, but it was not truly applied to Him as a Servant doing His Father's will. But the Lord

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was "girt about with truth"; He bowed to God's thoughts, and Satan passed quietly out. Where truth was, He was bound by it. It was not so with Peter; his loins were not girded, he was not a Nazarite; a single desire did not fill his soul. Hence there was weakness in his course. The great question is, What are God's thoughts about me? This searches all the secret walk and failure of our lives, for walking up to this is our power of testimony, and going on in His truth we shall find the strength of the Nazarite, and the separation of the Nazarite, so that none will be able to bind us as Samson was bound when he defiled the head of his consecration. If in any way we have been seeking self; we have lost the character of Nazarite soldiers; we have not the loins girt about with truth. The great thing for this day is to get the heart before God; to find ourselves out individually as to the God of truth. He looks at us now as connected with the Son at His right hand. He is the model He has given us; and when He looks into our hearts with power, it is to show them Christ, in whom is all His delight, as the One with whose image He would have us stamped.


When the light of God breaks in on us, the first impression is that of wonder and delight; and this impression is so new and exhilarating that the tendency often is to be engaged with it rather than with the use of it. Nothing is more palpable and painful than the fact that in all ages light broke in on many who were either satisfied with the dawn of it or with using it very partially; and thus they did not reach to the end of light. The end of light is only reached by using it, and if I am satisfied with the fact of the entrance of it, or of having used it in some measure, I have failed to discover the end of it. It is thus we can account for all the imperfect movements in the church of God since its decline.

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Every reformation, every separation, was suggested and executed by light at the first, and the effect seemed so satisfactory that souls were buoyed up with the idea that they had reached the end of light. The end of light is to separate from all evil, and to place us "in the light, as he is in the light". We then "have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin". The end of light is never reached until this point, for this is the point to which light leads, and all its exertion is thitherward.

When light first dawns on a soul, it is felt to be to it as real a spiritual power as the light of the sun is real and powerful to the natural eye. The soul first awakes to it, and then begins to use it, and it is in the use of it that it finds out the end and value of it. If I am in a deep dark dungeon, long enveloped in darkness, and a light strikes in on me, and discloses a way of escape from it, I am immeasurably entranced with the light. But when I begin to use it, one stage of the journey is not enough; I must follow it, and follow it until I reach where it is supreme, where there is no darkness at all. It is not enough that I know that it has begun to work, or that it has helped me to take one step. No, I must follow it onward until I am "in the light, as he is in the light"; for after all, that is my only true place, and the place in which I am now recognised by God, for I am now "light in the Lord", Ephesians 5:8. The danger is that I become satisfied with this new favour because it has reached me and has acted to a certain point; and this is the reason why so many who have received light never advance to maturity. Like an oak planted in a flower-pot, such will never grow to their true proportions, for they satisfy themselves with the fact that light has reached them, and not with its value and use. Light is too often regarded as of individual existence, as if it were a lamp within me, rather than as reaching me from Him who is the Light. Christ is the Light, and the action of it is to lead me to Himself,

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to place me in the light as He is in the light. This is the end to which it reaches, and towards which all its activity tends, for "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all"; and if I do not reach to it, there is not singleness of eye (Luke 11:34 - 36). There is some part dark, there is a seeking something besides Christ. The whole body is not luminous, as when a candle in its blaze gives light; and the end of light is lost to the soul. The light has dawned, and that is deemed sufficient, and just as much of it is accepted as suits us and enables us to go on with our fellows on earth, and not what suits God and us as His heavenly people. But to suit God is what we are called to now; and to reach this we must be in the light as He is in the light, and in no mere measure of it. And not only so, but it is there only that we can truly suit our christian fellows, for there only can we "have fellowship" with them; and our separation is of no low earthly character, but of a divine one.


One of the great snares of this day is the delusion that the flesh can be brought into the sanctuary; and it is sad and fearful how this occurs in various ways, and never without serious loss, and seasons of darkness or exposure to the christian. All the trouble in the assembly at Corinth was caused by the allowance of the flesh. They were carnal and walked as men. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we clearly understand that the habitation of God is only through the Spirit, and that the Spirit never coalesces with the flesh. On the contrary, It lusts against the flesh. It is in relentless opposition to it. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned". This truth cuts at the root of every human feeling and desire, and is the one most opposed by man's mind. For the Spirit lusts against

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the flesh, "that ye should not do those things which ye desire". The first great thing for the saint to understand is that, in order to please God and be free from the power of the flesh, he must be in the Spirit. It is not doing or engaging in right things or services or meetings which will preserve him from the flesh; the only way is by keeping in that which is the opponent of the flesh, even the Spirit. To walk about in the practical abnegation of my natural mind and feelings in religious things, is a terrible ordeal to man. The bitterest condemnation to the old man, and the one which he in every way seeks to evade, is that he must in no wise come into the sanctuary.

In Psalm 73 I am taught the difference between a regenerate soul which looks out on the world from its own point of view, and one which is in the sanctuary with God. If I am the former, I regard and measure everything in relation to myself; if the latter, God is before me, and He is my standard. I see things as they are before Him. The Spirit keeps me there, and Christ is manifested to me. I am happy and blessed, not by seeing what I am, but by seeing and knowing Him. When the flesh intrudes and is allowed any place, it is ever with the result that I am ruled by it, for the Spirit has ceased to rule. If I suffer it to intrude in any way, be it in singing or praying or preaching, I shall find before long that what I have been occupied with has fostered the flesh instead of subduing it. And this it is which accounts for the little strength which saints have for ordinary life after seasons which have been considered the most animated and refreshing. Now the fact of possessing spiritual gifts does not preserve one from the intrusion of the flesh, as we see by the epistle to the Corinthians. The heart of man is deceitful above all things. The flesh would have led Paul to be exalted above measure because of his vision in the third heaven, where he in his flesh was not even acknowledged. It would have led him to boast of having been where he

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as a man was so completely ignored and passed over as one non-existent, that whether he was in the body or out of the body he could not tell. There is a solemnity and weight about one who is in the Spirit, outside the flesh, which cannot be mistaken. There is a faith in Christ and a rest in God entirely different from the satisfaction which thrills the natural mind by the force of language or the pathos of music. Like the sacred perfume of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:37 - 38), it is unique and not to be imitated; there is a liberty in the glory which the Spirit alone possesses. That we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit is the main principle of our present position and power. If I am in the Spirit, Christ is my object, and everything that I do is according to His mind, and therefore with edification to the saints and growth to myself. If not, the door is open to the flesh, and there is no victory over it. When the flesh is allowed any entrance, there is a dark part in the body (Luke 11:35 - 36), and this dark part affects the whole body like a waster on a candle; the light is obstructed, and the body is not luminous. Moreover, if the flesh be even apparently sanctioned before God, there is an unquestionable warrant for giving it a place among men; whereas if it be thoroughly and entirely refused any place before God, there can be no warrant for its position or acknowledgment before men. If allowed in a christian it must be exposed; there will either be open failure or darkness of soul, for "he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption".


The foundation is Christ. It is not in the separate stones that the value of the temple consists, it is the temple as a whole; and the foundation on which the whole temple stands is the righteousness of God, in which He raised Christ from the dead and quickened us together with Him. It is not merely that we have

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something outside, but we have that which is in us, the power of life. And this is most important as to walk. Sealed with the Spirit, I am one with Christ. There is a great amount of slovenly walk before God in the thought of quietness. True there should be quietness; but it must be the quietness of life. God has set us in a certain position, and then claims everything from us according to that position. It is not to be my mind working on God's truth, but God's truth working on my mind. We have an unction from the Holy One. There is a marvellous difference between grasping after truth, and finding truth itself holding us. One who has intercourse with a living Christ has the power of life, and there is no other way of quitting ourselves like men than by living out this life.


The mind of man can be used in two ways to defeat or counteract the mind of Christ, in one by restricting that which is enjoined, and in the other by advocating and pursuing more than is enjoined. Be the turn to the right hand or to the left, the right path has been deviated from. Now this is just the way ministry has suffered and been obstructed. On one side it was regarded as outside men in a secular position. The minister is a man among men, but in respect to his office placed on an eminence, with an enforced immunity from the engagements of those to whom he ministers, and consequently with permission for their continuance in them. The minister, in virtue of his position, and not because of his moral standing, is invested with a sacredness and separation from men ordinarily. His sacred office, not his personal sanctity, acquired for him this elevation and distinction. They who estimate everything as God estimates it will soon see that there is no elevation in the house of God without spiritual power or gift; but no sooner has light broken in than

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we are exposed to a danger on the other side. Many men now, and sometimes women, having merely ability and readiness to convey their impressions, assume and undertake to declare the gospel and the word of God. Now while I should heartily say, "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets!" yet I feel that we must not lose sight of the solemn and holy business and calling of a minister of Christ. If a man is assured that the Lord has entrusted to him a commission to preach or to teach, then he is bound to fulfil this ministry. And if this be the case, he will not only be assured himself, but the spiritual -- they whose judgment is of any weight -- will be able to recognise the gift of the Lord to him, and this the more distinctly according as the mind and life of Christ are seen in him at the same time. It is not only that he has an inward conviction of divine light, but his whole being should bear marks of the gift conferred on him. Can such a gift be conferred without any moral insignia? Can I have received a commission from Christ, and have none of the sacredness, or the separation morally from human engrossments which the natural mind accords to a legalised minister? Is it not right to expect and demand that the minister who asserts that he has been appointed and qualified by Christ should exhibit testimonials of his appointment morally superior to any traditional imitation? Should he not make full proof of his ministry? Is the casket to bear no evidence of the value of the jewel? Is the vessel not to be descriptive of the gift deposited in it and which is assumed to be expounded by it? It is a serious question. Is not the minister personally the exponent of the value of the truth which he presents? Ought not the evangelist to be able to say, "I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds"? "In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses",

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etc. (2 Corinthians 6:4 - 10). Is it too much to expect that a minister should be in himself a testimony of the truth which he propounds? How is it to affect others, if it has no effect on the teacher? Hence it is said, "Be not many teachers ... knowing that we shall receive greater judgment".

There is a great difference between a minister now and a prophet of old. The latter often did not know the meaning of that which he spoke. Now we are on the ground that "I believed, therefore have I spoken". But if I believe a truth and attempt to teach it, and at the same time make no true effort to conform myself to it, do I not in my own person avow the impracticability of the truth which I minister? If I believe it, and have yielded to it, as far as I have, I can insist on the truth and its divine efficacy. And as a minister, one's power really goes no further. Souls may be awakened through any instrument in God's sovereign grace, but souls are not nurtured and matured by careless indifferent ministers. The minister of Christ must take Christ's place. "When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them". The minister should say, like Gideon, "As I do, so shall ye do", Judges 7:17. The evangelist points to the door -- to Christ, for He is the door; but it must be from the inside, from where he has got himself And the one who enters through his instrumentality cannot help having his eye on the servant who has pointed out the door to him; and at his first introduction he necessarily bears in his eye the one who has got in and the sort of being he is. If worldly, he necessarily concludes, As he got in worldly, so may I. And thus, in every truth, the one who ministers gives me my first idea of what would be the effect of the truth ministered; so that, if he be worldly, I assume that I could hold that truth in a worldly condition, as well as the one who ministered it to me. Thus the ministry is blamed.

The Lord give grace that the many now entering

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His service may understand that, while they feel there can be no higher or better service, nor any work equal to the Lord's work, they may be so true to it that they may seek to be the living exponents of the truth they minister, and may thus in moral power minister to their fellows, assuring them of the efficacy and blessedness of that which they advocate.


Consistency is being true to a given standard. Now the constant taunt is that there is more consistency when a lower position is assumed than when a higher one is insisted on. The pretensions are of course in keeping with the position. It is said, for instance, and with some show of justice, that they who make the law the rule of life are more consistent than they who believe and assume that Christ is their life and model in everything. Consistent to what? is the question. To the law or to Christ? But that is not the comparison intended. The force of the reproach is this, that they who do not profess such high ground are on the whole better men, and less erratic, than they who do. Now we shall clear the ground immensely if we consider the position of each with regard to the standard by which his consistency can be judged. The law addresses a man in the flesh; Christ is only known and maintained by His own Spirit. I do not disown and ignore man by the law; I cultivate and restrain him, and according as this is successful, I add to man's self-respect and self-distinction. On the contrary, as Christ is received and followed, man as he is in the flesh is ignored; and the Spirit, which controls and uses his body and mind as belonging to Christ, is alone acknowledged.

Now there is a great difference between these two standards; and not only so, but the effect or demand which each has on me is vastly different. In the one case I am required to exalt men to the only true,

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proper, and divine elevation for a man; in the other I am required to be a dead man and accept another and a higher life, and in the power of it to impersonate Him who is the fountain and source of it to me. Surely the difference is immeasurable. And hence, if I analyse the history of a disciple of each of these standards, cannot fail to see that the one who is required to exalt himself to his highest moral point makes a much better appearance, and walks apparently with more consistency than the one who is called to set aside self at every point -- which is the ground he has professed to take -- and to walk outside that which is of the flesh, in the spirit of Christ, as a heavenly man. No doubt the latter vastly surpasses the former when he is consistent with his standard, but this can only be in proportion as he is held by the power which transfers him from his own self into Christ. If his hold on, or faith in, that power relaxes, he is worse off than one who only seeks to conform himself to the moral perfection of the law, because he has nothing to fall back upon, or to act on as to himself, his calling being to live outside himself in Christ; whereas the other is called to live properly in himself. It is plain that if I make myself my study with any true purpose, I cultivate myself to exhibit a certain commendable appearance. The law was to set up the first Adam in its best estate. But if through grace I seek to live outside the first Adam, and to live Christ, I am infinitely worse off in appearance, when I fall back to myself, than one who had never abandoned the old man at all. I am practically the sow that was washed wallowing in the mire. I am like one who had been exalted to high estate now suddenly reduced to a level where every one is better off and more skilled than he is. In short, the one tries to excel in walking; the other knows that he is required to fly, and studies flying only. Hence, if he falls, he must appear more powerless than the one who walks, and whose skill in walking is commendable. No one can

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be so helpless or pitiable as the one who is destined to fly when he forfeits his power of doing so. Surely such a one must appear among walkers more incompetent and inconsistent than the feeblest walker.

Another thing has to be taken into account. The man who cultivates himself obtains commendation from men in a measure that the one who cultivates Christ will never receive or elicit. The one cultivates what exalts man, and therefore what suits man; the other, that which ignores man and which rises above him. Hence we need to be careful lest the good in man which we sometimes commend be really of Christ or not. We must not forget that that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God; and doubtless many a one, falling, or failing to fly, but still accepting no lower position, is more acceptable in the eye of God than one very fair in his conduct and walk among men, who seeks only to raise himself to the standard of the law, which is the first Adam's highest elevation. The inconsistency complained of arises in fact not from the high position to which we are called, but from our not walking according to it. There is no fault in the high position, but it is easier to nature to walk in the lower position. But then this lower position, however commended by man, loses all its value before God when I find He has called me to the higher one, and not to the lower at all. If this be admitted, the comparison cannot be maintained. I may censure a saint for not walking up to his high position, but I cannot commend one who excuses himself for taking a position to which God has not called him, because he can walk among men more evenly therein than in that to which God has called him. In fine, such an argument amounts to this -- that it is better for those who are called to fly not to attempt it, but to walk, because if they attempt to fulfil their calling they might fall; so that it is better in the apprehension of such reasoners to ignore and deny our calling.

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The above thoughts have been suggested by a communication from a correspondent on 'high profession with low walk', concluding with the following remarks: 'Doubtless it is most displeasing to God to see a high profession with a low walk'; but we must remember that God has laid down our true position and in reality we cannot alter it. Every christian is really in the high position, whether he owns it or not. It is in vain for any to say, Oh, I fear I cannot maintain a corresponding walk, and therefore I will take a lower position. The word is plain and positive: "God ... hath quickened us" young or old, instructed or ignorant, "together with Christ, and hath ... made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus", Ephesians 2:4 - 6. This is our true position, and surely no one can think of taking a lower position, without doing despite to the Spirit of grace, in order that his walk may be more consistent. If really a christian, his position must remain the same. Just as an adopted son to whom, by unalterable bonds, I make over an estate, may refuse to consider himself a son, and may associate with the bond-servants, or even run again into distance and exile; still he is my son, and the estate is his. The more shame on him if he does not appreciate it.

'Such is grace, the boundless grace of our God! and we cannot have any lower standing. Young christian, older pilgrim! we are all in that high and holy place in Christ Jesus. Shall it be said of us who accredit this truth, that our walk is less steady than the walk of any who do not accredit or appreciate it? Surely not. We cannot lower our standing if we would; nor would we if we could. We cannot preach a lower gospel. Let us then, one and all, seek to walk more and more in the power of the Holy Spirit, and adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Amen'.

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1 Corinthians 11

The thought of God in every revelation of His mind is that which pre-eminently gives us a clue to its value, and it is also an unchanging source of strength and blessing to us. Often times His revelations are studied and observed more with reference to the good which may result to us from them than in order to acquire an idea of His own purpose in giving them.

The thought of our Lord in calling His beloved ones around Him in "the same night in which He was betrayed" unfolds to us above all others the true idea of the Lord's supper. It was the same night in which He was betrayed, when everything here was coming to an end. Then it was, we read, that He "took bread: And when he had given thanks ..". He owned to God the grace and favour of giving the bread, for He Himself was the bread of God which came down from heaven; and He can give thanks for it, a thanks which finds an echo in our hearts. But this is not all. The bread for which He gives thanks, and for which thanksgiving fills our souls, He breaks. He gives Himself in death. The blessed One dies here for those under death. His death + opens a way for His beloved ones out of the charnel-house which all here is. He desires -- and this is His purpose -- that we, His own, should be kept in remembrance of Him in the way, and at the moment, in which He, by giving ++ His body, has opened a way for us into His life. It is not here, that is, in this remembrance of Him, that He would teach us the value of His death -- the appropriation of it, as in John 6; but here He would so connect us with Himself at this moment, that we might feel and know that as He has no longer a link with this scene, neither have we -- that we, while remaining in the scene, may not resume links with it, but on the contrary, that our chief expression

+In original edition reads "broken body";

++in original edition reads "breaking".

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and joy of heart may be in remembering Him at the moment when He gave + His body for us, and thus opened a way for us out of death into His own life. The thought of His heart is to connect us, who are still in the scene which is under judgment, with Himself, in that moment on this earth when He by His death delivered us from it.

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped (or 'after supper'), saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me". The new testament in which we now stand is through His blood, and while we are here, and while He is absent, we drink this cup in remembrance of Him. It is not that we come to it to derive a benefit from His blood-shedding, but we come to remember Him who by His blood-shedding has placed us in the new covenant. It is because we are in this new covenant that we meet this desire of His heart, that we should remember Him at that moment, and in that act, by which He placed us in a new covenant, and thus necessarily apart from all that under which we lay. It is here on earth, where we are surrounded with all not in covenant with God, that we drink this cup, and remember Him who by His blood-shedding has placed us in covenant, even while we are still in a scene in itself at a distance from God. The one simple desire of the heart of Christ is that we should remember Him while we are in this scene, at the moment, and in the manner by which He delivered us from it and its judgment. Hence it is where He freed us from it all that He necessarily attaches us to Himself; not that I should be occupied with the deliverance, but with the Deliverer; and as I am occupied with Him, I am in heart and spirit rejoicing to be in Him outside of it all. No one can be truly in this remembrance but as he is apart and outside of all that from which the death of Christ separates him. It is

+In original edition reads "brake".

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not His resurrection that He brings before me, it is His own death; to remember Him in His death, in the scene where it took place, and where I still am, and where He is not. It is here and in this state that I remember Him. If it were resurrection, it would be rising out of it; it would be passing from the death to the fruits of it. But it is in His death, in the scene and circumstances which required it, that He calls me to remember Him; and as I do, I know and feel and place myself outside of all here; I dissociate myself from everything here which required His death, and my heart is occupied in remembering Him at the moment when He gave His body+ and shed His blood, in order to free me from all that is around me. It is the stones erected in the midst of Jordan; see Joshua 5:9. It speaks to the heart -- O, how deeply and touchingly! -- of the only one thing on earth which interests me if I be true to Christ, of that one singular event which separates me from all here, but which connects me with Him, when He broke all natural links with the earth, in order to open out for me "a new and living way ... through the veil, that is to say, his flesh". It is impossible for any one truly to remember Him in His death, and to minister to self, that for which He died. If I discern the Lord's body, if I am eating worthily, I am remembering Him in His death ++; and necessarily I am not occupied with that which has been judged in His death. I discern His body, I judge myself. If I see Him dying for me, I cannot maintain myself. The two cannot exist together, the death and the thing judged in death. If I see Him in His death, I must judge, ignore myself. I have not remembered Him in His death, I have not discerned the Lord's body, if I have myself before me as my object. In the presence of Christ's given +++ body, I must judge that self of mine for which it was given ++++, I must allow it no

+In original edition "to be broken" is added;

++reads "broken body and shed blood";

+++reads "broken" for "given";

++++reads "broken" for "given".

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place whatever, but be occupied with Him apart from and outside of it.

In 1 Corinthians 10 the saints in company are the expression on earth, during the absence of Christ, of His death, "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" We together have communion with His body, and in concert, as by the one loaf, we make this expression. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" It is that we are thus together in communion with it. Each has already partaken of its value, and by one cup we express our unity. We have unity through the Spirit, and hence our acts are declarative of our unity.


The Lord says to His disciples, "I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you", John 15:15.

The evidence or mark, then, of being His friend, and not merely a servant, is that I know what my Lord does, and that I have received a knowledge of His mind. He is a servant who does not know his lord's mind; he is a friend who knows the mind of Christ. If the Lord communicates His mind to me, He regards me as His friend. If He does not communicate His mind to me, I am, however devoted, no higher than a servant. To be a friend to anyone, I must necessarily take an interest in his concerns. It is in the assurance that I have this interest that I can be regarded as a friend, or can care to be one. But if the one who accepts me as his friend is greatly superior to me, it is evident that I must grow into ability and appreciation of his order of things before he can either treat me as a friend, or I myself be equal to the duties of one. The higher the duties

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imposed on a friend, the more unselfish he must be, and the more at liberty to give himself to these duties. For the duties are not a tax, but the pleasing activities of friendship. No one can, then, be called by Christ 'My friend' unless he has first been befriended by Christ; unless he has been so entirely relieved and comforted in his own heart that he now finds it his duty and happiness to devote himself to the One who has afforded to his soul boundless rest and peace. If I know the rest and blessedness which He unfolds to the soul believing on Him and walking in His ways, I cannot but live Him. I elect to live what I enjoy. I must first enjoy Christ as my life before I shall in any degree bear witness of Him. Very often earnest souls begin the other way; they try to bear witness of Him in order that they may enjoy Him; but while the effort is to enjoy Him, there must be a seeking one's own things. One's own spiritual enjoyment is before the mind and thoughts, and this circumscribes one to the limits of oneself, instead of imparting the ability to enter into the extent and fulness of Christ's heart and purposes. The things of Christ may occupy me, and yet the thought uppermost in my mind may be my own enjoyment in Christ; and though with this state there may be a good deal of interesting devotedness and zeal, yet the object is not Christ. Contrast this state with that of one who, enjoying Christ, knowing Him as the only resource for the heart, occupies himself with every interest and concern of Christ here. All his gain and all he enjoys is in Christ, who is absent. Hence he links himself with every interest of His in this scene through which he is passing. The joy of his heart is to be a witness in it of Him who is the rest of his own heart, outside and apart from it. If the absent Christ is the rest and strength and comfort of my heart above and beyond everything in this world, surely the only suited and natural place for me -- my heart claims it of me as His love requires it -- is that I should be here

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for Him, His interests my interest, If I live with Him outside of this scene, it is necessary and incumbent on me to live for Him while passing through it. John 14 unfolds to me how Christ absent is the strength and comfort of my heart. Faith and love each reach a consummation satisfying to the heart in that wondrous chapter. Here is opened out to me my present blessedness in Him. When I know Him thus -- every element of comfort and strength being supplied, my soul by the Spirit being the abode of the Father -- I have nothing to seek. I know "the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge"; I am "filled even to all the fulness of God". If I have nothing to seek for myself, and if Christ is the resource and strength of my heart, surely nothing can interest me here but His things. Then I truly take my place in John 15; this chapter is then my external history, as chapter 14 is my internal. I am here for Christ, for my heart rests in Him; and as walking here for Him according to His commandments, He calls me not servant but friend. It is a special favour connected with testimony. The one great distinct mark of Christ's confidence in a soul is the communication to it of His mind. It is one only known to the witness. In John 14 He is my friend; He satisfies my heart in the fulness of His love and power. But as here for Him He calls me His friend, He communicates His mind to me; I am made to know what my Lord does, which a servant does not know.

Many a one knows something of rest and comfort in Christ, to whom He does not communicate His mind. A father loves all his children; each shares his bounty, but he does not confide his mind and affairs to each. He does so only as he thinks there is interest and capacity in any of them to enter into and help in them. Christ's love for the weakest lamb is often more tenderly expressed than for those more grown; yet He does not communicate His mind, or treat as His friend, any who are not occupied with His interests here, and that

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according to His commandments. It is very simple. He loves and cherishes all His people; but He does not treat as a friend, by communicating His mind, anyone who is not truly and according to His mind in the place of testimony for Him here. It is one thing to be cheered and comforted by Him, and quite another to be told by Him what He is doing. To be cheered by Him is wonderful and necessary; but what can be a greater favour than to be informed of His mind in a scene where everything is against Him? God says of Abraham, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" A friend will serve me to the utmost; but the one who makes me his friend confides in me, entrusts himself to me; so that the knowledge of his love for me increases as I grow into his purpose and ways. To the true witness He so makes known His mind that His way is clearly declared. However great the confusion and the labyrinth here, He gives the clue, the thread by which His witness can fully extricate himself, according to His mind, from every difficulty, and know surely that it is His mind. But no one obtains the thread but the one who is truly for Him here. And hence so many have a certain rest in Christ, and a knowledge of His love, who neither know His mind nor have power to impart it.

The Lord in His mercy lead us into that devoted testimony where He may call us friends, and furnish us with this priceless thread, the knowledge of His own mind.


We must consider what is involved in the word 'witness of Christ' before we can definitely answer the question, Can a witness of Christ be worldly? We must also get a clear idea of what worldliness is. It is plain enough that a witness should set forth clearly the One of whom he testifies, or his testimony is a failure. Certainly he

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cannot have any other aim; he can accept no lower standard. The Holy Spirit is the witness of Christ, and in His testimony there is no failure. And our Lord, after saying, "He shall testify of me", adds, "And ye also shall bear witness". The Holy Spirit is here to testify of the absent Christ, and every one led by the Holy Spirit is, as far as he is led by Him, a witness of Christ. Surely it is plain that such a witness cannot be worldly; and if I be asked what 'worldly' means, I reply, All that is not of the Father. To be in any measure a witness of Christ, I must faithfully represent Him in everything. Wherein I fail, I so far fail in being a witness, The strength and leading of the Holy Spirit is to make me a true witness, and as I walk in the Spirit I am one. My standard is Christ. I represent Him as I walk in the Spirit, who is on earth to testify of Him. I am His witness in the power of His life. I am for God, above the influences of an evil world, and I speak and act as He directs me.

The first great question to settle is, What is my testimony? I answer, Christ. And then it is evident that as I, in the power of the Spirit, represent Christ, I bear witness of Him. He is the standard, therefore I do not ask, May I do so-and-so? may I hold this or that position? but, Does the Holy Spirit use such a position for testimony to Christ? Some positions He can and does use for this; for instance, that of a parent, a husband, or a master. Nothing can be plainer than that I am a witness of Christ only as I set Him forth, and that to fail in representing Him is to fail in being His witness. It is no question of how much of the world I may hold and still be saved, or how much of it I may retain and be a preacher; but the question is, What constitutes me a witness? and the answer to it is, as the word imports, that I represent Him. If I want to see Christ on earth, I ought to see Him in His witness. But if one were to try to form an idea of Christ now from those who assume to be His witnesses, one must

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be driven to imagine that Christ loved the world and relished the honour and glory of it! Alas! what a testimony we give of Him! To be what He would be were He here, not only as He was, but as He is -- this, and nothing short of this, is what I am called to as His witness, and what it is the Holy Spirit's office to maintain me in; and so far as I miss this, I lose the idea of a witness. A man may preach the gospel very earnestly, but though he bear witness to the grace of God, he is not himself a witness unless he presents Christ in himself, in that moral power in which Christ would be were He here. A man living in, and honoured by, the world may preach the gospel for souls, and that feelingly; but he is not a witness unless it can be proved that Christ would live in the world and be honoured by it! I am not now referring to a man's business or support; he must have some means of subsistence, and often God gives more, but as a gift to be used for Him and not for self. But what I press is, that in the most zealous preaching, though there be testimony to the grace and value of the gospel, there is no testimony to Christ unless it be accompanied with power in the Spirit, which places outside of flesh; and if outside of flesh, it must be outside of earthly position, for in earthly position I am in the flesh and not in the Spirit; and if I can retain earthly position, and still testify of Christ, then Christ is reigning on the earth and is not rejected from it; and hence the Holy Spirit is not His witness, for He is not the absent, rejected One! If He be, He can have nothing to say to high position in an earthly way. How could He? So that if I seek or maintain high position, I am not His witness. I may be a true saint or a zealous preacher, but in all honesty let me admit that I am not a witness. I am not walking in the Spirit; I am but a babe -- that is to say, carnal, not spiritual (1 Corinthians 3:1). I like and value the things which suit and aggrandise men. It is vain for me to plead for my course by referring to Daniel or to others

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who lived before Christ's death, as is often done. It is that great fact, the death of Christ, which makes all the difference, for it was as rejected from the earth that He took the place of separation from it. His witnesses now are not to be merely witnesses of any given truth. Daniel was a faithful witness of the truth in his day. Christ had not come. Christ had not been rejected, and the witness necessarily takes his type according to the nature of the testimony committed to him. Surely testimony to Christ absent, testified of here by the Holy Spirit, is very different from the testimony committed to Daniel.

In a word, I maintain for Christ in everything and avoid all that which would minister consequence or recognition to the flesh, and hence I am outside and against the world, and not in any degree of it.


Faith is resting on the known mind of God which He has communicated, assured that whatever be the difficulties in the way of its fulfilment, or however great the opposition, it will ultimately be established. Faith in its very nature has to do with that which is not seen; it must rise above the visible and count on things that are not, as though they were. If everything here were of God, and all in full uninterrupted righteousness, there would be no need to rise from the visible in order to rest only on the invisible. But the contrary is the fact. Everything has been diverted from its divine place, and the more this anarchy has prevailed, the more faith has become the true and only principle of action for the man of God. Yet God has not deserted the earth. He rules and keeps it in check, and this is His providence; but this is evidently a different thing from faith. Faith knows His mind at any given time, as He is pleased to reveal it, and rests on it, assured that it will be accomplished in spite of all the opposition

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and misrule which surround us. Faith rests on the mind and will of God, and not on the way in which He in His wisdom stems and controls the elements of disorder on earth. Faith rises to His will as a link in the chain of His purposes, a chain in which is neither bend nor break, and where every thought of His heart is maintained and in harmony. It soars into the undisturbed region of His blessed, unalterable will, and bides its time here, assured that it has the key of the position, and that in due time all will open out, and be as it has been intimated.

The moment man fell, and another rule besides God's, and irrespective of God's, obtained a place, God must either altogether suppress man, now acting for himself and supported by Satan; or, while suffering this evil rule, to a certain extent, to exist, He, as the only source of power, must check and control it as His wisdom and ultimate purposes require. God never gives up His supreme power; but it is plain to any thoughtful person that if man has, under the counsel of Satan, adopted another rule and line of action besides God's, God must either remove His disobedient creature from off the earth, or He must check and control his adverse intentions and ways. The latter is what God has done; and every intervention of His power here on earth is His providence. Such interventions are to check and limit the rule of self-will which has sprung up against Him; and faith of course recognises them as of God, for the purpose intended by Him; but faith itself rests in God in quite another region, and on quite another ground beside that of intervention put forth to check the progress of evil and self-will. The simple issue raised is this: Am I to live by faith, resting in God's word, above all the evil and opposition here, or am I to be dependent on His providences only for a knowledge of His will and of my walk through the world according to it? Nothing can be plainer than that faith, as I have attempted to represent it, is a far higher and

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more restful path, as also the only true and safe one; for it views God's mind in a region where nothing checks or interferes with it; it sees Him as He is in Himself, and there rests on Him; whereas in providence I only follow Him in His way of limiting and controlling the misrule and disorder here, in order ultimately to bring about His own purposes. Again, faith is always intelligent and assured; but often the providences of God are mysterious and unaccountable.

Abram, the father of the faithful, is called to walk by faith, to go out, not knowing whither he went, and into the land of Canaan he came. By providence there is a famine in the land, and he goes down into Egypt. Occupied with the providence, he slips from faith. The famine was permitted of God; why, we know not, or need not enquire; but it was a providence, and Abram in following it turned aside from the path of faith in which he had hitherto walked; and I need not add that his doing so was attended with sad and painful consequences. God's word to Abram had been to dwell in Canaan, and while he walked in faith he adhered to this word; but when "the famine was grievous in the land" he declined from faith and regarded the famine as an indication to him to go where there was plenty; and here was his mistake and failure, because in doing so he surrendered faith, which has to do with nothing but God's word. It is not that I am to despise or disregard the providence, but I am not to surrender faith and adopt the providence instead. If I am walking in faith, and persistent in the path of faith, the providences will eventually suit and confirm me, not by carrying me outside faith -- which, if I make them my guide they must do -- but by proving that the God whom I rest in, and whose word I follow, is the same God who checks and controls the evil here by His providential hand. "A ram caught in the thicket by his horns" (Genesis 22:13) is a providence for Abram, when faith had previously risen above all providences. The man of faith can

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turn providences to account, whether they be apparently for him or against. At Ziklag all the providences are against David; but he "encouraged himself in the Lord his God", 1 Samuel 30:6. If he had rested only in providences at that crisis, he must have succumbed, and that too at a juncture and a moment when he was within a step of the kingdom, for Saul was then being slain on the mountains of Gilboa.

In Matthew 14 the providences were against Peter when leaving the ship to join Christ on the water. Was he to hearken to the "Come" of Christ, or to be swayed by the winds and waves? They were providences and tested his faith; and in so far as he had faith, he found they were not really adverse to him, but that they contributed to fix his eyes more absolutely on Christ; but when the providences engaged him, he had no power to overcome them, he began to sink!

Paul in Acts 27, resisted every influence which could move or reach a man in order to shake his faith in God. Providence, too, was at first against him, for "the south wind blew softly", thus confirming the master of the ship in his rejection of Paul's counsel (verses 10 - 13); but this in no wise altered Paul's conviction, And why? Because he had acquired it from faith in God. Afterwards providences justify his faith. "Not long after", we read in verse 14, "there arose ... a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon". Providences will confirm and justify faith; but lead to faith they never will. Faith can use them and unravel them, and see oftentimes their object and use; but faith is wholly above and independent of them, though free to use and accept them as they fall in with that which it enjoins. When I am walking with God -- for that is faith -- enduring, "as seeing him who is invisible", I move on, though all circumstances be against me; and as I rise above them, I reach the providence which suits me, I am in the line of God's government, above all others. When Moses leaves Egypt (Exodus 2:15; Hebrews 11:27)

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he appears to be flying in the face of providence; but at the well of Midian he finds, in answer to his own grace and service, a door of relief and mercy which he can accept provided for himself. How different it would have been if he had waited to leave Egypt until he had a guarantee of Reuel's reception in the land of Midian! Where then would have been his faith in the Invisible? God provides suitably to His own will and heart for the one walking with and for Him through a world of evil and misrule; but He Himself is the Guide for such an one, and not His providence. Hence all the providences for Moses in Midian must be put aside, and have no claim on him when God calls him to re-enter the path of faith and service.

The breaks in the path of faith are never counted to us in God's sight. Our journey is one of faith, and wherever we stop, or however long may be the interval, there exactly, even as if we had slept on the road, we recommence our journey. This principle may be confirmed throughout Scripture, in the history of God's people, whether individually or nationally. Abram, after his sojourn in Egypt, returns to "the place where his tent had been at the beginning ... unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first". With regard to Israel as a people, we find the same principle adhered to; but I need not multiply examples. I repeat, what I have to do is to act in faith in God, relying on His word, and in spite of all providences; and then, while pursuing the path of faith, I use the providences as they are suitable, not as guides to faith, but as means to carry out the works of faith; and faith, as I have said, is intelligent and explicable, and will know what are providences, and as such usable, and what are not. David, in facing Goliath, chooses five smooth stones from the brook and puts them in his shepherd's bag. These were the means which providence had placed in his hand; those which naturally came within the range of his calling; and this is a providence

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-- what God in a natural way gives me a right to. Saul's armour might have appeared to be a providence, but to the man of faith it was not so, and he rejects it. We must make a distinction between what man does and what God does. All that is termed providence is not so, while much which by the unthoughtful is called chance is by the enlightened seen to be providence; but the tendency is to substitute it for faith; and the man who gets outside faith in walk has necessarily, if he keeps up any link with God, to turn to providences. If I am waiting on providence, I am like a ship without helm or compass on the surface of the ocean, driven about at the sport of wind and tide, thinking myself very fortunate if I get into a safe port; whereas if walk by faith I am superior to the wind and tide, though I use either or both when they come in the direction in which I steer. As to that I have no uncertainty; there are no doubts in the voyage of faith. God's providences, like the trade winds to the vessel, may come in to support and aid me, but they never generate or beget faith.

In a word, if I walk simply with God, I do whatever He, by His Spirit and word, tells me to do; not guided by what I see, or even by what I am given, but turning to account everything which I am given by His providence in that path in which I "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen", even that of faith.


When the conscience is in exercise, there is great need that it should not be checked or quieted by partial action, or by imperfect intelligence. The conscience of a saint is awakened by the Spirit of God to seek relief from the presence of evil around. This is a true, healthy purpose, and most blessed and effective when

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carried out according to the word of God. The danger and consequent loss is when compromise is entered into, when the conscience is quieted by one step, rather than by a definite and clear escape from the place of grievance. And thus, alas! the flesh is spared and the Spirit of God grieved, and there is really no progress. This often occurs in our christian history; the conscience has been aroused, but to meet it fully as in the light of God's presence would cost our nature too much. Of course we do not reason in this plain way with ourselves; but do we not often, perhaps years afterwards, discover that it was really sparing ourselves which led to our resisting the demands and strivings of our conscience? For now, being in the place of blessing which our conscience had long before indicated, we see how we had deceived ourselves, and thus had hindered our own blessing; and all because we feared the personal trial to which we should have been exposed in reaching it.

It is well to be warned of this device or weakness, from which all suffer many times and in many ways -- one which I may call an effort to appease the conscience without putting the flesh to much sacrifice -- because if we see how we have been deceived in this subtle way, we are the more careful to attend to our conscience, and how God is speaking to it, than how we may quiet it at the smallest cost to ourselves. In short, as a rule, when the conscience is arrested or exercised, the first thought is, not what will at all costs satisfy it according to God, but on the contrary, how I can answer its demand without involving myself in loss and pain. If in ordinary cases we are exposed to a temptation of this kind, and too often yield to it, how much more when the most eventful step in our life as a christian is the one on which the conscience is exercised. Can any step be more important, or involve consequences of greater magnitude, than the ground I take for Christ here in separating from the organised systems around?

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Some dupe their consciences with the assertion that the evil in one place is as bad as in another; and hence they say they are not called to separate from any order or form in which they may find themselves. Others again endeavour to see themselves individually un-implicated in the things they disapprove of, because they do not sanction them, though they do not separate from them. Others labour honestly for reform, while they remain where they admit reform is needed. Others separate, and take the ground of meeting with christians in the name of Christ, and thus quiet their consciences, but make no real progress, because they do not reach, or seek to reach, the responsibility laid upon them because of this ground. Separation from what is evil is really never reached by departing from the place of evil, but by reaching the place appointed of God, where the flesh can have no place. Lot pleads for Zoar, no doubt a step in the right direction, but not the place appointed of God, and therefore not the place of strength and blessing. It is of all importance that I should reach God's ground, and not content myself with separating from the place of evil in which I find myself. It is written, "Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding", Proverbs 9:6. The former is the first right step, but it is not all. If I only do the former, I am only seeking what suits my conscience, and not that which suits God, and therefore I am still in something of man. This is the snare which so many fall into in this day. When a person takes even a right step with the object of getting ease and quietude to himself, to his own conscience it may be, there is reason to fear for him; but if he is seeking to reach God's mind, and if the step be taken as leading thereto, there is every reason to be thankful and hopeful on account of him. Every day almost we hear of people who have taken a right step, but who never think of doing more. Lot ought to have left Sodom, but he ought not to have contented himself with Zoar. Jacob ought to have left

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Laban's house, but he ought not to have contented himself with Shalem. A right step is not enough. God's mind and appointment is the only measure, and Jacob has to be taught to go to Bethel, the house of God; and many a modern Jacob has to learn the same lesson. Paul instructs Timothy not only to depart from evil, but also to follow on in the divine path. It relieves the conscience to retire from the evil; but it requires the light and power of God's Spirit to lead us into what suits God and what is His way for us. The two tribes and a half can plead skilfully for remaining on this side Jordan; but if they had not planted themselves outside the promised land, they never would have needed to erect an altar; or something to look to. There is no shore more dangerous to really zealous souls than this. Every effort at separation from evil has in most cases ended in some one step, and hence all the sects of dissenters which have arisen. There never was a dissenter yet who had not taken some one right step, and this very step proved a snare to them; for, knowing that they had made a good move, their conscience was quieted, and they were glad not to be called to make any greater sacrifice. The snare lies in this: one is occupied with the thing done, which quiets, because it is a step in the right direction, and thus one is diverted from seeing or enquiring what God calls His saints to. One's own ease is consulted and not God; therefore the measure which affords a lull to the conscience is accepted, instead of that which God enjoins. How many nowadays avow separation from the world and from christendom, without seeing or really caring to apprehend the fundamental principle on which the church has been set up. It is not merely separation from the "great house", but it is also to "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart". It is not only loosening and purging myself from everything unfit for God's house, but it is in heart and spirit adopting and maintaining

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the principles which ever belong to His church, until He comes. His body is here, His members in unity through the one Spirit, and He in the midst where two or three are gathered to His name; and until the church be removed, any step short of this truth, if it be considered satisfactory, is a snare, because it deludes the heart, and diverts it from reaching the circle of Christ's heart on earth, and the circle in which, and for which, the Holy Spirit is here. It is a serious question; and it is sad indeed to see many, in the lawless spirit of the age, breaking loose from all church government which is conducted on false principles, but, like well-manned vessels at sea, without chart or compass, going hither and thither as they are drifted. They have left the unreliable, but have not been taught of God the true or the reliable. It is not enough that I have done something right, but what I have to do is the whole will of God. Nothing less can please Him or bless my soul.

In fine, if I make my own ease of mind or judgment the measure of my action, instead of the revealed will of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, the consequence will be that it will be more difficult for me to be led on than for those who have not moved at all. For at the bottom the hindrance to me is the desire to spare myself the sacrifice; and according as I spare myself I deprive myself, in a hundred-fold proportion, of the blessing contingent on faithfulness; and hence they who rest satisfied with their right step never advance in truth or knowledge beyond a certain point.

But of this more another time if the Lord will.


Every believer in Christ feels and owns that it is his duty to serve. It is inseparable from the true faith of a christian. Nay, the extent and nature of his service in any line are always in keeping with the sense of the nature of his own blessing in Christ. In the service,

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whatever be the line of it, there is always an indication of the nature of the blessing known in that line, and according as the blessing is known there is devotedness. This, I feel assured, is the real cause of the varied ways of serving which we meet in one and the same line. I am not now objecting to these varieties, but I desire to suggest a few considerations, in order that some of the varieties may be subjected to the test of the word of God, with the view of helping the true-hearted to see and accept the line which fully pleases the Lord.

The one simple path for any one who would minister to Christ is to follow Him. "If any man serve [Gk. diakone] me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour", John 12:26. Why do I serve and whom do I serve, ought to be my first question. I serve the Lord Jesus Christ, whose I am. But in order to serve Him, I must follow Him. All attempts to serve Him will be in vain, if I have not followed Him; and in this passage, following Him involves death -- death to nature, and this is the great mark of a true servant. If I am serving Him truly in any line, I have followed Him into His death, away from and outside of myself; and then my action is that of true ministry according to His mind. Where He is, I am.

If the way by which we arrive at true service were more clearly seen and observed, there would be neither a hasty engaging in it nor an indifferent way of discharging it. What a test would it be to every servant to put to himself the question, Am I following Him? It is not enough for me to do this or that, because others may approve, or because it is necessary or commendable in my own mind. I must, in order to begin according to His mind, first follow Him. It is not merely that I must be converted, but I must take the same course as that which He has taken. I repeat, what a test would this be! how rebuking to those who

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choose a way and path or line of service of their own selection; but how cheering and consolatory to any one whose heart desires simply to follow Him, and thinks of nothing else, but who, in following, finds a line of service which he may reckon on as being the true one. For it is not a line of service that he is seeking, but to follow Christ, dying out of everything here, carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in his body; and it is in this path that service according to the mind of Christ is known and fulfilled by him. Nothing can be a surer mark of a true servant of Christ than that he follows his Lord and Master, dead to everything here, even as He died out of it. Is it not fit? Does it not speak to the heart and conscience that the servant of a lord and master who has died out of everything here should not only in duty but in affection follow in the same course? Nothing could be more appropriate or seemly; and assuredly it is because of weakness and unfaithfulness as to this that there is so little service now according to His mind. Let any one patiently think it over, and will he not come to the conclusion that the servant -- the fruit of Christ's death -- cannot live in that for which Christ died? The Lord has died for me, and has risen out of the penalty of death resting on me, to quicken me in His own life; and shall I now, if I would serve Him here, continue in that life of mine for which He died? or shall I die with Him unto myself, in order that I may live with Him and for Him? Dear reader, let it not be difficult to you to bow to this! The question is, What is service and to whom is it rendered? Is it not to Christ? Surely then, if He died for me, and that because of the life that I am in as a child of Adam, is it not plain and consistent that I must no longer live in that for which He died? How else could I serve the One who has died for me, but by living in His own life? Could I presume to think that I could serve Him at all, save as I followed Him -- as I had entered into the

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power of His resurrection, which is death to myself? I believe that if every one zealous of serving Christ could but understand this first principle, this first requirement in a true servant of Christ, great and blessed service to Him would flow from it. No matter what may be the line of my service, it is only in proportion to my following Him that I am efficiently in it, according to His mind, ministering to Him. Self-renunciation, not merely self-denial, is the mark of a true servant. Everything connected with man as man is laid aside as dead by him. Position, a recognised status, must necessarily be refused and disallowed. But not only this, service itself bears the stamp of the servant, as I have already remarked with reference to the various modes of serving. Each indicates, where there is real heart work, how Christ has been received. In proportion as the service of Christ to myself is known and apprehended, so must be my ministration of Christ in any line. "I believed, and therefore have I spoken" is the joy and the strength of the true servant, and his service necessarily bears the force and depth of it. Thus it is, I believe, that we can and may account for the many varieties in serving in one and the same line. Different apprehensions of Christ, as, for instance, that of a Paul or a John, would give different modes in the same line of service. But in this day it is not merely the divine varieties which we meet with, but we see believers zealous in proclaiming the gospel, and delighting in good works, who do not think it incumbent on them to die to everything here -- position, etc., and who, according to the truth I have noticed above, have not really entered on the path of a true servant, and do not carry the mark of Christ's ministers. What are we to think and say of them? This: that many are very true to their light, but their services as a rule are directed to man, and to his benefit as a man. Now if these earnest souls were really following Christ, they would not serve less zealously, but they could not have man

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as he is so much an object before their minds. If I, as the fruit of Christ's death, am really ministering to Him in a world of death, it can be in no wise to maintain anything here, but on the contrary, while seeking to alleviate the misery here in every possible way, I should very distinctly pronounce that there is no remedy for it but in the life of Christ out of death; and this certainly cannot be pressed with any power or weight while it is not acted on in oneself. The real reason of this failure in souls is not want of reality, but simply ignorance of their true standing, because they have only received Christ as conferring benefits on man, and therefore they can only follow the instinct in their hearts -- true in itself -- to serve Christ in keeping with their own apprehensions of Him. The instinct to serve is right, but from want of a true and full apprehension of how they are placed in relation to all here by being in Christ, and, as the fruit of His death, above and apart from all that is of man, they engage themselves with man as of the first Adam, and as if his history were not morally at an end in the cross of Christ. If I know that man's history is ended there in God's sight, I can only minister Christ, and the grace of Christ as the One risen out from among the dead. Some may say, Then you give no place for good and useful works for man's benefit. Quite the contrary; I minister the only thing that can really meet man's case, but then it is not to maintain his status as man. What I press is that every service should begin with this: that if Christ "died for all, then were all dead". The true servant thinks of the deepest necessity first, and like a skilful physician, when the patient is suffering from a complication of maladies, he seeks to arrest the deadly one first, nay, his utmost attention is directed to it. But, to be this skilful physician, this true servant -- one who does not suffer personally from the malady he would relieve -- he must be one who has learned the power of Christ's resurrection. When a physician seeks to

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stay or check a mortal disease, while doing so, he thinks comparatively little of others. And just so a true servant, having found life in Christ, ministers of Christ in a dying world, not as of it himself, but as out of it, to those in it, that through grace they may receive Him who has risen out of it. He will also well and truly care for the sufferers in this scene of death -- all patients in one vast infirmary.


This question of our Lord's, addressed to His disciples after His resurrection, expresses, as applied to ourselves, the true test of our moral position now. He had declared, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture", John 10:9. Pasture was as distinctly provided by Him as salvation, for it was promised to any one using Him as the door. To be without pasture was simply to have overlooked or not used the door; and hence our answer to the question, "Have ye any meat?" determines our true moral state. It is not salvation merely that we have received; but we are set here as saved ones to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the mind and ways of Him by whom we live. Hence there are little children, young men, and fathers (1 John 2), showing the grades, not of salvation, but of maturity in the divine life. We are new creatures in Christ, and we are to grow in grace and by the true knowledge of God. There is unmistakable evidence that one has departed from the place of the Holy Spirit, if there is no advance in the knowledge of Christ and His word. Let people excuse themselves as they may, there can be no doubt on this point. The Comforter was to teach all things and bring all things to their remembrance which Christ had said to them (John 14:26); and further, in testimony (chapter 16: 13) we read, "He will guide you into all truth ... whatsoever he

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shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come". Turn to any part of New Testament Scripture, and you will find one truth plainly declared, even that the whole service of the Spirit of God to saints now is to instruct them in the things of God, "that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God". And to this end are bestowed all the ministerial gifts, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ". It is plain from Scripture that pasture is the great and distinct portion of the saints now, and that if they are not enjoying the good of it, there must be somewhere a grieving of the Spirit and a departure from the line in which Christ could meet us and minister to our souls. He now nurtures and cherishes His church, and surely this is more than the salvation of the soul.

Now even where it is not denied that pasture is provided, there is often great ignorance or dullness of apprehension as to what is really pasture. The Lord tells Peter to feed His lambs. Paul tells the elders of Ephesus to feed the flock of God. Surely this was not to preach salvation to them, but something more than salvation. Well then, what is pasture, and how shall we be able truly to say that we are enjoying it? Pasture is the knowledge of the Son of God by which we grow up to Him in all things. The effect of pasture is growth; and where there is growth, without doubt there is pasture. We are new creatures in Him, and all effective ministry must advance us in our only true state and condition. The great delay to souls is the slowness of heart and dullness of faith to see ourselves on resurrection ground in the risen One, the last Adam; and then from this point growing on and advancing in Christ, who is our life, and source and spring of everything. Oh if the saints of God would but wake up to this one simple fact, that their beginning, and not only their end, is in the life of Christ, they would understand and seek to "grow up to him in all things,

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who is the head", Ephesians 4:15. But now ministry in the word, for the most part, is but urging on souls how they are accepted in Christ, and how happy they ought to be. Even this, indeed, is in advance of the general order and scope of evangelical teaching, which is simply presenting Christ on the cross, suffering for our sins. If Jeremiah could weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of his people, surely we ought to lay to heart the imperfect, superficial way souls have believed in Christ. Take up what religious book you may, even the best, and you will find that for the most part it treats of the way in which rest for the soul may be found, instead of starting the soul from peace, and leading it into those higher delights which a knowledge of Christ imparts. I believe no one can walk in the path of righteousness until he is in untroubled rest before God, and I am assured that the uncertainty in the walk of many is in consequence of imperfect peace in the presence of God. I invite my readers to this inquiry: Do religious teachings or religious books in general aim at leading souls on in Christ, or only leading them up to Christ for safety and rest from Him? Now it is as "complete in him" that I start in my new condition (see Colossians 2). If you do not start me in my new condition, how can you advance me in it? I am not speaking of attainment here. I am merely insisting on the state of soul preparatory to growth. It is plain that I must know that I possess eternal life, and that I am by the Spirit united to Christ, before I can grow. The Lord says to His disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now". But when the Holy Spirit was come, He would guide them into all the truth. If not spiritual, we are like the Corinthians, but babes, carnal (1 Corinthians 3); or like the Galatians we need that "Christ be formed" in us, we are not prepared for growth (Galatians 4:19); or like the Hebrews, we have need of milk and not meat; we are "babes", unskilful in the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:12 - 14).

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Now the little child of 1 John 2:13 - 20 is prepared for growth. He is in Christ, knows the Father, has an unction from the Holy One, and knows all things, or as Peter writes, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby", 1 Peter 2:2. Growth is the natural result of nourishment, where there is life and health; but if there be not life and health, there is no appropriation of the nourishment, the pasture. The purpose and use of pasture is to produce growth. If there be no pasture, there can be no growth. But if there be a desire for growth, there will always be a seeking for truth to grow thereby. The Lord never fails to provide pasture for His sheep. He is the door. By Him they enter in, and in Him they find pasture. If we turn aside as Peter, when he went fishing and induced his companions to follow him (John 21), we shall be toiling all the night and taking nothing. Hence the present sad state of saints, look where we may. They are without pasture; there is no unfolding of the counsel of Christ, and consequently no growth, no deepening knowledge of the Son of God.


How or where a believer is united to Christ is a subject of the greatest importance and interest. For though, in the marvellous grace of God, the portion of the believer does not depend on the extent of his faith or his estimate of Christ, and though God has secured a portion for him according to the consummation of His own will in Christ, yet the believer only enjoys according to the extent of his faith, and his strength and ability to walk and to please God is necessarily according to his acquisition. Hence it is of all importance that we should by faith accurately enter into the portion which God has given us in His Son. Every ignorance connected with

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it has a corresponding weakness, as indeed every apprehension seen by faith, and made good by the power of the Holy Spirit, is followed by a corresponding strength. This of itself is surely sufficient to induce every saint earnestly to search the Scriptures, in order that he may obtain the divine idea about every blessing which is conferred on us; and our apprehension of every blessing must depend on the certainty, vigour, and vividness of our assured union with Christ. Hence the point for us now to ascertain and apprehend is, how and where we have been united to Christ.

There are three distinct periods in each one of which it is variously alleged we are united to Christ. First it is said that we are united to Him in His life on earth; secondly, in His death; thirdly, in His resurrection. First, then, let me ask, could I be united to Christ as He was down here on earth? He was the Holy One of God, holy in His nature, as well as in His walk. Could we, then, be united to Him -- we who are more unholy within than even in our walk? How could union take place unless we had dropped our evil nature, and had His nature imparted to us? Could this have been during His life here below? If it could -- if there could be union with Christ during His incarnation -- then it must be before the sacrifice for sin had been made. If He has, as some have said, bridged over the chasm between man and God by His incarnation, where then is the judgment on the sinner? and what the need of a sacrifice and atonement? or where would it find a place? Is the sinner to receive of Christ's holy and immaculate nature, without judgment being enacted for the sinner? Could God introduce the sinner into an entirely new nature, without executing the judgment under which the sinner lay? Where is the righteousness of God if this could be so -- if He can set up a sinner in the highest condition, without any sacrifice, and only because His blessed Son came into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh? It could not be. No one believing

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in the atonement will for a moment assume or entertain the idea that we could be united to Christ in His incarnation.

But, secondly, it is said that we are united to Christ in His death. Now the Lord states in John 12 that unless the corn of wheat dies, it abides alone; thereby setting forth that He must undergo death, or He would abide alone; and if any could have been united to Him before His death, it would not be added, "but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit". This the Lord said as descriptive of things relating to Himself; unless He died, He should abide alone. He was here on earth entirely unique, manifested in the flesh, capable of feeling and suffering anything which man, the creature, could suffer. He was here in the weakness of humanity, but in no sense chargeable or liable to the judgment resting on man either by birth or, as yet, vicariously; and hence He intimates, when His hour was come, that there remained but one way for Him to relieve man of the judgment resting on him, and that was by dying. If this could be accomplished only through His death, it could not have been through His incarnation, though His incarnation is the means thereto; that is to say, if He were not in the flesh, He could not have died, but then He must die, or He would abide alone; there could be no union with Him before His death. But here comes the question, are we united to Him in His death? Now union with Him in death would be subjecting us to all the severity of the judgment. It would be assuming that we could endure the wrath of God which fell on Him; and if this judgment had fallen on us who deserved it, how could we have escaped? If we were ever under the judgment of God we could not have escaped from it -- that is, if the judgment had been carried out, which surely it was in the cross of Christ. And if we had to undergo it in company with Him, where is the substitution, in virtue of which we should escape judgment? If I am united to Christ in His death, I

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am sharing in all the sinner's judgment inflicted by God on Christ, and as a sinner I could never escape; and if I did escape, it would be establishing the assumption that God could forgive after the judgment for sin had fallen on the sinner, after he had died under judgment. Again, if it could be so, it would be to say that I could be dragged out of the fire of judgment, because the Son of God bore me company in it. This would not be union, but partnership, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Daniel 3:25). I should be a child of the first Adam, rescued from deserved destruction, and, like those three Israelites, in no wise changed as to nature or life, and only a rescued one, the first Adam state remaining just as it was. Certainly there is no union here. Union with any one is where I am a sharer of what that one is; partnership is where I only partake of benefits flowing from association. In union with Christ, I partake of what He is -- "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit". If He be only a leader, like Moses or Gideon, I am not united to Him, I am only rescued by Him; and if so -- if I am merely delivered by Him -- He is only a more distinguished leader and victor than David or Gideon, and this effects no change in me from the nature and state of the first Adam; there is no oneness of spirit with the Son of God. Nay, more, if I am still in the nature and state of the first Adam, where is the righteousness of God against sin? and what has Christ died for? Is it only to conquer Satan, in order that his hold on man might be removed? This is true, but if it be all, where is the judgment of God on the first Adam, the judgment of sin which is death? The fact is, with such a notion, the death of Christ would be limited to a conflict with Satan in the power of death, and the salvation effected for man would be merely a deliverance from the power of Satan, the nature and the order of being remaining just as it was. So that if it be asserted that we are united to Christ in His death, it must either be that we bear the judgment

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of sin which Christ bore, and are released by God after the judgment -- which is the doctrine of purgatory -- or that we are only delivered by Christ from Satan's power, and then there is no judgment of sin, but merely deliverance by the power of the mighty One. And, moreover, this deliverance is not union; because we remain the same as to nature and order as we were before we were delivered: all of which is untenable and impossible.

It remains then that the believer can be only united to Christ in His resurrection and there alone. The judgment on man is death -- judicial death. If judicial death alone can satisfy the righteousness of God ("the wages of sin is death": Romans 6:23), then the first man must end in judgment. If judicial death is the judgment, and if righteousness is only satisfied in the exacting of this judgment, how could that man sentenced to a judicial death continue as an existence? If it were an ordinary death, the creature could be revived by sovereign power; but it being a judicial death, the life could not be revived, for if it were, the judgment would be foiled and righteousness unsatisfied. It is plain that judicial death can never righteously be terminated, nor forfeited life revived. If it could, where would be the judgment? for the judgment is the forfeiture of life. Remove the forfeiture and you remit the judgment; it is a simple question of righteousness. What then does God's righteous judgment involve? It involves the end of the old man in judgment, and if man died this death himself, he would be eternally lost. But God's Son comes into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemns sin in the flesh, bears the judgment on man, but rises out of it. He is "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit", 1 Peter 3:18. He does not revive that which was under judgment; but, having borne the judgment, He rises out of it in His own life -- the one solitary stem, from henceforth, by whom and from whom alone life can be had. "As in Adam all die,

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even so in Christ shall all be made alive". "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins", 1 Corinthians 15. He "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". Hence the Lord on His resurrection stood in the midst of His disciples and proclaimed peace to them, for "he is our peace". But more than this; He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". As risen, He is the last Adam, the life-giving Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is given to us to make known in our souls that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". The eternal life that was with the Father is now mine in Christ. The Holy Spirit unites me to Him (Romans 8:9) who is risen above all my shame and judgment, and on ground entirely new and well-pleasing to God. So that I can say, "I am crucified with Christ": that is, I morally drop my old man in His cross, "nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". I am united with Christ, as He says, "Because I live, ye shall live also". There could be no greater union than communication by the Spirit of the same life. "In that day [the Holy Spirit's day] ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you", John 14:20. And thus, through His life, by the Spirit, we have fellowship with the Father and the Son; our joy is full.

It is thus evident that the believer is united to Christ in resurrection, where He has risen out of everything which checked or barred the love of God. We are now, through faith in Him, outside of the old man, so that we are free from that wherein we were held, and we are through grace "to be to another, who has been raised up from among the dead", Romans 7:4. "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled

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us to himself by Jesus Christ", 2 Corinthians 5:17. So that now we are of Him, and through Him, and by Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


True service is to Christ, who is both Lord and Master. Though we may be the servants of the church, the church is not our master. We shall and ought to serve the church, but we must take our orders from the Lord, and for His sake and in subjection to Him serve whomsoever, wheresoever, and howsoever He may appoint. True service flows naturally from life, and is the work of love. There is no effort in it, no perplexity about it. It is whatsoever the hand findeth to do for the Lord, done readily without question. But it can only be performed in communion. If the soul is not in communion with the Lord, there can be no true service. The Lord as sovereign may and does use whom He will, taking up often the unclean vessel and instrument, and displaying His power or His grace through such. But this is not service, at least not such as the heart of any saint desires for himself. That cannot be called true service which does not proceed from affectionate and intelligent apprehension of the Master's will. An instrument is not a servant, at least not in a happy sense, though, alas! from our low condition, we are more often thus used than in distinct communion with the Lord concerning the matter in hand.

There is, however, one thing which all can do, that is, be "meet for the master's use" (2 Timothy 2:21); and this is the secret of usefulness. Usefulness is not activity; it is not the merely being used, but it is fitness, cleanness, preparedness, and separation of heart, singleness of eye, the affections set on things above -- all, in fact, that proceeds from the judgment and denial of self, and the dwelling of Christ in the heart by faith.

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A true servant is always ready. "Here am I" -- "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" express his condition. He does not choose his work, but obeys his Master. If he has nothing given him to do he is quiet and patient; when he gets his Master's order, he does it joyfully without demur.

Nine-tenths or more of our difficulties about service are from lack of intelligence as to our Master's will. We wait and wait for some great commission, and often leave undone the thing present. We shrink from the work which the Lord Himself may be putting before us, and desire to be used in other service in which He does not require us. The consequence of this unsettled and insubject state is complete uncertainty as to what our proper work may really be. The large majority of saints would confess that they do not know certainly what the Lord would have them to do. They would like to serve Him, and they try to do so again and again, putting their hands to this and that thing without effect. There has not been the sitting at the feet of Jesus to learn His mind before the attempt at active service.

Again, how common is the complaint of Martha: "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?" How that little word "alone" betrayed the character of her service. If I am for His own sake serving my Lord in faith and love, I shall never complain of serving alone. Indeed, all true service is in one sense alone. It is founded on individual responsibility and faith. We serve our own, and not another man's master. Fellowship in service, when we get it, is indeed a happy thing; but the faithful servant who has his Lord's mind, and is serving Him, will never murmur at being alone, or desire the mere aid of another not called to, nor having heart for, the same work. To meet a fellow-servant walking in the same line of service, and so to serve together, is very blessed, but it is rare. A "true yoke fellow" is not often met with, nor, as we learn more of the Lord's ways and our

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responsibility, shall we look for it. The harvest is great and the labourers are few; and if each were doing his own work, he would not be looking for help from other servants doing theirs. There is much misapprehension on the subject of fellowship in service. Saints give it a low place and often a wrong one. They think, for instance, that they may serve without question in fellowship with those with whom they have no communion at the table of the Lord. They do not see that our fellowship in Christ is the first thing to be owned, and that this is properly displayed at the Lord's table. If I am not agreed with one as to this, how can I consent to sink this vital ground of communion to take up with him the lower ground of service? And yet again, it is not merely because we have taken our places at the Lord's table that we can serve together. In order to do this there must be that brotherly confidence in the purpose of heart, the walk and the ways of another, which it is needless to say, though painful to admit, does not necessarily accompany a right church position. This was true in Paul's day; it is true now to the true servant of God. So it is a legal heart that murmurs at a lonely path of service. Still, a true servant may mourn the inactivity of others; but that was not Martha's thought. She could not exactly rebuke Mary's better choice; but she was sinking under the weight of a service undertaken in her own strength, apart from faith, and unsought for by her Lord; and it was her own relief she sought, and not that Mary should share with her any blessing in the path. And this part of the Martha character stamps the service of most of those professing christianity in the present day. Association, human energy, direction, and organisation, are all considered essential and excellent in religious effort. Mission work, evangelisation, as well as philanthropic works, are in the hands of societies and committees where all individuality is swamped by the mass. It is easy to serve with and as the multitude. It is easy to be one of a

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committee or of a society, or to serve in a line of things made ready to the hand. It is only when a christian is led towards a true and scriptural church position that he begins to learn, or is in the way to learn, what service really is; and this, I believe, accounts to a great extent for the accusation brought so commonly against some of ceasing to be useful when they leave the associations they had been connected with. As I said before, it is easy work in a society where all is done by rule, or in any of the thousand ways in which the religious world carries on its works. But when we leave these human arrangements, and are cast upon our individual responsibility before God how to serve Him, unsupported by the arm of flesh, it finds us out where we really are; and the man whose energy under a human system has been marked often finds himself for a time brought very much to a stand when he takes his proper place as a member of the body of Christ, and waits for the manifestation of the Spirit as to his path of service. But if faith be in exercise, though his path of sight and sense be shut up to him, another way will be opened speedily and his abstinence from active service will not be for long.

If there be true dependence upon God, and purpose of heart to be anything or do anything He may appoint, there will be no lack of work to do, nor lack of joy in the doing it. For most certainly the blessing to our own souls in serving Christ is not in proportion to the outward show our work may present, or the apparent fruits of our labours, but just in extent as we are conscious of the guidance of His eye, and are in communion with the desires and purposes of His heart and mind. On the other hand, in those who have not learned individuality in service, there is much disappointment and consequent discontent. For one christian who knows his path of service, and is satisfied to walk in it humbly and quietly with his Lord, there are fifty in a restless, uncertain mood, desiring activity, but ignorant

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of what to be at. If the true servant strikes into a service which the Lord evidently calls him to and owns, the fifty others are ready to imitate his line of things. And all this uncertainty causes the discontent and murmurings, so often heard amongst saints, of lack of fellowship, want of care for souls, no evangelistic effort, etc., those who murmur loudest generally being those who have the lowest sense of individual responsibility, and the least power from God for a distinct path.

Still we must all confess to sad shortcoming, coldness, deadness, slothfulness. But the remedy is not in murmurings and disputings, but in self-judgment and purpose of heart to learn, and from henceforth to do our work for God. All are not preachers. But all have a place in the body of Christ; and membership implies activity and life, responsibility to the Head, and care for the members. All have a God and Saviour whose doctrine they are called to adorn in all things. All of us are living in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, amongst whom we are to shine, "holding forth the word of life".

If we are meet for the Master's use, and prepared for every good work, we shall soon find that there is no time for complaint, but that the time rather fails us to do the many, many things the Lord will put before us day by day, and hour by hour. We may not have to preach to great congregations, nor even to small ones; but there is plenty to do besides preaching, and many a little work, unseen and unknown by any but the Master Himself, will get its reward in that day when every man shall have praise of God.

But the conclusion of the whole matter is, that we must be near to God in heart and conscience before we can serve Him acceptably. Let us, then, seek for this first of all, so that our service may be as the calm and settled stream flowing from full hearts, whose highest interests are the interests of the Lord whom we love. Next, as once was said by another, 'Let each find out

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from God what his work is, and then do it'; or, as Paul put it to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it", Colossians 4:17.


Since the first decline of the church, there is nothing that the saint should more fear than anything bordering on lukewarmness, because that is the condition of the church characteristically when it shall be spued out of Christ's mouth (Revelation 3:16), when it shall for ever cease to be for Him here on earth; and the moment we see anything in ourselves tending to this lukewarmness, we should earnestly attend to His word, "be zealous ... and repent". To do this would be not only to refuse and denounce all neutrality, but to be valiant for the truth. Repentance does not only denounce the wrong, but it scrupulously and earnestly attests and maintains the right.

Now the snare in lukewarmness is this, that there is nothing exactly to offend the conscience; there is no denial of, or opposition to, the truth, but on the contrary an apparent reception of it, going along with it, but in such a partial, imperfect way that a great deal is permitted which would have been refused if one had been walking earnestly in the truth. There is an admission of truth, and there is an acceptance in general of the place in which the truth sets one, but there is no testimony to its power and control. The lukewarm one accepts the truth and the position which the truth prescribes, but in such a loose way that the sound is uncertain, and the distinctness and peculiarity which would necessarily flow from an honest, earnest maintenance of the truth is lost and frustrated. "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" Hence, there is more damage

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done to the truth than if it had never been accepted at all. If it had not been accepted, there it would have remained, and it might be said, if it were, it would produce such and such effects. But when it has been accepted, and there is no true effect because of the looseness or lukewarmness with which it is held, then the truth is compromised, and its value and efficacy practically denied. Just as, if one should accept a physician's prescriptions and yet never use them, no effect would of course be produced on the patient; and the skill of the physician would be more compromised than if his prescriptions had not been accepted. The Lord says, "I would thou wert cold or hot" -- either not accepting at all, or accepting earnestly and vigorously; for then the truth is not compromised. What could please Satan more than to see saints holding truths which produced no effect? It would be a greater exultation to him in one sense than open infidelity, for it would tell more on believers, for thereby would be proved the powerlessness of the truth of God on the conscience. The great aim of Satan is that the word should bring forth no fruit to perfection. It is bad enough when he can draw away and delude souls from yielding to the power of it, blinding their eyes lest the light should shine for them; but how much worse when he can succeed in making saints indifferent about the truth, making them lukewarm, causing them to treat the truth as if it were not of vital, eternal value. What could more effectually undermine the truth than that one as assenting to it, and accepting the position which it prescribed, should be as unaffected and uncontrolled by it as if he had never heard it; nay, that he should slip into things under its cover which he could not do with impunity if he were not concealed under the garb of high profession? The apostle Paul warns Timothy of those who shall have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof; and in every time it has been the lukewarm who have brought the

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deepest shame and reproach on the people of God. Lukewarm is from cold to hot, but not hot enough. It is one who asserts and accepts, but in a lifeless and indifferent way; holds on as if there were no power or vitality in that which he holds; he has reached, but for no purpose, and has not turned it to account; in a word, it is the slothful man who will not roast that which he took in hunting. Ham was lukewarm; Genesis 9:22. He saw in the person of his father the failure and apostasy in which he was involved, and felt no shame, took no steps to check or abate it; he was not zealous for the truth and position of government on the earth in which they were set. He did not deny either, but he was not governed by any due sense of the gravity and responsibility of either, and he was accursed. Lot was lukewarm; Genesis 13. He was in the land, but he was not zealous to maintain the claims of God on him in that position. Had he returned to Mesopotamia, he would have been a backslider; but he did not; he retained the position but forewent the claims that belonged to it. The children of Israel were lukewarm when they made a league with the inhabitants of Canaan from which all their sorrows in the land sprung, as had been predicted; Judges 2:2. For four hundred and ninety years they were lukewarm in neglecting to keep the sabbatical year, for which they were carried into captivity; 2 Chronicles 36:21. Saul was lukewarm when he saved Agag king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15), and thus forfeited the kingdom. The great and distinctive mark of the weakness of even the good kings of Israel was that they were lukewarm; the high places were not taken down; 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 15:14, etc. It was not so much what they had done as what they had left undone. That man was lukewarm who said to our Lord, when called to follow Him, "Let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house", Luke 9:61. He was lukewarm who said, "I go, sir: and went not", Matthew 21:30. All are lukewarm who,

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having put their hand to the plough, look back; Luke 9:62. Peter was lukewarm when he separated from the gentiles in the fear of man, and "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel", Galatians 2:11 - 14. Barnabas was lukewarm when he took with him Mark; Acts 15:37. All in Asia were lukewarm when they turned away from Paul; 2 Timothy 1:15. They had not turned away from christianity, but they took the place which the mass of saints take now, owning Christ as Saviour, but overlooking Paul and the church on earth in heavenly standing, power, and hope.

Now when the church characteristically sinks into this indifference about truth -- this open and avowed declaration of admission and acceptance of truth, without insisting on its claims and efficacy -- it can necessarily no longer be in any way fit as a vessel for God on earth, and its removal from the place of testimony must immediately ensue; therefore it is in its Laodicean, its lukewarm, state that it is spued out of Christ's mouth as that which is nauseous and useless. If Jeremiah could mourn in his day that there was none valiant for the truth, how much more should we, when so much truth has been given us! When the church was first set up on earth as Christ's and of Him, it was the pillar and base of the truth; and then no lukewarmness or indifference about anything of Christ obtained in the church. If there had, in any degree, then indeed all sense of its own proper dignity as the pillar and base of the truth, as of and for Christ here, would have been lost. And this has, alas! been lost. We can no longer assume this dignity. But surely no saint would like to show himself, because of his lukewarmness, unworthy and unfit for the dignity. Moreover, it is by the Spirit of truth that the church is united to Christ the Head, and the members one to another; and if He be disregarded, where is the power to uphold us, or to guide us into all truth? Surely, however fair the appearance may be, however we may say, "I am rich, and increased

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with goods", we are hurrying on to an irretrievable catastrophe.

If any divine quality more than another ought to characterise a member of Christ, it is to be valiant for the truth; for he understands in himself the heart of Christ as expressed by the apostle, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth". May we live so in His love, that it may be the joy of our hearts to walk here according to His mind in unswerving faithfulness to Him.


The value of light is to display what exists; more than that it cannot declare, but if I am in the light I shall see what exists. Hence, when the light shines, the question of interest is, What does it declare?

The light of the gospel displays all that has been accomplished by Christ. It takes its rise from the glory of God, from the consummation of Christ's work -- not from the beginning of His work, but from the climax of it. The light from thence, sent of God into the soul, illuminates Christ's whole course, and comprises His whole work, from His first descent from the glory to His ascension in glory. The light now is the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ; now, for the first time, light can come to us from the glory. The light declares the relation in which God is to the believer. It declares His relation to me rather than my title to this relation. It declares God; but as it is received it assures my heart in the disclosures it makes of His grace, both the way of it, and my title to it. If I have not this light, it is evident that I cannot understand His relation to me or my relation to Him. The light is from God, and unfolds Him. The Father's heart and purpose of love to the prodigal are disclosed. This is the object and purpose of the light, and doubtless it fixes and assures the heart in every step of the blessing;

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but its object is to declare the Father. It shines into the heart of the prodigal, but it does not spring there. It springs from God (see 2 Corinthians 4:6), and it is of all importance to remember this. It springs from God to declare Himself in His grace to the sinner, showing the sinner how he is elevated to the highest position, but occupying his heart with the source of the light, rather than with the effects of it on himself. If he be occupied with the effects on himself, the main object of the light is lost sight of, and the soul sustains damage and loss. Now I am necessarily occupied with its effects on me if I regard the light as merely a gift, like a lamp, confined to myself, rather than to declare Him from whom it springs. The mistake, and the consequent loss to souls at the present hour, is not that they do not believe in Christ, but that they do not enjoy the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. Nor is it duly proclaimed.

I suppose no student of Scripture would deny that our blessed Lord was offered to Israel, to bring in the sure mercies of David, after His ascension to glory; that He was rejected in the person of Stephen, and that, instead of His returning to earth in glory, His servant and witness Stephen was killed here, and taken to be with Him in glory. Up to this point the gospel did not go beyond the fact that Christ had risen, and would return to earth in glory. He had not been as yet finally rejected, nor as yet had He taken His place in heaven consequent on His rejection. He could not offer Himself to Israel, and at the same time be seated definitely in heaven. But on His final rejection by Israel, He takes Stephen to be with Him in glory; and after this Saul is called out, and the light displays to him Christ in glory. His first acquaintance with Christ is in the glory. He sees Him there, not offering Himself to Israel, but identifying Himself with the church. From henceforth it is the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. The action of it in the soul is,

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as Paul expresses it, "to reveal his Son in me". God now sends a light from His own glory into the soul, declaring that His Son has perfected everything according to His mind, and that from the very brightness of His presence He can disclose to a poor prodigal the depths of His heart. The light tells, not what He will do or what He is doing, but that which is done -- the finish, the consummation. From the climax, it issues at the command of the same mighty One who had said, "Let there be light: and there was light". It shoots from the centre of glory into the soul, disclosing the wondrous fact, through the Spirit, of the establishment of righteousness; that the righteousness is the warrant for its issue; that God's own Son has met in judgment all that God required; that on the cross He had endured the wrath of God, and had converted the ministry of condemnation of Mount Sinai into the ministry of righteousness from the glory that remaineth. In the one, the glory was fatal to him who approached near the mount; but in the other, because Christ has borne the judgment, and is now raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and ascended to His right hand, God can by His own mighty creative power cause light to shine into the soul, and disclose to it that glory is not only the place of our Saviour, but that in Him there is the beginning, the birthplace of our new standing before God. There the blessed God is in the zenith of His grace toward man. He never was so till now; and from thence it is that He sends the light into the soul. Glory either exacts from me, or it imparts to me. It exacts, if I have no link with it; for then I must think of myself in relation to it, and this is legality; but if I have a link with it, it imparts to me, and I am of it, and separate from all that is not of it.

The smallest ray that ever penetrated the dark heart of man since the conversion of Saul of Tarsus has sprung by the command of the Almighty from His own presence, where righteousness in all its strength

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is presented and maintained by Jesus Christ His Son, who cleanses us from all sin, and who is charged with tidings of the deep purposes of God's love to us. And the soul, in any little measure understanding this light, follows it to its source, and finds itself with Christ in glory. The beginning of its acquaintance with Him is there, and from this point it learns deeply and fully all His work and sufferings, and how He opened the way for us into such a scene of light and perfection. If I look at His work from the consummation of it, I must see, in its truest and fullest light, the whole course which led up to the consummation; therefore it necessarily follows that the glory must not only comprise the cross, but that thence alone can I view and estimate the cross in its full magnitude. The light of this gospel, the gospel of the glory of Christ, speaks to a soul of Christ where He has finished everything; and where Christ is thus received, the soul finds that its first acquaintance with Him is in the glory. It is where all is finished that there is sure rest for it, and abiding strength, because it looks up, and sees by faith whence its acquaintance with Him comes, and that it is established in what God is in Himself, in relation to a man in Christ, and not merely in the effects of His grace on him, great as they are. What can establish and cheer my heart so much as the assurance of God's mind and relation toward me? I draw near to Him in proportion as I know His mind and feelings towards me; and no message from His presence could effect so deep an assurance and joy in the heart as the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God; for from henceforth the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is my portion and privilege. And this imparts such a tone and character touching everything, that not only do our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, but we are so transferred by association with

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Christ in the glory that all present things are superseded and supplanted in the heart. Everything is judged in relation to that glory which displaces and consumes all that is not of it, and allows only that which has been formed in it, and is consequently for it. If souls have not the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, they cannot adorn the gospel of Christ; but if they have, all that is of man is proportionately eclipsed, and Christ is testified of and expressed, while our portion in God is the unfailing joy of the heart.


Amongst the many things which the church of God lost was the distinct personality of the agents for good or for evil in this world -- even the Holy Spirit and Satan. So long had the minds of men vaguely apprehended the sources of good and evil, that when an action which bespoke the personal presence of either took place, men -- even christian men -- were not prepared justly to appreciate it, nor to act suitably in reference to it. Therefore it is that we hear discussed the qualities of the vessel by which God wrought the work, as though that work were a mere providential act of God; or lower still, as if it were a mere accident, the result of the presence of certain qualities in the vessel, in conjunction with the peculiarity of a certain time, or the meeting of kindred minds in other men.

Now God does work in providence, and in those very scenes too in which He Himself is about to act, for everything is in His hand; but this ought not to have hindered men from seeing that He was there working in the midst of the scenes and circumstances which He had previously ordered. And so of the instruments He is about to use, He forms them for Himself, and for the use He is about to make of them, separating

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them from their mother's womb and calling them in due time.

What right minded christian would judge that the Reformation was only the result of the state of Europe at that time -- the revival of literature, the discovery of the art of printing, the gross and exceeding wickedness of the professing church, and the condition of the nations -- and would not rather see that even as God set all the Roman Empire in commotion as to a taxing (Luke 2), in order that Jesus should be born in Bethlehem, so He ordered it that those circumstances should all tend to the furtherance and promotion of that which He was about to do by Luther, who was himself also previously prepared for such a work? But to faith it was God Himself who was working. Even as John, when on the sea of Galilee, recognised the One who stood on the shore, and at whose bidding there came a multitude of fishes -- "It is the Lord", John 21:7.

It is practically important to us thus to apprehend that in a certain action, however helped by the circumstances connected with it, God or Satan is there engaged in a direct work. For if it be God, the saint not only is to be connected with it, but, in the exercise of a spiritual mind, is to act and judge of everything in relation to it. This, in its way, is fellowship, which He graciously permits His people to have with Him in every work wrought by the Holy Spirit in this world. The saint, if spiritual, owns it, and it forms him and gives him a character for the time being. The instrument too is lost sight of, which is a most happy thing for the soul; and he is only in company with the Spirit of God, with others, like him, so taught to apprehend it. On the other hand, if Satan be detected in a certain work here, through instruments, and as taking advantage of the circumstances there found, the saints' only course is to flee or to resist it as Satan. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". But where the soul has not laid hold on the direct personality of God or

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of Satan in any action, it is weak to resist Satan, because Satan is not detected; man is seen, and it may be saints -- alas, too often his instruments -- are seen, and our rule of action towards them is merely founded on their being ill-instructed and erring through ignorance. This is weakness, for Satan is there, and it is his way to keep hidden behind his instruments, for, if detected, he has lost his power over a saint.

At the present time all this is most important, both for the comfort and blessing of the soul, and for distinctness of action in every way in our path and service as saints. For in our day too there is a distinct work of the Spirit of God, in which we are to find our place; not because there are blessings there, or that it is a better place than others, though that be true; but because it is a distinct work of the Spirit of God, and we find our place, as well as our joy, in being there, in a spirit of obedience, as well as happy fellowship. The word had spoken of a cry being made which would arouse the sleeping virgins; this cry has been made, and we are in the results of it. This action of the Spirit of God, which occupies the sphere of the lifetime of any who may have lived during the last forty or fifty years, is that which primarily demands the attention of the people of God. The result of this cry is very extensive; it awakens not only the sleeping wise, but the foolish. Everything in the professing church assumes a distinctness. Seeds which had lain there unproductive of results for ages -- from the word of God down to the various doctrines of men -- now are springing up and bearing fruit. One only needs to look abroad to see this; there are activities abroad, which refer to what previously existed as a warrant for their being. And the saints of God in like manner refer to what previously existed as their warrant for their peculiar action -- peculiar now, as in contrast to what preceded, for "they all slumbered and slept". This is why the calling of the church is now at length better understood, and

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the place of the Holy Spirit abiding here; this is why the hope of the church is being understood, and the person of Jesus more displayed to the souls of His people.

And what remains now? That we "go forth". There is the trimming of the lamps going on, and all that which it comprises, both as to personal ways and doctrine, the putting away of everything that would hinder the shining of our lights; and all that remains is now even as at the beginning, a going forth to meet Him.

This is the action of the Holy Spirit in our day. What a loss if the world in any of its various forms should still hold any of His saints in sleep as to it! Saints they may be, having part in the result of God's counsel, but as to their life now, not walking in God's counsel.

This is the larger sphere of action of the Spirit of God in these days, but there has been another, within that sphere, where we have not the Spirit of God only, but an active work of Satan to destroy the testimony God purposed to raise, and to rob the church again of those truths He has been re-teaching His saints during the last forty years. Where, may I ask, are we in reference to those two activities? Is what God has been teaching us about Christ so precious to us that we must let everything go but this? Are the truths we have learned during these last forty years so important to us, and to the church of God, that we dare not let them be imperilled, nor give them up? And have we seen God, by His Spirit, again active for the preservation and maintenance of these truths? and have we co-operated with Him in this action? There may be a settling in our souls of what is right and what is wrong; but it is not merely this that we shall have to seek, but having personally to do with God in that which He is doing, so that our souls have faith in Him as to our place in, and connection with, it. If we have this faith we walk with Him; we have a calmness which merely settling

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the right and the wrong could never give. The soul, too, by this arrives at the settlement of questions by a safer rule, for it judges of them from the place it is in. We walk with God, and in His light we see light.

It is not merely a question of truth committed to us; there is but the sovereign and faithful grace of help given after complete ruin had come in. The arm made bare bespeaks, to the spiritually minded, a presence with us which, though it was always true, comes with a greater sweetness and preciousness now, because it tells us of a love and purpose which nothing could turn back.

May His saints know this love and presence, and walk in it; and may we love the way, and have our hearts in it, rough though it be. He trod it -- the blessed One -- and the Holy Spirit abides and leads in the way too. May we know and love and seek fellowship with Him!


There is nothing in the history of the church, or of souls, more grievous than the fact that truth can be so perverted that the name of it only is left, and often so much so that the name stands for the very contrary to that to which it was originally attached. It has often been said that Satan will spoil what he cannot hinder, and hence we ought to be more careful to assure our hearts from the word of God of the idea which belongs to and characterises the names of doctrines received by all christians. The true and scriptural names are retained, but when we come to examine what these names stand for, we find that they do not represent the ideas given to them in Scripture. They are really perversions of the truth. Man's ideas have been adopted as exponents of the truth, instead of the ideas set forth in the word of God.

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We must in this day own that the prediction of our Lord has been verified, namely, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". The leaven is the introduction of an element which has extended the original thing unnaturally. The human idea is this leaven, and it has so added to the original and divine teaching that the doctrine now called in christendom after the scriptural name bears little or no resemblance to the doctrine to which the same name is attached in Scripture. This is very serious; and it is not from outside that this evil occurs. "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them", Acts 20. If there were no perversion of the truth, there would be no disciples except disciples of Christ. No man would attain to any distinct leadership, "for one is your Master, even Christ".

It is very important to see that if the truth were not perverted there could be no leadership but in Christ, and that it is in the perversion of truth that disciples are drawn away. The effect of the simple maintenance of truth is to draw to Christ. John the baptist proclaimed the truth; and his disciples, in adopting it, forsook him to follow Christ. And in this day it is a well-known fact that, as godly earnest ministers have pressed truth, the simple and devoted among their followers have left them, in order that they might follow the truth more perfectly than the instruments through which they had first learned it; and doubtless, if every godly minister would discard everything not scripturally true, then the faithful would cease to be ranked under the leadership of men. One may ask, How is it that godly earnest men do not discard everything not scripturally true? I answer, Because they are guided by conscience and not by the word of God. By their consciences they are calmed into the assurance that they are doing the best for the general good; and this

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they seek. Now it is the word of God alone which should guide me, and my conscience ought not to be satisfied unless I am assured that everything I teach and adhere to is scripturally true. To say that this or that is the definition given to any doctrine by the most devoted man is really no warrant to my conscience. Such comments may help me to understand the doctrine, but I am bound to understand it in the light of Scripture before I teach it. Scripture must be my guide, and not my conscience or the comments of my brethren. The teacher receives his gift neither by man nor from man; he is gifted of the Lord, and he must not only be conscientious, but he must be enlightened according to Christ's mind, before he can be the organ of that mind. If every minister of Christ nowadays set himself sedulously to ascertain from Scripture the true meaning of any doctrine, as there set forth, divesting his mind of the definition and interpretation into which it had swollen, he would soon find that he had escaped from a mass of confusion, and that an unerring light had now shone in on his soul and mind.

But it is not only from making the conscience umpire that earnest men suffer; there is another snare which is still more difficult to expose. Perversion of the truth is always to suit a practical state. It is the lower order of practice which, when there is conscience, leads to a lower order of truth, or a misplacement of the order, because it matches the state and quiets the conscience; and the lower order of practice is confirmed and perpetuated by the lower order of truth. Now when anyone attempts to form an idea of a truth from his own practical observance of it, or seeks to make it practicable, of course he shapes the truth to his practice, instead of demanding that his practice should conform to the truth. Man, as is natural, likes to leave out from a doctrine that which makes it impossible to man in nature, and to substitute something under the same name, and thus deceive the conscience with what is

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possible for man without self-sacrifice. To follow truth now, I can only do so in the Spirit, outside nature; this is the starting point.

Now if I wish to accept a truth, and at the same time to save myself -- in a word, to escape the edge of it -- I necessarily alter it in such a way that I may feel I retain the doctrine without subjecting myself, my nature, to death by the acceptance of it. Peter savoured of the things of men, and not of the things of God, when he said to the Lord, 'Spare thyself'. The real difficulty to the simple acceptance of truth is the annihilating exaction it makes on nature. And whenever a truth is said to be held without this exaction, we may be assured that some modification or alteration of the truth has been adopted, in order to spare oneself. Strange and peculiar are these modifications and alterations. Faith is a unity, and can only lead in one way. Every truth, truly apprehended by faith, must lead directly in the same way. It may be seen differently in measure, but the same measure produces the same results. If Mark returns from Pamphylia (Acts 15:38), it is because the truth exacted too much from him. If Peter refuses to eat with the gentiles (Galatians 2:11 - 12), it is because he would spare himself; the truth of the gospel, for which Paul contended, exacted too much of him. Demas cannot bear the exaction of the truth; 2 Timothy 4:10. If Timothy knows and follows Paul's doctrine, he must also know and follow his "manner of life". If the doctrine be truly held, the manner of life will be an exemplification of it. If a man says -- as has been said -- that the church, the body of Christ, is in heaven, and speaks of Jesus as being here, with man as Man, he so entirely misplaces the truth, without denying it, that to hold this doctrine imposes on him no self-death here, and his conscience is lulled, and the truth lost. For if the body of Christ is in heaven, I am not responsible to walk here on earth as of it; and if Jesus, who is really in heaven, and known here by the

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Holy Spirit, is put on a level with us in the flesh, christianity is reduced to a mere human thing, and the truth that now, through the Spirit, we are united with Him in heaven, and thence receive of Him, to fill our place in the body here on earth, is lost. Could there be a greater perversion of truth than that the church, the body of Christ, is in heaven? The truth is that it is from heaven, but on earth; yet many earnest conscientious souls accept this perversion as the truth; and the consequence is that they have lost the truth, and with it the effects which are produced by the truth. Each truth produces its own proper effects; hence, if you lose the truth, you must lose the effects of it.

Again, another will so accept and explain the unity of the Spirit, that all christians can be received as united, because professors of the same life, though they are connected with systems and orders of things most opposed to one another; so that the unity of the Spirit is practically reduced to the socialism of a club. Again, others, with more light, will contend that similar opinions, with soundness in faith, and holy walk -- that is, individual propriety -- necessarily places in the unity of the Spirit. Then the Spirit is only a common bond for separate and distinct units, and not the unity of the body of Christ, where each is affected by the other, and is necessarily a guardian of the other; for it is the Spirit, who baptises the whole into one, who must be considered, and not the individual, as to what he holds or does. He may neither hold what is wrong or do what is wrong, and yet his association may grieve the Spirit of God, the unity be denied, and the body suffer. The unity of the Spirit makes the body of Christ one, because the Holy Spirit is one. We are all baptised by one Spirit into one body, and where He is, there must be an abnegation of everything unsuited to Christ. The thing which by no possible means could injure one naturally becomes vitally dangerous when in the unity of the Spirit. As a man, I may not suffer

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from the bad habits of my associates, unless they seduce me into like ones; not so in the church of God; a little leaven leavens the whole lump. I may not suffer as a man because I hear vain babbling in the society that I resort to, at least, I may not be morally degraded by it, or unfitted thereby to be a good member of society; and yet it is so in the church; and a man cannot be a "vessel unto honour" unless he purges himself from such things. To bid an ordinary farewell to a man who brings not the doctrine of Christ can in no wise injure or affect me naturally; and yet, as in the fellowship of the Spirit, if I do so, I am partaker of his evil deeds, and necessarily disqualified for church association; 2 John.

"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned". If the natural mind receives it or knows it, it is not of the Spirit of God. The unity of the Spirit cannot be maintained truly but as there is a distinct dissociation from and exclusion of all that which is contrary to the Spirit Himself, and as in conjunction with all those who are walking in the Spirit. We are exposed to perversions so long as we are babes. To raise us to maturity is the aim of all ministry, as it is written (Ephesians 4:13, 14): "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness", for a method of deception -- as it may be more freely translated. The force of the passage is that, if I am not matured in Christ, I am exposed to human sleight, which, by cunning craftiness, grows into a method of deception. It is man's work and way of escaping the edge and power of the truth, and it ends in a systematised error.

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To the earnest and true-hearted servant of Christ no question can be of deeper interest than, What is power, and how are means to be used?

It is not only in the first part of the question that the importance lies, for many are assured that power is of God; many can say, "Twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God" (Psalm 62:11), who cannot reply to the second, which is really the one which exercises the heart before Him, and in which we all so fail. Let us search and see how means may be used, consistently with the assured sense that power is of God only.

It is very instructive to mark how the servant of God in every age used means; and if before the death of Christ, while the first man was still recognised, we can trace and discover how the means were in abeyance to the power -- nay, that they were always, when the servant was walking with God, so disproportionate to the power that the source of the power was not clouded or obscured by the means, but the contrary -- how much more now!

Faith always has to do with God, to whom power belongs, and not with means; and hence I may pass over Abraham, for his life properly was one wholly of faith, and he passed through the deepest exercises known to the heart of man, reckoning on God only, apart from any means. And this is, as I may say, one's private history and walk with God. Jacob, on his return from Laban's house, has got out of faith, and is full of means. In the wrestling he is taught the power of God, and that if He be for him who can be against him? Every devoted saint knows that God's resources are outside and beyond the means he could use, and has found it so; but when the servant of God testifies of Him to His professing people, the means are used to

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express the power. The servant is himself an instrument; and it will be seen that, while he has full confidence in the power, yet, in proportion as he is in spirit with God, he makes a very secondary account of the means. Moses is not eloquent. Aaron supplies the deficiency, because Moses considered it one, but it is the rod of Moses, used in faith, which is the means to manifest the power of God. With that rod he stretched out his hand over the waters of the Red Sea, and that simple movement, that very insignificant means, effected the mightiest of results. He was not thinking of the means, but of the power; and this is faith always. The power is most before the soul when the means are most insignificant. Moses failed, grievously failed, and forfeited the land, when in Numbers 20 he made much of the means. God had directed him to take the rod, and to speak unto the rock, "and it shall give forth his water"; instead of which he smote the rock twice, and said, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" He spoke unadvisedly with his non-eloquent lips; he failed to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the children of Israel. The more God is with His people, the smaller and simpler are the means used. Jericho fell down after it had been compassed seven days. The only means used were that the people "shouted with a great shout". Ai, on the contrary, is only reduced by an ambuscade. Means were used, but of no honour to the prowess of Israel, and, though ordered of God, not declarative of His intervention. He graciously delivers, even after failure, but He does so without conferring honour on them, or open favour from Himself.

We see in the book of Judges, when Bochim (chapter 2: 1) represented the state of Israel, that the means used for the people's deliverance from time to time were not honouring to man, though they were made to accomplish the desired end. Ehud's knife (chapter 3), Shamgar's ox goad, Jael's nail and hammer, Gideon's

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pitcher, are means imparting no distinction to the users of them; yet they were effective, and rather obscured than exhibited the power by which deliverance was effected. The greater the failure, the less can God honour His people personally. How could He? But He delivers; and while He does so, He will make use of means in no wise honouring to us, and yet at the same time not openly indicative of His intervention. When there is Nazarite separation, as in Samson, there is personal strength; and the jawbone of an ass -- very insignificant means -- will accomplish great results. But when, as in Samuel, there is prayer, a simple and unequivocal turning of the heart to God only, then the Lord Himself acts for His people in marked intervention: "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", 1 Samuel 7:10.

Now I turn to the apostle Paul, the pattern of all them who shall believe on Him to life everlasting, as our example. If any one has meditated before God on the examples I have furnished from Scripture, he cannot fail to see that the more faith and holiness in walk there is, the less the visible means, and that the means never, even in appearance, assume the place of the power, except when God cannot connect His power with the state of failure in which His servant or His people are found. Paul glories in what Moses deplores, even that he has not personal power; "his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible". He glories in it, because he would not have the faith of the saint to stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. He actually takes pleasure in infirmities, that the power of Christ might be fully manifest, as entirely apart from any co-operation which human effort could contribute to it. And hence he will judge of others, not by their speech but by their power. He reminds

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the Corinthians that he personally sought and derived nothing from the flesh when first he preached to them; and if he in his preaching disallowed the flesh and its co-operation, how could they venture to glory in it? He says, "I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ" -- a known living Person truly, but as to this scene, a crucified One; and he adds, "I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Corinthians 2) -- the very opposite to any exhibition of human ability or sensationalism. For he continues, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power".

When he would restore the Galatians to the true ground of the Spirit, he not only insists, in chapter 1, on the nature and order of his conversion as being from God in His Son, but he reminds them that he did not minister among them in any carnal power, but on the contrary, "Ye know", he writes, "how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first". These statements are very conclusive, and establish that the more we are in the power of God's Spirit, the less shall we seek or use the co-operation derived from the flesh. Man in mind and body is the earthen vessel; the instrument for Christ's service, which, when simply given to Him, He uses. But my faith ought not to be in the exertion of either one or both, but in the Spirit of God. Nay, the more faith I have, the less value shall I place on any bodily or mental exertion. This would not prevent me from being always assiduous, while it would check excitement, and disallow anything that would promote it. Nay, it is well known that there cannot be general assiduity where there is even occasional overtaxing; for there cannot be any accelerated action without a correspondent reaction. Now where there is power, earnestness is always apart from anything sensational or excited. See the earnestness of a physician by a sick

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bed; of a good father expostulating with a beloved but wilful son. The sense of power and the greatness of the stake at issue, when together, impart earnestness and gravity. The greatness of the stake at issue without the sense of power to meet it must, when there are right feelings, provoke undue declamation and impassioned expression to supply the sense of power, and this in proportion as the former exists without the latter. The means of expressing the power are reduced and uncalled for, according as the power is felt to be possessed. Hence, wherever there is an assured sense of being led by the Spirit to any place or work, as for instance Paul to Philippi, there would be a waiting on God and a discountenancing of any questionable publicity. One would go on quietly, assured of God, in the mind of the Lord, though unknown and unheard of. Alas nowadays no room is left for the option of God's Spirit; but the flesh is actually fostered and given place to, at the very time that the truth and grace presented condemns it, and invites the soul to safety in Christ from the judgment on it.

Let the saints, I repeat, be assured that as there is faith and holiness, so will there be a consciousness of God's power by and through very insignificant means; and it will be found that it has not been a long, excited sermon which has been blessed to souls, but some little word guided by God's Spirit which has carried to the heart the germ of life.


The more fully and distinctly truth is circulated and accepted, the more must it be the device of Satan to counterfeit it, and then beguile souls from the truth, which alone sanctifies unto God. If truth were not known and accepted, the counterfeit would be useless; but in proportion as the true and the real is valued, so does Satan seek to counteract it by an imitation. For

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if souls are led away by the imitation under the idea that it is the truth, the conscience is lulled, and they are a prey to the serpent. They are not only unsanctified, but they are led astray under Satanic influence. We ought not to be ignorant of his devices. It is plain that as a truth prevails, and souls through the power of it are delivered from darkness and the power of Satan, the enemy must not only oppose the circulation of it -- which he does in the first instance -- but we find that he also institutes something bearing a resemblance to it, in order to deceive souls and lead them into his snare, while under the impression that they are adhering to the right. The children of Israel were forbidden to make any similitude of God; Deuteronomy 4:15 - 20. Man's similitude could not rise higher than man himself. Satan from the first beguiled man from the worship of the true God to the worshipping of demons, and the idols were only the representation of the ideas which were sanctioned by the demons.

We have to do with the simple fact that as truth was presented and effective, so was it an object to Satan, not only to oppose it, but when it had gained acceptance, to set up a counterfeit in order to create a diversion. The apostle in 2 Timothy distinctly warns us that as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so would there arise teachers in the last days who would resist the truth after the same fashion. By imitating the truth of God, they would withstand it. Hence it is the duty of the faithful to be prepared for the counterfeit of every truth which has obtained acceptance and influence, just in proportion as it has done so; and this with the conviction that Satan does not resort to this device until every other opposition to the truth has failed to check its progress, so that the very existence of the counterfeit is proof positive that the truth has been effective.

Satan's most daring act will be seen in his setting up Antichrist -- a counterfeit of Christ as Messiah and

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King -- man in the temple of God, showing himself to be God. "Many", says our Lord, "shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many", and if it were possible, "the very elect". Well then, as assured that there will be, and is, an effort of Satan to rival by imitation the truth which through mercy has most effect in our day, let us, as prepared for it, consider how we may detect the counterfeit. The proper and simple way to be preserved from any counterfeit is by accuracy of knowledge of the true. If a banker has accurate knowledge of a true note, he is able to discover any discrepancy. The first great thing is to be assured of possessing the truth -- to "continue ... in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of". This is really the course for oneself; but one has often to point out and expose to others the counterfeit; and therefore it is well to bear in mind that the counterfeit always gives the prominence to man. Satan always uses man as his instrument for contravening the purposes of God. Man being made in the image of God, Satan finds him his best adapted engine for circumventing God, and diverting from His ways and mind. Man is thus made the rival of God, and Satan is the energy by which this terrible evil is carried out. Hence, wherever man is made prominent, the spiritual can at once pronounce that it is a counterfeit, in whatever specious way it may promise good results, and therefore to them it can have no value. Secondly, there is another mark, which is not so easy to describe or expose, one which is practically seen in the magicians of Egypt, in that they could not turn the dust into lice by their enchantments (Exodus 8:18), though they had been able to imitate Moses and Aaron up to this point. I believe it to be simply this, that even as this miracle, being the creation of life, marked the "finger of God" and precluded the imitation of the false prophets, so no genuine expression of life will ever be found to flow from a counterfeit. There may be

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a great appearance and assumption of power and devotedness; but in the activities there will be found no moral power, nothing really of the life of Christ.

It cannot be denied that every truth which has obtained a place has been imitated. Popery is but a huge glaring imitation of the church of God; and every order of the world assuming to be christian is also an imitation, and hence a counterfeit, because it is not the real thing. The more even the idea of a right thing obtained, so has there ever sprung up the counterfeit of it. The subject is too wide to pursue it here; but let us notice one of the counterfeits existing at this very hour, respecting a truth lately revived among the saints.

The truth that "where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them", has now for years been a word of strength and blessing to many; and they have, by faith in God, walked in and acted on it, thereby learning and knowing the presence of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in their midst. This could not be without the setting aside of man, and the bringing in of the power of the Spirit of God, which is the membership and unity of all saints, that is, the body of Christ. It could not be a mere retreat for oneself; it must, because in the Spirit, connect us with all that is of the Spirit, by whom we are all baptised into one body. It could not be a mere meeting for convenience, and its end the edification of the two or three who had met together. The real thing -- the fundamental principle of the church -- which the word sets forth, ensures and confers wonderful blessing; but the saints, knowing the real thing, are separated from the flesh in the power of the Spirit, by whom Christ's presence is known, and by whom they are baptised into one body. Now this simple truth, from which the greatest and most blessed results flow, is constantly imitated; and the proof that it is imitated is that none of the blessings which, as fruits, flow from

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the real thing are ever known or manifested by the imitators. It will be found that it is their own conscience, or comfort, or something of their own, which is their object, and not the One in the midst; and thus the gathering together bears the one sure mark of a counterfeit, even that man is uppermost, and not Christ; while the other mark can also be observed, that though they have apparently taken a great and a true step in accepting and adopting the great fundamental principle of the church of God, yet there is no advance in moral power, in the realities of life, nor any increase in the knowledge of Christ's mind and His interests on earth. Nothing is more painfully manifest than the fact that many saints, who have avowedly sought to walk for God on earth, never advance in the knowledge of Christ or His ways. Scripture is read and dwelt on, but always with reference to one's own state, where there is conscience, and never, I may say, with reference to Christ's interests and thoughts; and hence there is no progress in the knowledge of Himself. A glance at the writings of the most earnest will authoritatively confirm this statement.

The easiest things, apparently, to imitate involve the most serious consequences if they be imitated. It was easy to imitate the holy anointing oil, but to do so entailed death on the offender; see Exodus 30:38. The seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, might use the same words as Paul, but with what fearfully different results! (Acts 19:14.) Hence the simplicity of any proposition of divine truth does not put it the more within the reach of man. Satan's object is to divert the soul from the great and divine consequences which flow from true and accurate obedience; and he effects this by inducing man to make the attempt in a natural way, without faith, without the intervention of the power of God. Now it is a fact that we hear of christians meeting for breaking of bread when it suits any given number to do so, without any reference to others in

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the same place; so that it is not uncommon to find two or more of those meetings in a very small place, each in independence of the other, as if there were no common bond or baptism between them. What is this but imitation? In one sense, the imitators would be far better off if the truth which they imitate had never been presented and adopted, seeing that thereby an opportunity has been given to Satan to lead into this sad and disastrous imitation. I say it is sad and disastrous, because the leaders of the imitation withstand the truth, attracting and diverting souls by the counterfeit, and thus debarring them from seeking and finding the real and the true. And while they may be constant readers of the Scriptures, they are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth". There is no truth of greater importance in this day than this fundamental principle of the church, and therefore there is none more imitated, and thus more used to perpetuate and accomplish the enemy's work. When this truth is known and adopted in the Spirit, there is a daily deepening in the counsels and interests of Christ. The church, as His body, is fully comprehended in that membership which is alone true, even the Spirit Himself. There is through the Spirit, which is the unity of the body, a distinct claim on and link to every saint on earth, and a daily increasing sense of responsibility and encouragement too; so that the more truly any fraction walks in the Spirit, the more ability is there to help all others, and the more they are helped; even as with the natural body, when any part of it recovers from a lengthened debility, there is a reinvigoration of the whole. But when it is only the imitation that is adopted, then, as I have already said, there is never a thought above man, either in the preaching of the gospel, or ministry to the saints. Man's good alone is insisted on and sought; there is no rising into communion with Christ, in His interests and the range of them, through the Holy Spirit on earth.

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There are two courses of action apparently contrary one to the other, but which nevertheless spring from the same root, even the flesh. One is legalism, which I may describe as the effort to shape oneself to given laws or rules; the other is lawlessness, in which one's own will determines everything. In legalism the occupation is necessarily with oneself. Seeking to urge oneself into conformity to law, self is before the eye, and satisfaction is felt according as there is conformity to a given standard. Legalism must always give the flesh a place, for if there were no flesh, there would be no law. The Spirit acts according to God, and against His fruits there can be no law. If the flesh be dead, there is no need for law, for he that is dead is freed from sin. But it is not of doctrine I would speak here, but of practice. The moment legality is sanctioned, it must be with reference to that which needs to be made subject; hence law has a relation to the flesh, and the flesh to the law. And this is just the evil of legalism, even that it addresses the flesh, and gives it a standing. And this is not christian, because as christians we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; therefore the flesh has no standing, and in the Spirit we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, against which there is no law.

Now lawlessness, though apparently opposite to legalism, springs from the same error, even from a misapprehension of how the flesh is regarded before God. Neither with the legal nor with the lawless is it treated as having been crucified with Christ; and because grace confers what the law exacts, the flesh assumes that it is not responsible, and acts according to its will, and this is lawlessness. The carnal mind becomes the arbiter and leader on every point. Self, like a primeval forest, is allowed to grow and to do as it lists. In neither case is the flesh treated as a thing to be mortified, set aside, because crucified in the cross.

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Where there is most conscience, legality obtains; but where there is most intelligence in the natural mind, there lawlessness rules. Nevertheless the legal man, because of weakness, is often lawless, for if he be not up to and according to rule, he must be so, even against his inclination; hence legalism is no safeguard against lawlessness, because of the weakness of the flesh; and it becomes plain that there is no true deliverance from the flesh but as I walk in the Spirit.

The Galatians were legal; the Corinthians were lawless. The Galatians, no doubt, conscientiously felt that the flesh intruded and trespassed upon them, and in order to check and frustrate it, they resorted to restrictions and were in bondage to rules. Having begun in the Spirit, they were seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. They had ceased to walk in the Spirit, and they essayed to control the flesh by descending to carnal methods, and thus gave a place to the flesh, which was in itself a victory to it. Instead of disallowing it from the high eminence and control of the Spirit of God -- for if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh -- they fostered the very thing they wanted to check, because they thus gave it a recognised existence. The great truth is that, being alive in the Spirit, I disavow the right of the flesh to rule -- in a word, that I am crucified with Christ. For if I live after the flesh, I shall die; but if I, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, I shall live. The legal man makes himself, and not Christ, his study and object, and his satisfaction is according as he succeeds in bringing himself to the adopted standard.

Now the Corinthians were lawless. They were richly gifted. The Spirit had bestowed on them very imposing gifts, and they virtually said, 'The Spirit's gifts are everything -- the flesh may do as it likes'. But the moment the flesh is let do as it likes, then it is not dead, it is alive, and it is lawless; and they that are in

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the flesh cannot please God; nay, it breaks out and betrays itself in many forms. If I am walking in the Spirit, I mortify the deeds of the flesh, for the flesh cannot maintain itself in the Spirit's province. I might be largely gifted by the Spirit like the Corinthians, but this is not walking in the Spirit. When in the Spirit I am first controlled myself, but this is not all. As I walk in the Spirit, I am interested and watchful that other saints walk also according to Christ; while in lawlessness the reverse is the case, I am wilful myself and I connive at the wilfulness of others.

Let us trace a little in 1 Corinthians how the apostle exposes lawlessness at Corinth. First, in chapter 1, he notices how they are in the flesh, because they are following their own will in choosing leaders. And in chapter 3 he plainly tells them that they are babes in Christ, being carnal, and walking as men. But having shown how wilful they were in their own walk and ways, he then in chapter 5 shows how utterly indifferent they were to the conduct and character of those who came to the Lord's table; nay, that they were so leavened that they went to law with one another before the ungodly; they were not under law to Christ, they did as they chose; it ran into their domestic relationships, so that it was necessary to tell them, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called". They went to idol temples and ate things offered to idols; they ate their own supper at the Lord's supper. Every one had a psalm, etc., in the assembly; 1 Corinthians 14:26. Lastly, they had among them some who said that there is no resurrection of the dead! Alas! to what a lawless state had they come! The doctrine and power of the Spirit was accepted without the great truth of the crucifixion of the flesh. The result is the worst practice, for the knowledge of the Spirit's gifts and power, unless I am walking in the Spirit, only leads to lawlessness; it leads to boasting in the flesh. If I am walking in the Spirit, the flesh is forced into death

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before Him. The Corinthians were not legal, they did not check the flesh at all; they gloried in the gifts of the Spirit, and allowed the flesh to please itself.

These two forms of evil, which appeared so soon in the history of christianity, have produced strange combinations in christendom. You will find one lawless in choosing a leader, and then easily submitting to certain rules, as if he were quite a legalist. You will find another avowing legalism, and yet very wilful in personal habits and ways. One glories in what he can make of himself -- for instance, a teetotaller; the other is gratified by the acts of his will; thus in both cases there is plainly self-satisfaction. Legalism is in man in the flesh when there is conscience. Lawlessness obtains when there is a release from law if the flesh is allowed to act. Hence Paul urges, "Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh"; and Peter, "as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness". The true ground of liberty or freedom from evil is that I am dead to the law by the body of Christ. If the old man has been crucified, there is no room for legalism or lawlessness; and hence the danger of relaxing the claim of the law, for it is not that God has relaxed His claim, but that which the law addresses has been crucified, and therefore it is neither to be improved, nor left at will, but to be mortified.

Now in these last days we are warned that there is the form of godliness without the power thereof, and then it is that lawlessness is most marked. Men are lovers of their own selves, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The mystery of godliness, if received by faith, necessarily sets aside man here. Hence the apostasy endeavoured to contravene the effect of true godliness by introducing penance and self-denial of an extreme kind. The mystery of godliness is great, and its effects distinct in the setting aside and repudiation of the flesh because of association with Christ. Instead of bowing to the mystery of godliness, the apostasy

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from the faith was marked by severe impositions on the flesh, which, so far from setting aside the flesh, gave it a distinct place by avowing it as capable of correction. This has ever been the rule so long as God is admitted to have a claim, and I am in that nature which of itself resists His claim; there must either be law for that which is not subject, or there must be lawlessness. Indeed the former, legalism, paves the way for lawlessness. This we see in the case of the Colossians (though I cannot enlarge on it here), where there was a mixture of judaism and philosophy. It was the will of the flesh, and this is sin, and sin is lawlessness.

The great evil of Cain was in devising for himself a way to propitiate God. He was not at first lawless, but he was not subject to God's mind; and wherever in-subjection creeps in, no matter how heavy and exacting the restrictions, then there is a giving rein to one's mind; and the next step, as we see in Cain, is utter lawlessness -- no restraint whatever. This downward course is traced for us in Jude. We read, "They have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core". First adopting self-restrictions, then acting for self-advantage, and eventually in open rebellion. Thus the legal in the long-run become lawless; they find their restrictions accomplish nothing, and then they are thrown overboard, and lawlessness ensues. The one who imposes the severest restrictions, as king Saul (1 Samuel 14:24), is the selfsame one who lapses into open wilfulness.

The sum of the matter is this: that beginning in the Spirit does not preserve from legalism, as we see in the Galatians; and the knowledge of the Spirit's power and place in the assembly does not preserve one from lawlessness, as with the Corinthians. Nay, the knowledge of grace tends to lawlessness, because if under grace we are not under law; and if the flesh be not

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mortified, because ended judicially in the cross, there will be legalism where there is conscience, which eventually lapses into lawlessness because the flesh is wicked and wilful.

The great evil among us is the Corinthian; owning and receiving the truth in the natural mind, seeing and admitting that the Spirit has the power and the right to rule, enjoying His gifts too; and yet with all this a manifest license to the flesh, a reigning as kings, and many other glaring expressions of self-will. It is from the more enlightened that the truth receives the greatest damage if there be not a practical power coincident with the possession of it. And there cannot be this practical exhibition of it unless by walking in the Spirit, where alone the flesh is mortified. No amount of restriction will be true testimony, and there can be great intelligence and acknowledgment of right principles without true rule -- the rule of the Spirit, who always manifests Himself by mortifying the flesh, and thus displaying His own fruits, against which there is no law.


The cross of Christ is owned and believed in by every christian, but peace and practice depend on the extent of the soul's apprehension of it. It is such an all important doctrine, that there can be no profession of christianity without the acknowledgment of it in some form, and possibly there is no truth which has been so continually and so strangely perverted, or one of which such a very partial and insufficient measure has been accepted.

It is with the hope of awakening souls to its importance, by pointing out how they suffer from these perversions and limitations, that I here attempt to consider the subject, for if what the cross has effected were clearly seen, all the limitations, as well as the perversions of it, would be exposed.

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The cross has two aspects, one with regard to God, the other with reference to the believer. The former necessarily embraces the most, and from overlooking this aspect of it has arisen serious misapprehension of the truth. When the blessed Lord came into the world, John, His witness, looking on Him, said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world". This was plainly with reference to the altered position in which all things here would be placed by the cross of Christ. Sin had entered on this scene, but the Lamb of God would take away the sin from this order of things, from the world. We can hardly estimate the extent of the work here devolving on the Lamb of God, or the effect of it. It comprises the removal by sacrifice of that which was contrary to God and offensive to Him. It is not that God annihilates everything here and works elsewhere; but that He, through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, can reinstate everything now under judgment, in an entirely new order and degree, and that in righteousness because of the sacrifice. The cross enables Him to continue His creation in a new order.

If there had been no cross, there must be judgment on the creation as it stands; but now, peace having been made by the blood of His cross, God can by Him reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Surely we little apprehend the greatness of the work, or the effect of the cross, unless we see the extent of the judgment, and how everything was involved in it. If the soul grasps the extent and severity of the judgment, with what wonder and satisfaction must the eye rest on the cross, and see judgment so borne there, peace so made, that God can reconcile all things to Himself. If the fall of Adam has occasioned the universal judgment, if from that point one traces the widespread deluge of death and distance from God, with what rapture and praise can we behold the cross, and there see the tide of judgment

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not only rolled back, but exhausted, all its demands met, and God now at liberty in righteousness to reconcile all things to Himself! Do souls really regard the cross in this singular and unparalleled scope? From the moment of Adam's sin until the cross, there was no rest for God on earth. He did not forsake His people, for His glory ever sought a place among them, but He had not a sabbath here; nor could He, until His Son, our Lord, could say, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do". How little do we regard the cross in this light! even as that one great moment when God, according to His own mind, is at liberty to deal with the world, so that He can reconcile all things to Himself. In the history of the universe there is nothing so great and admirable as the cross. It stands forth pre-eminently as the dawn of an eternal day to this world. If at Adam's fall the sun went down at noon-day, at the cross Jesus went down into the depths of blackness and darkness, combated all their strength and despoiled them, and inaugurated for us the endless day of heavenly glory.

But more than this, the cross of Christ has enabled God to reconcile us, who hitherto were alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works, "yet now has it reconciled". It is through the cross of Christ that God is enabled to reach the prodigal; for there the distance between God and the sinner was repaired; the judgment resting on man was there borne by the Son of God. He took away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. God Himself rends the veil from the top to the bottom; there is no longer any obstruction to His dealing with man, once under judgment, because, the judgment being borne, grace can reign through righteousness. Who can estimate what the cross has effected for God? So great was the effect that our Lord declared when Judas went out, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him", John 13:31. God was glorified in the fulness and completeness of the answer

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now rendered in the cross to all His claims. Thus the sin of the world has, through the cross, redounded to the glory of God. The Son of man is glorified in the cross, and God is glorified in Him. He has done the will of God and finished His work. If the ruin be great, the reparation, or the manner in which it has been repaired, is immeasurably greater; the free gift is beyond all comparison greater than the condemnation.

Now let us see what the cross effects for the believer. When Adam sinned, he fell under the judgment of death. Dying, he must die! Nothing can relieve of this judgment but substitution. The judgment must be borne; the righteousness of God requires it. Man, who is under it, cannot be relieved of it but by another bearing it. It cannot be cancelled or overlooked. Righteousness demands judgment, and if man falls under it he cannot or could not rise out of it; and if God recovered him out of it He would compromise the righteousness of His own sentence. Man cannot in righteousness be exonerated but by one not chargeable with his guilt bearing the judgment of it. This Christ did on the cross. He was "made ... sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him". He bore the judgment in His own body on the tree. Our old man was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed. There was no way of rescuing us but by undergoing the judgment; and this is the cross. Christ would ever have abode alone if He had not died on the cross. The Son of man must be lifted up, otherwise eternal life could never have been given to us. There was only the one way by which we could be saved. Without the cross there could be no escape from judgment, no entrance into life. The blessed Son spent thirty-three years here, and after all He says, in reference to Himself, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone". He had not up to this brought any one to His own ground before God. There is judgment on

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man, and there can be no righteousness until that is removed. The blessed Son of God goes down into the depths of judgment. The cross opens a way out of the dungeons of eternal torment into the rest of the Father's house. The cross has not only secured the way of escape for man, but on it has been crucified the old man, that the body of sin might be destroyed. I do not see the cross truly if I only see it as opening a way of escape for me, and yet allowing that in me to escape which has incurred the judgment. This is one of the general limitations in the effect of the cross. The ending of the old man may not be denied, but it is not insisted on as important to the understanding of the cross.

In Romans 7 it is the will of the flesh, the law of it working in the members, that one cries to be delivered from, and not, as is often supposed, the works and sins of the flesh. Both are removed in the cross. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin". The cross opens the door of escape for me from the state in which I am, but it does not admit the continuance of that state. That state has been judged. What is judged cannot be continued. The moment that I see by faith my escape from judgment, because of the cross of Christ, that moment I am, because of that same cross, set on entirely new ground, even as fruit of Him who died; and I must leave my old man behind, crucified, so that "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me". If I do not accept this, I have limited the cross, and in fact have assumed that I can be freed by Christ's work on the cross from the judgment which rests on the old man, and yet be allowed to retain that which caused the offence -- in short, that I escape through substitution the penalty for my offence, but that the state in which the offence placed me may continue. In effect, a man may be saved through the intervention of another from the penalty under which he lies -- for forgery,

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for instance -- and yet he may retain the position acquired by it! Righteousness requires that not only should the full penalty be paid, but that there should be a discontinuance of the state of offence; in fact the offending state must cease. The cross effects all this, and the one who truly understands it can say with the apostle, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world". Here the question of sin is not alluded to, but everything which was in any degree unsuited to God. The cross had cleared all away, and in this the apostle gloried. Some speak of the cross nowadays as if it were something to allow the offender to remain as he was, as if it were a continual sacrifice, continually answering for an offending state which is not set aside; and thus there is no real peace. Again, others see that the cross has removed their sins before God, and rejoice in it; but they do not see the extent of the action of the cross, either with reference to God or to themselves. Hence in practice, while they would place the cross in faith between themselves and their sins, and know that they must not return to them, and that they are freed for ever from them, yet they can sanction and enjoy many carnal things, and the world, just as if there was no cross at all. And, alas! some -- possibly believers -- wear the cross as an ornament to decorate that -- the old man -- for which the Son of God bore it. There is no more painful perversion than this. If Christ died for me, I am bound by every good and right feeling to lay aside that for which He died, and which needed His death. Without that death I could not be delivered from judgment; but how dreadful to retain the condition for which my Saviour was judged! Nay, I must now hate my own life; and I may well do so, since through faith I have the life of the Son of God.

May we increasingly know that the cross of Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

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The Lord, knowing that nothing would so peculiarly affect His own on the earth as the fact of His going away, records for us fully in John 13 to 17 how He will provide for us during His absence from this scene and our journey through it. He knew every feeling and need which could be awakened by the blank; and reckoning on our faithfulness and affection He provides accordingly. Consequently, as there is faithfulness and affection for Him, as One known, so is there an understanding of the gracious and marvellous provision for His absence in these chapters; but as there is indifference and denial of His absence, so are they unappropriated and inapplicable. I do not propose to comment on these chapters, but simply to draw attention to the fact of Christ's absence, and some of the consequences of it. Nothing betrays more the meagre nature of our love to Christ than the little practical sense we have of His absence. The true evidence of how we have valued any one is the extent of blank we are conscious of in the absence of such an one. If we can go on as usual, it is very clear that the presence was not necessary to us; but according to our value of the presence is the greatness of the blank caused by absence. Now nothing can fill or repair the blank but that which has caused it. In simple language, the blank which is caused by the absence of any one can only be repaired by the presence of that same one. And hence, if I feel the Lord's absence and the blank here occasioned by it, nothing can repair that blank to me but His presence. And consequently, as His absence is felt, so is His presence sought. The latter proves the genuineness of the former. The disciples had known Him as present with Him, and they at once felt the blank and loss which His absence entailed. And to them every word that He said which indicated how the blank would be repaired was of all importance. Saints now have never

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known Him down here personally, as the first disciples did; but according as they know Him, they have at every turn the painful sense that He is not here; and as this sense is deepened and sustained, so is there in them a retreating from things as they are here, because His absence is so felt. It is as we know the blessedness and the power of His presence now that we feel the blank and desolation caused by His absence. His absence is a fact, and He repairs the blank, assuring us that He will not leave us comfortless, but that He will come to us.

Now this coming to us does not mean the same thing as His coming for us, The coming for us is when He comes to receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. His coming to us is by the Holy Spirit to repair the blank of His absence. If I feel the absence of Christ from this scene, and if my heart be truly set on Him, nothing can make up or repair for me this grievous blank, but His coming to me, His manifesting Himself to me; and this must be by the Holy Spirit. Hence, if I feel the absence of Christ, my only resource is the Holy Spirit, who is on the earth, sent down to manifest to me the absent Christ. What relief to a true and faithful heart! How simple it is that nothing can repair absence but presence; and if we do not feel the absence of Christ, it is only too evident that we have never yet known Him as present with us. Where is there a heart for Christ, in a day like this, which does not feel that it is vain to hope to find Him even in things avowedly dedicated to Him? The fact is, souls are satisfied with relief of conscience, and there stop, instead of going on to the satisfying of the heart. Nothing but His presence, as we see in the case of Mary Magdalene in John 20, will satisfy the heart; no amount of gifts or communications will do for the heart. Nay, all these only intensify the desire of the true heart to have His presence. If gifts or communications would make up for the presence, then they are greater than the

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presence. This cannot be; nay, their value consists in being expressions of that presence, which is the more desired as it is kept fresh by these expressions before the heart and mind. The moment my heart delights in the presence of Christ, it is unsatisfied elsewhere; and then His coming to me by the Holy Spirit is my relief and comfort here. And here it is that I first begin to find my true place for Him on the earth. If I do not feel His absence, I do not value the reparation of it. If Christ's absence is not felt, the Holy Spirit's presence is proportionally not regarded; and this is the real state of christendom. My true place for Him here begins with loving Him; for it is as I find Him satisfying my heart that I am led and empowered to occupy the place here which pleases Him, one in fellowship of the Spirit.

But as I am satisfied with Him, I am in heart dissociated from everything not of Him. Nothing ministers to my heart where He is not; and where this is so, I begin to realise that He is not only absent from the place in which I walk, but that He has been rejected from it, refused a place in it; so that I am not only isolated here because of the blank of His absence, but I am also repelled from association with things here because He has been refused His rightful place. His absence affects me in this place; but His rejection makes the place fearful, and separates me from every work and way of man, because of the guilt of His rejection and the consequent judgment of this world. If it were merely a question of His absence, things would remain unaltered to me, only with this feeling, that none of them could fill up the blank. Nay, the more lovely and attractive they were naturally, the more would they evoke desolation of heart, because inviting my admiration where the one object of my heart no longer was. The order of nature and scenery indeed remains unaltered, but the fact that none of these things ever could revive His presence -- nay, that as His presence

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is enjoyed by the Spirit, they are all in abeyance -- closes the eye to them. The creation remains in all its native beauty, but it can never repair the blank of Christ's absence; and the spiritual one knows it to be so, and that it is with the eye closed to everything here, and the heart absorbed in Him, that one enters through the Spirit into the joy of His presence. The works of nature cannot repair the blank of His absence; the Holy Spirit alone can and does. My prospect is Christ's coming for me; in the interval I know His coming to me by the Holy Spirit.

I need not add more, but nothing is clearer than that, if the absence of Christ be not fully apprehended, there is really no power to walk here for Christ, because there is no acknowledgment of the Spirit, who only can fill the blank and lead us here according to His mind. Consequently there must be unhallowed mixture and diverse false efforts to make up for the absence of Him who is the sole fountain and supply of all our blessings.

Oh for a true heart for Him! Nothing but His presence by the Spirit could then satisfy our hearts here, and every other thing would only have its relative value.


The great evidence of the impotence and defectiveness of our nature is the inability to reach perfection in anything, and the attempt to gratify the desire for it only leads to the discovery of our inability, so that the desire, commendable in itself, grows when fostered into the worst of vices, either avarice or insatiable ambition. Nothing exposes more the imperfection of our nature than the simple fact that the more nature is ministered to, and the more that which is suited to it is superadded, the greater and deeper is its sense of the vanity of everything; as Solomon expresses it, "All is vanity and

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vexation of spirit". This is the result of every fresh acquisition. There is, therefore, no reaching perfection in nature, and this fact gives colour to a very grievous mistake, into which saints in every age have fallen, namely, to be satisfied with imperfection in the things of God; not that they are regarded imperfect in themselves, but the idea is that, as we have not, we are not to reach the summit or perfection of any truth, though it be revealed, and though it be our calling.

The first and simple thing to admit is that every line of truth has its summit or perfection, and then any point below this must be imperfection. No one acquainted with Scripture can doubt this. Canaan was evidently the summit of the exodus from Egypt. The fatted calf in the father's house is without doubt the summit or perfection of the reception accorded to the prodigal; paradise to the thief; glory to Stephen; the heavenly places in Christ Jesus to the saint now. The second thing is to aim at this, the summit of each line of truth, and to refuse to be satisfied with any point below it. If I admit that every line of truth has its proper summit, then, though I may be far away from it practically, yet I am upheld in my endeavours to reach it by the Spirit of God, who always works from the summit, because He is there; and I am thus preserved from adopting the qualifications and limitations of the truth which my fellows have accepted. The purpose to be satisfied with nothing imperfect, and the attempt to be content with 'the best thing going', are two very different things, and have a very different effect. In the former I honour God who has called me to perfection; and though I have not reached the perfection practically, I will accept nothing that qualifies it, and I look to Him to lead me on, knowing that I am already apprehended in Christ Jesus. With the latter I refuse the leading of God's Spirit, and I hinder it by accepting that which limits the truth of God to a point below His mind.

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The constant excuse for defects individually or ecclesiastically is, We cannot expect perfection here; but this is an argument for putting up with imperfection, without any attempt to emerge from it. I admit there is imperfection, but the Spirit of God does not remain inactive or content in imperfection. No doubt He deals with us in the midst of imperfection; but where would He lead us? Surely to perfection, to the summit of every truth. The proof of apostasy in every age was the quiet way the people of God condescended to a limitation of His truth, and resigned themselves to it, as if it were a virtue; and afterwards, when there was a recovery of some of that which had been neglected -- in other words, a reformation -- it was regarded as an era par excellence. I am not disapproving of the revival, I commend and rejoice in it; but if souls are by it deluded from seeking perfection, then I must say it is a dangerous snare to them. If it is right to recover truth at all, surely it is more so to recover it perfectly. The argument for recovering it in part applies still more to the recovery of it wholly. I do not deny that there is imperfection everywhere, but the extent of imperfection ought never to reconcile me to it. If I am on God's side, I refuse everything that is imperfect, though I be surrounded on all sides with imperfection; I do not resign myself to it, but through grace I turn aside from it, as it is manifested to me. It is not the question with me whether I shall ever reach perfection here; but I seek this and nothing less, and my purpose, God helping me, is neither to sanction nor to connive at any imperfection in doctrine or practice, but to expose and disallow it in word and deed; and the more faithful I am, the more will it be disclosed to me, and the more shall I be enabled to reach the mind of God. The history given in Psalm 106 is in principle the history of christendom. There Israel is reminded that no single line of blessing did God ever propose or mark out for them, that they did not limit or qualify. "They soon forgot his works;

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they waited not for his counsel ... they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word".

In dealing with the things of God, we have too much forgotten that they are God's and not ours. Man cannot obtain perfection in anything, and we must be content with imperfection as to human things. But God does obtain it in everything; and hence one of the worst moral symptoms in the present hour is the attempt of saints to go on with things which in the secret of their hearts they disapprove of and condemn; and all simply with this excuse, that they see nothing better -- as if seeing nothing better were any reason for remaining connected or involved with that which is not truth, though it be a part of it. Really one has not the truth until one has in faith reached the summit of it. The summit of it is its crown; and until the soul has been led by God's Spirit to see the point to which it reaches, one cannot speak of knowing it.

The mistake which many true men have made is in confining truth to the extent of the practical knowledge of it. To see by faith the summit of a truth, and to rest satisfied with this light or vision without seeking to reach it practically, would be saying, 'I have plenty of corn and cattle, but I am starving'. Surely the abundance of food is nothing unless used; but it is quite another thing to place me spiritually -- I am there naturally -- in the state of ravens who have neither barn nor storehouse, or like an emigrant in a wild country, acquiring provision according to his own labour. The Spirit gives me faith to see the abundance God secured for me, but then I must rise and partake of it; and as I appropriate it, I understand and walk in the blessedness of it. What is the cause of the darkness in souls on any point of truth? It is not that they know nothing of it, but that they have not as yet laid hold by faith of its summit, its proper finish. Saints as a rule know something of every truth, but rarely, if ever, do they reach the summit of any. Truth in grace

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reaches down to man; but comes from God, and hence Christ Himself is the truth. I can touch the line of it, and even enter on it, without feeling the extent of its exaction on me; but as I proceed and see how it connects me with God, I am sensible that man in nature must retire, and this is the real check to the acceptance of truth's summit. Let us take any truth generally accepted among saints in the present day, and thereby test the correctness of these statements. Take the parable about the father and the prodigal in Luke 15. Will any one say that the feeding on the fatted calf in the father's house is aimed at by every one who knows that he is an accepted son, or that he is looking for it now as the proper and only completion of the truth he has tasted? If saints were feeding on those unequalled joys, the world and its things would be little thought of. Does every believer in Christ aim at possessing that "water that I shall give him", of which it is said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life"? The commencement of this line must be touched by every believer, but how many see the summit or completion of it? Does every one who believes that the child of God is born of the Spirit, see and maintain that such an one is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that the church is the habitation of God through the Spirit? Does every believer in the death of Christ accept and insist on the crucifixion of the old man, and that if Christ be in us, the body is dead because of sin; that hence we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit? Does every one assured of being quickened with Christ know, or expect to know, that he is now seated with Him in heavenly places? Does every one who believes in the power and blessing of God's Spirit assent, yield himself to the truth that the flesh profits nothing, and that no man understands the things of the Spirit of God, but the Spirit of God that is in him?

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All these truths are for the most part accepted and received by believers; but where, I ask, is any one of them enjoyed or taught among us, speaking generally? Where is it insisted on that the life of Christ is our life? Forgiveness is preached through the sacrifice of Christ, and perfect assurance of pardon before God; but where is it pressed as the summit of this truth, that it is His life which we now, as forgiven ones, possess, and should walk in here; "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). Where is it believed and enforced that man was ended judicially before God on the cross; and hence, every one believing in Christ must hate his own life, that for which his Saviour was judged? Is it not plain that if any of these truths were grasped to their summit -- their perfection, from whence the Spirit of God propounds them -- there would be a marked deliverance from the restlessness of spirit and worldliness of habit, which degrades the christian to the level of the man of the world? The fact is -- sad, bitterly sad as it is to feel it -- that the most, in many cases, that can be said of earnest men in this day is that which was said of the king of Judah; "he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart"; or as is said of another, "not like David his father".


To one with any spiritual discernment, it must be evident that the number of the true and zealous, in comparison with that of professing christians, is small indeed. It is not want of charity to arrive at this conclusion; nay rather, the more love there is, the more one sees how much is lacking in oneself and in others, and it is as we seek to be true that we see how much that which is not true is tolerated on all sides. As soon as I am faithful to my light, I see that I have to turn

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aside from many things which hitherto have been tolerated or excused. When Jacob goes up to Bethel (Genesis 35) the idols must be put away. According as I feel it incumbent on myself to wash my hands in innocency, so must I feel it good and necessary for my fellow christians; and as I proceed in the work of emancipation from the superstitions in which we have been involved, the more do I seek the release of my brethren still entangled; and the more faithful I am, the more will they be led to enquire and be encouraged to walk in the path of faith. The one that surmounts the fence which separates the flock from the better pasture, not only secures the good feeding for himself, but encourages and stimulates the whole flock to follow him. Now if we admit that the true and faithful are but a little flock in the midst of a multitude of professors, among whom they are greatly mixed up, with hardly any distinction, we cannot fail to acknowledge the declension of the church; and if we do, we cannot but seek to emerge from the unhallowed state of things which we deprecate and disallow. No spiritual one will deny that the church has fallen from the high and blessed estate in which it was set up, and those who mourn at this declension, and seek to walk apart from every corruption in the house of God, are this remnant. In a word, if there be any faithfulness in the time of apostasy, there must be a remnant; Revelation 2:24.

The character of this remnant we will now consider. The original body took its place in all the freshness and beauty of its appointment. It had no antecedent, it was newly inducted into high estate. The past clogged it not; the present only claimed it, nay, it ruled. All was brightness and hope. With the remnant it is far different. The past has entailed heavy encumbrances on them, and as they labour to be free of them, they feel their weight, and cannot rejoice in any measure of deliverance without being increasingly conscious of the sin and folly which entailed the encumbrances

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with which they are now chargeable, though they had not personally incurred them. They are like the frugal heir of an encumbered estate who labours by self-abnegation to retrieve his condition; and yet no embarrassment can be surmounted but with the sad and painful sense that it could have been prevented, and hence a deeper sorrow for the present condition. Joseph suffered in Egypt for his people and for their gain; but every progress he made only presented their evil in a stronger and sadder light.

The remnant is only a handful escaping from the perplexities and degradation in which they with their fellows were involved; and as they rejoice in the mercy to themselves, so must they feel the state to which an original, once so fair and beautiful, has been reduced, and their separation from so many of their fellows still undelivered. The character of a remnant must necessarily be a sorrowing one, as connected with the scene where the failure has occurred, though there be increased joy and rest in God, as there is increased light and power to extricate oneself from everything dishonouring to Him. The character must be that of a widow as to what was, because the brightest thing here is gone; but this with a heart so true to the Lord that there is an uncompromising purpose to devote all one's energies to "strengthen the things that remain", Revelation 3:2.

The widow of Luke 21 teaches us the true character of the remnant. For herself personally there was no interest here, yet all her energies, all her living was devoted to the maintenance of the testimony of God on earth. In a word, she had no interest of her own; the interests of Christ commanded all her attention and all her energies.

She describes the Jewish remnant of that day, and characteristically, the remnant who purge themselves from the corruptions of the "great house" in the present day. If saints in every dispensation had continued true and faithful to the calling of God, there would have

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been no remnant. If there had been no declension or apostasy, there would have been no need for any to stand forth and declare their purpose, through grace, to separate themselves from all the disorder around, cleaving to that which is of God, and energetically devoting themselves to the maintenance of it. The remnant never regain the original, but they refuse everything unworthy of it and of the calling of God. And hence at every time their character is one of great solemnity and great fervency. They are aware of the terrible blight that is upon everything dear to them, but they are increasingly devoted to God and confident in Him. As they see how everything here has failed in man's hand, their heart finds full resource in Him, even as the remnant of Psalm 74 exclaims, "The day is thine, the night also is thine; thou hast prepared the moon and the sun".

There are two classes of sufferings which I may just note in passing; one which the earnest one endures in reaching the path of faith on earth, as Jacob in Genesis 35; the other what the faithful one endures as Christ's witness in the path. The one, the suffering in reaching the path, Jacob sets before us; the other, the suffering in the path, Joseph, or the widow, presents to us. Joseph in Egypt is the first remnant faithful to God, whether as a slave or as a prince, in the prison or in the palace. His brethren had departed from God, and had cast him out; but he remained true, and God was honoured; and though he never regained the original standing, his faith was such that in dying he gave commandment that his bones should be carried back to the land. He never surrendered his calling, though he never recovered it fully. And this is the great work of the remnant, though I speak not of that here, but of the character that becomes them. The remnant occupy no light place; and as they realise it, there must be a sense of it about them. They bear upon them the mark of God (Ezekiel 9:4), and they

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sigh and cry for the abominations committed in the holy places. The remnant are a grave company -- fasting with Ezra beside the river Ahava; Ezra 8:21. They are necessarily self-denying; they must not eat of the king's meat or drink of the king's wine (Daniel 1:8); and the furnace of fire or the lion's den may await them for their faithfulness. They are like Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:36, 37), a widow of fourscore and four years, who departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayer night and day. If any one has any true sense of the declension of the church as it was first set up on the earth, and if there be a heart for the Lord, must there not be a deepening sense of the wretchedness of everything connected with man, but through grace a deeper and fuller confidence and joy of heart in looking up and resting in God? And this will impart the true remnant character, namely, a complete widowhood as touching everything of earth and man, but a more devoted zeal for everything of God; desolate indeed here, but confiding and joying in God; of no expectation from man, but of great expectations from God; passing through this scene with the deep solemn step of sentinels who, amid the ruins of fallen greatness, watch with sleepless eye for their Lord, that they may open to Him immediately, and who meanwhile guard His name and honour through the long and dreary night.

The Lord lead His saints to wait on Him, that they may not miss the path in which He would have them walk for Him in this evil day.


Every believer desires, and according as he has conscience seeks to be godly. We see desire and effort after it on every side, but little practical result; and the failure in reaching what is desired must arise from the incorrect way in which the end is sought.

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Godliness is called a mystery, because no one can understand it but one initiated into it, one introduced into it by revelation. A mystery needs a disclosure; it is not common nor open to every one. If you are made acquainted with it you know it, otherwise it is a mystery to you. Now the mystery of godliness is Jesus Christ, in His course as God manifest in the flesh. As you understand Him, as your soul apprehends Him as He was in it, so do you understand the mystery and so are you endued with the sense of what God is in His grace and nearness to us; and this sense is in itself godliness. Godliness is the pious sense awakened by the manifestation of God in a man. As I am initiated into what Jesus Christ is, so am I endowed with godliness -- true reverence of God. It is as He is known in Spirit, as God manifest in the flesh, having come down into my circumstances, and acting and maintaining God in all the weakness of them, that I am bowed into true reverence before God. I have the sense of how peculiarly near God has now been brought, and this in grace too; not merely to sympathise with me, but to maintain God in the very condition in which man failed; so that I am filled with reverence, even while consciously partaking of the grace, Nay, in a sense it is more than receiving of His grace, because it is an initiation into the greatness of the One who has come in the likeness of man to effect such great blessing for me. There is a Man doing everything suited to God; the Man of God among men -- among those who in every imagination of the heart are only evil continually. The more this Man is known, the more I have a sense of His existence, the more am I impressed with reverence for One so singular and unique. No other person could produce anything like it; the effect is marked by personal devotion to Him. I am endued with a reverence of God, a sanctity of soul which otherwise must be unknown to me. One cannot get the sense of reverence, but from being in the presence of One to be reverenced.

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It cannot be produced apart from the Person whose particular claim on me produces it. A child has reverence or piety for his parent; but it is a sense unknown apart from the parent. It is the presence and known relation of the parent which produces it. My parent cannot produce in another's child what he can in me. In another way the presence of a sovereign produces reverence, but only in so far as he is known as such. If his relation as sovereign were unknown, he would not produce it.

Hence godliness is only produced in the soul in so far as Christ is known. It is the solving of the mystery, the introduction to Him personally, which produces this peculiar sense of reverence, and effects in me that manner and way to which He is entitled; for as I am in the sense of reverence, I yield myself piously to Him, and necessarily I drop the old man, which has been set aside in the judgment of the cross. Seeing Christ as God manifest in the flesh throws me at once into a certain shape. His presence demands it, not as exaction or claim, but it acts like a charm, because the new nature which I have answers to it. God's Man, the only Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus, so rivets and fixes my heart that I distinctly retire from everything unapproved of in the presence of Him who so peculiarly affects and controls me. My nature has dishonoured God and sinned against Him; but now I am in the presence of God manifest in flesh, One who has fulfilled all His will, who has walked perfectly in every stage of this life in which I am; and I find that this blessed One who is before me, to whom I have been introduced, has done all the will of God; has been justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached far and wide to the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory. God has not only come into my very state, but He has been glorified in it, where I have sinned and failed so grievously. Hence as I am consciously before Him, as I know Him, I must abandon

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-- nay, hate -- the life for which He suffered here. As my soul is filled with this blessed One, my whole being becomes piously expressive of His influence and claims, and there is about me a holy subjection, a yielding of self altogether to Him. Everything is done in keeping with this pious feeling, which is produced by His presence and the knowledge of who He is, which is the solution of the mystery. It is not that I am using any effort to shape myself, but the pious sense produced in my soul by the knowledge of who Christ is shapes me; for I covet correspondence to Him, and I have it, not only the form of godliness, but the power of it. A godly man is one truly influenced and controlled by the presence of Christ as known by the Spirit, and this of course produces a manner and character as to everything, which is the fruit of godliness, for "godliness is profitable unto all things".

Now, as I have said, every saint desires to be pious, and as it is the first desire of the new nature, so is there none which the enemy so imitates, or has so effectually corrupted in the church, and this in two ways, as I will endeavour to show; the one is the deliberate device of Satan, the other the lust of nature.

The first is foretold in 1 Timothy 4"the Spirit speaks expressly, that in latter times some shall apostatise from the faith, giving their mind to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons speaking lies in hypocrisy, cauterised as to their own conscience". Now the object of this terrible scheme of Satan is to substitute, as all hypocrisy does, a counterfeit for the real. He proposes, therefore, a standard of sanctity subversive of all God's order and will; but yet, because its exactions are preternatural, beyond nature, men are deceived by it; and before long, as we see in Thyatira (Revelation 2), the church was leavened with it; and though it was never regarded as attainable by the church corporately, yet its false pretensions were not discovered or unmasked. Its exactions were of such a nature that

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only the clergy and a few monks and nuns could subscribe to it, or attempt to submit to it; hence it was really not the standard for the church, and the church surrendered the truth that it is a body where every member is necessary, and the less honourable receive the more abundant honour. Satan's device succeeded in substituting before the eyes of men the fictitious thing for the real, the religion of popery at first, in place of the mystery of godliness. Man was made the object instead of Christ. When Christ is the object before the soul, man is shaped by the power of His presence in true subjection to Him; but when man is the object, there is necessarily a maintenance of man's nature, whatever restraints may be imposed. Nay, the more a man can submit to such imposition, the more is his nature established in its own power, and of course in increased opposition to God, for the natural mind is enmity against God.

Now in the Reformation there was, through grace, a great deliverance. The ground-work of christianity was recovered; namely, justification by faith. Salvation, not by works, but by Christ outside of oneself, was avowed and insisted on, and the maintenance of this is christianity. But though this was recovered at the Reformation, it was not maintained that the old man was crucified in the cross, and hence they only refused the exactions of popery, but recognised the flesh as still before God.

Refusing the exaction was right; but the retention of that on which the exaction could be made, the old man, was the weakness of the Reformation; and hence there was that left in the system which gave opportunity for forms and rituals. If the flesh be recognised of God, it must be subject to impositions. But it is not recognised. They that are in the flesh cannot please God. And in Christ's presence the flesh, the old man, is set aside, and there is such a manifestation of His power that the very manner and way suited to Him is produced,

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which is piety, or godliness -- the power of it, not only the form.

The Reformers failed because they did not see that as faith alone could save, and place man outside of himself in Christ, he must not return to that which through grace had been set aside. In not seeing this, the Reformers left the door open for the system and ritualism which have grown up since in the church; and hence the simple and only effectual way of dealing with either is, at the start, to refuse any place to the old man except crucifixion. If I am dead, there is no room for any kind of exaction or form, but the presence of Christ produces in me that which far exceeds all that any exaction could produce. Then it is, "I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, I, but Christ lives in me".

As to the other attempt to set aside godliness, I now only allude to it. It is noticed in 1 Timothy 6. Supposing that gain is the end of godliness, that is, that everything of advantage or elevation to man is supposed to be godliness. To any thoughtful person this leaven is but too painfully visible, and could never have obtained an entrance if the end of the first man in the cross were truly accepted and insisted on. The result of both is presented to us in its fearful array in 2 Timothy 3:1 - 7, where christendom is shown to be worse than heathendom (Romans 1), though still retaining the form of godliness. Religious restraint and human elevation together produce a fearful state of things. The Lord keep us near Himself!


2 Corinthians 6

At every time, as there was favour from God, so was there a minister empowered of God to set forth and maintain His will; and whenever God vouchsafed mercy and succour to His people, it was through the intervention of His servants and the blessing of the people was indicated by the power and faithfulness of

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the servant, so that at any time the moral state of the people was represented by that of the servant. All through Scripture there is favour and help for the people whilst the servant remains faithful; but when the servant fails, all are involved in the downfall. If the one to whom God entrusts His mind continues faithful, even though the people be rebellious and perverse, he is still enabled to rally and restore them, or at least to save a remnant.

It is a high but grave position to be called of God to minister His mind and counsel to His people; none more highly favoured, and none so opposed and thwarted by every device of Satan. It is plain that when God would help and succour His people by unfolding His will and way to any one, Satan's great effort would be to hinder such an one, and if possible to pervert him. The favour of God is shown to His people when He raises up a faithful servant; and His rebuking is shown when "Jehovah hath poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your chiefs, the seers, hath he covered", Isaiah 29:10. And hence the enemy labours to counteract the effect which would flow from the faithfulness of God's ministers. While Noah was faithful he was signally used, but when he failed he opened the door for evil in his own family.

Moses is a faithful servant, and the people of God, in their rebellion and unbelief, obtain succour and help through him. The whole history of the book of Judges sets forth this truth, that the faithfulness of the servant ensures blessing to the people, markedly in keeping with the order of the faithfulness. The more truly any one was God's minister, observing and maintaining His mind and counsel, the more surely was there blessing to the saints through him; so that, as we can see in the case of Samuel, where there was simple and true dependence on God in prayer, there was the most marked blessing; but when he failed in

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the matter of his sons, then the door was opened for the disclosure of the people's evil. The principle is the same all through; like priest like people. When the servants went down to eat and drink with the drunken, then the kingdom of heaven was likened unto ten virgins, who all slumbered and slept. We see this same principle still more strikingly and authoritatively established in the kings of Israel. As there was faithfulness in the king, the people were blessed; and as there was unfaithfulness in him, the people suffered. It is simple and necessary, that if the minister of God fails, there must be an opportunity for the exposure of the evil of the people. If the minister of God be the organ or instrument to instruct the people of God according to His will, surely any dereliction in the minister must seriously affect the people. When truth is qualified by word or deed, its effect on the hearers must be seriously weakened. And what more effectual way to accomplish this than by corrupting the channel called and gifted of God for imparting it? As Paul says, "From among your own selves shall rise up men speaking perverted things". And Peter is still stronger: "There were false prophets also among the people, as there shall be also among you false teachers". Satan's great aim has been to supplant the minister of God, and this in a twofold way: one, by seducing the true one from his fidelity, as it is written, "That evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming"; and secondly, by introducing false teachers, as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14); and as "that woman Jezebel ... to teach and to seduce my servants", Revelation 2.

Let us but see the responsibility of the minister of God, and we cannot fail to see that any remissness in him must entail, or give occasion for, greater evil in the people to whom he is called to minister, A minister of God is one appointed by God to impart His mind, by a gift specially conferred on him by the Holy Spirit. It is distinctly given and knowingly possessed, but

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capable of being cultivated and increased by study of the word and prayer. It is not the line of the gift we are considering here, but the simple fact that one is endowed with Christ's gift by the Holy Spirit, and hence takes his place among God's people as His minister. To a true conscience, no appointment could be more solemn or responsible; but when we see the effect one's faithfulness, or the reverse, has on the people of God, one may well tremble, if not supported by the cheering assurance that our competence is of God. The gifts have been given for the perfecting of the saints; and hence if the gifted one, the one called to be God's minister, in anywise misrepresents God in teaching or preaching, he necessarily damages and hinders saints. They are straitened and checked by him, and he has not approved himself as the minister of God. His conduct and course should be of such a character that he could say that they were without excuse as far as he ministerially was concerned. Is it not plain that if God's minister does anything in word or deed to contravene the mind of God, of which he is the minister, he must therein hinder the saints? Does he not indicate in himself the real measure of the power of the truth of which he is the minister? If the minister can allow this or that of the world in his surroundings, it is vain for him to expect that the saints will accept the truth he ministers as able to effect more, or that really there is more in it; for it is remarkable how defective walk in a minister will lead to qualification of the truth in its very enunciation; and hence there is not a rightly dividing the word of truth.

Nothing has tended to lower the standard of christianity so much as the little practical effect that the truth has had on the ministers of it. Nothing does the awakened conscience more eagerly look for, or more intently examine, than the effect of the truth on the one who ministers it. It is remarkable how everything a minister of God does will be criticised, and how

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conscience will be either convicted by his conduct or emboldened to do what it might otherwise fear to do. Who could read the credentials of a minister of God in 2 Corinthians 4 and not fear, while he accepted and assumed the duty of such a highly privileged, and at the same time self-denying calling? Or who, while humbly bowing to Christ's favour in putting him into the ministry, does not feel the obligation which rests on him, and the importance of the word to Timothy? "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them"; (though working at a trade, as he did -- see 2 Thessalonians 3) "that thy profiting may appear to all for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee".

The gifts are given by Christ for the perfecting of the saints, and pasture is always provided by Him as there is appreciation of it. A Simeon, a Nathanael, or a Cornelius will not be neglected; no, nor the Ethiopian eunuch. The Lord will provide a servant suited for His saints who wait on Him. There is no lack of gifts, now as ever; but they are not in vigour or usefulness in their proper spheres, because they are not exercised in simple subjection to the Lord. The fact is, when grace is working in any few, the word of God is heard, and some one or another is gifted of the Lord with His mind, for He seeks for the ear of the saints; see Revelation 2, 3. The gift cannot be refused, nor can it be treated with indifference; it is given of Christ, and it should he cultivated. We see in many a gift, and an evident desire to exercise it; but they are not making full proof of their ministry. They are not good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The minister's place is accepted too lightly. It is not enough to possess a gift, or to have readiness to exercise it. The latter may be an evidence of its existence; but notwithstanding this there will he feebleness if there be not a deep sense of responsibility to the Lord in the using of it with the obligation that rests on the minister to forego everything selfish, to

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deny himself altogether, in order that the gift may be unhindered by anything of his nature, and that it may shine forth in the grace of Christ. Where there is this charity and self-abnegation (see 1 Corinthians 13), there will be a marked consideration and care for others. The true minister not only in every way proves himself as of God by his devotedness to the work, but like a nurse, he considers for them to whom he ministers. He knows that he cannot wash another's feet but as his own have been washed. He is able to help and comfort others, as he has passed through like trials with God. The minister watches the souls he tends. He is a nurse, feeding with milk and not with meat, when there is not preparedness of heart for meat. In a word, it is not what he has to impart that is so before his mind, as the state and capacity of those to whom he ministers. The nurse does not over-feed, does not weary; he does not preach too long, or pray too long, he considers carefully and skilfully the state of his hearers. Jonah was zealous and devoted before he had the sympathies requisite for an efficient servant. To be fully God's minister, devotedness and fidelity to the trust are first required; but the gift is hindered and the saints are not edified, if there be not charity and real self-abnegation in every point.

May the Lord in His mercy awaken in the many whom He has given a desire to serve Him -- an evidence that He has called them thereto -- simple purpose of heart to abandon everything that stands in the way of effectually carrying out the ministry that they have received of the Lord, that they may fulfil it. While rejoicing in being put by him into the ministry, may they have a true sense of the obligation imposed on them in everything to approve themselves as ministers of God, and to fill up the measure of it, that they may challenge the saints for a recompense! And may the saints so value pasture that God may raise up many to feed them faithfully!

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It is a trial to every earnest soul, the little effect an accepted truth has on him, the little fruit produced by it. And not only this, but every servant of God, really careful about souls, is often disappointed at the little progress of those who have received the word. The Lord in the parable of the sower presents to us the various things which hinder the full effects of the truth; and the one nearest to the right condition discloses and describes how a truth, though received, may become unfruitful. "And others are they who are sown among the thorns: these are they who have heard the word, and the cares of life, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful", Mark 4:18, 19. Here plainly the word has been heard; it was neither on the way-side, nor on a rock; but other influences were allowed to act, and they choked the word, and it became unfruitful. The simple question raised is this: is the word to exert control and influence over us, or are other things, which are connected with our nature, to have the mastery? If these latter are allowed to rule, the word is choked, there is no fruit; that is, there is no effect produced by the word. The point must be settled, whether the word is to rule me, or whether I am to be ruled by the circumstances which affect and interest me as a man.

The moment I receive a word from the Lord, I am bound to let it govern me, because it is His word; but if, instead of this, I am carried away by cares, riches or pleasure, it is evident the word has no hold on me, and there can be no fruit. How often does one, either in reading or hearing, accept the word of the Lord, and yet find afterwards that it has not produced any effect! And why? Because other things were allowed to rule, or monopolise the place of the word, and hence there could not be fruit. Fruit is the effect produced

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by the distinct action and control of the word. The word has been accepted, but it has not been understood. It has not been received as the word of God, which effectually works in them that believe. There is too ready an acceptance of it, not that in one sense the acceptance can be too ready; but it is not received sufficiently with the sense that it is God's word to one's own soul. The mere receiving of the word as a statement of truth is never effectual, it must be mixed with faith; my soul must be under the conviction that it is addressed to me by the Lord Himself as His will and counsel, authoritatively declared to me, claiming to order and direct me, and to which I am required to yield unqualified submission. It is not informing me what I might do, but what God requires me to do, and which I am able to do the moment I accept the word as His. It is, alas! quite possible, without any intended opposition to the Lord, to accept truth as information, something to enlarge one's mind, and not something which didactically claims implicit obedience, because coming from God.

The word must lead, or the thorns will choke it; that is, it must hold the first place. To God's claim and direction all must bow. If other things are allowed to take the lead, then faith has waned; the sense of God's paramount claim has been supplanted, and there is no true effect from the word. The information may remain, but there is not the accuracy, even in the information, which practice alone ensures. Practice leads one in a wonderful way into accuracy of idea and power of expression about the truth. If the truth be understood in its bearing and claim, it holds the first place. The heart is honest and true, and the fruit is brought to perfection. But when other things are allowed to take the lead, like thorns in a cornfield, the corn is spoiled. So long as the corn keeps ahead of the thorns, there is, at least, some fruit -- grace -- brought to perfection. We are called to be "doers of the word,

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and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straight-way forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed", James 1:22 - 25.

The point is that there must be action in keeping with the instruction conveyed by the word. If you abide in the word, there will be action, and therefore blessing; but if you go your way, after hearing, you have only seen your face in a glass; you have not altered anything in keeping with the word; the word has not exerted any influence over you. You go your way, and other things lead and govern you, and not the word of God. Alas! we have in ourselves, and around, evidence of this every day. For example, one accepts the coming of the Lord as revealed in Scripture, but the same man goes on as usual, toiling for the future, occupied with hopes and fears. Surely that truth, accepted though it be, does not govern him; it does not influence or control his conduct, it is distinctly unfruitful. If, on the other hand, the truth were received in faith, it would alter every natural taste and pursuit, and would support one in the power of itself as of God; but when it is not so the very blessedness of the truth itself is lost and unknown, because it is in the doing that the blessing is secured. It is not the extent in knowledge of the truth, but if the truth does not lead, something of nature comes in to set it aside; and in some way or other the truth is limited or qualified. If one is not transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2), there will be no power to "prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God".

It is sad and fearful how small a thing, when allowed to take the lead in one's mind, will choke the accepted

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truth, and it is chiefly the cares of this life which are the thorns; indeed they head the list, for it is that for which every one makes a ready and plausible excuse that we most need to be on our guard against. Abraham's father delays his entrance into Canaan, but it is the famine -- the cares of this life -- which, taking the lead in his mind, causes him to leave Canaan for Egypt. How easily might he plead his duty, and the needs of his family for this step The simple fact was that the cares -- the thorns -- ruled him, and choked for a season the word of the Lord in his soul. Lot might have pleaded the same excuse for his more aggravated course, when he chose the well-watered plain. His desire to do well for himself and his family choked the word, O how grievously! and it brought forth no fruit to perfection. After the same manner, Jacob settles at Shalem; Genesis 33. He does not deliberately intend to decline from the word of the Lord; but care for the present, care for his family, rules for the moment, and the power of the word is lost to him -- he misses the blessing of the "doer". Saints are ready enough to allow that riches and pleasures choke the word, but they too often forget that the cares which they so readily excuse are the worst and most prejudicial of thorns, and that occupation with them is one of the great evidences that we are not walking here with a single eye. In Luke 11:34 we see that the effect of a single eye is that the whole body is full of light; and in chapter 12 there is no fear of those who kill the body, no thought for what we shall eat or what we shall drink; neither is there a doubtful mind.

When I begin to think of myself as Mark did at Perga (Acts 13:13) then the word has lost its power, and I am disqualified and out of course, because another thing sways me, and not the word of the Lord; see Acts 15:38. Satan's object is to distract, and this he can do more effectually through things right in their place, such as care and provision for one's family, than

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through things in any degree exceptionable. Hence the Scripture says, "Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee", Hebrews 13:5. Many true servants of the Lord, like the seven in John 21, have gone a fishing because they have lost the Lord's presence; whereas if He had been present they would have been in subjection to His word, into which He subsequently leads them, having first made two things clear to them; one, that with all their toiling they had not bettered their circumstances; and the other, that He had made provision for them. The fire was on the shore, and the bread and fish laid thereon. I do not for a moment adduce this to give sanction for idleness, or the abandonment of one's natural calling or business; I believe working with one's hands is often the most blessed help to the servant in many ways. But I adduce it to show that even apostles may, through earthly considerations, lose the rule and guidance of God's word, and forego the higher claims of Christ's service, while cares pre-occupy them. I believe that if one, truly and from the Lord, accepted the end of the first man in judgment, in the cross of Him who is now glorified in heaven, that one could not but, as called of Him, be for Him here, as united to Him where He is, and hence glad to steer as clear as possible of the distractions of the scene, happy to take the lowest place in poverty, if need be, so that His interests might fully and entirely occupy one.

I can make no excuse for cares taking the place of the word of Christ in the soul. If a man have a family, he is bound to provide for them food and raiment; and if he has not means he must work for it, if not called of the Lord to give himself exclusively to His service. If he be, the Lord will surely take good care of him and of his family. But if it be to better his small means or to advance his family, then, according to the grace given and the trust reposed in him, so will there

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be with him, like David in Ziklag, bitter sorrow and disappointment, and no success in the thing desired. All turns on the word and light conferred; and if it be not effectual, it is because of thorns; but when the word rules, the heart will rejoice in the Lord, and the "doer" of it be consciously blessed in his deed.


"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the glory of kings is to search out a thing", Proverbs 25:2. Thus spake Solomon, for God reveals, and man learns. The revealer can select his own time for the revelation; till then what he knows is kept concealed. The learner searches out a matter to increase his store of acquired knowledge. How these words, the last clause especially, became themselves an illustration of the truth they set forth, in a way Solomon surely never thought of! For, uttered by him before Israel was separated from Judah, they were probably, with what follows them, not incorporated with the book of Proverbs till Israel had ceased to be a distinct kingdom on earth. They were copied out by the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah. It was to that king's honour to search out all that he could of the sayings of the wisest of men replete with divine wisdom, which God till then had not allowed to form part of this book.

But the former clause of the verse receives a fuller illustration when we turn to other parts of Scripture, and observe how God has concealed things from man till the right moment arrived to reveal them. Centuries rolled by before He placed in the hands of His people the first written portion of the volume of the book. During fifteen hundred years subsequent to that epoch, the Spirit of God, from time to time, added to the sacred volume, till, at the death of John the evangelist and apostle, the pen of inspiration was laid aside, the range of God's revelation to His church being by that

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time complete. Commencing in Genesis with the record of the old creation, it carries us on to the new creation of all things, an outline of God's dealings with man and the earth in time, which divides the eternity of the past from the eternity of the future. But as it speaks a little of the eternity of the future, so does it of the eternity of the past. Yet we must penetrate far into the book, and read almost to its close, ere we gather up all we are permitted to collect of what took place near the beginning. God reveals things to man, but each in his season.

The history of the creation is an example of this. To learn about it we turn naturally to the beginning of Genesis, where we find it the special subject of revelation. But all is not told us at once, for we must turn to Job 38:7 to learn whether any created intelligences witnessed the fastening of the foundations of the earth. To rebuke Job, who was speaking of things he knew not, the Lord mentions the morning stars singing together, and all the sons of God shouting for joy, as they beheld almighty power dealing with this our earth. How then should Job, whose existence, compared with these, was so limited, and whose knowledge was so scanty, presume to sit in judgment on the actions and motives of his Creator?

Far back as this takes us, we can travel in thought to a period still more remote, when we hearken to Wisdom's voice, persuading men to give ear to her teaching, as one fully competent to instruct them Proverbs 8. In presenting, as it were her credentials in proof of the claims she asserted, she tells us, "Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old ... When he prepared the heavens I was there", etc. In Genesis neither of these matters is stated. God brought them out when needed, the truth in season for men. Do we not feel, as we gather up these notices of creation, that all has not yet been told us that God knows about it? We know something,

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but only what He has revealed; and His manner of relating it suggests to the heart that, were it requisite, He could tell us yet more. It is the full treasury of knowledge dealing out at times a little of its store.

If we turn to the epistle of Jude, we are furnished with a few more illustrations of God's concealing a matter till the time arrives to declare it, as we read of the sin of the fallen angels, and the contention of Michael the archangel with the devil, and as we peruse the prophecy of Enoch, the seventh from Adam.

In 2 Peter 2 we are told that punishment awaits the fallen angels; for the sure punishment of sins is the subject there in hand. In Jude we learn what their sin was -- they "kept not their first estate". But why is their existence kept a secret till so late in the world's history? Why is it that what happened, we believe, before man was created is not disclosed till after atonement has been made? The character of their sin is similar to that of apostate christendom. They left their first estate. Men in the latter days will despise dominion. Both cast off the position of subjection in which God has placed them. Now this evil having been introduced in the days of Jude, the Spirit by him warns souls of it. The evil was then germinating through the introduction privily of ungodly men to the assembly of believers, who turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denied the only Lord (despot)+ and our Lord Jesus Christ. Great is the sin of these men; but if earth has not been a stranger to such daring wickedness, heaven witnessed something similar when the fallen angels forsook the place God had originally assigned them. So their history is referred to as a warning to souls now.

But if the character of their sin finds a parallel in that of the fallen angels, their presumption, their arrogance, stand rebuked by the conduct of Michael the archangel. Here we are introduced to a contention

+"God" is omitted by the best MSS and textual critics.

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between him and the devil which took place, not, like the previous event, before Adam was created, but, though man was unconscious of it, after Israel had been called out to be the Lord's peculiar people. These men would speak evil of dignities. Michael the archangel would not allow himself to bring a railing accusation against a dignity, even though it was a fallen one, the devil. He would maintain the authority of the Lord. "The Lord rebuke thee". That was the Lord's, not Michael's part. They would shut God out of the world, and act in a manner the archangel would shrink from.

Privily these men had entered in amongst believers, deceiving the saints as to their real character, though they could not deceive the Lord. He saw them, described them, and had even foretold their latter end by His servant Enoch. If we turn to the inspired biography in Genesis we read nothing of his prophecy, and should not have gathered from it that he had ever been used as a prophet. Jude however discloses this fact, and gives us the very terms of his prediction; so we read what men before the flood heard and knew, we can listen to language with which some of them may have been familiar. As long as God was dealing with Israel as a distinct people apart from others, the gentiles were not brought into view, generally speaking, except as they were connected with the people of Israel. But now that God will deal with the whole world, and pour out His wrath upon the ungodly, the prophecy of Enoch again has its place amongst the revelations He has made, and for the first time is recorded in the volume of His word. It was truth in season for souls in Jude's day; so, though in existence for more than three thousand years, it was not brought forward after the flood, till the time for its use as a warning of coming events had arrived.

How simply are these revelations of the past unfolded to us! They come not as discoveries just made by the

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writer, but as facts which God had never forgotten.

These examples of God concealing matters till the revelation of them would profit men might well speak to man's heart, and make him pause ere he sat in judgment on his Maker, questioning whether he is as fully informed of all he needs to know as he ought to be, if the actions and character of the Lord are to be judged at the bar of human opinion. How limited is his knowledge of what had taken place before Adam walked in the garden! How ignorant too is he of what may be taking place around him, between spirits invisible to mortal eyes, and impalpable to mortal sense!

Who of the children of Israel witnessed that dispute Jude alone speaks of? Who of them was cognisant of its taking place? And how ignorant too man may be of what has happened on earth in bygone ages, as this prophecy of Enoch, recovered by God after the lapse of so many years, strikingly testifies. Reading these notices of the past, man should surely feel there is a history known to God and other created beings of which we know little, and there may be a history of the present, some day to be learnt, of which we know nothing. How well then, with these glimpses of what has been before us, to be humble and teachable about the ways of God, instead of proudly judging the omniscient Creator!


It is a subject full of interest, how one walking through this evil world can in person be full of light, or luminous. Everyone with any religious sense feels it is incumbent on him to draw a line of distinction between himself and the irreligion around; and hence it is that as there is conscience or a sense of what is due to God, so is there real separation. The fact that there must be some line of separation will not be denied by any except a thorough worldling. If one owns God at all, there must be separation from the habits and ways of those who refuse and

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turn away from all religion. But it is just here that the snare is. Many are contented with a separation which satisfies their own conscience, because they are led by natural religion, and not by the light which has been manifested, even our Lord Jesus Christ.

In a day like this, it is of great importance that we should clearly understand what really constitutes a body full of light, or luminous; what is the course of conduct here which will be proof positive that we have a single eye, and that we have clearly imbibed the light which has been lighted on the earth.

In Luke 11, the Lord sets before us the truth that He is the Light, a greater than Jonas, and a greater than Solomon. The gentiles, the Ninevites, had repented at the preaching of Jonas, and the queen of Sheba had come from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; but "a greater than Solomon is here". The full light had come, and it was not set under a bushel or under a bed; but all who come in should see the light. The light had come. "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light". Here it is plainly stated that if the eye be single -- that is, if there be but the one object, and no mixed motive -- the effect will be that the whole body will be luminous; the body will be refulgently expressive of the light. Christ is the light. According as Christ simply and exclusively engages the heart, so is the body, the whole being, luminous with the manner and mind of Christ. Blessed consummation! If the eye, that which takes in the light, be not simple, then the body is not luminous; and hence we have to take heed that the light which is in us be not darkness. The more and the greater the revelation of truth, the more grievous and painful was the departure or perversion of it by those who adopted it without a single eye, and put their own carnal interpretation on it. The truth ever was to glorify God, to express God; but while it distinctly

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secured the benefit of man, it did so by revealing God; and as there was a single eye at any time, this revelation was accepted, and it imparted the true light for the time to the one thus faithful. But when it was accepted without a single eye, the very light became darkness, that is, the adoption of it in a carnal way was only increased darkness, even darkness greater than if there had been no light. The darkness of the Jews was greater than that of the gentiles. They had received the revelation of God, but having no single eye for it, the light became darkness.

It is a matter of grave moment that if light be not accepted as it is -- and for this there must be a single eye -- then the very light becomes darkness, Every communication and manifestation of God to man, when not accepted by an eye referring it to God distinctly, was perverted by the mind of man, and became darkness. Eve, in calling her firstborn Cain, perverted light into darkness; a darkness that would not have occurred had she not been favoured with a revelation which would have given her light if she had had a single eye, that is, a mind simply occupied with God in the matter. This is the clue to the great mistakes and confusion into which many men, well read in the Scriptures, fall. They have not a single eye for the truth; they accept it in a natural way, not as light from God, which it is, and which therefore nothing but a single eye can take in. The simplest truth, if not taken in with a single eye, respecting God only in it, is darkness. The commandment to love one another, if accepted apart from God and holiness, is gross darkness. The unity of all christians, if accepted without regard to the holiness of God's house, is again grievous darkness. And hence, when there is an evil eye -- that is, admitting self as an object, having a mixed motive -- then there cannot be a body full of light. It was even so with Noah, Abraham, and Moses. The light and truth of God, when appropriated and applied naturally, only led them into darkness,

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and in the very opposite line to the truth. Noah is placed in rule over everything, but he fails to rule himself, and falls into self-indulgence. Abraham, when his eye was not simply occupied with God, would have Ishmael for his heir; and Moses, while using the power and name of God at Meribah, introduces himself and dishonours God. The more fully communicated the mind of God is, and hence the more fitted to instruct and guide us through this dark world, the greater darkness it becomes to us if used according to the natural mind or the evil eye, as man would interpret it for himself. Hence, now that the perfect light has been set up, if there is not a single eye to take it in, the knowledge of it will only be darkness indeed. The candle of the body is the eye, that which takes in the light. If the eye be not single, light has been misunderstood and unappropriated.

The full light has now come; and if the candle of the body be simple, the body will be luminous, expressive of Christ Himself in this evil world. The effort to make the will of God subservient to man's glory has been the great and continued snare. Nothing so tests what is in a man as to demand of him to submit himself to the mind of God. The utter inability of Saul to rule for God was exposed by entrusting to him the solemn task of extirpating the Amalekites. If he had a single eye, one occupied only with the communication and mind of God, if he had understood the mind of God in that solemn charge, how could he have spared Agag the king? But he lacked the single eye, and that which would have been a light to him only enveloped him in thick darkness, and led to his forfeiture of the throne of Israel. Thus with the Pharisees in the Lord's time; their great desire and effort was to express in their walk the perfection which the law enjoined; but it proved to be darkness indeed to them, because they thought only of what man would approve and not of what would please God. It is here

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that the want of light is always betrayed. We see man consenting to the truth and yet unable to comprehend it. He adopts it as contributive to his own consequence or elevation; that is, there is another object in it besides God. It is taken in with an evil eye. Hence, the people who accept the truth of God without a single eye are always the greatest opponents of the light, painful as the fact is. The amount of the good done to man must not deceive us. Saul might plead that they had destroyed all that was vile and refuse; the Pharisees might boast of their good conduct, and that the house was swept and garnished; but God was left out. Man was primarily considered, and hence Saul's act, with all its apparent denunciation of what was vile and refuse, was as the sin of witchcraft; and all the sweeping and garnishing of the Pharisees would end in seven devils entering in, and the last state being worse than the first. We see in John 18 and 19 that the Jews, to whom were committed the oracles of God, are more opposed to Christ, the Son of God, than the gentiles.

The greater the light, the more will man be distanced from the will of God if he takes in the revelation with an evil eye, that is, with reference to himself, and not with reference to God, and thus the light is darkness. And if the light be owned, and at the same time be used with reference to man, the end will be that, while there may be much consideration for the poor and great display of interest for them, there will be the greatest opposition to the truth as manifested by Christ. No amount of good works, or of putting away of the vile and refuse, should beguile the faithful into the delusion that these things constitute the body full of light. Though such may and do obtain credit and acknowledgment among men, as if they were the highest and best, and though they themselves be filled with the idea that they are the most exemplary people on the earth, they will yet always be found in the greatest darkness and to be the most bitter opponents of the truth

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of God. There are no people in the present day so opposed to the truth of Christ being all in all as those most exemplary for charitable works and good deeds; and the only way to account for this is, that they cannot admit the full truth and at the same time pursue the great aim and the end of their works, namely, benefiting man and improving society. The more the name of Christ is connected with them -- alas! it is even so -- the more do they hinder the truth; and hence, that which is in itself light, when taken in with an evil eye -- an eye for man and not simply for God -- is gross darkness.

And here every christian needs to be on his guard, because there is a tendency to direct our attention to the outside appearance, and thus the true character of the light has not been appreciated. Nay, it will be found that the more fully we are in the light, while we shall be the more perfect in every detail of life, still we shall not be occupied with our own appearance -- for that is not a single eye -- but with Christ.

The single eye feeds on Christ; and the personal expression of the effect here will be not fearing them that kill the body. Fearlessly occupied with the confession of Christ, we shall have no anxiety about what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, neither shall we be of a doubtful mind -- giving away present things, but providing a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. "Your loins ... girded about and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants", etc. Such is the body full of light! How beautiful, how striking the splendour of this light, when exhibited in the saints in this evil world! Now if the body be not thus full of light, there is some part dark. There is not the clear shining or blaze, as when a candle or lamp gives light. Hence the word, "and your lights burning". The

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lights are not burning, nor is there the true character of the light and the testimony maintained, unless there are these brilliant outgoings from us. Fearlessness as to those who kill the body -- confession as to Christ our object -- ourselves overlooked even to death -- so secure in God's care for us that we are as quiet and restful about the things most necessary for our existence, such as food and raiment, as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Present things we give away. The treasure in heaven holds our heart in its own region. We wait, as in duty bound, but also with joyful expectation, for our Master's knock, that we may open to Him immediately. This, I repeat, is a body full of light.

I dread the efforts I see to get a good character from the world, as if that were the end proposed for the saint on the earth. The end and aim for the saint as to the earth is to be a body full of light, intolerable to the world, but well-pleasing to God. Nay, the more one attains to be an object of reputation among men, the more one is sinking into darkness and failing to he a body full of light in the midst of this adulterous and sinful generation -- an epistle of Christ -- a portrait of Himself!


It is worthy of note that Peter, the one to whom was revealed the rock on which Christ builds His church, and who is there confirmed in the name Peter, as himself material [Gk. petros] for this new and unique structure, that he, at that very time, as recorded in the same scripture (Matthew 16:16 - 24), should have given utterance to a sentiment which has done more to damage and spoil the church on earth than any other; and one which the blessed Lord at once refuses as being of Satan, because savouring of the things which be of man, and not of the things which be of God.

Christ's death on the cross closed the history of the

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first man before God. He in love, and doing the will of God, accomplished righteousness in bearing the judgment on man, and in His death ending the one before God for whom He was judged; and hence, rising out from among the dead by the glory of the Father, He is the source and founder of a new race. This definitely and of necessity involved the judicial ending of the old race before God; for if a new race succeeds and displaces the old, there is proof positive that judgment has passed on to the latter, and a judgment which rested on the life. The life has been claimed in righteousness, and surrendered in judgment; and as surrendered, it can no longer be assumed, or reckoned on, or acknowledged; but this is the very thing that man in nature cannot accept. Skin for skin, all that a man hath will he give for his life; and this leaven we find, more or less, running through the whole history of the church.

In Corinth a place was given to the flesh. It was not crucified, it was sanctioned; and hence every variety of evil sprang up. Divisions (1 Corinthians 3:3), reigning as kings (chapter 4: 8), internal disunion, external self-satisfaction (chapter 4: 18), no sense of defilement by contact, no discipline (chapter 5), going to law one with another before the world (chapter 6: 1 - 8), no sense publicly of their unique position (chapter 6: 9 - 20), eating in idols' temples (chapter 8), profane carelessness at the Lord's table (chapter 11), wilfulness in the use of gifts (chapter 14), ending with the denial of the resurrection (chapter 15: 12) which was the climax, Satan having gained control over the mind of man.

In the churches of Galatia, they, having begun in the Spirit, were seeking to be made perfect in the flesh, seeking to reform and subdue the flesh, by placing it under law, instead of maintaining that in Christ they had crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts, so henceforth were to walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh; Galatians 4:9, etc.

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In Colosse there was evidently a borrowing from judaism and philosophy, or rationalism; and there man received a twofold exaltation, one in ordinances or outward exercises, the other intellectually. Now we must remember that all these forms of evil germinated in connection with christianity; so much so that we can hardly be surprised to find the apostle warning Timothy when in Ephesus (1 Timothy 4) of the direct energy of Satan in the latter days, introducing a standard of sanctity in the flesh, forbidding to marry, commanding abstinence from meats, in order to set aside and divert souls from the godliness which the presence of Christ alone can impart; and again in 1 Timothy 6, of another activity, that of counting gain godliness, anything which would raise man in the scale, and this is in fact our modern radicalism. Thus the two lines in which the flesh works are presented in these two epistles -- the religious line, and the positional line; the former exacting testimonies of self-denial and self-control, in order to prove that there is inherent virtue in the old nature; the other seeking to prove that self-elevation was just and suitable. These are apparently diverse activities; but both contribute to man's status in nature; they were reduced to system, as we have seen in Colosse, and the progress of them comes out in 2 Timothy; the latter -- the intellectual -- being what the church in its normal state would suffer from, and what the apostle warns them of in Acts 20.

There is first the desertion of the truth which had been learned from Paul: "All who are in Asia ... have turned away from me" (2 Timothy 1:15); and secondly, a turning to profane and vain babblings, saying that the resurrection is past already; chapter 2: 16 - 18. One deserts the truth that had been accepted, and the other audaciously destroys it, thus indicating the low and irreparable state of the house of God as to the vessels in it. Consequent on this state of things as recorded in chapter 4, "they will turn away their ear from the truth, and will

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have turned aside to fables", the creations of their own imaginations, which reach their consummation in the last days (chapter 3), when there would be a form of godliness but denying the power thereof; and when these teachers are compared to Jannes and Jambres, the magicians who resisted Moses by imitation (Exodus 8), so do these withstand the truth, and their followers are described as "silly women", a class marked by effeminacy of the weakest kind, and hence ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. This is the state of things in the Laodicean times of which we are forewarned, when the leaven had so affected the mass that the church as the vessel of testimony here is spued out of the mouth of Christ; and thus we get how the eye of Christ views things in the last days, and the message which in consequence He sends to the church of that time. In 2 Timothy the servant is instructed how to deal with this state of things. Here (Revelation 3) the Lord declares His own judgment of the state, and accordingly He sets forth the condition of their hearts and the self-satisfaction with which they regard their own ways. He denounces them as wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked; while they said of themselves, "I am rich, and am grown rich, and have need of nothing". It is undeniable that there was very great activity, great cause for self-laudation externally; for they must have had good data for their assertion, one which the Lord quotes as their own advertisement of themselves.

The manner in which the Lord presents Himself to them is as the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. He brings before them the line of truth by which He is measuring them, to strengthen them if they are in it, as those in Philadelphia were, but to convict them if they are not. The Laodicean leaven is the full-blown result of 2 Timothy 3; the claim of true godliness has been lost, and while the form is specially retained, the power is

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denied. And man by imitation supersedes the real thing so completely that he can assert he has need of nothing; but when this is measured by Him, who is the beginning of the creation of God, the faithful and true witness, the One who alone fully declared God, there is nothing really within or without for His eye to rest on; there is no gold tried in the fire, no white raiment; there is not the creation of God, it is not the true thing; and with all the display and boast, there is not that which He can commend. He says, "Thou art lukewarm". He does not say there is no warmth, but a mixture of hot and cold; and the result of that mixture is that there is a state of things highly satisfactory to the natural eye. It is, in fact, all in a human way; it is the human element which is active and which is satisfied. I am not considering the extent of this Laodicean leaven now. I am only tracing its growth, and how we have to beware of any tendency to this state of things. We are told to put one another in remembrance of these things. We are not to suppose that because we have escaped from the delusions of popery, we are proof against the leaven that is working all around in the church. That leaven is Laodicean, and its test is "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God".

Now we must guard against everything assuming to be service for Christ which in any degree partakes of this leaven; and if we are walking with the Lord, we shall not fail to see and detect what is not in keeping with His mind. Whenever flesh is allowed a place, this leaven is assuredly working, and one cannot fail to see it in the way the senses are addressed in every popular religion. On one side the senses are addressed through genuflexion and bodily exercise, on the other through the intellect; but in neither is man ignored in the presence of God's Son, risen out of judgment on the first man. The national churches are notorious for the first, the dissenting more for the latter. Popery

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and Puseyism are the extreme of the one, independency and rationalism of the other. But where true saints are most in danger in the present day is in connection with evangelicalism, because of the blessing brought to souls through what is called revivalism. This is an element not easy to grapple with, but one which eventually will render the church nauseous in the eye of Christ, and lead Him to spue it out of His mouth because not of the creation of God. It is here, I repeat, that the true hearted are likely to be ensnared and damaged. In all the activity, in which I admit many have been converted -- not in the mummeries of the ritualist, but in the specious and attractive form of sensational preaching and appeal to the feelings -- man is made so prominent that there is in those converted under such preaching no sense in the soul that man as he is must be utterly repudiated. There is not real repentance. I do not deny that there is true and genuine conversion in many cases; but I think I am warranted in saying that rarely, if ever, do any under this teaching find the church, or give up the world. Now we know that there is no true sense of being material, petros, for the structure which Christ builds, except as the soul receives from God the knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 16:18). And this is the selfsame truth which enables one to overcome the world; 1 John 5:5. The reason for this darkness is apparent. The gospel preached is simply forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus. Man's need is the only thing pressed on souls. They are not convicted of being by nature in that man which is judged before God on the cross, and they have no real peace; they are not clear of Egypt and the Egyptian, of all that which has been judged on the cross. The gospel presented is imperfect and one-sided, only occupied with man; and the name Jesus, which is almost exclusively used by them, indicates that they confine Him to our level, as if He imparted forgiveness to us in our old standing, instead

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of seeing Hint in resurrection, the Lord of life and power, imparting to us an entirely new standing altogether apart from and superior to the old one. The works which flow from this order of preaching bear the stamp of human feeling rather than of divine power. Their charities are more those of benevolence, conferred as from benefactors, than the expression of love, occupied with its object and extending from the inner circle of Christ's affections to the good of all men. Again, if there is association, it is socialism without discipline; and lastly, there is no advance in the knowledge of Christ and His ways. Nothing is so markedly painful and foreboding as the patent fact that any, however true, who are held under the influence of revivalism, never seem to get on one bit farther in light and truth than that which they received in the freshness of their new birth.

Now that which will set aside and prevent Laodicean leaven we are told by the Lord Himself in Revelation 3:18: "I counsel thee [He says] to buy of me" -- first, gold tried in the fire, divine righteousness proved in the heart which is exercised in the ways and mind of Christ -- this is the internal thing; secondly, white raiment, practical righteousness, the true, proper clothing for the saint; gold within, and white raiment without; reality of the finest order and value within, and everything pure, comely, and divinely beautiful without; not the mere ways and manner which men could approve of, but what God approves of. Finally, the eye so anointed that there is power to receive the truth as it is.

If the eye be sound, if its vision be unimpaired and unaffected by the influences around, if it be simple, entirely engaged with Christ, then the truth will be received without any mixture, and the body will be full of light; for the disciple is practically the transcript of Christ, whom the anointed eye receives and possesses.

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With the amount of intelligence around we do not see corresponding practice; hence there must be some imperfection in the acceptance of truth.

The effort and unceasing aim of Satan in the present day is to exalt man and set aside Christ; and as he is the prince of the power of the air, everything is charged with this evil influence, though in different ways, in the world and in the church. In every age the truth that God is pressing on His people, and calling on them to maintain, is always the one that Satan resists the most. To oppose and hinder the acceptance of Christ is the attempt of the adversary in this day; the opposition in its character is simply antichrist. God has set Christ -- the Man of God -- at His own right hand, and as the risen One He is superior to all the power of Satan, under which the first Adam still is; and hence, as the last Adam is owned and maintained, all Satan's power is vanquished and ignored. Hence Satan must violently oppose the maintenance of a truth which entirely strips him of power and influence; and where he cannot succeed in fully denying it, he will qualify it.

Both the body and mind of man are used by Satan to hinder the truth and work of God, and in different ways. At one time the sword is the instrument of violence; at another it is the mind and its subtleties. The latter is the more dangerous, because I may suffer from it unconsciously; and it is fatal, simply because the natural mind understands not the things of the Spirit of God; for if any subject or point be within the grasp of the natural mind, it must be below the divine idea, it must be limited to my own measure. The saint has the mind of Christ, he understands the things of God by the Spirit of God; but then his natural intellect must not speculate on them, it is used to

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explain what has been unfolded and taught to one in the word. It must not suggest, it may only repeat, and the more truly the natural intellect is under the control of God's Spirit, the more perfectly will it be a good servant in repeating what the Spirit of God has taught in the word of God.

Now it is easy to detect the working of the natural mind in a christian, for it must always make man its object and not God. It could not rise to God, it may speciously appear to accept from God, but it will always limit to man. One need hardly dwell on this; it must be so self-evident, for the mind of man cannot go beyond itself; the mind of Christ is of the measure of God, and hence God, He being the greater, is of necessity made prominent. Man's mind cannot rise higher than man; and if anything greater than his mind be contributed, he must either receive a mind equal to the truth communicated, or in order to admit it, he must reduce it to the limit of his natural mind, and this is the cause of apparent intelligence without conscience.

The more the human mind is exercised, the more it likes to be supplied with material to work on. Its appetite increases by exercise, and as the evil influence is in the very air, saints ought to be on their guard, lest they should be ensnared by feeding their natural minds with the truths of God. In a way, there is no truth that the natural mind may not attempt to accept, and the imperfection of the acceptance will be betrayed by a defective practice; the conscience will not be affected by it. The truth, as I have already stated, is accepted with relation to oneself, and with regard to the benefit it confers on oneself; but the relation to God is left out. The latter could not be comprehended but by the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things which are freely given us of God. When man's mind thinks about a truth, it necessarily limits it to man; and hence, if I hear or read of God's purposes

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to the saints, in which are set forth great and wondrous favours for them, I may appropriate the favours to myself, and exult in them; but if I do so in my natural mind, I do not connect myself with God in and through them, and therefore with the intelligence there is no conscience, that is, no increased sense of what is due to God from one so highly favoured by Him.

It is one's own benefit, and not one's relation to God, that the natural intellect dwells on; and in this intellectual acquirement there is little or no conscience, or sense of the relation in which God has placed me to Himself. In short, it is intellectual and not spiritual. I may value a privilege for what it confers on me, but not because of the place in which it sets me with God; and so when I accept privileges in the natural mind, I limit the benefit to myself, and they impose no greater claim on me to walk like Christ. There is no practice, though there is an acceptance of the place or ground of privilege. Lot is in Canaan as much as Abraham, but his natural mind works, and he thinks only of himself there, and not of the call of God, and the claim which that call imposed on him if he had held it in dependence on God; and hence, alas! a privileged man is in practice as bad, if not worse, than the worldling.

Jacob returns to Canaan (Genesis 33); and, after he has received the name of Israel at Peniel, he allows his own mind to work. He arranges for himself, and he seeks a resting-place for himself where he was called to be a pilgrim and a stranger; and the name of his altar, El-elohe-Israel, betrays the selfishness of his heart in his thoughts of God; and before the world, instead of being God's witness, he is, like Peter in the high priest's house, a reproach.

Being in the place of privilege, or accepting the truth which confers the privilege, is not a safeguard against the working of the natural mind; and if it works, only self is thought of and God is left out; and however great the intelligence and position, there can be no

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practice. Two persons like Orpah and Ruth can receive the truth in the most contrary ways; the one, in the natural mind, only thinks of herself in connection with it; but the other, because in the Spirit, thinks of God, and in Him embraces all. The spies who searched the land went to the same place, and saw the same things; and yet ten of them, seeing them in a natural way -- that is, with reference to man -- only discouraged the people; while Caleb and Joshua, who saw with the Spirit's eye, judged of them with relation to God, and acted for God, and according to His word. Thus we see that the same truths may produce very opposite effects. Saul and Jonathan receive the same David and know his work, but each in a totally different way; and yet probably each would have given verbatim the same account of what he had done; but of himself, in relation to themselves, they think very differently. Saul will indeed have him to come home with him; but Jonathan thinks of him, and how much he is entitled to, and strips himself to make much of David. Just so the Pharisee of Luke 7 receives the Lord into his house; but the woman -- the sinner in the same house -- manifests to the Pharisee's guest how far beyond all human perception she sees Him, and that He is to her an object entirely eclipsing herself; and this she owns in the most practical way.

In this day there is a great amount of avowed intelligence about truth, without any corresponding practice, or testimony to Christ and His worth. If privilege or position is all with reference to myself, then the acceptance of either subjects me to no sacrifice, and this suits the natural mind; but if, on the contrary, every privilege places me more in association with God, which it does when spiritually accepted, surely the sacrifice would be in keeping with the privilege; that is, there would be distinct and absolute renunciation of everything which did not honour God, and express Christ, in accordance with the place in which He has set us.

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Every truth spiritually accepted places us nearer to God; and the nearer we are to God, the deeper is the sense of what is due to Him; and thus there is conscience in proportion to our intelligence. But if the intelligence be used to exalt myself, that is, if I am ensnared by the natural mind to think only of myself in connection with a truth, then, though there may be a great knowledge of the truth historically, there will be no power from it, no increased conformity to Christ, because it has not been received in relation to Christ, but only to myself. And this limiting it to myself reduces me, like Lot or Jacob, to the level of the world or worse; and though there be seeming intelligence, there is no practice. When the conscience is in proportion to the intelligence, we know God, and we see spiritually what suits Him; and He in His love ordains that what suits Him should be most for our benefit and blessing.

May souls be warned against the snare of the intellect in this day, and may they, with godly jealousy, watch and see how each truth connects them with Christ, that they may be more and more like Him.


With an increase of knowledge and apprehension of the truth, there is a constant sense that we are not practically up to what we have received; and hence the measure of our strength is not the enjoyment of a truth, but the extent to which we maintain what we believe in spite of every obstacle. It is the way in which we surmount the difficulties in our path, which really indicates our strength, and not the enjoyment of the truth which defines our position.

The revelation unfolds God to us in His nature and purposes, and as we believe in Him thus revealed, we depend on Him, and use Him in every circumstance in which we are placed, and everything, the smallest as well as the greatest, tests and proves our faith, where

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nothing is in accordance with it; hence the measure of our strength is the strait we pass through in the power of Christ.

There is a genuine delight in the soul in seeing any of the portion which God has given us in Christ; but delight is not power, though the delight is lost if there be not power to sustain oneself according to the truth accepted, whenever or howsoever challenged; and here it is that one is so tried. The revelation has been received and the beauty and excellence of it delights the heart, but the commonest thing -- nay, everything here -- challenges it and denies it. Hence it is not the truth revealed, but the power of Christ whom the truth has revealed, which will alone enable us to rise above the power of evil. The revelation has set before me what God has given me, but everything here is hostile to God. Satan attempts to deprive me of it; and it is only as I am superior to the opposition that I retain, in any degree, delight in and possession of what I have seen. The more I see of God's favour to me -- and in that way the deeper my enjoyment -- the more I must be practically superior to everything that would rob me of it. A lesser portion would expose me to less opposition; but the highest portion must expose me to opposition from everything, where everything is contrary to God. It is as I am able, in the power of Him who has revealed my position to me, to refuse and counteract every opposing thing, that I am really strong, and strong skilfully; that is, strong in wisdom's ways, for wisdom indicates to me the path for my faith. The more distinctly I see my position, the more necessarily must I see everything which would interfere with or compromise it. Now merely seeing this is not strength; but as I triumph in faith over this and that which opposes me on every side, so I have strength; so that the higher my position with regard to everything here, the more must I maintain my superiority or be compromised, while I profess and am

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entitled to superiority. According as I maintain my height spiritually, where everything naturally opposes me, so am I strong in enjoying my high position, though in the very midst of my enemies. I overcome them. Thus, while my position indicates the extent of the power required, and conferred too, my strength is really only as I surmount each rising hindrance that would degrade or debar me from my position; and my faith in God, as to His favour in Christ, in putting me in this exalted position, is tested by everything here.

We read or hear His word, the light reaches our heart, we are delighted, we see His grace and purpose towards us. Now if we are walking in faith, and have received the truth in faith, we are not shaken by the things here which refuse and deny it; but the contrarieties only prove and manifest it. Hence it is "the proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be proved by fire", (1 Peter 1:7); and as there is faith, as one stands the test, patience -- enduring power of holding out -- is ensured. The believing soul experiences a sense of enjoyment in the reception of the truth; but it is when we come into contact with countrarieties that we prove whether we are really dependent on God with respect to it. If everything were favourable, there would be no sifting or testing, no disclosure of the amount of faith; but when faith is tested, then patience is acquired, power to bear up against what is adverse; and therefore the measure of our strength is the strait we pass through with God. A man who passes through no straits has no sense of strength; he has not needed, as to his experience, the power of Christ, and he has not used it; he knows not his strength. Abraham in faith obeys the call of God, and into the land of Canaan he came; but soon as a famine in the land tests his faith in God, and the measure of his strength is proved to be this -- that in faith he could enter the land, but that he could not remain there in a famine.

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The revelation of God's favour, outside this scene of sorrow and rebellion of which we are by nature a part, must necessarily expose us to tribulation in it, if we accept in faith what He has revealed. Jacob is subjected to much tribulation before his dream at Luz (Genesis 28) is fulfilled at El-Bethel, nearly forty years afterwards (Genesis 35); and his strength was not in keeping with the revelation until he had returned to Bethel and set up an altar to the God of Bethel. The revelation defines the extent of my position, and my strength is as I maintain my position in circumstances entirely adverse to it. Paul, as a man in Christ, is carried into the third heaven -- a revelation of untold blessedness while in the light of it; but when he comes back from that region, where everything is for him, to this, where everything is against him, Satan buffeting him, his strength is as he maintains himself here in the power of Christ. As one entitled to so great an elevation he feels his weakness as a man more than ever. But this to faith is only an occasion for the power of Christ, commensurate with the position given him in Christ; and as he rested in Christ and was exercised to maintain what was revealed to him, so did he receive of the power of Christ to maintain him in Christ, as surely here where everything was against him, as in the third heaven, where everything was for him. And the measure of his strength was as he was in Christ; not where there were no hindrances, as in the third heaven, but here, where there were the greatest hindrances, and where the strength was challenged at every turn. The revelation defines the scope of the faith, and as there is faith so there is strength; and faith accepts nothing short of the revelation; and hence, as there is revelation, there must be deeper and greater tribulation to test the faith, and to make known to the soul the power of Christ, in whom I am graced and blessed.

There is no personal knowledge of God but as we count on Him, as we are practically conscious of depending

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on Him and of His caring for us. One without straits, and exercises, and victories, really has no growing acquaintance with God; and where there is not this, however great the intelligence or sincerity, there is little or no savour. It is the trials and difficulties of the way which are the opportunities for our hearts to grow in acquaintance with Him; and it will be found, while there may be great enjoyment in ministry, and in the unfolding of truth, that really there is not strength but in proportion as one has learned how God has been for and with one in the trials and sorrows of the way; and as one has known Him in them, so one is able to speak of Him. Intelligent christians are often confounded when a trial occurs, simply because they have not been accustomed to cast all their care on God. They have not learnt in their own history that in everything He cares for them. I refer not now to the rest that this would impart to themselves, but rather to there being no sense of strength, because there is no sense of how God had hitherto sustained them. When David's strength was challenged, he could say, "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God". If I am resting on God, difficulties only test my faith; and faith like the rising sun, scatters the darkness that seemed to obstruct and dispute its power. You will never find a soul possessing a truth unless it has been tested by some circumstances as to it, because the more I value it, the more I fear being deprived of it. But when it is tested, "tribulation works endurance; and endurance, experience; and experience, hope; and hope does not make ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us".

Truth received in power always displaces everything in me which is opposed to it. The strong man is not only bound, but his goods are spoiled. Surely, as I

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accept a truth which introduces me into a position contrary to everything I am in, so must I, as I am true to it, deny and refuse all that I am. And hence everything which hinders and assails is a tribulation -- it tests the reality of my possession of the truth; and I am assured of my possession as I overcome that which would naturally overcome me. As I overcome, I know my strength, and my victory is the result of my strength; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. I know what faith has done, but I must keep in faith to be cheered and encouraged by what it has wrought. Former faith cheers and encourages; but as the next step is never like any former one, so must there be fresh faith for every step, fresh dependence on God. The heart derives strength for each fresh trial in its thanksgiving for former deliverances, and the strength is assured and measured by the victory.


When I have rest in Christ, then I begin to find all my joy and strength in Him, and I occupy myself with Him. This is the first step, or the foundation of true devotedness. I do not become devoted in the true sense until I have found rest in Him, I am, up to this, rather looking to receive from Him. I am more an object to myself, but as soon as I find how fully I am an object to Him, then my heart is at liberty to make Him its object, He having made me His. A great deal of what is apparently devotedness is an effort to obtain a sense of His interest in one; it is a devotedness to obtain intimacy, instead of devotedness resulting from intimacy. Hence work is resorted to as affording a kind of joy, according as there is success; but the acts done with a motive of this kind betray their source in that the doer is more occupied with success than with assurance of Christ's approval, and is consequently dependent on

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good results for cheer and encouragement. Hence, I repeat, it is when occupation with Himself is the chief delight of my heart that I have reached the foundation stone and the true support of real devotedness. Without this, there may indeed be joy in the work, but there must be something to show, to make it interesting and encouraging, and this can be known by one not enjoying His society, not sitting under His shadow with great delight. If He be the delight and resource of my heart, nothing can equal the joy and satisfaction which I find in occupation with Himself. Of this Mary is an example, when she sat at His feet and heard His words. There is really no deeper or greater delight or gain to me than sitting in the sanctuary with Him, learning Him. How can anything that I do ever be equal to His society, and the unfolding of His mind to me? And when the great work of devotedness is wanting, I am assured, however great or self-denying the other works may be, that they fall short of the mind of Christ.

Nothing can be plainer than that if I desire to be devoted to a person, my first work must be to be well acquainted with that one, in order to do exactly as he wishes. But how can I know what would please Christ, One so infinitely above me, unless I have first studied Him? I must seek acquaintance with Him, and for this I must sit at His feet and learn His word. This is the first thing; and the want of this, even when there is zeal and ability, has led to much unsanctified activity and really profitless work, because if there be zeal and ability, without knowing where and when to use it, there must be a turning to take counsel from nature. And this is just what Martha did. She had zeal and ability, but instead of seeking to understand what was most on His mind, she cumbered herself with a very useful service, but one which was suggested by her own mind. Every servant who has ever known the "good part" can trace in his own course how often he has made this mistake and addressed himself to something

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apparently, and in his judgment, a most useful undertaking and service, and afterwards found how arduous and uncompensating it was to his spirit; while on the other hand, surely the true heart knows well that there is nothing equal to the rewards it receives from Christ, when simply and exclusively occupied with Himself, and seeking His mind and thoughts. And one may always question every work of devotedness, if this first one is wanting. It is in fact the Gilgal where every truly serving one returns to encamp and whence he issues afresh like the sun to run his course, and like a giant refreshed with wine.

I do not consider that prayer for the work, and waiting on the Lord for guidance and blessing, answers to what I call the foundation of devotedness. It is much more, it is seeking Christ personally, singularly and peculiarly for His own sake. Oh that we had more of it! more delighting our souls in the beauty and fragrance of His ways and counsels, answering to the prayer in Ephesians 3, "that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts". This is something very rare indeed. It is the Ruth-like heart that cleaves to Naomi when apparently there is nothing to be gained by doing so, and who does so merely to satisfy the affections of the heart. Such an one is always ready for the next work, and that is, doing the immediate will of the One who so entirely controls me. Ruth does exactly as Naomi instructs her, and gleans in the field -- an evangelist indeed! Mary Magdalene does exactly as the Lord tells her, and she goes and tells his brethren the very first and chief line of thought in His heart for them. In both these cases the personal devotedness came first, and the serving devotedness came next. But it is well to bear in mind that not only is it in His society that I am satisfied myself, but it is there I become qualified for being an exponent of Him who satisfies me; otherwise I am speaking of one I do not know. But if He be sufficient to absorb my heart, as I

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learn Him, so am I qualified, not only to communicate my knowledge, but to do so with the force of one delighting in Him with a satisfied heart. I am not only increasingly delighted myself, but I have increased ability and material to set forth what has satisfied me. This double gain is acquired from association with Him. I am more fully acquainted, deepened, and enlarged in my own heart in that which satisfies, and hence the better qualified to set forth His virtues, and lead others into what I enjoy. It is evident that the first work is occupation with Christ according to the desires of His heart. It is not whether it is the most useful thing, or the thing which by common consent all would commend; but it is that which is distinctly the thing nearest His own heart, what is called the "things of Jesus Christ".

The first great injunction of our Lord to His disciples, when leaving them, was, "love one another, as I have loved you". He loved us and gave Himself for us, and the first desire on His heart is that His disciples' love should be where His own is, and after the same order too. He gave His life, and He enjoins us to give our lives for the brethren. It is very important to see how we are to please Christ and truly answer to His, mind as those acquainted with Him. His heart is in the church, and He cannot set any disciple, whose heart is near His own, apart from this line. This is His first line, and it must necessarily be ours. And no service would lose by springing from a centre like this. The evangelist works in the far country outside this circle of interest, and yet his heart would always turn to it; and when he finds a lost silver piece (see Luke 15), he sets it there, for he answers to the heart of Christ who has gifted him for this service.

It is impossible to abide in the heart of Christ and not learn what is nearest His heart; and here was the first great declension of the church -- she had lost her first love. Now there is no recovery without doing

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the first work; and the first work, the foundation stone of all the rest, is occupation with Himself. Then follows engagement with His things, in the line in which His heart moves. Where else could a heart true to Him care to move but where He moves? There is nothing that true love values more than following in company with the loved one in His deepest closest interests, and no higher favour could be conferred than that He should permit and accept our company in that line; and here it is, the disciples alone get the name of "my friends", the highest position any could ever occupy for Christ on earth.

In every dispensation the heart true to God testified by the way it clung to the circle of God's interest on the earth; and this not so much when all was in order and security, but the more so when all was imperilled, and when it could not be done without exposing the disciple, the friend, to danger and loss. See the captives in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. See Daniel on the eve of his being cast into the den of lions, praying to God with his window open toward Jerusalem, his eye still lingering to the last on the spot dear to God; Daniel 6. Just so in another day, the widow of eighty-four years departed not from the temple (Luke 2); and again, another widow gave all her living to the treasury for the temple; Luke 21. All these are speaking witnesses of the same devotedness which the teaching of the epistles fully corroborates.

In Romans 12 we are exhorted to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. We find in verse 4 of the same chapter what is the first line of occupation, for the living sacrifice is in connection with the body of Christ; and, by extending circles, it widens out into the commonest detail of life; and even to kings, governors, etc. It reaches to these, but it begins where the heart of Christ is occupied. Again, in Ephesians 4, when all the revelation of God's purpose to the church has been disclosed, then comes the exhortation to walk worthy

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of our high calling; and the first injunction is with regard to the church "using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace" -- and from thence it widens out, and extends to the slave in the household. The Marys know the first work; their hearts are exclusively occupied with this, and hence when they act they know what suits His heart. One anoints His body for the burial, and the other communicates His mind to His brethren. Occupation with that which is His peculiarly and distinctly marks each of them in their works on earth. They are exactly in keeping with His heart; they learn its services in secret with Him, and they express them here with a familiarity and ease which an angel could not adopt. They are Christ's ministers to His saints on earth; and, like Timothy, they mind the things that are Jesus Christ's, and naturally care for the state of those on whom His heart is set; or, like him, they do the work of the evangelist to gather up the missing ones into the rest and delight of His heart.

If I begin right, there is always something to revert to; but if my beginning be unsound, everything subsequent must partake of the imperfection; and alas! the great error of the day is that there is a great deal of work and toil, without doing the first work.

May the Lord awaken His saints to their double gain in beginning aright, namely, in finding unbounded satisfaction for their own hearts, and the best and most suited service for Him on earth. Amen.


The things which I seek necessarily impart a character to me. It is not only that I must have the nature which seeks what will suit itself; but that which I seek strengthens the nature which induces me to seek it. Hence the character and walk here is in correspondence with the study and occupation of the heart. It is not what a man does that forms him; what he does reveals what he

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has sought; his acts tell the nature of the things he has really pursued. They are the expression of his ability and taste, not merely of his ability, but of his ability in the line of his desires. A man seeking to be rich betrays in his acts the extent and force in which he is really seeking riches. The thing sought gives a character to him, and the strength of the prepossession is disclosed by the acts; so that two things are manifested -- the nature of the thing sought, and the force in which it is sought. I gather from the acts the desire and ability of the man; but he is formed by the thing he seeks. Hence we see the importance of the word, "If therefore ye have been raised with the Christ, seek the things which are above", Colossians 3:1. If I seek the things above, my acts here will reveal what I seek; they will be heavenly, because the acts must follow the occupation of the heart. But not this only. If I am seeking the things above, I cannot seek the things here; and the things above are "where the Christ is", the things here are where He has been refused. And the more my acts reflect and support my seeking, the more eagerly and heartily do I seek; and I am not only seeking but thinking of things above, and not of things on the earth.

To a saint set here on this earth it must be a most serious question what he is to seek; for what he is to do will follow, as I have said, from the things sought; and it is in every way important, for a mistake here affects every act of his life. Now all through Scripture we find that the saint was tested by this very thing -- the thing which he sought; and the word of the Lord alone determined what he should seek. Noah was not to seek the earth as it was, but the ark, and he was blessed accordingly, and the thing he sought imparted a colour to his whole course and ways. Abram must turn his eye from Babel and, a sojourner in faith, seek "the city which has foundations, of which God is the artificer and constructor", Hebrews 11:10. Hence he confessed he was a stranger and a pilgrim, "for they

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who say such things shew clearly that they seek their country". If it be admitted that I am here where Christ is not, and if Christ be my life, there can be no question as to the claims on me to seek the things where He is. I am set to journey through a scene where He is not, to be a follower of Him who has been refused here. And how can I know what suits Him, save as I am conversant with the place and things where He is? Moses is shown the tabernacle, the figure of the true, in the glorious mount; and surely we cannot walk in unison with Christ, who is in heaven itself, if we do not seek the things above, where He sits at the right hand of God.

When I seek the things above, I necessarily turn my eyes from the things below, and I find myself in association with Christ where he is. The seeking is in connection with the scene where I am blessed with all blessing. If I am risen with Christ, I must occupy myself with the scene where He is, or I shall fall back to the things out of which He has risen; and the very fact that I am in the scene where He is not makes it the more necessary that I should be occupied with the scene where He is. How are we to conduct ourselves in a scene where He is not, if we are not connected with Him, and do not cherish and strengthen our links with Him in the scene where He is?

The things above only instruct us as to what is due to Christ, while we are mixed up with things here where He is not, and where He has been rejected. And hence, when the rejection of Christ was consummated at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), then the Holy Spirit, filling the heart of Stephen, gave his eye the new and right direction. He looked up stedfastly into heaven, with no uncertainty or hesitation, but stedfastly. Everything now was to come from above. There, now, Christ must be known and enjoyed; even as Elijah said to Elisha, when failure was at its height in Israel, and nothing more was to be looked for here, "if thou see

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me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so to thee", 2 Kings 2.

Gilgal was the spot to which the army of Israel was to return after victory (Joshua 5:9; Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:15, etc.), in order to revive and refit for conflict, in occupying the land. Now it is "above", clear outside all, where the reproach of Egypt is rolled off; there we must be in spirit in order to be adjusted and fitted for the duties and warfare of the scene. Let us examine Scripture, and we shall see that it is from above that we derive adequate ability to meet every duty, and that every blessing and gain also comes from thence. Begin where we may, it will be found that the magazine, the place of supply for everything connected with us, is from above.

As to ourselves personally, where do we circumcise but above? where obtain power to mortify our members on earth? And it is because souls are so occupied with the wilderness and its need, instead of with the things above, that they do not circumcise and cannot really and truly deny their own wills.

But it is not only that in seeking things above I am enabled to circumcise; there indeed I must be circumcised; but the only true way to maintain myself there is, "forgetting the things behind, and stretching out to the things before, I pursue, looking towards the goal, for the prize of the calling on high [or above] of God", Philippians 3. Being above, I get free from the evil membership on earth; and in my walk here I pursue a true course, because I press toward the mark for the prize of the calling of God above. And when I turn to things in relation to God, how entirely am I connected with things above! I pass into the holiest -- heaven itself -- through the blood, through His flesh, the new and living way; and I have a great High Priest over the house of God.

There is no intelligent or happy acquaintance with my position before God but as I am above; and there

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is no expression of worship such as He seeks, except as I am in the holiest of all. Nor am I able to hold fast the profession of my hope but as I am in the place to which faith leads me. But besides worship, I only know the things which have been prepared for me as I am in the Spirit, who searches all things, even the deep things of God. What is prepared is above; and if it be not revealed by the Spirit, there can be no ability to comprehend it, or any of the deep things of God. How can I, in a scene which is in the hands of the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, be able to form a right judgment about anything going on here, but as I am above in the sanctuary? See Psalm 73:17; there I learn for myself the solution of everything, and can rejoice in my position there, away and apart from all here.

Again, if it be with respect to things to come, it is with me now as with John. "Come up here, and I will show thee" etc. (Revelation 4), because the same things, seen from God's side and from man's side, present a very different appearance. The head of gold to Nebuchadnezzar is a lion to Daniel. High or low, things human or things divine, all obtain their value and true direction from being connected with that which is above. Even for temporal wants I am to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to me. A master is to remember that he also has a Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1), in order to regulate his conduct toward his slave on earth. If the above is not sought and kept before the soul, as the place where Christ sits, and whence every sustainment must come, there must be manifest defect here in every act; for He is passed into the heavens, touched with a feeling for our infirmities, apart from sin, in order to supply us from Himself the grace that was in Himself down here, and thereby to enable us to walk as He walked, the Son of man that is in heaven. And it is as I behold the Lord in glory that I am "transformed according to

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the same image from glory to glory", by the Spirit of the Lord, and am qualified to minister of the Christ now in the presence of God, either to saint or to sinner; for there only can I know the glory of the Lord for the one, or the terror of the Lord for the other.

There is neither growth nor gain of any kind but as I "seek the things which are above".

We work on here only as connected with this scene as a diving bell. A diving bell is maintained in the waters by connection with the air above, and so we are maintained in the scene by connection with our life outside it, where He sits at the right hand of God. It is quite as possible for a tree to grow and flourish without any sustenance as for a saint to act according to Christ's mind apart from Himself, where He sits; and every defect in doctrine and practice is simply traceable to neglect of this, the only proper direction of the eye -- things above. It will be said that we are ever receiving favours from God on earth, and are we not to enjoy and prize them? I reply, Certainly, but where are they to carry the heart? Is it to rest in the scene where Christ is not, or to rise to the hand which has liberally and bountifully provided for us? God is the same and has the same love for us below as above; but here He provides for us with reference to our new place and relationship, and not simply with reference to our natural state and condition; and hence all His arrangements for us, if rightly accepted, would lead us above, instead of binding our hearts to what is below. His gifts come down to ease us in a world like this, that our hearts may rise the easier to the scene where He displays the fulness of His love for us. And if there be chastenings in the circumstances here, it is only to detach us the more effectually from all here, and to lead us to the home where He has given all to us. So that seeking the things above ensures every good thing for us in every condition.

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The cause of confusion to many souls is the inability to distinguish between the standing of a saint now and in any other time. And the distinction cannot be seen or maintained if Christ's position be not clearly seen and maintained.

Let us examine and trace how the difference of His position affects the saints. Before the death of Christ man was under trial. God had made trial of man in every way since his first trial in Eden. Left to himself for more than fifteen hundred years, ending with a development so fearful -- violence covered the land -- that God repented that He had made man upon the earth; and the end of all flesh was determined on; Genesis 6. Noah was saved, and placed on the earth under a new covenant. From this there was entire departure. Babel was built; men combined in self-dependence and disregard of God, who had set them on the earth on new terms. Then Abram was called out, and to his seed -- Israel -- everything that could be done for man was done; as it is written, "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" At length the heir came, whom they ought to have received; but they caught Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard, and killed Him. Every effort to restore man has proved in vain. The "corn of wheat", the blessed One, must abide alone unless He dies; but if He dies, He delivers up man in His own Person to judgment, and out of death He brings forth much fruit. The Son of man must be lifted up; there is no door for life to man but through the death of Christ. It is the Son of God, coming into the world from God's side, who bears the judgment on the first man, and then, rising out of it, becomes the Head of a new race. Hence the trial of the first man must be over, and life now flows from the Son of God, risen out of the judgment on Adam; for "in Adam all die"; but "He that hath the Son hath

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life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life". Man in his sins must either receive life from the Son now, or suffer judgment from Him hereafter.

As the trial of the first man is over, everything now depends on the position of the second Man. If the trial of the first man is not over, then Christ is not the Head of a new race; but if Christ be Head of a new race, then the first man is no longer under trial. The atonement has been made, not by man himself, thus entitling him to retain his status; but he having been proved thoroughly incompetent (the wine out in his brightest moment, as we see in John 2), and incapable of retaining any blessing or favour bestowed, God, from His own side, brought in salvation. He laid help on One that is mighty; He gave His Son.

The simple fact that the atonement was provided for the sinner by God, proves the entire incompetence of man to meet the first need of his case. And while it determines the utter inability of man, it sets forth the grace of God, providing in mercy for the sinner; and with this purpose, to bring in a new order -- a new man, born of water and of the Spirit. The trial of the first man is over in the cross of Christ. In crucifying the Son of God man has no cloke for his sin, for "they have both seen and hated both me and my Father". The act that proved man irretrievable brought in the sacrifice.

Now it is evident that, as the first man is no longer under trial, and as Christ risen from the dead is the last Adam, every position of the believer here must be determined by the position of Christ. If Christ were on earth, the believer would be an earthly man fully and perfectly according to the mind of God for a man on earth; but if Christ be in heaven, he lives according the heavenly man, with no place here.

Christ being now in heaven, the second Man, there is no link to Him there but through the Holy Spirit, through whom is made known to the soul the mind and

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objects of the heavenly Man. Christ is the heavenly Man, and because He has been refused a place here, He now is known to His saints where He is, and thus the heavenly status is known and enjoyed by the saints still on earth.

Properly, the heavenly standing is not fully known until we pass away from this scene; but this peculiar blessing came in consequent on the rejection of Christ, and is made known to us through the Spirit sent down from heaven. This then causes a great difference between the saint now and in any former or future dispensation. The saint now has to do with a Saviour who is in heaven; and hence, through the Spirit, is constituted heavenly in tastes and objects, while empowered to fill in a superior manner every claim and relationship appointed by God for the earthly man. The saint's blessing and position now is determined by the second Man. If Christ were on the earth, ruling in His might here, the man of the earth would be maintained here, as God had appointed, and this will be fully exhibited in the millennium. Then man will live here in the enjoyment of every earthly blessing; nothing to mar the ordering and favour of God and man; and he himself kept through grace in accordance with the law, which defines the course and walk of a man on earth. The fact of Christ's absence involves an entirely different position for the saint now. He is not where Christ is, and Christ is not where he is; he is not of earth but on earth; he is of Christ in heaven, but he is not in heaven. It is anomalous to find a saint where the Lord is refused, and hence possible only to faith to apprehend his true status in consequence. It is so anomalous and strange that, practically, souls go back to the dispensation before the coming of Christ, or, more properly speaking, to His first advent. They own His coming into the world as the Saviour, and they prolong, as it were, that period indefinitely. They do not see His rejection; and while they own His death

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sacrificially, they adhere to the former dispensation, only adding to it the sacrifice of Christ. Now this presupposes the state of man to be just the same as before the death of Christ.

In current theology two things are thus really overlooked; first, that the trial of the first man is over in the cross, and an entirely new man brought in; and secondly, the fact of Christ's rejection. Now without seeing both, there can be no comprehending the status of the saint of this period.

The first point to be settled is, whether the first man is still under trial. Is God seeking or using any methods, with the view of testing man's ability to do anything for himself? Has it not been proved that the old bottles cannot hold new wine, and that there is no competence in the first man to retain, or to turn to good account, the favours and ordinance of God? Man has failed in his own condition, and in relation to God, either to enjoy and secure to himself the blessing of earth, or to revere God through means of the imposing temple ritual. In the one case the wine is out; in the other, the house of God becomes a den of thieves; see John 2.

But now there has been an atonement in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the man who has failed; and as the atonement has been provided by God for man, it testifies of the entire inability of man to do anything for himself; and as it is in God's hand only, He does not restore that which had ever proved itself unworthy and incompetent; but He introduces, in Christ risen from the dead, an entirely new man. If man, since the sacrifice, is still under trial, one consequence or another must ensue. The trial must either be successful -- and if man answered to the trial, then he is sinless -- or if unsuccessful, then there must be another sacrifice; for if man is under trial again and fails, there must be another atonement, or he is lost. Now to escape this dilemma, there are in the present day two systems of theology. One, the Romish, maintains

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that the sacrifice or mass is a continual one; and hence there is no room for seeing that there is an end of the old man judicially in the cross, or that the new has come in and is before God in His Son, risen from the dead. The first man is looked at as still the one under trial. The other -- Protestantism, set on foot by the reformers -- admits that the sacrifice is one and sufficient, but with no consistency; for practically they neither own that the trial of the first man is over on the cross, nor Christ's rejection from the earth. Hence the law is their rule of life, and the believer seeks a position on earth as if Christ were reigning. They call the sacrifice of Christ a full and sufficient atonement, but they do not see it as brought in by God in His love, when the first man was proved utterly worthless; or that the believer is risen with Christ, in whom and from whom he receives a new life. The last Adam is a life-giving spirit, and therefore everything for the saint now is determined by the position of Christ the second Man.

Nothing is more evident than that, the atonement being provided by God for that which has been proved thoroughly worthless and unfit for Himself, He does not restore it; He judged it on the cross of His Son, and, in Him risen, receives every returning prodigal in a new nature and life. To sum up, Christ's position in heaven determines ours. He is where we are not. We are where God's Son has been refused. We are surrounded by man who refused Him, and who is no longer under trial, because God has brought in a new man in His Son who is in heaven. Hence the status of the saint now is heavenly, united to Christ in heaven by the Holy Spirit sent down; through grace he acquits himself in a superior way in every duty incumbent on the first man, as God has appointed: but he has no link or place here, as the millennial saint will have; for then Christ will be reigning here, and the saint will be where He reigns, instead of, as now, where He is refused.

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In 1 Thessalonians 4 we get the doctrine of the coming of the Lord brought before us. The epistle to the Philippians gives us the power of communion with the life of Christ in the service of the apostle down here. We get two glimpses in Philippians 3 which tell us how the heart of Paul, as fully led by the Spirit of God, was in connection with the hope of His coming. First, "I do not count to have got possession myself; but one thing -- forgetting the things behind ... I pursue, looking towards the goal". Secondly, we look for the Saviour, His heart was set on that personal meeting of the Lord at the end of his course. It was not so much a question of glory with him, but that which would satisfy his heart, the presence of Christ. He was loved by Christ, he was brought into service by Christ, and he was one to whom the Person of Christ was so dear that he had got Christ for his prize. But his feet were still treading this world where he found thorns and briars, sand and flints enough to make his poor body weary; and not only so, but labouring in the house of God he had sorrow upon sorrow. So here we get the coming of the Lord in connection with His coming as Saviour, who could come to take him and clothe him upon, with circumstances perfectly in harmony with the one solitary desire of his heart -- to have Christ as his gain.

In 1 Thessalonians we get a different aspect of the coming of the Lord (chapter 4: 15, etc.), where Paul was writing to those who were comparatively in ignorance. We get a remarkable expression: "This we say to you in the word of the Lord". There is something emphatic in this statement; it indicates the display of the Lord's power -- His energy.

The last bit of the road is all about the blessed Lord; it is a most precious display of two great glories which

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are found in Him. Not, as we get in Philippians, a man running up an arduous path, getting rid of every weight, one burden after another, that would impede his course; and then, after this arduous run up the hill of difficulty, reaching the goal and winning the prize. If I am toiling, labouring, discovering, this year more than last, what the conflict and difficulty is, still running up the arduous course of service, I know I shall meet Him at the last as my Saviour. In Thessalonians, He comes out as "the resurrection and the life" -- "the Lord Himself". The Holy Spirit always presents Him first in the picture, then tells me what He does. It is Himself, the Lord, who shall descend. His dwelling-place was heaven; He gave the earth to the children of men. The heaven has He reserved for Himself; but He came forth. He comes again the second time from heaven; and what is heard first of all? A voice. Will it not be a well-known voice? You and I have never heard the Lord speak, but somehow or other it will sound as a well-known voice, the voice of Him whom absent we love; "whom having not seen ye love". None can direct or take the lead in that scene but Himself. "The voice of the archangel" -- mark the order. We should not like the trump, the archangel's sound, before we hear His voice. (The word translated "shout" is used for any loud sound in connection with regulating things.) His voice is the same as agonised in the garden, and which said, "Father, I will", etc.

The voice of the archangel tells that when the Lord Jesus rises up, all heaven is concerned in it. Heaven gives its approval, and then we get "the trump of God". God sets His seal on it. It will be a thrilling sight and sound! We have a specialty of invitation to do with the scene -- none can intrude, there. What a scene it will be when Christ leaves the throne a second time to take us home to His Father's house! Where do we date from? Before the foundation of the world that

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love was set upon us; the same love has been waiting for and on us ever since. It has followed us every step of our way in all the entanglements of the domestic circle. Such blessed love! What sort of love was it that could take such a cup of wrath as He did into His hand? What sort of love is it that will leave the throne a second time to receive me to Himself? It is not the glory, but Himself; not the attendant circumstances, but the thing is, the One who thus loves me. When we discover how feebly we know His love, we prefer saying, He loves me, rather than saying to another, I love Him, though I can tell the world this. I would rather tell Christ I love Him than tell you. How unspeakably brightly His love burns! It is not merely that the One who loves me comes, but He comes as the servant of that love -- as "the resurrection". He speaks the word; the dead in Him rise first. Stephen, Paul and others will start up -- all the sleeping ones. Some we have loved on earth more than anything will come forth. What a majestic display of His love and His power it will be to the poor weak ones whose bodies are gone to dust! Every one will come up out of the grave! How it will tell out, "I am the resurrection"! Almighty power will be put forth. The very graves become the scene of glory when He comes back. He searches out the dust of those who are sleeping. He who was the meek and lowly Man of sorrows will speak the word! Let Mine arise! (Though we would not put a word in His mouth for that day.) He will speak some word and all will come out from the tomb. He is the Life too. Some will be alive and remain. Paul does not look for a long interval; he says, "We, the living who remain". He gave us eternal life, and He will so fill up the earthen vessel with eternal life that mortality will be entirely excluded. Nothing unfit for the glory will remain in it. "Caught up"; it is a strong word -- snatched up.

Some say, Tell me about the intermediate state. It

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is something peculiar connected with communion. It is told in a few words, but it will speak volumes to you if you know Christ well. "Absent from the body ... present with the Lord". If you do not know Him well, it may be repeated again and again to you, but it will be nothing to you. "Present with the Lord". It is the test for service. If you know the beauty of Him, and what it is to have His heart hovering over you in the wilderness, "present with the Lord" will be a great volume to you. If you do not know much about Christ's heart and communion with Him, it will be little to you. The throne, the sceptre, the golden city, is not spoken of; the grand thing is His presence. He is the resurrection and the life; will it be called in question, His being the resurrection and the life, when surrounded by myriads raised and changed?

"So encourage one another with these words". Is it not comfort to you, the fact that there is rest at the end of the journey? Or if torn by violence here, is it no comfort that there will be no more troublous scenes there, but for ever with the Lord? He comes in answer to the longing desire of those whose hearts say, "Come, Lord Jesus". Do you find yourselves saying such words as, 'I wait, Lord?' Are you putting your soul into this position? Is your own heart so in the secret of His presence that He is able to say of you, 'That is one who is in the position of waiting for Me?' Who is in this practical position of soul? Are you putting yourself in this position, and saying, 'I am a weak one, but, Lord, I wait for Thee'? This is the comfort of heart that will keep us through troublous circumstances.

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With every truth in relation to the saints there must be a practical consequence; every status has a claim on us peculiar to itself. If the standing be accepted, the duties, habits, character, and effect flowing from that standing must be maintained, or the standing is a dead letter. A standing which claims nothing, which confers nothing, is in itself nothing; but the more the standing claims and signifies, the higher and more important the state which results from it. Now generally the mistake is more as to the nature of the standing than as to the state, though the state discloses the imperfect apprehension of the standing, or the want of conscience in maintaining it. When people profess a thing and act contrary to it, either they must have imperfectly apprehended what they profess, or their conscience is bad. Man may have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

The great snare of the present day is the subtle way in which the highest truths can be professed in quite an unspiritual way. For example, how generally now is it admitted that Christ is the Head of the church, which is His body, and the profession of belonging to the body, of which He is the Head, is made; and yet how little is manifest the state which would flow from a standing so high, if there were not some great imperfection in the apprehension of it, or bad faith in the maintenance of it. I believe that this inconsistency is attributable, for the most part, to the acceptance in a natural way of the idea which this truth conveys. And certainly, if there be any misapprehension of the standing, and of what the headship of Christ to His body involves, there will be an inconsistent state, even though there be a good conscience. The error as to the standing must betray itself in the practice, and this without being able to reach the conscience. The first

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thing is to make sure of holding the truth as to the standing, for then, if the state be not in keeping with it, the conscience condemns, and there is something to act on in order to promote consistency. Consistency is that which acts up to one's apprehension of a truth.

Nowadays almost every believer owns that Christ is the Head of the body, and assumes that he is a member of that body of which Christ is the Head, and hence that he is united to Christ and to the members of His body. The standing is largely accepted, and we have to inquire, Is the state of soul in keeping and consistency with it? If the standing of the union of the believer with Christ be admitted, it is one of such high degree that immense consequences, a very distinct state, must result from it. Now this truth is accepted by some in a natural way, not in the Spirit, but in the flesh. They really misunderstand the standing, and their attempt at a state conscientiously corresponding to it betrays their misapprehension of it.

But I confine myself in this paper to those who own that our standing is that of one body, united by the Spirit to Christ the Head in heaven. The state which results from the maintenance of this standing I would now consider.

The grand point or claim of this standing is union with Christ. Does every one who sees and accepts it enjoy the results of it, in conscious joyful union with Christ? Is there that sense of distinct link with Him which union with a greater must always confer on the lesser? and if not, where is the flaw? As to the terms of the standing, they are alas! too generally accepted, as anyone who is at all acquainted with what is passing in the church of God must know. But, as I said before, it is accepted in a natural way, and hence it is that the most legal and ritualistic are the great advocates of this standing. This makes it the more important that those who accept it spiritually should manifest in practice the true effects -- the state which it claims.

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Union with Christ by the Spirit of God is a most definite and conscious thing. It is more than being assured by faith that He died for me, or that He lives for me, and has prepared for me a place in heaven. By faith I, through the Spirit, may enter into and enjoy all these; just as I might know that a great potentate had rescued me from a terrible stronghold, and had by deed conveyed to me great properties, which I should inherit after a certain term. Yet with all this I could not speak of anything like union with this great potentate. Now as to Christ, we are both delivered and blessed by Him; but still more, we are united to Him by the Spirit. "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit", 1 Corinthians 6:17. And by the Spirit I know my link to Him. There was never such a thing as union by the Spirit until Pentecost (Acts 2); and the state which it produces is expounded in John 14 - 19, where our Lord on leaving His disciples says, "Because I live, ye also shall live". "In that day", (the Holy Spirit's day) He adds, "ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". This is the knowledge imparted by the union. The bride in Canticles longs for union, and speaks of the sense of possession which true love imparts (chapter 2: 16); but she never has the sense of union, of being of the "one Spirit". It is an amazing thing to speak of being of one Spirit with Christ; 1 Corinthians 6:17. It is not merely that Christ has done a wonderful work for me; that is blessedly true. It is not merely that He gives me eternal life and a blissful home in glory; but that I am united to Him by the Holy Spirit, "if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you", Romans 8:9. It is marvellous, I admit, but the truth is simple. It is the Spirit which is given, and hence we are not only anointed, but we are sealed by the Spirit, and we have the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. We are not only given life in Christ -- "He that believes on me has life eternal" (John 6:47) -- but there is more; there is given living water, the

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Holy Spirit, which is in us a fountain of living water springing up into eternal life; John 4:14. It is definite that life is given in Christ to every one believing; and by Christ there is given to the believer living water, a known power in the soul, acting in connection with eternal life. Admit the standing of the church being the body of Christ, and you must admit of union in a natural way or in a spiritual way. If in a natural way, it must be in that nature which needed redemption, and therefore legal or carnal; but if spiritual, it must be of the highest order, and of a distinctness quite unequivocal. The manner by which it is so is plain and simple enough. Christ is set down in heaven, and the Spirit of God is here; His people are still where He has been refused, and they are united to Him as their Head where He is, by the Spirit, who is where they are. When this truth is accepted, it only remains to see and comprehend the nature and consequence of such a union.

Could anything surpass it? Could the soul know anything of it, and not cultivate it? Must it not throw everything else into the shade? It is not merely the sense that He holds me by the right hand, but that my soul is united to Him by the Spirit; the link is as distinct as possible. No link could be greater; bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh -- nothing more positive or more defined. If one is ignorant of this great favour, of course he seeks it not. If he were not ignorant of it, but assured that this is his standing, he would rest in Christ, and know the effects or state which would result from this his true standing. If he misapprehends the standing, as many do, the state will be proportionately low and imperfect. And if, like some others, he sees the true standing and does not exercise his soul as to the claims of it, his conscience will be bad, and consequently he will be defective in every act and judgment; for if the conscience is bad as to any truth, there is surely a want of conscience even as to the commonest details of life.

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The Lord grant that those who see the true standing may seek to preserve the high state which it claims, and which grace confers with it!


Since the fall of man there has been a distinct line of separation between God and man. Sin initiated the distance, and to remove this sense of distance is the attempt of the conscience, whenever it is at all active. All religion, from that of the pagan up to the most enlightened ritualist of the present day, springs from this felt need of the conscience. The distance is admitted to exist, and the attempt is that the man, the one who caused the distance, should of himself repair it. This is the root and motive of all religiousness. It is a terrible thing to man to be shut out entirely from having any act or part in effecting reconciliation between himself and God. So deeply is the desire fixed in the heart of man, that even those who are clear as to the doctrine of grace, and who see that all blessing and salvation come to them through the free gift of God, still give the flesh a place, not exactly in effecting reconciliation, but in some way as contributing to maintain it or to testify of it. To detect this intrusion, and to be preserved from the deception of it, is of immense gain. The fact that every one who is deceived by it holds to the deception with an unrebuking conscience, is evidence of the greatness of the deception, and makes it the more difficult to deal with. Such will even contend for their right and duty to act as they do, not seeing that therein they are giving a place to the flesh. One must enlighten the conscience in order to expose the spring of these activities, and this can only be done by presenting the word of God, and by seeing how it describes and condemns the attempts of the flesh to do anything, or in any way to carry out in itself the mind of God.

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It is a great point to be made aware of any danger to which we may be exposed; for if we fear the danger, we provide against it. If we start with the conviction that "the flesh lusts against the Spirit", the more we know of the gain and blessing of the Spirit, the more shall we fear the flesh which is arrayed against it. The flesh is its natural antagonist; and every advance of the Spirit only exasperates the flesh the more, and urges it to oppose the Spirit, by drawing the heart aside from its control and dictation. And this is in various ways, not by imitation simply, but where the flesh lusts against the Spirit in a person, it is betrayed by an attempt to superadd to the Spirit in some way. It rather attempts to promote in the flesh what belongs to the Spirit than to set up something in imitation of the action of the Spirit. Imitation aims rather at setting aside the real by copying it; but the lusting of the flesh is to obtain for itself the credit due only to the Spirit, not by copying, but by a way of its own. The Galatians had begun in the Spirit, and they were seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. The flesh was proposing to carry out what belonged entirely and simply to the Spirit. In the Spirit there was the sense that there should be holiness; and as they were walking in the Spirit, so was there power over the flesh from which the unholiness came; but then the flesh crept in and sought to correct itself and to present itself as holy, without the intervention of the Spirit. It refused the control of the Spirit, by which it would have been repressed and set aside; and in its opposition to the Spirit, it set up to do for itself that which the Spirit alone could achieve, and that by acting altogether independently of the flesh. It lusts to do that which the Spirit only does. Thus by the one, the holiness is sought by circumcision, according to the law; by the other, by walking entirely apart from the flesh. If it were imitation, it would be doing the same thing after the same fashion as the Spirit. It is not this. It is the

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effort to produce the thing in its own way, and in quite another manner than that of the Spirit.

Ishmael was born after the flesh; and the thought in the mind of Abram, when he dropped from the mind of God, was that he might be in the place of the promised seed (Genesis 17:18). He had received the promise of Isaac; but the carnal mind worked through Sarai (Genesis 16:2), and he sought to provide the heir, thus borrowing the idea from the word of the Lord, but attempting to fulfil it in the flesh. This affords a very striking example of the way the flesh lusts against the Spirit. It borrows the divine idea, and then seeks to carry it out in a carnal way. Thus Moses essayed to deliver his people (Exodus 2; Acts 7:23, etc.), with a right purpose, but entirely in his own way and by his own strength. The idea is derived from the word of God, but the lusting of the flesh is betrayed in its effort to effect that which can only be effected by the Spirit; and hence, with every fresh unfolding of the mind of God, there is need of care, lest the flesh should be allowed to borrow the truth, in order to try its hand in accomplishing it, and thus to get a place for itself.

It is after conviction, or rather the fruit of conviction as to any given truth, that one is exposed to this snare, the more subtle because the conscience is deceived by the effort to give effect to one's convictions; and as there is no want of purpose or zeal in the flesh in answering in its own way to the convictions -- which is what the conscience demands -- the snare is not seen. The mistake is that a rival power, a human one, undertakes to give the truth effect, and this is often not perceived by the conscience until it finds that the convictions for which it demanded an action have really not resulted in any progress towards God. The conscience has been deceived by the zeal and excitement in which the flesh answers to its demands. There is an excitement and demonstration about the flesh which there never is about the Spirit, for the Spirit always

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controls. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire. This is precisely what the flesh does in its lusting against the Spirit. It proposes to do the divine work in a way of its own, and by a power of its own. And because of their offering strange fire, there is an injunction from the Lord: "Thou shalt not drink wine nor strong drink ... when ye go into the tent of meeting, lest ye die", Leviticus 10:9. In the excitement of the flesh they had presumed to superadd to the Spirit's power, and thus exposed themselves to judgment from God. Wine and the Spirit are put in contrast one to another, as read in Ephesians 5:18, "Be not drunk with wine, in which is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit". We must guard against the lusting of the flesh to carry out in itself that which is entirely the province of the Spirit. Every saint who has enjoyed anything of the Spirit's power, or who has been convinced by the word of God of His goodness and love, has at times known the peculiar sensation of divine light entering into the soul, so vivid and distinct at times that the poor frame bows under its force; and so far, it is right enough. The danger is lest the flesh should produce excitement about it. I believe that whenever it is so power is sensibly lost. The body is the vessel, and the greater the Spirit's power in it, the less will the flesh be exhibited. It will be suppressed or controlled. There may be tears or a song, but when the Spirit is in power it will all be with such subdued sense, that there is a distinct consciousness before the soul of the fact that the flesh could not glory in His presence; and it will be found that when there is an ebullition of feeling, that which produced it is lost in the excitement which supervened.

The Nazarite formally avowed that he was so devoted to God that he would "eat nothing that is made of the vine, from the seed-stones, even to the skin" (Numbers 6:4); that he would drink no wine nor strong drink. The consecration of his God was upon his head. All his resources and enjoyments were in God. Also,

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when special strength from God was vouchsafed, Nazariteship was enjoined, as in the case of Samson and John the baptist.

With man in the old state, the wine is out; see John 2:3. It is a failure. "I said of laughter, Madness! and of mirth, What availeth it?" (Ecclesiastes 2:2); that is the sum of man's experience of it. But in the new condition there is no need of wine; for the contrast is, "Whosoever drinks of the water which I shall give him shall never thirst for ever, but the water which I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into eternal life", John 4:14. There is a decided antagonism between the flesh and the Spirit; and in every case in Scripture where there has been a distinct leading of the Spirit, there the flesh has attempted to step in, and gain a place for itself by taking up the truth in a way of its own. Moses smote the rock twice; Numbers 20:11. He adhered not to the word of God (see verse 8); he "spoke unadvisedly with his lips" (Psalm 106:33); his flesh took up the truth, the word of the Lord, and in his excitement he forgot what was due to God, and thus forfeited his title to enter the land.

Thus it is that the flesh would carry one away in this day. It is not that the truth or bright gleams of light have not flashed into the heart. I do not deny that; but I say that when it is so, that is the moment of danger; for then there is spiritual progress, and against it the flesh lusts, and seeks to hinder its divine efficacy by offering its own excitement to give weight -- apparent weight -- to the spiritual communication.

But like produces like; excitement of the flesh in me only tends to produce excitement of the flesh in others. The power of God is lost. The still small voice, which is not in the great and strong wind, the earthquake or the fire (1 Kings 19), is superseded and frustrated, and the impression made by such ministry, however overpowering at the time, is evanescent. It does not effect what the light of God effects. The latter searches

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the heart and sets Christ before the soul, daily deepening it in the sense of His value to it.

The truth is that man under grace is both in mind and body the Lord's; and that He, by His Spirit, uses both in His service; and that, as they are so used by the Holy Spirit, there will be no carnal excitement, but on the contrary, there will be that gravity of expression in manner and word which indicates how entirely such an one is under the control of the Spirit of God. Thus the servant produces the like in those who hear him, the spiritual being is ministered to, and the kingdom of God is enlarged in the soul.


There is in every man some sense of God's claim on him; this sense is conscience, and exists in proportion as God's claim is known, therefore there is more conscience in some than in others. But besides this, the conscience may become enlightened; that is, it may get a clearer perception of the claims of God. These two are distinct, the one from the other. The first is a sense innate in man, and is found as much, and often more, in the untaught pagan than in the most cultivated religionist. This is the sense of what God claims, but the answer to this sense is according to the intelligence and enlightenment. The pagan answers to this sense often in a more self-denying way than the nominal christian, though the latter has the greater intelligence.

Let us examine how each of these can be increased, how the conscience can be made more sensitive and more enlightened. It is made more sensitive by the conviction of what God is in Himself, and it becomes more enlightened by divine instruction. The one depends on what my sense of God is; the other, on the instruction which I have received as to the way in which the claim must be answered. The sense of claim is

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increased as God in His reality comes before me, and my intelligence as to how I must meet Him is increased as I am truly instructed, that is, instructed by His own revelation. Instruction of itself does not help conscience; but the word of God, bringing home to the soul the sense of His reality, does arouse the conscience and increase its sensitiveness, and at the same time instructs it perfectly how to answer to the God who has awakened a deeper sense of His own claim in the soul; and hence the word of God in power controls and directs the conscience. The sense of claim is not enough in itself, for with it there may be great ignorance as to the nature and extent of the claim, nor is there a sufficient sense in any one of what is due to God. No one of himself can acquire this. Only the Spirit of God, who knows God, can acquaint me with -- give me a true sense of -- what is due to God; and it is plain that it is God only who can tell me how I am to behave myself so as to answer to His claim. An unconverted man has a conscience, but his sense of God's claim cannot be beyond the vague one that he is under judgment. He has the sense that the Supreme Being has a claim on him; but it must be the work of God's Spirit to give any true idea of the nature of the claim, and there must be a revelation from God to set forth how it should be met. The conscience in itself cannot have a true sense of what is due to God. How could it, unless equal to God? + Nor can it answer to God's claim unless it knows what would meet His mind, and this cannot be without revelation. Thus it is evident that without the Spirit of God and the word of God the conscience must always be defective. Man is fallen from God. If he were not fallen, he could not bear the distance in which he is naturally; and thus, while having a sense of God's

+Even in ordinary life I cannot apprehend the mind of my superior in intelligence, nor can I tell how he feels any offence I may have offered him, unless he tell me. My sense may be keen enough for myself, but in order to meet him, it is not enough for me that I have my own sense. I need to know his, if I would answer to it. And if this be true in common life, how much more from the creature to the ever blessed God?

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claim on him, he needs a power to reinstate him in ability, if in nothing else, to meet God in His claim. Hence in every case, when any one has obtained a right sense of God's claim, it has been by the word of God, and not simply by the light of conscience. Abel by faith -- by a power entirely outside the range and ken of man -- offered to God. Cain, on the other hand, offered according to his conscience, unaided and untaught by the Spirit of God; and therefore in no way outside or independent of human ideas. God's claim is only apprehended from Cain's point of view, from man's side. It was not that he had no conscience, but his conscience had no true sense of God's claim, because he had no power outside conscience to enable it to reach up to God's claim; while Abel by faith has not only a true sense, but he is also taught the true way, in figure, to meet the claim of God. Whatever be the sense of claim, there is no power to comprehend either the nature of it or the manner of answering to it, without intervention on the part of God. The fall proved man's incapacity to remain in innocence and answer to God; and now in the fall there must be a new power, a power from God, to give the true sense, and with it the instruction how to answer to it. Hence in every case the conscience is defective as a guide, when these two things, faith -- the gift of God in the soul -- and the word of God as its light, do not go hand in hand.

The sense that there is a God great in power, even when that power is acknowledged and known, will not save one from the most mistaken course, apart from the action of faith -- His power in the soul.

We get an example of this in the children of Israel saying to Aaron, "Make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses ... we wot not what is become of him". It was a conscience itself that made them ask for a representative of a God by whose power they had gained. They had seen the mighty acts of the Lord, but lacking faith the cry of the conscience is, "Make

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us gods, which shall go before us". The existence of a God is not denied, and the power of God is not denied; but of the golden calf they say, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt". This instance the apostle quotes in 1 Corinthians 10, when warning the saints against idolatry, which really consists in getting the conscience satisfied with anything apart from God. Note how much there was here to influence the conscience aright, if any amount of miracles or visible performances could do so. Here is a people led out of Egypt in the most miraculous way, fed in the wilderness daily with manna, a people whose eyes had seen all the mighty acts of the Lord; this very people, with Aaron at their head, fail to comprehend both the nature and the claim of God, and before the law is given to them, they break its very first injunctions. No one can deny that they had conscience, and that if any course of action outside one could influence or affect the conscience, the people of Israel were pre-eminently in that place; and yet we see what a sad picture they present of conscientious religion, that after all they had seen they worship the golden calf! There can be no more convincing evidence that nothing done or given by God to man externally can give his conscience a true idea of Him, than the fact that all God had done for Israel was ineffectual and ended in idolatry. When conscience was made as a guide, apart from God, their acts betrayed the inability of the conscience to see or adopt what was due to God, even after all the miracles and favours shown to them. If all that the children of Israel had seen and gained did not impart a correct idea of what was due to God, what else could? None but the Spirit of God can set aside the will of man, and impart to the soul a true sense of what God is in His nature; and hence the Israelites are not censured for acting without conscience, but because they are so "stiffnecked" that they have not bowed to God as He has been manifested before them.

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Conscience, as we have seen, is a sense in fallen man of God's claim on him; but this sense itself is liable to be influenced by the prejudices or religious bias in which I am educated; it acquires its tone and line from the order and nature of things which are addressed to it with the object of influencing it. Religion itself addresses the conscience, and governs and sways it according to the power it has over the will of man. The more the will is acted on, the more it subserves; and the will then finds the conscience a great auxiliary in pleasing itself. The stiffneckedness is gratified! No one ever saw a devotee to any religion who was not self-willed; and thus his will finds an object in his religion, and the conscience approves because it has no other idea of what is due to God. The religious notion in every case sways the conscience, and it will obtain such mastery over the man that the most terrible deeds of violence and bloodshed can be done under sanction of the conscience. Saul of Tarsus could say that he had lived in all good conscience before God until this day, though in the sight of God he was chief of sinners; and while he persecuted the church in the most cruel way, he was only acting up to the religious impressions which he had imbibed, and his will found gratification for itself in what his conscience approved. His conscience had been formed in the Jewish religion, and it could rise no higher; and the more it adhered to its impressions, the more was he encouraged to act in direct opposition to the will of God. Surely the conscience was no guide or standard here; and it is plain enough that this man, of highest reputation as to conduct and conscience, required the power of God to convince him of what was due to God, and from His word to learn to act in accordance thereto.

The religion I imbibe colours and sways my conscience in proportion to my will or resoluteness, so that the conscience is never a guide or standard. To be a guide, it must be independent of influence; to be a

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standard, it must be incapable of improvement. If I make the conscience either one or the other, I am under the control of that which is uncertain and imperfect; and if the satisfaction of the conscience is all I seek, I satisfy that which has a very inadequate sense of what is due to God, and a very imperfect or, it may be, mistaken idea of how to answer to it. It is here that souls constantly rest, and stop short as to salvation; if their conscience is satisfied as to their sins, they are content. But if this is all, the will is not broken, and the conscience goes no farther than the light, or supposed light, which has reached it; and hence many even converted souls, who can say that they are sure of forgiveness of sins, according to the measure of their own conscience, yet have very little idea of their sinful nature and will in the sight of God; and simply because it is not God's estimate of sin which they have a sense of, but one founded on their own conscience. If I speak of the unconverted man, it is evident that his conscience can have no idea of the nature or claim of God, and no intelligence in answering to the sense of God's claim which he has in himself; but with the converted, who must have both in a measure, there is danger too, If the unconverted can be educated so that this conscience can adopt the most stringent form of action in answer to it, so in like manner the conscience in a converted soul may retain much of the form which it has adopted religiously, or it may adopt new ones more in keeping with the conscience.

In 1 Corinthians 8 we read of a "weak conscience", one which has not strength enough to overcome the habitual idea of the conscience as to the value of the idol, and in eating what is offered to an idol, "their conscience being weak is defiled". The conscience must be controlled by a power stronger than the will of man, or it will still rule, even in the converted, and then one is really weak, as we have seen. Where the conscience rules, there cannot be the rule of God's

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Spirit; and thus we see it in many, as to the state of their souls. They are assured of forgiveness of sins, but they only see sin as it affects their conscience, and the law is the measure of their conduct, for they do not see what the will of the flesh is in the presence of God, but merely what they are as to conduct.

The very fact that it is possible for a converted person to have a weak conscience -- one not without a measure of light, but still retaining certain forms and ideas, false and defiling -- is enough to warn us against trusting to the conscience as a guide. The danger of the present day is not from idolatry pure and simple, but from the systems of religion which bind the conscience even when there is true conversion; and hence a retention of much to hinder and defile it. The light of grace is not strong enough in the soul to dispel the experiments of the conscience. The nearer the system of religion comes to the truth, the more injurious it is, because it comes with the greater authority to the conscience, and the will is more backed up; and all this because the conscience is allowed to be a guide or standard. If I, through grace, see that my sins are forgiven through faith in Christ, so far my conscience must be assured, or it has no peace. But then arises the question, Is my known conduct -- known to myself -- the measure of my forgiveness? Is it simply relief to my conscience, or is it the sense of God's righteousness? Am I justified according to the righteousness of God, in whom I have believed, who has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead? If it be my own conscience, I am necessarily making a standard of it; and if I do this in a point of so much importance, I am sure not to rise above it in all other things; and hence, however conscientious I may be, I make my own sense of right and wrong my standard, and not God and His word, and the practice must be feeble and low. Now, on the other hand, if God's righteousness were my standard, because knowing myself accepted in Christ,

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I could not accept or approve of anything, even in my conscience, below the standard that the Spirit of God has set before my conscience, and which has satisfied it to the full.

I do not attempt to go further in this paper; but every one on reflection must see that many who own that their sins are forgiven have no sense of the righteousness of God. They believe truly that Christ paid for their sins, and their consciences are relieved; but by and by, when they find themselves carried away and overcome by the enemy, and when their consciences begin to upbraid them, they must either be in despair or become antinomian. They have not seen sin as it is in the sight of God, as God sees it. They have not had the sense of being justified, placed on new ground in righteousness before God; for if they had, they must see that everything that is not according to that righteousness is sin; all unrighteousness is sin, and there is only righteousness with God. Besides this, there is a system of evangelicalism which warps the conscience; for while in that system there is a sacrifice for sins, and it is preached that belief in the sacrifice is that which gives relief to the conscience, yet this relief may not go beyond the security which the Israelite had in his conscience after offering the right offering. The conscience is not purged from dead works to serve the living and true God. The conscience must be relieved; that is all that is required or enjoined. There is no power to walk nor sense of communion with God; and all because the conscience is made a guide and a standard instead of simply a guard -- a point which I may consider another time, if the Lord will.


No favour is valued but as it affects our condition in making us gainers by it. The sense of gain as to our condition becomes the measure of every

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favour conferred. Increase the sense of gain, and you enhance the favour, for the value of the favour consists in the consciousness of having gained by it. This must be the case when the condition is imperfect, for how could anything be valued unless it met one's need? and according as the need is met the condition is improved.

To man, fallen, and sensible of his fallen condition, nothing can be of value but as it tends to improve that condition. Cain knows that he is not on terms with God, and he feels that there can be no real improvement in his condition until his relation to God is a satisfactory one. When Abel secures the acceptance denied to himself, he is filled with envy. He sees Abel's condition improved, while his own remains unaltered, and even worse than it was. The improvement is not unattainable, but another is preferred before him, and the fact that another has obtained what he sought, stirs up all the wickedness of his heart, and in envy he kills his brother, unable to endure that he should enjoy a condition denied to himself. "So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof", Proverbs 1:19. Man, as he has sense, knows that his condition is not a perfect one. Enoch is translated before he had seen death, which of itself must mar any condition. Noah is saved in an ark. That met the necessity of his condition, but still did not render it perfect. Abram is carried forward by faith through promises, into scenes where his condition would be perfect; but he never attained to it. He saw Christ's day and was glad; he could see by faith where his condition would be full and satisfactory; but as to fact, he remained as he was. Then, under the law, the offerer by faith comprehended acceptance with God, and so far he could rejoice; but he needed a renewal of this every day, a fresh ground of faith. Even the most devoted could not speak of a perfect condition.

For a man fallen and under judgment, a perfect condition must necessarily embrace two things; first,

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clear and full deliverance from the condition which is his by nature; and secondly, the gift of a condition which is entirely satisfactory, and hence perfect in itself. To speak of, or to offer, the second before the first was assured would be a mockery. Hence the great thing, and the main thing presented even to faith, is deliverance out of the condition in which we are by nature; for until this is definitely secured, there could be no enjoyment of a perfect condition -- nay, it could not be conferred. Now could a perfect condition be conferred on one under judgment? Judgment must first be executed, and there must be righteousness, fully answering to the mind of God, before a perfect condition can be conferred. But if righteousness be established, if the judgment has been met fully and entirely, then the way is clear for the Lord to do according to all His will and pleasure. If this be not seen there can be no apprehension or perception of the new condition conferred consequent on the entire clearing away of the old in judgment. And hence it is that many true servants of the Lord and saints in general never seem to apprehend the nature of our new condition, because they are so occupied with getting clear of the old one. They dwell much on this subject; their speeches and writings are full of it. It is the first step, and beyond doubt of paramount importance, because there can be no divine progress until this step has been taken; but the reason there is no advance is that it has not been taken. Souls do not fully and entirely see and know that they have been delivered through the cross, in Christ's death, of everything under the judgment of God, and also from the power of Satan. The condition man suffers from still remains; but the one in Christ is freed from both. Christ's bearing judgment unto death has freed the believer from the condition under claim, and also from the power of Satan. If we be dead with Christ, we must be righteously clear of the judgment man was under to God, because in death the

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power of Satan is broken. In the cross Christ triumphed over all the powers; hence in Him we are superior to everything adverse. Souls are occupied with getting free of the old condition, and teachers go no further. How can any one reach or possess the untold blessings of Canaan until he has passed through the Red Sea and Jordan somewhere in his march? Souls are detained, and they never consciously set their foot on the land. There may be many a Pisgah, many a gleam of sunshine in the prospect presented of the happy times coming, or of what a blessed thing it is to be assured now of full deliverance from an imperfect condition under judgment; but there is no real sense of actual, fixed possession of a new and perfect condition, which one can speak of oneself as being in, more surely than one could speak of being in the old and lost one. Take as an illustration the fable of the phoenix. It rises from its ashes in an entirely new condition, outside and apart from the old. This illustration I admit is not perfect, for it fails to show that we are still connected with the ashes, the old tenement; but I refer to it to indicate the positive nature of the new condition.

In John's gospel the new condition is at once introduced. The Lord in chapter 3 shows how the old condition will be removed. There is announced, not only the necessity for new birth, but that now, through the lifting up of the Son of man, God would be free to give eternal life. This eternal life is the new condition as to existence. Then in chapter 4 the condition itself, in all its greatness and perfection, is set before us in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria. And here He makes distinct reference to the former condition in itself; He says, "Every one who drinks of this water [referring to all that satisfies and cheers nature] shall thirst again; but whosoever drinks of the water which I shall gave him shall never thirst for ever, but the water which I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into eternal life" -- a power to

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sustain one in the eternal life brought in through Him who has saved us out of our old condition. Now nothing could be more perfect than the state in which this gift sets us. We shall never thirst, never have a sense of need. It cannot be improved on, and it is a fountain springing up into everlasting life. The soul is sustained in the consciousness and virtue of eternal life. Surely, in such a condition there is no room for anything. It comes from Christ. It springs up from me individually to Him who is the life and source of it. This is our new condition. It is not a condition in prospect, but one now given, and is characteristic of the grace of God. That is, as God has in judgment on the cross righteously executed sentence on the man under judgment, every believer in Christ is exempt from judgment, and is in the righteousness of God; and that God gives -- is free to give. We are saved, we are endowed, and that according to His own will. Hence, God is ministering righteousness, for He has found it in Christ; He comes out in a new character -- He gives; and our new condition is the fruit and in virtue of His gift.

Now the great check to all divine joy and practice is either the ignorance or imperfect apprehension of this condition. It is not that souls have not the joy of salvation, and assurance; they may have this, and even more. They may desire to fly; but as there are many and varied stages between a bird being sensibly alive and its ability to fly, so there are stages in a christian's progress before he enjoys this new condition. When a bird flies, it is conscious of a condition never known before. It lived, it desired to fly, often and long before; but until it had flown, it never knew how definite the condition was, and how distinct from any it had previously entered on. It now knows the power suited to its nature and enjoys it.

We find in Paul's epistles that the point to which he refers everything is this new condition. The Spirit is

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the power of it. If they are not spiritual they are at best but babes in Christ. Hence the defect in souls is that they are not conscious of the distinctness of this new condition from everything that is possible in the old. They have not in fact the sense of possession of it, and they have not sought to possess it as if it were really attainable. The first distinct sense imparted to the soul by the Spirit is what is the essential law of the Spirit; and it is said, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death". Do souls look at sin and death as distanced, because they are in a condition which is as entirely freed from it as an island is from the sea? Can souls speak joyfully of being in a condition where they are free from these two great pressures on the old condition? Can they say, I have life and peace, because I possess the mind of the Spirit dwelling in me, and the Spirit is life because of righteousness? There is delight in the law of God after the inner man; but it is the Spirit which empowers one to live Christ, and enter into the fulness of joy at God's right hand; and hence the measure is the riches of His glory -- "that he may give you ... to be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man; that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts" -- and thus be led into all "the fulness of him who fills all in all". It is only in the Spirit that one can have a full sense of being altogether apart from the old condition; and, as we see in 1 Corinthians, one may have received largely of the gifts of the Spirit, and yet not be clear of the flesh, simply because the Spirit's own sphere -- our new condition -- is not occupied; that is, Christ in glory is not the known centre and rest of the heart. Once there, we are conscious of a very distinct and broad line between the new and the old condition; and hence in 1 John 2 we find that it is through the "unction" that we know all things. Secondly, we know He abides in us by the Spirit which He hath given us; and thirdly, we know we abide in

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Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.

The snare and delusion from which many suffer is, that while the truth is admitted in general terms, there is no sense of the new sphere and exclusive ground on which it places one. There is rather an attempt to improve the old condition, to render it resigned or in some way to affect it, than to confine oneself to the new, and from it, according to the Lord, to use the body here for His service. What God gives has not been accepted in faith, and hence there is not simple and earnest purpose to enjoy and possess it. If it were possessed, there would be a consciousness of a full cup, a condition perfect and satisfactory. The old man remains indeed needy and covetous; but it is silenced and left behind by one enjoying his new condition and able to speak of its virtues. Stephen could endure the direct suffering here, because of what he possessed in this new condition. Paul could walk here, counting all things but dung that he might have Christ as his gain, for he knew how satisfying the portion was, and therefore he pursued it at the loss of everything else. To him to die was gain, because he already knew in his soul that it was far better to depart and be with Christ. "If indeed our outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed day by day". There is a conscious personality of the new man, which enables one to rise superior to the claims and desires of the old, though still clothed with the old. There is a daily deepening conviction and assurance of the greatness and the magnitude of the new, and thus there is not only a more defined separation from the old, but a fuller apprehension of what it is to be in a new condition, given by Christ, the Head and source of the creation of God; and with it a testimony characteristic of His grace, which must be compromised if this be not seen and accepted; for if our condition be not perfect, our relation to God cannot be perfect.

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Truth is things as they are in the mind of God, It is not one side of them nor another side, but the whole as they stand in the eye of God. The exposition of any subject according to man's mind is true to his mind; that is, it is stated that it is seen, or can be seen by him. But this is not in itself truth, for if a thing be capable of presenting a different view when seen from God's side, then, however true it may be to the human conscience, it is not in reality truth; and thus the view of a subject which might appear to be true to man would be one-sided, if the light in which God sees it were not apprehended. This accounts for the partial and one-sided view in which doctrines or subjects of Scripture are spoken of; the truth is not grasped. The great mistake in every age, and the great cause of difference about doctrines and subjects in Scripture, is attributable to this one-sided view of them. If any subject be clearly seen from God's side, there must be accuracy and perfection in it; it reaches as far as He has designed it, and it springs from Himself. Whereas, if it be limited to man's view of it, it is only seen as it affects man, and he at best can only trace it from himself upward, instead of seeing it from its source as it is with God, and reaching downward to man. There can be no balance if the grace of God be measured by man's gain from it or his need of it, because then it is made a thing entirely confined to man, and man is made the measure of it. This must be one-sided, because it is the lesser side that is made the range of it, and not the greater side, and that too from which it springs.

Man in the garden of Eden was the object, and he appropriated everything as given of God in relation to himself. But to fallen man, with judgment resting on him from God, how different everything is; he is at enmity and shuns God. If Cain thinks only of himself

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and forms a judgment from his own mind as to the way in which the distance between God and man will be repaired, he is all astray. The necessity of offering is admitted by Cain, but he confines his thoughts so entirely to himself that God's thoughts as to him, a sinner, have no place, and surely there is no balance there. Abel by faith sees what God requires in an offering, and here lies the great difference between them. Abel had the truth and Cain had not. The righteousness of God required a victim, not chargeable, but bearing a judgment undeserved by it. That was the truth. The mind of God as to righteousness is answered to, and man is accepted with God. Thus both sides are fully provided for, while Cain, who thought of his own side only, secured neither.

Lot, while retaining the true position of being in Canaan, limited the truth to himself, sought his own interest, and ended in Sodom. If he had regarded his position from God's side he would have been preserved, like Abraham, and in the end he would have found that what was the right thing, the thing honouring to God, was the best thing for himself. He only thought of himself, the balance was lost, and thus he forfeited the high privilege in which the truth had set him. If he had kept his eye on God, he would have found out that his own side was well secured. This is very important for us to know, that whenever we limit a doctrine or a revelation to ourselves, we lose the value of it; but when we maintain God's side, we always ensure our own.

King Saul could never see any side but his own, and consequently he was always losing the blessing. Whether it be in subduing Amalek, or in keeping a feast, or in battle, he never could see anything as it was in the mind of God; he viewed everything from his own side, never from God's. The fact is, the more I insist on God's side, the more emphatically I secure what is perfect and good for man. On the other hand, the great thing with David always was God's side,

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even in his failures. He sees things from God's side, and acts accordingly -- acts in truth, for that only is truth which is as it is, and nothing is really as it is, but as it is with God; anything else is but a false view. It is a great thing when God comes first to one's thoughts, and not oneself; and this was the difference between David and Saul.

The great evidence of Israel's departure from God, for which they suffered seventy years' captivity in Babylon, was that they forgot God, in the sabbatical year, for four hundred and ninety years; and surely, in forgetting God's side, they in a marked way forfeited their own blessing. The sabbatical year was a most remarkable evidence of God's favour and presence; but they thought not of God, they forfeited their high privilege, and entailed on themselves a grievous captivity. Thus with the captives in Ezra's time; after enduring much in returning to the land, and after commencing the rebuilding of the temple, being hindered, they ceased for sixteen years (Ezra 4:24), and excused themselves by saying, "The time is not come ... that the Lord's house should be built", Haggai 1:2. While they sedulously cared for their own things, God's side of things was overlooked, and the consequence was, "Ye have sown much, and bring in little ... and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes". The cause of grievous loss to the saints in every age is just this, that they are thinking of their own gain in connection with the revelation of God in the first instance, and thus God, the Source, is lost. Paul says he withstood Peter to the face, "that the truth of the glad tidings might remain with you", Galatians 2:5. Peter did not mean to give up the gospel, but for a moment he looked to man's side, and thus lost the balance, and the truth, which is always balanced, was imperilled. Plausible, doubtless, were the arguments used to excuse the conduct of Peter; even Barnabas was carried away, and he betrayed the side

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on which he was acting by insisting on taking his kinsman Mark with him and separating from Paul; Acts 18:39. In the later epistles (2 Timothy 1) we read that all they of Asia turned away from the apostle Paul; it was not that they had turned from christianity itself, but from the truth. They could keep God's side no more than could Lot or the returned captives under pressure, or even Peter when man was too much before him. The loss of balance is in making man the object. When Jacob at Shalem (Genesis 33) built an altar and called it El-elohe-Israel, he connects God with himself, instead of seeing himself as connected with God. This is the way it begins; the first love is lost. Christ as the simple object is lost, though there may be, as there was at Ephesus, a hating of what is evil, and trying of false clerical pretensions; Revelation 2:2. The force and scope of the truth is lost the moment the eye turns from God, and the revelation of Himself to man primarily; so that in the last days, as we find in 2 Timothy 4, their ears will be turned away from the truth and they will have teachers who will suit their tastes -- vitiated tastes that have turned away from the truth. Hence that which characterises the faithful in the last day is, Thou "hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name", Revelation 3:8. Christ's side is insisted on by the overcomers, and hence the rewards are all marked with the word "my". A pillar in the temple of my God, the name of my God, the name of the city of my God, my new name -- all is from God's side. The truth has been preserved, and the rewards are in keeping with it. Every servant of God in the present hour finds, as he is careful to maintain the truth, how easily he could be drawn aside to make man prominent in the matter of truth he is presenting; and the more distinctly he insists on making God first in it, the more will he be weakened by a Barnabas, or forsaken by a Demas.

If the gospel which is preached be that which pleases the taste, it must be entirely occupied with man and

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his need, and speak only of the benefit conferred by it. There is no question but that it does confer benefit on man, and this is its first word to him; but it is not balanced unless the relation be shown in which it places him with God. The Philippian jailor is told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". He believes and rejoices in God. The popular gospel dwells on the benefit to man, the relief and ease which it imparts to him. It does not insist on the nearness to God to which the ransomed one is brought. It occupies him with the good, and benefit to himself, instead of founding his joy on the relation in which he is now with God through Christ. In a word, God is not made prominent to the soul, but the benefit. Acceptance with God is not the gain that is presented, but the ease to myself. I repeat, there is no question of gain; but there is a great difference between having before one the Person who accomplished the gain and the gain merely as one feels it. Scripture puts the Person first, and then the gain to the believer; and the result is that his heart becomes occupied with the One who confers the gain, and not merely with the gain. Now if one is exclusively occupied with the latter, there must always be a turning in on oneself -- an occupation with the gain which does not increase it, and tends to make one merely a favoured individual instead of one bound to Christ. Hence souls are not rooted and built upon Him, and there is no balance, for the truth has not been apprehended.

There is no balance in the gospel which occupies the soul exclusively with the relief it will enjoy, instead of with the Person by whom the relief has been secured. Can that be truth where God does not consciously and prominently get a place? Surely there is no balance there. It is not only the sinner's freedom from condemnation which the gospel proclaims, but that God has found him a Saviour; not only that he is safe, but that as forgiven he is now near unto God. The

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step between the right and wrong is often very small, yet it is plain that if the gospel be limited to the benefit it confers on man, then man is before the mind rather than God. Surely that is not according to the balances of the sanctuary. The gospel sets forth the grace of God to man, but it presses on man what the God who has this grace is -- not merely the effect on man's heart, but a sense of Him who confers it; not the relief only, but the One who relieves; not the deliverance only, but the Deliverer.

It is the same principle as to all truth and all teaching. If the saint's benefit, or happiness, or order be looked at and sought apart from Christ, or as making Christ secondary, it will soon be seen that the truth has been lost; there is no balance. And this is not readily seen, because what is addressed peculiarly to oneself, and for one's own special benefit, seems so good and useful, and comes so within the comprehension of the natural mind, that many contend for the practical usefulness of it. The evidence of every failing dispensation is the attempt to exhibit in externals that which is lacking internally; and hence ritualism and Pharisaism will always crop up when the heart is not occupied with Christ, like Saul destroying all that was vile and refuse, and sparing Agag (1 Samuel 15:9), or the Pharisees in our Lord's day, or the Laodicean leaven in our own day. Man's side is dwelt on, but God's is overlooked. All is one-sided, and the balance which marks the truth is lost.


Man is an object of blessing, and God is the source of it; but if the blessing becomes man's object, then God, the source of it, is overlooked, and that through His own gift. Satan insisted in Job 1:9 that God's gifts were Job's object, and not God himself, from whom they came. This tendency in man is characteristic

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of the fall. It was by proposing a benefit that Satan ensnared Eve. The gain was made the prominent thing before the mind, and in order to secure it, God was overlooked, and sin entered. If in an innocent happy state this snare was so successful, how much more likely is it in our present fallen state, that the blessing should occupy the heart more than the source of it -- that there should be an eager grasping at the blessing because of the benefit it confers, and engrossment with it. To divert the heart from God is the very thing Satan aims at, and the moment the heart is directed to that side, then there is a beginning of that slipping away of the soul from God which is in principle apostasy. It is of great moment to discover the root and cause of our declension from God. The natural man looks only for gain, and it will be found that the first step downwards is when one considers for oneself, and not for God. God is left out, and man is an object to himself; and the blessing is appropriated as conducing to this. Noah fails by indulging himself with the blessings conferred on him; he forgets God in his self-indulgence; Genesis 9:21. Abraham, though in the path of faith and in a true position, is led away by his natural feelings, and overlooks the promise of God, and what is due to His glory, when he says, "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" The father of the faithful considers for himself, but when Isaac is weaned he is required to cast out the bondwoman and her son; the rival can no longer be tolerated; Genesis 21.

Now the thing for us to discover is, where does the falling away begin? It begins where we are in any way an object to ourselves; for when this is the case, God is not before us. The greatest blessings can be received, and yet the evil may have begun in the midst of them if we make ourselves an object with respect to them; and it has been where the greatest blessings have been conferred that the deepest declension has occurred. The word of Peter to our Lord, 'Pity thyself', is the

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suggestion which when acted on leads to a falling away; Matthew 16:22. The Lord instantly rebukes Peter, and tells him that he savours of the things which be of man and not of the things which be of God. It is altogether so specious a snare that, unless girt about with truth that is, with the mind of God as it has been revealed, one is easily diverted into this channel. It seems so natural, when one is surrounded with blessings, and thus sensible of being an object of divine favour, that one should think of oneself. But whenever it is so, the eye is turned from God to oneself; for when God is before one, self gets no place, though there be the deepest consciousness of His favour. Hence it is the saint who is the object of the greatest favour who needs most to be on his guard, that he allow not his eye to rest on himself where the favours are sent, but on God from whom they come. If his eye turns to himself because of the favour, then the favour has been the means of turning the heart from God to a mere gift of His.

Against this the children of Israel are warned when they come into the land. "Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied ... then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage", Deuteronomy 8:12 - 14. And thus it happened. The blessings conferred did turn their hearts to themselves, as the objects of God's favour, instead of to God Himself; and the consequence was that God was forgotten, and eventually a false and corrupt worship was introduced. But the beginning of it all was forgetting the Lord who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. And this entailed a forfeiture of the very blessing which had drawn them away: "... and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish

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quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you", Deuteronomy 11:17.

There is a striking example of this in Jacob's history, in Genesis 33. Returning to the land, after his deliverance from his brother Esau, and after the night of wrestling at Peniel, where he received the name Israel, he settled down at Shalem, forgetting his own pledge to God to return to Bethel; Genesis 28:21. He had been largely blessed, and after much suffering and exercise had reached the land again; but he gave way to the suggestion which so easily sways the heart, and thinks only of himself. He thinks of what would suit himself, and not of God; and though he is not ungodly, the name of his altar betrays that he was occupied with himself, as an object of God's favour, instead of with God who had made him an object. He built an altar and called it El-elohe-Israel. Here he suffers so much that he says to his sons, "I shall be destroyed, I and my house". The blessings, apart from God, like flowers detached from their roots, soon fade away, and corruption succeeds beauty and fragrance. Now the Lord says to him, "Go up to Beth-el". And see the effects of turning to God's side in chapter 35: 2. First, there is holiness, a true sense of the holiness of God. Things that could be suffered at Shalem cannot be tolerated now. Jacob says to his family, "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments.... And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother". And mark! it is when he is thus occupied with God that his own blessing is most fully secured. The source of the blessing must necessarily always deepen and strengthen the blessing, and hence he hears now for the second time, "Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel". Moreover, he was blessed both as to posterity and possession; see verses 11, 12.

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It is of great moment to see what is the point of departure; for if the recovery be true, that must be the point to be reached, as it is said, "Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works", Revelation 2. If we trace every apostasy to its beginning, we shall find that the saint got occupied with himself instead of with God. Abram was the first to go down into Egypt; Genesis 12. He thinks of himself and leaves the land, and when he returns he builds an altar where he had it at the beginning. Achan in the very moment of greatest favour -- at the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6 and 7) -- thinks of himself, and, without any pressure, connects himself with that great sin, Babylon, from which there was no recovery but through the valley of Achor (Hosea 2) where Achan was stoned.

The children of the captivity, when restored to the land, with all zeal and purpose of heart on their first return began to rebuild the temple; yet when hindered (Ezra 4:24) they fall into this very snare, and say, "The time is not come ... that the Lord's house should be built", Haggai 1:2. They are occupied with their own blessing in the land, and the house of the Lord lies waste; and though they could not have accounted for the poverty of their state, the word of the Lord discloses to them that the reason is that they have lost sight of God and His interests. They looked for much and brought in little; they were very zealous to secure blessing, true blessing too, for earthly blessing was true blessing for them; but they forfeited their own, because their eye was turned to themselves, and not to God and His things. To Israel in the land all the blessings were earthly and human, hence occupation with them, though real, had the effect of turning the eye from the Blesser. Now in the New Testament there is no room or sanction for seeking anything on earth, for, as the man in Christ is heavenly, there is no room for maintaining place or position on earth; and when

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such is attempted, it is an open departure from christian ground. This we see in christendom, in those who say they are Jews and are not. But besides this, there is a turning to one's own side, and thus losing the source of all blessing. Thus it was with the church at Ephesus, the most highly favoured of all. Where most light had been received, there they turned to their own side, and though they manifested a true and earnest purpose of heart, in that they could not bear evil men, and had tried those who say they are apostles and are not, yet they had lost their first love, they had lost Christ as the sole object for their hearts; and hence, they are threatened with the loss of their candlestick -- that on which the light was set -- unless they repent. No kind of works on our side could be more commendable than the works of the church at Ephesus, and yet with all this the Lord says to them, "Remember ... from whence thou art fallen". They have lost their first love; and the end of their falling away is the Laodicean state, glorying and satisfied with their own doings. The subtlety of the "wile" is that one is diverted from Christ by what is essentially useful; and this is not discovered until, as with Jacob and others, the consequences of departure proclaim the fact.

In the history of the church there is no true effort to recover until Philadelphia, when there is a little strength, which is acquired by abiding in Christ. And there the saints are characterised by two things; "thou ... hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". There is practical occupation with Christ, according to the mind of God; and the rewards are in keeping, associating one with the highest spheres of God's testimony through all ages. There are works in Philadelphia, but the great object before the faithful is Christ in His word and name, that which concerns Christ; and the works necessarily bear this stamp, and are the evidence of the "little strength". Individually or collectively, the source of all strength is Christ. "Without

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me ye can do nothing", and the moment the eye is turned from Christ to self-occupation, be it either satisfaction with or condemnation of self, one has begun to fall away. Hence in personal things, necessary things connected with our very existence here, we are enjoined, "seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind ... but rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you", Luke 12:29 - 31. The sum is simple and blessed. Make God's side your interest and concern, and your own side will be fully and perfectly ensured; but turn your eye to your own, and, with much apparent effort and work, like the Israelites in Haggai's time, you will look for much and bring in but little. This explains the little progress in many souls in the present day, notwithstanding the amount of truth and light they have received. May Christ in His word and name be more simply the object of our hearts in this evil day!


In a day like this, when the mind of man is, as I may say, opening itself to be acted on, and not content unless acted on by something, it is of great moment that the servant of Christ should weigh and understand from the scripture the marks of true conversion, of one born anew -- born of God. That faith or credence can be produced without the power of God is not only admitted in Scripture, but it is referred to, in order to be refused, In John 2 we read, "Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men". Still more distinctly, in 1 Corinthians 2:3 - 5, we find that Paul avoids the line and taste of the Corinthians, in order that their "faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God". And we also learn, from the parable of the sower,

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that in some cases, even where there was an appearance of true acceptance, there was really no life, no root. All this warns us to be on our guard, not only lest we should accept that which is unreal, but much more -- lest we should by any means be instrumental in promoting this false and carnal zeal, in producing a faith which would not only be a loss to the possessor of it, but loss also to the servant, because every man's work will be tried with fire. The truer the servant, the more careful he is that his work should be true. It is not the reputation in which his work stands which satisfies the spiritual man; but the assurance that he has acted for the Lord, and has done His will. It is not merely that he is satisfied in his own conscience that he has done as well as he could; but more than that, that he has acted in keeping with the revealed will of God. It is remarkable that when we act in nature in our services, we have no higher standard for our acts than the natural conscience; but the more truly we are acting spiritually, the less do we accept any standard below the word of God. Hence with the spiritual servant, it is neither the reputation of his work which satisfies him, nor the approval of his own conscience, but the Lord's approval; and as this is simply before his mind, there is a deepening desire that his work may be solid, such as will stand, and be part of that which will satisfy Christ for the travail of His soul. Could any servant near his Master desire aught but that the work which he is permitted to do should be genuine, and that he in his measure should have an offering to make unto the Lord? Ought anything to distress a servant more than to discover that his work is not genuine? Now one thing is very manifest. If a servant is not near the Lord himself, he cannot be the instrument of leading others near Him. He may, through mercy, communicate a certain amount of blessing; but though a worldly evangelist may be used to deliver a soul from hell, yet he will not be used to deliver anyone from the world. He does not know

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the word in power in that line himself yet; and the living waters, the waters to bless now, must flow out of the belly of the one who ministers it. Paul had healthy plants at the beginning, though they soon got corrupted; but they were, as we see in Thessalonica, and even in Galatia, clear and decided at their birth, and in all his epistles the deep desire and interest he had for their reality is marked. No language is too strong to express the depth and fervour of it. In one place he says "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you"; and in another, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you". No one could be in company with the Spirit of God in any little measure, and not imbibe the patient earnest attention with which He works in souls. Paul's solicitude reaches out for those whose faces he had not seen in the flesh; Colossians 2. Peter provides for them after his decease (2 Peter 1:13); and John sees his own place or reward hereafter to depend on the walk of the saints. In one epistle he says, "That ... we may ... not be ashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28), and in another, "that we receive a full reward", 2 John 8. All this, the more we meditate on it, will make us the more watchful for the marks of a soul really turned to God. Mere weeping or the greatest expression of faith or perception will not deceive the one who, walking near the Lord, has the sense in his own soul that the divine work has other and deeper marks. He knows what it is to be in the presence of a holy God, and to have found a Saviour there, where the need of one is felt; and he therefore looks for this in every one professing conversion. The first mark, the first evidence that a soul has really had to do with God, is the sense that God is the offended One, but that the offender has found a Saviour. Hence the Saviour is the attraction for the offender. These two things make up the first mark of true conversion. There is the fear of God, because the word of God has reached the soul, and there is

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relief through Jesus the Saviour. If the fear is great, the sense of relief is great, if the Saviour has been truly presented; and according to the greatness, so is there a turning to and cleaving of heart to the Saviour. The woman in Luke 7, the sinner who makes her way into the Pharisee's house, has little intelligence, but she has heard of the Saviour, and as she is a sinner, she is drawn by faith to Him, and this must ever be the case. As a sinner, who so attractive to her as the Saviour? He had raised the dead at Nain. The report had gone abroad, "God hath visited his people". The Saviour has attraction for the sinner, even as the lifeboat has for the drowning mariner. They naturally suit each other. She might not be able to tell why, but Jesus is her attraction. Her heart demands it of her, cost what it may, to present herself in the Pharisee's house. Enter she will, for her Saviour is there. To do with Him is the first necessity of her soul, and the first instinct of new birth. Tears and expressions of happiness about one's own state are very different from what is seen in this woman. True, she stood behind Him weeping; but it was not on account of herself so much as on account of Him. She weeps when she is near Him. It is from engrossment with Him, not with her own feelings. And hence this is rather the second mark of conversion than the first. The first, as we see with the thief on the cross, is that with the fear of God there is a confident depending -- turning to the Saviour. He, though the most contemptible man on earth, says to the great King, because of faith in Him and His goodness, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom". The second mark we do not see in this case, except in his appreciation of Christ to his fellow-thief. The first mark is more within and proves genuineness best; the other mark is that which flows from it; namely, a practical making much of my Saviour. Here it is the tears of the woman fall, and here they wash His feet. Here her hair -- her own personal glory -- wipes

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them. The lowest and least part of Him, as His members on earth, calls out her affection and her self-sacrifice in heartily expending on Him the fragrant ointment which would have distinguished herself Thus, too, it was with Jonathan when he saw the head of Goliath in the hand of David; 1 Samuel 17, 18. First he made a covenant with him, "because he loved him as his own soul"; and finally, he stripped himself of his robe, his garments, even unto his sword, his bow, and his girdle, and put them on David. These are the "things that accompany salvation", Hebrews 6:9, 10.

There are two things very grievous in this day. One is the easy way in which conversion is spoken of, as if it were the effect of a cogent, well-directed appeal, as one might be affected by hearing of a devoted patriot or crusader, and thus without any just sense of the creation which is wrought of God in the soul at conversion. The other is the almost indifference with which the progress of the converts is regarded. They have made a certain profession, they have been acknowledged as born again; but where is the "travailing" that Christ may be formed in them, or where the "great conflict" of which the apostle speaks? Be assured, the latter is traceable to the former. If there were a deeper sense of what conversion really is, there would be a deeper concern for the converts. Indifference to a thing gained betrays a want of earnest toil in gaining it. We are always most devoted to those for whom we have suffered most.

The Lord give us to share in His own love of His people, and to look more for the marks of genuine conversion.


There is nothing in the present day more patent than the inaccuracy or want of precision in the knowledge of the truth, even when there is an avowed acceptance of it. Every faithful one feels, both with regard to himself

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and others, the great need of watching that one's views and statements should be derived from the word of God; and the fact that in the last days (2 Timothy 3) there will be a class of persons "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" -- that is, a clear knowledge of it -- is enough to awaken our most earnest attention to the subject, and to make us watch diligently the mode in which this harm occurs. We cannot be too often reminded that there is no evil dominant at any time to which the saints are not exposed. The great aim of Satan, the god of this world, is to hinder and contravene the work of God in the souls of the saints, and it is his masterpiece to enable men to imitate the truth, as the magicians did in the days of Moses, that souls may not be brought under the power and action of the word of God. Since Satan will succeed in having a class of learners who never reach to the knowledge of the truth, let us see what is the only true way for us, and also mark how and where this dreaded leaven finds an entrance.

Truth cannot be acquired by any human means; it is imparted by the Spirit of God, and therefore it is in harmony with and helpful to every bit of truth already received; and all thus imparted, however small in measure, is truth and is known as such. The Spirit has taught it. "Ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him". All God's children are taught of Him. "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me". The word of God is the means by which the instruction is communicated. The power is the Spirit of God. All that is communicated by the Spirit of God is truth. The believer has the certainty in himself of what is true, and he is enjoined to continue in the things which he has learned and has been assured of. The Spirit of God gives the right sense to the new

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man; there is no error or inaccuracy there. Where this want of precision occurs is when the natural mind attempts to be the expositor of a sentiment, even true in itself; hence, if the natural mind has thoughts and predilections, there will be danger lest the word be neither clearly understood nor accurately expressed. The difficulty with regard to the natural mind is twofold; one, to divest it of its preconceived notions, which are peculiarly confusing in a religious age and in the midst of approved systems; and the other, so to occupy it with the true that there is no room for the false. We suffer in both ways; on the one hand there is some accepted tradition which sways us, because the conscience has been taught to regard it as sacred; and on the other there is so transient a glimpse of the true that it is not sufficient to control and imbue the mind. While the first is allowed to remain unchallenged and uninvestigated, there must be a great hindrance to the clear apprehension of truth; and though one might be learning for ever, still with this flaw or impediment there would be no progress. The seven thin ears would devour the seven full ears. This we know was the great difficulty with the Jewish saints, and if it was so pernicious and hindering with them, when there was a divine sanction, how much more so now to any who have imbibed what I may call a superstition. Everything which has weight with the conscience and which is not of the word of God is a superstition. The great lesson of the Acts of the Apostles is how in every way Israel had refused the proffered mercy of God, and was therefore set aside according to the words of Isaiah, "Make the heart of this people fat". This goes deeper and further than many suppose, because, when one has the sanction of the conscience, it is wonderful to what extremes the most devoted will yield. See Barnabas, the son of consolation; he swerves from the right line because of his Jewish bias, and breaks with his fellow labourer Paul. We are not sufficiently alive to the

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force and influence of established convictions and how detrimental they are to the acknowledgment of the truth, or what a time it takes to eradicate opinions which have obtained a place in the conscience as sacred. The first thing, as the apostle exhorts, is not to be conformed to this evil age, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, that we may be able to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The greatest evil perpetrated by Satan has been the leavening of the meal, or the blending of human ideas with divine truth, not denying the truth, which at once would alarm a saint, but making additions to it which deprive it of its power. Hence one of the greatest difficulties of saints in the present day is to distinguish what is simply truth from the opinions of men by which it has been perverted. It is evident then that the first thing, and, considering how we are exposed to the terrible influences of the last days, the most needed thing, is that every opinion should be examined under the searching scrutiny of the word of God. Truth can bear to be thus examined, superstition cannot. The second is that the truth presented in the word of God should be kept exclusively before the mind, as Paul says to Timothy, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all". The mind is to be fixed on it, and no one obtains a clear and distinct impression of any truth, but by exercise of some kind or other. Take either Isaac, when he trembled with an exceeding great trembling under the conviction that he had been swayed by his own feelings, and diverted from the mind of God, as to the application of the blessing (Genesis 27:33); or take Moses, forty days in the mount, without food, in order to be fully instructed in that which he had to copy on earth (Exodus 24:18); or take any servant of God, a Gideon, or a Paul; all and each have been exercised in a peculiar way, according to the nature of the truth revealed. But there is this one character in each,

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they have the sense of God's presence in such a way that there is not room for anything human or of man's mind; then God could write His own mind without any interruption, and this is the only real learning of Christ now.

The mind is an organ to receive and express impressions, communicated through the word of God, and not to originate any; and therefore in the same scripture, where we are warned of the class of learners who will never reach the truth clearly, the apostle reminds Timothy of the only means of preservation; namely, first that he had fully followed the apostle's doctrine, and next that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, which were able to take him wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. The word of God is the standard and warrant for everything, and that which can alone furnish the man of God thoroughly.

Now before the worst state of things comes, there will be first a turning away the ear from the truth and a turning to myths. This is the way the leaven begins to work. The truth is not openly denied, but there is a turning away the ear from it and preferring myths instead. This is very ominous and painful in this day; and it is not only apparent in first principles, but it is almost unaccountable how the deepest truths can be written and spoken of in such a manner as to leave out the speciality taught in Scripture with respect to them. The glory, and our connection with it, has been dilated on at great length, and yet without any reference to Paul in the whole statement! Communion with Christ has been pressed in the most affecting terms, and yet the subject which is nearest and dearest to the heart of Christ -- that of all others which the one really in communion with Him would be led into, and which was the first subject with the apostle Paul -- is not once alluded to. Again, salvation through the sacrifice of Christ has been preached, while righteousness is only provided through the imputation of Christ's

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life and obedience before redemption was made, or by keeping the law after one has been forgiven; as if there were no such thing as justification of life, or Christ in me, the body dead because of sin, and the Spirit life because of righteousness. Dying to sin is spoken of as if it were an actual work in the flesh, and of gradual attainment, instead of its being our standing in Christ, and our power of walk, as we abide in the Spirit and not in the flesh, the flesh being suppressed by the developed power of the Spirit. I quote these examples in order to convince souls how the deepest subjects in the word of God may be divested of their true character by even ordinarily devoted men. And now, as the day becomes darker, we need to be more on the watch lest we fall in any measure under the influence of the Jannes and Jambres of these days, and discover that, with every effort to acquire, we have not come up to any clear apprehension of the truth; for I must repeat that, though we may not, through mercy, drop into their vortex, yet we shall suffer from the influences of it, if not preserved fully. There is no one at all conversant with the progress and extent and variety of opinions around, even among saints, but will feel how grievous it is that truths should be nominally held, which are so interwoven with human ideas that they have lost their sanctifying power over the conscience. It is the truth which sanctifies and nothing else. Vitiate the truth and the power to sanctify is gone. As a bee deprived of its sting, though still alive, is powerless, it has lost its sting; so when the truth is leavened, the virtue of it is gone. Every one who has any real interest for the church of God must feel how difficult it is to reach the saints of this day; for while there are many very true and devoted, there are many who will not give themselves time to compare and analyse respected opinions with the word of God, and thus separate the precious from the vile. They are too busy, too satisfied with their own usefulness, and

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the testimony of an approving conscience; and there is no close earnest searching of the word, no strict following, like Timothy, of Paul's doctrine, no knowledge of the Holy Scriptures with the key, Paul's doctrine, which alone can elucidate them. On the contrary, the mass of saints are like those of Asia in Paul's day, they literally turn away from Paul. The first mark of declension is that the ear is turned from the truth, and when this is so, all knowledge of the scripture is little else than "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth". The activity of the mind of man in the last days opens out a wide field for Satan to act in. The mind is acted on on one side, and the feelings on the other; and these, though apparently different lines, will co-operate, because they really have the same source, even man in the flesh. Covertly and studiously to set aside Christ is the great design of Satan, and the only way in which he can succeed in doing this is by inducing one to contribute to the elevation of man in the flesh. If a saint is beguiled into this snare, there is then no check to the purpose of Satan; and the one who ought to oppose him becomes his coadjutor. When the church drops into this as in Laodicea, it will no longer be a vessel suited for Christ; then, characteristically, the church will be both diminutive and effeminate in nature; "silly women ... ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth".

The Lord lead us all into purpose of heart to "buy the truth, and sell it not", that we may be sanctified through the truth, even as He is.


The nearer one is to God in spirit, the more fully is he made conscious of what is unsuitable to Him, and that if he would walk in the mind of God, or receive from Him, he must keep clear of that which interferes and

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hinders. It is plain that if all my power and satisfaction proceed from God, then the more I am apart, the more shall I enjoy that which strengthens and satisfies me. It is impossible to maintain that God is the known source and supply of power to me, if I am walking where He cannot come. My duty or advantage is to walk so apart that I may have His favour in every circumstance; but this I cannot have if I mix with that which is against Him. In a general way this will be admitted, but there is a great difference of opinion as to the things which one might hold to and not forfeit the favour of God. Now a great deal of the misconception and consequent loss on this subject arises from being occupied with the things one wishes to retain, and not with Christ; then one would be formed as to the things approved of God. The better I know God, now fully manifested in Him who was made flesh and dwelt among us, the more clearly can I distinguish what is not of Him. It is light which discovers darkness. Darkness could not discover itself, and it is really according to the simplicity of one's eye in the light that one can determine what is darkness. It is great gain to be convinced of the truth that there is no true strength but in holiness, and that every departure from it must entail moral weakness. My sense of holiness as to things outside of me is in proportion to that within me, in myself personally. It is from the inner to the outward, and hence if there be imperfection outwardly it is only the betrayal of some inward deficiency. It is surely a simple and incontrovertible principle that in order to act in the strength of God in an evil world and a sinful nature, I must be as distinct as He is from either, or if I am not, I fail. I cannot side with a thing and act against it; and hence the more separate I am, the more defined and assured is my power to act against it. Whatever be the course of divine action at any given time, and whatever be the nature of the opposition to that course, it is evident that the man true to God,

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observing the divine course, is strengthened therein to act faithfully as he keeps separate from that which would mar or interfere; and as he would be in the Lord's mind and strength, so does he avoid even a touch of that which opposes. The only simple question is, Is there a positive distinction, the severest, between what is of God, and what is against Him? Is it defined with such distinctness that if of one I am not of the other, for then it could not be possible to be of God, and in any measure to sanction the other? There can be nothing neutral if all properly belongs to God; and hence any departure or opposition is against Him. Every one not with Him is against Him.

At first all was very good. God saw everything, that it was very good. Sin then entered, and God drove out the man from the garden of Eden, and the flaming sword turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life. Where was power or ability to act for God then, except as God's side was adhered to and the other separated from? Hence Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is described as one who pleased God, walked with Him, was simply and entirely on His side, and was translated that he should not see death. Then at the flood Noah walked with God, and moved with fear he prepared an ark for the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world; he was separated from all the ruin and judgment, for God had shut him in.

Then to Abram, when man had turned to demons, God said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee". Then more definitely and explicitly, when the law was given, the word to God's redeemed people is, as quoted in 1 Peter 1, "Be ye holy, for I am holy", which practically enjoined that extreme separation insisted on in 2 Corinthians 6"Come out ... and be ye separate ... and touch not the unclean thing" And in keeping with this is the appeal of Moses after

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the sin of the molten calf: "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? ... And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour". I refer to this in order to show the strictness which the Lord's side entails.

The Nazarite by vow adopted that severe life in his separation to God which illustrated what holiness to the Lord demands and imposes; and hence, when Israel was in almost hopeless captivity, Samson, whom God raised up to deliver them, was a Nazarite, and his strength was entirely dependent on the preservation of his separation. When it was maintained no one could overcome him, but as soon as he yielded to the tempter he betrayed himself; he was worsted and overcome. Hence when man, after repeated and varied trials, was proved utterly powerless and lost, then the Son of God comes into the world as the "Holy One", and in Him and by Him we must now measure what is holy. There is no longer any room for inquiry or examination how much this thing or that is to be accepted or refused. He is of God, and everything and every one not in allegiance and adhesion to Him is rejected.

Up to this there had been faithful men, walking according to the light they had, and separating according to the law from everything forbidden by God; but now the Holy One of God is here, as even Satan owns, and from henceforth everything must be determined by its relation to Him, If it be not for Him, it is against Him. There is no longer any room for uncertainty or mere legal restriction. It is now the life on earth of the Son of God, and marking in His walk the moral qualities which become a man of God in the midst of surrounding wickedness, and hence the same is He who baptiseth with the Holy Spirit -- "Holy", the characteristic of the

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Spirit of God in connection with us in the midst of evil. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him. Now everything of God is declared by Him, and everything for God is measured and tested by Him. Anything not of Him is of the world, is not of the Father, because the only One here really of God is Christ; and hence as connected with this world the great moral activity is sanctification. He has separated Himself from it that we might in heart and spirit be separated after the same measure.

The power for all walk and service is the Holy Spirit. He manifests Christ to us if we are keeping His word, walking in separation; and He, while reproving the world, is glorifying Christ to us. Thus strength and holiness go together. The moment our flesh gets a place the holiness of God is lost, and this was the case at Corinth. When trouble or evil sprang up there was a lack of power, but on the reassumption of holiness there is the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to purge out the evil-doer. Through carnal ways they had lost he sense of the holiness of God, and with it the consciousness of the power of the Holy Spirit. This is very striking. Now all through Scripture we see that every restoration is marked by increased holiness, and as there is holiness there is power. The Corinthians had been corrupted by evil association, and it is ever in this way that one slides away from the strict and defined separation imposed by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God must separate the soul where He rules from the society of the carnal and unspiritual; and the first mark of a spiritual person is his associates. The companion one seeks is the one that attracts one; and often when we may fail to find out our ruling tastes, the company we choose will be the exponent of them. The apostle dates their straitening in 2 Corinthians to their being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

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Their association had cramped every energy. They come behind in no gift, and yet they were straitened in their bowels, and the only remedy was distinct and absolute separation. "Come out ... and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean thing". The touch of the unclean imparted weakness, connected them with that which was at variance with the Holy Spirit; for Christ and Belial there could not be any common ground or interest. As Achan's taking of the gold of Jericho deprived the army of Israel of the power of Jehovah, so does touching the unclean thing deprive the saint now of the present power of the Spirit of God, and the manifestation of that power on our behalf. And hence, when the church becomes like a great house, there is no place of power or usefulness for the servant of God but as he is separate from the vessels to dishonour; otherwise he would not be "a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use". The Master would not use him in His house; there would be no exemplification of the grace of Christ in him but as he was holy, nor could he lead others where he was not himself; according to his separation in moral power, so could he lead into it; and in every case of service we always find that the power is in proportion to the holiness. Where God is there is holiness, and there is power. Be it a Daniel in Babylon, or a Phinehas in the midst of defilement, the only channel of God's succour and favour is that of the strictest holiness. The work of Christ now, ministerially, is to sanctify the church which He so loved that He gave Himself for it; and He will not support us in power or in the knowledge of His mind but in proportion as there is separation the same as His own. And the worse the days, as we see in Jude, the more distinctly must there be maintained a separate and holy path which has been lost sight of by those who are "sensual, having not the Spirit".

May we practically keep our eye on Him, the refuge in the darkest hour, rallying us around Himself according

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to that word, "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".


The grace of God sets us in Christ, in whom the old man was crucified that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should not serve sin; and yet if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. To preserve these two statements intact and inviolate is the truth. If I am not dead before God in Christ, I am still alive in that which is sinful, and I have no peace; and if I say I have no sin I do not admit that I am that being who needed the blood of Christ. In order to be at peace with God I must see myself connected with Christ out of judgment, and that judged which exposed me to judgment. To every quickened soul, knowing through grace that Jesus is the propitiation for his sins, and having peace with God in the faith that God hath raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, the next thing is that I reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. I am a new being, with a new life in righteousness. Thus the side with God is all complete. There is propitiation through the blood of Jesus, there is righteousness through His resurrection, there is life, the result of the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, and now it only remains to be free from sin and to know that we are dead to it.

The apostle shows in Romans 6 that baptism expresses the death of Christ. It is declarative of the end of the first man in His death. And hence it would be inconsistent to faith to occupy any ground but that of resurrection, on which we walk in newness of life. There is no peace until we are first assured that we, through Christ risen, are on new ground in righteousness; and hence baptism professedly abrogates the old status in

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the death of Christ, as that which is positively without the title of life. Thus as to profession one cannot consistently resume what has been abrogated; and as to fact, the old man is crucified with Christ. That man was ended judicially in the cross of Christ, that for every one in Christ the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should not serve sin. In the cross the first man is crucified, and is thus extinct to every one who is in Christ. Baptism is the declaration of the extinction of the old in the death of Christ, and submission to the fact that Christ is now the Head of every man. It is not only that I have received through Christ the gift of righteousness by His righteousness, and the justification of life; but the man, as to the race, is crucified in the cross, in order that the body in which sin could be might be destroyed, that we should not serve sin. Thus there is first the positive side, that having received through Christ abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, we reign in life; but also, the body of sin, through which all the sin came in, has been crucified in the cross; and baptism is the formal act of renunciation of the old man, in order to submit to Him who is now, for all who believe in Him, the justification of life. Thus I am assured in a twofold way; I have received on the one hand everything to fit me for God, and on the other hand I have been freed from everything in which sin could find a place. I have been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed. I am in the vigour of a justified life on the one side, and I am freed from the body of sin on the other, for he that is dead is freed from sin; and as thus dead before God through the cross, the Spirit of God asserts His claim over the members of the body, so that they have no right now to serve sin. I am through grace set in Christ in newness of life, and in the crucifixion of the old man, and hence the one single duty now is to live unto God. Nothing hinders; the Spirit has full liberty. Now, being made free from sin, you

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are servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness; finally, everlasting life. Here there is holiness, not because I am dying to sin, but because through the grace of God I am in newness of life; and in Christ I am in One who had died unto sin, and who now liveth unto God; and therefore, whichever way I look, whether it be the life conferred through the righteousness of One, or the exemption from the body of sin through the crucifixion of Christ, now living unto God, the fruit is holiness, as touching my position in Christ, and on God's side.

But besides this and because of this -- that is, because I am in this new position, this place of liberty before God in Christ -- I am led by the Spirit of God, by whom I live, to walk in Him, and as I do so, I do not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, though they are still there. If they were not, where would be the virtue of not fulfilling them, or where would be that great manifestation of grace which is exemplified in every devoted saint, even that in the same nature in which he dishonoured God, he is now empowered by the Spirit of God in a new nature to answer to the mind of God? I have to mortify my members which are on the earth, but this is not to attain to death. Then death would be a work here in me, and not done for me; and the rest of soul which I can only have because that is dead wherein I was held, would be dependent on my own progress in self-mortification, instead of, as the Scriptures set forth, the fact that I am dead with Christ, and He is my hope; and therefore I am to put to death the members on earth still in existence as to themselves, and as this progresses there is sanctification. Sanctification does not proceed or arise from an improvement in the members, but from a greater subjugation of them in death-like powerlessness; for it is the simple duty now that all the members of the flesh should be in a death-state, for we have put off the old man, and have put on the new, which is renewed in knowledge after

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the image of Him who hath created him. But this is not to attain to a state of death, but because I am dead before God in Christ, that I may practically carry out my true standing in my walk and course here, while still in the body, so that the state may be in accordance with the standing. For the conscience will be wounded if the conduct of the individual tallies not with the faith which, if simple, is in keeping with the calling of God.

Thus there are two ways in which I am dead to sin, and there is a great difference between the two. In the one, I am really and perfectly so, in the mind of God, in the cross of Christ; in the other, I, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body; for I am in the Spirit, I do not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. But this is always partial work, even though I have a pure conscience, because God is greater than my heart and knows all things; and though I might, through the Spirit, be quite master of the flesh one moment, who can tell what may arise to excite it? And if it can be excited, then, though suppressed, it is not really defunct. The more I enjoy in my spirit the new state, the more do I deny that which would represent me in a character quite opposed to it, and hence there is an avoidance of everything which would minister to the flesh, not because I expect to expel sin from it; but because, being free from it, I would no longer be enslaved by it.

I am no debtor to the flesh, and I prove my freedom by not yielding to it, not in expecting its extinction -- for then there would cease to be anything to repel or to act against -- but I keep my body under and bring it into subjection, afraid to give the flesh a place, knowing that this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting, for there is no keeping out Satan if the flesh is suffered. Now here comes in the exhortation of 1 Peter 4:1, "Arm yourselves ... with the same mind [the death of Christ]: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin" -- the practical bearing in the body of

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the death of Christ, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in the body. There is no clear apprehension of the grace of God unless, on God's side, I am dead with Christ; and as I see this I walk in the Spirit, in order to make true in the body here what is true to me by faith in Christ. And as this progresses, there is more control over the old man, and sanctification increases. Nothing can be more marvellous than to see the life of Jesus manifested in the man here on earth through whom sin came in. That is, that the one through whom sin came in should now, through grace, not only be dead to sin in Christ, but by the power of God's Spirit should be enabled to set forth the life of Jesus in that very body where sin entered, and thus to perfect holiness in the fear of God.


To serve in itself implies that there is need of service, and if there be ability, the greater the need the greater will be the demand on the servant; and the one who can meet a great demand will be a great sufferer. If there be charity, the very existence of the need imposes on him who is able to relieve it an extent of toil or suffering equal to the demand. If there be only need, and a ready ability to meet it, there will be a reciprocity between the giver and receiver which renders them mutually interested in one another. One is ready to impart, and the other thankfully and heartily to receive as a child from its parent; but if with the need, there be an opposition in the needy one, like an irritable child refusing to accept his mother's care, how grievously will the mother suffer! The servant thus suffers not only from the tax on his strength and resources to minister to the need, but also from the unkind and perverse opposition to him in his beneficent purposes.

Now as the ability to serve must exist before one can

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be a servant, so also, the greater the ability, the more is the servant taxed if there be need of his services.

Cain excuses himself about Abel by asking, "Am I my brother's keeper?" thus implying that to be responsible for his brother was beyond his ability. The servant must be able to secure sure footing for himself before he can offer to serve another with any benefit. Cain condemns himself when he denies his responsibility to be his brother's keeper. The toil of acquiring ability to serve must precede the suffering, and hence Abram is in the land, and separate too from all the contending parties, when he undertakes to deliver Lot. And then he suffers; all his resources, yea, his own life, are imperilled to rescue his brother. He goes out by night into deadly conflict; he, from the circle of his home and quietude, in self-sacrifice risks all he has to secure the life and property of his brother. He is thus the sample of a true servant; he has really nothing to gain, but everything to lose. Personally he was safe himself, but from this place of security he rises up to effect the deliverance of his captured brother.

Service seems to be an exceptional thing with Abraham. His calling was more to trace out and walk in the path of faith when evil was widespread in the earth.

In Moses we get a sample of the true servant more fully. He gave up every personal advantage in order that he might serve his people. Before he essayed to deliver them out of Egypt, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, because he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. He had himself broken with Egypt, and that in its most attractive form, before he attempted to deliver his people. As a servant he risked his life and slew an Egyptian. This was but the toil and danger of service; this he rendered without fear or discouragement; but when the one whom he had served the day before

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thrust him away and became his opponent, upbraiding him for the very service he had rendered (Exodus 2:14), then this great servant tastes of the greatest suffering, and he fled "at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian", Acts 7:29. He could say, "They have rewarded me ... hatred for my love". And this is the bitterest suffering. It is not the toil or the danger in rendering the service, however great that may be, but the pain which the servant must feel that where he has suffered most he should be repulsed and hated. Moses suffered that he might be competent to serve; and then, when he essays to serve, he has the great pain of finding that his service is not acceptable. He suffers to be competent, he suffers in his service, and above all, he suffers because he is misunderstood and unacceptable to those for whom he suffered and whom he was able efficiently to serve. Thus it ever is, the greatest servant is the greatest sufferer. The servant who can be diverted from his service because he is not acceptable to those whom he is called to serve, is one who has not comprehended the simplest duty of a servant. Every servant of God to man has suffered more from the professed people of God than from His avowed enemies; that is, he has endured more from being unacceptable to those whom he offers to serve than from the world. The servant must suffer on account of the people of God, or he will not be skilful to help them through the difficulties. The servant of God in Babylon helps the people of God who are there. The one with the remnant helps the remnant, and suffers with them.

In our blessed Lord we see the perfect Servant. He says, "I am among you as he that serveth". "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many". He has the ability to meet every variety of need, and hence there was the greatest demand on Him, so that as we read in Mark 6:31, "they had no leisure so much as to eat". But this was not all; in order to meet the whole need

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of man, He gave His life a ransom for many. The greater the need the greater the service required, and the greater the suffering in rendering the service; the need of man could only be met by One who could undergo the liability which has created the need. Christ served unto death, and instead of His services being accepted, for His love He had hatred. He had done among them works which none other had done, and at the end of it He had to say, "Now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father". Service was fulfilled in the Lord. He was the greatest Servant and the greatest Sufferer. He alone was able to meet the need of man, and He met it; and when cast out and put to death, He died not only to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, but also to set aside in His death that in us which refused His service. He is the "keeper" which Cain refused to be, for Cain killed his brother, but Jesus died to make us His brethren. "He is not ashamed to call them brethren".

All service now must be after this order. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant ... and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross". All service now must bear the character of the Master's service: we are to love one another as He has loved us; as He has washed our feet we are to wash one another's feet; as He died for us we are to die for one another. Our service then as to others is to remove everything which defiles by the word of Christ; and as to ourselves, to suffer unto death, as Paul says, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes". I am not serving after the manner of the love of Christ if I do not seek in my service to separate the souls of my fellow disciples from everything which would morally distance them from Christ. And this necessarily entails on me suffering and exercise of heart, because I cannot

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help another unless I experimentally -- personally -- know the good of the thing which I offer. Without this I really do not know how to help; and hence the greater the servant, the more he suffers in every way, both in order to acquire ability to serve, and from the opposition which he encounters in his service.

In 1 Corinthians 13 charity, which is the more excellent way, shapes and forms the servant. It is not what it confers on others, but what it effects in himself. The great object of service is to present every man perfect in Christ. And this is death to the flesh. And the servant's ability is in proportion to his own advance and practical self-denial.

Service in its nature now is death to oneself. "If any man serve me, let him follow me". True, there is a reward for the slightest act of service, even "a cup of cold water"; but service in principle is placing myself at the disposal of another, and not seeking my own profit, but to please Him who hath chosen me for His servant. Hence the fuller and the greater the service, the greater the self-surrender and self-sacrifice. It is not giving what one can spare without feeling it, but I will not offer to the Lord "that which doth cost me nothing". "I endure all things for the elect's sakes". "For the work of Christ he was nigh unto death". "This poor widow hath cast in more than they all: ... she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had". The service declares its virtue and aim by the suffering which is endured in rendering it, for what can be done at one's ease is generally done without much concern for the one to whom it is rendered, and thus the true quality is lost or overlooked.

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The first desire of Saul of Tarsus when brought to God was, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" There is an immediate sense, on being a new man in Christ, that there is a new line of action. New powers and abilities necessarily demand new activities. The nature of the new man being of God, he is dependent on God; and as he is so, he will manifest the grace and kindness of God in this evil world. "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him". According as there is dependence, there is ability from God to do as occasion requires, whatever would please Him and declare Him. Without works faith is dead, being alone; but the faith comes before the works, so that with the new man it is faith that worketh by love. Love then is the motive of good works, and faith the sustainer of them. To understand the nature and purpose of the love of God, I require to be in communion with His mind, and this I acquire only by dependence. His love has been manifested in the Son, and as we abide in Him, we bring forth much fruit; we walk here even as He walked. As I am in communion, I learn and understand His will concerning every one that I am placed in contact with. The first point is abiding in Him. "Without me ye can do nothing". The loss of or departure from this opens the door to every kind of mistake or officiousness. I dwell in love in Him in whom it was fully manifested. I know how I can count on Him in every instance, for His glory. My motive for the work is the love of God, and counting on Him I shrink not from the work because of the sense of incompetence, or the insufficiency of means. Where there is faith there is always means, and therefore faith never goes beyond means. If it be simply maintained that every good work must flow from abiding in Christ, then it is

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evident that no good work so directed could overlook or be independent of what is nearest and dearest to the heart of Christ. It is not the work in itself that commends it, but the fact of its being suggested by Christ, and having its motive and spring in Him. The Lord tells the waiting soul what he must do. As one is walking with Him, the occasions of good works are presented, and as there is faith, they are entered on and done. If Christ the central point be overlooked, there may be a great appearance of good works, which do not, however, glorify the Father. If I am abiding in Christ, I am His friend; and as I am so, I am occupied with the circle of His interest -- where His love is occupied and acting. I must begin there at all events. That must be the circle of my interest. He "loved his own", John 13:1. He prays not for the world, but for those who have been given Him out of the world; chapter 17: 9. Everything depends on the point from which our circle of action is formed. If it be from Christ, then the motive is evident enough, and Christ must characterise us in every act. We travel outward from Him as the central point, and we revolve round Him in our whole course. He cannot be lost sight of, because He is the pivot and centre on which one turns; and as He is so, man as man is not the object, but to display the mercy of God to one so wretched and in a world of evil like this.

The objects specially claiming our attention, and the sphere of good works, are the saints. The one near Christ will surely think of Christ's own, those so near His heart, first. I do not say that he will never help the wretched in this world, I believe he will, but never ostensibly or publicly; while openly and plainly, as he is Christ's friend, he will avow and show that he will die for "His own". If I admit the circle of interest which will occupy me as abiding in Christ, I cannot take the place of benefactor to the world, or to man as man in it. In connection with the circle of Christ's

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interest, which paramountly engages and commands my attention, I relieve and help every one as I am able; but this is supplementary and secret. I have a public line, even to love the saints as He did, to give my life for the brethren. I cannot give it for the world and for the brethren. I devote it to the latter; but as I do, I hide not myself from the suffering ones who come in contact with me, and this is rather the gleanings of the field than the crop. It is evident that our Lord, the greatest benefactor ever among men, has been rejected by the men of the world, and that now no one true to Him, or in communion with Him, could ever attempt to be avowedly a benefactor to them in the state in which they crucified Him. My duty now, as empowered by God, is to offer to man Him whom they rejected as their Saviour, and while doing so to evince to them that I am not unmindful of their needs; but then my good works to them are not independent of my service to Christ, but in the course and discharge of my mission from Him. Everything depends on where I begin and the circle which defines my interest. If it be Christ's the motive and purpose of all my works must tend to the circle to which I am in heart attached; and from it I can, as led of Him, extend as His grace directs me. But if I begin with man and his need, and make that my circle, I can never reach Christ's circle; and though I may do a great many useful works, I never can have the motive or the purpose of Christ in them, because I am not in Christ's circle. No assiduity or zeal can raise me from the human circle to Christ, because the former is morally below the other, and we can never rise in any action from the issue to the source. The nearer the sun, the greater the power of light, and from it the light descends to the lowest cave on earth; it never ascends.

The snare of the enemy is to engage one with the circle which meets the eye and mind of man, and when one is taken in it, there is no rising up to Christ's;

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whereas when His circle truly and fully occupies the heart, there is nothing hid from the heat of His goodness and mercy.

To be ready for every good work is distinctly enjoined on us. The question is not so much about the good works in themselves, but as to the motive and purpose in undertaking them. Let us examine Scripture as to the manner in which they are to be done.

In Matthew 6:3 we read, "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be in secret". This is plainly against being publicly known as a philanthropist or benefactor. It may be alleged that the Lord says to the young man, "Sell whatever thou hast and give to the poor". This meant evidently that he was to dispose of the riches which hindered him from following Christ, and in giving them to the poor they were forever out of his reach; it was not a question of good works, since if he did as he was directed, he would deprive himself of ability to do any more. To the Pharisees the Lord says, "Give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you"; which simply means to dispose of all you build on, and the rest is pure; and this is never done by donors to the world.

Dorcas, in Acts 9, is often quoted, as her good works extended to the widows; but I think we may conclude that the widows for whom she worked were, at least chiefly, saints. We know that the widows in chapter 6: 1 were converted, and we can hardly suppose that unbelieving Jews would have been recipients of favour from a christian, or would have been present when Peter came; moreover she is definitely connected with the saints.

In Acts 11:28, Agabus "signified by the spirit that there should be a great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which

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dwelt in Judaea". There is no allusion to the suffering world.

Paul in Romans 15:26 speaks of a "certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem". The "host" (Luke 10:35) takes care of Christ's own until He returns. They are the objects of His care and interest. Also we have in 1 Corinthians 16:1 the collection for the saints, making it evident that they, even in distant places, were the objects of interest; and in 2 Corinthians 9:1 the apostle writes, "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you".

In Hebrews 6:10, "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister". Not a word of, or allusion to, the world.

Now in James, when the works which testify of faith are insisted on, there is no suggestion as to the men of this world. The word is, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food", etc. The objects which claim the attention of those who have faith are distinctly pointed out. In 1 Peter 4:10, where temporal means are styled "gift", it is expressly enjoined, "as every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God". Here it is specially "one to another". I do not say that none of it is to be applied to the need of the unconverted, but the saints are particularly mentioned. "Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith". The household of faith expressly claims and should receive our attention; the rest come in indirectly, the former is our known circle.

Now in 1 John 3:16, His love is presented as our example; "because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren". It is added, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth

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his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" The brethren are definitely set before us as the first and distinct objects of our care. The motive is the love of God, and the purpose, to please Him who hath chosen us.

The sum appears plain, that the friend of Christ devotes himself to the circle of Christ's interest, His own, even unto death; and that he is publicly and openly known in that line; that he is not known, and does not wish to be known, in any philanthropy but God's; see Titus 3:4, But indirectly and privately, in the course of his service to the saints in searching for the lambs of Christ, he does not overlook the suffering he may come in contact with. He feels he cannot avowedly and openly be the benefactor of man in his own circle, because man has rejected the greatest Benefactor ever among men. "They have both seen and hated both me and my Father", and if I were to make the circle of man in his need my circle, I should be ministering to the very being who rejected Christ. On the contrary, I am serving Christ here; devoted to His own; making it very manifest that it is Christ's own and not man's which is my interest; and as it is so, the world will hate me, but my comfort is that I am the friend of Christ, and He says to me, "I know thy works". When my works are in man's circle, and recognisable by man, I am in the line which culminates in Laodicea, where man is the object and not Christ. Christ is outside, and though there is an abundance of good works within, the motive and purpose cannot be of or from Christ.


One great mark of progress is to have the "senses exercised to discern both good and evil", to be skilful to foresee danger and to guard against it.

The great effort of Satan in this day is to set up man

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in Christ's place, and where he cannot do this without religion, he attempts it in connection with religion. From the nominal professor, according to the measure of conscience, up to the most devoted saint, every device is used to lead class after class to sanction man and to set aside Christ. As Satan succeeded through man in rejecting Christ and refusing Him a place on earth, his aim now is to set up man, not only independently of Christ, but against Him. The energy from first to last is against Christ, though the purpose is only fully disclosed when Antichrist comes. Hence, though Satan be resisted now in developing his full aim (see 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7), yet those who are taught of God see that every action of his, and of every one of his tools, is an antichrist. John says, "Even now are there many antichrists". The snare in which Satan seeks to entrap every man is self-occupation where he gets influence, and as he suits the snare to the state of each, it is most subtle and deceptive, addressing one when one is least on his guard, though in the form most pleasing to self at the time.

The only antidote, as we see in many of the epistles, is the maintenance of Christ simply and unconditionally. It is remarkable that the epistles of Paul are chiefly written to insist on Christ's place. No servant in the present time will be up to his work unless he is on his guard against man, for there the evil enters. If I know that at one particular point the enemy, in order to succeed, must obtain a standing, do I not watch at that spot, in order to repel him? Often the evil of man is repudiated when man himself is neither feared nor shunned. It is not the evil of man against which the apostle warns us, so much as against man himself; see 1 Corinthians 1:11. In Corinth there was no thought of admitting the evil of man, while the exaltation of man was sought, and that by the very gifts of the Spirit; but the fearful way it broke out in chapter 5 showed what man was. In Galatia there was no thought of

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allowing evil; on the contrary, the object in returning to legalism was to check evil; but this was giving man a place, and there really lay the mischief. The subtle way in which man intrudes baffles detection, except by the Spirit of God, through the word, "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"; and hence this very subtlety is an engine of inconceivable power to Satan.

In a threefold way the most devoted are exposed to this snare, which we will consider in detail; first as to their feelings, secondly as to their work, and thirdly as to earthly favours. Now while in theory many would deny that any of these occupied them, yet if they would judge themselves they would not fail to see how constantly they are under one or other of them. The true heart must have occupation either in its own feelings about Christ or in Him its object. If it not be one, it must be the other; and hence many a one who thinks Christ is his object is really feeding his heart on his love and thoughts of love to Christ. Surely there will be delight in and thoughts of Christ when He is the object; but it is quite a different way in which love and thoughts of Him occupy my heart, when He is my object, and when my own feelings are my occupation. The transition from Christ to oneself is so subtle that at times it will be no easy matter to detect it. When the object engages me, it is not the benefits which flow from it which are so much before me, but the object itself The benefits acquire first place with me when the source of them is lost sight of, as one feels and speaks of the value of the sun or of a friend, when either is absent. In the company of a friend I am not thinking of the benefit he is to me; I am enjoying him. When Christ is simply the object of my heart, I am occupied with Him; His word and His favour satisfy and fill my heart. I talk of Him and think of Him, and of every

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one in relation to Him. I feel Him a light above the brightness of the sun, bearing on everything around me. I am dwelling on what He is, His love to me, and not mine to Him; and it does indeed produce a feeling in me, but so small and weak in comparison to His that the heart dwells on Him that produces the feeling, and not on the feeling itself. The moment the feeling is first, then the object is not consciously before the heart. The disciples going to Emmaus can have their hearts burning within them, and all the time Christ is not the known object; and consequently there is not the way and walk of Christ here. But as soon as He was revealed to them in the breaking of bread -- figuratively death, because death is the groundwork of all true knowledge of Christ as an object -- they were invigorated in quite a new way, and were found in the line of thought and interest in which He was Himself.

The woman in the Pharisee's house weeps, standing behind Him; Mary Magdalene weeps when she cannot find Him; but neither enjoys Him as the professed object of her heart. I do not undervalue the tears; they were the suitable exponents of what they felt, but they did not flow from possessing Christ as their object, but because of their own feelings about Him.

But one might say, How could I have feeling about Christ if He were not my object? In neither of the examples which I have adduced was He the object in a known relationship, and yet in each there was a heart won by Him and perfectly true to Him. But there was not in either the sense of relationship or union with Him, as one risen out of the dead. In neither instance was there an entrance on the new ground, as on His side and deriving from Him nature and life. I admit that the heart will be moved by the love of Christ; but I say that it is quite a different thing when one's own feelings are not primary, but only secondary, and controlled according to a divine nature by

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the power of the Holy Spirit. One may argue very speciously on the subject, but this only proves how subtle and insinuating one's own feelings are, and how successfully Satan can ply his snare, because it is so difficult to see where it is; "in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird". When Christ is before my soul it is not my own feelings that occupy me, but Himself; not the product, but the Producer; and this is joy in God, making our boast in Him. The snare is not in the product itself, but in making the product the centre of satisfaction and the ground of complacency, as one would enjoy fruits and flowers in winter, when there was no producing power. It is evidently well and wise to have fruits and flowers, but if the producing power be extinct, the supply must cease, and the mind naturally is occupied with that which it has acquired, and not with the one who produced it; and alas! self is made too prominent, and there is self-exaltation from which an apostle would suffer, were it not for the thorn in the flesh. If there be conscience to watch against this most subtle snare, grace will be given to keep the Lord so before one, as the only object to boast in, that it will soon be detected if the summer has turned into winter.

I have dwelt long on this first form of the snare because it is so specious, and it is only in the devoted it could occur, and therefore it is the most damaging because it overthrows or saps the strength of the mighty ones.

The second form of the snare is good conduct, not what one feels but what one does. It is plain enough if one can be deceived to dwell on his own devotion of heart to Christ, or his acquisitions from Him, he will soon become occupied with his conduct and works. No one could deny that a saint should be exemplary for conduct and good works; but when I begin to think of what I have done, or what I am doing, I make myself of importance; I am seeking reputation for myself.

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One great mark of every kind of decrepitude is the effort to exhibit life and property. The decay of states has been marked by great buildings; of individuals, by great external show. Where there is real possession there is no effort to exhibit it. It makes itself felt. It is necessary for a publican like Zacchaeus to proclaim his good deeds, because there is nothing in his position or calling in life to indicate any such goodness. Laodicea boasts of what she possesses. She has data for her assumption, and she has an audience which listens to her boastings. She has commended herself to man, and man can appreciate her good works, and admit her claims. Hence the character of the works must be human. A work like that of Mary, breaking the alabaster box and anointing the feet of Jesus, would not be understood at all. Undoubtedly a saint should be exemplary for good morals, and every good work, but he is required to go higher than a human level. If he makes what man can recognise and appreciate his standard, he is seeking a place of distinction for himself as a man, however he may disclaim it or be in theory above it. He must rise to Christ, and there he is on a level quite outside the comprehension of man; but the Lord will approve of him, though his most religious acquaintance may both misunderstand and denounce him. If I keep the high and only true level for a saint, I shall never overlook any work or conduct pleasing to Christ, but He will be my reference, and not the most religious among men, and certainly not the multitude. In fact, if I turn to man at all, I am taken in the snare.

Lastly, the third form of the snare is when the heart looks for evidence of God's favour in the circle of things which suit and gratify man. Now as to this last, I do not say that God does not in a peculiar way manifest His love and His care for His people now; but if a saint makes what suits him as a man the circle in which he looks for God to demonstrate His favour, then he has not got above man and earth, and he has not found

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the circle in which Christ has set him, as "blessed ... with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ". It is evident that if one looks for expression of divine favour in the sphere of man, however otherwise instructed he may be, his soul has not apprehended the highest sphere, or he would look there for manifestation of God's favour, especially as there it would be the greatest. The evidence of His love in the highest sphere must surpass anything in the lower one, and as the highest one is the one in which God has set us, it is a departure from our true position when we turn to look for His favours on earth. I do not for a moment say that they do not come, but I do say that if the highest sphere is the one wherein His love delights to express itself, a saint has fallen to the human side when he is watching for favours on earth, or drawing confirmation of His love from the greatness or extent of them. I am sure that the saint most conversant with the unfoldings of His love in the light of glory and the festivities of the Father's house, will best interpret in detail all the love with which he is cared for here. But it will often be quite beyond human comprehension, and can only be solved by one who has learnt the heart of God in His own sphere, where there is nothing to check its great and holy disclosures, As a rule, saints talk of their trials and of their mercies; they seldom rise from the level of man. They are in the snare, and the longer they are held in it, the more insensible they become to that which holds them.

How different and unspeakably blessed it is, when one, resting in faith on Christ glorified, finds streams of living water flowing down from Him, and from which he can contribute to the earth, instead of, as of old in the feast of tabernacles, celebrating how God has made the earth to contribute to him. The Lord deliver His beloved people from the snare of Satan.

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The wider the range of any subject or duty, the more care must there be, if it is to be true to itself, that it lose not its character because of its diffusiveness, as a stream is lost in a lake.

It has been well said, the greater our privilege, the greater our responsibility. No greater privilege could be conferred on any one than to be appointed of the Lord an evangelist -- one to proclaim the good tidings which have been entrusted to him. He has received them from the Lord, and he proclaims them with gladness of heart. To announce good tidings is his duty; he is appointed to this service, and he accordingly pursues it; but I repeat, if the privilege is great, the responsibility is as great.

Now there are three things incumbent on the evangelist. First, he must deliver his message, communicate the gospel; and in order to do this rightly, he must know it. Secondly, he must look to the Lord for guidance as to the person to whom he shall announce his message; and thirdly, he must be led by the Spirit as to the manner and way in which the work is to be done. Imperfection in any of these will proportionately hinder and compromise the evangelist in his work. If the first be defective, the greatest possible damage will occur. The recipients of an imperfect gospel will exhibit sad marks of the imperfection; and the evangelist who has not delivered the gospel will not be led in triumph in Christ, making manifest the savour of His knowledge "in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one ... the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life".

Now it is evident that if the gospel in its fulness be not known, it cannot be preached (the word for preaching in the New Testament is generally evangelising); and much of the unhappy and unsatisfactory state of the

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souls of the converted can be traced to the imperfect tidings communicated to them. I do not mean that it is necessary for the evangelist to give any great or elaborate statement of the gospel; far from it -- the simpler the better. But there is a touch given by one telling of a great good done to himself, the extent of which he fully understands, that gives a character of its own to the recital. If I know how the Father has received the prodigal in His own house, be assured I can give a prodigal an impression of the reception, which one who only knows about the kiss -- though he know it ever so well, and though he may surpass me in earnestness and faith -- could never give. And my tidings, if received, would be the root of blessing in the heart of the one who had received them, the seed of a goodly tree which, however feeble at the beginning, would one day declare its nature and value. Whom would the builder blame for an ill-formed brick but the brick-maker? and who is to blame for all the malformations among converts but the evangelist? They betray the defectiveness of the gospel which they have received, as the converts at Ephesus betrayed the defectiveness of the teaching of Apollos, who knew only the baptism of John; and when the apostle came there, he found that those who believed had not so much as heard whether there was any Holy Spirit; Acts 19. I cannot find an instance in Scripture where the gospel was preached, either by our blessed Lord Himself or by His disciples, that the prime part of the news was not presented and insisted on as much or even more than the forgiveness of sins, though that be the first thing that a sinner requires to know, and could not be omitted. What is announced to the woman of Samaria? The gift of living water. What to the thief on the cross? "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise!" What to the publicans and sinners in Luke 15? The Father's delight in having the wanderer restored. Philip preached or evangelised Christ; Acts 8:5. What a theme!

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And to the eunuch he began at the same scripture and evangelised Jesus. What tidings he must have told of the One whose "life is taken from the earth"! So also Paul with the Philippian jailor in Acts 16; he connects his soul at once with the Lord Jesus Christ -- "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". There might be many exercises and variations before his soul was resting fully in Christ, but the magnet was set before his faith at the start, and from the first he knew the only place of solid rest for his soul. This point is plain enough, that in every case the gospel preached was such as to connect the soul with Christ personally, and not merely to give it release from judgment. There is nothing that ought to sadden the heart of the servant of Christ more than the converts of the present day, who, however true and sincere they may be, are like young trees in dense brush-wood, which, though there be existence and some growth, are yet of the most attenuated form.

The second point of importance to the evangelist is the sphere of his service. Surely there must be some given sphere. A man would not get tidings without directions as to the person to whom he should communicate them. And if the evangelist be not constantly under the guidance of the Lord as to this, the very extent of his sphere, and the many needing salvation, will soon divert him from the Lord to the need around him, and the consequence will be that he will be occupied with man, and not with the Lord's mind. When the needy are in multitudes, one with heart and ability to provide for them may, if his eye rest on them, feel their claim on his service and time to be paramount. But if he realises that he is sent by the Lord to deliver a message, he will not be the less ready to meet the needy, but he will wait on the Lord as to where he ought to be and to whom to preach. "Preach the gospel to every creature", shows the universality of the message, but does not run counter to the individual commission

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of each one who bears it. Every true evangelist is specially sent, or he would not be a servant at all. We find on record several instances of this special sending. Philip is sent to the desert in Acts 8. In Acts 16 Paul is forbidden to preach the word in Asia; they assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not. In chapter 18 he is desired by the Lord to tarry at Corinth, for He had much people in the city. His reason for going into Macedonia was assuredly to preach the gospel there. In a word, the evangelist has a special sphere, and his work is appointed for him by his Lord and Master. If it were not so, it would deprive him of the dignity of a servant. And he needs the more to take heed to this because, unlike the teacher or the pastor, whose sphere of duty is so marked out that he cannot so easily diverge from it, that of the evangelist is wide and unlimited, and he is so little under the control even of his fellows, that he needs the greatest watchfulness, lest he take advantage of the licence which so extended a sphere might seem to accord to him.

Now the rule or practice in the present day is that almost every one with any measure of devotedness and zeal for service assumes to be an evangelist until he has formed a circle or congregation, when he drops into a teacher or pastor as well. I do not say that there are not many evangelists, but that the idea abroad is that you begin with evangelising, and that by and by you may be fitted to have the charge of a congregation. Neither do I deny that there may be two gifts in the same man; but I do not believe that an evangelist grows into a teacher, or that the former is merged in the latter. The gifts are specialities, and they remain. They may have lost their lustre, because not truly exercised and cultivated, but they remain. All I submit is, that there is no scriptural warrant for the indiscriminate attempt at evangelising which is now the rule; and that, not simply in the way that evangelising is spoken of in

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Scripture, but in each one who attempts it, collecting as many as he can to hear a gospel address, instead of silently and noiselessly seeking entrance to every house and heart to which the Lord would lead, before opposition would be awakened.

Lastly, the third point is the manner and mode in which the work should be done. Let us examine for a little the light which Scripture gives us on this point, for I fear we shall find very little similarity between the instances recorded in the New Testament and the greater part of the evangelising of the present day.

The mode is twofold, one public and the other private. The public is where opportunity favours, or where there is special invitation; the private, the more general and favoured mode for the evangelist. I do not find that the object of the first evangelists was ever publicity, or to collect large audiences. There is a great difference between universality and publicity. We find in the Acts that Paul went into the synagogues, and in Jerusalem the multitude came together; but they did not summon the multitude to wait on them to hear the gospel. The evangelist does not shrink from public testimony, as Paul at the Roman tribunal; but he does not make himself a public man, or collect around himself or his preaching. He goes after souls, and does not call them after him. The latter is the rule in christendom, and it is a fact worthy of note that the more ritualistic the clergyman, the less he visits individually, and the more he enjoins and requires attendance congregationally. But our inquiry is how Scripture treats the subject. Let us look at a few examples of the mode of preaching of the early evangelists. Paul, we have seen, sought the Jews in the synagogue, and preached Christ to them wherever it was tolerated; but the presentation of the gospel to the gentiles concerns us more. We have an example of it in Acts 10, where Cornelius calls together a company, and the evangelist, Peter, addresses those who are invited to hear him. In Acts 13, Paul having

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preached in the synagogue, the gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath; and accordingly almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. Again at Athens, in chapter 17, he spake in the market daily with them that met with him, and preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection. In chapter 16 we find that there was a special call to Macedonia, and Paul and Silas went there, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called them to preach the gospel there. And when they came to Philippi, the chief city, they did not summon the multitude to hear them, but abode there certain days, and "on the sabbath ... went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and ... spake unto the women which resorted thither". And a certain woman heard them, whose heart the Lord opened; and "she was baptised, and her household". This was the beginning of the work at Philippi, a small and unobtrusive beginning to bring about such great results.

In private, or individually, I see the evangelist in his highest place; and here it is that he best displays his qualifications and abilities. He feels he is sent to preach the gospel universally; he is not told the actual man that will be saved, or the actual number; but he sets himself to work, as is figuratively set forth in Luke 15. Led of the Spirit of God, he sweeps the house and seeks diligently till he find the silver piece. His heart is set on saving some; but as Christ's servant he is led in triumph, and is thus a savour of life unto life, and of death unto death. Like Philip he may be sent hundreds of miles off for the soul of an Ethiopian; or like Paul at Corinth, he may have to stay three years in one city before the silver pieces are rescued; or as at Philippi, he may suffer grievously unto death before he is within reach of the soul for which he has been sent. The evangelist has one great thought before him, how he may testify of God's grace to souls and win them to Christ. His message is, 'Come to the supper' -- and

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that is not simply conversion -- and the Spirit of God compels individual souls to come to God. The great thing is the message, not the messenger. He is properly not a public character, but a private one, for he is one called and fitted to enter into the heart individually with the word of grace and life, to be the first to introduce a light secretly and distinctly into the deep dark recesses of the heart. He is one sent on the most wonderful and touching mission, never known in a crowd as the light of the sun; but each convert receives light as distinctly as if his heart were the only planet in which such a light was ever known. The evangelist is at his highest when he is the light bearer of everlasting life to a lost soul. The solitary soul, where no eye can see nor ear hear but God's, is the prize for the true evangelist. He does not shrink from publicity, but it is in private, when he can engage the soul alone, as he walks by the river's side or sits weary on a well, or shut up in prison, or in the desert, that he feels he is in the highest duty and glory of his office. As a teacher in a smaller way feels that his work is only begun when he has set forth the truth, the moment of real interest to him is when he finds how the word has reached, and he like a gardener can form a definite idea of the budding in the soul. The soul is the pulpit for both evangelist and teacher; and the one who preaches there is at least well heard there and has found the true place for publicity.

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Having read with much interest your paper in the March number on "Evangelising", will you kindly answer the following questions?

1. What is the difference between preaching and evangelising?

2. What is the difference between "publicity" and "universality"?

3. May not both be sought on the same occasion, supposing that you mean by "universality" speaking to individuals?

1. The word "evangelist" occurs only three times in the Scriptures; in connection with Philip the evangelist in Acts 21:8, in connection with gifts in Ephesians 4, and when the apostle Paul counsels Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist" in 2 Timothy 4. It does not occur at all in the Old Testament. It is an office or service having its origin with the gospel. Hence it is a person sent to communicate the glad tidings.

The word "preacher" occurs only three times in the New Testament; in 1 Timothy 2:7, where the apostle says he is "a preacher, and an apostle ... a teacher of the Gentiles", etc.; in 2 Timothy 1:11, where the same words occur with the addition of "and" between apostle and teacher; and thirdly, in 2 Peter 2:5, where Noah is called a "preacher of righteousness". Preaching is rather a branch of his work than the object of his office or service. The evangelist's duty is to communicate the good tidings; and in order to communicate them he must know them, and he must have the heart and purpose to announce them. This is his object and his simple duty. He gives himself to this work, cost him what it may. He is a servant pre-eminently. Like our blessed Lord, he will, though wearied and needing rest, devote his time and attention to the desolate one, and

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think more of the grace that has reached such an one than of his own need -- so engrossed in heart with it that in measure he can say, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of". The evangelist is called and gifted of the Lord to seek out and bear the word of life to souls. The shepherds minding their flocks by night were the first evangelists. They were the first to whom the gospel was revealed. The angels evangelised the shepherds; "and when they had seen it, they made known abroad [or about] the saying which was told them concerning the child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told [or spoken to] them by the shepherds". It does not say that they preached, but they made known around the word spoken to them concerning the Child. They were informed, and as they were informed, they communicated it. These first evangelists give us the true characteristics of an evangelist at the beginning. He is peculiarly a messenger, a messenger of good tidings which he enjoys himself, and his delight is to do as he has been called. He thinks not of his sacrifice; he has news, news that has made his own heart glad, and news that he longs to impart to others, and he is ready to submit to anything in order to do so. He starts on his errand or message, thinking only of communicating it as his Lord will order. He divests himself of everything which would impede him in his work. He is prepared to endure any amount of trial or suffering; he has one great business. It is of him that it is said, that they who announce (the same word as is used for "shew forth" the Lord's death) the gospel should live of the gospel. Like the shepherds, he is to make known the tidings, leaving his own concerns, and entirely controlled by this one great duty. The more one examines the course and service of an evangelist, the more one must see that to fulfil his mission perfectly he must be free, and not bound to any service or employment. He may pursue one where

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service calls him, but it must always be secondary, or he could not be a messenger. He is not simply a preacher. Preaching may be the mode, but it is not the object nor the vocation, it is only a mode of making known the gospel; as it is said, "How shall they hear without a preacher [or one preaching]? ... How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" The gospel is made known, and spoken of, and announced; and it is the feet, the walk of the evangelist which is so commended and is the subject of admiration in this passage. The business of the evangelist is to communicate his tidings fully and simply. To be qualified for his mission two things are evident. One is that he has renounced all position and self-consideration; he is Christ's messenger to the least, and his calling necessarily requires that he should be less than the least. The least shall be greatest. "I am among you as he that serveth". How could He sit weary on a well, and attend on a desolate woman of Samaria, if He had any position to maintain? A preacher is not required to surrender his position in society; he may continue in any circle of taste or fashion, and yet from a platform or pulpit address the multitude. But the evangelist, like our blessed Lord on the cross, comes down to the place of the suffering one, forgets his own sufferings to attend to the dying thief; or, like Paul at Philippi, submits to be a bleeding prisoner, to be within reach of the convicted jailor. The mistake into which the church has fallen is in giving too much prominence to preaching, which as one mode of evangelising is right enough. But as mere preaching involves little or no sacrifice, the conscience of the evangelist is quieted and satisfied that his duty has been done, because he has preached earnestly and faithfully; whereas really it is simply a branch of his service, and one without which he might have evangelised most blessedly and effectually. The snare is that the conscience is quieted without the sacrifice which the fulfilment

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of his duty would have required, and he is led to trust too much to an appeal to the senses as a substitute.

Secondly, it is evident that an evangelist must be free from any occupation which would interfere with his being sent to any part of the earth. A preacher can be faithful in his own locality, and remain in it as Noah did, who was a preacher, not an evangelist. The evangelist seeks the soul, and is the messenger from God to it of the light of the glory of Christ, who has finished everything according to the mind of God. He communicates the wonderful tidings entrusted to him. When it is received, his heart rejoices; and when it is refused he retires to find his test in Him whose servant he is.

I should add that because the church has become like a "great house", congregations of professing christians are now found everywhere who really do not know the gospel, though bearing the name of christians; and to such the pastor Timothy has to make full proof of his ministry, and therefore to "do the work of an evangelist". In this light a resident pastor is a preacher and an active evangelist, as every true saint is in some degree.

2, 3. As to "publicity" and "universality", I take your two questions as one. The difference of object always gives a difference in action. My object is to be universal, but I do not begin by seeking publicity. My publicity may increase as I am universal, but it is not my object. Paul was unknown, yet well known. A flag or a signboard is to obtain publicity; a stream of pure water, conveyed to each of our houses, is universal, but it is not public, and does not seek to be so.

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To any one interested in the state of the saints in general, nothing will possibly strike him more forcibly, and, according as he has heart for Christ, more painfully, than the contentedness and ease in which the saints are, while they have so little communion with the mind of God.

All through Scripture there is a marked contrast between the saint who is eager and intent on knowing the mind of the Lord, and the one who is satisfied with the measure of light and truth which suits himself. We see in the Old Testament times, before the word of God was completed, that light was communicated as there was dependence on God, and when the dependence declined there was no more communication; so that dependence on God precedes the communication or the knowledge of His mind, and prepares for it.

The great result to be attained by all the exercises of the wilderness is that man should "not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live", that is, he should be entirely dependent on God and His word; and hence our blessed Lord utters this sentence when He enters on His path of service here. He begins His course where at best we only end it. He was fully and entirely the dependent One, and hence He was always heard, and He did always the things which pleased the Father. His communion was unbroken. To live in unbroken communion, you must continue in absolute dependence. It is not merely dependence on God for some particular necessity, but a dependence that can waive the righteous claims of nature because so entirely dependent on His word and will. And it is to the one thus absolutely dependent that He reveals and confides His mind. He could not, as it were, commit it to any one else. If I am not absolutely dependent on Him, I am dependent

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on something else; and if He were to confide His mind to me, it would not find me ready to accept it and observe it. To be unequivocally for God, I must deny myself, or the will in me which is against Him. And hence it is the thing that I naturally most desire to preserve that must go first, for there my will is most engaged. But it is plain that if I am not wholly dependent on God, I am not in a state to be made acquainted with His mind. He will not impart His mind to one who is not implicitly cast on Him, because such a one would allow other things to come in and warp his mind. In a word, God has not wholly at His command that man who is not entirely dependent on Him for things which one could not procure or provide for oneself. For such things every true saint is dependent on God. If I have need of support, or if my child is ill, or if I am in any other such trying circumstance, I may be assured that no one can help me but God, and that I can count on Him. And this is properly called faith, but it is not the absolute dependence which precedes, prepares for, and ensures the revelation of the mind of God. Many true in heart know what faith is in some particular thing; but though so far they are greatly blessed and have a certain knowledge of God, yet, though highly favoured, they do not obtain or possess any distinct or full knowledge of the mind of God at the time, as they are not in communion with Him. And I believe the only way to account for the little communion with the Lord, and consequently the little knowledge of His mind that exists touching the church, the earth, and souls individually, is that there is not unqualified dependence on Him. By this I mean a dependence that neither sees nor rests in anything but Himself, everything here having lost its power to sway or to interest one, and the heart having found in measure, like our blessed Lord, that the only hope is in God.

We shall find in Scripture that, in the case of every saint, the prelude or preparation for the communication

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of the Lord's mind as to things at the time was this absolute dependence. When Abram's father was dead, when he was simply dependent, not knowing whither he went, he was led of God into the land of Canaan, the place that was in accordance with the mind of God. It is said, "Get thee out of thy country ... unto a land that I will shew thee". The reason why any saint nowadays does not enter into the mind of God as to the place where God would have him be is simply this, that he is not dependent enough to be led of God and to be instructed in the good pleasure of His will respecting him. Abram had heard the word of God and had in part attended to it; but not until his father was dead was he so at God's disposal, because of dependence on Him, that He could lead him as He wished. Again, when Abram risks all that he had, his own life and the lives of his servants, to rescue Lot -- when he is thus absolutely cast on God -- Melchisedec meets him as he returns from the slaughter of the kings; Christ's position as priest and king is typically presented to him, and he is blessed by him. All the trouble and suffering had been occasioned by and endured for Lot. As to favours on earth Lot commands all attention; yet it is not to him, but to the dependent and suffering one, that the mind of the Lord as touching the kingdom of the Son of God is revealed.

Again, when Abraham offers up Isaac, when he consents at the command of God to strip himself of that which his heart rested on here, when he depends on God alone who raiseth the dead, then, consequent on this exercise of dependence, he receives from God the fullest blessing connected with his own seed on earth. In the former instance, when he risks everything to rescue Lot, when he is fighting God's battles, he is met and blessed by Melchisedec; Christ's royal position is made known to him. But now, when it is more peculiarly his own interests, the greatest and fullest blessing of his own people is revealed to him.

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Dependence prepares the heart for the mind of God. When I depend entirely on God, His mind is the only thing to interest or occupy me, and it is only then that I am in a state to appreciate it. Instances and examples of this principle abound in Scripture. Moses, though he had known more than any man the mind and ways of God, which were disclosed to him as he was dependent, does not rise to the unreserved and full revelation of His mind until, in despair of everything here because of the failure of Israel, he cries out, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory". All hope here is gone; his eye turns simply and entirely to God, and then is made known to him the fullest revelation of His purpose ever revealed; and his own face shines because of his proximity to the glory. In like manner in another day, Saul of Tarsus, the chief of sinners, is met in the fulness of grace, and is so entirely absorbed with the glory of that light, and left without any resource but the Saviour who is revealed by God's mighty power in him, that he has no confidence in the flesh, and is fully led into the mind and counsels of God. Our enquiry is simply, what is the state which prepares for the reception of the mind of the Lord and obtains it?

Is it not sad, the few saints in the present day who appear to be in communion with the mind of the Lord? I refer not now to their private histories, but how few are assured in heart and conscience as to the Lord's mind concerning His people and His interests on earth. They enjoy themselves in their religious exercises. They consider their meetings happy and satisfactory, because they can in common rejoice that they are saved and that they seek to save others; but what the Lord's mind is as to the whole church of God, and how it is viewed by Him, and how cared for, or thought of, or even what it is, seems to have no place in their minds, as it certainly has no place in their utterances or speeches. I ask, is it not sad that saints, devoted saints, should sit contented, and enjoy the benefits of salvation, and

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yet never bow their hearts before God in true anxiety to know and be in communion with His mind? Scripture, as I have said, abounds with examples of how the absolutely dependent one was always met and enlightened with a knowledge of His mind suitable for the time. Even a Jacob, homeless and friendless through his own waywardness, when asleep on a pillow of stones, and with nothing but God, is not forgotten of Him; but as he is in a state to receive it, the blessing is conferred, the mind of God is revealed to him. Though one may be ignorant as Mary Magdalene, yet if there be an entire consecration of heart to Him, like hers, that one is rewarded with the manifestation of Himself, and the communication of His mind, which imparts the intelligence which He wishes His own to have at the time.

It is very cheering, though it imposes on us unremitting self-abnegation, to know that if we are in a state to receive the mind of the Lord, He in His grace will communicate it to us. To "the meek he will teach his way", and it will be remarked that any who are ignorant or uninstructed in the Lord's mind are always those who have other confidences, though they may, as I have said, trust God and have confidence in Him as to particular needs. But the tone and bearing of one absolutely dependent on God, without any other resource, is very peculiar and very uncommon; and hence there are so few who are happily assured that they are in concert with His mind, as He would have them to be, with reference to His concerns on earth. There are many happy as to their own state and useful to others to a certain point, who are not in communion with the Lord, having no one but God to rest on, like the gourdless Jonah.

May the Lord touch our hearts with such true devotedness to Himself, that cleaving only to Him we may be in concert with Him touching His interests at this time.

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There are two processes going on at the same time in every saint who is making any progress, and they are opposite one to another. One is increase or life, and the other is decrease or death. And when either of these processes is neglected, it will be found that no amount of attention to one will compensate for the lack of it to the other; but on the contrary, the attempt to make one answer for both only betrays the halt or imperfection. "The legs of the lame are not equal". And the fact of trying to perfect one will not conceal the imperfection of the other, but rather betray it.

Every one with any conscience knows that he is not what he ought to be, that he is not up to the standard that he has seen and accepted.

The first thing is to learn from the word of God the standard for a saint. The standard for man was the law; the standard for a christian is Christ. Now as soon as the standard is accepted, then the two processes must begin. One is to grow in likeness to Christ in the new nature, and the other to cast out and mortify the flesh, the old man.

The thing to understand is that, being born again, I am now to be conformed to the image of Christ. As He is my life, all growth in the new man must be derived from Him by the Spirit of God. There can be no advance but as the eye is on Him. Beholding the glory of the Lord we are changed. It simplifies the matter wonderfully to the soul when you see and are assured that all must come from Christ, and that He is the standard, so that if I say I abide in Him, I must walk even as He walked. This is the first point, that I can do nothing without or apart from Him; that there can be no supply from Him to me but as I realise my link to Him. If I have a lower standard than Christ, I necessarily adopt other means for attaining it. If I

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see that Christ is my standard, and that as I am with Him I am transformed in moral power into His likeness, I know the only means by which I can grow or attain in any measure to my standard, but all this is known only to the new man. It does not appeal to the old man at all, save to demand that it give way to Christ; just as, when Isaac was weaned and Abraham made a great feast for him, then Ishmael's true character as a persecutor came out, and he was consequently "cast out", as he deserved; Genesis 21.

Now this is the second process. The growth of the new does not improve the old; on the contrary, it only exposes the incongruity of the two. Ishmael was fourteen years in Abraham's house before he was cast out, and he was not provoked to mock or persecute until Isaac had acquired his true place there. And just so is the growth of Christ in the soul which alone gives one a truer and deeper sense of the hostility of the flesh. This is not correcting the flesh. The presence of the greater good only exasperates the greater evil. It does not temper or alleviate it, as heat would cold; but, on the contrary, the contrast or collision elicits antagonism. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh". It is not as with an alkali and an acid, which, neutralising one another, form a new component. This is the Wesleyan notion. But the hostility of the evil, the flesh, intensifies according as the good, or Christ, increases in the soul. The growl of the lion is only more and more savage as the avenger approaches him. There is therefore no remedy, no treatment for the flesh, but complete and absolute denial or death.

The mistake with many is that they begin with the attempt to correct their characters or nature. Every one admits the necessity of self-culture when the standard is not simply Christ. And hence, after much self-control and education, they do not make any true progress. They may be able to attain an appearance among men, as the Pharisees had done, but there is

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really no growth in Christ. Their knowledge and apprehension of or satisfaction in Him is not one bit increased, and their own consciences are not satisfied by their attainments. Their old tendencies and tastes break out when they least expect it, and they feel they have to begin all over again. With this class there is generally a better appearance, because the flesh is not so openly or manifestly opposed as when there is a distinct attempt to displace it. The lion would rather be tamed than put to death. It may entail serious trouble to tame him, but he cannot be trusted. Just so with the flesh; while there is only a correcting of it, it never discloses its real animosity to Christ. And in a way the flesh is flattered by its own apparent improvement.

Now when the truth has been received that there is nothing good in the flesh, and that it is not susceptible of improvement, a new danger arises which I would particularly refer to. It is this: that as there is no good but in Christ, and He is the only source of it, if He be accepted in this light, all is thought to be right, and then the flesh is in a way overlooked or left to itself. Isaac is indeed chief in the house, but Ishmael is allowed to stay too; he is not felt to be intolerable and incongruous. Or, in plain language, with the acceptance of high truth, self-denial is often less than before. Now this is very sad, and tends always to decline and loss of enjoyment in the truth. When Christ has His true and rightful place in me, the opposition of the flesh is so felt that the only treatment for it is casting it out -- mortification. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts". And hence, the more I am in the power of His life, the more do I deny myself in order that His life may be manifested in my body. Every impediment to this is to be removed.

If my body had no will in it, then, as a mere structure from the hands of God, there would be nothing in me to hinder the manifestation of the life of Jesus, But because there is a law in my members warring against

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the law of my mind, and as there cannot be any absorption of the flesh, and it cannot be got rid of in any way but by crucifixion, it is evident that the more I am set on manifesting the life of Jesus in my body, the more is it required that I should mortify every will in it, and put off everything which would mar or hinder its expression.

As to standing before God, I start with being crucified with Christ; and hence in the greatest practice I can only reach up to my true place in Christ, and my practice is only true as I act up to my standing in Christ where I am crucified, "Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me". Hence, according as Christ lives in me, and uses my body according to His own will and for His service, there must be a constant practical denial of the desires of the flesh with its ways and habits. So in Colossians 2 I find that, because I am complete in Him, I am both circumcised, the body of the flesh is put off, and also my status as a man is gone in baptism. If a person assumes to be occupied with Christ and delighting in His mind and ways, and yet does not manifest in his body the life of Jesus, where is there any evidence of the power of His life? If I excuse myself by saying I am used to such a thing, and therefore I must retain it, I thereby assert that the natural propensity in me is stronger than the life of Jesus. However completely the life is manifested, it must be through the bearing about of the dying of Jesus. How could it appear if that which balks it were not removed? And it must be removed prior to the manifestation. That is, I have to keep under my body and bring it into subjection. I have to judge myself. I have to refuse morally the working of the will, that I may be a vessel for the Lord, doing His will, and though it be death to the outer man, yet assuring my heart of the eternal weight of glory before me. It is not only that I am like Enoch, well-pleasing to Him, but He shows His delight in me by manifesting Himself.

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The ways of wisdom are the ways of pleasantness and peace. The more the life of Jesus has sway in me, the more it is full enough in me to show itself in details; the more, even in my own heart, must I admire its beauty and perfection, and instead of finding that anything has been lost by the setting aside of my own will, "the carnal mind", I find I have gained immensely in the commonest duties of life, because it is the life of a perfect man which is now manifested through my body, which heretofore was the medium of the desires of the flesh and of the mind. But now these latter are denied and consigned to death, to make room for the full exhibition of the other. So that I have to refuse and disregard every taste or every way with which I cannot connect Christ. He becomes as indispensable to me in my course now as oxygen is for my natural life. Without Him I must droop and become helpless in everything.

The apple-tree will illustrate these two processes. The gardener promotes the growth of the new graft which will grow apples; but at the same time, in the same tree, he represses and plucks off every bud of the crab-tree on which the apple graft has been set. The best apple graft will not improve the crab stem. The only way to deal with the latter is to refuse every bud or manifest working of it. All care must now be devoted to the growth of the apple graft. If you were to cultivate the one with the utmost attention, and yet neglect the other, the fruit would suffer. If you were to devote all your attention to the crab-tree, you would never have an apple, and if you were to attend exclusively to the apple graft and be indifferent as to the budding and growth of the crab, you would soon find that the fruit would suffer both as to size and quality. The truth is that a new plant, the life of Jesus through grace, is set up in me, and the more my eye is on Him, the more it grows, and the more it demands that everything which interferes with the manifestation of itself in my

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body where it is set should be renounced and cast out, as a gardener would cast out weeds and stones, and everything which would interfere with the roots of the valued plants. And hence the evidence or assurance of growth is not merely study of and delight in heavenly things, but in the increasing and careful self-denial of every interruption to the manifestation of this life. The sensibility is so increased that the smallest thing that would hinder or obstruct is detected and at once removed, as eagerly as a mote would be removed from the natural eye. For the more the life increases in us the more the sensibilities of it will be felt; and its development is checked unless there be prompt self-denial of that which opposes it. If the body is to be controlled by the life of Jesus, flesh must retire. Thus as His life increases in us, the flesh must sensibly give way and die.


It is in details, even as with the extremities of the body, that the energy of life is tested and proved. If the hands and feet be cold there is evidently a deficiency of vital power in the system; and though in other respects there may be good health, the coldness of the extremities is evidence that there is not much energy of life.

It is in the way we deal with those related to us naturally that we show the force and measure of divine power in us. There can be action, and action sufficient to testify of the existence of life, and yet not enough to enable us to act in quite a new and independent way towards our relatives. Abram, with his father Terah, may remove from Mesopotamia, but until his father is dead, he does not come into the land. When grace takes possession of the soul and a new man is formed, there will be for a long time, unless there is much exercise of conscience, occupation with it as an object, a seeking

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to obtain light and instruction for it, rather than to avoid the influence of those to whom we are naturally attached and related. The world and general society will be easily refused and separated from; but from those to whom our hearts cling, to whom the tie of nature gives a claim, there will not be separation until the strength of Christ makes their society insupportable. Any one at all spiritual feels that he must get away from the society of the world, he is miserable if he does not; but it is often long and tedious before any one obeys the Master's word, "Let the dead bury their dead". Saints who would not listen to the world's conversation and comments, feeling how irksome and injurious it would be, submit to it from their relations, and often even from their fellow christians. They seem unable to distinguish between the world in those who are not related to them and in those who are. They turn away from the world on one hand, and bear with it on the other. And thus a man's foes are the men of his own house. The world is not only as bad in one's own family as in those not related to us, but it is far more injurious, just because it is less feared and less distant. The fact is, the heart blinds or clouds the conscience. If there were no tie, no affection, the conscience of the saint would soon wince because of the worldly influence that the natural man always exerts by his very presence; and once his company is accepted, many worldly things must then be suffered in order not to offend him. Things and habits are retained or excused in order to be more agreeable to this or that worldly relative; and thus not only is the society borne with, but worldly habits and dress are retained in order to accommodate oneself, not to the world, but to the worldly relation. Saints have little idea of how much of the world they retain in order to suit their relatives; they fear to make themselves entirely repugnant to them. If you go into any one's house, or observe any one's habits, and challenge anything

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which is worldly, you will find that the ground on which it will be defended is either that one must not do away with everything belonging to position, or one must not make one's house unattractive or unsuitable to one's worldly relations. No doubt there is often much of the world still attaching even to some who are zealously and conscientiously seeking to be outside of it; but such an one would soon get extricated if this other and less feared influence were not brought to bear on him, namely, must he not keep up things to please, or if not so much as that, to avoid offending a worldly son or a worldly daughter, or, as is still oftener the case, a more distant relative? I believe if a devoted saint had no position to keep up, or no family influence, he would soon be simple and unworldly enough.

Now the influence which is most difficult to escape from must be the most dangerous. A man must be quite dead as to his nature who can be quite independent of the influence of his relations, and who is in no way affected by their progress or prosperity in the world. It is far easier to break with the unrelated of the world and therefore sooner effected. That tie is over and broken, but it is right and of God that the tie with one's own relations should continue; and hence the problem is how to be no longer susceptible to their influence. If the tie did not exist, the matter would be simply solved; but the admitted tie, as ordered of God, becomes a plea for the undue acknowledgment of it. The point is to own implicitly the tie, but to refuse the influence which that tie would exert over one naturally; and in order to do this one must adhere simply and implicitly to the Lord's mind, or the claim of the relation will be too easily yielded to, and then the dead do not bury their dead. It is not enough for one to have broken with the world and distanced oneself from the world's society, for then one might be like a family in exile, separate indeed from all those who are alien to them

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in blood and religion, and yet as full of natural tastes and feelings in the circle of their own near relations as ever. Therefore this kind of separation from the world often deceives, for such an one has only reduced the circumference of his world, to find it in the smaller circle in a concentrated form and force. It is in figure like one ascending in a balloon and by degrees finding that the higher he goes the smaller is his boundary, but he is in heart as worldly and carnal as ever. Limited circles do not diminish the strength of nature; on the contrary, the more the sphere is limited to one's grasp, the greater is the tenacity with which it is held. A man dying always clings to those dearest to him; the nearest circle to him is the last which he surrenders -- the linen cloth girt about his naked body (see Mark 14:51, 52) -- and hence the most difficult. All the top branches to the very stem of a tree may die, and yet the tree remains alive; and if there is no poison in its sap it will be as strong as if the top branches had not faded away. The fact is, in order that I should be able to let the dead bury their dead, I must be completely dead in myself. I can die a great way, break with all the outside circle; but to break entirely with the circle that comes nearest to me, and leave the dead father to be buried by the dead, requires that I should be completely free from any natural influence, and then I can simply and entirely follow the Lord. I must let the dead bury their dead before I am fully able to follow Him. It is not breaking with all relations, like a monastic recluse, but to break from their influence in order to be quite free and unimpeded in following the Lord.

In our onward course it is the one nearest to us in nature that generally hinders most, and simply for this reason, that natural affection makes such an one consider for us naturally, and therefore he attempts to hinder what seems opposed to our present advantage. Abram's father stands in his way. Jacob's mother

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because of her affection involves him in much sorrow, and the last link to her we may conclude was broken at Beth-el, when the nurse died, and the place was called Allon-bachuth; Genesis 35. Job is hindered by his wife; Job 2:9. Peter attempts to counsel Christ according to his natural affection, and it is denounced by the Lord as of Satan; Matthew 16. The one we might expect most from naturally is the one to hinder and embarrass us most if his natural affection has its way. David is driven from Jerusalem by his son whom he had illegally spared. The priesthood is lost to Eli's family because he failed to rule his sons. Natural affection had intervened, and there was failure in following the Lord. And surely, if it can so markedly hinder, how great and insidious must be its influence, when there is no aim or effort to let the dead bury their dead.

Many parents can deny the world for themselves, who cannot do so for their children, and many ran well until their families grew up. If one were exiled to a distant quarter of the globe, it is plain that, whatever the means, the order and the arrangements would wear another aspect when the heart was simply seeking the Lord. And why? Because there would be then no natural or family influence of any kind. Everything on our own level affects us peculiarly. A child is affected by a child of its own age coming into the room, as a dog is by the encounter of a dog, and thus in every stage and order of life.

Now the more I have been mixed up with the world in departing from God, the more distinctly and openly -- and this especially with regard to my own relations -- am I required to prove my separation; even as Moses, who, when arresting the idolatry of Israel, directs all who are on the Lord's side to take every man his sword, and consecrate himself every man on his son, and on his brother.

The mixture into which they had previously fallen

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demanded the more manifest separation. It is often deemed sufficient to separate from the world in its organised idolatry, and seldom thought necessary that every man should put his sword by his side and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour; Exodus 32:27. The greater the ecclesiastical corruption, the more distinct must be the repudiation of it and separation from it; and if this separation be genuine, it necessarily must be seen where nature touches us most. It is not only the outer branches which are to be broken off, but the very rind and bark that comes nearest to us is to he stripped off and disowned if it compromises our separation. There could not be real consecration to God otherwise. How can there be a true estimate of the dishonour to God that we in nature have fallen into, if I can spare my own, and those near and dear to me, at the expense of His name and truth? Whereas if, on the other hand, I have consecrated myself by cutting off that which is nearest and dearest to me, I prove beyond any question the enormity of the evil, and my entire repudiation of it. It is vain for a man to speak of following the Lord while the innermost and strongest chain is still unbroken. It is useless for a man to suppose that he has surrendered the stronghold -- in other words that he is devoted -- while he reserves the citadel where the main force is quartered. Give up the citadel and all the rest is easy enough. Prove that you are really free to follow the Lord; that there is nothing to stand between you and Him; that where there was a tie, the dearest to nature, you waived it, disowned its influence, in order to be clear of everything which could mar your faithfulness. "So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty", and surely this is enough.

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Man was in darkness as to the mind of God until He was pleased to reveal it. Hence His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. He tells us His mind in His word, which otherwise we could never have known by research or thought of our own. His revelation is therefore light; "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple". The darkness is the conclusion of man's mind untaught and undirected by the word of God. Man follows the bent of his own mind, and makes himself the centre, just as Cain did at the very first. He builds a city and calls it after his son Enoch; it is characteristically what is derived from himself. The children of Lamech, the seventh from Adam in the Cain line, are Jubal, the father of all such as handle the harp and organ, and Tubal-cain, the instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. Up to the flood we have man left to himself, without any revelation from God that we know of, save the promise that God would through the seed of the woman bruise the serpent's head. We have no positive record of God's mind save as it was communicated orally. Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and none of the fathers died before his translation, except Adam; and Lamech the father of Noah was more than a hundred years old before the translation of Enoch. I notice this to show how man was at first entrusted with the oracles of God, and that they were not committed to writing; but while he was left to himself and to his own resources, the family of faith, like a silver thread, was preserved through God's mercy, and Noah, the remnant of it, was saved in the ark.

There can be no question as to the great difference between man without revelation, and man with it. The great philosophers at Athens indirectly admitted

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that the mind of man, however fertile and able, could not discover the true God. They had an altar inscribed, "To the unknown God", Acts 17. Thus their research and learning had only disclosed their ignorance of God, and it is just here Paul addresses them; he presents to them the light of revelation.

If it be admitted -- and it cannot be denied -- that man is in darkness as to everything that suits God, for I cannot know the mind of the Supreme unless He divulges it; then if I accept the light of revelation, I must refuse the darkness which is in principle and practice quite independent of the mind of God. The darkness, that is man's mind, is solely and entirely set on discovering and securing everything to exalt himself in his departure from God, as we have seen in Cain. God's light has been given to show to man the way God can have mercy on him, and how He would set him up anew well pleasing to Himself; and as this light is received, an entirely new course must be pursued to that which man had invented or desired for his own benefit and enjoyment. Man's thoughts or plans at best cannot exceed his own measure, and as it must be limited to himself, it could not propose anything beyond human power, and therefore it must be finite, and within the region of human sense. Thus man is in will a creature independent of his Creator; he seeks and designs for himself, absorbed in promoting his own pleasure and profit, though ignorantly, and blind as to his real profit; which is as great an anomaly as if a bird were to refuse the instruction of its parent, and attempt to run only, never using its wings. The blessed God alone knows what is best for man, and He declares it in His word. He tried man first without law, and then with law, and lastly He sent His Son "with healing in his wings". In the Greek we have man left to his own mind, unenlightened by revelation; in the Jew we have man in the flesh with the law as a given standard. Then grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,

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God's Son from heaven, "which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory".

The simple point is, does the light from God supersede and supplant in our minds the reasonings and judgment of man, and is it adequate and sufficient to direct or fit man for his true relation to God in every position in which he may be set? If this be answered in the affirmative -- and it could not truly be answered otherwise, or God's revelation would not have perfectly disclosed His mind and will respecting us -- it is plain that there is great responsibility in hearing, and that the word, "Take heed how ye hear", is a solemn one for us. Every word of God is light, and as it is received there is light in him who receives it, and this light is not to be put under a bed or under a bushel, but is to be manifested in the darkness. When the light of God comes to man, it finds him governed and influenced by his own and his fellows' conclusions, which is simply the light of his own reason; and therefore if he accepts the word of God, and as he does so, he must refuse the one while adopting the other. It is here that all the difficulty lies, and all the responsibility as to hearing the word. If the word of God were only to improve and to add to the mind and thoughts of man, it would be comparatively easy to bow to it; it would be a further step in the science of human development. But when it introduces an entirely new principle of action, and not merely new actions, it is evident that if His word be accepted, it must be fatal to that which is already in existence. If the same identity, man, is governed by different and entirely new principles, it follows that as the better and greater are adopted, the former and inferior must be repudiated. The butterfly was once a caterpillar, but its mode of action is now quite different, and it could not return to that of its prior and inferior state. If I see that man in himself is ignorant of what suits God, and that at best he can only order

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for himself up to his own measure, it is plain that when the light of God comes in, there must be an entirely new principle of action, as well as a new mode, and that as the word of God gets a place and rules, so the other must be displaced and silenced. The simple lesson of christianity is that it is the word of God, His light, which is to control and influence me in every transaction of life; and every one of the principles which I have derived from men, and heretofore acted on, must be feared and refused. If I say that man has been walking in the twilight of reason, and that revelation is the light of the sun for him, I give the idea that God's light only increases the light of human reason; but the moment I see that the light from God is above the brightness of the sun, and that it reveals Himself, then I see that everything which He reveals as to His purpose respecting man must be characteristic of Himself.

To man, fallen and ruined because of sin, and unable to resist the assault and influence of Satan, the god of this world, God imparts His mind; and as it is simply received from God, if through grace there is capacity to take it in (for an eye is this capacity; see Luke 11), the body is full of light. If the light be but taken in, the body yields to the force and power of it and expresses it; but if there be any wrong selfish motive of action, it perverts the light, as jaundice discolours every object, however good and perfect the light may be. When there is not a clear and full expression of the light, there is either a defect in the eye or in its power on the body. In the one case it is the way the light is perverted on receiving it, and the other is its influence practically; there is a dark part.

Now it is a very solemn thing how I, through grace, receive the light from God; for if I have not a true sense of the responsibility of hearing and accepting the word of God, the greatest light becomes the greatest darkness. It is the most painful fact connected with

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God's people, that it is men who have been in the forefront in accepting God's word who have most grievously apostatised from it and brought reproach on the truth; and it is thus that the house of God is made a den of thieves. Cain showed at the outset how little a man, even with good intentions, could meet the mind of God. And as we come on we see that, even in a righteous man like Lot, the true ground, Canaan, is no security against failure; and in the case of Aaron, that occupation in the closest way with the ways and works of God does not preserve from the people's untoward influence when His word is forgotten. Again, in a later day and with greater light, Peter would have compromised the truth by refusing to eat with the gentile saints; Galatians 2. Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Timothy 2) were evidently men of note, or there would have been no use in mentioning their names; and they damaged the truth more than the most open adversary who was ignorant of it could have done. The great damage done to the truth of God in every age was that it was not faithfully expressed by the recipients of it. It was placed under a bed without design, out of the way, or under a bushel designedly, and therefore was not manifested. In every instance it is the man who has received revelation, and has not been governed by it, but has reduced it to suit himself and minister to his own advantage, who is at any given time the most repugnant to God and most opposed to Him. The name of God was blasphemed among the gentiles through the Jew, and every dispensation has been marked by the way man has formalised for himself the truth of God without the power of it. So that every new revelation tested the sincerity of God's people, for the question was, would they accept what was entirely outside of human conviction and simply of faith?

God says, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word", Isaiah 66:2. "With what measure ye mete, it

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shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given". The soul in a right state before God says, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth". And this will always be accompanied with the sense of the claim His truth has on one. In this day it is not so much dullness of comprehension we have to lament, as the little sense of responsibility in hearing. The most conscientious as a rule are the slowest and most fearful in hearing or accepting any additional truth, because they are most sensible of its claim when once heard. In divine things, the one who knows most always feels how little he knows, while he longs to know more of that of which he already knows most. He listens to the word as that which he needs and by which he grows; but he hears with the deepening sense that, as he accepts it, it will impart a more divine tone and spring to every act and movement of his life; that it cannot be accepted without confirming the truth already received, and rebutting and refusing in a greater degree the scope and tendency of carnal feeling and wisdom. It is a wondrous operation of God's Spirit in his soul, that of implanting the mind of God to supersede the principle of action heretofore dominant there. He does not know how he may be shaped by it, or to what he may be appointed; but like the vessel to the potter, or the tablet to the engraver, or the canvas to the painter, he is ready and prepared for the wondrous and beautiful touches which will make him a truer picture, or imitator, or expression of the one perfect Man. And as he hears, so is the measure of his gain; and more is given where most has been received.

If you do not hear with the sense of responsibility, you are not really a canvas ready to receive the colours of Christ; but if you are, you will bow to the truth, prepared of heart, and assured that as it is heard, so must there be a manifestation of it. It must not be put under a bed or under a bushel. You must maintain it, or it will not maintain you. If you do not use light,

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you will lose it. As you express it, you put on the armour of light. The evergreen resists the frost. Truth will not preserve you unless you preserve it, and then it is an armour to you; but if it be neglected, the receiver of the greatest truth will become like the sow that was washed, wallowing in the mire.


Every saint knows that the effect of grace reaching his soul has been to impart to him a new mind, This mind is contrary to the old nature, and yet it greatly elevates him as a man; it is of the man Christ Jesus. "We have the mind of Christ". Now the mind of Christ fully enters into and comprehends man's relation to God, and therefore is superior to any conception, desire, or action of the mind of the natural man. A saint walking in the mind of Christ would not be an eccentricity as a man, save that he would not live to himself but to Him who died for him and rose again. Every act, be it that of a servant or of a master, etc., would be better performed, and all the relations of life would be better maintained, so that he would be in every way a better man, but still a man, though acting from the highest motive. Every thing contemplated or appointed for the first man is peculiarly and pre-eminently set forth and expressed in the new man. The serious point for the faithful soul is to distinguish between what is simply true and proper for the new man, and what would revive the old. Here the spiritual man only can define the line of demarcation. The more I know that I possess a nature like Christ -- the perfect One, the Man after God's heart -- the more am I on my guard not to foster or minister to the old nature in me. It is a great moment in the history of our souls when we see that Ishmael must not be tolerated. The flesh is still in us, but the only sure road to progress is

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to know that it is intolerable. But if it be intolerable, we must be careful how we subject it either to temptation or to penance. No amount of the possession of Christ alters the flesh; nay, it exasperates it the more, just as Ishmael was excited to mock Isaac when the whole house was agreeing in festive cheer to make him chief; Genesis 21. If less had been made of Isaac, Ishmael would have remained more passive, and this accounts for the toleration which so many saints give to the flesh, or Ishmael. It is not enough to make a feast for Isaac, but Ishmael must be cast out. It is not enough to "rejoice in the Lord", but I must "beware of the concision", Philippians 3. If Christ has in any degree obtained His true place in my heart, I cannot tolerate the flesh that resists Him. But this is not all. I am careful not to go into circumstances or places where it would be addressed either attractively or penitentially, for there it is revived. It is not only that I must not drink the wine, but I am not to look at it when it is red, and I am to beware of the concision, as I would of dogs and evil workers. I am to avoid that which attracts me naturally, that which revives my flesh, and also the exaction which admits its existence while subjecting it to penalties. Whatever be wine, I am not only not to drink to excess, but I am not to look on it when it is red, that is, when it has attraction for me; because the effect of the attraction is to draw me aside, and a saint drawn aside by the flesh has for the time lost his senses, just as a man under the influence of wine. If the flesh gets its way in one thing, it will show itself in every act and thought, however one may have previously walked apart from its influence; and hence a saint who yields to the attraction which feeds his flesh, or to the concision which gives it a place, soon finds that he has lost power on every side. The Spirit is grieved, and there is no spring or joy until in contrition he confesses his sin and learns that the old man has been crucified with Christ, and that he

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must neither revive it by attraction, nor flatter it by asking it to improve, which is penance.

If there be a growing up into the measure of the stature of Christ, there must be a conscious refusal of that which would tend to revive or invigorate the old man. The saint is not only a new creature to grow into the likeness of Christ, from the smallest beginning; if this were all it would be simple enough. But he has to watch and beware lest the things he has to do with should in any way minister to another will in him, which would divert him from God to himself. Self is the circle and centre of man's mind in his fallen state; but when Christ is formed in the soul, God is the centre and source of everything. Man is simply a man still, but with new powers, new capacities, and new tastes. The whole mechanism and ability of man as a creature is for the Lord as soon as he is in Christ; and hence, as there is conscience, there is fear lest anything should evoke the old man, and divert any of my powers from Christ. It may be right for a saint to migrate to better or milder air in order to be recruited in health, but it is seldom that anyone gains spiritually at such a time, because the wine is red -- he is carried away by it; and then it is long and irksome before he recovers the spiritual control he was in before his migration. A swallow migrates surely for milder air, but its time is fully and wisely occupied, so that it gains by the change. It is not necessary that the change to better air or to brighter circumstances should divert the heart from Christ. I merely bring forward this example as one which anyone can examine, or by which he can test himself; but I say I have seldom or never seen a saint go out for recreation, but on his return he had to go through quarantine, as it were, to wash his clothes and shave off his hair morally, before he was restored to the state of soul he was in before his relaxation. I repeat, I do not for a moment say that is necessary that it should be so, because it may be and often

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is lawful and right for a saint to seek air and scenes which would improve his health; and therefore there is no way of accounting for his declension, but that he looked at the wine when it was red.

The first of evil influences is received through the eye. When the Spirit describes the world, He places the lust of the eye first, and if the eye is detained, the temptation has succeeded. The word "look not" is therefore very important. With Eve, "pleasant to the eyes" was corroborative of the lust which Satan had suggested to her; when the eye can be checked, the evil will be avoided, but if the eye governs there will be no escape. The godly soul has a sense of the ease with which any tendency of his flesh can be awakened, and how the mind or heart may be diverted from the Lord. He knows what it is to work out his salvation with fear and trembling. The one who has the deepest and the fullest sense of the purity in which Christ sets him in the presence of God, is the one who is most careful to avoid even the touch of that which contaminates; he fears the reviving of the flesh either by indulgence or by concision. The leper who is pronounced clean in such a precise way is the one who is peculiarly and practically clean, and externally guarded and shielded from all that would touch or defile him. If we had no old nature, and nothing but a new one which was always strengthened by the Spirit of God, it would be very different; but on the contrary, we have a heart and mind which, if not controlled by the Spirit, will be carried away by our own will. There is no abiding inclination in either to be subject to Christ, and each is like a bow which must be bent, for it will not bend of itself; or more properly, like a horse that, unless broken in and reined and guided, would spend his strength in folly and vagrancy. The new nature is ever right in all its inclinations, and therefore it cannot be perverted; but we have a body which is not subject, except as it is coerced. It is not power to sustain it

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that is needed, as with the new nature, but power to suppress, control, and direct it according to the will of God.

There is a great difference between restricting the old man on the principle of "touch not; taste not; handle not", expecting by self-denial to shape it into something commendable, and refusing it liberty to act at all. If I ask it to do anything, even penance, I admit that it is not dead, and if I evoke it by that which attracts I call it into life. But if I present the body a living sacrifice, I place it under the control and rule of the Spirit of God; and then I avoid everything which would in any way call it into activity, be it that which attracts or that which irritates. It has been thought by some that while you should fear and avoid what would attract your flesh, no harm or loss can be suffered when things are disagreeable or vexatious, and that because they are so you may without hesitation or loss go on with, or be in them. Now anything which diverts the mind or heart from Christ is mischievous. Concision is as contrary to grace and as detrimental to the servant of Christ as is indulgence. Saul in adjuring the people, saying, "Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies", 1 Samuel 14:24, and Jephthah in vowing to give unto the Lord an uncalled for surrender (Judges 11:30), erred in self-will on the one side, as Samson and David did on the other. It is said of the tithes (Deuteronomy 26:14), "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". Neglecting the body is will worship, and just as carnal as the self-indulgence which does not keep it under. The true course is simple and happy, going on day by day, led of the Spirit of God, who gives power and development to the divine nature; but who also controls the vessel, the body, with its thoughts and feelings, for Christ, so that the heart and mind are kept occupied

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with Christ, which is the only pure and unmixed happiness; and this the mere creature owns and expresses in countenance too, when wholly swayed by the Spirit of God. That man only is thoroughly happy who is led by divine power, resisting the will of himself and finding all his pleasure and satisfaction in Christ. He is never true to himself until he comes to this, for he is not true to God; and if I could be true to myself without being true to God, then I should not have been made for God -- God would not have made me for Himself.

The heart is thoroughly attracted and satisfied as it is kept occupied with Christ, and the flesh is rightly controlled as there is no one to interest or direct me but Christ. The ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness and peace; but "they that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy".


Suffering is not the normal state of any creature. God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. If the creature be good, it must be happy when true to its own nature and make. If the creature has lost the goodness in which the Creator had made it, it is no longer in its normal state, nor in a happy state. Now the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, for the creature has been made subject to vanity. Man is fallen, and every creature, instead of fulfilling the end for which it was made, has to be constrained, one and all, in order that they may in some degree contribute to the comfort and benefit of man on the earth. Not one offers its services voluntarily, or yields its services without constraint. As man is fallen and perverted because of his own will, it is plain that there can be no return to the path of duty, or any continuance in it, except as his will is subdued and he is constrained into subjection to God. The first thing necessary to a perverted state is subjugation,

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in order to reverse or counteract the wilful working. The higher and greater the ability, the more damage ensues when it is ill-directed. A horse when ungovernable does more mischief than a fly. The perversion is the same in both, but the power of the former is so much greater than the latter, that to control him is a greater object and necessity than to control a fly. Man in nature now is sinful and knoweth not the things of the Spirit of God. The things of God can be known only by the Spirit of God. Hence there are two things which must ensue; one, that the natural man should be suppressed or unheeded; and the other, that the Spirit of God should be active. Both must occur together and be continued together, though each with the very opposite effect, one silenced and the other acting. Now to silence or suppress the flesh there must be the taking up of the cross daily. There is no other way of suppressing or silencing the natural man. And while this is pursued, the Spirit of God at the same time presents and unfolds Christ; and when His mind rules in us, we are spiritual. A man might be the recipient of the grace of life, and enjoy it, or possess a gift of the Spirit, and not be spiritual. Knowledge of the work of Christ does not make a man spiritual. The Corinthians were highly gifted, and had the benefit of the greatest gifts, and yet they were carnal, and walked as men; they were not spiritual. It is only as the Spirit of God governs me, and when by crucifixion the natural man is silent and inactive, that I am spiritual. Without the work of the Spirit there would be no sense of life or forgiveness in the soul, but the possession of Him, even in power, as was the case with the Corinthians, does not make the possessor spiritual. To be spiritual, it is required that you should be free from the influence and thoughts of the natural man; "he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man". When one is born again there is a new work, and as there is faith in Christ, there is the

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enjoyment of a new life; but this does not make a man spiritual, though he could not be spiritual without it. To be spiritual a man must not only have received of the Spirit, but he must not receive from the old or natural man, that is, from any other source.

It is neither the possession of the gift of the Spirit nor of actual spiritual tastes that makes a man spiritual. The mark of a spiritual man is that he judges of things according to God and not according to man. He might appear, from his love of truth or his ability to impart his knowledge of the Scriptures, to be very spiritual, yet when he acted or gave counsel about an action, or a course of action, it would be seen from which side, God or man, he formed his opinion. It is the action or the counsel indicating an act which shows on which side the control is. The act necessarily tells the nature of the control. A man is not controlled by the Spirit of God if he acts in nature. It is the act therefore that indicates what is within. As in type with Joshua in Exodus 17, his act -- prevailing over Amalek or the reverse -- indicated whether Moses' arms were uplifted or not. There must be power to produce an act. A desire is not power. "The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing". Faith is only shown by works, and the works tell out the real nature of the faith. That which controls me and orders my course must always be the prominent and greater power, and hence it is in vain to say that one was taken unawares to excuse one's conduct; the conduct is the evidence of the power which is paramount. Hence, though there is a spiritual growth in the soul, yet if the flesh be not suppressed, the cross daily carried, there will be an acting in it. It is uppermost; it is ever ready, if not subdued, to express itself, and to lead.

We must constantly remember that the natural mind, the mind of the flesh, is as it were at home in us; the spiritual mind is the stranger, and quite beyond the natural in all its desires and thoughts; therefore the

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easy and ready thing for man is to look at things according to nature, and not according to God. In order to judge of things according to God, we must set aside the suggestions of nature, and inquire how the word of God would lead; and this is faith, and not sight. It is faith which guides the spiritual man. Faith looks to God, sees His mind and accepts it, not only as the best, but also as quite possible, however improbable to nature. Abraham, even when accepting the word of God, says, "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" Ishmael was the child of his self-will; he would substitute him for the child of promise. The child of promise was as yet unseen, of faith; Ishmael he could see. This is unspiritual, accepting the mind of God, but seeking to have it fulfilled in a natural way. The correction for this is, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son". It is not enough that there is an answer to faith, but when the answer is confirmed, when Isaac was weaned, in the same day Ishmael was cast out. There is no real spiritual control unless there be a practical bearing about of the dying of Jesus. The simple fact is that, in order to be spiritual, one must not be natural; and the only way not to be natural is to take up the cross daily and follow Him, and this can be done only in faith by the Spirit.

Peter, after he was the recipient of a revelation which flesh and blood could not make known to him, savours not of the things that be of God, but of those that be of men. Then Jesus said unto His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me". The spiritual mind in a saint is like a diamond in a quartz rock. It is not enough to possess the diamond in the rock, but all the quartz must be broken away in order that the diamond may entirely and freely express itself. It is not enough for a man to know that he has spiritual tastes, or to seek the ministry that will feed them; but he must renounce

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and reckon dead the nature in him, which, like the rock, interferes with and hinders the expression of the diamond. Generally saints are satisfied if they enjoy truth, and like to hear it. They like to know that they possess a diamond; but they do not see that it cannot be in its true brilliancy while embedded in the hard rock, which obscures the light -- the very thing which the diamond converts and glorifies. Nothing is more marked in Scripture than the fact that the one nearest in nature to the servant of God, if unspiritual, is his greatest snare. James thinks naturally for Paul (Acts 21); Peter, carried away by nature, influences Barnabas; and surely both of them were largely gifted and used of God. The possession of the diamond does not exempt from the quartz -- the flesh, and there is no deliverance from it but in refusing it or mortifying it. In fact, the spiritual mind would be developed of itself if the flesh were kept under and silenced, if the quartz were all broken away.

Any one who surveys christendom, and sees here and there laborious servants of God and devout saints, must remark how possible it is for souls to be in possession of spiritual gifts who in their course and circumstances judge of things according to man's mind and not according to God's. This is the simple solution of the strange anomaly meeting us at every turn: that men with spiritual gift and taste are doing things after a natural way, and not after a divine way. And the great danger and consequent loss in preaching the gospel is that there is an enlisting of the natural mind into the acceptance of the grace of God, instead of making it plain that an entirely new power is now bearing witness of the goodness and mercy of God; and as His testimony is received, there is power by the word of God in the soul. If the natural mind be in any way admitted or enlisted, before such an one becomes spiritual there must be a casting off of what was enlisted; and this is always an agonising process;

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in fact, the house built on the sand comes down with a mighty crash.

The loss with many is that, with the desire to acquire spiritual knowledge, there is not at the same time a constant simple purpose of heart to resist and refuse, as knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified, all that for which Christ was crucified, and learning to walk here even as He walked. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that charity is the more excellent way, and it is simply the setting aside of self; and surely nothing confers so much benefit on others as being free of the flesh in oneself, instead of excusing it under a variety of pleas, one time because of one's weakness, another because of one's sensitiveness, and so on.

I have already shown how the act discloses the power by which I am controlled at the time of the act; but there is also another thing to be noted, and that is that a man with a gift to edify the saints is hindered, and often injurious, if he be preoccupied with natural things or warped by them. Evidently Barnabas was not spiritual when he insisted on taking his kinsman Mark with him, contrary to Paul; Acts 15. Isaac has the truth, God's mind, about his posterity, but in blindness he seeks to be guided by his senses rather than by faith, and his judgment is warped because he did eat of his son's venison; Genesis 27. We little know how truth is compromised and pared down because of the natural associations in which the saint has mixed; and this is only discovered by the weakness or inaccuracy of his acts and statements. David accepts the cart, an idea borrowed from the Philistines (compare 1 Samuel 6:7 and 2 Samuel 6:3), to carry the ark of God. It was right to bring back the ark, but the mode in which it was done betrayed the association into which David had fallen; 1 Samuel 28. There must be a clouding or misdirection of the truth if the natural mind be not entirely subject. Thus every servant knows how differently truth -- the same truth -- is presented by him at

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one time from what is presented at another; and if one does not walk in self-death, there will not be a correcting of the mistake, but a bolder assertion of it, which often ends in heresy. If I am daily carrying my cross, that is death to the flesh. I am led through grace to see where I have overstated or understated. I am less conformed to the world, and I am more transformed by the renewing of my mind, and thus able to prove what is that good and acceptable will of God. I am spiritual as I see things as the Spirit of God sees them, and there the natural has no place.


A condition which no amount of favour can satisfy -- one which desires more and is more sensible of its need and deficiency the more it has acquired -- can never be happy in giving, or in depriving itself of anything it has. Man in his natural state cannot spare anything, unless with the expectation of requital. He is unsatisfied himself, and though what he possesses does not satisfy him, yet he will not give it away, unless to gain something which he has not. With man it is rather sale and bargain than gift. A real gift supposes a state where one can rest independent of what one gives; and to be a giver instead of a receiver argues a state of satisfaction, and not of discontent, which is man's state at its best. A giver is the very opposite to a receiver. When I am giving I am not claiming or expecting.

The great effect of the work of Christ was so fully to exonerate us from the burden under which we lay, that God in His love might meet the sinner in a new way. Hence our Lord says to the woman of Samaria, "If thou knewest the gift of God". That is, if she knew the new character in which God comes forth now, she would have asked of Him and He would have given her living water. God in His love has given His Son,

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the Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world, and thereupon to give a new and perfect condition to the sinner; and therefore it is only one in this new and perfect condition who can understand that "it is more blessed to give than to receive". An imperfect state is ever in want. A perfect one can always afford to part with whatever it can dispose of. The simple proof that a man has reached a perfect state with God, outside the things of earth, is that he can now be a cheerful giver of the things which suit an imperfect state, and which he can part with because he possesses a higher and better state. When God through His Son, whom He gave for this purpose, has found an answer for every demand, full righteousness having been established in the cross, He gives according to His own heart; and now He tells us that, since everything which attached to us in the imperfect state has been righteously set aside, and as we are recipients to the full, so as to need nothing but find all in Himself, we are now to be givers as we have the ability, for such is His own nature. An imperfect state is necessarily occupied with something or other to amend it, and really getting is before the mind, instead of giving. But as soon as I know that I have received from God a perfect state -- one where no sense of deficiency can occur, for "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" -- I am not thinking of getting, for I have got. I possess that which needs no addition outside itself; and now I can give as I have anything disposable and not necessary for existence on earth. I cannot contribute to my new state from outside it; I can and do augment my enjoyment of my possessions, and Christ possesses me more; but none of the things of this life are necessary to it, and I can dispose of them, save only food and raiment, for therewith I am content.

It is plain that the saint who knows his new condition must regard temporal property in quite a new light. He knows that nothing here can add to his new

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state. The resources are in itself, that is in Christ, in whom he is by the Spirit; and hence, instead of getting being his aim, or desire, or need, giving becomes a habit and purpose, as the more blessed. If my old condition is passing away, and my new, in which I enjoy life and permanent blessing, is replete, surely I cannot be set on considering for the failing one, but for the eternal one. I rejoice in being a giver of everything that comes to my hand; and this, even though it be at times with suffering and loss. The principle is the same in spiritual gifts. The Spirit is given to every man to profit withal; that is, that every one should profit by it and not exclusively for himself.

There are two ways in which this subject is looked at in Scripture. First, when the temporal property is looked at as a gift, that is, that it is given of God in order that the holder of it may dispense it. In this case the possessor is called rich; and the word is, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" or "what is really life", 1 Timothy 6:17 - 19. Here the riches, if properly expended, not only serve because of the good works in the present, but they are an investment for the future; and the expender is not only laying up in store a good foundation in the good works which he performs, but in parting with the present he is laying hold on that which is really life. This is the right reading of this passage, and it explains another passage. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness". All temporal property is the Lord's; and when any falls to the lot of a saint now, he is not debarred from possessing it, because it is not really his. The "mammon of unrighteousness" means riches

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without divine right. The riches are in the hands of the steward, but the Lord is the owner. However the grace is that if the steward expends them, the gain is his and not the Lord's, who by right, as owner, would be entitled to claim the gain. That is, if I am served by a rich man, I must own that I am indebted to him, and that the favour is from him, though it comes from money which is really the Lord's. The rich man makes friends with the Lord's money, and the friends are properly the good works which he does, and which will greet him hereafter.

Now in keeping with this, Peter calls riches a gift. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good [economists or] stewards of the manifold grace of God", 1 Peter 4:10. The point is simply that the property is not for one's own consequence or enjoyment, but for faithful expenditure, resulting in a true and good investment for the donor. The possessors of temporal property would, if they understood these scriptures, receive quite a new idea about their duties. Instead of the riches being a ground of distinction here on earth, or to be expended in ministering to my own gratification, I am to expend them as a good economist of the manifold grace of God; and my investments for the future are in proportion to my godly gifts in the present. Thus it is the reverse with the world and with the saints. With the world it is, if you keep now, you will have by and by; while the saint, if he spends wisely now, lays up for time to come.

But besides riches being a gift, and the person who possesses them distinctly gifted, there is a claim on every saint to be a giver according to his ability. All contributed to the manna heap, in gathering it, though all did not contribute to the same extent, and there was enough for all. Distributing to the necessities of the saints is the first claim on every one, and as we find in 1 John 3:17, "Whoso hath this world's good,

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and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" If one does not act out the love of God, his heart condemns him, and "if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God". If I act according to the love of God, my heart does not condemn me, God is greater than my heart and knoweth all things; if my heart condemn me not, I am happy and confident in appealing to that love for myself; but if I refuse to act to another according to the impulses of His love, I have no heart to appeal to it on my own behalf. If I know what it is in myself, I turn to it confidently as I need anything, and whatsoever I ask, I receive of Him. Many doubtless are hindered in their prayers, because they are not in themselves acting out the love of God, and therefore they shrink from appealing to it; they are self-condemned. They will not act from it in themselves, and then how can they ask it to act for them? If it acts in me, I know its power, raising me over all my selfishness; and then in full confidence I can turn to God, because I know His nature, I know the power and influence which it had on myself. Again, in James 2:15, 16, in a lower way you prove your faith by your works. What is the good of wishing a person well, saying "Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" That which is needful must be given, or there is no profit. In 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, the apostle presses on the saints that they should "abound in this grace also", and it is "to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor". It is not the amount given that is the question, but whether the love is of the character that would suffer in order to relieve another. It is not only what we could spare, but how "that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty

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abounded unto the riches of their liberality". The grace of the Lord Jesus was not only in giving, but in becoming poor, that we by His poverty might become rich. It is here that this grace shines out, and there is evidence of our professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ. It is quite true that the Lord cares for my comfort; but then the working of His grace in me leads me to suffer in order that another might not suffer. It is His own grace, and though there be present suffering, it is a good investment, and ensures its own reward, not only in having his joy fulfilled in me, but also that it is 'making friends' for the future. If this grace were known and acted on, there could be no laying up of money, except for cases of need, as the apostle directs in 1 Corinthians 16:2. "Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come". The calling and hope of the saint now is to give, not to get, and to give unto personal suffering; and this, if practised, would check and prevent the acquisition of money, because as fast as it came in, it would be given away, not only as much as could be spared, after what is required -- and this is always in proportion to one's wealth; what a rich man would consider poor, a man in moderate circumstances would consider rich -- but according to "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich".

The Lord lead us to see His path through this evil world, and that the more simply we walk in it the safer we shall be from the covetousness and consequence of the flesh, and the more we shall enjoy His presence and countenance, whose grace is given to us, for His name's sake.

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"Girt about with truth" is the first power of the panoply of God; and if the first be neglected or defective, there is no use in attempting to acquire or put on any of the others. Nay, the possession of the others without the first only helps one on in a wrong line. For instance, if I could have the shield of faith without truth, I should by my faith commend and support that which is untrue; and thus great mischief is done to the truth by devoted saints who have some faith with only a measure of truth. The truth is necessarily the first point. Since man has believed a lie, and is under penalty in consequence, the first and greatest acquirement must be the knowledge of the truth; and only in the maintenance of it is there safety, if the heart would be true to God. The law, demanding righteousness from man, came by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The truth has come by Him who is the truth. If we see that the fall of man was occasioned by a lie, and that the effect of it was to alienate man from God, as well as to bring in sin, which distanced God from man, the truth must be the most cherished possession to the renewed mind. Can I for a moment understand that man's fall from God was occasioned by the acceptance of what was not true, and that thus he became so morally tainted and influenced by it that by nature he is at enmity with God, and not seek to know the truth, and to value it as it has been unfolded to me? Man has been ruined by Satan's lie. The mercy of God is shown in communicating the truth. The exercise to the saint is to refuse the influence and working of the lie, and be subject simply to the truth. If a man has to go a long, unknown and dangerous voyage, and if after several days he finds that he has been led entirely wrong, that the right line has no connection at all with the one he has been sailing in; as soon as he is convinced of this, surely there will be a careful adhering to the right one, and a corresponding

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fear lest he should fall again into the wrong one. Surely his first and greatest inquiry continually would be whether he was steering right, for it would matter little how things fared with him in the present if sure to reach the desired haven. To tell such a one that the right line was the first and main thing would be superfluous. He has suffered enough already from going the wrong way, and hence nothing now is paramount with him but the right one. If the converted one were subject to no evil influence, it is plain that truth, the mind of God as it has been revealed, would be altogether paramount. But the real point of resistance is here, for the flesh can accede to a modification of the truth. Do anything, introduce anything, make alterations without end, and reformation in every particular; but if you insist on the truth and its scope at any given time, you expose yourself to the most determined opposition; for in doing so you entirely neutralise the power of Satan and the working of the flesh. When the truth revealed is insisted on, God gets His place; and hence this is the point of safety, for He is Himself committed to it, and He stands by the one who maintains it. The more the truth was revealed, the more Satan, and man as his vessel, were set aside by it, and God was upheld. Faith marked the path of truth. Abel suffered on account of his faith, but he was in the place of safety. Enoch was apart from everything here, but he walked with God in perfect safety. Noah was safe in the ark, but he had to leave everything for it. Abraham by faith, led of God, reaches the land -- the true place -- the place of safety; but he did not keep it when there was a famine there, he went down into Egypt. It is useless for anyone to say that he could not keep it. The true place was the land, though the famine was there, and the defection which led him to Egypt entailed sorrows that were never removed.

Is it the truth with which I am girt? Is it the mind of God which rules me? or is it the famine, the pressure

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of circumstances? It is a serious question. Satan's object always has been to compromise the truth, because the truth always connects the soul with God, and there is no means of adhering to it but by faith in Him. The great virtue of the truth is its aim or pinnacle, and where its virtue can only be fully known. The full energy of God's Spirit must be at the point on which He is set, and it is against this that Satan is set, because he is the god of this world. If the promised land be the aim or pinnacle, it is against it he works. If to be a pilgrim when in the land is the great point, against that he is set, whether it is with a Lot or with a Jacob. When Jacob has returned to the land, and after his success with regard to his brother, and after receiving the name of Israel, Satan succeeds, and he is not a pilgrim; the great aim of the truth is lost. Jacob buys a field, and the only remedy for the distress and confusion which his declension from his true calling entailed was to "go up to Bethel" (Genesis 35:1), the spot where the great unfoldings of God had been made to him; Genesis 28. I need not multiply examples; there is no instance of any saint that I know of, who has not been at some time or other subjected to an attempt from Satan to deprive him of the highest point of truth to which he had been called or has received. Why is there such an effort to deprive one of it, if there be not great gain in retaining it? Faith -- the eye on God, commanding all the resources of God -- keeps me in the truth, and as I am in it, I am master of the activities arrayed against it. If I can escape the enemy's arrow by reaching a height, surely it is wisdom to go there, though I provoke his ire by seeking the security. The remnant who returned to the land from Babylon were stopped in building the temple (Ezra 4), but there was no blessing until it was resumed; Haggai 1, 2. Their being in the land was not enough. The temple was now the highest point, and all blessing is stayed until they begin to build it, and then it is, "From this day will I

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bless you". Peter and Barnabas had well nigh balked Paul, but through grace he was preserved; and he says, "To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you".

The apostle in Colossians 2 dwells fully on this subject; he says, "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". His great conflict for them was that they might reach the top -- united together to Christ; and here only they could be safe. "This I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words".

At such a height there is no place for man; the flesh, as a principle, is gone in the cross, and his status in baptism; Colossians 2:12 - 14. He is complete in Christ, and is risen with Him to mortify every rising in himself against Christ, and to have his body expressive of Christ's mind in everything. And where it is so, there is no opportunity for either rationalism or ritualism. If I am clear of that on which either of these would act, I cannot of course be acted on by them; I am perfectly safe, I am in Christ, entirely above and beyond the man that can be acted on. Practically, saints are too much satisfied with foundation truth, or with mere happiness, not seeing and not provoked to see that, as a builder is taken up with the top course, or that as the growth of a tree depends on its leading shoot, so must they maintain the highest truth to which they have been called; for if that is neglected or surrendered, there will be neither health nor growth. The building cannot be finished if any point but the top be the limit, nor the tree grow without its leader. Hence the apostle says, "Continue

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thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of". The best bit is the first bit that you will surrender if faith wanes. In ascending a ladder, if you stop you surrender the top, and if there be no advance your energy flags; there is no fresh exertion of power, and there is weakness in everything. If you observe yourself and all the saints with whom you are acquainted, you will remark that it is the highest truth, and of course its practical effect, which is always surrendered first.

The excesses are abundant. The fact of the man Moses having gone away, and "we wot not what is become of him", was Israel's excuse for breaking the first and greatest of the commandments; Exodus 32. Samuel not having come is Saul's excuse for forcing himself to be a priest; 1 Samuel 13:12, 13. Many a true-hearted one in the present day has stopped short, like Jacob at Shalem. They have learned the true standing; they have tasted of the power of Christ, the new name; but losing sight of the aim of their calling, the goal of it, they have looked for something in the place where emphatically they were called to be pilgrims and strangers, and there is no progress, but great sorrow. The loss to souls is not so much that they have not reached in spiritual power the point where God has set them, but that the eye is not set on it, like the eye of the racer on the goal. They do not see the mark and lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset them, in order to reach it. It is not at the height, when reached, that the power of the Spirit of God begins, but when I am moving on in the line in which He moves, for He leads on according to the purpose of God. He presents nothing lower to me than the crown, which is really His own point; and the moment the eye of my soul is set on it in purpose of heart, He succours and invigorates me. From the moment the children of Israel began to "go up to the mountain, and bring wood" for the temple, their blessing began. "From this day will I bless you" is the happy

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known experience of every soul that has turned his eye to the height to which God has called him. As the double portion of the Spirit comes from the ascended One to the one whose eye rests on Him (see 2 Kings 2), so does the energy of the Spirit now meet and succour every one who, however reduced, looks up and acknowledges the aim of God's purpose, like Daniel, who from a window in Babylon turned his eye to Jerusalem, though it was in ruins.

When the remnant returned from captivity, both in Ezra's time and in Nehemiah's, they celebrated the feast of tabernacles; they rose to the height of God's thoughts about them. Timothy's strength was in continuing in what he had learned and had been assured of; 2 Timothy 3. When the church is at its lowest point, the offer of Christ to every saint is the highest. "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me". If we are not on the line where the power is, we cannot enjoy it; but the moment we enter on that line, that moment the power and favours are ours and known to us. Many are booked for the journey who do not travel on that line. The moment you have faith in God's purpose you are in the power of the Spirit of God, and all the opposition has been surmounted. A ticket gives the right to travel; but many a one with this right does not accept the line for which he is booked, and commit himself simply to the Spirit of God to convey him to the terminus according to the will of God. The right to go, and really going, are two very different things. I am safely carried where I bid farewell to everything, and consign myself simply and wholly to the purpose of God, the height to which He has called me; and the same power which will carry me to the top is that which enables me to take the first step. But the first step must be with the purpose to reach the top, or you are the slothful man that will not roast what he took in hunting.

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Many a one admires and covets eminence and distinction, who will not begin at the first step and steadily work his way up to it. It is the honour of the position that is before his mind, and not the qualification for it. The sons of Zebedee longed to sit, one on the right hand and the other on the left, with Christ in glory. They admired the place; and the Lord does not discourage them, but challenges them thus: "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?" That is to say, are they willing to walk in the path, to endure the suffering that would qualify them for such an eminence? Every man in himself is a part of the system of the world, and hence, if he would influence any in it, or be superior to it, he cannot do so truly except as he has been influenced and is superior to it himself. The extent and force in himself individually is the real measure and force of what he can effect in others. If we bear in mind the alienation of man's heart from God, and that there is no reconciliation but through the cross, we cannot fail to see that no one can be a witness for God except as he is master in himself of the enmity which he rebukes. He has to learn the power of the cross in himself before he can press it on others. How could he know what to insist on, or what its value or importance, unless he has known in himself the virtue of it? Every saint of God is only effective in service according to the nature of the divine discipline to which he has been subjected. I admit that the word of God has been blessed to souls, though uttered by those who are not witnesses, nor in any way a model of the word which they have uttered. God is sovereign in using His word, and in such cases, though there be life, they are as orphans without a parent or nurse to lead them on. The witness, on the other hand, is a representative of the truth which he enunciates, and in

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order to be this, he himself must first be formed by it. He shows what the truth which he preaches would do or effect in a man, and that is a witness. In order to be this, he must first be superior to the working of the will in himself, and thus be an exemplar in his own person of the truth which he proclaims. There is no true way of persuading others, but as one can show the effects in himself. The parent birds induce, encourage and instruct their young how to fly by showing them how they themselves can fly. The child learning to write copies the head-line; so it is in everything. Nothing so damages the testimony as the truths presented producing no effect on the preacher, because this intimates that there is no power in the truth; for if there were, would it not show itself in the possessor? In ordinary things it would be hard to persuade a man that a certain thing in my possession would have a particular effect on him and on every one if they possessed it, which evidently it had not on myself. Nothing can be simpler than that, as the grace of God has been received, there must be the influence and effect on myself, before I can be a witness of it to others. The contrary would produce infidelity in myself. Were I to receive a truth from Scripture which did not produce any effect on me, who am naturally ignorant of and adverse to it, how could I with a good conscience press it and enlarge on it to others? I may have read of its effects, but if I have not tasted of its virtues, I cannot insist on them without either wounding and spoiling my own conscience, or doing so in such an intellectual parrot-like manner that it will produce nothing better than myself. So that, whether for others or for myself, it is necessary that I should be influenced by the truth before I attempt to influence others.

When I have received a truth which can effect and influence others, it is plain that it must first influence myself because it reaches me first. You could not expect a light set up in your own house to afford a light to your

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neighbours if it was insufficient to give light in the circle nearest to it. "I believed, therefore have I spoken" is the only moral course. If what I teach does not produce an effect on myself, how can I expect it to produce one on others? If light makes no impression on me, how can I have any confidence in urging it on those around me, who are in every way of the same nature as myself? But if I know that it has had a great and marked effect on myself, I am encouraged and earnest in pressing it on others. Every servant of God suffers first in himself, before he is a witness or a guide. Moses not only surrendered the highest position and glories in Egypt, but he was tested in the wilderness as to the genuineness of his surrender for forty years, before he was called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. He knew the exercise and surrender of the one, and the strangership and toil of the other. No one could taunt him with ignorance of or inconsistency with what he preached and insisted on. He had broken from the attractions of Egypt, and he had endured the sorrows of the wilderness; and he is qualified to lead the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness.

Joshua carries the grapes from Eschol, and endures forty years in the wilderness before he leads the people into the land. He did not require them to take a course unknown to himself. The wilderness had not weakened in his soul his sense of the glories of the land, it only proved the depth of it; for the feeling that abides constant to that which produces it, under prolonged discouragement, is that which has taken full possession of the heart. Moses leads out of Egypt; Joshua leads into the land. Each was fitted by God, in his own personal history, for the service and testimony which he discharged; he was the model in himself of the course and manner which he called on others to be -- the head-line to the rest.

David, after he is anointed king, endures every kind of suffering, is reduced to every strait, hunted like a

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partridge on the mountains; and he ascends the throne acquainted with all the trials of the powerless and destitute. Peter learns first the worthlessness of everything in the presence of God (Luke 5), and then the weakness of himself in the presence of man's power, before he is fit to strengthen his brethren; Luke 22:32. Paul can say, "Be ye followers of me". Could anything that he taught lead to a more distinct course than what was seen in himself? He was Moses and Joshua combined; he was so severed from the power of the world, and so filled with the glory of Christ, that he could call on the saints to look on him as an example of the truth he pressed, as he says, "Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day", 1 Corinthians 4:11 - 13.

But besides this, if I have not subdued or overcome the flesh in myself, I cannot be superior to it in contact with others; and here again I must be a victor before I can be a witness. The flesh, the evil principle of self-will, is all around me; unless it is subdued in myself I cannot contend with it, or I should find that in myself which turns against me, and co-operates with those whom I seek to oppose. I cannot war against the Canaanites, and at the same time be in union or confederacy with them. And this is the real cause of the timidity of saints to testify of Christ, as well as of the small and imperfect testimony in us all. The fact of a man being able to cut off his right hand, or to put out his right eye, if it offends or hinders him, is evidence that he is possessor of a new power or principle of existence. Otherwise, as a kingdom divided against itself, it could not stand. The great proof that Israel would be able to overcome all the seven nations, was that they had crossed the Jordan. "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among

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you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites" -- the whole seven; Joshua 3:10. If I have learned the power of God in myself and for myself as dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2), then I can use that power against Satan and his tools; Ephesians 6. I know the virtue of the power in myself first; and as I do, I can speak of what it can do, and trust to it accordingly. Otherwise it would be as Saul's armour to David; he could not use what he had not proved, and hence he preferred the stones of the brook, which he was used to.

I must suffer in the flesh (see 1 Peter 4), which is personal, before I can be reproached for the name of Christ. I must be as Christ before I can suffer for Him. I must free myself of the link to the world before I can stand for Christ in it.

The faithful captives in Babylon declined to eat of the king's meat or to drink the king's wine, and thus they were prepared to endure the king's fire. If I cannot deny in myself the things of the world which foster my flesh, I cannot endure the persecution of the world. If there be not by the Spirit a mortifying of my members (Colossians 3:5), when affliction and persecution arise for the word's sake, immediately there is offence. The testimony fails because there is no root, no known sense of the power of God overcoming the desires of the flesh and of the mind. There is nothing to rely on in the face of the enemy if the soldier has not learned by personal drill to have confidence in himself; that is grace in practice. A man who is not a soldier in heart is never one in action; and if he will not submit to the irksomeness of daily drill, he will find himself unskilful, unwieldy, and discomfited when charged by the enemy. The word of wisdom is, "Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field [in private]; and afterwards build thine house", that is, that which is visible to everyone.

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Man has ruined himself, and through grace his only help is in Jesus Christ the Son of God; and as he receives light and grace, he leaves the one and cleaves to the other. There is the sense of deficiency and need in himself, and the certainty of having found in Another that which he requires. And as this double knowledge increases, so does his devotedness increase towards the One who has met his need and ruin; and without this double knowledge there can be no devotedness in man toward God, because man is a sinner and lost. The Son came into the world to seek and to save that which is lost. As I know that I am lost in my first estate, and that the Son of God has come and is my Saviour, so am I drawn to Him; I could not be otherwise. Devotedness is more a necessity than a duty. A drowning man is devoted to the lifeboat, which is his only means of safety. I am devoted to Christ as I learn, first, how He meets my need, and secondly, how superior He is to everything and every one. The heart likes to be devoted to the one who commands its affections. Thus there are two kinds of devotedness, both true, but the one greatly in advance of the other. The first, which for distinction I call the lesser devotedness, is produced by the conviction that in myself I am lost as to my state and nature, but that Christ is my Saviour. This is known in measure by every happy saint. The second, or the greater devotedness, is produced when, in addition to the knowledge that Jesus is my Saviour, I find that everything I need or could value is in Him, that He is superior to everything in myself, and that He imparts to me of Himself. As I seek Him because of this, my devotedness is of the highest order. He is more to me personally than I could be to myself. It is not only that I delight to make little of myself in

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order to make much of Him, which is true where there is any real devotedness; but I suffer in order to be with Him, losing myself for Him, my heart, glad of the exchange, enduring all things, counting all things but loss, that He may be my gain. It is mercy or the greatest favour -- that of a Saviour to a lost sinner -- which produces the lesser devotedness; but it is the knowledge of the Saviour Himself, in all His personal attractiveness, which produces the greater.

Now every happy saint is more or less characterised by the lesser devotedness. Where a soul is really assured that Christ is his Saviour -- that He has given His life a ransom for him, that He has destroyed the power of the devil -- then his heart is drawn to Him. The sense of rescue so fills the heart that the Saviour commands all one's attention and delight. The Saviour has the first place; the one thought is to distinguish Him by gifts, to expend one's possessions on Him. Like Jonathan; when he saw the head of Goliath in David's hand, his soul was knit to the soul of David; he felt David was his saviour, and he forthwith, before all the army, stripped himself, and put all on David. We read in 1 Samuel 18:3, 4: "Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle". Jonathan then had no personal acquaintance with David, and we find that, though so very distinguished for the lesser devotedness, he never reached the greater devotedness; he could not suffer for and with him.

Now the woman in Luke 7 is a very remarkable example of the lesser devotedness, which she expresses in the strongest and most touching manner. She believes that Jesus is her Saviour, and, cost her what it may as to her feelings, she determines to reach Him, and to express her love to Him. At personal sacrifice she makes much of Him, and this is the mark of true devotedness.

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Love likes to make much of its object at its own expense. She was drawn to Him as her Saviour only; and the more she felt her sins -- as with everyone -- the more she thought of the Saviour, and delighted His heart in anointing His feet and making Him an object of consideration. This, as I have said, is only the lesser devotedness, though a most beautiful and striking instance of it. I do not say that she would not have reached on to the greater; but it is evident that her devotedness was produced by the sense of what Jesus was to her as a Saviour, as the Lord says of her, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much"; and though there is much self-sacrifice in this -- the lesser devotedness -- it does not go beyond a certain point. It would, as we have seen, lead a Jonathan to strip himself for David, but it would not lead him to follow David in his rejection. It is produced by the gain and benefit which the sinner receives from the Saviour, and does not go beyond a surrender of what one possesses. It is real and beautiful as far as it goes, but the expression of the heart never goes beyond the nature of the thing which has moved it, for if it did, it would not be true to itself. It is the immense, unequalled service of the Saviour to the lost one which has touched the heart of the lost one, and led it in delight to make much of Him who has from love done it such service; and the heart, in answer thereto, devotes the possessions it values to Him who is now more to it than any possession. It has reached this point, that He is better to it than anything it has hitherto owned, and therefore what it owns it devotes to Him. It is what Christ has done for us, as it was what David had done for Jonathan, which has won the heart; and the heart in return feels that He is before any other thing which it possesses, and therefore it passes the chief possession over to Him. This is the lesser devotedness, and very few get up to it fully.

Now the greater devotedness is produced by a

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knowledge, not only of what Christ has done, but of what He is -- a personal knowledge of Himself. And in proportion as one reaches to this, there is perfect devotedness. As a sinner I could not know Him personally until I had first known Him as my Saviour. But having known Him as my Saviour, when the heart gets acquainted with Him personally, there is another kind of devotedness; not giving up of possessions merely, but a giving up of oneself, the heart delighting to be with Him; and though it be only through suffering, it prefers the path of suffering with Him to any other. It is really fellowship with His sufferings, because there is no other path here. It is a widely different thing which produces this kind of devotedness.

Knowledge of the greatest service which could be rendered to me produces the first; knowledge of the heart and ways of the greatest Person, the One who has rendered the service, produces the other. There is nothing really satisfying to the heart but the knowledge of a heart full of the deepest and truest interest, while perfect and holy in all its tenderness and care; and this we find only in Christ. The Son of God has walked here as a Man, and made Himself familiar with every trial and difficulty which a godly one could encounter here. And as my heart gets acquainted with Him, as I see the perfection of His life, the depth of His interests and love in the holy manner of all His ways, and the supreme beauty of His movements in everything, my heart turns with delight to Him, boasts in Him as the one perfect Man before God, hastens to refuse and repudiate everything of the man and the scene here where He was refused, and knows no joy, values no possessions but Himself. All else is dross. To have Him as gain is the one only thought and interest of the devoted saint. In the lesser devotedness it is one's own possessions which are surrendered as the expression of devotedness; but in the greater devotedness, the one thought is to possess Him, and for this self with

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everything is surrendered. In the one case I have received the greatest and I return my greatest. In the other I abandon everything of time. I leave myself and the earth, to possess Him who in Himself captivates and commands the affections of my heart. The lesser looks to my own side to give to Him; the greater looks to Him to supplant everything on my own side. The greater is not produced by knowing only what Christ had done. It cannot be without knowing what He is. Nothing but association and intimacy with Him personally can lead into this. He comes to my side and walks with me in my sorrow, as He did with Mary; and until He does this, whatever one may hear of Him or read of Him, one can never know the tenderness or the nature of His heart. Unless one has been in the depth of sorrow and death-darkness, one cannot know the touching expression of His love, or what He is at a moment when no one else can even come near me. To know Him there -- His step, His tears, His sympathy, the greatest the companion of the weakest, His heart told out in my sorrow -- binds my heart to Him in a way that acquaintance with Him in joy never could. And hence, like Mary, the social scene at Bethany (John 12:1), though an unequalled one on earth, is overlooked by her, and she passes to what is before Him. She would bear Him company; she anoints His body for the burial -- she connects everything with His tomb. The best and most beautiful things here detain her not; they have lost all interest for her. In act as well as in spirit, she suffers with Him. The shadow of His death rests on everything, and she follows Him to the tomb. "Against the day of my burying hath she kept this", It is not surrendering things merely, but all that makes life charming is waived, and with the thing most fragrant to her here; she would accompany Him to the tomb. It is with Himself that she is interested, not merely with the benefit she has received from Him. True, it was the assured and deepened

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knowledge of this which bound her heart to Him first, but then it is a greater thing when His own personal excellence binds and directs the heart and its actions, It was thus Ruth followed Naomi, not when there was anything to gain by accompanying her, but when all was lost, to be a fellow-pilgrim of one who now exchanges the name Naomi for Marah. Ruth could gain nothing for herself, save the simple, peculiar satisfaction of being with the one she loved. This alone satisfies the heart of the truly devoted one, and this is devotedness of the highest order. This is its mark -- a readiness to suffer anything in order to secure personal company. "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", In the lesser devotedness one does everything ostensibly to make Christ known as the one thief Object of the heart. In the greater devotedness the heart seeks nearness to Him, and to be in His path, whatever it may be, no matter, so that He is there. It is not in order that it may give to Him, but that it may sit under His shadow with great delight -- in a word, that He may be the "gain". The one gives up valued things to distinguish Him as the Object; the other abandons everything, endures every sacrifice to be in company with Him, to win Him. The first assuredly can grow into the other, but the measure of our grace is declared as we are in either.


The strength or reliability of a chain depends on its weakest link. If there be one weak link, though all the rest be good and strong, yet when the pull comes, the weak one is the measure of its strength. In everyone there is some tendency or passion stronger than another, and in it the force or wilfulness of one's nature is

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betrayed. Many do not know what it is, and in general, without intention it is systematically concealed. In the transparency of childhood it is seen, but few in mature years candidly admit their ruling passion; of course it is selfishness in some form or another; in it lies the most of one's will, and the strength of nature. And hence, while it is at that point that it is most necessary there should be "suffering in the flesh", yet it is there also that naturally every effort is used to preserve it. Hence, there is on the one hand the purpose of God through grace to mortify it, and on the other hand the energy of the flesh to save it. Nay, more, everything will often be attempted, or even suffered, in order to screen or excuse this idol; for idol it is, as is everything which commands the heart and energies more than God.

With everyone there is something that is as dear to him as his own life; it may be his reputation, his position, his money, some self-gratification, and he strains every nerve to secure it.

Now the discipline to which every saint walking with the Lord is subjected would best teach him what his ruling passion or idol is, for on that particular thing the Lord is always bringing death in one form or another. On the one side there is the energy of the flesh, striving to preserve as it were its sovereign; as on the other hand there is the Lord, dealing in one way after another, in order to check, weaken, and suppress this strong hold of the flesh. Many a one might suppose that he had no particular wilfulness, and possibly from his nature and habits you might never discover it. But, if we observe the nature and character of God's dealings with us, we shall surely find it out; and if we were truly to submit to the correction and what it aims to effect, there would be a happy sense of deliverance, or at least a sure conviction of why it was sent, which saints often know nothing of; and there would therefore be a guarding against it. If there be a desire in the corner of my heart which I

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have not ventured even to acknowledge to myself, the nearer I am to the Lord, the sooner I shall find it out. But as we see with Paul on his return from the third heaven, he does not know the tendency or lurking desire in his own nature until he is awakened to inquiry because of the thorn in the flesh. The ruling passion, though often suppressed and almost mortified in one set of circumstances, is sure to spring up in a new set, which in some way favours its recurrence. So that in every set of circumstances there must be mortification in order to preserve one from loss and damage. It is where the flesh is most active that it is most necessary that death should first supervene; and to this God's dealings with the soul are always directed. Now if His dealings be resisted, and though there be, for years even, a disguising of the taste and will, yet if it has not been mortified, and the chastening of the Lord not bowed to, it will find its opportunity; and that man's sin finds him out. See Moses warning to the two and a half tribes in Numbers 32:23.

There is not a sufficient sense in souls of the present righteousness of God, and that by Him actions are weighed. There is too much the feeling that if they escape at the time with impunity, there is an end of it. Now if we observe our own histories, and know that of others well, we shall find that now He judgeth according to man's work. If I am screening my flesh, and despising the rebuking of the Lord, I shall suddenly be cast down, and that without remedy.

The first thing that a saint learns, though he may not always be able to define it, is that there is that in him which lusts against the Spirit. He may not be able to discern the peculiar form of the flesh as to desire; but the moment he is in any way sensible of a new nature, he is also made sensible that he has no power in himself to act according to its instincts. Good desires are not effectual, that is, they cannot subdue the flesh, nor can they make it yield to them. The

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Spirit of God is the only power to render good desires effectual. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The resistance or inability which the saint first finds in himself to act as the new nature desires, shows him the strength of the flesh -- its idol or ruling passion. It necessarily fears to be dislodged, and when a new mind is implanted, it at once seeks to resist and to continue its own sway. The plague of one's own heart is the hardest to subdue and to be relieved from, and therefore it is the first and foremost in asserting its claim. As I have said, I do not think a saint can say at first what it is, but he is painfully aware that there is something which resists, and if this covetousness or idolatry were mortified, there would be relief. I do not say that he at once comes to this conclusion, but I say that when he does, he finds relief. Seeing then that on my own side there is the consciousness of opposition, though I may not be able to state definitely what particular form of selfishness it is, I find that God in His dealings and discipline with me is ever and anon checking me in some way that I feel very much. Of course I feel most where I have most flesh. Now there are two things which indicate what the ruling passion is. One is the resistance in myself to the grace of God, and the other, the pain I suffer from the discipline to which I am subjected. Now the Spirit of God would always prove His power, and teach me how to walk under this twofold schooling. He first lusts against the flesh, that is, He would give it no tolerance, would act right in opposition to it, and would use the chastening to break down the flesh, so that His victory might be complete. A saint walking in the Spirit would set himself to resist that which was gratifying to his flesh. The fact of its being self-gratification would be enough to make him refuse it, for that is evidence enough of its danger and of its nature. He would not seek occasions of self-suffering; but when selfish considerations were presented to him, this would be enough to show that

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it was to be opposed, and that wherever any dealing of God was most felt, whether as to one's feelings or in any other way, there one would lay it to heart, and see that the flesh was working there, and that the chastening was sent for this end. Now if the saint walks in the Spirit, he will be kept in this healthful exercise; but if, on the other hand, he refuses, like Peter, the counsel of the word, he will at length be exposed to circumstances for which he was unprepared; and then, on warming himself at the fire (Mark 14:54, 67), his sin will find him out. Peter liked to lead, and was called on to lead, but he must be broken down in nature before he is fit to be Christ's vessel.

It is only as we walk in the Spirit that we do not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. The Spirit is the only power to save us from the inroads of the flesh. In every step and in every new circumstance -- and every day there is quite a new set of circumstances -- I shall be unprepared unless I am walking in the Spirit, and my sin will find me out if I do not depend on God in my weakness. Abram finds out that he has no faith to stay in the land when there is a famine there; but in his weakness he learns to depend, and when he is restored and returns there, he gives Lot his choice of the whole land. Now Lot, on the contrary, has not judged himself for his weakness, and therefore he seeks what gratifies himself, the green fields; and though he is chastened, and affliction comes upon him from the very place where he has settled -- for he is taken captive and his goods carried away -- yet he will not bow to the rebuke, but hardens his neck; and in the long run his sin finds him out.

We have little idea how we despise the chastening of the Lord, how we refuse to drop the idol that is set up in our hearts; and it is often years afterwards that the exposure comes, and always to the penitent heart with this conviction: 'I was warned of this before, I have been rebuked and chastened with respect to this

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very thing long before'. The word, as at the first in Eden, is always surrendered for self-gratification; and if in an innocent state, how much more when there is a will and an evil spirit to support one in an evil path. Peter disregarded the word, not intentionally, but because he did not think of it. Lot was heedless of his calling; it was not before his heart and mind, but his present advantage.

There are three classes of saints. One class who never attempted or intended to give up the world -- these really fall in the wilderness; another class, who, like Abram, have, though failing, persistently and faithfully pursued a path of separation and a heavenly walk; and a third, those who began well, but, like Lot, were drawn away by some present gain. With this latter class I am chiefly concerned in this paper. As to the first, their whole ways declare what they are. It is no excuse for a saint to say, I never gave up the world in its refinements, its dress, its arts, etc. Such a one's sin has found him out; he has not faith to enter the land, to walk as a heavenly man. The second class are kept by the power of God, "faint, yet pursuing"; and as to the third, however fair or promising their start, like a hunted hare they return to the field from which they were driven; they get back to the worldliness, the dress, or whatever it be, which they had never truly condemned, and which had always a shrine in their hearts; and their sin finds them out. Thus we can account for ill-assorted marriages, unsuitable companions, and all such things. The tendency of our nature is ministered to and countenanced. The link is formed through that which gratifies us selfishly, and not with that which would really aid us. Thus people find themselves in associations and circumstances that at one time they had vehemently denounced. The fullest knowledge of our standing and the deepest exercise of soul as to it will not preserve us if the word of our calling be overlooked. Jacob has returned to the

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land; he is right as to his standing; he has passed through the night of wrestling and received the name Israel; and yet, because he has not judged his ruling passion, to think and provide for himself contrary to his calling he settles at Shalem, and sorrow and evil overtake him; Genesis 34.

The real measure of a man's strength, that is of his dependence on God, comes out some day; and it often happens, sad though it be, that it is not brought to light till his death-bed, and then a controversy takes place before the unclouded light of the Lord's presence fills and gladdens the soul.

The Lord teach us to watch unto prayer, quietly waiting on Him, assured in heart that His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men, and that in due season we shall reap if we faint not. But on the other hand, it will be manifested on every side, and with regard to every one, that "he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption".


The inability of many, even true-hearted saints, to see the truth of God -- that which others see and regard with deep and reverent interest -- is a painful anomaly, and the cause of it claims our earnest inquiry.

The first great truth for every learner is that there is no power in the natural mind to form any conception of the things of God. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him"; and it is only in His light that we see light. It is important to bear in mind that it is not enough for the truth to be communicated to us from without, but that the mind within must be first given for the reception of it, as we read "the renewing (that is, entire newness) of your mind". The most beautiful truth would have as little effect on the natural mind

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as the most beautiful music on a man without an ear for it. The latter hears sounds, even pleasant sounds, but the charm of music, the real melody of it, is unknown to him; and so it is with the natural mind as to the truth of God. No persuasive description can enable the natural mind to see a divine beauty. There is no power in man to see that which is most beautiful, even though presented in the fairest colours, and reaching to all his need. The crucifixion of Christ proved that there is really no taste in man for what is divinely beautiful. To see it there must be a taste, a capacity for it; and this is the new mind. Thus it is evident that the light must begin from within, and that if there be not the work of the Spirit there, no opening of the word, however striking or impressive, will be truly received or appreciated.

But then the question arises, Why do some saints see truths in Scripture and delight in them, while others remain quite in darkness as to them? Now though every saint has the mind of Christ, and thus the capacity for receiving the truth of God, there is not in all the mind prepared for it and susceptible of the beauty of it; and there must be this before he can really appreciate it. Of course the mind is increased by culture and exercise, but there must be a measure of taste or fitness of mind for the truth before it can be appreciated or comprehended. If in natural men it is necessary that they possess a quality or a taste before they can judge of it elsewhere, how much more needful is it that a saint should be prepared by newness of mind for truth entirely new to him. It is to him that hath that more is given. Every one receives only as he is prepared to receive. There is the budding of the desire for the truth, or the state fit for it, before it is communicated. One must be ready or waiting for it. Abraham was prepared for it, when in retirement at Mamre the Lord appeared unto him and told him, not only the time of Isaac's birth, but of the judgment

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of Sodom. He says, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? ... For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him", Genesis 18. The Lord here is confiding His mind to one previously fitted to receive it.

Jacob was prepared for it when he was reduced to a pillow of stone, friendless and alone; Genesis 28. The vision of the ladder reaching to heaven and the Lord standing above it is presented to him when he is in a state to appreciate it. "The meek will he teach his way". There is a state of soul suited to the truth presented, and unless there is, there will be no appreciation of it.

Moses was prepared for it, when, after having been in the mount forty days, and having seen the perverseness and idolatry of Israel, he says, "Shew me thy glory", Exodus 33. This is the preparation of heart, and the very circumstances call forth the appreciation and the sense of need.

Mary Magdalene, in John 20, was more fitted for the revelation of the new standing than any of the disciples, not because she knew more, but her personal devotedness to the Lord prepared and fitted her for the communication. Peter and John were with her at the same place, but they were not so intent or fixed in heart on the Lord as she was; and therefore she received more than they. She suffered most to find Him, and she gained the most. "He that seeketh findeth". And this is the nature of the preparation. There is a drawing to it, or a taste for it, like Zacchaeus desiring to see Jesus; he climbs up into a tree because Jesus was to pass that way. There was an earnest desire, ignorant indeed, but it attests its genuineness by the way it suffers, and this is always abundantly answered. The Lord says, "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house".

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Now where there is this divine preparation, there is really no place for the natural mind; such an one has been reduced to self emptiness, all his own efforts in nature are at an end. In one way or the other he is "meek"; either he has reached the end of his own resources in seeking for the Lord, or the Lord has driven him into a position where he has no power or human resources, and therefore the mind of the Lord comes to him in its simplicity and power. Now where there is not this preparation, the natural mind assumes to comprehend the things of God, and when permitted, the consequence is that the divine idea in the truth is reduced to a human level, and this is the real state of things! There is not the ear or the taste, but there is a self-assumed one, which perverts the truth and distorts it to the level of its own capacity, just as a child would judge of a great astronomical discovery; only with this difference, that in the mind of the child there might be some sense of the beauty of the novelty, whereas there can be no such sense as to the truth, in so far as the natural mind is acting. The state for receiving the truth is therefore when the natural mind is suppressed, when one is really "meek". The light of God can be only seen in His own light, and hence, any one seeing or desiring to see it, must either in his search for it come to the end of himself, or be placed in circumstances where the natural mind can have no voice. The diligent soul is made fat. "If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God". There is no possibility of learning God's mind but from God's point of view, and hence there must be a setting aside of everything on our side, in order that there should be no obstruction or impediment. In the present day the general impression is that every saint is in a state to receive any truth -- that is, that the truth

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can be received without any preparation, that one can sit and hear, or read, and possess; that there is no need for much seeking or meditation; that truth is more easily learned than a problem in Euclid. There is little or no learning for oneself; there is an acceptance of what comes to hand among one's fellows, of what every one admits, and there is more attention to subjects than to the state of the mind, or its ability to comprehend them. For example, almost every saint has formed his mind, or assumes that be has, on the church question, that is, he has subscribed directly or indirectly to some accepted order of things. He has heard it all well spoken of, and he rests satisfied that it is as good as can be under the circumstances. He accepts the points for his adoption, because they are commendably presented; and if he comes to examine for himself, he addresses himself to the examination, not as from God's side, and hence in accordance with the mind of Christ, but from his own side; he judges of it naturally, and hence reduces the divine idea of the church, or any other truth, to a human level. Now, when a truth has been reduced to the level of the natural mind, it has lost its power, and this is the greatest artifice of Satan in the present day.

The first lesson for the saint is that, as he has a new mind, he must clear away everything which would cloud or hinder it, in order that it may act freely and fully. "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God". If you are conformed to this age in anything, in that thing you hinder a clear perception of the truth, and this accounts for the partial way in which saints receive truth. Very few complete the circle, and all because something of this age comes in to interfere with the light. There is a dark part. There must be the cultivation of the new mind as well as the clearing away of all obstacles. It is not merely to clear the land of weeds,

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but there is also the cultivation of the good plant which has been introduced into the soil. There is therefore the transforming by the renewing of the mind. The mind is the kingdom; the taste is first secured, and then it is nurtured by presenting to it the endless beauties set forth in the word of God. As an artist improves and perfects his taste by studying the best masters, so does the new mind grow and advance by studying the beauty of Christ in all His ways. If there were none of this world in us, we should see alike about everything as far as we had grown; John 17:21. The taller tree of course commands a wider circle than the shorter one, but then it only embraces more than the shorter one, not differently. The range of the taller includes all that of the shorter, but there is no difference except in age, experience and progress. It is easy to see how the influence of this world, especially in religious matters, warps the saints, even the most devoted. Paul, though otherwise advised by the Spirit, would go to Jerusalem. God in His mercy turned it all to blessing, because Paul was honest of heart and ready to suffer for Christ. Peter, fearing certain who came from James, declined to eat as he had hitherto done with the gentiles. If the greatest fail, we do well to be on our guard.

In almost every place there are some saints who hold the great truths in the word and see great beauty in them, while others think them either imagination or fanaticism. How can we account for this discrepancy but by the fact that one has the divine idea in him, and that the word reaches him and instructs him, while the other is so hampered or clogged by this age that he has not a prepared heart for the mind of God, he is not in a state to receive it. It is only near the Lord that the "good ground" (Matthew 13:23) is acquired, and as it is acquired, there is an ear for more, as there is a sense that nothing will suit it but what is according to its own order. When I have seen anything in God's

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light, I crave to see everything there as I enjoy it; and I learn to count all things loss, and to leave everything in order to acquire it. I show that I value it by my zeal and suffering in order to acquire it. I give not sleep to mine eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I have reached the desire awakened in my heart. In the sanctuary, as we see with the psalmist in Psalm 73, everything takes quite a new colour; nay, the very opposite colour to that which is presented to him when regarded from man's sphere. If every one of our opinions were acquired and formed in the Lord's presence in the sanctuary, apart from human colouring, we should have His mind about everything. There would indeed be many degrees of progress; but what each one had reached would only be part of what the most advanced had attained to; there cannot be two ways of singing the same tune.

In conclusion, two things are evident; one, that we cannot see a truth in Scripture rightly but as we see it in God's light; and the other, that we must be in a state ourselves to receive it practically. The latter is the preparation for receiving it, and hence, though one may sometimes hear a truth before he needs it, or possesses it practically, yet, if he is really to receive it, he will surely be placed in circumstances where he can truly understand it; for he cannot rightly or with power speak of it till then, for it is not rightly his until it has controlled him, and he cannot press it controllingly on others until he has been controlled by it himself.


In a world of evil, man, when naturally susceptible to it, is continually under it, and therefore anyone who would help him can only do so by delivering him from its pressure. Now we find that there is a certain sense of need and a desire for deliverance in many before it

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comes. God in His unchanging mercy raises up labourers here and there to render the desired help, and it is well for us to ascertain on what their usefulness and real service depends. Is it on human energy or on the simplicity of their obedience to Christ? It is not because the labourer has not a true purpose and heart for the Lord that he drops into the natural or heroic line, but because he is not simply subject to the word of God and the control of the Spirit. The pressure exists, the deliverance is needed, the earnest labourer tries to effect it, either by human means or simply by the Spirit of God. The point for us to consider is the difference between a service done in a human way, and the same done in the leading of the Spirit. In a scene of evil there must be pressure, though at times, from carelessness, as with Israel in the times of the judges, it reaches a greater height, and thus it is more manifest the way in which every labourer seeks to help. The greater the pressure, the deeper the darkness into which the people of God have fallen, the more distinct and palpable are the lines of action of every leader who is set on delivering them. There has never been a revival of truth, an awakening of souls for the pure word of God, that the leaders in the movement have not more or less been drawn away from the path of Christ to the human line. There is a true energy of the Spirit abroad. The Lord gives the word, and great is the company of those who publish it, but the wile of the devil is to induce the labourer to consider for the people more than for the Lord. Aaron, when he had made a golden calf in consideration for the people, is an extreme and fearful example of how one in the greatest eminence can be deluded when he turns his eye from God. A wile or by-path is very specious; it runs so near and so like the right one that its real snare lies in the difficulty to discover it. Now the servant of Christ, while always for the Lord, devotes all his energies to the good of man; he is really set entirely for man's blessing; but

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he begins with Christ and knows no blessing for man outside of or apart from Christ. This is a servant of Christ.

Yet a labourer, though really gifted of God with the truth in his heart, is ensnared and diverted from the path of Christ when, regarding the state of the people, he allows himself to act with respect to it merely, and not simply according to the word of the Lord. Thus it was with King Saul when he offered the burnt offering because he saw that the people were scattered from him; 1 Samuel 13:12, 13.

A leader among men does not originate the state of things in which he is foremost, he merely gives it a head in himself. It is not possible for man to introduce anything entirely new; he may discover things hitherto unknown, and he may introduce new combinations of known things; it is only the Spirit of the Lord that can set forth or propound what is entirely new and divinely appropriate in any given crisis. This is really Christ's path, the path of wisdom -- an invisible one; and if the servant he not kept in this path, he descends to the human one, which man commends; and as he is useful therein, he makes a mark on society in improving it, and obtains a name among men; he is a hero or benefactor. First it is admitted that the Lord gives the word, and that great is the company of those who publish it. So far there are many true labourers; but then comes the necessity for caution and waiting on the Lord, lest, though a true labourer in heart, one should be turned to man for the line of action, and not to the Lord simply; that is, man's prudence dictates and defines the manner of serving, and not the Holy Spirit, who is the source of the service itself.

Now the first mark that it is the object of my service which forms my line of action, is that I trust to or use human means to effect or accomplish the service. Unless a labourer walks in faith, has an invisible path, and can introduce something entirely new, he must resort to

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what is at hand, and, like a hero, he gives force and prominence to feelings or wants which he has himself, so that others can co-operate with him. A labourer, with the purest intention, given of God, may resort to human means to accomplish it, for he knows no better; but then it is man that is before his mind and not simply the Lord. His thought is from man upward, instead of from the Lord coming down to man; and this was the case with Moses when he first attempted to deliver Israel. He had a true purpose of heart to deliver the people of Israel from the thraldom of Egypt; but not knowing the Lord's mind, and having the people pre-eminently before his mind, he resorts to the only means at his command, and, hero-like, with his own hand slays the Egyptian. Forty years afterwards when Moses had learned that the Lord is the source of true service, he entered on the purpose of his heart in quite a different way, one entirely new and incomprehensible to man -- one of faith, and thus distinctly of God. In the times of the judges, many human expedients were resorted to in order to effect deliverance, and the Lord favoured each with success, and men were greatly signalised. But when Samuel -- the answer to the cry of faith -- serves, it is by turning to the Lord in prayer. Then a new mode of action with a new form of power is introduced; God and His way of working command one's whole attention: "The Lord thundered ... on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them", 1 Samuel 7:10. The nearer we are to God, the more our work is in divine power, and the less it is in human effort. If one has the heart and purpose to serve, it is plain enough that if he does not know the divine way, he must resort to the human way, and it is not his purpose or his ability which I impugn, but the line of action in which he seeks to effect his true and good intention. When such a one turns to human means in any measure, he drinks of the old wine, and spoils his taste for the new; he has stooped

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to human effort, natural energy, and is unable to understand or see the invisible path of the Spirit of God. And hence the labourer, using human means in any way, persuasive words, sensational appeals, or thrilling anecdotes, either does not know the Lord's mode of action, or, having drunk of the old wine, he does not straightway desire the new, "for he saith, The old is better".

The second mark that the labourer has man pre-eminently before him for his service is that he is occupied with results. It is his success which cheers and approves him, and not the simple fact that he has done the work and will of the Lord, and has His approval irrespective of result. He rejoices when, like the disciples of old, he can say, The devils are subject to us through thy word; he knows nothing of the patient toil of the one who can say, "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought". He is like an Elijah in one day, a John the baptist in another; well nigh confounded when success or open acknowledgment does not accompany his labours. He knows nothing of the service of Paul at Philippi; baffled, hindered, and suffering every way, and yet when, as it were, all hope is gone of service in that place, when he is a prisoner and human energies are at an end, the jailer, broken down by the power of God, falls down before him, crying, "What must I do to be saved?" The brightest time in a servant's career is when, to human eyes, he has no results to show, even as it was with Paul in prison in Rome, or with John in Patmos, for the word of the Lord and the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is only the thoroughly dependent servant that can be entrusted with the arduous service of maintaining for God single-handed against all comers; like Isaiah, who, having found a holy rest in the glory of God, is prepared to descend to the worst state of things in Israel; or like Daniel in Babylon, or Paul before the Roman tribunal. There are Jonahs nowadays pining because their service is

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not successful; and they must learn, as he did, that their only resource is in God.

The third mark is that labourers who do not rise above man as the object of their service never lead souls beyond the benefit of salvation. They are occupied with the need of souls, which is right in itself, but there is a great difference in whether my service is measured or defined by the need of souls, or by the purpose of God in His love. True, if I could not feel for man as man feels it, I could not meet his need; but on the other hand, if I do not see God's purpose in grace, I cannot present the remedy according to the divine measure; I must present the gospel only to meet man's need; I cannot lead the heart of the needy one into the fulness of God's grace, for this I do not see or apprehend for myself. Consequently the fruits of such labour, the converts, though they be true and happy in the assurance of salvation, are not devoted in self-surrender or world surrender, simply because it is not Christ personally who is the joy and object of their hearts, but their own forgiveness. Whereas if the gospel were presented as it is in God's heart and purpose, to meet the need of a lost prodigal, it would lead him, not only from the far country to taste of his father's forgiving love, but to enter on a new and unknown sphere of eternal blessedness within the sacred precincts of His presence; and this can be done by no impressiveness of human effort, but by the Holy Spirit's power alone. The gospel which conducts the soul into the greatest height is the gospel which must have reached the sinner's greatest depth. For nowhere else is seen as in the height of glory, how every speck of sin and every taint of unholiness is swept away in the cross. There is an end there to human things, to man himself, and the new divine path of life is opened out to the soul; and in this the servant of Christ treads, and to this he leads the soul he serves; and a soul once upon it cannot depart from it or bring in the smallest part of

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human effort without proportionate loss and defeat.

The fourth mark is that the labourer who employs the human element is always attractive to men. Man is his object, and he becomes a hero to men. I do not say that at no time are great numbers led together to hear the word of God, but, as at Antioch, it will soon arouse opposition and persecution; Acts 13:50. I merely present the fact that the more popularly the gospel is presented, the larger the attendance and the natural assent to it. A man of eloquence or a man of position preaching the gospel will command a congregation, which a man walking in simple dependence, with neither of those adjuncts, seldom will. The human element suits the human mind, and really there are but the two ways -- man's or God's. Now though God uses the human vessel, body and mind, to convey His mind to man, yet it is always by His Spirit; while even a truly gifted labourer who uses human means to influence man can necessarily never go beyond man, for man cannot advance a man beyond a man. What is of the flesh is flesh: what is of the Spirit is spirit. No one ever served man as the blessed Lord, and no one was ever left so alone and so unacknowledged here. Where the apostle laboured most, there all were turned away from him (2 Timothy 1:15). The master-builder of the church was reduced in his own person to the experience of a solitary man in chains.

May every worker be a servant of Christ, and then he will be the true benefactor, and well pleasing unto the Lord; and may we keep, and encourage one another, in the one only divine path of service.

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Every truth has its own peculiar effect, one which no other truth could produce, any more than one kind of tree could produce the fruit of another. In practice the lack of any truth can be discovered, and even where it has been learned, the measure of its acceptance is tested and disclosed by the way in which it is practised.

The glory of Christ is an admitted truth with every believer, but if we really knew Him in glory, it would impart to us its own mark. We are conversant with man in death and sin and distance from God, for that is our own state by nature; but to know a Man in glory, One in acceptance with God according to all His moral greatness, is new to us and magnificent; and according as we know Him there we become not only superior to, or distanced from, our own state as men, but morally suited to the glory with which we are associated.

It is plain that the Son of God came to earth, born of a woman, born under the law, and lived here a life of perfect obedience, in every detail well-pleasing to God, fully setting forth in His own walk what man should be before God, from His birth to the holy mount, and until He descended to death to bear in Himself the judgment which lay on man, because he had sinned and was not what he ought to be. Thus He suffered, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"; and under the weight of everything which was upon us and against us, He glorified God. The Son of man was glorified at the very moment when our Substitute; the moment of His greatest agony only disclosed the entire and perfect subjection of His heart to God, so that then the Son of man was glorified; God was glorified in Him, and God straightway glorified Him. He claims glory on the ground that He had

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glorified the Father on the earth -- "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (John 17) -- and He has been received up into glory. The cross is the pedestal of the glory.

Now if I do not see that Christ has glorified God under the judgment due to me, I cannot look after Him into the glory of God. I must first see that He encountered all on my side, as we see in Psalm 22, where every obstacle, every form of it, from sin to personal weakness, is encountered by Him; and subsequent to that, or rather following on that, He declares the Father, as He says, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren", verse 22. If He has in His own Person perfectly removed all that man was exposed to, and is now declaring the Father, then, as I know Him in the latter, I not only know Him as my Saviour and Deliverer from all my sin and ruin, but I know Him in new and divine associations, even in relationship with His God and Father, and on the same ground as Himself; as He says to Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God". Hence the effect of knowing Christ in glory is the consciousness, not only of full deliverance from every shade of evil, but of an introduction into a new scene altogether, in company with Him who, having saved me from my own sad order of things, has not stopped there, but has conducted me into His own. Saul of Tarsus passes from being the chief of sinners to the knowledge of a Saviour in the glory of God, who ignores everything of man and presents Himself as the only One to engage his heart. He had through His death on the cross placed Saul's sins in the land of forgetfulness, and now He can present Himself to the chief of sinners as his Saviour in full acceptance in the glory of God.

There is not clear and full deliverance from man's ruin, or conscious admission into the divine order, until one knows Christ in glory. A soul who believes

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that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; one who by faith sees Him bearing judgment on the cross obtains relief for his sins; and when he sees Him raised from the dead, he is assured of his forgiveness; but until he knows Him in glory, which is the expression of God's satisfaction according to His own attributes, he has not the distinct sense of belonging to a Man in glory, and thus being separated from the man on earth, though still in the body. A man might feel himself thoroughly rescued from ruin, and yet, if his surroundings were not altered, he would still connect himself with an order of things in which his ruin occurred; but if he were transferred to the position of his deliverer he would be in an order of things in which no trace of his ruin could appear. One may be fully assured of peace, and yet connect it with earth and the things here; he is rescued from judgment and he knows it, but he rises no further than the completeness of the Saviour's work through death and resurrection, and he still connects all His mercy with the place in which it found him. But if he knows his Saviour in the glory of God, he is not only assured of his own safety, but of his personal acceptance because of God's satisfaction, of which the glory testifies. In order to enjoy God's satisfaction in the Saviour, in the Person who wrought the work, I must be connected with the glory. I may through faith see God's satisfaction about my debt, my sins; but this, though known, requires to be repeated in order to ensure enjoyment and assurance. Whereas when I am connected with the Person who paid my debt, where God's satisfaction is expressed, I am at home and established there. Both speak of satisfaction, but in a very different way. I am assured of my safety, but I connect it with the state of things in which I required it, if I know no other. If I were rescued out of a deep pit, I should be perfectly safe, but I should still be in the place of the pit. If I were in prison for debt and were released because all my debts were paid off by

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another, I should owe nothing, but I should still be in the place in which I had been imprisoned, and withal poor; but if I were transferred to the home and affluence of my deliverer, a very different state would be given to me. No matter what has been done for me, as long as I remain in the place where I needed the mercy, I must connect everything done for me with the place of my need; but if I were transferred to the place and greatness of my Saviour, I should not only rejoice in my salvation but I should enjoy it in a scene where there could be no check or abatement of it. Then I know what is to be accepted in the Beloved, where I am supremely apart from the scene of my ruin. Hence there cannot be a full sense of divine deliverance or of personal acceptance but as I see Christ in glory.

Again, I never become dissociated from earth until I see a Saviour in glory. I may look to God for favour or mercy, but I look for expressions of it in my surroundings instead of in the glory with Christ. Now when I know Christ in the glory I have the consciousness of association with Him, where all is of God, and according to His holiness; I am in a scene where I am not only separated from all evil and sin, but where sin never was, and where the scene of my ruin is morally distanced.

Again, it is as Christ is known in glory that I am His epistle here. As the law was written on stones in the glory, so is Christ now written on the fleshy tables of the heart. It is only there the transforming power is experienced. It is there we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Again, there is no true sense of union, or practical expression of it here, unless I am, through the Spirit, where He is; and hence I cannot walk as He walked, for without Him I can do nothing. Christ could not be formed in us anywhere but in the glory, for otherwise union would refer to where He was, and not where He is, which would have no sense. It

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is as I see Him by faith where He is, and realise my union with Him through the Spirit, that I am empowered by Him to be like Him as He was here, where I am still. I draw from Him in His exaltation, and as I do, I act and walk as He acted and walked when He was here in humiliation, when His heart is made known to me. The thought that one can be like Christ by observing Him in the gospels is at the root an assumption that there is power in oneself to appropriate His perfections without union. The gospel narrative tells me how He walked and loved me, but I am only empowered to follow His steps and understand Him as I am in union with Him. Then I walk as He walked, and His life will be expressed in me in a similar way as it was in Himself on earth.

Again, if Christ be not known in glory there is no ability to rise superior to all that affects one personally, whether it be attraction or suffering. It is "the glory of that light" which alone can eclipse all the light here. It is above the brightness of the sun, and in the light of it I can happily and fully surrender everything of my own. Like the queen of Sheba, I am not only relieved of my own heart-troubles by the wisdom of the greater than Solomon; but when His concerns and glory fill my heart, there is no more spirit in me; I am really devout and I can travel on here with joy unspeakable and full of glory. So also with regard to affliction. When I know Christ in glory, I know that it is but for a moment, and that it worketh for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while I look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen and eternal. Hence, the way Stephen was prepared for the greatest personal suffering, whether we think of those who perpetrated it or of the pain they inflicted, is by the Spirit of God leading him into heaven and showing him the glory of God and Jesus there. In Colossians the apostle prays that they may be "strengthened with all might, according to his

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glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness". Again, Christ in us is the hope of glory, and hence our presentation before God depends on our continuing in the faith and not being moved away from the hope of the gospel.

Again, there is not courage or qualification for service unless I am so at home and at rest in the glory of God that I can face the worst and lowest state of things here. Isaiah is not fitted either by the word or the vision for encountering the ruin of Israel, until he had seen the glory of Christ and learnt his acceptance there; Isaiah 6. When Israel had failed in the wilderness, and Moses was hopeless about everything here, he turned to the Lord with the prayer, "Shew me thy glory". And thus too was it that Saul of Tarsus was prepared to go to the people and to the gentiles from whom he was separated; Acts 26:17.

Again, if Christ be not known in glory how can He be the Object of my heart? how can I count all things but loss for the excellency of Christ? for as I have no union with Him but in His ascension, I cannot make Him my object except where He is; and there also He is my "mark" too, the goal to which I am hastening, where I receive the prize of my calling of God on high.

Lastly, the greatest ornament of the Bride descending from heaven, in Revelation 22, is that she has the glory of God. But I have touched on enough to show the immense gain of knowing Christ in glory. I trust the Lord may awaken us all to the sense of how little we seek to enjoy Him where He is, while the truth in terms is so generally accepted or admitted.


From the beginning of man's history on earth, the body was the principal thing as to his relation with this scene. In the garden of Eden, while there was innocence, it was undying and uncovered; when sin entered, then

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came death on the body; the body thus doomed God clothed with skins, and man was driven out of the garden. Now as there was faith, as divine power worked in anyone, there was an action of the body expressive of faith. "By faith Abel offered", etc. He did a certain act; his body was the agent by which he expressed the power which governed him. Where there was not faith there was no new power. Man used his body as the medium for gratifying his own desires and tastes. Where there was faith there were works, deeds done in the body; otherwise faith would be dead, as the apostle James shows.

It is evident that faith produced works. It compelled the body to act in keeping with its view or sentiment; and hence the work was only an expression or counterpart in act of the power or idea which produced it. Every faith had its own work. But it was the subjection and submission of the body to this power which was the work, and the body was thus the display and the evidence of the faith, as James says, "Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works". The faith was proved by the work which it produced, and thus Abraham was justified when he offered up his son, though forty years before he had the faith for which he was accounted righteous (Genesis 15) and on which Paul insists in Romans 4. The body was safe in innocence; but when sin entered, it was not only subject to death, but led away by divers lusts and passions, except where faith worked; and then, according as the faith ruled, the body became the evidence of it, and this proved its power; otherwise faith was dead. Hence, though the body was, after the fall, the theatre of all the desires of the flesh and of the mind, yet when there was faith, there was palpable proof that the body was under a greater power than the will of the flesh, and that very thing on which sin had entailed death was made to express the efficacy of divine control.

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In innocence the body was according to God's will, but after the fall the will of man became the rule, and it was only as there was faith that the body in which sin dwelt, and which was under the penalty of death, became the expression or exponent of divine power working in it according to the requirement of faith. Thus the body was, like one on horseback, borne along by a power outside itself to a given point; but when again on foot -- when the power ceased to act -- occupying itself with its own pleasure. A certain thing had been done, a great deed performed which proved the mettle of the power which carried it, but the body generally remained unaltered in all its tastes and habits; for the Spirit did not yet dwell in it to control or order it in everything; the body was not then the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Now under the law there was action required also. The body was required to express the demands of the law, but as there was no new power conferred, the demand only disclosed that there was no power in a body of sin to meet God's law. The law was added because of transgression to expose how entirely incompetent man was to meet what was righteously required. It was as if one were to sow garden seed in the wild sand in order to show that it could not grow there. The law was holy, just and good; but there was no power in man to personify the requirements of it. It was not sufficient to accept the terms of it, and to admit they were all right. Man under the law was called to express in his walk and ways the demands of it. It conferred nothing on him. It only required of him, and thus disclosed the weakness that was in him, as if one were required to walk a mile when not able to move one step.

But now the body is the Lord's, and it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is neither as it was in innocence, nor as under law, nor is it merely led and controlled by some particular or special faith; but now in everything

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it is empowered by the Spirit of God, who dwells in it, to act according to the word of God which is for the guidance of faith in everything.

While saints universally admit that their conduct and walk should be exemplary, they are confused in their minds as to the scope of their responsibility; instead of adopting the new order they are apt to adopt and pursue a mixture of what came before it -- faith and law. They own and rejoice that faith leads them to do a certain thing, but then they exact from themselves other things; that is to say, if one may use a metaphor, they ride part of the way, and try to walk another part, and this leads to weariness, and lameness, and an imperfect testimony. It is a compound of the definite action of faith, and of the inability of mere nature. Thus there is an excuse for weakness, while grounding their hope and acceptance on faith and divine power. It is this mixture of faith and law which has produced and tolerated so much worldliness in real believers. The conscience is quieted because grace is known through faith, but for the rest of their course and ways the law is the standard, and the idea is that one must seek only to do the best one can and with as little reproach as possible.

Our blessed Lord set forth in His own body, for the first time on this earth, a man suiting and answering to the divine mind in every movement. There had been seen previously man under the control of faith, the action of faith giving him a distinct line for an occasion in keeping with itself; and there had also been seen man under the law, which only exposed his inability; but now in the Person of the Lord Jesus there was a Man in His own body, expressing in every detail of life what was well pleasing unto God. He always did the things that pleased Him; and hence the Lord in Luke 11 announces the new order, where He says, "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light". It is

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not merely that one has bright thoughts or happy feelings, which are quite right in themselves, but that this body, which was doomed to death in paradise, is now through grace to be light. The whole is to be light, having no part dark, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give light. The thing doomed because of man's sin is now through grace to be an expression of Christ, as the apostle says, "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body". While the Lord spake (see Luke 11:37) a Pharisee asked Him to dine with him, evidently connecting His remarks with the doctrine of the Pharisees. The Lord takes a place at his table in order to explain the error of the Pharisees' doctrine. They were occupied with the outside, and with the effort to obtain something for the body, instead of first receiving the light and then showing it forth. Now in chapter 12 He sets forth to us how the body would express the light, and this expression of the light is comprised in two marks, namely, that there is no fear from without, and no care within. If it were thus with them, their loins would be girded, there would be an activity in their manner, and their lights would be burning. The body would be brilliant with light, waiting in the dark night for the morning star.

We hardly estimate the privilege conferred upon us, with its consequent responsibility -- even that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit as well as a member of Christ. If the gravity and greatness of this privilege were before us, everything we did, every appearance we presented would be judged and scrutinised. A manner or an attitude would not be regarded as too small a matter to attend to or to correct; even one's dress would be determined by its suitability for Christ's member, or whether it became the temple of the Holy Spirit.

In our desire and effort to maintain the doctrine, so long unknown or unseen, that the believer is perfect

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in Christ, we have overlooked too much the place which the body of the saint holds, or is required to hold on earth. It is necessary, first, that his heart should enjoy Christ; but besides this, his body is to be the channel or medium of his walk on earth, and hence we see in 1 Corinthians 11:30 - 32 that if a man did not judge himself the Lord touched his body. When once we admit the Lord's claim over the body, and see that we are called to the privilege of glorifying God in it, we then begin to grow in intelligence as to how everything connected with the body must be done according to His will; whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we do all to the glory of God. And there will be a sense of our responsibility which will not only order us in the care of the body, deprecating all neglect of it, but will also refuse to make it too much an object, while seeking to make it in dress and manner an expression worthy of Christ. Saints who had this sense would not be worldly in their dress, for they would not wear anything which Christ would not approve for His own member; and there would not be the undevotional position which is not uncommon now in our meetings. If the truth that the body of the believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit, as well as a member of Christ, laid hold of the heart, the exhortation to "glorify God in your body" would deeply exercise it. The Lord grant that it may, for His own glory.


The doctrine of justification by faith was revived to the church in Luther's day, and in late years two great truths have also been revived; one, that the Holy Spirit dwells on earth; the other, that the saints are the body of Christ here, baptised by one Spirit into one body, of which He is the Head in heaven.

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As each of these truths has been maintained, a direct opposition has been raised against it. The violence and malice of Rome was, and is, arrayed against the first, whilst against the other two there are special adversaries which are only unmasked in proportion as there is persistent faithfulness to the truth.

The first thing for the saint to accept is, that distinct and important truths have been revived. No saint nowadays will deny that justification by faith is an all-important truth, though many in Luther's day, and even subsequently, have conscientiously opposed it. Many saints in the present day do not see the immense importance of the truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth, and that the body of Christ is here, formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and inasmuch as they do not receive these truths, they do not enjoy the grace conferred by them, nor are they competent to be witnesses of Christ on earth. Without the doctrine of justification by faith, there could be no assurance to the soul of escape from divine judgment. No one could have a sense of pardon without accepting it. But many who have a sense of pardon have no guarantee or seal of the divine work in their souls. They do not believe that the Spirit of God dwells in them, or that the Holy Spirit forms the saints into one body, or that He dwells here to testify for Christ; so that they cannot, though assured of safety because of justification by faith, be happy individually, nor can they understand their privileges and responsibilities corporately, nor the nature or manner of testimony for Christ here. Thus there must be ignorance on these most important subjects, unless the truths brought out in these late years be accepted and maintained.

Now these truths are united and yet quite distinct. We see in John's gospel that the Comforter would be sent by the Father for the comfort of the individual saint (John 14:26), while for testimony it is the Lord who sends Him. "The Comforter ... whom I will

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send unto you from the Father, ... he shall testify of me", chapter 15: 26. Paul alone speaks of the body: "By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body". Now these truths are in advance of the doctrine of justification by faith without works; no exercised heart can deny that they offer and propose a progress far beyond that of justification by faith. A sinner is lost unless he be justified; this is the beginning; but what advance can there be if there be no unqualified known certainty of it by the indwelling Spirit, and if there be no apprehension of our corporate privileges, nor of the testimony for Christ here? Yet these truths which confer so much are as little known in this day as was justification by faith in a former day, and the ignorance and opposition of heart to them are as great; otherwise, why are saints not ready and eager to receive them?

Now let us see what these truths involve. First, individually there is no seal nor earnest of the inheritance unless the Holy Spirit dwells in the saint, When the saint knows himself to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, he is assured both of a present salvation and of a future inheritance. Surely very few believe this, and fewer still enjoy it; but that this truth, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, should have been brought to light in this day, is a momentous fact, and involves great responsibility to all who hear of it. For if the doctrine of justification was great, this must be still greater, inasmuch as it confirms and establishes, perfectly and eternally, what the former commenced. The knowledge of forgiveness of sins does not preserve from the flesh. It is only as we walk in the Spirit that we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. It is Christ living in us and setting us free from everything of the old man. Many a one who fully believes in justification by faith finds, to the pain and sorrow of his conscience, that he has no control over the flesh, and that he is continually led by it; and this is because he does not

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believe that the Holy Spirit is the One who would now dwell in his body, to rule and order it for Christ. If one did not know how the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, one would be surprised at the hesitation of any saint to bow to this truth, or to raise any question as to it. But surely many a pious one in an earlier day raised questions as to the genuineness of justification by faith, and we ought not to be surprised at finding still greater and more subtle opposition to this. Alas! the flesh is the great opposer to this truth. All that the flesh likes is opposed to it. There is a personal opposition to it, because it sets aside man in his own will completely; and therefore, though the deliverance be desired by the conscience, there is an unwillingness to give up oneself, and to acknowledge the Holy Spirit as the guest who is to rule and order instead. Besides, unless a saint is in himself a temple of the Holy Spirit, unless he has drunk of the self-same Spirit, he cannot see how we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body. But when he enjoys the privileges which are his through the indwelling Spirit, he enters also into the responsibilities of the great calling of the church as committed to the apostle Paul, and taught in the epistle to the Ephesians.

If saints are the members of the body of Christ, formed into one body by the Spirit of God, they are bound to preserve this unity in the bond of peace. They have to refuse everything which would grieve or hinder the Spirit. I cannot confine myself to my own conscience, or to the consciences of those immediately in fellowship with me. Whatever is necessarily incumbent on me, as of the one body, is equally necessary and incumbent on any other member of it as a member. I am not speaking of matters of mere conscience; but whatever would defile me as a member of Christ's body, I must regard as defiling to any other member; otherwise I do not understand the unity of the body, and that it is formed by the Spirit of God. If I understand

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that I am a member of the body of Christ on earth, I feel that I have a claim on every saint on the earth, and every one of them has a claim on me; and we are bound, in a common responsibility, to meet together and to avow ourselves as of this oneness -- "one loaf" -- at the Lord's table, thus expressing our unity. Hence the table must be one, however extended; it is only one, as the Holy Spirit is one, and any one member received or excluded at one place must be received or excluded at every place. If there be but one table -- and there is but one -- anything done or maintained by any one, which disqualifies him from the table, is binding on every one forming the table. The length of the table does not make that right or allowable at one end, which is wrong, contrary to the Lord, at the other. The whole is answerable for a part, for it is an expression of the body. It must be so, otherwise there would be a denial of the unity of the Spirit.

Now the maintenance of this truth would impose on us an order of union and service to one another unknown and unpractised in the church generally, and would expose every one maintaining it to painful separation from, and exclusiveness with regard to, every saint refusing to bow to the great responsibility belonging to this high position; for a member who will not be a true member is like a dislocated one, causing suffering rather than being of use. There is no truth that the art and malice of Satan so assails as the truth of the mystery of Christ. It connects the saints so distinctly with Christ in heaven, and with one another by the Spirit of God, that one who realises it is superior to everything of man, although a man himself, and living among men; and hence there is no truth so little known or enjoyed, nor any which so many have in a sense received, but have afterwards surrendered as untenable. There is no truth so difficult to hold in any measure along with what is ordinarily received. Let any one ask himself how much he enters into being united to

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Christ as Head, and to the saints in one body here on earth, by the Holy Spirit, and he will see, if he judges truly, that he knows little of this wondrous truth. And it is because it is the greatest and the most blessed truth that Satan, the spirit of evil, is more opposed to it than to any other; and this accounts for the laxity, so deadly and terrible in its character, which has sprung up, and will ever spring up fiercely, as the truth is maintained fully, in order to neutralise it.

Now the great opposition to this truth does not come from the saints who are utterly ignorant of it, but from those who in word avow that they hold it. New as it is, and long as it was lost to the church, they profess to be enlightened in it, and assume that they are all but martyrs for this truth of the unity of the saints; and yet, from not understanding the nature and the susceptibilities of this divine union and what it claims, they really undermine the truth by their hollow and partial imitation of it. The greatest wile or by-path is that which comes nearest the true thing, and the curious strategic way in which they defend and propagate their laxity, while avowing this truth in word, is astounding. Brotherly love and social intercourse are in their mind the two great evidences or results of this truth, and thus they are deceived. But however satisfied they may be with themselves, they never come to the knowledge of it divinely, but subvert in principle what they profess to know, and therefore they are, as Sanballat and Geshem in a former day (Nehemiah 6:2), to be especially resisted and avoided. The great thing for the faithful to note is the form in which Satan seeks to undermine this truth. Each corps of adversaries is to be known by its facings. But I press that nothing shows the importance of this truth more than the peculiarity of the weapons which have been used to neutralise it, and by those too who in conscience consider they are upholding it. The more one has the anointed eye, the more one is astonished at the art and subtlety in which

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this strange warfare has been carried on. It is not an open enemy, but mine own familiar friend, he that supped with me, who hath lifted up his heel against me. Since the days of Judas down, I suppose there never was a more fearful trespass committed in the church against Christ than the opposition of those who in word accept the truth of the unity of the body, and yet are lax in their separation from those who are in association with unsound teaching. I speak not now of individuals; I only call attention to the fact of the character and nature of the adversary, which by assuming the truth can come near enough to strike the deadliest blow.

But besides the Holy Spirit being here to comfort and establish the individual saint, and to unite each to the other in one body with the Head in heaven, He is dwelling here to witness for Christ; He is the power of testimony for the absent Christ. The Jew, to whom God had committed the lively oracles, has rejected the Son of God; and the gentile has used the sword of power, which God had placed in man's hands, against the Lord of glory. Man had in a twofold way proved his unfitness to be the agent for Christ in His absence. Hence the Holy Spirit is sent down to dwell here, not only to comfort the hearts of the saints, but to testify of Christ, convicting the world, giving evidence of its guilt, and of God's judgment. So distinctly and altogether is the Holy Spirit the instrument of all power that He does not, and could not, accept co-operation or countenance from man as man or from the world, seeing that He is evidence of the world's position before God, and also that He is able to effect everything by Himself according to the mind of God. No human means of any kind whatsoever can impart or secure divine comfort to our hearts, and neither can any other than the Holy Spirit testify for Christ. If through faith I accept Him for the one, I must accept Him for the other; for I am really weak in my apprehension of the first, which I

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need for my own individual blessing when I do not see Him in the second. He is neither the Comforter in power for my own heart nor for service. The maintenance of this truth imposes on us a very peculiar path, for everything has been carried on in the professing church on quite a different principle; and as no sect in christendom accepts this truth in this simple way, I must, if I hold it, run counter in testimony and service to every known denomination. Although the Holy Spirit as the sole agent of testimony for Christ here is plainly revealed, yet men's minds are so warped by habit and theological tradition that they do not see how they are diverted and debarred from the true path of a servant on the earth. Now as soon as any one seeks and by faith enters on this new path, a path lost sight of until late years, so soon will he be assailed in every conceivable way, according to his earnestness of heart, to go back in measure to the things he has left. It makes Satan desperate to see even one able to stand forth and express entire confidence in the Spirit of God on earth, and to work on patiently without having recourse to any of the expedients which even the godly use for the dissemination of the gospel. But seeing that this is one of the great truths revived in this day, shall we not boldly insist on it and maintain it, as in their day the martyrs insisted on justification by faith? Let us not confuse our minds by asking, How can we do without this or that? How can the ark be carried without a cart? We should simply accept the truth of God as set forth in His word. The worst opposition comes from within, and from the true-hearted, who cannot understand how they can carry on the testimony without the means and appliances to which they have been accustomed from time immemorial. This is the great trial of this day; but God will vindicate the faithful. May our eyes be more simply turned to Him!

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It is often the case that, though there may be much readiness and zeal to serve the Lord, there is not watchfulness enough as to the start. Activity is more before the mind than the starting place for all true activity and service; and if the latter -- starting from the right point -- be overlooked, there will be a flaw all through the course, which will betray the first failure; for however true and earnest the purpose, that which is crooked cannot be made straight.

No one can question that there is a right point to start from, and that there is a first circle of interest to the heart of Christ; and that whatever is first to the Lord must be first to His servants. The first thing to be assured of is the circle of interest which is first with Him. The church, the bride-elect, is His first circle. He "loved the church, and gave himself for it; ... For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church". He is now sanctifying it, having purged it by the washing of water by the word. Now as the church is Christ's first circle of interest on earth, so every servant, in order to be right, must start from it. This being conceded, let us see how the work of Christ can be carried on in keeping with it. First, let us see how Scripture insists on this truth. In Matthew 16 the Lord, consequent on His rejection looming before Him after the death of John the baptist, conducts the disciples to the new ground, practically defined by "the other side" and "no bread" (verse 5), and they then learn, not through flesh and blood, but through revelation from the Father, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is the Rock, the new ground, and the foundation on which He builds His church. Here is disclosed the great circle of His interest on His being rejected; and every builder

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walking in faithfulness must seek to have his work really and truly laid on this foundation, which is outside and beyond man's mind and power. The work that does not start from the Rock, and find its foundation on the Son of God, will come to nought; losing sight of this as the only true starting-point has led to the enormous bulk of christendom. Next, in John 15, when the Lord was about to go away, He tells His disciples to "love one another, as I have loved you". This is His one simple direction to them. This is the start, and the maintenance of this start would put them in their true place here on the earth in the absence of their Lord. This their one grand occupation, to love one another as He had loved them, even unto death, and then they would be His friends. He had been their greatest friend, and now He shows them how they could be friends to Him, not in dying for Him, as He had done for them, but in dying for one another. The sphere of His interest was to be the sphere of their interest; blessed that it is so, and sad deprivation were it otherwise! The effect of this would be that the world would hate them as it had hated Him. All men would know that they were His disciples by their love one to another. This devotedness of interest for one another unto death, so novel and unaccountable a thing here, would arouse and arrest the attention and chagrin of this selfish world in a very remarkable way. Who could doubt it? Hence it was the centre from which all the vigour of testimony would flow. If the heart be in tone and vigour, there will be vigour throughout the system. The attempt to warm up the extremities when the heart is weak is superficial and transient. No doubt the vigour will extend from the central organ to the extremities, but all the vigour depends on it. The Lord is explicit as to the course of action which would awaken testimony to His name, namely, loving one another according to the quality of His love for them, making His first circle their first circle; shown

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in private in washing one another's feet, and publicly in giving their lives for the brethren. It is evident that this is the first circle, and it is also evident that saints failing in it is the great cause of the little testimony now. It is useless for man to argue that there are other ways. The word of God lays down the only right one; and all the others must be defective, whatever the intention may be. Many a true saint seeks on his conversion to do good to others, and is thus led to what are commonly called charities; he becomes interested in the circle of man's need. Now it is not that this should be overlooked, but when it is the principal object before the mind, the start is not a right one, and there will be no real progress in service, no entering into the place of a friend with the Lord, until there is a beginning from the right point, and thence extending; in fact a running within the posts. It is quite right to reach out our hands to the poor and needy (see Proverbs 31:20), but the wise woman never placed them before her lord's interests in the house; verses 11 - 20. Unless I make this first, He does not communicate to me as to His friend, and the testimony at best cannot be intelligent or after His mind.

Now in Romans 12, where the devotedness incumbent on the justified one is presented, the first circle is the body of Christ. The saint who presents his body a living sacrifice has first to see and comprehend his relation to that great organisation here of which we are through grace a part; "so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another". If this new relation be not known, there must be an individuality in one's actions which cannot be supported by the Spirit of God. As a member of this great company, how weak and inefficient must I be as a unit, instead of co-operating with and receiving co-operation from all the others. One voice isolated from the choir is feeble by itself, and the rest is enfeebled by its absence. For true personal devotedness, one has not made the

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right start unless he finds his beginning with the one body. Devotedness in its true form and force is lost unless it starts from the circle of Christ's interests, because otherwise it must be only a zealous adherence to something less than the chief thing in the mind and heart of Christ. That which I am connected with in my devotedness necessarily imparts to me a character. It is according to the object which chiefly commands my interest and attention that I am found. The very claim made on me by it, and which I like in my devotedness to answer to, conduces to make me useful and suitable. That which is entitled to the greatest devotedness necessarily makes me the most devoted; and hence, where devotedness is not found by starting from the chief circle, the church, it must be of a lower kind, and rise no higher than what the sphere of interest requires.

If many a true saint loses the place of being a friend, because he does not start from the right circle, there are more who fail in devotedness, because they accept a lower sphere for its origin and claim than the church. They satisfy themselves that they are devoted because they are enough so for the line of interest which claims their attention, and this is true in itself. But then this devotedness would not be considered sufficient even by themselves, were they to see that the first circle of Christ's interest, the church, was the sphere where they were to begin their devotedness, and where it was to be born.

Now in 1 Corinthians, in company with the saints as the one loaf (chapter 10), one has discerned the Lord's body in death, and therefore has judged oneself in chapter 11; the new sphere is opened out in chapter 12, where the fact that we are baptised by one Spirit into one body is insisted on; and therefore in chapter 13 we are fitted for service according as we have charity. Charity is shown to be a surrender of all selfishness, and the effect of the grace of Christ in ourselves. For

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it is as we are cleared of self, and have Christ's nature working in us, that we are efficient and useful; but the sphere presented to us for this service is distinctly and peculiarly the body of Christ. That which led to so much failure at Corinth was simply this, that each thought for himself and did not connect himself in purpose with the new and spiritual sphere, the sphere to which we are introduced as we truly realise what it is to reach Christ through His death. Then we find that the circle nearest to His heart is now ours, because we are His, and we are conscious of being near to Him, and have come so near through His death, that that which interests Him most interests us most. This is the order, and the heart understands it and accepts it. As in Romans the devotedness gets its colour and character from its start, or first circle; so here the service derives its morale and character from the claims of the body of Christ. If it were an organisation of less perfection or sensibility, the service would be less delicate; but seeing that it is the body of Christ, in order to be really qualified for serving it, so that the gifts of the Spirit may be unhindered, we must learn the more excellent way, and that is, the transformation of the man to the nature of Christ in love.

Now in Ephesians the first practical thing enjoined is "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". For this there must be the right start; the first efforts must be in the new order of things. It is not ascending from a low and imperfect order of things up to a high one, but from a high one descending to every circle appointed for me here, in order to contribute to them. Here in Ephesians we have God's purpose and view of the church set before us; and now, when the practical part comes, which would spring from this great truth, the great thing pressed is that we should endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit, the new relationship in which we are set. There are plainly other circles in the remainder of the epistle,

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most distinctly defined, and the suited practice enjoined; but the first circle heads the list, intimating that if the first be not first in practice there will be a great deficiency in all the others. As it is devotedness in Romans, and service of charity in 1 Corinthians, so is it, I apprehend, the heavenly element or the mind of Christ which is acquired here in Ephesians. It is important to bear in mind that for progress in any circle we always begin in the highest. The strength of the natural body is always determined by the vigour of the heart and the head. No one doubts that the beginning must be with Christ, and if so, the start for all progress must be there; there is no progress elsewhere. Nor can there be advance in any circle but as there is progress in the knowledge of Him; and as there is knowledge of Him, there is necessarily a deeper and fuller connection with His body, the church, the circle nearest His heart. Every moral quality must come from above; and therefore it is not at the point to which it descends that I am to learn it, and from there to ascend. No, I must learn it above with the Lord; and as I have it, I can then descend, and range through all the lower circles according to the measure of power and grace which I have learned in the uppermost one. Going from darkness into light is really to better oneself, to be released from the darkness. Coming from the light into the darkness is to confer on those who are in the darkness. As we learn the place in which the grace of God has set us, we enter on a sphere compatible with it. Thus, as we have seen, in Romans it is devotedness, beginning with the body of Christ; in 1 Corinthians it is the manner of service because of our relation to one another; in Ephesians, the Spirit's manner and purpose because of our relation to the Lord, and as deriving from Him. Finally, unless I know something of what the church is to Christ, unless I have learned His affection to the bride, how can I be as the bride prepared and ready for Him? I must be a bride in heart before I can speak

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and act as one, and I must know myself as one. I must have learned His love to the church before I could be found in the enjoyment of such a relationship. The Lord's first communications after rising from the dead, the first expression of His heart after He had cleared away in death every obstruction, was to lead the disconsolate Mary Magdalene, the sorrowing earthly bride as it were, into the knowledge and standing of the heavenly one. No one can be prepared or fit for the close, for the reception of the bridegroom, who has not learned the affection which alone can make him in heart and desire a bride.

To recapitulate: first, there is the new ground; the building is the church (Matthew 16), and this is the clue to all true work. Secondly, for testimony and to obtain the confidence of the Lord as friends, the circle of the saints must be paramount; John 15. Thirdly, for devotedness, it must be the body of Christ; Romans 12. Fourthly, for true service in love, it must be the one body; 1 Corinthians 12:14. Fifthly, to express the mind of the Lord, the chief endeavour must be to maintain the new relationship; Ephesians 4. Sixthly, to be the bride here, the first circle of His heart must be the one first and best known to our hearts.


The end of knowledge is to furnish one with skill to act rightly in every circumstance. The great advantage of knowledge in a world of evil is that it tells a man how to find the true and holy path through it. Hence "the knowledge of the holy is understanding". The coming in of sin by man eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil only made it necessary that he should be taught of God in order to be preserved from the evil which he had introduced by acting in his own will. This then is the path which the vulture's eye hath not seen, the path -- the "wisdom" -- of which

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"the fear of the Lord is the beginning", Proverbs 9:10. The greatest and most eminent course for any one in this scene is to be so intelligent in the mind of God as to know how to keep separate from all that is foolish and evil. The glory of knowledge is that it shows me this wondrous path, and conducts me by divine skill away and apart from the snares and pitfalls and vexations which are on every side, in this world. "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation". One cannot conceive anything grander than to see a man so instructed that he is never at a loss how to act; and though he has to refuse many things, he does not feel aggrieved; he sees that it is right and wise for him to do so, and that the way of wisdom is the path of pleasantness and of peace. The use of knowledge is to inform a man what he may do and what he may not do, and hence we are to add to knowledge temperance; 2 Peter 1:6. According as you have knowledge, you know how to steer clear of things which would otherwise hinder and check you. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things". Divine knowledge teaches us how to be temperate.

The desire to be wise was part of the temptation which led to the eating of the forbidden fruit. The desire to know more exists in the natural mind. To exalt and to minister to oneself is man's continued effort, and mere knowledge peculiarly contributes to it. Nothing so exalts a man above his fellows as knowledge, and hence there may be a labour and pursuit to acquire even the knowledge of the Scriptures, without having the conscience exercised by this simple principle, that for every increase of knowledge there is an increase of responsibility. It is plain, as man has turned everything here to self-aggrandisement, that as I hear the word of God and receive it, so must I break away from the things in their endless variety which this world presents to me. The world is an organisation by which

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everything is arranged to suit and to add to man's greatness. It is order, but an order to suit and to please man, and all human knowledge has been used to this end, to form a system entirely suitable to man; and for this end christianity has been adopted by man. God is not really before the mind, but the benefit of society. Now the culmination of this world is Babylon, where there will be the best of everything, with entire and unequivocal independence of God. The calling of the saints is, "ye are not of the world", and yet we are in it; and we are taught of God in it, and as we learn and understand the mind of God, the better and the more distinctly do we keep clear of the world. A saint of full age has his senses exercised to discern good and evil. We are to regard ourselves in this world as ships at sea. Unless properly guided the ship will surely be wrecked, and all the learning and knowledge of the mariner is to keep it safe, and to find a clear path, where it is exposed to dangers and adverse elements on all sides. The master of the ship understands very well that his knowledge is of little use unless he can apply it to the navigating of his ship. That is just the way a saint is to regard all knowledge; he has to apply knowledge to a definite point, and that is, to steer his way safely through elements that he cannot trust, and which are often set dead against him. The first thing for a saint is to accept in his conscience that he is in a world where everything is against him, and where there is only one true path, the path of life, made and walked in by our blessed Lord; and therefore that all light points out this path. It shows us what we are to avoid, and what would divert us from this path; for our calling is to walk as He walked. Divine knowledge instructs us to turn away from man's principles and tastes, and to adopt what God approves, so that I have fulness of joy, because I am in the path of the One who knew all God's mind, and who walked here entirely separate from everything not of God. Thus,

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as my knowledge increases I am either more unworldly, or I get a bad conscience. It sets knowledge in a very high place when we see that the end of it is to direct our steps to the one only divine path, the path traversed by the blessed Lord from infancy to glory. Thus there are two things for us to accept; first, that the world in its very rudiments diverts us from God; secondly, that the light of Scripture is the only guide to the path of life. We are perfectly incompetent to act, even in the most ordinary duty, till we are taught of God, and therefore the more we are taught of Him the more distinctly we are kept apart from the world. The word is the guide.

Now there are two actions of the word by which this temperance or separation is produced. The first is the washing of water by the word. (I need scarcely add that we are first born of the word, the incorruptible seed, "the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever".) Now this action, as the word "washing" implies, is to remove soil or worldliness which adheres to us here, when it is on the conscience. The conscience is enlightened according as the word of God is made known. The washing is to remove every soil on the conscience, everything which hinders communion. It is more the negative side, while the second, sanctification, is more the positive side. "Sanctify them through the truth: thy word is truth". This imparts a new and holy intelligence; "the knowledge of the holy is understanding"; and the Lord adds, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth", or by the power of it. That is, He has gone away entirely outside the range and action of things here, in order that through association with Him we might be separated from it all, and to another and glorious order of things. Chastening too is with this in view, that we might be so broken away from things here as to be partakers of His holiness. Now in order to preserve a good conscience we must

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have our feet washed. We must be detached from that which defiles, and as our hearts are instructed in the order of things which is of God, we are sanctified, walking separate from the world even to the measure of the Lord's separation in heaven.

We may now consider the various practical ways in which we "add ... to knowledge, temperance". For the sake of clearness in speaking of the world, I will divide it into four classes. First, there is dress. This is a course of the world within the reach of almost every one. The poorest may, by some very small thing, show a desire to be in the fashion; the attempt to be in proximity to it shows where the heart is, and if the conscience be not offended by approximating to the world, it is because there is not in that person divine knowledge, which would inculcate temperance, or a separation from the world. How sad it is to see the greatest sorrow, because of bereavements, made an excuse for an expensive dress and costly array, with a parade abhorrent to true sorrow. Surely this is not of the Lord, and to act in this manner is not after the "knowledge of the holy", nor is it as the "holy women adorned themselves", nor as those who have their lights burning and their loins girt.

The next class I may call 'ease and style', under which we may range fine houses, and everything in one's surroundings which denotes how careful and concerned one is for one's own comfort and consequence. Not that a roomy house in a healthy locality is to be refused, when the Lord is pleased to give it; but this is a different thing from seeking or retaining what is worldly because one can afford it, or has been used to it. Divine knowledge must cast a new light on everything in the world, and in its course; and certainly it is no evidence of this knowledge when one excuses oneself for either seeking or retaining a grand surrounding because it can be afforded, or because one has been accustomed to it. I believe that divine light would

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judge everything; and though at first, when there was little knowledge, there might be but a very moderate separation from these things, I cannot see how any one can increase in the mind of the Lord, and intelligence as to His path on earth, and not feel that there must be a refusal or a renunciation of that which lends consequence or distinction to one, in the world from which He has been rejected. It is often alleged that the house which would be renunciation for one would be vanity for another, because of his means. I am not contending for levelling; I am showing that as any one knows more of the mind of the Lord, he retires from the habit or course of the world; and as the rich man has the greatest opportunity for renunciation, he receives more from the Lord in this present time for so doing. And if the man of small means seeks or desires style, he evidently has not added to his knowledge temperance; that is to say, if he has any knowledge, he has it not divinely, for he knows not how to turn it to profit; and he is no witness, for if he be not able to refuse the king's meat and the king's wine, as Daniel and his companions did, he will not be able to face the king's fire in faithfulness to Christ. I do not advocate an iron rule, far from it. All I endeavour to show is that the increase of divine knowledge must conduce to a great and decided change in all one's tastes and arrangements, and this according as there is advance in it; so that what was allowed or undiscovered by one, ten or twenty years ago is now refused or put away. If it were not so, increase of knowledge would not be increase of light, which distinguishes between the evil and the good.

The next class I will call luxuries. What comes under this head almost every faithful saint would denounce and deprecate, if indulged to excess; but yet many things which must he classified under the pleasures of the flesh and of the mind -- and all superfluities are such -- are sanctioned and indulged in. Things are

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partaken of for gratification, which are not necessary for the health, and things are looked at or read for the gratification of the natural mind, which the knowledge of the mind of the Lord would refuse and reject. Is it not evident that seeking or retaining superfluities is an evidence that divine knowledge does not govern such an one? and that if he were led by the mind of Christ, the purpose of the heart would be, "Let me not eat of their dainties".

The last class I term position or self-consequence. Perhaps the last thing one surrenders or loses sight of is self-importance. It is curious and unmistakable how it clings to us, even while all the others may be partially refused. The pride of life lies so deeply imbedded in the heart that, like a ruling passion, it is strong in death.

To me it is a solemn and momentous consideration how little our knowledge in the present day has conduced to our temperance. Have we learned to lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race set before us? Is it not a painful fact that when there was less light among us there was more separation, and the sanctification was of a more marked character? and that while knowledge has greatly advanced, temperance has rather decreased? Men who began in the simplest way have been gradually drawn back again into worldly habits, through marriage, or increase of means, or one cause or another; but this is evident, that there is not as much separation as there used to be. There is an attempt to keep up some link with the world and what it commends and acknowledges, and this indirectly promotes worldliness in those who have the opportunity to he so. It is sad to hear that God has given us what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and yet to be as interested as a worldling in what the eye sees, and in all that nature can contribute. The one simple question for us to decide is, Can there be divine knowledge without a

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proportionate separation from the course and fashion of the world? and does not the latter determine the real extent and power of the former?


Matthew 14:29

To know the right way and to have power to walk in it is the greatest favour in a scene of danger and difficulty. Before the flood, man in the flesh was proved to be unfit for God; and after it, when he was set up again upon the earth on more favourable terms, the saint, in the person of Noah, failed to control himself; and man in general used the new favours of God to be independent of Him, as the tower of Babel testified, and they worshipped demons. The earth had thus become in the eyes of God a moral swamp, and hence the call of Abram defined the path now necessary for the saint in it. This path was the path of faith. The eye must turn away from all visible things and must wait entirely on God. Abram was called to break from all natural associations. He could retain his own, all belonging to his own house; but he is called to break with all the rest, and this break included three classes, namely, his country, his kindred, and his father's house. The break was a very sweeping one, but no less could be enjoined if the moral state of man on the earth be taken into account. If every new favour which God had given man on earth only proved man's incompetence to be trusted with favours in it -- nay, that it had been used by man to supplant God altogether -- what other course could be prescribed but one of complete break with the order of things here? and then nothing could afford guidance but that which was not of earth at all, even the word of God. The importance of this new path will not be apprehended unless there

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be a true sense of how man had perverted all the favours which God had given him on the earth, and had used them for his own self-exaltation. These favours were not effectual in leading the heart of man to God, but the reverse; and hence a new path is introduced, and the great characteristic of it is faith in God; not in anything given or visible, but in the word of God Abram "went out, not knowing whither he went". He became a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth, because he had no guidance but by the word of God. To appreciate this new path, it is necessary to bear in mind what the earth had become in the eyes of God, and again what unerring guidance God in His mercy vouchsafed to every one dependent on Him. Dependence becomes the great characteristic instead of independence; and henceforth these two forces, like rival streams, course the earth, until one culminates in the new Jerusalem for glory, and the other in Babylon for doom and judgment. From the call of Abram onward, faith, or counting on God as He had revealed Himself, determined the guidance of the saint; whether to walk in the land as Abraham, or to return to it as Jacob, faith ensured it; and be it deliverance from Egypt, or succour in the wilderness, there was but one way to secure either, and that was faith. In the wilderness, where there was nothing from the earth, there especially the supplies from above were daily assured; both the cloud and the manna thus intimating that there would be no separation between guidance as to the path and support in it, when there was nothing to be found on the earth.

The forty years in the wilderness teach us pre-eminently the greatness and blessedness of the path, because where there was really nothing, everything was supplied by God independently of the earth, and hence it is said that it is there we should learn that "man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord

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doth man live". Now this is the passage which our Lord quotes when entering on His public ministry, as describing what would guide Him in His course here. He begins by showing to Satan in Luke 4 that nothing here will divert Him from the word of God, that He has nothing to guide Him here but the word of God. To get relief from personal suffering, even though it be righteous suffering, will be no guide to Him. To prove the care of God will be no guide to Him. To receive all the world and the glory of it will not induce Him to go outside the word of God.

We shall find that it is always in one or other of these things -- for each may be taken as head of a class -- that we are drawn away from the path of faith and the guidance of the word. Jesus is the "author and finisher of ... faith"; and there is something supremely imposing to see Him, the Creator and Upholder of all things, counselled and guided by the word of God, and thus walking in the power of God unmoved by anything here. He looked to God for everything and not to His own creation. Thus the five loaves were enough for the five thousand, and the fish supplied the piece of money to pay for Himself and for Peter. He silenced and expelled evil spirits by His word. He hushed the wind and calmed the sea. He was never balked by anything, but was ever the dependent Man, with power and guidance to act on every occasion. He passed unhurt through the enraged crowd, and yet He had not where to lay His head. His counsel and His strength were from God. He showed how a man of faith could master every opposition and never expect anything from man. He was always superior to things here, and for God, whether it was in relation to things affecting Himself or others. He expected nothing from the earth, but derived everything from God, and therefore was ever for God. This was His path before His rejection. Consequent on His rejection, as He foreshadows in Matthew 14, He goes

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into the wilderness, there feeds the poor of the flock -- which He does to this hour -- and then walks on the water; no longer calming the sea and rebuking the wind as He had previously done, but showing how He would be superior to them, that while He would allow them to take their course, yet He would be superior to all power here. As we read, "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", Ephesians 1:21.

The path of faith in which every saint all the way down had been guided, blessed, and tested, was now perfected by the Son of man who is in heaven. And now that the greatest favour from heaven has been refused on earth, faith only acquires a new force and value; and as the eye rests on Him, one is not only perfectly guided, but endowed with power to overcome every adverse force. Jesus exalted, "gone into heaven ... angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him", was to be the magnet not only to attract and to guide, but also to determine the measure of power for us while walking through this hostile scene. Peter inaugurated the new path when "he walked on the water, to go to Jesus". It is now with the eye on the ascended Man and deriving power from Him that we surmount every opposition here. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son".

Every conscientious person values guidance, and power also to walk according to it; but while every one desires it, very few find it, because they are seeking to learn it from something on the earth, where even providence cannot be a guide, because the mere checking of evil, which is the order of God's present dealing with the world, cannot indicate how He would direct things if they were all in order, any more than what is prescribed for a maniac would indicate the course proper for a man in sound health.

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In seeking guidance now, the simple object must be to reach the spot where the Lord is at the moment. "Peter ... walked on the water", which was superhuman, "to go to Jesus". If the heart be simple in seeking Jesus, with the eye only on Him, every difficulty will be surmounted, however great the waves, or however boisterous the winds, and nothing less will be expected. Guidance is generally sought in order that one might find an easy path without trial or sorrow, and prayers are made to this end. The path of faith now leads to Jesus, and as the eye is on Him, His power worketh in us mightily, and is confirmed in us as the difficulties are surmounted. The heavenly Man who was rejected by the earthly man is the One who imparts power to every faithful heart to walk on to Himself, superior to every opposition here. Nay, He uses the obstacles as only opportunities to prove to us that we can do all things through Him who gives us power. In the path of faith obstacles come first, necessarily so, because the enemy is in power here, and afterwards is the victory over him; the evening before the morning, the fence before the flat, the conflict before the peace. There must be the walking on the water, the superhuman power, before reaching the spot where the Lord is, where fellowship with Him is enjoyed. If I look for the removal of obstacles in order to be assured of guidance, I have lost sight of the exalted and ascended Man, and have no sense of how the whole tide and force of everything here is against Him. When we reach a desired end without obstacles, as one would reach any spot through a gap in a fence, the act brings us no increase of power, and if trouble arises afterwards there is an easy surrender of the ground gained.

In order then to ensure guidance, the first thing to be ascertained is whether the Lord is there -- that is, that He assures the heart that He is there; this being settled, the next thing is that though every obstacle remains, yet there will be power given to rise over them.

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In the wilderness, wherever the cloud rested there the manna was. As soon as they were assured of the cloud, they could reckon confidently on the manna. So now, wherever the Lord is simply presented to your heart, you may be assured that He will sustain you in order that you may be in association with Himself.

There are two marks of guidance in this time. The first is, that it is the Lord I seek to reach in the spot where He is; and the second, that I am ready to walk on the water and encounter what is contrary and impossible to nature in order to reach Him. The latter proves the sincerity of the former. Paul is led to Philippi and there endures every kind of trial, but afterwards reaches the desired end. He had to walk on the water in order to reach it.

When the eye is simply on the ascended and rejected Man, the point where He would be at a given moment is never reached but through difficulty, which is so above one's own power naturally that it would be as death to attempt it; and the course is literally that of a man walking on the water, but still surmounting, and finally reaching safely to where He is.

But it will be said, Are not obstacles removed, or how could one ever reach anything? The obstacles are overcome when you are undaunted by them, when you have accepted them as opportunities for the power of Christ, and not as insuperable barriers. It was thus with the three wise men in Daniel 3, who were not afraid to face the fire. The obstacles were not removed, but when they accepted them they were superior to them. The fire had no power against them, although they were exposed to it. Thus the very obstacles which Satan throws in the way, as those he stirred up against Paul at Philippi in Acts 16, only make the power of God the more manifest. A wife or a child in a godless family, though dutiful and subject, finds plenty of obstacles; but the true way, the path of faith, is to learn how Jesus would act there; and having learnt

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this, to fear no obstacle; and it will be found that if there be faithfulness, the fire has lost its heat, and as the devil flees when he is resisted, so are irritating oppositions suspended, because they are found to be ineffectual in checking the course of faith. The walls of Jericho fall down, not in order that one may enter in and indulge oneself like another Achan, but that one may be more simply the friend of God, drawing the Rahabs out of it into the heavenly ground.

May we be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we may look steadfastly into heaven, and see the glory of God and Jesus, and thus be able to walk superior to every power here for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.


In the time of a divine movement, many are acted upon by it who are not able to act in it. Many receive grace who do not become witnesses of the grace. "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" are words which describe the result of the grace of God to man. Many are cured of dangerous maladies who cannot cure others, or attempt to do so; and so it is with too many of the recipients of mercy. But to the true heart it must be in a time like this a question of deep interest, What course must I pursue in order that I may be able to act for the Lord?

There are, I may say, three qualities necessary for the one who shall act for the Lord in a time of difficulty. The first is the power to deny oneself voluntarily. The second is the ability to view or to judge of man and of everything as they are in the eyes of God, or in relation to Him; and the third is patient dependence on God when everything is against one. The power to deny oneself voluntarily is the first, because when I am truly set on the work and service of Christ, self-consideration

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must be in abeyance. It proves that I have His interest primarily at heart when I can overlook what personally concerns myself. A man cannot serve two masters. When the Lord's interests are paramount, then my own interests must be secondary, and hence the proof of power is when I can voluntarily set aside my own for His. It is not only that I do not anxiously seek my own interests, but that I can turn away from the very mercies of God's hand to me in order that I may give myself to His. Thus the ten thousand men of Gideon's army in Judges 7 were tested. They were neither fearful nor afraid, but the Lord said, "Bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there". Now water represents what refreshes and cheers one in the earth, earthly mercies. The water was a distinct favour from God, but while even the three hundred owned that it was a mercy, they showed in the manner in which they partook of it that they had deeper and greater interests at heart. And this is therefore the first qualification for a true servant in an evil day. Thus Moses proved himself to be such by "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season". He forgets himself in order to serve, risks his life to deliver an Israelite; and when weary and sad at heart, a lonely stranger by the well of Midian, he forgets his own troubles and delivers the women and waters their flock. The one who has a heart really set for service, and fit for it, always thinks how he can serve others, regardless of himself. He proves by his ability to deny himself, like a well-drilled soldier, that he is qualified for service. Daniel and his fellows refused the king's meat and the king's wine, and thus proved that, being masters of their own appetites, they were qualified for great service. Paul declares, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest ... when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway"; and again he says, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes". He is not only comforted by the

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Lord, but he is able to comfort others, as he himself has been comforted of God; 2 Corinthians 1. Many a man is cured or relieved of maladies or sufferings and yet has no ability to cure or relieve another; for in order to be able to relieve the suffering of another, I must study the course and nature of the suffering, as well as enjoy the relief from it myself.

In the journeyings of Israel through the wilderness, Amalek represents the flesh which opposes their onward course. "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel", Exodus 17:8. By birth they were Syrians, and they were bondmen in Egypt. After their deliverance from Egypt, they are opposed by Amalek. Now Amalek is in type anyone, either ourselves or those nearest to us, who oppose our course. To such we must not yield; and there will always be open and palpable victory according as we wait on God in our hearts. Thus in the conflict with Amalek, it was when Moses' hands were kept up that Joshua prevailed. Henceforth the ability to fight against Amalek becomes the test of real power. Thus Saul was tested in 1 Samuel 15; "Go and smite Amalek" was the Lord's word to him. Now in the way in which this injunction is observed does every one prove his power for service. Saul failed under the test. He only destroyed the vile and the refuse, that he "utterly destroyed", but he spared Agag, and the best of everything. This in principle is what many a servant does in the present day. While destroying the refuse, he spares the best; he has regard for that which man regards; he savours of the things which be of men, and not of the things which be of God. It was thus that Saul proved himself incompetent for the throne. "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king", is the word of the Lord to Samuel. Joseph, on the contrary, proves that he has the qualification for a true servant; he refuses in Potiphar's house to be anything else but a bondman. God is more before him than himself. Saul could not refuse the best; the best

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of the spoil was to him what the water was to the nine thousand seven hundred who set out with Gideon -- too much for him; he thought of himself and he was disqualified for the throne. He was given there the finest opportunity of proving his fidelity to the Lord, and he failed; while Moses proved his ability for service in one so small and unseen as helping the women who were oppressed by the shepherds.

The second quality necessary for a servant is viewing or judging of man, and of everything, as they are in the eyes of God, or in relation to Him. As the first is the virtue of the 'forlorn hope' who counted not their lives dear unto themselves, in order that they might secure the interests of Christ; the next is, that as I see Him in His glory, so am I able to judge of everything of man as in relation to Him. It is in proportion as I see Him thus that I can judge of what is of man; but if I only see the height partially, I can only judge of the depth partially. In the epistle to the Ephesians we get this contrast. When we are set in the highest elevation, as in chapter 1, then the greatest disclosure is made of the corruption of man in the flesh, in chapter 4. It is only as the servant knows his connection with God that he can refuse what is contrary to Him, and be really and truly for the Lord among men. Moses was pre-eminently qualified for being the Lord's servant, at the time when in answer to his own request, "Shew me thy glory", his face shone from the effect of it. He had witnessed many a wonder from the hand of God, and had been the instrument of many; but now, when Israel worshipped a calf, he for the first time requests to see the glory of God; and the effect is that his face shines, and thereby the distance is exposed which is morally between man and God. They "could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance". Thus too with Isaiah, in chapter 6; he is not fit to be a prophet in the lowest state of things in Israel until he has learned that before the King, the

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Lord of hosts, his iniquity is taken away, and his sin purged. The servant's ability to judge of things here depends on the height of his personal and conscious connection with the Lord. The Lord presents this in Luke 9, when after the transfiguration, the highest elevation for a man on earth, He descends from the holy mount, not only to encounter the worst form of Satan's assault on man, but to announce the momentous tidings, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men"; there will be a close of His history in a fearful death. How can I know what man is in himself, or what he is in relation to God, but as I know God? One may, like Job, hear of Him by the hearing of the ear, but what a change when one sees Him! "Now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself". The servant who is not high up consciously can never judge largely or fully of what man is in relation to God at the time. Stephen is consciously connected with the glory of God and Jesus, and then he is personally qualified, not only to announce where the Son of man is, but to endure the worst of sufferings without swerving from serving those from whom he suffered. Paul is introduced into the full elevation of a man in Christ, and he learns in himself the weakness of man and the sufficiency of grace, so that he takes pleasure in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon him. In the knowledge of the good, he can refuse the bad. As possessor of the highest things, he can refuse all inferior things. He can maintain the standard because he knows it, and is of it. Gold remains gold, however it may be abused or defaced.

The third quality or proof of power to serve is patient dependence on God when everything is against one. There is no way in which our capacity for service is so tested as by being placed in circumstances where we have no door of escape but from God. Joseph in prison -- "The word of the Lord tried him" -- is

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prepared or fitted for service by his patient dependence on God. Many a servant does not understand why he is subjected to imprisonment, any more than Job understood why he was deprived of everything. Every competent servant is imprisoned in some way or other, in order to be tried in the balances as to whether he has patient dependence; whether he can be, as it were, steady under fire. David at Ziklag is a very striking example; everything was against him at that moment. His conscience must have reproached him for being in the Philistine territory, his heart was bereaved, for his wives and children had been carried away, his property was destroyed, and his friends spake of stoning him. In such an accumulation of distress he proved to be God's servant, for "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God". When Joseph was suffering from the irons in prison; when Job was scraping himself with a potsherd; and when David was at Ziklag, none of them had any conception of the high service for which they were being proved competent; and this is very instructive. We see this patient dependence in Paul and Silas at Philippi. He had been called by a man of Macedonia to come and help them. He had been at Philippi for "certain days"; no man had come forward. Satan had offered to countenance him; and when Paul refused it, the power of the world endeavoured to crush him; his feet were made fast in the stocks, but his patient dependence on God continued. At midnight they prayed and gave thanks, and when they little expected it the Lord appeared to them, and the jailor is at their feet seeking salvation. Thus the true servant waits patiently on God when everything is apparently against him, and thus he is proved competent for serving according to the Lord's mind at the time.

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Once that faith in God, guided by His word, became the power and light for the walk of the saint on earth, from that time every visible thing or judgment of man, when entertained, weakened and diverted him from the path of faith. It is important for us, as saints of God, to be assured of the principle of our being. God has affixed laws to all created things; the sun and the moon obey His orders, and it becomes us to ascertain the divine law laid down for us. The great fundamental principle is faith; "without faith it is impossible to please him", and any departure from faith must entail weakness and decline.

When faith works, it is true to itself. Faith reckons on God, and acts independently of other things, looking only to Him. It is when the heart is beset by things around, and faith has lost its control, that other influences spring up and supplant it. Faith is entirely new to man, and contrary to his natural habit of judgment, however keen that may be. It is strange to him to close his eyes to the visible and to his own feelings, and to look for a new light, a divine judgment about everything. This faith does, and while faith is acting, there is a marked energy in separating from the things which savour of man; but as soon as faith wanes or ceases to be active, then other influences rule. For the heart of man must be governed by something, and unless a power greater than man's own mind rules his heart, he must be ruled by what springs up there, or by what acts upon him as a man. It is plain that man is either under the control of God, entirely outside and beyond the natural, or under that which is natural and within his own reach. There is neither spring nor power in the natural mind to reach to what is of God; it must be introduced and communicated to him. And hence if there be any cessation or interruption of the new action,

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the things which naturally influence man must resume their force, and this is looking back. Now we must guard against this in a double way. On the one hand we have to keep the heart with all diligence under the action of the word; and on the other, to avoid everything which calls up the old influences because, they in themselves suit the natural mind, and "no man ... having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better". So when we begin in faith, and so long as faith is active, there is a going forward, a surrendering of things for the Lord, which after a few years are often resumed. The actual truth which led to a certain profession is not denied, but the activities which, like green leaves upon a tree, indicated real life and power have died off. The tree remains in the same place, but it bears little or no signs of life, and there is no growth, but the older it becomes the more its branches wither and leave it a spectacle of declining greatness.

The saint is turned aside, or looks to things behind, from two causes; one, from the pressure of circumstances, and the other, because of the attractions of things here. We find these personated in Proverbs 2; one is the man of evil which causes fear, the other, the woman of flattery. From the first the Lord mercifully restores, when the heart is awakened to repentance; from the latter, when persisted in, there is no restoration as to testimony, though salvation be not forfeited. We get an instance of the first in Abram in Genesis 12, when from the pressure of famine he went down into Egypt. Again Jonah, fearing service, flees to Tarshish; Peter from fear denies the Lord; Paul, pressed by James in Acts 21, returns to Jewish things. There are several examples in scripture of the saint turning back from fear, or from the pressure of circumstances; and yet the Lord, who has compassion on us because of the weakness of our frame, restores him, and he is found again in the path of faith and obedience. If he had

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walked in faith, he would have been supported by God, and would have risen above and beyond all that is natural to man. Pressure arises from the fear of death or its consequences; and for a man to be superior to fear, he must know a power greater than his own; he must be possessed of the power of God. "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life". It requires more than natural power not to fear "them that kill the body" (Luke 12), and as man truly says, 'Self-preservation is the first law of nature'. It is sad when a saint yields to this pressure; but the Lord in mercy restores him, having first exposed to him his own inability to stand in such circumstances, and then leads him in the very path from which he had swerved, and to endure the very thing which he had feared, as we see in the instances which I have adduced. I think many a one may look to things behind -- may turn aside from fear; but if it be only fear, he will be restored to bear up again and endure much more than what at first deterred him. The Lord remembers that we are but dust, and yet He will not depart from His own line or course for us; and though we may turn away from it from fear, the time will come when He will lead us to stand where we had failed, and will teach us, as He taught Moses, that there we must endure. So was it also with Peter; he succumbed through fear, but the Lord tells him, "When thou shalt be old ... another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not"; he should one day lay down his life for Him.

Now the other cause for a servant looking back is quite different. There is no pressure nor fear, but there is temptation -- the woman of flattery, seductive influence. When a saint gives way to this, simply for his own gratification or advantage, and if there be not repentance when chastened or warned of God, there is no restoration to testimony. Lot affords us an example of this. He does not give us the standing of being in the land; but the advantages of Sodom seduce him

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from the path of faith and from the course of a stranger and a pilgrim. There was no real necessity for this step; it was prudent in man's judgment, (but there it was merely man's judgment,) but not according to the call of God, which he surrenders for present advantages, while still in the standing in which the call had set him. And he never recovered; that is to say, he was never found again a witness of the truth of God on earth. He had been warned and saved by Abram, who to rescue him had risked his life, which he had feared to lose when the famine was in the land. But Lot persisted in his self-indulgent course, and was never restored to the testimony which he had professed in his early days. Thus it was also with Samson after his surrender of himself to Delilah; he was never restored to the path which he had previously occupied, and in the end his eyes were put out. Divine power, as the gift of grace, flourished again, but he sank for ever under the first exertion of it; Judges 16:22 - 30. It was so in a measure even with David; he was never the same in public after his fall as he was before it. He began his public career by slaying Goliath, and at the end of it we read that one of the sons of the giants, "being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David", 2 Samuel 21:16. That which most distinguishes the man of faith in his youth, when it is fresh and active, is often the very thing he most fails in at the end of his course. The man who starts in the power of faith, surrendering his position as a man, and forgetting his own people and his father's house, will, if he departs from faith, return to the very thing which he had surrendered. All Israel, excepting a few faithful ones, allowed their hearts to go back to the leeks and onions of Egypt, in preference to the grapes of Canaan which were presented to them as the reward of faith.

The various ways in which the woman of flattery plies her arts are strangely adapted to each of us. It is all to turn us aside from the path of life. The great

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distinction between "wisdom" and "the strange woman" is that the former always gives bread and wine, true sustenance, but proposes separation from evil; see Proverbs 9. The other always proposes something to be enjoyed in secret: "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant". The intrinsic character of this influence is, that one may retain the reputation of a true standing, and yet yield to the fascination, and return to the garb of the world in secret. How many, like the two and a half tribes, even help their brethren openly in the war in the land, who in their hearts and homes have cities on this side Jordan. This is plainly the case with those who profess or preach heavenly truth, and who are yet, in their houses, dress, and personal details, according to the fashion of the world. Where faith is fresh, it readily prescribes the true course, but when the memory becomes occupied with things surrendered, when one is mindful of the country from which one has come out, there is opportunity to return; the leaf begins to wither, even while the tree still stands. The declension will begin in a way almost imperceptible; a little bit of the world once renounced will be resumed; one can hardly say why or how; but then the leaf fades, the healthy verdure of life is gone, and there is no growth. The turning back may be very small; Lot's wife only looked back. The Israelites did not go back to Egypt; they only remembered the leeks and the onions.

There are two phases of this turning back; one is where the world in its outward evil has been renounced, yet as to the heart it is still there. This was the case with the two and a half tribes, and in principle with Ananias and Sapphira. Such gradually slip away, and lose all the comfort of the truth. As with Israel, the rain is stayed, and they perish off the good land; and, like the sow that was washed, wallow in the mire. The other phase is when there is a return to things once renounced, because there is not power to continue in

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the race. They cannot endure to be made little of by their near acquaintances; they do not resist unto blood, striving against sin; and while professedly in the true standing, they have so lost the energy of faith in it that they drop back into old association, and find interest in the society of relations and acquaintances -- resuming little items of worldliness in order that they may be on easy terms -- from whom they had separated at a former time for the Lord's sake. Thus, in varied ways, the heart gets under a false influence, and there is a looking back which unfits for the kingdom of God.

The Lord keep our eye steadily set on Himself, for His name's sake.


The fall of man is admitted by every saint, and also the need and the relief of being saved from the consequences of the fall. The gospel is that faith in Christ saves from the consequences; but the extent of them, or the moral distance of man from God, is very variously and inadequately understood. What that distance is cannot be measured except in proportion as we are consciously near God, as we approach the elevation which He in His grace has assigned to us. While man moves in his level among his fellows, he can at best only detect or refuse what is contrary to man's feelings and what is offensive to man's interests and tastes. He must he raised to some higher association and taste in order to discover the imperfection or defects of his own. All education and refinement work for the end of raising man in the scale morally. But however it may advance him, it cannot place him higher than he is, that is, a fallen creature; and instead of disclosing to him what his fall is in the sight of God, it attempts to make him satisfied with literary progress, and the cultivation of

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his powers and tastes in his present state. The grace of God meets a man in all his moral distance, and that distance as it is seen by God. Man may enjoy the light and work of grace many a long day before he sees in any great degree what his fall or degraded state is in the sight of God. It is only as one is consciously raised into a new and higher order, that one can see by contrast the imperfection, or distance between the old order and the new one. It is not as a man raised in the scale by cultivation sees his fellow man who has not been so raised, and discovers what he needs; but it is to see what man is, his motives, desires, tendencies -- in a word, all that he is -- in God's mind.

Man condemns and judges of man by conduct, and his conscience winces according as he has a sense of what God requires. It was thus that law exposed sin. Sin was there in man's heart before the law; the law only discovered it. "I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet". When it is exposed, then the conscience is affected by it. But as soon as we are in the light of God's presence, we begin to see ourselves as we are in His sight, though the conduct in no way wounds the conscience. Thus it was with Job. Among men he was perfect and upright, one that "escheweth evil". God allowed Satan to deprive him of everything, in order that He might prove to Satan the work of grace in Job's soul. Job, deprived of his property, bereaved of his family, and broken in health, is taught in the presence of God to abhor himself, to repudiate all the hard thoughts he had harboured about God, and all the way in which he had sought to vindicate his own integrity. He exclaims, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes". He would have gone on for ever defending himself and complaining, had he not been led by grace into the light of God's presence; and there, for the first time, his estimate of himself is according

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o the mind of God. All the reasoning and legality of the three friends were ineffectual. The teaching of Elihu had failed. It was seeing God which alone produced this great change in him. Almost every man is ashamed of bad conduct, but where there is everything to commend it is not possible for man to condemn himself. Hence it is overwhelming when, with nothing in his conduct to find fault with, he abhors himself. No amount of exercise produced either by the three friends, or by Elihu, had exposed to him his true condition in the sight of God.

Thus also it was with Moses, though in a different way. He had not only seen all the works of God in Egypt, but he had been the channel of them. He had received on the mount the tables of testimony; he was there forty days and forty nights obtaining patterns for the tabernacle, the figure of the true. And yet, after all these many and various displays of the power and greatness of God, it was not until he saw the glory of God, and his face shone with it, that he discovered the extent of man's moral distance from God. When he was disheartened because of the idolatry of the children of Israel and their perverseness, his cry to God was, "Shew me thy glory"; when he beheld it his face shone, and when he appeared among the people they were afraid to look at him. The glory of God shining on Moses' face exposed the moral distance between man and God. As in Job's case no amount of exercise of mind, though brought about in various ways, was effectual in enlightening him as to his real state in the sight of God, so it was with Moses; no amount of the knowledge of the actings or ways of God, however various, or of the beauty and perfection of heaven, had disclosed to him the measure of the distance between man and God. Hence the apostle uses this incident in order to show the difference between law and grace. Under law man could not bear to look at the glory shining on Moses' face; but now,

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because of the work of Christ, we can with unveiled face behold His glory and be transformed by it.

Isaiah is another example; he was a prophet highly favoured of God. Great communications had been made to him; the vision of God's purpose had been presented to him, and yet he had never measured his actual condition as a man before God until he saw the glory of God; Isaiah 6. Thus we see that knowledge, however extended or however special, wilt not of itself expose man's true state before God. When Isaiah sees the glory he exclaims, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips". Strange words for one so gifted and enlightened! but it needs the brightness of divine glory to throw into contrast man's moral state.

We have seen that neither exercise of the conscience, as with Job, nor the possession of the greatest power, and even a view of heaven, as with Moses, nor intelligence and gift, as with Isaiah, can impart a true sense of man's moral distance, but that in every instance the light of God's presence alone discloses it. Now let us turn to Luke 9. There the Lord in Himself establishes this principle. He is transfigured on the holy mount. He enters into the greatest moral height; but when He comes down from the mount, not only is the worst manifestation of Satan's power occupying the disciples, but the crowning sin of man in crucifying Him is openly declared by Him. He says, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men". No sooner is there disclosed, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest exaltation ever accorded to man, than there is disclosed correspondingly both the present energy of Satan, and the dreadful hostility of man in his natural state to the man thus exalted, the Lord Jesus Christ. The greatness of man's exaltation in the person of the Lord prepared for the disclosure of the extent of man's suffering from the power of evil, as well as the

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terrible suicidal evil in himself that should lead him to kill the One thus exalted. We often hear saints say in reply to the warning of another, 'I do not see anything wrong in it'. The fact is, our motive is never seen except as we are in nearness to God; and instead of trying to get rid of this thing or that, as reformers propose, the only real or correct way is first to see it clearly, as it appears in the brightest light; but this cannot be until we are in the light. It is an immense gain and favour to be in the region where I am truly exposed, for in proportion as I am, the very same scene and power shelters and separates me from that which is exposed in all its hideousness. It is as we possess and enjoy the treasure (see 2 Corinthians 4) that we can carry about in our body the dying of Jesus. That which would mar and counteract it is exposed, and because of it we know that the excellency of the power is of God and not of us, and as we live we are delivered unto death. As the bright side is reached, the dark side is discerned. It is a great thing to see and to accept this principle; it has much practical power. The effort to see evil while one is still in evil is vain; there is no power to expose or escape from it. One is often, I might say, tantalised in seeing good which one cannot attain to. I might long for wings for ever and be no nearer having them, but once I have them I can say, "In vain the net is spread in the sight of anything which hath wings", that is, one who is literally above it and who sees it. This is what grace does. God sets me in nearness to Himself in Christ; and as I learn my nearness to Him, I am prepared for the exposure of my natural distance from Him, and I am, through grace, morally apart and sheltered from it, at the very moment when I discover it. The greater my height, the greater the enormity of the depth appears; but I am safe from it, rejoicing that I am safe. As a consequence I "rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh".

Stephen being full of the Holy Spirit, "looked up

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stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus". He is shown the wondrous height to which God had raised him in Christ, but this only prepares him for the terrible disclosure as to man and evil on the earth.

The council, the heads of his people and of his religion, those who sat in Moses' seat, the great functionaries of the law, "ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him". He hands over his spirit to Jesus, but he dies at the hands of man here. He who had just entered into and enjoyed the highest elevation with God, now suffers in death from the terrible evil of man. He whose face was as the face of an angel bears in his body, because of his faithful service, the effects of man's desperate distance from God and hatred of Him. Stephen first sees and enjoys the height in glory, and then man's diabolical evil bears down on him. Paul is caught up into heaven; he does not know whether he is in the body or out of the body; he is sensible of, and intelligent as to, the greatness of the scene into which he is introduced. But when he returns to his duties on earth, he discovers the evil principle in man's nature, not, as with Stephen, by the stones bearing down on him from the hand of man, but by a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him. He experiences the terrible fact that there is a door for Satan through his flesh, and that he requires this disclosure, and this suffering from the power of evil, in order to check and to hinder the tendency of his flesh to be puffed up. He is more elevated than Stephen, and he feels in his own flesh man's moral degradation, while Stephen sinks under it from the hands of God's earthly people.

The Lord lead us into the shelter of His holy presence, that we may daily grow in the elevation to which He has raised us, and consequently into moral distance from the old man which is so entirely estranged from the light and perfection in His presence.

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As man is immeasurably below God in mind and intelligence, he cannot know His will, or indeed anything about Him, but as He is pleased to reveal it. Hence if God would make Himself known, or communicate His pleasure, His word is the first thing. By it He expresses His pleasure and counsel. There is no knowing either but by the word. At first, in the garden of Eden, the word of God defined the course of action for man which was well-pleasing to God, and Satan's successful effort was to contravene it, and to divert man from it. When man has deviated from the word of God, he must sink to the level of his own mind about everything, and is without any safeguard against Satan. The word is the revelation of God's mind. It is to me what a map is in a country in which I am a stranger; the more it is adhered to, the more is its value known, and when I am deprived of it, I am exposed to every wile. It is simple that the word is the first thing; and whatever is the most important truth communicated, that is the one which Satan most insidiously and assiduously opposes. I have no map, no guide for anything, no safeguard or power against the devil, but as I maintain the word. But besides the word, there is the presence of the Lord. The word is the revelation of His mind; without it I am in complete ignorance; but having received the word as His, and being in conscience ruled by it, there is added His presence. When Adam had disobeyed the word of God, he was afraid, and hid himself from the presence of the Lord. To be in full enjoyment of the presence of the Lord is the highest favour which He can confer on us. The acme of everything is when the father says to the prodigal, "Let us eat, and be merry".

Now in the Old Testament we constantly find the words, "The Lord said" so and so, that is, He communicated His mind, uttered His word, when He did not

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appear; but whenever He appears, it is with marked and peculiar blessing to the saint. The first one of whom this is recorded is Abram, in Genesis 12:7. "The Lord appeared unto Abram", and it is added, "and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him"; and without question, this and other appearances of the Lord to him -- that of Melchisedec, in chapter 14, the visit of the three men in chapter 18, etc. -- made an impression on Abraham which no communication, however great, could do, The communication is divine light given, but the presence forms one in heart in keeping with itself. Everyone knows the difference between the counsel of his friend and his personal presence. I need not multiply examples. The appearance of the Lord in the burning bush imparts to Moses the personal presence which was to support him in his work, as the appearance of the Captain of the Lord's host in Joshua 5, was to encourage and uphold Joshua. The word sets forth the line of action, but the presence assures the heart of power direct from the Lord, to sustain one in the path prescribed by the word, so that we can understand the solicitude which Moses felt for the presence of the Lord when he said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence".

The New Testament opens with the Word being made flesh and dwelling among us. We have the Word in personal presence. The nature and effect of it have been known on earth. The apostles knew it; while He was with them, they lacked nothing. When, therefore, He was leaving the world and going to the Father, He set forth in the figure of washing their feet how He would apply the word to separate them from whatever would distance them from Himself. He would so act on them that they would be detached from the defiling influence here. But this was not all the provision He had made for them during His absence. Their hearts were not to be troubled. By faith they were to follow Him where He would prepare a place, and as they

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loved Him they would keep His words, all that reminded them of Him while on earth. And besides, He would come to them; He would manifest Himself to them, He would dwell in their hearts by faith. By the word He would separate them from the defilement of the world, so that they could have part with Him; there would be no break to an unreserved intimacy, but by faith they would follow Him to heaven; and besides, He would not leave them orphans, He would come to them.

In the account of our Lord's interview with the two disciples going to Emmaus, in Luke 24, we get the different effects of the word and the presence. First, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Never was there an exposition equal to this, and no subject could be so interesting. The effect of it was that their hearts burned within them while He opened unto them the Scriptures; and saints are often content with this. He instructed them in order to prepare them for the manifestation of Himself. Now when He was known to them in breaking of bread, they rose up at the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem; an energy was acquired which the greatest instruction had not imparted, and they were actually in the same path with Himself, for as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them. There will always be an effort of the enemy to divert us from the word; but there must be care also that the word is not rested in merely in its own most blessed light and communication, but that it carries us to its Author. This we see in Hebrews 4:12 - 16. There the word is shown to be the great agent of blessing, "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 ... all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do". The word carries us to God, but not only this,

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for now the presence of the Lord in sympathy is sensibly known to our hearts; verses 15, 16. We are scrutinised by the word, kept in the true path; and then we find the Lord in company with us in it, because the path which the word enjoins on us is the one which had been observed by Himself; and as soon as we are in the path, then do we enjoy His sympathy, supporting and sustaining us in all the difficulties on either side. Where the word only is known, there may be true divine joy, the joy of intelligence, which the communication of His mind must impart, but at best it is the conscience only which is enlightened; there is no happy model before one of the manner and habits which the word would produce. One is like a mechanic who, though well instructed in pulleys and every mechanical force, has never seen any of them in use. Now this accounts for the feeble and imperfect ways of many well taught in the word. No one can have the ways or manners of one very superior to himself except by being in his company. The word or the teaching is the guide to my conscience, but it is as I learn Jesus personally that I am really able, not only to quiet my conscience, but to go far beyond it. It is quite a different thing to point out to a child what to do by giving him clear rules about it, and to show him how it is to be done. There is often the rigid dictum, clear and comprehensive, but lacking the grace of life which is conveyed by a living example.

The Lord in John 17, when speaking of sanctification, says, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth". This is the light and counsel by which they are to be set according to God. As the washing of the feet frees us from the defilement in the world, so does sanctification lead us into the path suitable to God. The word is the light for this path, but were it only the word, there would not be a known standard of sanctification or a defined measure of it. But when He adds, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might

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be sanctified through the truth" (or 'in truth', that is, characteristically), we find that the Lord Himself, who is the living expression of the word, is the standard and measure of sanctification. And while the word prescribes the path for me, yet it is only as I am kept in spiritual association with Him that I have the tastes and ways of a person separated unto God from all that is here, and then I understand the unique and holy course I am to observe here. I am sanctified in truth, I am characterised by it. It not only guides me, but I am a guide myself, because of its controlling power on me. I have not only received light, but my body is luminous. As the moon reflects the light of the absent sun, because attracted by it, and with nothing between them, so do I, by association in spirit with the Lord where He is, set forth the same character of separateness unto God as His; so that I have not only a direction as to what I ought to be, but I have a Model whose spirit and ways I imbibe as I am in association with Him.

The Lord keep our hearts more intently watching for Him until we see Him and are for ever like Him.


The difference between human and divine knowledge is that the former is merely information, the latter is formative. Human knowledge does not alter me, but develops my natural state. The word of God forms me anew. I am born again of incorruptible seed, even the word of God. It is a new existence, entirely superior to the old existence, and receiving no help or countenance from it; on the contrary, it is hindered and checked by the old, and from the very start it assumes an independent course and derives all its strength from the Spirit of God. "As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby". It is only as I practically accept and live in what the word communicates

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that I can know what it confers, because I have no idea of the order of nature of the new creation except as I am consciously in it. I have natural instincts as to that for which I am naturally fitted, be it to walk, or read, or sing. There must be natural ability; human teaching cannot impart the ability, though it can cultivate, increase, and develop it. But the word of God by the Spirit forms an entirely new creature, and this is as distinct in its new order from the old one as the butterfly is from the caterpillar. In the new creation everything is conferred according to the measure of grace; and hence no idea can be known except as an action is produced.

There is no convincing a person born blind of the nature of light, because the power of sight is unknown to him, and no reasoning or description can explain it to him; but the moment he sees, all the mystery is solved, and the difficulty is at an end.

It is useless to reason with an unconverted person. All seems an impracticable theory until the light has broken in on him and he believes; then he understands what before was wholly beyond him. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God". Faith not only admits the truth, but it sees; there is power to produce a practical acknowledgment of it, and the faith is certified by this acknowledgment. God in grace sends the word; the moment it is accepted through the Spirit there is an act, and the act of faith makes what was before incomprehensible simple and clear. When you act as one really believing, you not only confirm your faith, but you are assured of the simplicity and reality of the truth you have believed, because it is truth. The woman in Luke 7 believed the report of verses 16 and 17; and in acting on it, in following the Lord into the Pharisee's house, it became plain and intelligible to herself that Jesus was her Saviour; the practice which followed the faith explained and confirmed the truth to her. Faith without works is dead.

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The real cause of our lack of intelligence and power is that there is so little acting in answer to our faith. Had this woman in Luke 7 contented herself with believing that Jesus was her Saviour, how great would have been her loss, both as to the confirmation of grace to herself, and the testimony to the fact to others. Her boldness in braving the Pharisee's taunts not only obtained for her an interview with the Saviour in whom she believed, but ensured to her the confirmation of His grace from His own lips, while the devotedness of her acts established in her own heart the full confidence of faith. She was convinced of the beauty and value of the One in whom she believed.

Many in the present day believe that the blood of Christ, like the blood on the lintel in Egypt, is the only shelter from the judgment of God. But there is neither confirmation of this truth to their own souls, nor open testimony to the fact, because there is no feeding on the lamb, on Christ, in secret; no outward manner and bearing, with loins girt, shoes on their feet, and staff in their hand, proclaiming that they are not only safe in the place of judgment, but that they are openly and avowedly going away from it; Exodus 12.

The rescued mariner, although transferred from the wreck to the lifeboat, must sigh for shore, and the more so the more perilous his position has been. It is not possible to convey to a soul the blessedness of leaving the world until he has acted on his faith, and sought the Lord within closed doors, having openly packed up and prepared to journey away from all here. Who could explain to another what walking on the water means, who had never tried to do so? Even in natural things it is so; no one can swim who will not venture into the water. Now if the loss from not acting in faith be so palpable in the very infancy of the new life, how much more must it be so in the higher truths. The real cause of dullness of apprehension of truth, and consequently of the frequent opposition to it, is that the truth presented

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has never been reduced to practice. Sometimes it has been listened to and discarded as impracticable, because it has not been subjected to the test of practice; and sometimes, even when the truth is accepted, the acceptance merely amounts to an acquiescence as to its being true, instead of a conviction that it is a truth which is materially to affect one's whole state; and when this last is not the result, there is an indifference to it in the heart.

It is at once fearful and surprising, the amount of truth which lies inactive without budding in our hearts, even in what is really admitted, admired, and prized, because there has not been any attempt to shape oneself to it. This is the real cause of the weakness in the conversions in the present day. Never was there a day since the apostles' time when so much truth was in circulation, and yet never a day when conversions were of so feeble a type. When there was less truth, every convert impressed his companions with at least the deep work in his soul by his retirement from worldly pleasures and his strict observance of duties; but now, with the clearer knowledge of grace, there seems to be no apprehension of higher responsibilities, and the idea is that as it is all of grace, there need be no works at all. There is the admission of being rescued from judgment, without any sense of having received a new nature, to discharge higher functions and to express greater sentiments than could be known to the old one. There is the sense of being delivered from a penal death, but no sense of the fact that an entirely new condition of life is conferred, more different from the old than that of the butterfly from that of the caterpillar. Possibly the preachers fail in pressing home the utter and deplorable ruin of the old state, and consequently do not insist in spiritual earnestness on the great, distinct, and marvellous qualities of the new. However that may be, it is evident that, though faith may accept the means of salvation, there is no real knowledge of what salvation

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is, except as there is taken a step or steps which confirm or corroborate the faith. And if this be the case with elementary truth, how much more must a saint be hindered by not attempting to practise the higher truths which he does not deny.

I have already noted that some escape the edge of this remark by at once refusing the truth as impossible. In their ignorant prudence they are like a man refusing to enter the water until he can swim. As to this class I will only add, May the Lord in His mercy open their ears to hear!

But I will suppose, for example's sake, those who have accepted the truth that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ. Now this class I divide into four varieties. The first -- which are the least enlightened -- meet you with this difficulty: 'I see what is presented in Scripture that heaven is our present portion, but I do not feel that it imparts anything to me; I wish it did. On the contrary, while I admit the truth, I find I can enjoy the earth in many ways'. It is evident by their own showing that those who comprise this section have never by faith entered on this new ground. Their faith is dead. They have not gone in and set their foot on the place given to them. Practice would soon clear away this difficulty, and the delight of possession would disabuse their minds of the impracticability of the heavenly truth, but there is not purpose of heart to practise, because of the attractions here. Now the second class accept the truth as orthodox, and are not diverted from it by unwillingness to give up enjoyments here. On the contrary they maintain, and that with great truthfulness, that all real solace must come from the Lord; but instead of taking the actual position of being dwellers in heaven, and coming from there to earth, they only look up to heaven for help as to their walk on earth; and their thoughts and labours are always influenced and dictated by the state and order of things on earth; and instead of pressing upon man the mind of the

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Lord as learned in heaven, they are occupied with the blessing of man on earth.

The difficulty of exposing this state is great, because, with the acceptance of heavenly truth, there is genuine zeal and devoted service for man's blessing on earth, but only as a pilgrim going on to heaven, and no real practical consciousness of being, as a heavenly man, at home in heaven now. Hence the idea is avowed that there would not be the same extent of practice if the higher truth were adopted. It is true that the heavenly truth does not produce a practice as visible or as easily discerned as the doctrine which makes man very prominently the object. What commends itself to the mind of man is preferred to the heavenly and declared to be the better, and thus the "testimony of the Lord" and "of me, his prisoner" (Paul) is practically neglected.

The third variety are those who have seen and admired heavenly truth, but fearing the narrow path and circumscribed service and fellowship in labour to which it would reduce them, they veered away in order to be more visibly and extensively useful, and with a larger circle of companions; but they never progress, and they suffer in their souls as well as hinder the testimony.

The fourth are those who not only accept the truth and adhere to it, but study to be practically in it; and as they do so, every difficulty is perfectly solved, and the path, because divine, becomes clearer every day. They go from strength to strength, empowered for still greater advance, because of the very power which has enabled them to make so much progress. I may illustrate these four states by four conditions of a bird's life. The first resembles a bird in the nest where its natural maturing is in order that it may be able to leave the nest, but in opposition to its own nature wishing to prolong its stay there. The second is like a bird with a broken wing, which can only move on the earth. The fourth alone enjoys in a wide expanse the wondrous abilities with which it has been endowed, simply because

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it uses the power that has been conferred on it. Thus practice explains to oneself in one's own soul, and to others in testimony, the nature and qualities of the power of grace, otherwise inexplicable, and never comprehended until one acts as one believes; for this is the work of faith with power, and faith is thus made perfect.


The effect of the revelation of Christ in glory to the heart of Saul of Tarsus was to awaken in him and draw from him the question, "What shall I do, Lord?" When one is truly convinced of the folly and evil of one's course hitherto, there arises necessarily in the heart and conscience this inquiry: What am I to do? How shall I act? The nature or the measure of the effect of the revelation of Christ to my heart is declared by the earnestness and simplicity in which I seek to know from Him what He would have me to do. When He absolutely fills the heart, conscious of its insubjection heretofore, and seeking now to yield itself altogether to Him, it utters the anxious question, "What wilt thou have me to do?"

Now my doing anything for the Lord depends as to its intent and scope on the measure of my knowledge of what He has done for me. If there be any defect in my reception of the fulness of His work for me, there will be a corresponding and distinct trace of this flaw in my work for Him. Love always has an act expressive of itself, and in, or rather by, this act, it betrays itself in a peculiar way. "We love him, because he first loved us". His acts demonstrate the nature and quality of His love, and ours, of our love; and the order and quality of our love to Him will be according to the idea we have formed, and the measure in which we have apprehended His love to us. With Saul of Tarsus everything was so assured to him, a Saviour in glory was so distinctly

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revealed to him, that self was set aside, and the Lord's pleasure entirely and absolutely swayed him. It is plain that if there be any limitation in my heart of what Christ is for me, it must impart a bias to my response to Him. Paul declares that at his conversion it pleased God to reveal His Son in him. When Christ obtains the absolute place in the heart, it has no object but Christ, and therefore it implicitly defers to Him about everything.

It is important to see that the first cause of unspiritual and unapproved real service can be traced to the weakness of the soul's apprehension of Christ's service to it. Every true observer must admit that there is a vast amount of zeal without knowledge, resulting in unsuited work, in the present day. Works are entered on because the necessities of the hour seem to suggest or require them, and not in simple obedience to Christ. No one can truly serve the Lord but as he knows the Lord's pleasure with respect to the service. He must be inwardly and outwardly fitted for it. The Lord does not employ unfitted servants for His work. He prepares them for it, imparts His own grace, so that "by the grace of God I am what I am".

Thus true service depends on two things; first, on the measure of my heart's apprehension of Christ for myself, and secondly, on my fitness for the service committed to me, a really subject one. If I am defective in either of these, there will be a defect in every service undertaken, however useful and laborious it may be. Moses had purpose of heart to serve the Lord in Exodus 2; he chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season". But he had to be fitted for it in this double way; he was not only to lose his self-confidence, but to have his own soul established with God, and to learn what it was to act for God, to come to man from God. The want of this is really the great lack in servants. They are not fully brought to God away and apart from all the influences

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of man, and therefore do not come back to man with only God's mind and without any other prepossession. If they have never been so near God that every human influence was in abeyance, they could not possibly act independently of it in their intercourse with man. Moses learns to distrust his own power; but better still, he is taught, in the presence of God, the mind of God and His power (Exodus 3); and when he has really entered on God's service, and because he has, he is exposed to judgment from the Lord for having neglected to circumcise his son; the ministry must not be blamed; Exodus 4:24. There must be suitability in the servant, and this suitability is twofold; on the one hand it is separation from the order and influence of things here, and on the other, conformity to Christ, which is only acquired in His presence.

In order to serve truly we must be first assured of our acceptance in the glory of God. This is the first thing, because until the soul has reached this point there has never been a locus standi apart from man, and it is from there the servant comes forth to do his Master's will. Secondly, he must seek his Lord's mind, and that unmixed and unleavened by anything of man. He is like the admiral at sea, no preconceived ideas of his own as to his course. Until the sealed orders are opened and read, he knows nothing as to the destination of his fleet.

Moses, like many of us, learnt the unprofitableness of himself first, and then he found what it was to be in a new order of things near God, where he could learn His mind; and thus he was fitted to be a servant.

Peter, in Luke 5, is an instance of how the service is always characterised by the soul's apprehension of Christ. At first he lends his ship to the Lord for teaching the people, when called on to do so, and lets down his net for a draught at the word of Christ; but when, convicted of being a "sinful man", he learns that Jesus can take away fear from his heart in the presence of

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God, he leaves all and follows Him. There is great advance in the order of service between these two actions. But after the resurrection, in John 21, there is still more. After the Lord had taught him that he must be entirely cast on Him, after He had probed his heart as to the self-confidence which had led to his denying Him, he says to him, "Follow me", and then foretells the death he should die in the service which should result from following Him. Now the advance in each of these services was in correspondence to the advance in Peter's knowledge of divine grace. In proportion to the perfection of his knowledge of grace was the perfection of his service as to its character; and we see each of these forms of service up to this hour.

What really gives power to a servant is having a true sense of what it is to be in a sphere where he is independent of every influence but his Master's. He is by nature connected with a sphere where the influences, even of the air, are against his Lord, therefore to be independent of all influence or support around is his first great lesson in service. Joseph's first lesson in this school was that his father, who had hitherto countenanced and upheld him, did not understand him, but rebuked him when he told him what God had revealed to him in a dream; Genesis 37:10. Thus from the first he was cast entirely on God, and then in the pit, in bondage, and in prison he was prepared for service.

We see in the case of Jonah, of Ezekiel, and of Daniel, how necessary and important it is for the servant to have his base, as I may say, with God; and while that is kept up he can never fail. When the heart is assured of this base, then, like Isaiah in chapter 6, when the Lord asks, "Whom shall I send?" it can say, "Send me". He is not afraid or unwilling to face anything among men, because he knows his base is with God; and being accepted and at rest there, he can come forth and act for God here, happy in the consciousness of his place with God, from whom and for whom he comes. It

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was thus in perfection with our blessed Lord, who, amidst all the opposition and evil of man, could say in rest of heart, "I thank thee, O Father".

The happy and the really useful servant is the one who pleases his Lord. Unless this is the spring and motive of service there will be failure, and in order to please Him I must study Him. I shall never know what pleases the Lord unless I am constantly near Him, not by resorting to Him in prayer now and again, but rather by abiding in His company long enough to get the impression of it, like Moses on the mount, until I am coloured by His mind. If I do not sit at His feet and hear His word, I shall fall into one or another of the many mistakes as to service rife enough at this hour. I must not only hear His word, I must be in His company. Everything depends on this. There is no real comprehension of the word but in His presence; at least the moral range or claim of it cannot be apprehended anywhere else. If, as I have already endeavoured to show, this moral sense or claim be unknown, even though the purpose be true as with Moses, or the heart ready as with Martha, the service will be ineffectual and unapproved by the Master. Studying the Lord and His mind alone prepares for true and effectual service, and servants of this class refer all to His judgment, content to be unseen and unrecognised, provided that they are pleasing Him. To please the Master is the one satisfaction to their hearts. The two other classes who, while attempting service, lose sight of it in its highest sense, are, firstly, those who seek to carry out a right purpose in a wrong way, using any means for this purpose; and secondly, those who with a really loving heart determine what would please the Lord from their own idea of what is fitting in the circumstances. Moses when he slew the Egyptian is a type of the first, as is Peter when he cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, and John when he asked the Lord to call down fire from heaven. All these were true men, but were seeking

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to arrive at a right end by unspiritual means. The truest servant may be tempted to resort to means of this kind, like David, who actually tried on Saul's armour before he had wisdom to refuse it. The secret desire is to produce an effect by visible means, and then faith and the invisible acting of God's Spirit are superseded and ignored, often most unintentionally. This class of servants, when not checked by the light of God's word, have not hesitated to use fire and sword, or any engine, to bring about a desired end. They suffer often, too, in a most exemplary way, but they really -- and it is with this we have to do -- have not truly inquired of the Lord, "What wilt thou have me to do?" nor have they obtained instructions from Him as to the mode and manner of carrying out His mind. To produce a desired effect by any lawful means is the grand principle of this class; and I need hardly say that, though answered according to their faith, they are not "friends" of Christ; they do not know what their Lord doeth.

Now Martha is a type of the second of these last two classes. She really loved the Lord, but she judged as to what would please Him by her own feelings instead of His. Thus she thought that the service which would be most acceptable to Him at the moment would be providing food; and she intrudes this service on Him as superior to that which was really meeting His mind. Hers was a kind, useful work, but she acquired the idea of it from her own mind, and not from the Lord; and here she failed, and here it is that all that I may call officious serving in the present day fails. Nothing perhaps so effectively, because so insidiously, diverts the heart from Christ personally as the service which stands under the head of usefulness. Singing a hymn or reading a chapter in a meeting might come under this head. You never see a person who is occupied with mere usefulness near the Lord. This may seem a hard censure, but the fact is that where the mind is taken up with usefulness, it is taking note of the state of things

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around -- man's want, the soul's need, etc., all right if regarded as secondary, but all diverting from the true centre when looked at as primary. To one who makes them primary there is no check. Need being the thing before his mind, there may be as much need in one place as another, and such a one would as soon go to Bithynia as to Philippi; see Acts 16:7, 12. Thus women with true hearts go out of their place in teaching and preaching, thinking that the word warrants their officiousness; as if pleasing the Lord were not the highest and best service, as it ought to be the one most attractive to the heart. All this line of service is based on the pre-supposition that the Lord's pleasure is not to be consulted nor known; and in pursuing it the heart is really diverted from Him to something very visibly useful, as in the case of Ephesus in Revelation 2, where there was great zeal for the circumstantial need and plenty of good works, but the first love had vanished from the heart.

Thus on the one hand we have to guard against seeking to accomplish right things by unspiritual means, and on the other, not to allow our own minds, or even man's need merely, to dictate to us what we are to do, because in either case we have declined from that nearness to the Lord, where His pleasure would have been communicated to us, and where His power would have supported us in keeping with His mind, and preserved us from the use of undue means and from being influenced by visible things. Finally, I would repeat that the only way for a servant to avoid these two snares, or indeed to enter on service which is pleasing to the Lord, is first, that the heart should be assured of its base with God, and secondly, that the great question, "What shall I do, Lord?" should be resolved by the study of the Master's mind in His presence and apart from all human influences.

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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 in 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. Only faith in God 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 truth has always been held by the people of God. But to hinder the testimony being maintained in its fulness

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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, 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 closes. We must bear in mind that our blessed Lord 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

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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 man, 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 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

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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 earth, draw our strength from Him and find our life in Him, through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in each of us, 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, or of himself, His prisoner.

Now the failure of "all who 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 it; 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. 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

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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 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 is the maintenance of this testimony; see John 12:26. It over-rides 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 anyone. 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 of the gospel above the colours under which he serves, 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

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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.


Many saints are conscious of deficiency and want of power who cannot tell the cause of it. No one can prescribe a remedy until he discover the need, but many, after they have become acquainted with the need of the church, or of individual saints, cannot tell what is the true remedy. Like unskilled physicians, they try many remedies; but though actual collapse be prevented by the exercise of heart which there is in trying the remedies, yet the same spiritual need as to its type and nature still continues. Surely almost every conscientious saint can see the great need spiritually of individual souls, and of the church in general; but as a rule they fail in relieving or removing it, because they have not discovered the true remedy. In Scripture there is but the one remedy for any particular defect, and unless one is taught of the Lord to use the spiritual specific, there is no true remedy; and this accounts for so much time being expended in seeking and in doing what in the end proves to be profitless.

Unless I am true to God, and in keeping with His mind at any given time, I cannot be supported by the Holy Spirit. Every true saint from Adam down had to learn that his strength and power to be for God was in proportion as he was in keeping with the mind and purpose of God at the time; otherwise he was not in the current of divine power. There might be holy desires in his heart, but in order to partake of the power and support of God, I must go in His way. Now however truthful or laborious in service any saint may be,

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there is immense loss and glaring defect, where there is lack in holding the Head. Holding the Head is the cardinal truth for the church, and it is the vital point as to power and walk. I do not deny that there is some power, and some attempt to walk with God, where this great truth is unknown or overlooked, but I hope to show in this paper that there can be no real christian energy or practice except in proportion as this cardinal truth is held and enjoyed.

It is a truth entirely belonging to the time of Christ's rejection; it was never revealed until Paul's conversion. Many and various were the energies of divine grace in souls, in great power and zeal, before this truth and the virtues it confers were made known; but those energies, though great and excellent, never did rise up to or participate in union with Christ, which holding the Head implies, and which therefore confers a greater privilege and order of power than could have been known by any saint previous to the ascension of Christ. If saints would admit and maintain that holding the Head is the main point, the heart and seat of life for all personal and relative action in the church of God, there would be a given centre for all saints; and according as it was insisted on and preserved with integrity, the refusal and extirpation of everything contrary to it would be simple and easy. I am very far from making little of the faith or zeal of any of the saints of God before the resurrection of the Lord, but I do say that no saint before that great event could know the privilege and virtue of being united to Him who is the Son of God. But unless souls see the magnitude of this grace, they cannot be exercised as to the gain of accepting it or the loss of overlooking it. Almost every kind of divine virtue was displayed in the line of witnesses from Abel downwards, but in none of them, I need hardly say, was there perfection. This perfection was in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Now a saint might be equal to Abel, or Enoch, or Abram, or Moses, or Samuel,

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or David, or Elijah, as to his particular grace and faithfulness; yet he is called to a higher grace and walk than any of them, because united to the perfect One, the Son of the Father in heaven. The witnesses who went before do indeed provoke us by their faith and zeal; but great and wonderful as was their course, none of them is our example or model; our example is "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". And even if I acted as well as, or better in any given thing than, one of the former witnesses in that in which he was most distinguished, yet, if that were all, I should be below my calling; because I am called, not to do it as he did it, but as Christ did; and I should do so were I holding the Head. Let this be admitted, and then the gravity of our responsibility and the greatness of our privilege will be evident enough. Many a saint is like a branch of a tree which you try to keep alive by placing it in water; there is life in it, but being detached from the root of the parent tree, it soon fails to give any evidence of it.

Saints present to themselves a lower standard than Christ. They seek one that their power will be able to reach up to; and many have no sense of acceptance higher or fuller than Abel's, and do not aim at any higher walk than Enoch's. Our acceptance is in the Beloved, and we have no lower standard than to walk even as He walked. The contrast is immense between an individual saint, even the greatest, in whom the Spirit of God merely acted, and one in whom the Spirit of God dwells, uniting him to the Head in heaven. The saints in the former dispensation were individual; their power was not derivative from the Lord in heaven, though it was conferred by Him. The Spirit of God acted in them but not in concert one with another. Each stood alone. Now it is immensely different. There is one Head, the Lord in heaven, and each saint,

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holding Him, derives from Him, "from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God".

If the Head be not held there must be a degenerating to the order of saintship previous and inferior to the present calling and order. Nothing could be higher than the present, nor could there be one which ensured greater gain. If it be a question of acceptance, it is "in the beloved"; "as he is, so are we in this world". If it be walk, we are to walk "even as he walked". If it be a witness, it is "looking unto Jesus". If it be as to place, "God ... hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". If it be glory, "the glory which thou gavest me I have given them". If it be love, it is "that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them". Now if the Head be not held, there will always be a degenerate apprehension of every one of these virtues or privileges.

It is most important to see that at no former period could the same manner or measure of grace be imparted to a saint as there is now to every one true to his calling. When the disciples accompanied our Lord on the earth, they were undoubtedly made familiar par excellence with what was most blessed. But though they were with Him and enjoyed the charm and blessing of His presence, yet they were not in moral company with Him. He was alone. To have enjoyed His company as a Man, and to have participated in the wondrous shelter and love which His wing afforded them, was indeed their unique privilege, but they were in no wise like Him; they were at home with Him, but they were not united to Him. He was not their known Head, though He was their support, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. But now we are united to Him above, and we feed on Him as He was here on the earth; the life of Jesus is manifested in the body. Again, on the holy mount, though some of them saw Him transfigured, and heard the voice from the excellent glory, and were

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eye-witnesses of His majesty, yet they were only spectators; they were not partaking of what He was partaking of, as joined to Him. Every one holding the Head now beholds with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, and is transformed into the same likeness; but this did not in any degree happen to Peter, James, and John.

Again, when the Lord was risen from the dead, and when He showed Himself to His disciples in this new and transcendent way, they were quite conscious of His wondrous state. They had the peculiar and unspeakable gladness of seeing Him triumphant over all the ruin brought in by man. But though they were in a degree conscious of the new and bright day now inaugurated for them through Him, they did not really partake of it, as in it with Him, because the Holy Spirit had not as yet descended to unite them to Him the Head. They saw the Head, they heard what He would confer on them, but they were not yet one spirit with the Lord, nor could they enjoy resurrection as He enjoyed it, though they could rejoice in the risen Lord. Thus neither in His walk, nor in His transfiguration, nor after His resurrection, were His disciples, though most highly favoured, made acquainted similarly in any degree with His state at the time, because they were not united to Him. And therefore the weakest saint united to Him now tastes, as to degree, a greater thing than any of the disciples in any period of His life on earth.

When holding the Head is actually known, there is always a seeking the things above, "where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". Stephen declares the efficacy of union when he "looked up stedfastly into heaven"; Paul, when he says, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me". But it is not merely individual, as all grace had been hitherto in every dispensation; but now, as one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. And this is the only true way of learning or understanding the unity of the body. In a variety of ways of late years, the unity of the body has been accepted as a doctrine

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without any power flowing from it; and simply because it is with the effect of union with the Head that christians are occupied, and not with that which produces the effect. They speak and dwell on the unity of the body without insisting on holding the Head as the only way to arrive at or secure this unity. The consequence is that one will regard the unity of the body as a club of christians, and another will contend that a congregation which takes the place and form of worshippers is the body of Christ. All and every shade of inaccuracy on the subject is simply traceable to not holding the Head, this greatest and most wondrous of privileges and benefits.


The world began when sin entered, when in the garden of Eden Satan induced the woman to surrender confidence in God's word, to look instead at things visible, and to be influenced by them. The moment faith in God was given up, the world came in, in principle. The things here, as they suited man, and as they addressed man, ruled and governed him, instead of God and His word. It is always most important to trace things to their sources, because we thus see the nature and intention of them at their very beginning and in their simplest elements. There may be, and there will be, many additions afterwards, but the unmistakable nature of the main object will be expressed at its first appearance, at its birth. There is always an effort of the enemy to deceive and to represent the beginning of any new evil in a false and pretentious light, but this deception is more successful in the development of the evil than at its beginning. It is evident that every truth when first revealed, however elementary it be, always presents the features which distinctly mark it, and while it may develop to greater proportions, you will always require

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to return to its first enunciation in order to learn its elements.

The world, as I have said, began in the garden of Eden, when Eve, disregarding the word of God, saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. These are the elements of the world. "The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world". It will help us immensely to be able to distinguish easily between what is of the world and what is of God. The distinction is simply this; when what is visible influences and controls our feelings or actions, it is the world; and when it is things not seen, of which faith is the evidence, then we are in victory over the world. To either of these we must become subject. It must be with us either faith in God, or subjection to the world. If we are not kept by the power of God, dependent on Him, we become subject to the world; the things here affect and influence us, and we are ruled by them. In a word, it is either the evidence of things unseen, conveyed to us by the word of God, or the influences of things seen, as they affect us as men. Once we are clear as to the manner and principle of these two forces, we are able to judge ourselves accordingly.

When we examine Scripture we find that the testimony of every servant of God depended upon the way he refused the influence of visible things, and trusted to the word of God which was given to guide him. Cain, feeling the distance between man and God, essayed to remove it in a worldly way, and resorted to a presentation of visible things in their beauty. He brought of the fruits of the earth an offering unto God. There was no faith here; there was an appropriation of visible things according to the suggestion of his own mind. Abel, on the contrary, acts in faith; he takes into account the holiness of God, enters into His claim, and offers the firstlings of the flock, and of the fat

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thereof. It is a simple question, Is it the mind of God which influences me and controls my actions, or is it the order of things around me? for the latter is the world. Faith overcomes the world. The world, in its influence on me, is the rival of God's word, and many a one who knows what faith is for the safety of his soul, is nevertheless not safe from the world.

There are two ways in which the world exerts an influence over a man; in one it appeals to him as a man in the flesh, and in the other it ministers to him by the things which suit him in the flesh. Now in order to set him free from the things, you must either remove the things altogether, and then you would have man pining for what he could not find, or you must remove the state in which he is; that is, he must be set above the man in the flesh, and then the things that would suit him in that state cannot reach him. Hence the one and only effectual way of delivering the saint from the world is by presenting to him a Person who entirely eclipses himself, and places him in the most elevated surroundings. Therefore it is said, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" It is not merely the faith which effects the deliverance, but the Person. The Saviour in whom by faith the soul has found deliverance is revealed to it in the dignity of His Person, as Paul says, "It pleased God ... to reveal his Son in me". 1 John 5 shows how this is declared by His death; the blood, the water, and the Spirit, all by their testimony establishing the fact that God hath given us eternal life, life after a new and unprecedented order; and this life is in His Son, Hence we are superior to the world and the things that are in the world. We neither form a part of it, nor are we affected or influenced by the things that are in it. Thus we see that the power that overcomes the world is faith, and faith in Jesus the Son of God sets us free from man in the flesh, because we believe in a far greater One, who through death on our account, is our Saviour

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and life. He was put to death in the flesh but quickened in the Spirit. In the Old Testament saints we see the man of faith reaching to great victories, like a powerful horse going over fences; and of such "the world was not worthy"; but we do not see them superior to the things which affect them as men, they are not running in a race. Abram is diverted from the path of faith by a famine. Jacob, after returning to the land, and after that wonderful night of wrestling, when he learned the greatness of divine power, was drawn aside at Shalem. Joseph lost the mind of God as to his own children, when he thought of them in respect to their age, when the visible thing swayed him; Genesis 48:17.

Before the death of Christ, faith always proved itself in the way it carried the saint above the order and influence of things here; yet as man in the flesh was not set aside, there was not a call for the action of faith beyond the maintenance of the truth then revealed; there was not absolute and continual abnegation of the world, because there was no absolute and complete institution of a new order of creation in the Person of the Son of God. Now the measure of our separation from the world is no less than His; we are not of the world, even as He is not of the world. This is our definite and established position. We are not merely like the Old Testament saints, called to prove ourselves for God in overcoming special things; but we are called to overcome everything. To us it is said, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world". We are in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, whose first and great testimony here is against the world, making evident its sin in not believing in Christ. There is now a new Man, the Son of God; and all believers in Him He is not ashamed to call His brethren. Everything connected with Him is only known by the Holy Spirit, and as He is in heaven, the power to act for Him and to please Him here is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit unites us to Him and sustains us through faith in connection with things

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unseen; so that we are not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind. Here then, we are pilgrims and strangers; pilgrims because we are going on to another place, and strangers because we do not belong to the place where we are. The Holy Spirit is the only power to separate us from the world, because He is the only power to preserve us from the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. It is a great thing for the saint to comprehend the entire newness and the order of the being of which he is, and in which he is sustained by union through the Holy Spirit with the heavenly Man. He moves in the sphere where the first man is, but his power of life, and his associations are with and in Christ, in an entirely new and as yet unseen sphere; and therefore all by faith.

But it will be contended that we are here on the earth, and that God has appointed that we should be here, after the old order, dependent for life and health on the things that are seen. I reply that we are not enjoined to retain any connection with this scene but such as Christ will enable us to fill better than ever they were filled by any mere man. He fully sustains according to God.

The saint on the earth can discharge the duties of his calling according to God, but then he must distinguish between what God has appointed and what the world inculcates. The domestic relations and duties are of God, and they are the very channels through which the grace of Christ flows. Hence I do not learn from the world how I am to act in them, I am taught of God, I have a new power; and as to the powers that be, I am simply subject to them. I can admire the works of God as I pass through the scene as a pilgrim, and not be worldly while I remember that they are the works of God, which on account of Adam's fall have been made subject to vanity.

There are two things which especially exercise the

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saint; one is position in society, as it is called, and the other bodily care, food and clothes. When I am happily conscious of my union with Christ, believing that Jesus is the Son of God, I have a position which sets me far above any conventional one here, and the moment I seek or maintain any here, I do violence to my own spirit because I descend to an earthly position. The only true and happy place for a saint is to abide in his wondrous position in Christ, and then he is consciously above and independent of all earthly position. But when a saint takes advantage of this indifference to position in another to exalt himself, except in the familiarity of fellow-labourers, it is radicalism; he avails himself of his brother's grace to prove his own lack of it. If I see that to maintain position is worldly, the question of bodily care is easily settled. The body is to be properly cared for, but to be kept in subjection; having food and raiment I am therewith to be content. I do not maintain position with regard to it. I do not look to the world to learn how my table is to be served, or what I should wear. I determine before God, irrespective of the world's ways, what would be necessary and suitable. Thus I neither follow the fashion, nor am I eccentric, but all things are done decently and in order.


Grace is God's favour to man according to His own heart and counsel. It has therefore to meet man in his need, and also to express God in His greatness. These two things, man's need and God's greatness, are maintained in grace. Without the former, man would be unreached and undelivered; and without the latter, God the Giver would not be known. If the need of man were the sole measure of the grace of God, then man

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only would be thought of, the work of Christ would be simply for man, and the power of God expended merely in rescuing man and securing his relief. Man would be the object and end of it all, and not God. If a man expended all his money in benefiting his country, what should we think if there were no memorial of the benefactor, nor any distinction conferred on him? "He by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man", Ecclesiastes 9:15. Now this is just the snare that Israel fell into in the land, and the one of which they had been forewarned in Deuteronomy 8:11 etc. They appropriated all the blessings which God had given them, and used them for their own enjoyment, and forgot God who gave them. Whenever the heart drops into its own thoughts, which is always the case when we are walking in our own strength, and not in the power of Christ, it will reduce grace to man's level, making his benefit the exclusive object, as Jacob did at Shalem in Genesis 33, when he called his altar El-elohe-Israel. He did not give up grace in its bearing on himself; but he showed how little God was the object in his heart, in that he confined it all exclusively to himself. When he reached Bethel, it was otherwise, and his altar bore quite another name, El-Bethel; for God was his object here.

It will be said that the soul's need must necessarily occupy it first. This is quite true. But he who is most relieved is most drawn to the One who has relieved him, The repentant thief, as the consequence of his faith, prays that the Lord would remember him in His kingdom. The relieved demoniac prayed Jesus that he might be with Him. The two disciples of John who followed the Lamb of God in John 1 asked Him, "Where dwellest thou?" The heart which is truly and deeply sensible of the relief vouchsafed to it always cleaves to the Blesser, and not merely to the blessing. It is quite true that the relief is the first thing needed, but the more intensely I have felt the need of relief, and the greatness of the

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favour conferred on me, the more am I attached to the Deliverer. He that is forgiven much, the same loveth much. It is not that the forgiven one rejoices in forgiveness merely, but he loves the One who has forgiven him.

If the only object of grace were to relieve man, then man could be relieved without nearness to God, and this is really the effect of confining the heart exclusively to the fact of relief.

Man is relieved from judgment, and he pursues his course as a man on earth with the sense of relief; but Christ, the Man in heaven, is not his object, nor is his aim to represent Him here. The grace of God could never have limited itself to man's need, seeing that the greatest thing God can confer is nearness to Himself; and though Christ in grace had necessarily to descend to the depths where man was, He could never have answered to the mind of God in its purpose as to man, without making the prodigal acquainted with his Father's joy in His own sphere. There is the glory of the grace as well as the riches of the grace. The "riches of his grace" reaches down to the need of the sinner; "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins"; the "glory of his grace" is all that He can do for the forgiven one according to His good pleasure. The full purpose of grace is to bring man near to God. "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". If grace were only to relieve man of the misery which sin has brought in, he might be a vastly improved man, and a happy man; but then God would not and could not form any part of his happiness. He might feel indebted to Him for His mercy, but if grace effected nothing more than this he would not be brought to God, and though there might be joy in the sense of forgiveness, there would be no joy in God, no separation from man in the flesh, and no known power in the Holy Spirit. The beginning of grace is with our need, the finish of

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it with God. When a rope is extended to a drowning man, he grasps it, and his need is met; but that is not all. The rope is intended to bring him to the spot from which it was extended; and when he reaches that spot, he is in the same security, the same sphere as the one who had extended the rope to him. We are not perfected in grace unless we joy in God, unless God is known as our Father. The "little children" in 1 John 2 know the Father. The one who has learned to make merry in the presence of God has passed fully and distinctly from man's side to God's side; Christ is all and in all; until he has reached this point he has not the enjoyment of a child. No doubt he was born of God before, but he has not walked in his true state till now. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit".

Scripture carefully sets forth how God provides for man's side in everything, but this is not fully enjoyed by the believer unless he understands God's side. For though grace, like the rope, reaches to where man is, and is first occupied with the sinner's need, still I cannot truly or fully understand the value of the beginning of grace, where the rope has reached me, until I have got to the spot or the hand from which the rope came.

The grace comes to man from God, and it leads back to God; and no one understands clearly or even effectively the riches of the grace until he knows the glory of the grace; for when he has reached the latter, he has reached the full efficacy of it. What so confirmatory to the prodigal that he is fully rescued from the far country, that old things are passed away, as the fact that he is a favoured guest in the greatest festivity in heaven! He is perfectly assured of the riches of the grace, when he is in all the lustre and beauty of the glory of the grace. How could the "far country" or the famine or the consequences of his own evil or unworthiness appear in such a scene? and yet they could and will appear anywhere else. So that really one cannot be perfectly freed from

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all one's own side and its consequences, until one is fully and festively on God's side.

But there is another thing. No believer can understand how God orders for him on the earth, who does not first know how He has provided for him in heaven; so that here again the glory of the grace, God's side, must be known before one can see and comprehend in its true light, the ordering of God for us here. Where is the believer who understands the Lord here as the good Samaritan, who knows the full story of His grace to him as such (see Luke 10), who has not learned the glory of His grace in the Father's house?

The parable of the prodigal son sets forth God's side; he is kissed, clothed, and feasted in the Father's house. Here on earth oil and wine are poured into his wounds, he is set on His own beast, brought to an inn, and taken care of. Who really and heartily would put up with an inn here on earth, unless he had first known that he had the brightest home outside of it? A man might he resigned to an inn because he had nothing better, but no one could be happily or cheerfully satisfied with it, except on his journey homeward; and because he knows he has a bright home elsewhere. Souls lose every way when the full tale of grace is not unfolded, when the beginning of it only is told, and not the end.

The effort of Satan is, and ever has been, to keep man at a distance from God. We find all through Scripture that his aim is to disconnect the favours of God from God Himself, in order to induce man to enjoy himself apart from God. But God's desire or purpose is that we should find our joy in His presence. In Job's case the great thing that was proved to Satan was that Job's heart would hold on to God when deprived of every favour.

The reason there is greater opposition to the finish of the grace than to the beginning of it is evident. For if the finish of it is known, the heart being fully and entirely brought to God, there is no place for man;

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old things must pass away and all things become new, because all are of God. It is easier for souls to accept relief than to be so sensibly indebted to the Saviour as to be bound in heart to Him. All Israel benefited by David's slaying Goliath, but Jonathan "loved him as his own soul", and stripped himself for his deliverer. Ministers of the word find it easier for their own consciences to confine their preachings and teachings to man's need. We cannot present truth beyond our own experience with a good conscience. A servant has no real power in presenting God's side to souls, unless he be there in measure and purpose himself. He cannot go beyond his light, but when he has refused the light in order that he may retain the world, he excuses his own state by designating it as 'too high', and unfit for souls. There is on our side the natural opposition of the flesh in every man to God's side; and the minister, in order to be popular, or to save his own conscience, at first does not see what would so entirely set aside man, but if at length he refuses it, then "his right eye shall be utterly darkened" (Zechariah 11:17), and he opposes it, like "all they which are in Asia" who turned away from Paul. The man who is most for God will be most sustained by God; but the minister, in preaching or teaching, who will most command the ear of men, and allow himself most of the world, is the one who confines himself to that which merely meets man's need, and which the natural conscience will accept. So that broadly, popularity and a low order of truth, which will awaken sentiments of merely natural religion, always go together; and the riches of the grace are really not known, because the glory of the grace has been neglected or refused.

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We enjoy "every spiritual blessing" by faith, that is, we attain to it by faith, and yet no blessing is acquired by attainment. Every spiritual blessing is ours through grace; faith appropriates what is ours already, yet every one does not enjoy what is really his own, because he has not faith to lay hold of it. "If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" "Faith is ... the evidence of things not seen". You attain by faith, and as you walk by faith, there is progress; but the moment you look at what you have attained to, you turn from faith, which always reaches on to a still fuller evidence of things not seen; you are declining, and the simple reason of your declension is that you are not in the energy of the Spirit of God. You are not following after, that you may apprehend that for which you are apprehended of Christ Jesus. You have by faith reached a certain truth, and you accept it as your standing; but when that which you have reached becomes prominent, then faith, which alone can keep you up to it, and which enables you really to enjoy it, wanes, and you are declining.

Declension does not begin with surrendering the standing, but with losing the state which answers to the standing; that is, you are not holding in faith what you have reached in faith. You are contenting yourself with your attainment. Faith is a power which is only sustained while it is in exercise, as a bird only knows the power of flying while it is flying, or as a steam-engine is useless without steam. No motion from previous activity will continue when a bird ceases to fly, or a steam-engine ceases to act; no past performance can prolong the power of either. Thus when faith is unexercised, no former faith can impart or confer any enjoyment or prospect. The fact that I have seen a

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truth is light, a fact for information, but it is not necessarily possession. I must be living in it in order to derive from it that which, as a reality, it can contribute to me. If I have been to a foreign country, and have seen something very beautiful there, when I return, I can no longer see it, and though I may very accurately remember that I have seen it, yet memory is simply the mind retaining a remembrance of the objects as they have been impressed on it. Memory is not faith, and as soon as faith drops down to memory, then there is declension. Power is only effective when used.

The desire and the tendency to consider for one's natural feelings and wants is, when yielded to, the beginning of declension; I myself am more before my mind than God. Hence, when Abraham in the path of faith had by faith reached the true place or standing to which he was called, he drops out of faith for a time because of the pressure of circumstances, the famine, and goes down to Egypt; Genesis 12:10. He does not actually retrace his steps, or say that he made a mistake in coming into the land, but he does not keep in faith what he has reached by faith. Without doubt faith had brought him to the desired place; and he lost it, not because he could not get up to it, but because he could not keep it after possessing it. It was not right nor title he failed in, but in the power that brought him there, and he turned aside to Egypt. Memory then could only have proved his declension, because if he remembered having been between Bethel and Hai, it was only a proof that he was not there now. It is thus with many nowadays; they betray themselves and their present declension, when they talk of what they were by faith years ago. A man who recalls you to what he used to be is like a superannuated soldier, who is clearly not in the vigour of active service now.

Lot still more grievously surrendered faith, while in the place of faith. There was no pressure compelling him to give it up; there was no trying of faith in his

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case; he did not give up the standing in which faith had formally set him, but he gave up faith as the principle of his life there, and his declension is marked enough, and describes that class of saints now, who give up their light for present advantages.

Isaac fails in faith in a very humbling way in Genesis 27; he decides to give the blessing to Esau because he did eat of his venison. This seems a very unworthy reason, but it shows how declension may begin when there is no intention of giving up one's standing, which is the inheritance of faith. Immense sorrow and humiliation were entailed on Isaac's family because of this unbelieving decision. A man of faith acting without faith is more incongruous than a bird without a wing, or a steam-engine without steam; but it is not only that he is incongruous and powerless, he is mischievous too. The class represented here are those who misapply the truth of God -- for instance, such truths as brotherly love and charity -- in order to benefit those who have endeared themselves to them personally by kindness and attention.

Jacob had gone through much before he recovered his true standing in returning to the land, and had known deep exercises of soul after he had reached it; yet even after all this, and after the name of Israel is given him in chapter 32, declension sets in. He surrenders faith which required him to go on up to Bethel, and settles down at Shalem, where he tries to quiet his conscience by religiousness, erecting an altar the very name of which exposes his true state, and discloses that he had lost faith, and had become occupied exclusively with what God was to him, having lost sight of what God is in Himself. Jacob at this stage of his history represents that class of saints who look for mercies on earth, and would limit God to themselves, as if they were His object on the earth.

Israel, after being established in the land, forfeited the greatest of God's favours to them there, because of

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unbelief. For 490 years they did not keep the sabbatical year; they had not faith for it, and thus they lost the most remarkable and visible interposition of God on their behalf. God's promise was that He would cause every sixth year to bring forth fruit for three years, in order that the seventh year might be a sabbath of rest (Leviticus 25); but this divine interposition they surrendered for their own labours. Thus they represent those saints in this day who, from lack of faith, lose the intervention of the Holy Spirit, and think their own exertions paramount or more to be relied on.

One more example; when the captives, on their return to Jerusalem, were prevented from building the temple, they at length accepted it as inevitable (Ezra 4:24), and devoted themselves to their own blessing, which they were zealous enough in seeking; see Haggai 1 They had suffered much to regain their lost inheritance, yet from lack of faith they grew indifferent about the chief thing, the house of God. In like manner many in the present day, while seeking their own enjoyment and blessing, often lose sight of what is due to Christ on earth; and their efforts, even for themselves prove ineffectual. "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house". The sum of the matter is this: faith always holds on to what the word of God by the Spirit reveals to the soul, and when faith is in exercise, then assuredly God is before the soul, in a scene where everything is of man, the more I walk with God, the more absolutely must it be by faith. Hence when faith wavers there is declension; knowledge is not lost, but all spiritual progress is stopped.

If Abraham had faltered in his faith at the last step to Mount Moriah, or even when he took the knife in his hand to slay his son, all the previous faith which had enabled him to ascend that trying path would have

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been fruitless. Where all depended on it, he would have failed. There must be no cessation in faith; no nearness to the finish is of any use if the point, the finish itself, be not gained. Where there is a wavering there is an end to progress; for where there is no faith, there is no power to hold on, and there must be a dropping down to a spot where faith would not be needed. Self comes in in some form or other, and God is lost sight of.

The one walking in faith has God ever before him as the strength of his heart, but he presents a different expression according to the side on which he has to act. To God He is beside himself; to man he is sober; 2 Corinthians 5:13. When I am dependent on God, I am always as He would have me to be. But on either side, be it God's side or man's side, it is with God sensibly that I have to do. It is as necessary to maintain faith on God's side, as it is on man's side. Saints often think it necessary to depend on God with respect to things here, because they are so trying; but there is quite as much need of faith in accepting and enjoying the things of God. In the exercise of faith, I learn its power and value. Faith is like a high-mettled steed, but I must he borne by it, or I cannot enjoy its power or usefulness. I may remember how it has served me in time past; may even be certain of its usefulness, and that it is mine, but unless I am using it, I am not in the power of it. Thus it is with faith; though I know its value, though I have used it, yet I am as much apart from its power when not using it, as I am from my horse when I have dismounted. When I am walking in faith, I find the strength of Christ enabling me to surmount all things here, and as I look up, no power of the enemy can divert me from my portion in heaven, which I never enjoy by sight, but by faith. Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, leading the way into it, and it is now open to faith. The more I exercise faith, the more habitual it becomes. All we have received as yet is a new nature, and the Holy Spirit, by

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which we are united to Christ in heaven. All the rest is by faith. I have a place in heaven, and as I have faith, I enjoy it, and rise above all circumstances and difficulties here. The light of Scripture is not faith, though it shows me where faith ought to reach, and where, according as the faith is in God, it does reach. Light from the word is like the rail for the train, faith is like the steam-engine which bears me along the line which light has disclosed to me. One without the other is of no use. Every believer has some of both, but often we see some with more of one, and some with more of the other. But unquestionably, the one with more faith is to be preferred to the one with more light. The latter is more ready and expressive, but the former is more deep and contemplative. In faith I am more absorbed and detained by the greatness of God, and feel unable to grasp the immense and increasing fulness presented to me, while in light I know what I see.

May the Lord keep us in faith, while daily increasing to light; for when light is deemed enough without faith, there is declension.


The first great thing connected with ministry is that it is the communication of the truth of God. In the beginning of God's dispensations with man, the mind of God was revealed by inspiration, word by word. The prophet could only say what the Spirit communicated to him. This of course was the basis and authority for every exhortation in connection with it. In those early times we do not find so much the preaching side as the practical effect produced by the revelation; hence the opening books of Scripture are for the most part a detail of the effect produced on men of God through faith in the revelation. There is very little actual revelation, but a great deal of the effect produced by the

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power of God on man, in keeping with the revelation. The revelation to Noah, directing him to build an ark, produced a history of its own; the revelation of the new covenant in Genesis 9 introduced a new era, and there were effects accordingly. The effects were certain, whether essentially natural or spiritual, so that the history sets forth on the one hand the reception of the truth and the nature of it, and on the other the rejection of it and the nature of that. It is a faithful record of both sides, the reception and the rejection; and it is by inspiration, because no one but God could distinctly so determine what, according to His mind, is adherence to His word, or what is the denial of it, or how both would be disclosed or ascertained.

Further on we get the prophets, and to them the revelation was much larger and more copious. It announced the judgments that were coming on Israel because of disobedience, and on man in general, because of departure from God, and it also announced better things to come, the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow.

Now when we come to the New Testament, it is all different. In it we have God manifest in the flesh, the record of Him in four different aspects, and how man answered to it. It was not a mere revelation, but it was God manifest in the flesh, walking among men, doing everything in divine perfection; and every response or return made to Him by man disclosed what man was in relation to God, because God was there beside man, clothed in the humble garments of a man. Thus man was thoroughly tested. This we have in the gospels. But when the Lord, being rejected and ascended on high, having led captivity captive, gives gifts unto men, now for the first time true ministry by gifts really begins. It is not merely, as at first, revelation to guide the saint, nor is it the prophets to recall what was already given, while pronouncing judgment, or foretelling the eventual state, even "new heavens and a new earth, wherein

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dwelleth righteousness". Gifts are now given from the ascended Christ, the exalted Man. It is not simply revelation, but gifts concurrent with the fulness of revelation, for the perfecting of the saints. The apostles and prophets are the channels of the revelation, and the others more the missionaries, each in a peculiar way, of what has been revealed. The apostle is the great channel to introduce and establish the truth, or to recover it and re-establish it if lost; the prophet, as a gift, to use the word so as to expose the state of the heart; the teacher to expound the word of God; the pastor to apply it to any individual case; the evangelist to declare or preach the gospel. Now the power and usefulness of each gift is as the gifted one uses the word of God in its force and integrity to effect that for which it was sent and for which he received the gift. A gift is not eloquence or any mental power, but it is a faculty conferred by the Spirit for expounding and presenting a distinct line of truth, drawing from the word of God that which will contribute to the good of souls. His power is not anything natural or acquired, but it is simply great according to the true and direct application of Scripture. The power is in the word of God, and the Spirit of God alone can impart it, and the gift is the effective direction of the word of God in its own peculiar, perfect light.

Thus the use of ministry is incalculable. No study of the word for oneself can ever supersede ministry. No one possesses all the gifts in himself, and yet if he does, he is dependent on his gift for edification, and not on his mere knowledge of Scripture. No soul indifferent to the gifts can be perfected. The word of life may and often does reach the soul apart from any apparent instrumentality, but there is not progress without appreciation of the gifts; as I know the nurture and admonition of the Lord I value the gifts. Ministry by gifts is the great evidence of the exaltation of Christ. "He ... gave gifts unto men". The gifts are the means, divinely

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appointed, for the edification of the body. It is true that there is an edification of the body effected by the contribution which every joint compacted together supplieth, but then the gifts and their special effects are all there.

I shall now call attention to the various ways in which ministry is regarded. I shall not refer to the use superstition makes of it, except so far as it leavens the saints. First then there are some who disregard ministry, and say that they can learn from the Bible for themselves. These gradually sink to a low standard of truth, or they become unsound because they have not subjected their own thoughts to the scrutiny of gifted men beside themselves. It is reducing the whole of the circle of Christ's interest and power to an individual, and therefore something unnatural and preposterous must be the result; and if bad in a man, how much worse in a woman! Paul communicated the gospel he preached to the apostles privately (Galatians 2) lest by any means he should run, or had run, in vain. Self-taught men, who have not submitted their acquisitions from Scripture to the scrutiny of their brethren, are generally unsound. The best taught do not hesitate to invite discussion respecting the truths they have seen, and thus have been only confirmed in them and enabled the better to expound them. Those who fall into the snare of rejecting ministry are but drones in the hive; they derive from it, but add not to it; they are never bright, and never concerned for Christ's interests on the earth, however interested they may be in works of philanthropy; they condemn every one but themselves. Secondly, there are those who have their favourites as to ministry; these border on having "itching ears"; they consult their own tastes, and the minister is the impersonation of those tastes, while at the same time he presents truth sufficient to satisfy their conscience. They are bound to him, not as to a pastor, whose care and knowledge of them personally might entitle him to a special place

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with them; and indeed if he were such, he would expose and condemn the gross partiality which led them to confine themselves to the ministry of only one of the Lord's servants, as the Corinthians did, when they said, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos". A soul might as well expect to grow and advance when warped by this exclusive partiality, as a man could expect to be constitutionally in vigour, who devotes his whole attention and energies to the cultivation of one sense. The Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, and the value and use of ministry is lost sight of and unappropriated when only one person, be he even Paul or Cephas, is the sole oracle, the one you class yourself under; for no one saint can say that he is exclusively of Christ. We are all of Christ, and all the gifts are ours in common too. Contentions and eccentricities are the result of this abuse of ministry. Such are not practically governed by the truth, however great and devoted their assumed patron, they have "men's persons in admiration".

Thirdly, there are those who are Athenian in their character; who like some new thing; Acts 17:21. They like going to hear where they are interested. Good words and fair speeches greatly affect them; they like to be acted on, and the remarkable and painful consequence is that, as a rule, those who seek to be acted on rarely act out the word and truth of God. It is for solemn warning to every minister, lest he should intermix with the word of God that which can meet the human mind, and thus damage souls by constructing that which is unreal, forgetting the commission to the minister, namely, "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts". This class tends to produce those who are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth".

Fourthly, there is the right class, those who with fear seek the word of the Lord from the mouth of every taught servant, with purpose of heart to carry it out.

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They always apply themselves to the understanding of the word, because it is as the word is understood that the conscience is ruled by it, and their one desire is to be governed by it. They are often less quick in apprehension of its meaning than the less conscientious and the sentimental, but they always value the close and direct exposition of the word of God ministered in the quiet solemnity which always marks one who is himself controlled by what he expounds. It is not a mere vision which excites him, but a reality that he himself is in, and into which he seeks to conduct others.

The Lord teach us both the use and the responsibility of ministry.


Innocence in itself is not holiness. Adam in the garden of Eden was innocent, he had no idea of what evil was; but as soon as he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he knew evil, because he had committed it. Evil governed him and innocence was lost. Now the separation from evil by the introduction or maintenance of what is of God is holiness. Mere suppression of vice is not holiness. Where evil is regnant -- since "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing" -- a vice may be suppressed in order to obtain more reputation for oneself, or to secure more self-satisfaction; but this exertion of the natural powers only increases the sense and strength of one's own independence of God. It is not holiness, because it is not God who is ruling, but man's natural power is exerted to improve himself.

To understand what holiness is, the first thing is a standard. Everything depends on the standard; the standard is Christ. The Scripture says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy" -- "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". If the standard be man, then the holiness must necessarily be defined by whatever renders a man commendable, and anything

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which would not compromise one's character in the eyes of man, nor offend against man's sensibilities, would be considered holiness. It is constantly the case that a christian's sensibilities, which the company or influence of pious people institutes and fosters, become the standard by which holiness is determined; so much so, that I have known instances where though the smallest departure from good conduct would not be tolerated, yet false doctrine was suffered on the condition that it would not be propagated or discussed. In such cases sensibilities have been produced and educated by christian principles, and the standard of holiness was man's feelings and not God's will. Now in all theological systems, the great defect on the subject of holiness is that the thing to be effected is the great problem before the mind, and not the standard to which we are to be transformed. There may be a true and earnest desire to be holy, but the mind is occupied with the attainment, and not with the One who alone can effect it, and whose influence and power alone can suppress the evil and express what is of God. It is as if a plant were to occupy itself with the effect of the sun instead of with the sun itself, and turn all its leaves and branches downward, instead of upward to appropriate its rays, assured that the effect would thereby descend to the roots.

The true way of exposing defects or errors respecting any truth is to insist on the truth itself in its simplicity. The thing desired is holiness, to be partakers of His holiness. Well, we must start with this, that in our flesh dwells no good thing, nothing to suit God. Now holiness is something to suit God; it must be of God. His holiness is what I desire. I have through grace a new nature, I am a new creation, I am born of God; I sin not in that creation. The power of this creation is not natural power; it is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, and this is the second thing. Now as the Holy Spirit acts in me, the new nature is in concert, but I am

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in the old creation in which dwells no good thing, because I have in Adam surrendered it to the ruling principle of evil. The standard of holiness for me is Christ; the power, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in me in consequence of the redemption obtained by Christ and therefore comes down to me from Him the glorified Man, asserting and insisting on His right and claim to make my body the instrument of setting forth His ways on earth.

The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is bought with a price, and I am to glorify God in my body, which is His. The saint is set here with a new nature, the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. He has no conscience of sins, because he is brought to God through the sacrifice of Christ, and is by one offering perfected for ever; and therefore he is not debtor to the flesh to live after the flesh, for he is dead in Christ, in that wherein he was held. And therefore if he lives after the flesh, there is death; but if through the Spirit he mortifies the deeds of the body he shall live. Now this is the great aim of the saint here, that Christ should be magnified in his body. The flesh is in the body, but the Holy Spirit makes it His temple; having first built, as it were, a house for Himself in the new creation, He then lives in it, and He mortifies the workings of the flesh, and brings forth divine fruits; this is the continued action of the Holy Spirit, because there is a new and peculiar demand at every turn. There is never the same thing occurring again as to every particular; and every occurrence and change of scene acts in one way or another on the flesh, that is, on man's will; and unless mortified by the Holy Spirit, it leads and masters him. There is no such thing as holiness in the flesh. The flesh is repressed by the Spirit; and in its place He sets forth Christ; but there is the ever recurring sense of the existence of the flesh and its readiness to rise up and act, as well as the conviction that there is no power to reduce or control it but the Holy Spirit; and this

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promotes, as we advance, earnest diligence of soul in waiting on the Lord, that the flesh may be as dead and Christ magnified. For the more we are in the Spirit, the more we detect the flesh in its incipient and secret workings. Our senses are exercised to discern good and evil.

Thirdly, two things mark growth in holiness; one is a deeper sense of man's corruption, the other a greater zest and longing after Christ only. The corruption is discovered and felt as the power of the Spirit increases; for many a thought and act passes without pain to the conscience where Christ is less before the soul, which will be refused and condemned as the knowledge of Christ increases in spiritual power in the soul. Thus the word of God penetrates "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".

One is shocked at the once unnoticed motive which has governed one, or at least which has sought to do so; but the very inclination to act selfishly is unholy. If I desire what I have no right to appropriate I am unholy, even though I do not attempt to appropriate it. If the flesh were holy, things that now invite it would get no response. I have not only to guard against the invitation, but I have to mortify the readiness to respond, the readiness in my flesh to desire even when there is not power to act. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh". That shows that the flesh is still there, and they are "contrary the one to the other"; but the Spirit gets the upper hand, "that ye cannot do the things that ye would". As the Spirit acts, as Christ the perfect One is maintained in me, the principles and desires of the old man are superseded. The one is repressed in order that the other may be expressed; and hence the greater my knowledge of Christ, the more do I detect the contrast, and discern through the Spirit what is contrary to Christ.

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I am daily more humbled and broken because of my own corruption and while rejoicing that I am crucified with Christ, I always bear about in my body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in my body. I have no remedy for it but in death, in Christ's death; but not only this, but the life of Jesus is to be manifested in my body. There is therefore more real brokenness about the one who begins in the light to see himself as he is in the flesh -- he abhors himself; and at the same time there is a more intense desire and seeking after the beauty of the Lord, so that brokenness of spirit and earnestness of heart characterise the one in whom the Spirit of God is unhindered. I cannot understand the beauty of the Lord but as I am in His presence, and the better I understand it, the more clearly I see and detect that which is of the flesh, because whatever is not the Lord's will is my own will, and that is sin.

When a saint declines, there is a surrender of both. Things once feared and disallowed are first tolerated and then promoted; and the earnest cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart gives place to a sort of complacency, and a recounting of how much one has gained or advanced. As I understand the ways and motives of the Holy One, I must be increasingly abashed in myself, and intensely more eager, because of the Spirit -- who shows me what I am in contrast to Christ -- to walk as He walked.

Sanctification is a subject of great interest. The truth sanctifies; that is, it controls the heart or mind through the Spirit for God, making it instrumental for the display of Christ. The measure of this sanctification is Christ's own. "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth". That is, that His sanctification, and the nature or extent of it, might be reproduced in us; the same character, no lower order, no lesser quality. The more habitually one is governed by the Spirit of God, the more the dominion of the Spirit increases. When I grow in

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sanctification, it is not that there is any improvement in the soil of my heart, but that it is more monopolised by Christ now, overgrown by the one plant, even Christ; and in proportion as I seek Him, this takes place, and I grow in sanctification.

The 'adding' of 2 Peter 1:5 - 8 proceeds and increases as there is addition, because there is more of my heart subject to the new Master. The adding is the evidence of the vigour of life, and as it goes on, it must necessarily be with the two-fold sense of having none naturally of that which I seek to add, and of the immensity of that which through the Spirit of God is conferred. The sense of the value of the treasure increases, according as the known possession of it increases.

In the pursuit of holiness to which we are all called, may the Lord keep before us these three points, the standard, the power, and the marks of it, so that we may not be deceived.