Answers to Correspondents: From Things New and Old 1858-1863

Table of Contents

1. Preface
2. 1. Anonymous Letters
3. 2. On Addressing Prayer to Jesus
4. 3. Besetting Sins
5. 4. The New Creation
6. 5. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit
7. 6. Cling to Jesus
8. 7. Saving Faith
9. 8. Remedy for Spiritual Depression
10. 9. On Subscribing the Author's Name to Articles
11. 10. Romans 4:25
12. 11. Various Conditions of The Life
13. 12. Solemn Warning to Mockers
14. 13. Christ Humbled Himself
15. 14. The Crown of Life
16. 15. Modest Apparel
17. 16. The Church Militant and Triumphant
18. 17. Regeneration
19. 18. Training of Children
20. 19. Individual Responsibility
21. 20. The Lord's Day
22. 21. On Experimental Hymns
23. 22. Sanctification
24. 23. Absence From the Lord's Table
25. 24. Hebrews 4:4
26. 25. 1 Corinthians 8:11
27. 26. Unconverted Relations
28. 27. Straightforwardness of Action
29. 28. Cleansing by the Word
30. 29. Perfection
31. 30. The Voice of Jesus
32. 31. Philippians 3:12
33. 32. Sin in the Assembly
34. 33. Salvation of Infants
35. 34. On Fasting
36. 35. Have Faith in God
37. 36. The World Estimated in the Light of God
38. 37. Baptism
39. 38. The Love of Christ
40. 39. Traveling on the Lord's Day
41. 40. Conscience
42. 41. Willful Sin
43. 42. Leaven
44. 43. The Lord's Day
45. 44. Thanksgiving at the Lord's Supper
46. 45. Warnings in the Epistle to the Hebrews
47. 46. John 15:1-6
48. 47. Self
49. 48. Life in Christ
50. 49. Proverbs 23:2
51. 50. Family Worship
52. 51. The Christian's Path
53. 52. The Gift of Working Miracles
54. 53. Watchman, What of the Night?
55. 54. Matthew 10:23
56. 55. We Walk by Faith
57. 56. On Following Man
58. 57. Revelation 14:13
59. 58. The Ministry of Angels
60. 59. Christ, the Life of the Believer
61. 60. Prayer in Faith
62. 61. Audible Responses
63. 62. Scriptural Difficulties
64. 63. Sins Put Away
65. 64. On Praying for the Holy Spirit
66. 65. Obedience Better Than Sacrifice
67. 66. Communion
68. 67. Judas
69. 68. Faith
70. 69. Baptism
71. 70. The Fig Tree
72. 71. A Full Christ
73. 72. The One Object
74. 73. Matthew 25:34
75. 74. Salvation of Departed Infants
76. 75. Absent From the Body
77. 76. The Flesh
78. 77. Fresh Outpourings of the Spirit
79. 78. Gift in Prayer
80. 79. Luke 23:43
81. 80. The Present Dispensation
82. 81. The Observance of Days
83. 82. Isaiah 53:6
84. 83. Spirit-Rapping
85. 84. Female Preaching
86. 85. Wine
87. 86. The Application of the Death of Christ
88. 87. Prayer
89. 88. John 15:1-6
90. 89. Christ, and Not Self
91. 90. The Believer's Secular Calling
92. 91. Sunday School Teachers Encouraged
93. 92. On Dress
94. 93. Geology
95. 94. Confession
96. 95. John 14:1
97. 96. The Fear of Man
98. 97. Abiding in Christ
99. 98. The Heavenlies
100. 99. Breaking of Bread
101. 100. Christ Can Meet Our Need
102. 101. Psalm 147:2
103. 102. Conversion of the World
104. 103. Luke 12:32-48
105. 104. Jeremiah 49:11
106. 105. Salt With All the Offerings
107. 106. No Condemnation
108. 107. 1 Corinthians 7:14
109. 108. Appropriation
110. 109. Christ the Center of Theology
111. 110. Old Testament Saints
112. 111. Baptism
113. 112. Acts 15:28-29
114. 113. Hebrews 10:12
115. 114. Converted Children and Unconverted Parents
116. 115. Do All for the Glory of God
117. 116. The Mustard Seed
118. 117. 1 Corinthians 5:5
119. 118. The Study of Scripture
120. 119. Faith and Trust
121. 120. Philippians 3:18-19.
122. 121. The Path of Obedience the Path of Blessing
123. 122. Romans 5:6-8: "We"
124. 123. Make to Yourselves Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness
125. 124. The Believer Shall Never Die
126. 125. Leaven a Symbol of Evil
127. 126. Judicial Blindness, Etc.
128. 127. The Unjust Steward
129. 128. Hebrews 10:39
130. 129. The Sin Against the Holy Spirit
131. 130. Unjudged Sins
132. 131. Leaven
133. 132. The Christian Wife, and Her Christ-less Husband
134. 133. The Unequal Yoke
135. 134. Law or Christ
136. 135. Hebrews 6:4-5
137. 136. The Christian's Position
138. 137. Good Testimonials
139. 138. The Day of Power
140. 139. Saved by Blood Alone
141. 140. God Forbid
142. 141. Purged or Stained


The history of this little volume is easily told. It contains the answers to correspondents, as given on the cover of Things New and Old, from 1858, the year of its commencement, to December 1863—six years. Very many friends have, from time to time, expressed a desire to possess these answers. We have been requested to insert them in the body of the Magazine, instead of on the cover; but this was not found practicable. Editor’s volumes have been prepared, for the last two or three years, in which the answers were bound up; but this involved the disagreeable necessity of having a number of notices of new publications appearing throughout the volume, which, of course, tended greatly to spoil its appearance.
It only remained, therefore, to bring all out in one volume, and the conductors, having been applied to by the publisher, have given him permission to undertake the work, which is now presented to the reader, with earnest prayer that he may find in its unpretending pages, something applicable to his spiritual condition.
The whole has been revised and corrected by the Editor, who has also added a few notes in places where fuller exposition seemed called for.
We would avail ourselves of the present occasion, to express our hearty thanks to God for the measure of blessing vouchsafed to our little serial, during the six years of its existence. We undertook the solemn responsibility of issuing it with fear and trembling, knowing the difficulty and danger attending upon such a publication—the difficulty of maintaining its freshness and integrity, and the danger of allowing it to outlive its real usefulness. But the Lord has helped us, and to Him we render all praise, as we lay this little volume at His feet, and ask Him to send it forth with the stamp of His approval. C. H. M.

1. Anonymous Letters

“H. C’s.” case is one of peculiar interest. We strongly recommend her to continue in prayer; but, by no means, to address an anonymous letter to her friend. If the Lord lead her to write, let her do it openly and faithfully.

2. On Addressing Prayer to Jesus

We have been applied to by two correspondents, “A young Christian,” and “Faint yet pursuing,” for counsel in reference to the same point, namely, as to the rightness of addressing prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe there is a simplicity and an ease in the way of the Spirit of God, in reference to such matters, that would tend to relieve the heart of all difficulty. We know that “The Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Spirit is God;” and hence, when we address any One of the Divine Trinity in unity, we are addressing God.
This is simple enough. Properly speaking, we have access to the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do; that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). Again, “In that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” “At that day ye shall ask in My name” (John 16:23-24, 26). In Acts 7 we find Stephen addressing the Lord Jesus, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). We feel quite assured, that when one is praying in the Spirit, he will be in full harmony with the divine mind in reference to this and every other point; and a cold accuracy, without the Spirit, is little worth.

3. Besetting Sins

We feel deeply interested in “Daleth’s” ease. Let him not be discouraged. There is love enough in the heart of God, efficacy enough in the blood of Jesus, virtue enough in the advocacy of Jesus, to meet a far worse case than his. Let him use the name of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the subjugation of any special besetment. The most effectual way of advancing in personal holiness, is to keep the eye steadily fixed on Jesus and His coming. “He that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself; even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). We heartily commend our correspondent to God and the word of His grace.

4. The New Creation

We cannot agree with our correspondent “Questionist,” in his view of 2 Corinthians 5:17. It holds good, without any exception, that “if any man,” young or old, “be in Christ, he is a new creation;” and “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8). But, then, we are not taught to look at the fruits of the new creation, as the ground of our peace, in the presence of God; but at the all-sufficient atonement of Christ. This is the true ground of peace.
It is deeply important to remember that God begins with us as “dead.” This would put an end to a host of doubts and questions. “You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). God visits the sinner where he is, and as he is. He reveals eternal life and divine righteousness, in the person of Christ. The soul that receives Christ is “a new creation,” and in that new creation, “all things are of God.” There is not so much as a shred of the creature in that divine creation. We are there only as recipients and worshippers. May the Lord grant us a fuller understanding of the precious mysteries of this “new creation.”

5. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit

In reply to our correspondent “Tried,” we would observe, that persons are continually looking to some inward feeling, instead of resting on what God has said. This is the source of very much darkness and perplexity. The Holy Spirit uses the word of God and leads the heart to feed thereon. We must have both. The word will not do without the Spirit, and the Spirit will never act without the word. Let us ever remember this. If you take the word without the Spirit, it will lead to a cold and worthless intellectualism; and if you profess to take the Spirit without the word, it will lead to fanaticism and confusion. May we learn to put things where God puts them, and keep them there.

6. Cling to Jesus

We have received a letter, signed “Frances C.” in which the writer gives a touching picture of the consequences of undutiful conduct towards a beloved parent. She desires that her case may be used as an admonition to others.
In compliance with her desire for a word of counsel, we would say to her that, inasmuch as her dear parents are at rest forever, and as she herself has found pardon and peace, through the blood of the cross, it only remains for her to cling to Jesus by faith, and, while waiting for His appearing, seek to glorify His name, by a tender, holy, gracious walk. May the grace of the Holy Spirit enable, not only our correspondent, but all the saints of God, thus to do.

7. Saving Faith

We would direct our correspondent “Tre” to one or two passages of the Word, which, we think, would remove his difficulty. “By Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1). The idea of persons believing what God says, and yet having “no interest in the blood,” involves a manifest contradiction. All who believe are justified, and have peace. It does not say, all who believe, “in a certain sense;” but all who believe. The Apostle James says, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith?” (James 2:14). He does not ask, “What doth it profit though a man have faith?” An empty profession, a mere head belief, is worth nothing. It is “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Rom. 10). We quite agree with our correspondent, that it would be wrong to say to empty professors, “whose whole walk, temper, spirit, and habit contradict their assertion, ‘Believe that you are saved.’” It would be more charitable to tell them to fear they were very unsafe. But we do not find that a sinner is called upon to believe that he is saved. Paul did not say to the jailer, “Believe that you are saved;” but, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” It is believing the truth concerning the death and resurrection of Christ that saves me, and not the believing something about myself. This distinction is not sufficiently attended to in dealing with souls.

8. Remedy for Spiritual Depression

We sympathize deeply with our correspondent “Th.” We fondly hope there are the pulsations of divine life in his soul, notwithstanding his excessive darkness and depression. We cannot think that those earnest desires after peace have emanated from an evil source; and we would only exhort him to look away from self, straight to Jesus, in whose perfect sacrifice all the claims of divine justice have been met and all the love of the divine nature fully revealed. It would afford us real joy to hear that our correspondent had found peace in believing.

9. On Subscribing the Author's Name to Articles

We beg to inform our correspondent “T. H.” that we purpose, if the Lord will, publishing several of the papers in “Things New and Old,” as separate tracts. It is very probable that those articles to which he has kindly called our attention will be amongst the number.
We cannot quite agree with our correspondent’s application of 2 Timothy 3:14. The Apostle simply reminds his son Timothy that he had received his knowledge of the truth from a divine source, having “known the holy scriptures” from his childhood. The passage would not, in our judgment, afford any plea for our requiring to know the writer of a paper. All we really need to know is that what is taught is according to scripture, and that we receive it in the power of faith. It matters not through whose instrumentality I receive a truth, provided I hold it from God. We should be able, in the energy of the Spirit, to refer every truth we hold directly to God Himself as the source from whence we derived it. This would impart immense weight, dignity, and power to all our convictions. We should, no doubt, acknowledge, love, and esteem any instrument whom God may have been pleased to use in communicating His truth; but let us see that it is, in very deed, His truth that is communicated, and that we hold it in the power of the Spirit.
It may, however, be remarked, in reference to the various papers in this magazine, that, inasmuch as the writers’ names are not given, the Editor is to be held responsible.
May the Lord give special grace to all who stand connected with this service, that it may be conducted in such a manner, as that He may be glorified in the spread of His truth and the edification of souls.

10. Romans 4:25

In reply to “V. T. S.” we would say that we know no better rendering of Romans 4:25, than that given in our excellent authorized version. The doctrine of the passage is simply this: Christ, having died under the full weight of “our offenses,” was laid in the grave, and there was an end to all that was or could be against us. Wherefore, inasmuch as every claim had been fully met, God entered the scene, and “raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” and all who believe in Him are justified from all things. A risen Christ is the grand proof that there is nothing against the believer. Biblical criticism would not comport with the character and object of this magazine; but we should hail with delight an article from some able pen, on the power and use of the Greek preposition.

11. Various Conditions of The Life

We would recommend our correspondent “Martha,” to study carefully the first five chapters of Second Corinthians. In them she will find “the life” which is communicated to the believer presented in various conditions, either in our mortal bodies down here, amid the circumstances of our daily path; or “absent from the body, present with the Lord;” or, finally, “clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.”
A more interesting theme could hardly be suggested to the spiritual mind. The introduction of this “life” alters the character of everything. It is not by any means a question of “circumstances,” as our correspondent seems to think. I may have been a servant at the time of my conversion, and I may continue to be a servant afterward, filling the same place and discharging the same duties; but I now do these things in the power of a new life, and for an entirely new object. If this truth be not laid hold of, the daily life of hundreds of the Lord’s people would be the merest commonplace drudgery. But the new life changes everything. It enables us to see things as God sees them, to think of them according to His judgment, to feel them according to the sensibilities of the divine nature. Hence, “we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.” The new nature sends forth its aspirations after the proper sphere of its being and feels the weight of this lower atmosphere to be heavy indeed. We believe that all the afflictions and trials, exercises and conflicts, to which the Apostle alludes in those early chapters of Second Corinthians, are the result of the energy and the exhibition of the new life. “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 for which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:10-18).
We earnestly commend this entire subject to the prayerful consideration, not only of our correspondent, but of every Christian reader. It is one of uncommon interest and practical importance.

12. Solemn Warning to Mockers

Communications have reached us from two of our readers, calling our attention to the fact that some of the newspapers have called in question the truth of the report with respect to the man who was struck dead for mocking the work of God. We have only to say that we received the information, originally, from respectable witnesses, whose veracity we had no reason to doubt; we have, however, made further inquiry with respect to the case in question, and it has been fully confirmed. We have also heard, within the last fortnight, of a man who was blaspheming this blessed work at a market in the county of Londonderry, and, ere the day closed, he was a corpse. This information we had from a person connected with the medical profession, who was present at the postmortem examination.
Now, some may seek to divest such cases of their deep and awful solemnity, by saying that such an one died of heart disease, such an one of congestion of the brain, such an one from apoplexy. But to us the second cause is of no importance, comparatively. We see the hand of God: we think of the appalling fact of mockers and scoffers summoned into the presence of Infinite Holiness; and we call upon men to take heed to their words and their ways. Why is there such a strong desire, in certain quarters, to disparage this glorious work? If men do not understand it, had they not better refrain from it, and let it alone. No doubt it is quite right to search out the truth or falsehood of every report which may reach us; but, let us remember, there are two ways of doing this, and two objects therein likewise. Let us look to our ways and our objects.

13. Christ Humbled Himself

The expression to which our correspondent “G. H.” refers, we hold to be equivalent to the statement of the Apostle in Philippians 2:8, “He humbled Himself.” We believe our blessed Lord did really humble Himself, and empty Himself, in order to glorify God perfectly, and lay the foundation of His eternal counsels of redeeming love. We agree with our correspondent, that “the days are evil,” and that is one reason why we should fix the earnest gaze of faith on Him who “humbled Himself” for the glory of God and the salvation of man.

14. The Crown of Life

“Ada’s” contribution has come to hand. We have always regarded “the crown of life” (James 1:12) as a future thing. The time of trial cannot be considered as over, so long as we are down here. In one sense, we are “seated in the heavenlies” (Eph. 2); but, in another sense, we are in the place of trial and conflict on the earth. The expression “tried,” in James 1:12, has nothing to do with “judgment,” as our correspondent seems to think. We believe it refers simply to the trial one has to endure while passing through the wilderness, and going onward to our heavenly rest, where “the crown of life” awaits us. The believer can never come into “judgment,” as regards his person, because Christ was judged in his stead. (See John 5:24, where the word is “judgment,” and not “condemnation.”) His works will be judged, but not himself. (See 1 Cor. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:10.) If we were to be judged, we should assuredly be condemned and lost forever. “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord; for in Thy sight shall no flesh living be justified.”

15. Modest Apparel

We have received a communication from a correspondent on the subject of dress; and, as we deeply feel the need of a word of warning on this subject, we shall quote for our readers some of the passages referred to by our correspondent, who remarks, that “it is a sad sight to see, at the table of the Lord, the jeweled hand put forth to take the bread, the emblem of that ‘broken body,’ bruised and broken for us; and also the attired head, loaded with pearls and costly array.” We quite enter into the feelings of our correspondent, and therefore it is that we call the attention of our readers to the following passages from the Word of God: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Tim. 2:9-10). Again, “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
These passages are very plain, and surely they ought to act on the conscience, and govern the conduct, of those who gather round the Lord’s Table. Some may say, “It is a poor thing to preach a crusade against dress.” We reply, “It is a much poorer thing to give occasion for such a crusade.” Indeed, it is very difficult to imagine how any degree of spirituality can exist in connection with the style of dress adopted by many in the present day.
Let Christians think of these things. Let them think of the meek and lowly Jesus, and see how far they are seeking to walk in His steps. Let them think, too, “of the many dear lambs who are looking round the house of God for ‘ENSAMPLES.’” It would be sad indeed, if these precious lambs should be led into a path of self-indulgence by those who ought to encourage them in pursuing a path of self-denial.

16. The Church Militant and Triumphant

“F. S.” inquires, “Is there any scriptural ground for believing and teaching that Christ has a ‘church militant’ and a ‘church triumphant?’” We are not aware of any such distinction in the New Testament. We know what is meant by the terms; namely, that the “church militant” refers to believers who are still down here in the place of warfare; and the “church triumphant” refers to those who have passed away into their rest. In this way, we do not see any objection to the expressions. No doubt, it is always well to keep close to Scripture, else we may adopt certain formulas which contain in them utterly false ideas. But we must take care of being hypercritical, or of making a man an offender for a word. The Word of God teaches us that believers are “more than conquerors” —that God “giveth (not will give) us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” But then we are called to “put on the whole armor of God,” as those who are in the place of conflict. This makes us a militant people. “So fight I,” says the Apostle (1 Cor. 9:26). “I have fought a good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7). Clearly, he has no need to fight now. His conflict is over. He is at rest forever. Sweet thought! May we “war a good warfare,” and have “an abundant entrance” into the haven of eternal rest!

17. Regeneration

“G. C. R.” asks, “Is it correct to speak of regeneration as being the work of the Holy Spirit?” John 3:8, contains an explicit answer to our correspondent’s inquiry. “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” In John 5:25, we find the work of quickening attributed to “the Son of God.” In 1 Peter 1:23, the word is presented as the instrument of quickening, or giving new life. In James 1 “The Father of lights” is presented as the One who begets us by the word of truth. Putting all these passages together, we learn that the Father begets, by the Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This makes the matter divinely simple.

18. Training of Children

The case submitted to our consideration by “M. J.” Dublin, is peculiarly solemn and painful. But we cannot see that it should interfere, in the smallest degree, with her implicit confidence in God as to her children. We believe that God has given the Christian parent a blank check, in which to place the names of all those who have been entrusted to him. We are exhorted to “bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6). It is only faith that can act on this precept. If we begin to reason about the how and the when, we shall not receive the blessing. If we do not obey, we cannot expect to reap the precious fruits of obedience. There are many who allow their children to grow up in willfulness and folly, and yet imagine they will all come right at the end. This is the fatal mistake of antinomianism. Need we marvel if, when parents suffer themselves to be governed by such ungodly principles, they should not be allowed to see their children converted? Certainly not. People must reap as they sow. And, besides, we can well understand why the Lord, in His faithfulness and wisdom, should throw a veil over the closing scene of one whose life had been spent in guilt and folly. We could hardly expect much testimony in such a case. Indeed, we should rather be prepared for a very doubtful issue. And why? Because, were it otherwise, young people would comfort themselves with the thought, that they might live a life of sin, and then “die the death of the righteous.” Frightful delusion! We would say to “M. J.,” do not let this case of your departed friend perplex you any longer. All you have to do is to count on God for your children, and train your children for God. Act on the divine precept, and feed on the divine promise, and all shall be well—well for time—well for eternity.

19. Individual Responsibility

In reply to “A. G.,” we beg to say, that we do not undertake to expound or defend the principles or practices of any special class of Christians. Each one must account for himself. All we can say is, may God give us all grace to act up to the light which He imparts; so that our path may be as “the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day.”

20. The Lord's Day

A correspondent inquires, “Should children be taught to observe the Lord’s Day?” Unquestionably they should. The Lord’s Day, or the first day of the week, gets a place in the New Testament, which no other day gets; and hence, if the New Testament is to be our guide in the training of our children, and in the management of our houses, the Lord’s Day should undoubtedly be honored; not as an iron yoke put upon us by the law, but as a holy privilege conferred upon us by the gospel.
But then we must be allowed to add, that the due observance of the Lord’s Day is but a part, and not the whole of a Christian education. We have no sympathy whatever with a system of training, which seeks to reconcile a week of folly and unruliness, with one day of legal restraint. This we can only regard as a most monstrous anomaly. If our children are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they will reverence the Lord’s Day as a necessary consequence. Its exercises, instead of being a heavy burden, will prove a real delight; and instead of being a strained exception to the general rule of ungodliness, will be in lovely harmony with all the habits and arrangements of the week. This is what we understand by a due observance of the Lord’s Day; and oh! that we saw more of it than we do. We long to see the Lord’s Day honored, according to its own real spirit and genius, as the resurrection day—the day on which the Captain of our salvation rose triumphant from the grave—a day of holy and happy elevation above the things of earth and nature.
True, we have done, thank God, with “days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal. 4:10). No man has any right to judge us “in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath” (Col. 2:16). For all this liberty we bless God. But, let us remember, it is holy liberty. Oh, yes! We say to the legalist, “We are called to liberty;” and we say to the antinomian, “We are called to holy liberty.” We see the two evils working around us. We see the legalism of some, and the antinomianism of others. The former is connected with the grossest inconsistency; namely, six days of folly and lawlessness, and one day of unsightly restraint. The latter, as is always the case, exhibits another inconsistency; namely, high doctrine and low practice. May the Lord deliver us from both the one and the other.

21. On Experimental Hymns

A correspondent inquires, if hymns, expressive of the exercises and experiences of the individual believer, are adapted for the worship of the assembly. It is an interesting question, particularly so at this moment, in which the Spirit of God is making such extensive use of hymns, both in the conversion of sinners, and the building up and refreshing of believers.
As a general rule, we should certainly say, that hymns of experience are not adapted for public worship. I have no right to limit an assembly to my experience, whether that experience be high or low. If it be high, some may not be up to it; and if it be low, I should not drag others down to it. In every case, one may safely give out any hymn of which Christ is the subject. All can freely unite to celebrate the triumphs of redemption, the glory of Christ’s Person, the preciousness of His offices, the value of His work, the glory of His coming kingdom.
Thus much as to the general rule. But we must remember, that there is great freedom and largeness in the way of the Spirit, in the matter of hymns, as well as in everything else. We should ever be on our guard against a hypercritical turn of mind. For our own part, we have no objection to an experimental hymn, or a hymn of prayer, provided there be nothing unscriptural therein. We have often felt considerable difficulty in joining in hymns containing expressions of intense devotedness. Such hymns ought to be confined to our seasons of private devotion.
In conclusion, we must avail ourselves of the opportunity to express our deep thankfulness to the Lord for the entire change which has taken place, within the last two years, in the character of the singing in our public assemblies. The life, freshness, and enthusiasm of the hymns, in many places, furnish the most delightful evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

22. Sanctification

The case of our correspondent “W. H.” is by no means an uncommon one. Numbers have passed through his painful experience, from not having fully and unreservedly accepted Christ, and cast themselves, in simple, artless trust, on Him, as their “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I am as thoroughly cast upon Christ for the control of an irritable temper, as for the pardon of all my sins. I could no more govern my tongue, or my temper, for five minutes, than I could create a world, or work out a righteousness for myself, in the sight of God. Christ must be all in all to me every moment. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. It is easy to say this; but oh! to live in the habitual sense of it. This is the secret of peace and power. “The just shall live by faith.” We not only get life by faith, but also live, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, by faith. Here is just where hundreds break down. They are truly converted. They find peace and pardon in the precious blood of Christ, where alone they can be found. They are filled with joy for a time. But by and by indwelling sin, in some one or other of its ten thousand shapes, begins to work. Then the grand and important question of sanctification, or practical holiness, is raised in the conscience, and they know not how to answer it. This is a solemn crisis in one’s spiritual history; and, if we understand our correspondent’s case, he failed at this crisis.
Now, what is the answer to this question of sanctification? Simply this, Christ is “made of God unto us sanctification” (1 Cor. 1:30). True, it is by the Spirit, and through the word, that we lay hold of Christ, whether for sanctification, or righteousness, or anything else; but, then, it is Christ that is our sanctification. We are as completely cast on Him for sanctification, as for wisdom, righteousness, or redemption. As I get one, so I get all. I do not get righteousness in one way, and sanctification in another. I get both by simple, naked trust in Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us this, out of the Bible, else we could know nothing about it; but what does the Holy Spirit teach us out of the Bible? That Christ is made of God unto us sanctification. He sends us to Christ for all. Am I doing away with, or dishonoring the work of the Holy Spirit, because I look for sanctification where He tells me to look? Clearly not. It might just as well be said, that I dishonor the Holy Spirit, by looking to Christ for righteousness. It is impossible, in the face of 1 Corinthians 1:30, to separate the two things. Many do separate them. We think our correspondent separates them. It is just here he has failed. If he had looked to Christ, He would have subdued his irritable temper, as thoroughly as He blotted out his sins. Here is the mistake. People bring their sins to Christ, but try to control self, partly in their own strength, and partly by praying for the influences of the Spirit. Thus, they break down, again and again. We must be brought to see that we are as completely “without strength” in the matter of “sanctification,” as in the matter of “righteousness.” The apprehension of this by the Spirit, is the real spring of holiness and happiness.
We earnestly pray, that our correspondent may be led to the end of self, in every shape and form, and find Christ as his all. Then, but not until then, he will find all he really needs. Then he will know the true blessedness of victory over his lusts, passions, and tempers. Christ, by His Spirit, will work in him, “to will and to do of His good pleasure,” and God, in all things, will be glorified.

23. Absence From the Lord's Table

A correspondent desires to know how far he is right in absenting himself from the Lord’s Table when his soul is in a low condition. So far as the Lord has enabled us to form a judgment in this matter, we should say, the Christian ought never to be in such a condition of soul as would prevent his attendance at the Lord’s Supper. He should be there, and that in a worthy manner. My child should be at my table; but he should be there in a manner worthy of his place and relationship.
The Christian should not approach the table in a bad state of conscience, or in the indulgence of any wrong habit, or in any carnal or low condition of soul. To do so will assuredly lead to his becoming “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” or becoming blind, and forgetting that he was purged from his old sins. This should be most carefully guarded against.
There are two errors which persons fall into in reference to the Lord’s Supper. The one is, approaching it in order to get the heart set right. The other is, approaching it in utter carelessness, while the heart is all wrong. Both should be sedulously avoided. If the soul has slipped away from Christ, backslidden from God, and grieved the Holy Spirit, let there be full, free, deep, earnest confession, self-judgment, and immediate return to God. The Spirit testifies, through the Word, to the powerful advocacy of Christ, and the changeless love of the Father’s heart, so that the greatest backslider may return, in the assurance of being met with open arms, and blessed with a deeper sense than ever of divine compassion and tenderness.
But, for any one to go on, from day to day, and from week to week, living in sin, indulging unclean thoughts, light conversation, unholy, unrighteous, and ungracious actings—for such an one to daub his conscience with un-tempered mortar, to prop himself up with one-sided views of “grace,” to slur over the moral condition of his heart, with a vapid phraseology and vain profession—to talk of his high communion, heavenly standing, and elevated privileges—to take his place in hardness of heart, at the Holy Supper of the Lord—all this must be regarded as grievous wickedness; it is “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the Lord that bought him.”

24. Hebrews 4:4

Hundreds as well as our correspondent “S. K. J.” have been sorely troubled by Heb. 6:4; and, while we rejoice in seeing souls thoroughly searched by the word, we certainly do not like to see them stumbled.
We do not think our correspondent fully apprehends either the scope or object of this important scripture. The Apostle is urging the Hebrews to leave the mere elements or first principles confined in the Jewish ritual, in which they had been brought up, such as the ceremonial acts of washing, and laying on of hands, and the doctrines which, as mere Jews, they had been taught. He is not speaking in this place of Christian principles or privileges; for no matter how elementary these might be, he could never urge the Hebrews to leave them. The very first truths of the gospel which fell on my ear are those which I am to hold fast with the most earnest tenacity to the end. The redeemed in glory sing of the love of God, and the blood of Jesus; and are not these some of the very first principles of Christianity? How, then, could the Apostle exhort us to leave them behind? It is, in our judgment, a mistake to confound Jewish “repentance from dead works,” with Christian “repentance unto life;” or Jewish “washings,” with Christian “baptism.”
Furthermore, we do not believe that the persons referred to in Hebrews 6:4-5, were ever regenerated at all. Not one of the expressions used rises to the idea of the new birth. The expression, “made partakers of the Holy Spirit,” merely applies to one having certain gifts of the Spirit, which many might have possessed without being regenerated. No truly regenerated person can ever finally fall away; but if a Jew professed to receive the Christian system, and then went back to the Jewish system, it was impossible to do anything for him, inasmuch as he had given up the only thing by which God could bless, and gone back to that which could do nothing for anybody. Judaism could not save him, and he had given up Christianity. What could be done for him?
Want of space prevents our entering more fully into the exposition of this important passage, but we trust sufficient has been said to open it to our correspondent.

25. 1 Corinthians 8:11

A correspondent in Edinburgh desires to know the meaning of 1 Corinthians 8:11. “Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom Christ died.” The difficulty felt in reference to this and kindred passages arises, in a great degree, from a want of proper attention to the context and also from a desire to introduce some idea quite foreign to the object of the Spirit in the passage. If I read such passages as John 15:6, Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:11, with a certain question in my mind as to the eternal security of all God’s redeemed, I shall assuredly be stumbled and confounded, because no such question is raised. We should always seek to ascertain the real scope and design of the inspired writer, in any passage which may present a difficulty to our minds. Thus much as to the general rule of Scripture interpretation. Let us now apply it to the passage which seems to perplex our correspondent.
The grand object of the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 is to maintain the integrity of personal faith, and the sacred right of individual conscience. Each one is directly responsible to Christ, as his Lord and master. No one has any right to intrude upon that hallowed domain, where conscience acts in immediate reference to the claims of God. The conscience may be weak; but, weak or strong, enlightened or unenlightened, its reference must be to God, and not to man. If I “embolden” a man to do what his conscience condemns, though I may be perfectly free to do it myself, I, so far as in me lies, destroy him. His eternal salvation is not in question, for that can never be destroyed by anyone. The words “destroy” and “perish” are both from the same root, and can only be interpreted in the light of the context. I cannot destroy eternal life. Such a thing is not thought of, either in 1 Corinthians 8 or Romans 14. But I can destroy him as to the principle of his walk, by leading him to act beyond his light. If I lead a man to eat meat, when he thinks it a sin to eat anything but herbs, I destroy him in a most important matter; namely, his conscientious walk before the Lord, according to his measure of light. This is very solemn. Conscience is a very tender and very sacred thing; and we commit a grievous sin against Christ when we trifle with its rights. There is a vast difference between tenderly instructing an ignorant conscience, and thoughtlessly emboldening a sensitive one.

26. Unconverted Relations

“C. E. M.” desires to know if it be wrong to feel more anxious for the salvation of our immediate relatives, than for the salvation of those who are total strangers to us in the flesh. In one sense, we know that God is as much glorified in the salvation of one soul as another. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,” quite irrespective of the earthly relationships and natural ties of that sinner. If, therefore, we can abstract our minds from all thoughts of kindred and look simply at the glory of God in the salvation of souls, we shall rejoice in the fact that sinners are brought to Christ, whether they are connected with us or not.
But, on the other hand, we must remember, that natural relationships, and the affections connected therewith, are owned of God. To be “without natural affection,” is one of the features of wickedness “in the last days.” Hence, we cannot but feel a special interest in reference to the conversion of those who are connected with us by natural ties. If we derive a peculiar satisfaction from the promotion of the temporal interests of a friend or relative, how much more should we rejoice in his eternal salvation.

27. Straightforwardness of Action

The case submitted to our consideration, by some anonymous correspondent, has interested us exceedingly. Though it be a question of commercial difficulty, yet, inasmuch as it involves the moral condition of a soul, and the integrity of a Christian’s walk, we feel it to be quite within our range to refer to it. We strongly recommend our correspondent to throw off all disguise, and act in an open, straightforward manner. This is his proper course, as a Christian, let the consequences be what they may. Clandestine acting is wholly unworthy of the name of Christ; and it is the honor of that name we are called to maintain, at all cost. We are of opinion, that those parties with whom our friend has to do will duly appreciate the upright feeling which induces him to open his mind to them. But, be that as it may, his place is to act openly and honestly; and then, should he be called to suffer, which we by no means apprehend, he will enjoy that unspeakable blessing, an approving conscience. He will be able to look every man straight in the face, because he has that which every Christian should possess, namely, mens conscia recti.

28. Cleansing by the Word

We have received a communication from “Two interested Readers,” dated, “Montrose, February 15th.” In reply, we beg to refer our dear friends to two passages of Scripture, which we think will meet their difficulty. The first is Psalm 119:9, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” The second is Ephesians 5:26: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” It is not correct to speak of “sin being taken away by the word.” Nothing could take away sins but the blood of Christ. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). In John 19:34, we read, that “One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.” So also in 1 John 5:6, “This is He that came by water and blood [Jesus Christ]; not by water only, but by water and blood.”
From all these passages we learn, that while expiation or atonement can only be effected by blood, yet there is a cleansing or purifying virtue in the word, when applied to the heart in the power of the Holy Spirit; but, inasmuch as both the water and the blood came out of a crucified Christ, so expiation and cleansing are founded upon the death of Christ for us.
The red heifer in Numbers 19 furnishes a striking and instructive type of the death of Christ, in its application to one who has become defiled in any way. When an Israelite had become defiled by contact with a dead body, the ashes of the red heifer, with running water, were sprinkled upon him to cleanse him. It was not needful to offer a fresh sacrifice, but merely to apply the memorial of a sacrifice which had been offered. Thus it is with a believer, who has failed and contracted defilement. The Spirit of God, by the Word, brings, in fresh power to his remembrance, the value—the power—the cleansing efficacy of that precious sacrifice that was once offered. It does not need to be repeated, but only to be remembered in the power of the Holy Spirit. What a divine provision for those who, while passing through this wilderness, are exposed to various defiling influences! May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with profound thankfulness.

29. Perfection

“F. F.” desires to know the meaning of Philippians 3:12. It is probable that our correspondent finds difficulty in understanding the force of the word “perfect.” We believe it refers to the time when Paul, in common with all true Christians, shall be conformed in body, soul, and spirit, to the glorious image of Christ. The word “perfect” is used in various ways in the New Testament. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Here it refers to the principle of our dealing with others. We should act towards men on the same principle as our Father adopts in His actings with them. He is kind to all; so should we be. This is to be “perfect” in the sense of Matthew 5:48.
Again: “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect” (1 Cor. 11:9). Here the word refers to the “spiritual” in contrast with the “carnal.” Then, again, we read of being “perfect as pertaining to the conscience” (Heb. 9:2). The blood of Christ gives a perfect conscience. It could not do less. According to the dignity of the sacrifice is the condition of the conscience. This is a point of immense value. So also in Philippians 3:15, we read, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.” Here, we apprehend, the word refers to those who have Christ as their exclusive object, just as Paul could say, “One thing I do.” A single eye is perfection, according to this passage. Oh, for the grace of a single eye! To have the conscience purged, and the eye single, are two distinct perfections of the Christian life. May we all enjoy them.
Our correspondent will, we trust, find help from a careful comparison of all the above passages. He will see that the sense of the word “perfect” in Philippians 3:12, is quite distinct, and that it refers to perfection in glory. The believer should enjoy the perfection of a purged conscience; the perfection of a kindly spirit toward all men; the perfection of a spiritual mind; the perfection of a single eye; and, while enjoying all these perfections, we should cultivate the hope of perfection in glory.
We are deeply thankful for the blessing and profit which our correspondent has received from those volumes to which he refers. We can say, with a full heart, to the Lord alone be all the praise! We would earnestly entreat our dear friend to join us in prayer to God, that He would be graciously pleased to vouchsafe a still more abundant blessing upon the circulation and perusal of those little books.

30. The Voice of Jesus

“J. L.” asks for an explanation of the apparent contradiction between Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9. It would seem from the narrative, that Saul’s companions heard, with their outward ear, a voice or sound which conveyed no intelligible, personal message to their hearts. Saul, on the contrary, not only heard with his ear a voice or sound, but heard in the depths of his soul a message—a clear, full, pointed message, which went direct to his heart and conscience. Hence he might well say, “They heard not the voice of Him that spake to me.” Here was the point. Jesus of Nazareth had a message which was intended only for the heart of Saul of Tarsus, though the vehicle by which that message was conveyed was a voice which, of necessity, fell on the ears of his companions in travel. The voice fell on the ears of all; the message which that voice conveyed reached the heart of but one.
How often may we see something like this on a smaller scale! A preacher addresses a congregation; his voice is heard by all; but it may happen that a few hear, not only the voice of the preacher, but the voice of Jesus speaking to their hearts. It is one thing to hear a preacher, and quite another thing to hear the voice of the Son of God speaking in quickening power to the soul. This latter is what is needed. Nothing less will do. There is life in the voice of Jesus; and while the vehicle through which that voice is conveyed may be a sound, falling on the outward ear of thousands, yet is the message only brought home to the hearts of those for whom it is intended. The external circumstances of a man’s conversion may he visible to all; the voice that converts is heard only by the man himself.

31. Philippians 3:12

“F. F.” wishes to know the force of the word “apprehend” in Philippians 3:12. We take it to mean simply this: Paul had been laid hold of for glory, and his one aim was to lay hold of that glory.

32. Sin in the Assembly

“J. N.” Grange, Co. Antrim, wishes to know the meaning of James 5:14-15. In this passage the assembly is viewed according to the divine idea, as furnished with divinely appointed elders, for whom the sick man can send in his moment of need and pressure. It is evident that the sickness is in connection with God’s governmental dealings. “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” God in government visits sin with His chastening hand, as in 1 Corinthians 11:30; and in answer to the believing prayer of those who are in communion with His mind in the matter, He removes the chastening, and grants restoration. If it be asked, “How far does this passage apply now?” We reply, in proportion as you exhibit the divine conditions may you count upon the divine results; and, in every case, the rule is, “According to your faith, so be it unto you.” Nothing can be more contemptible than human assumption and pretension, where there is not an atom of divine power or divine principle.
The above reply bears in some measure upon the question of our Maidstone correspondent “M. T.” as to 1 John 5:16. A brother may commit a sin of such a character as to preclude all thought of praying for it—a sin which, instead of calling for intercession and prayer for his restoration, evokes only righteous indignation from all who have the Spirit of God in them. There are sins which God visits with death, and there are sins which He visits with illness, and in reference to which He hears the prayer of faith. If we are walking in the energy of the new nature, we shall understand these things.

33. Salvation of Infants

An anonymous correspondent inquires, “What ground have you in scripture for the hope that infants do not perish?” We consider Matthew 18:10-11 perfectly conclusive as to this interesting point. We believe it to be in full keeping with the nature and actings of the God of all grace, that inasmuch as infants undergo the penalty of Adam’s sin, in the death of the body, they should participate in the benefits of Christ’s atonement, in the salvation of the soul. In a word, we heartily believe that all who die in infancy are saved through the blood of the Lamb.

34. On Fasting

A correspondent in York inquires, “What place does fasting occupy in the New Testament, with respect to the Christian of the present day?” We believe the exercise of fasting is distinctly recognized in the following passages, namely, Matthew 17:21; Acts 13:2; 1 Corinthians 7:5. It stands in immediate connection with prayer, and we think the connection is most instructive. Fasting implies abstraction from things natural and earthly; prayer implies occupation with things spiritual and heavenly. The former closes the channel of communication between nature and the scene around; the latter opens the channel between the spiritual man and the scene above. That involves the wholesome denial of the old man; this the complete dependence of the new. We must, however, guard carefully against anything like monasticism, asceticism, or legality, which would only tend to puff up that which ought to be kept down. Our own impression has long been, that the moral effect of “fasting” is realized by a constant habit of self-control in all things.

35. Have Faith in God

If “T. D.” has simple faith to do so, let him, by all means, pursue his present course of absolute dependence upon God. Our earnest prayer on his behalf is, that all needed grace, strength, and guidance, may be ministered to him by the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

36. The World Estimated in the Light of God

We would refer our correspondent “T.” of Halifax, to 1 John 2:15-16, as containing a volume of instruction as to his difficulty. It is only as we walk in communion with “the Father” that we shall be able to form a just estimate of “the world.” We are truly thankful to hear of the blessing which our friend has received from the pages of Things New and Old. To God alone be all the glory, world without end!

37. Baptism

“A Reader of Things New and Old, in a distant country, has his mind much exercised about baptism.” We strongly recommend our correspondent to study the New Testament, in a prayerful, subject spirit, and with purpose of heart, to know the Lord’s will in the matter. If, as the result of such study, he finds that all believers should be baptized, let him, in the name of the Lord, forthwith arise and submit to the sacred and significant institution. But let him remember, that baptism is a sweet privilege, not an iron yoke. Let him beware of contemplating the subject from a legal point of view, or regarding it as a ground of fellowship, or term of communion.

38. The Love of Christ

“A Constant Reader.” In Romans 5:7, the Apostle is setting forth the amazing love of Christ in dying for us. “Scarcely for a righteous man (that is, one who would exact his rights) would one die; yet, peradventure for a good man, (that is, one who would be disposed to forego his rights, and act in grace) some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet” neither “good” nor “righteous,” b DUMAH.ut “sinners” and “enemies,” “Christ died for us.” We are very thankful for the blessing which our friend has received from the letters in our August and September numbers.

39. Traveling on the Lord's Day

“An Inquirer, Hoxton.” We fully enter into your feelings in reference to traveling by rail on the Lord’s Day. We do not want to legislate for others; but we may be permitted to say, that we look upon railway traffic on the Lord’s Day as a systematic and deliberate profanation of a day which we desire to see devoted to the Lord’s service. We only speak for ourselves. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. God forbid that we should “judge another man’s servant. To his own master he standeth or falleth.” But we honor the feelings of our correspondent, and strongly recommend him to pursue his present self-denying course.

40. Conscience

“R. W.” ought not to act contrary to the dictates of his conscience, for any consideration. It is a serious thing to tamper with conscience. We do not think he needs to distress his mind any further about the matter to which he refers; but if his situation necessitates his doing what he feels to be wrong, he ought to give it up, and trust the Lord to open another.

41. Willful Sin

“L. B.” Hebrews 10:26 simply teaches that if any one deliberately gives up Christ, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin. It primarily refers to a Jew, who, having professed Christ, should apostatize from Him. We do not believe that a truly converted person could commit this willful sin.

42. Leaven

“N. L. S.” In Luke 13:20-21, and in the parallel passage in Matthew 13, our Lord is speaking of the evil which the enemy should introduce into the kingdom. Hence it is He compares it to leaven. So also in the parable of the tares. In the former, we have evil doctrine; in the latter, evil persons.

43. The Lord's Day

“A. E.” We most thoroughly respect the feelings of your young friend in refusing to partake of a dinner purchased on the Lord’s Day. The question having been raised, we do not see how any serious or well-instructed Christian could do otherwise than bear a decided testimony against such ungodliness as you describe. It is our long and deeply-cherished conviction, that the Lord’s Day must ever be loved and honored by all right-minded Christians.

44. Thanksgiving at the Lord's Supper

“H. B.” We consider thanksgiving to be the proper accompaniment of the Lord’s Supper. If you consult all the passages in which this precious feast is referred to, you will find this to be the case, without exception.

45. Warnings in the Epistle to the Hebrews

“J.” In order to understand the entire Epistle to the Hebrews, you must bear in mind, that the Apostle is addressing a body of professors who were in constant danger of returning to Judaism. This will account for the solemn warnings with which this Epistle abounds. It should also be noted, that those warnings addressed to professors stand intimately connected with the clearest statements as to the eternal security of all true believers. Mere professors may apostatize; but Christ’s sheep shall never perish.

46. John 15:1-6

“S. F.” In John 15:1-6, there is no question as to the believer’s security. The grand point of the passage is simply this: Christ is the only source of fruit-bearing, and the Father must reject everything that springs not from realized union with Him. Thousands have been perplexed by this passage of Scripture, owing, as we believe, to the habit of introducing questions which have nothing whatever to do with it.

47. Self

“A. H.,” Cheltenham. We think your mistake lies in your looking at yourself, and your ever-changing feelings, instead of resting in the love of God, and the precious blood of Christ, which are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May the Spirit of God give you to rest in the fullness of Christ!

48. Life in Christ

“W. H.,” Paddington. Man’s fall severed the link which connected him with God and plunged him into a condition in which there was not a single movement of the heart toward God. Hence the force of these words, “Ye must be born again.” Man must get new life, and this life is nothing less than the resurrection-life of Christ, the second Man, the Lord from heaven, which all possess who believe on His name.

49. Proverbs 23:2

“M. C.,” Wilts. Proverbs 23:2 expresses intense self-control at a moment of strong temptation. May the Holy Spirit enable us to practice it!

50. Family Worship

“C. E. M.” Words could not convey how highly we prize the exercise of family worship. We believe the Christian’s household should be a sphere in which the name of the Lord is recorded, and His word honored. It is at once profitable and happy for the entire family to assemble in the morning, to seek grace and guidance for the day; and to assemble in the evening, to record the faithfulness and lovingkindness of the Lord. It is good to wait on the Lord at all times and under all circumstances; but, surely, there is urgent need to wait on Him as families, that we may be enabled to walk together in love, in kindly consideration one for another, in mutual forbearance. We cannot but feel, that if there were more waiting upon God in the family, there would be more domestic concord, domestic happiness, domestic holiness, domestic grace.

51. The Christian's Path

“Moderator.” You will find in our leading article for August some passages bearing upon your paper. The proper path of a Christian is to walk in obedience. If he stop to look at consequences, or reason about results, he will surely break down as a servant. It is not by any means a question of life or salvation, but simply of obedient service; and we do feel the immense importance of warning the Christian reader against the fatal rock of expediency. We would fain build a lighthouse on that rock, with a revolving light, that all Christian mariners might see it, and avoid the danger. Many a noble vessel has gone to pieces on that dangerous rock.

52. The Gift of Working Miracles

“W. J. M.,” Woolwich. We have never heard aught of the “peculiar people” to whom you refer; but we fully believe that the power of working miracles, and speaking with tongues, has ceased in the Church. We do not undertake to say how far the failure of the Church itself has caused this cessation, or whether it was the divine purpose that such power should continue. Neither do we dare to limit faith, wherever it exists.

53. Watchman, What of the Night?

A very dear friend, who requests that even his initials may be withheld, desires some light on Isaiah 21:11-12. We cannot do better than quote for him Lowth’s beautiful translation of the passage.
11 “A voice crieth unto me from Seir:
Watchman, what from the night?
Watchman, what from the night?”
l2 “The watchman replieth:
The morning cometh, and also the night:
If ye will inquire, inquire ye: come again.”

54. Matthew 10:23

“M. B.,” Cheltenham. Matthew 10:23 refers to the testimony to the cities of Israel, which began in the days of our Lord, is now suspended, and will be resumed at the time of the end. 1 Corinthians 5:5, sets before us the solemn result which was to be reached by excommunication from God’s assembly. God ruled in the assembly. Satan ruled outside. 1 Peter 3:19, teaches us that the Spirit of Christ, in Noah, went and preached to those whose spirits are now in prison, because they refused the testimony.

55. We Walk by Faith

“A.,” Cheltenham. The scripture which has occurred to us in connection with your case is Habakkuk 2:4, which is quoted three times in the New Testament; namely, Rom. 1:7; Gal. 3:11; and Heb. 10:38. “The just shall live by faith.” It is not by laborious efforts, made in a spirit of bondage, but by simple, artless trust in Jesus, that those blasphemous thoughts which so afflict you can be overcome. Faith purifies the heart and gives victory over the world. Do not be “trying to keep up” anything; only trust, and you will get down everything.

56. On Following Man

“A. F.” The passages of Scripture to which you refer would not by any means justify us in following men, without direct reference to the “end of their conversation.” Where is the man now-a-days, who could stand before the Church of God and say, “Be ye followers of me?” We are told to obey them that guide us (see Gr.): but mark the qualification, “Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

57. Revelation 14:13

“R. S.” You will find an answer as to Revelation 14:13, in our paper entitled “Absent from the body,” Vol. 5. p. 67.

58. The Ministry of Angels

“F. D.” We consider the ministry of angels to be intimately connected with the government of God. They also, as we know, minister in various ways to the people of God.
As to the expression in Deuteronomy 5:22, it teaches us that the ten words formed the subject of communication from the fiery mount.

59. Christ, the Life of the Believer

“J. H.,” Markseleigh, Suffolk. We can hardly believe it possible that the lecturer to whom you refer meant to convey the idea that prayer is the life of the believer. Scripture so plainly teaches that Christ is our life, it seems almost incredible that anyone, taking the place of a Christian lecturer, could assert that prayer is our life. Had he said that prayer is a sweet fruit and evidence of life, and a means of strengthening the life; and further, that it is the very breathing of that life, we should then most heartily agree with him. But to put one of the fruits of life in place of the life itself—to put prayer in the place of Christ—we consider to be worse than a sad mistake. We are most thankful for what you are able to tell us of the good resulting from our Magazine. The Lord’s name be praised!

60. Prayer in Faith

“T.,” Halifax. We believe that all prayer should be in faith; but we must beware of rigidly binding down “the letter” of scripture upon the conscience. The free and healthful activities of spiritual life are often sadly hindered by this system. We can freely tell out all our need and all our desires into our Father’s ear, assured that He will give or withhold, as seems best to Him. But, most assuredly, the prayer of faith will always be answered.

61. Audible Responses

“G. C. R.,” Hull. We are not aware of any scripture authority for repeated responses during prayer; nor does 1 Corinthians 14:16 define when or how often we should say Amen. It simply teaches that one cannot say Amen at all, unless he understands what is said. As to the practice of audible responses during the time of prayer, we may say that we need to watch against extremes on both sides. We have, in some cases, been disturbed by an excess in the practice. In other cases, we have deplored the entire absence of it. It is happy for the one who leads in prayer to know that he has the assembly with him; but care should be taken not to disturb the order and solemnity of the worship.

62. Scriptural Difficulties

“S. H.,” Blackheath. We think that both you and those brethren to whom you refer raise difficulties where Scripture raises none. Oh! for the spirit of a little child!

63. Sins Put Away

“J. A.,” near Dublin. We quite agree with you, that your friend’s question is “awkwardly put.” It is only when we believe, that we are justified. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” So far from our being “always clothed in righteousness,” we were clothed in rags—far off from God, dead in trespasses and sins. “Wherefore remember ... that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood” (Eph. 2:11-13). What comprehensive words! “Far off.” How far? As far as sin could make us. “Made nigh?” How nigh? As nigh as the blood could bring us. The saved soul takes these marvelous steps; namely, from guilt to grace, and from grace to glory. As to your second question, we believe it is a complete mistake to talk of “our future sins being forgiven.” This question has been fully gone into before, in the pages of Things New and Old. It is true that all our sins were future when Christ bore them on the tree; but the idea of sins being forgiven before they are committed is, in our judgment, absurd. The atonement of Christ is the ground on which God can righteously forgive sins; but the forgiveness itself stands connected, in each case, with faith and confession.

64. On Praying for the Holy Spirit

We have received two communications on the same subject, one from “J. C.” Hallatrow; and the other from “E. K.” Boulogne. Our correspondents seek instruction as to praying to the Holy Spirit, and praying for the Holy Spirit. As to the first of these questions, all true Christians own the Godhead of the Holy Spirit—that He is a divine Person, and not a mere influence; and, therefore, in addressing Him we are addressing God. But when we come to look at the place which He occupies in the economy of grace, the simple idea is that we pray by the Spirit, in the name of Jesus, to the Father. But we must not make a man an offender for a word, and we should certainly deprecate the strong language referred to by “J. C.” But it seems very much the fashion now-a-days for people to hurl the awful charge of “damnable heresy” against their neighbors, who may, after all, be fully as orthodox as their accusers.
As regards the question of praying for the Holy Spirit, we doubt not that many pray for that which they already possess. Scripture teaches us, in manifold places, that all believers do actually possess the Holy Spirit; and there is not much intelligence in praying for what one has. The Christian may long to know more of the Spirit’s unhindered energy and gracious ministry—more of His holy fellowship—more of His blessed unfoldings of Christ to the heart. He may earnestly desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that flesh may be as though it did not exist. All this we can fully understand and enter into. But the idea of praying for the Spirit, as if one had Him not, is a simple giving up of our place as Christians. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” But if a man prays for the Spirit, it is evident that he does not consider himself possessed thereof, or, in other words, he considers himself none of Christ’s. Oh! that the Holy Spirit might lead all true Christians to “know the things that are freely given to them of God.”

65. Obedience Better Than Sacrifice

“A. L.” Your kind communication has encouraged and refreshed us exceedingly. The Lord be praised for all you tell us in reference to this our little service for His name! As to your three queries, we must reply to them very briefly.
1. We believe you should honestly, unhesitatingly, and fearlessly follow the light as it shines in upon your conscience. Do not stop to reason about consequences. Our business is to obey the word of the Lord, regardless of human thoughts. We would give you the following weighty motto, in the words of another, “Never go before your faith; never lag behind your conscience.”
There is immense moral weight in those words, “Cease to do evil; learn to do well.” Mark the order. You must first cease to do evil. If you pause to inquire, What am I to do then? you will never get on. God never gives light for two steps at a time. Take the first step, and then light will be sure to pour in upon your path. If I find myself in a house on fire, I do not pause to ask whither shall I flee? My first, my obvious duty, is to escape from the burning house. So also, if I find myself in a wrong position. I should not inquire, Where can I find anything better? My first business is, to cease to do evil. “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.”
2. As a general rule, we prefer having the assembly in a public room; but this is only a matter of opinion or feeling. There is nothing unscriptural in such a meeting as you name, quite the contrary. We merely think it desirable to have the meeting on such a ground as that all may feel free to attend. There is always more or less of difficulty and reserve in attending a merely domestic meeting. But we do not lay down any rule.
3. We fully concur in your view of baptism. As to the matter referred to at the close of your truly interesting letter, we can only tell you, we have gone through it all, and after years of close observation, and deep and painful exercise, we can say with emphasis, the only remedy is unflinching decision for Christ. May the Lord bless you, beloved brother! May the dew of His heavenly grace drop copiously upon you, in that barren spot in which your lot is cast.

66. Communion

“An Anxious Seeker.” You want “an explanation of ‘Communion,’ which a child can understand.” Communion is much easier understood than explained. A child, taught by the Spirit of God, knows what communion is far better than the clearest writer could define it. If your heart is enjoying the preciousness of Christ, you can form a true idea of what communion is, although you might not be able to explain it, nor yet to understand the explanation of others. There are two words, in the New Testament, rendered by the English word “communion,” or “fellowship,” and they simply mean, taking part with another in a certain thing, or having a thing in common with another. Now, when the believer is enjoying Christ, he has communion or fellowship with God, because all God’s delight is in Christ: May God the Spirit teach us all the real power of communion.

67. Judas

“A Lady,” Clonmel. We do not, by any means, consider that Judas was a believer. Our Lord calls him “A devil,” (John 6) and “The son of perdition” (John 17). How could you think him a believer, in the face of such plain passages? The case of Judas is constantly referred to for the purpose of impugning the doctrine of final perseverance; but, inasmuch as he was not a child of God, but “a devil” and not a saved person, bet “the son of perdition,” we cannot see why he should be adduced for any such purpose. As to why such an one should be sent out to preach and work miracles, it is not in our province to say. God had His own wise end in that matter, and He will make all plain.

68. Faith

“T. A.,” Islington. We do not exactly see the force of your remarks. To us the matter is very simple. “He that believed on the Son of God hath everlasting life!” We know that, in every case, faith is wrought in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Faith, too, that trusts the blood through grace,
From that same love we gain;
Else, sweetly as it suits our case,
The gift had been in vain.”

69. Baptism

“A really Anxious Inquirer,” London. We heartily approve of the step you have taken in being baptized; but we cannot but feel that you both displace the ordinance and attach an undue importance to it. This we gather from your four queries on the subject.
1. In the passage to which you refer in the gospels, the command is given to the apostles to baptize, and not to individuals to be baptized: So also in Acts 10. Peter commanded the believing Gentiles to be baptized. From all this we gather that the normal idea was, that those who preached the gospel were responsible to see that the professed believers were baptized. This is totally different from the way in which your query puts the matter. We dislike the legal style of the expression, “binding upon all true believers.”
2. We are not aware of any passage of scripture in which baptism is presented in connection with the Lord’s Table, or in which it is laid down as an indispensable pre-requisite for communion with the assembly. To make water baptism a term of communion, is, in our judgment, to displace the former, and put the latter on a legal basis. “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” It is not said, “By water are we all baptized into one sect.”
3, 4. These have been anticipated in what we have already said. We cannot see that water baptism has anything to do with the Church’s communion and worship. We might with equal, if not greater, force, ask our correspondent to give a text to prove that the twelve apostles themselves were ever baptized. We have no record of it.
Your postscript is entirely inconsistent with your four queries. The command in Thessalonians to “withdraw” is not, by any means, to be viewed as excommunication, nor yet as a refusal to admit to communion. They were to admonish, as a brother, the disorderly person (one refusing to work with his hands), but not to treat him as an enemy. We believe it refers to personal discipline exercised in private life—a very important point, and one not sufficiently understood.
Finally, we would affectionately suggest to our correspondent the necessity of watching against a legal tendency, as also against a rigid literality. We must ever remember that “the letter (even of ‘the New Testament’) killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3:6). We would not yield to any in the matter of rightly estimating baptism. We believe that all disciples should be baptized. But we have no sympathy whatever with the rigid, legal, narrow style of some, in reference to this point. We have prayerfully studied the Word of God for twenty-two years, and we here deliberately assert that we can find no warrant therein for making water baptism a term of church communion. We most strongly deprecate the idea of making ordinances a legal yoke to bind upon the necks of true believers. It seems to us destructive of the finest and noblest characteristics of true Christianity.

70. The Fig Tree

“S. L.” We look upon the fig tree, in Mark 11:13, as a striking figure of Israel’s condition. Christ came seeking fruit and found none. Israel disappointed Him. There were the leaves of outward profession, but no fruit; and the consequence is, the whole stock is entirely set aside; but a repentant remnant will, by and by, become the nucleus of the restored nation, and then shall Jehovah gather mellow clusters from His fig tree. As to Luke 16:9, it is fully explained by 1 Timothy 6:17-18. Worldly riches are not what properly belong to the Christian; but should they fall into his hand, he should so use them for Christ as that they may yield him a reward in the coming kingdom. We should use the present, with our eye on the future—pass through time in the light of eternity. With regard to Balaam, in Numbers 22, God allowed him to go, because his heart was set upon going. This is a very common case. When persons set themselves to act against God, they are allowed to follow their own bent, in order that they may learn, by the fruits of their folly, what they would not learn in communion with God. The Lord told Samuel to anoint a king, and He told Moses to send spies; but had Israel been in a right condition, there would have been no need for either the one or the other.

71. A Full Christ

“J. Y.,” London. Your case is, by no means, an uncommon one. We believe that what you want is, to cast yourself, in artless faith, upon a full Christ. Rest in what He has done, and do not be looking for anything in yourself. Do not be occupied with feelings and evidences, but let your eye rest upon a risen Christ. Then you will have the feelings and evidences in the right way.

72. The One Object

“J. C.,” Nailsworth. We can most fully enter into your feelings; but our long-cherished conviction is, that the only remedy is unflinching decision for Christ. We must rise above the thoughts of men, and make the glory of the name of Jesus our grand and all-absorbing object. The coming day will set all to rights forever, and then shall every man have praise of God. Wait patiently for that day, dearly beloved in the Lord.

73. Matthew 25:34

“T. P.,” Faversham. The persons referred to in Matthew 25:34, are the saved Gentiles, who shall be brought into millennial blessedness, on the ground of their treatment of “these my brethren,” who, we believe, are Jews. The entire scene presents the pre-millennial judgment of Gentile nations. The sheep and the goats are the two classes of “nations.” “These my brethren” are Jews. The Church is distinct from all, and does not appear in the scene, as a subject of judgment.

74. Salvation of Departed Infants

“J. A. F.,” Trowbridge. We have, in a former number of this Magazine, given expression to our decided conviction as to the salvation of all who die in infancy. We consider Matthew 18:1-11 perfectly conclusive on this most interesting question. With regard to a Christian parent’s teaching his children to pray, we believe that if the children of Christians are properly trained—if they are brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” they will feel it to be their happy privilege to wait on God in prayer, without being exactly taught to pray. The Spirit alone can teach any one, old or young, to pray. We must beware of making our children formalists. We should seek to cast them upon God for spiritual power and intelligence.

75. Absent From the Body

“T. C.,” Tranent. We fully believe that the spirit of the saint, on leaving the body, passes immediately into the presence of Christ. See our article enitled, “Absent from the body.”

76. The Flesh

We have received two communications, one from “T. J. H.” and another from “H. J. T.,” each seeking light upon the same passages of Scripture, namely, Romans 8:13, 1 Corinthians 9:27 and Galatians 5:19-21. We have ever to remember, that though we are not in the flesh, as to the ground of our standing, yet the flesh is in us; and, if not kept in subjection by the power of the Holy Spirit, it will cut out plenty of sorrowful work for us. But, blessed be God, Jesus ever liveth. Here is our strength and comfort in all our conflict and exercise of heart. We can count on Him and find Him amply sufficient for the need of every hour.
As to Romans 8:13, the Apostle states the great, broad truth, that to live after the flesh is the way of death, and to live after the Spirit is the way of life. It is worthy of remark, however, that the expressions, “Ye shall die,” and “Ye shall live,” are quite different in the original from what the English reader might suppose. The former is rendered by two verbs (μελλετε αποθνησκιν); the latter by only one (ζησεσθε). That is rather a contingent proposition, “Ye are about to die!” this, an absolute one, “Ye shall live.” In John 4:47, the nobleman’s son was “at the point of death” (ημελλε αποθνησκειν), the same form of expression as “ye shall die.”
We have already given our view of 1 Corinthians 9:27. (See our third volume, page 221.) In Galatians 5:19-21, the Apostle sets forth the moral features of the flesh, and declares that those who are characterized thereby shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the Christian is not so characterized, though surely, if not watchful, he will exhibit some of these hideous features. May we be kept ever looking off unto Jesus, that we may not walk after the flesh, or manifest its fruits! Our God has graciously given us wholesome words of exhortation and warning, and we should never think to take off their edge, by any system of interpretation that might tend to make out an easy way for the flesh. Every true lover of holiness will delight in the pungency and power of the Spirit’s admonitions.

77. Fresh Outpourings of the Spirit

“A. Z.,” Needham. We believe the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost, as the witness of Christ’s glorification, and He has been in the Church on earth ever since. We do not, therefore, consider it intelligent to speak of a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, although many who use the expression may probably mean a right thing. We look upon Acts 8:15-16; 10:44; 19:6, as special applications of the same great truth. See also in connection, John 7:39.

78. Gift in Prayer

“H. H. L.,” Chepstow. We do not think you should be disturbed, as to your security in Christ, by your want of utterance in prayer, provided the heart be really engaged. “The Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” There may be great fluency in prayer, without a single particle of the Spirit, or of heart either. We do not exactly understand you when ye say, “The Gospel most certainly is preached, but Christ is not exalted. Many a sermon have I heard without the name of Jesus being once mentioned or referred to; so that, like Mary, I have been led to cry out, ‘They have taken away my Lord.’” We cannot conceive how the gospel could ever be preached without exalting Christ, and prominently presenting the blessed Lord Jesus. A ministry that could be characterized by taking away the Lord is “most certainly” not a Gospel ministry at all.

79. Luke 23:43

“E. W.,” Charlton, Kent. We cannot at all agree with your mode of pointing Luke 23:43. We believe the thief was with Jesus, in Paradise, that very day. Our Lord’s words to Mary do not, in any wise, contradict this. He had not, in body, ascended to His Father, but He had said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

80. The Present Dispensation

“E. S.,” Ilfracombe. A paper in the first number of Things New and Old, entitled, “The Double Phase of the Second Advent,” may probably help you as to your first question. With regard to your second, we believe that sixty-nine of Daniel’s seventy weeks were accomplished when the Messiah was cut off. Since then, God has not been reckoning time, nor will He until the Church has left the scene. Then God will begin to reckon time, and to act publicly on behalf of His people Israel, and in the government of this world. The whole of the period during which the Holy Spirit is forming the Church—the body of Christ, is an unnoticed interval—a kind of break or parenthesis. This is a very simple principle, the neglect of which has, in our judgment, led to hopeless confusion and perplexity in the exposition of prophecy.

81. The Observance of Days

We have been asked by a friend, “What do you think of the observance of days?” We answer in the language of the Apostle, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you.” But let it not be supposed that “the Lord’s Day” is here referred to. That day stands upon its own divine and independent foundation, and must be honored and loved by every Christian.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5). If this passage were understood, it would settle a thousand questions as to days, ordinances, rites and ceremonies, legal righteousness, and all questions as to law. All these things belong to man in the old creation, and have no place in the new at all. But the believer is not in the old creation, but in the new. He is united to Christ, the Head of the new creation. Christ is his life, his righteousness, his object, his hope, his all. In the old creation, man belongs to death; in the new creation, death belongs to man. All things are become new, and all things are of God.

82. Isaiah 53:6

“T. A.,” near Dublin. Isaiah 53:6, applies primarily to the repentant remnant of Israel in the latter day; but any convicted soul may use it with fullest confidence.

83. Spirit-Rapping

“A Constant Reader,” Andover. We heartily concur in your judgment of spirit-rapping—that it is a work of the devil: a thing with which Christians should have nothing whatever to do. We believe it takes its place among the many influences at work, just now, to lead the hearts and consciences of men away from God and His Word, and to exalt infidel reason. We deeply feel the solemnity of the times in which we live. We are not fond of croaking or complaining. We have never seen much good resulting from it. But we cannot shut our eyes to startling facts. We see the horizon becoming darker and darker every day. Yes, darker and darker, notwithstanding the soul-stirring records of Revival Journals. Christianity is attacked. The divine inspiration of the Bible is denied. Professing Christians talk of the luxury of holding secret communion with the spirits of the departed. Superstition, flimsy profession, cold orthodoxy, false pietism, worldly and self-indulgent religiousness, are all diligently paving the way for infidelity and atheism. What do we want to enable us to cope with these hosts of hell? Profound reverence for the Word of God, and implicit subjection to its authority. What saith the Scripture? Be this our one inquiry. Let us set the Word of our God above everything and look upon every argument tending to shake its authority, as coming directly from the great liar—that old serpent, the devil. If a man come to me with an argument to prove that 2 and 3 do not make 5, should I listen to him? Surely not. So if one come to pick holes in the Bible, should we listen to him? Nay, but regard him as an emissary from hell—an agent of Satan, no matter what he calls himself, Doctor, Bishop, Brother, Father, or aught else. Oh! when will Christians be decided?

84. Female Preaching

“E. P.,” Cardiff. We believe the spirit of the New Testament is directly opposed to female preaching. Even “Nature itself” would suggest the unseemliness of such a practice. We should have thought that the woman’s sphere of action is defined with such precision, both by the voice of nature and by the authority of the Word, as to leave no room for any question in a well-regulated mind. We do not, in the least, doubt the sincerity and devotedness of some Christian women who have gone about preaching; neither do we deny that God, in His overruling grace, may have blessed their word. But all this leaves the root of the matter wholly untouched. If sincerity were a proof of right principle, we might prove the grossest error to be right. And as to the divine blessing being used as a guarantee of the rightness of any particular position or practice, we know that God in His sovereign grace rises above the errors and infirmities of His people But to use this grace as an argument in defense of what is palpably wrong, is, in our judgment, very sinful. And we do believe it to be most palpably wrong for a woman to go about preaching. Only think of a Christian Mother resigning her precious and divinely-appointed charge to others and going through the country preaching! Is that godly? Is it even seemly? It, most assuredly, is not.
A Christian mother’s place is at home. This, as a general rule, is plain. There may be exceptions; but, certainly, no exception in favor of public preaching. Women, as we learn from Philippians 4, have labored, with an apostle, in the gospel; but it remains to be proved that this was by public preaching. There are numberless paths of service along which the Christian female may move with lovely grace, and moral propriety. Why leave those paths to force her way into a field forbidden alike by the voice of nature and the voice of God?

85. Wine

“T. H.” It seems strange to us that any Christian, with his eye resting on 1 Timothy 5:23, could speak of wine as “an impure liquid.” Could the Holy Spirit recommend Timothy to use a little “impure liquid” for his stomach’s sake? That men, in their guilt and folly, have made an impure use of God’s creation is, alas too true; but that a child of God should be so fettered by the unscriptural bonds of teetotalism, as to rob himself of the sweet privilege of showing forth the Lord’s death, in the breaking of bread, is, we must confess, beyond our comprehension. “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4). Is the grape an exception? True, Noah made an impure use of the grape; but is that any reason why I should refuse the cup in the Lord’s Supper? Surely not. We fondly trust your friend may be fully emancipated from the influence of what we must pronounce to be a morbid feeling, or an unscriptural vow.

86. The Application of the Death of Christ

“I. A.,” near Dublin. It is when I, in heart and conscience, take the ground of “the unjust,” that the death of Christ applies to me. “Every individual in the world” does not take that ground. We believe the aspect of the love of God and the death of Christ is “unto all.” As to the result, it is only “upon all that believe.” We should like to remind you of Paley’s memorable saying: “We should never allow what we know to be disturbed by what we know not.” So also of Butler’s weighty words: “If a truth be established, objections are nothing; the former is founded on our knowledge, the latter on our ignorance.”

87. Prayer

“J. P.” You ask, “If it be in accordance with God’s mind that a household, consisting of a brother and sisters in communion, should pray together, in private, respecting any matter of common interest?” Unless there be something involved, of which you have not informed us, we should deem it a holy duty and a blessed privilege. But then, as we say, circumstances alter cases.

88. John 15:1-6

Three correspondents have applied to us, this month, for an exposition of John 15:1-6. We have long felt that the difficulty arising from this most important scripture, is the result of seeking to introduce into it a train of thought altogether foreign to it. There is nothing whatever in the passage about the believer’s security—no such idea as the possibility of a believer’s being lost. It is utterly impossible that our blessed Lord can look at His people, in John 10, under the figure of sheep, and declare that they can never perish, and then look at them, in John 15, under the figure of branches, and declare that they can. This, we conceive, is clear. The believer possesses eternal life. He is a member of the body of Christ, and the members are as safe as the Head. The Lord be praised for this most precious and tranquilizing truth! It is as clearly taught in Scripture as the doctrine of the Trinity, or of justification by faith. Hence, therefore, whatever John 15:1-6 teaches, it most assuredly does not teach, that a child of God, a member of Christ, can ever be burning in hell fire. It is of all-importance to approach the passage with the mind quite clear as to this foundation truth. It is not a question of a sinner’s salvation, but of a Christian’s fruit-bearing.
Christ was the true vine, in contrast with Israel, who had proved to be “the degenerate plant of a strange vine,” and had “brought forth fruit to Himself” Many might attach themselves to Christ, and yet not abide in Him. Now it is only by abiding in Him, that we can bring forth fruit. The Father, as husbandman, looks after the vine, cultivates and prunes according to His wisdom and faithfulness. If any attach themselves, in profession, to the vine, but do not abide therein, He takes them away. He disallows everything, as fruit, that is not the direct result of abiding in the true vine. “If any man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” How many withered branches have strewed the Church’s pathway from the beginning until now! How many such lie scattered around us at this moment! And yet not one of Christ’s members can perish. The Lord grant that we may not only rejoice in our eternal security, but also abide in Him!

89. Christ, and Not Self

“Mary.” The acknowledgment which you make with regard to yourself may, in a great measure, account for your present unhappy state of soul. You say, “I never walked close to Jesus, and have greatly backslidden of late years.” It was just so with Peter. “He followed Jesus afar off.” Then he warmed himself at the high priest’s fire; and, at length, he denied his Lord, and cursed and swore he never knew Him; but one look from Jesus pierced his conscience, broke up the fountains of his heart, and drew forth floods of penitential tears. The devil desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat, but Christ’s prayer sustained him, and so fully was he restored, that he could afterward stand in the presence of the congregation of Israel, and charge them with doing the very thing which he himself had done under the most aggravated circumstances. Such is the restoring virtue of the blood and advocacy of Christ. Now, dear friend, that which restored Peter can restore you, and restore the greatest backslider on earth.
But there are other expressions in your letter which lead us to doubt very much, not that you were ever converted, but that you ever really understood the true ground of a sinner’s peace. You say, “I believed, at one time, that I had an interest in Christ.” Now, while it is quite true that the believer has a deep, personal and eternal interest in Christ, yet the ground of his peace is not that he believes he has an interest, but that Christ died for his sins according to the Scriptures, and that God has been perfectly satisfied, as to sin, by the death of Christ. The moment I get occupied with my interest in Christ, my eye is taken off from Him, the true object of faith, and spiritual darkness sets in. Again, you say, “I long so ardently to feel that He is my Savior.” And again, “If I could realize myself a Christian.” All this self-occupation contributes to your mental anguish. We are not saved by feeling and realization, but by Christ, and we get Christ by simple faith. If we make feeling our object, we shall get away from Christ. If we make Christ our object, we shall have the feeling. This makes a most material difference. May the Spirit of God enable you to look off unto Jesus, and find all you want in Him!

90. The Believer's Secular Calling

“D. R.,” Sheffield. The last clause of 1 Corinthians 7:24, is of the utmost importance. “Brethren, let every man wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” At verse 20, we read, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” But the expression, “with God,” fixes the import of both passages. Suppose an executioner converted; could he abide with God in that calling? Who would say, Yes? But this is an extreme case. Granted. But does it not prove that there are certain callings in which it is utterly impossible for a man to abide with God? Assuredly it does. Well, then, how are we to judge? By the authority of Scripture, and its action on the conscience. Many Christians seem able to abide, with a free conscience, in callings which others would deem most ungodly. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Where the eye is single—where Christ and His glory rule the heart—where self and its interests are not allowed to dim the vision, we shall soon be able to judge as to whether our calling or position is a godly one, or not. May the Lord grant us more of a single eye!

91. Sunday School Teachers Encouraged

“A Reader,” Barking. You request an opinion as to Sunday School Teachers who desire more wholeheartedness in their work, and sometimes think of giving up from lack of it. We can well understand the Sunday School Teacher’s lament over his coldness and indifference; but we are very far indeed from thinking that he should abandon his interesting, though ofttimes uphill, work, on this ground. Let him wait on God for fresh power, fresh zeal, fresh fervor. Each department of work has its difficulties; and each workman has his seasons of discouragement and depression. The path of the servant must ever be a rugged one. There is no bed of roses down here. For ourselves, we can only say, we regard the work of Sunday School teaching with feelings of deepest interest. True, we do not always see as much, or as speedy result in that department as we could desire; but then we must sow beside all waters. It is impossible to tell where the fruit of a Sunday School Teacher’s work may spring up. It may be in the backwoods of America, or in the bush of Australia, on the burning sands of Africa, or amid the icebergs of the North, that some word dropped into the ears of his little pupils, it may be, in a moment of deep gloom and depression, shall bud, blossom, and bring forth fruit. Our associations in connection with Sunday Schools are of the most hallowed and delightful nature. We have occupied, at one time or another, the position of the taught, and the position of the teacher, and we can heartily thank God for both the one and the other. We would, therefore, say to the Sunday School teacher, “Oh, do not abandon your work! Go on! Go on! Your work is precious; your reward secure. Only go on!” It is of the utmost importance that this work should be carried on with heart, energy, and great regularity. It is most prejudicial to the true interests of a Sunday School to see teachers late in their places and listless in their work. We know it demands self-sacrifice; but if we love the One who said, “Suffer little children to come unto me,” we shall not shrink from a little trial and difficulty in carrying out His gracious desire. May the Lord pour down the rich dew of His blessing upon all Sunday Schools—upon teachers and pupils, so that much fruit may be found to His praise and His servants’ joy.

92. On Dress

1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4.
“Mary.” Your second communication has come to hand. We specially note what you say in your postscript, “Dress is, I fear, a snare to me.” Alas! dear friend, it is a snare to many as well as to you. We confess we are, at times, alarmed to see the strong tendency in Christians to get away from true Christian simplicity in their style of dress. It is not that we desire to see Christians adopting a certain livery, or falling into habits of slovenliness or eccentricity. Quite the reverse. We believe that true spirituality would ever suggest and secure habits of neatness, cleanliness, and order. Moreover, a spiritual mind will keep clear of the glaring inconsistency of shabbiness in dress, and splendor in the house and furnishings. Worldliness is multiform. It varies in individuals. In some it shows itself in the wardrobe; in some, in the table; in some, in the furniture; in some, in the library; in some, in the furnishings. You may sometimes see a man with his clothes threadbare, and yet his table laden with plate, and vice versa. Now, we believe that true Christianity would regulate all these things. If I am walking habitually in the presence of God, my dress and habits will be duly ordered as in His sight. This is the true method of settling all these questions. If the heart is full of Christ, the habits will be Christian. The kingdom of God is not in dress any more than in meat or drink; but then meat, and drink, and dress, will all be regulated by the spirit and principles of the kingdom. The less is always included in the greater. We cannot suppose, for a moment, the existence of true spirituality in connection with an extravagant style of dress. “Modest apparel” is strictly enjoined. “Costly array” is expressly forbidden. Why should we neglect these things? Will not an obedient child attend to every precept of his father? May the Lord make us attentive to His Word, in all things! May He enable us to watch against the earliest buildings of worldliness in all its varied and delusive forms!

93. Geology

“An Inquirer,” Bury St. Edmunds. The subject of your note is of the deepest interest. We agree with you in thinking that God made heaven and earth in six days. Exodus 20:11, is quite conclusive as to the time; and Hebrews 11:3, as to the way. We have no objection, however, to the theory, that what is termed the geological period comes in between the first and second verses of Genesis 1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This may have been millions of years back: and then, at verse 2, the inspired penman proceeds with the account of the six days’ work. Such is the theory; but we confess we have very little confidence in the conclusions of geologists. The facts of geology are intensely interesting; but the conclusions of geologists, and the systems based on these conclusions, are most uncertain, and wholly unworthy of confidence. One line of Holy Scripture is more precious to us than ten thousand volumes of geological speculation. Some of our most enlightened geologists are free to admit that “they are but on the threshold of the science; that the conclusions of the earth’s antiquity, and of the formation of strata, cannot be sustained; and that we must wait for further light and additional facts, before any conclusions can be drawn.”

94. Confession

“A. C.,” Keady, Co. Armagh. The subject of your note has been fully gone into in the pages of Things New and Old. See, particularly, an article entitled “Atonement and pardon, as taught by the Word.” Also, “Confession of Sin.” It is of the utmost importance to distinguish between the position of the believer, and his moral condition therein, between his standing and his state. The former is perfect, the latter is not. His standing is entirely of God, and in Christ, enjoyed by faith in the testimony of the Holy Spirit, as given in Scripture. But his state—his own real, practical, moral condition, is another thing altogether. The former is the standard by which the latter must be judged. We all have a host of things in us demanding constant self-judgment and confession. If this be lost sight of, we shall soon break down, and bring sad dishonor on the cause of Christ, and give occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully. The Christian is called to be a polished reflector of Christ. Marvelous position! You may say, “Where shall we find this realized and practically exhibited?” Alas! where? Still, this is what we are called to be. If then we indulge in lust and bad temper—if we harbor covetousness and pride—anger and malice, we, most assuredly, are not polished reflectors of Christ, but exhibitors of self. In the case of a reflector, all that is needed is, to keep the surface polished, and place it opposite to the light. So in the case of the Christian, if, with open face and single eye, he gazes upon the person of Christ, His glorious image will be formed in the soul, and reflected back in daily practical life. The Lord grant us to know far more of this than we do!

95. John 14:1

“J. L. H.” In John 14:1, our Lord is teaching His disciples, that inasmuch as He was going away from them, they should henceforth regard Him as they had hitherto regarded God, as an object of faith. While He was with them, He was an object of sight as well as an object of faith. No man hath seen God at any time; He is only known to faith. So it is to be also as to Jesus, “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

96. The Fear of Man

“Fear.” The subject of your note is very interesting. We may take it up at some future time. Meanwhile, we would merely remark, that there are few things more demoralizing than “the fear of man” —nothing more morally elevating than “the fear of the Lord.”

97. Abiding in Christ

“H. W.,” Loanhead, Edinburgh. John 15:7, teaches us, that if we simply abide in Christ—if we live in habitual dependence upon Him—in a clinging, trusting attitude of soul, the very treasury of heaven is open to us. “Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Wondrous privilege! Would that we realized it more fully! You may also read in connection with the above passage, 1 John 3:21-22: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” If we walk in communion with God, we shall not ask amiss to consume it on our lusts. Our prayers will be the breathing of His Spirit in our hearts, and they will come up before His throne in all the fragrance of the name of Jesus, and return to us in copious showers of blessing. These things are easily said, and easily written; but oh, for more of their power!

98. The Heavenlies

“W. H.,” Thetford, Norfolk. We desire to tender you our earnest thanks for your truly kind and encouraging letter. Such communications cheer and refresh us exceedingly. The Lord’s name be praised! As to the word “heavenlies,” we judge it is the same in the various passages referred to.

99. Breaking of Bread

“M. J.” It is, in our judgment, quite contrary to the mind of Christ for females to meet for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, without a brother. 1 Corinthians 11:1,12, seems to render the presence of a man essential to the integrity of the ordinance. But then we merely give our judgment in the matter. Let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind.

100. Christ Can Meet Our Need

“Emma,” Stepney. Our answer to “Mary” may prove helpful to you. May the Lord grant you full relief! You may rest assured, there is full provision in Christ to meet your deepest need. Only use Him. Do not be occupied with questions about yourself but lean upon Christ’s finished work and God’s faithful word. “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life.” It is not said in Scripture, “He that believeth that he is one of God’s elect hath everlasting life.” The ground of the believer’s peace is not that he is one of the elect—a thing blessedly true in itself—but that Christ, by His one offering, has settled forever all question of sin. How are we to know a person’s election? By his hearty reception of the gospel. “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” How did he know it? Because “our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thess. 1:4-5).

101. Psalm 147:2

“J. N.,” Earlestown. We do not consider that Psalm 147:2, has any reference to the church. We believe that Jerusalem means Jerusalem, and Israel means Israel. No doubt the church may draw precious instruction from this passage of the Word, as well as from many other scriptures which primarily refer to Israel; but it is of the very last importance to be able rightly to divide the Word of truth. Serious damage is done to souls, and to the truth of God, through ignorance of what is called dispensational truth. We should seek to put things where God puts them and leave them there.

102. Conversion of the World

“J. C. R.,” Bradford. We do not exactly see how Isaiah 53:10-11, or John 12:31, can be applied to the conversion of the world by the preaching of the gospel. The former simply teaches that “many” should be justified through the knowledge of Christ as bruised for their iniquities. The latter teaches us that Christ, as lifted up on the cross, should draw all unto Him; in other words, that the Christ who was dead should be the only center or gathering point for His people. In neither passage is there a word about the conversion of the world.

103. Luke 12:32-48

“C. M.,” Ipswich. We cannot agree with your friend’s view of Luke 12:32-48. We consider it legal and depressing. It seems to us utterly unfounded. We believe that every member of the body of Christ will be with the Head when He appears. It is the free grace of God, and not any faithfulness of ours, that will give us a place with Christ in that day of glory. But, surely, that grace ought to lead us to be faithful and watchful.

104. Jeremiah 49:11

“Mrs. H.,” Berwickshire. Your case has interested us exceedingly. We believe your path is plain. Walk up to the light which the Lord has given you, and wait on Him alone for guidance as to your future path. You may fully count upon God. The widow and the orphan have a special place in His heart. Just cast yourself unreservedly upon Him, and He will make all plain before you. The Lord bless you, and your children.

105. Salt With All the Offerings

“W. S.,” Rutland. Mark 9:49-50, is deeply practical. “Salt” is pungent and preservative. “With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” It is sweetly expressive of that energy of holiness by which the Christian is to be preserved from the corrupting influences around him, whether they be of a doctrinal or practical nature. The connection of “salt” and “peace,” and the order in which they stand, are full of instruction. It reminds us of James’ words, “pure and peaceable.” Holiness, purity and truth must first be jealously maintained; and then as much “peace” as possible. At the present day, alas! we see the order reversed. “Peace” is put first, and the sad consequence is, that much of the “salt” has lost its savor. Professing Christianity will, ere long, become a loathsome mass, fit only for the winepress of the wrath of God. Oh! that Christians may be separated, in spirit and practice, from this corrupt and corrupting world, and stand as devoted witnesses to a rejected, absent, coming Lord! We have not read the sermon you so kindly sent; but from the cursory glance we have given at it, we are much disposed to agree with your view of it.

106. No Condemnation

“M. W. T.,” Barnet. Romans 7 gives us the experience of a quickened soul not yet fully emancipated. It does not present proper Christian experience at all. Christians get into it; but their proper place is in the eighth chapter. A little attention to the order of the chapters would help you to understand their contents. In Romans 5 the Apostle lays down the precious foundation truth of our full and complete justification and acceptance in a risen Christ. In Romans 6 he deals with the question of indwelling sin, and proves our deliverance from it through our being dead to it. In Romans 7 the subject of law is taken up, and the unhappy condition of any soul under it is contemplated. Then, in the first three verses of Romans 8 we have a condensed view of the doctrine contained in the three preceding chapters. Verse 1 gives us the contents of Romans 5. “No condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Verse 2 gives the contents of Romans 6. “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath delivered me from the law of sin and death.” Verse 3 gives the contents of Romans 7. “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Then we have the practical result, “The righteousness (δικαιωμα) of the law fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
We can heartily thank God for the contents of your letter. To Him be all the praise for the blessing you have received, as well as for the earnest aspiration of your spirit after higher communion with himself.

107. 1 Corinthians 7:14

“J. B.,” Otley. 1 Corinthians 7:14, teaches that Christianity does not, like the Mosaic economy, demand the putting away of an unbelieving wife, or the offspring of a mixed marriage. (Compare Ezra 9).

108. Appropriation

We may say the same to our Correspondent “J. D. W.,” Tetbury, who mentions the fact of two anxious souls having found peace through reading the article on “Appropriation.” Such intelligence is most cheering. The Lord’s name be praised.

109. Christ the Center of Theology

“M. L.,” near Dublin; and “A. R. W.” We place your communications together, because we look upon them both as being the fruit of a one-sided theology, which robs the divine character of its moral glory, and sweeps away man’s responsibility. This system attempts to shut up the blessed God within a narrow enclosure, fenced round about with such rigid decrees as prevent His dealing with man in a moral way, while at the same time, it makes man a mere machine, devoid of all moral responsibility. We strongly recommend you both to abandon the muddy streams of systematic divinity, and drink at the pure fountain of eternal truth. Get to the center of the wheel and then you will have a full, clear view of all the spokes. If you stand outside, you can only have a one-sided view. Christ is the center of the wheel of theology, and when we are near Him, we see each truth in its right place. Our tendency is to get occupied with some particular doctrine to such an extent as to lose sight, not only of many other doctrines equally important, but even of Christ Himself. May the Lord deliver us all from this pernicious tendency!

110. Old Testament Saints

“E. E. B.,” Brighton. We believe that Scripture distinctly teaches that the Old Testament saints will share the heavenly glory with the church, though they do not form part of the church. Hebrews 11:40 is very clear and conclusive on the point. “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” We thank you for your kind and encouraging letter, and can heartily say, Amen to your prayer for more devotedness and spirituality. May the Lord stir up all our hearts to follow hard after Him!

111. Baptism

“J. J. G.,” Ventnor. The teaching of 1 Peter 3 seems very plain. Christian baptism sets forth the same great truth as was shadowed forth in the ark and deluge. It is the setting aside of the old thing, and the introduction of the new. The “eight souls were saved through the water” (δί ύδατος) and carried into a new world. So the believer goes down under the water, as the figure of his death to sin and the world; but he comes up out of the water, as the figure of his resurrection, or passage into the new creation.

112. Acts 15:28-29

“W. R.,” near Newport. Acts 15:28-29, was intended, primarily, to meet a special local need, to guide the conduct of Gentile disciples in the presence of Jewish prejudice. At the same time, the moral of it is of universal application.

113. Hebrews 10:12

“A. H.” Highly respectable authority is in favor of pointing Hebrews 10:12, as follows: “When He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” The eternal efficacy of the sacrifice is alike maintained, whichever pointing we adopt.

114. Converted Children and Unconverted Parents

“A. B. C.” Few things demand more wisdom and delicacy than the conduct of converted children toward unconverted parents. We have seen much mischief done, and much reproach brought on the Lord’s name, through lack of grace and wisdom on the part of children in such circumstances as you refer to. We believe that implicit obedience and profound respect are due to parents from their children, no matter how grown. But, in all cases where God’s authority is plainly concerned, it, of course, takes precedence over all other authority. “We must obey God rather than man,” applies in every case. As to Luke 14:26, it simply teaches that all-natural ties, and the claims arising therefrom, must give way to the claims of Christ, if we would be His disciples. We must, however, remember, that to be “without natural affection,” and “disobedient to parents,” are two features of the latter-day apostasy. We greatly dread the spirit of insubordination so manifest on all sides at the present day. It is premonitory of the evil day approaching. Let children remember what they owe to their parents; and if the claims of Christ are manifestly involved, let the parental claim be set aside with tenderness, delicacy, and deep respect. Let the line which marks off the domain of parental authority be crossed with a measured step and tearful eyes.

115. Do All for the Glory of God

“Sarah Anne.” We must answer your question in the words of inspiration “Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Col. 3:17). And again, “Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Now, could you take part in a raffle “to the glory of God,” or “in the name of the Lord Jesus?” Is it a matter upon which you could ask God’s blessing?
We cannot imagine how your “Christian friend” could ask such a question, or why you should be at any loss for an answer.

116. The Mustard Seed

“M.,” New College, Edinburgh. We do not exactly see how the parable of the mustard seed bears upon the church’s hope of seeing her Lord, and being with Him forever. From the moment of our blessed Lord’s departure from this world until now, it has been the believer’s happy privilege to wait for His coming; nor can we see how the spread of the tares, the progress of the leaven, or the growth of the mustard tree, could ever affect “that blessed hope.” Those three parables refer to the kingdom; whereas the church, its standing, its calling, its hopes, are all heavenly. It is, in our judgment, a great mistake to confound the church and the kingdom.

117. 1 Corinthians 5:5

“A. S.,” Brixton. 1 Corinthians 5:5 is as plain as it is solemn. The assembly was directed to deliver the wicked person to Satan, for the destruction of his flesh, and yet that person was a child of God, and he was afterward restored to communion. (See 2 Cor. 2:7-8.)

118. The Study of Scripture

“W. T. D.,” Sheffield. It is difficult for one to prescribe for another the best method of studying Scripture. We have found, by experience, that the treasures of Scripture are only unfolded to faith and need. If we want to get into the profound depths of the Bible, we must approach it, not like a bookworm, but as a trusting, needing, working servant of Christ.

119. Faith and Trust

“J. A.,” near Dublin. We think that “faith” is more than mere “trust.” But it is quite possible that a person, in dealing with anxious souls, may use the one for the other. It is always well, however, to keep close to the veritable words of Holy Scripture.

120. Philippians 3:18-19.

“M. W.,” Bath. We believe that Philippians 3:18-19 refers to worldly-minded and carnal professors of religion, in contrast with devoted followers of Christ.

121. The Path of Obedience the Path of Blessing

“L. G.,” Stoke. You certainly have not done wrong in following the light which God has, in His goodness, caused to shine in upon your conscience. Would that all were more faithful to their light. You may fully reckon upon trial; the devil will leave no stone unturned to drive you off the narrow path of obedience; but cling you to Christ, and He will give you the victory. Do not be terrified by the loneliness of your path. Companionship with Jesus is a rich compensation for the loss of earthly friends. It would be a dear companionship which you can only purchase at the cost of a pure conscience. May the Lord strengthen your faith!

122. Romans 5:6-8: "We"

“T. A. H.,” Blackrock. The “we” in Romans 5:6-8, stands for believers; though surely, what is there stated of them, applies to all, inasmuch as all are “without strength,” “sinners,” and “ungodly;” and, blessed be God, “He commendeth His love toward” all, and the aspect of the death of Christ, and the righteousness founded thereon, is “unto all,” though only “upon all them that believe.”

123. Make to Yourselves Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness

As to Luke 16:9, we read it in the light of 1 Timothy 5:1,17-19. Both passages teach us to use the present in the light of the future. This world’s riches do not, properly, belong to the heavenly man; but, should they fall into his hands, he is called to make friends of them, by turning them to account in the service of Christ, assured of this, that in “the time to come,” and in those “everlasting habitations,” we shall reap a full reward. Oh, for more consecration of heart and life to Christ, and His cause in this world!

124. The Believer Shall Never Die

“E. M.,” Kentish Town. John 11:25-26 sets forth the blessed truth, that in reference to all who are united to Christ by faith, death is abolished, and life and immortality brought to light. In the old creation, man belongs to death; but in the new creation, death belongs to man (1 Cor. 3:22). What a difference! “Whosoever liveth, and believeth in Me, shall never die.” Precious assurance!

125. Leaven a Symbol of Evil

“G. H.,” near Barnstaple. Your view of the parables in Matthew 13 we believe to be correct. Leaven is invariably used throughout Scripture, as the symbol of evil; and in the above chapter it refers to the corrupting influence at work in the professing church.

126. Judicial Blindness, Etc.

“Marie,” Brixton Hill. Mark 4:12 is, as you may observe, a quotation from Isaiah 6, and sets forth the solemn sentence of judicial blindness passed upon the nation of Israel, because of their deliberate and long-continued rejection of the light and privilege so freely bestowed upon them. If you will turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, you will find a still more solemn sentence passed upon the rejecters of the Gospel testimony. “And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Those who will not believe the truth of God, when it is put before them, will be left to the delusive power of Satan’s lie.
The advice of your friend has a measure of truth in it; but we believe it is quite right to wait on God for the unfolding of His Word to our souls. No doubt, we must take care of exercising mere intellect in the things of God; but if we wait on divine teaching—if we honor the Holy Spirit as the alone Expositor of Scripture—we shall be sure to grow in spiritual intelligence. We would repeat, here, a remark made elsewhere; namely, that the moral glories of Christ’s Person, and the living depths of God’s Word, will only unfold themselves to faith and need.

127. The Unjust Steward

“A Reader” inquires, “Why the unjust steward should be commended for acting so wrongly?” He was not commended for acting “wrongly,” but “wisely;” and his wisdom consisted in looking at the present in the light of the future. The practical application to us makes this plain. We are to use our temporal resources with a view to eternity (See 1 Tim. 6:17-19). It is always well, in interpreting a parable, to seize its grand leading point. Our correspondent will find an answer to her question about Naaman in the leading article for this month. As to the domestic matter referred to, we think she is perfectly right in allowing her servants every possible opportunity of hearing the Word; nor can we see what right anyone has to find fault with her for so doing.

128. Hebrews 10:39

In reply to “W. T.,” Stafford, we would say that Hebrews 10:39 does not imply that Christians could “draw back to perdition.” So far from this, it directly teaches the very opposite.

129. The Sin Against the Holy Spirit

“A. M. E.” asks for an explanation of Matthew 12:31-32. We believe this solemn passage, with the entire context, teaches that it was an unpardonable sin to attribute to Satan’s power the miracles which were wrought by the Holy Spirit.

130. Unjudged Sins

We have had letters from two correspondents, calling our attention to what we consider a very serious sin; namely, certain individuals going regularly to the Lord’s Table, and yet cherishing bitter feelings one toward the other in domestic life. We would most solemnly urge upon all such the duty of self-judgment. They should look to the Lord for grace to enable them to subdue their unworthy feelings and tempers. Persons who live in the indulgence of such an unholy disposition, do immense damage to an assembly, and bring sad dishonor on the cause of Christ.

131. Leaven

“A Constant Reader,” Tramore. Your question as to “leaven” is a deeply important one. If you will turn for a moment to “the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings,” in the seventh chapter of Leviticus, you will see that, while “leaven” was admitted in connection with this offering, yet “uncleanness” was expressly forbidden (Compare verses 13 and 20). The reason is obvious. There is sin in us, but no guilt on us. Now the leaven was admitted in connection with the peace offering, because of the evil in the worshipper. So also we find leaven in the two wave loaves on the day of Pentecost—type of God’s redeemed, who, though indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, have evil in them; but, blessed be God, the evil is fully met by the blood of the sin offering. All this is easily understood by the spiritual mind; but if the question be asked, “Does not the admission of leaven in these offerings prove that the people of God may go on in fellowship with known evil?” our answer is, “Assuredly not.” To maintain such an idea is simply taking advantage of the grace of God, that recognizes and provides against the evil, in order to trample upon His holiness that abhors it. This we look upon as consummate wickedness. It ought to be remembered, that the grace that recognized the leaven in the worshipper’s offering, was inseparably connected with holiness that prohibited uncleanness on the worshipper’s person. We know there is evil dwelling in every member of the assembly; but if the evil within is allowed to become uncleanness upon, there must be judgment. If a man does not judge himself, the assembly will have to judge him, as we read in 1 Corinthians 5 “Do not ye judge them that are within?” They were bound to do so. Had that wicked person judged the incipient workings of lust in his nature, the assembly would never have had to judge him; but seeing there had not been self-judgment, there was an imperative demand for church judgment; and if the assembly had refused to act, there would have been divine judgment; for God and wickedness cannot dwell together. We tremble for those who could raise such a question as that to which you have called our attention. As to your second question, we strongly recommend you not to entertain it for a moment. It is calculated to give rise to irreverent speculations, from which every sensitive mind must recoil with just horror.

132. The Christian Wife, and Her Christ-less Husband

“A.,” Weston-super-Mare. Your question is a very unusual one. As a general rule, we should say it is a wife’s duty to take her proper place at her husband’s table. There may be circumstances, in your case, which would greatly modify the rule. It will involve trial, of course, for a Christian to sit at a worldly dinner party; but then, if a Christian wife were enabled to carry herself with grace and dignity in such a scene, it might commend the Gospel, and prove a blessing to her husband and his guests. But if, as you say, the husband does not insist upon the wife’s presence at his dinner parties, and if her absence would not give rise to unpleasant surmisings—if, in a word, there is a proper, understanding between all parties, then, of course, the wife can act as she feels disposed. We cannot but judge it to be a most unhappy state of things where such a question has to be asked, and we feel most deeply for all Christians in such circumstances.

133. The Unequal Yoke

“S. A.,” London. The very passage you quote answers your question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” It can only tend to produce unhappiness, in various ways, for two to come together in married life who are not thoroughly agreed in all matters connected with the truth of God and the service of Christ. It works badly in numberless and nameless ways. We would strongly urge upon all with whom our counsel might have any weight, to avoid forming a connection where there is not thorough concord. They will escape a vast amount of domestic bitterness.

134. Law or Christ

“A Brother in Christ.” Romans 7:9 teaches us that the only thing the law can do with a sinner is to slay him. “I was alive apart from law (χωρις νομου) once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” If the law were not in question, a man might go on in ignorance of what is in his heart; but “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” and “the wages of sin is death.” If I sit in a dark room, I cannot see anything. I may be surrounded with dust, and not be able to see it. Suppose a law made against having dust in my room, and death as the penalty; what then? Why the moment you let in light into my room, I see the dust, and see myself condemned. It is vain to say, that the design of the law is to promote cleanliness; it condemns the very condition in which I am, and does not help me to get out of it. What am I to do? Look to Christ, who bore the curse and paid the penalty for me. “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The law will not, and cannot, let any one live. Why? Because no one has kept it. The only way of escape from the law without, and sin within, is death and resurrection. Would that we all entered more fully into this glorious and deeply practical truth!

135. Hebrews 6:4-5

“F. S.,” Clifton. Not one of the expressions in Hebrews 6:4-5 rises to the height of regeneration. You will find a paper on this passage in our fourth volume, page 25.

136. The Christian's Position

The difficulty felt by “G. H. S.” Woodside, as to Leviticus 25:44-46, arises, we apprehend, from his not seeing the contrast between the calling and position of a Jew, and the calling and position of a Christian. Many things, which were perfectly allowable in the case of the former, would be grossly inconsistent in the case of the latter.

137. Good Testimonials

If our correspondent “B.” has occasion to apply to men of the world for a situation, we do not see how “faith is destroyed” by his furnishing such testimonials, as to fitness and integrity, as may be required. We should have thought that faith would be dishonored if he had none to furnish. We must meet the men of this world with that which they can understand. There are thousands, who can understand a testimonial as to fitness and uprightness, who would deem it an absurdity to talk about “faith.” We should consider a good testimonial to be a most excellent evidence of true faith—an evidence which most men understand very well.

138. The Day of Power

“J. A. T.,” Swindon. Luke 22:35-38 teaches that during Christ’s presence with His disciples, they had lacked nothing; but now that He was going away from them, they might count upon privation, conflict, and persecution, inasmuch as the day of His power was not yet come. “Peter, ever forward,” says a recent writer, “taking the words of Christ literally, was permitted to lay bare his thoughts by exhibiting two swords. The Lord stops him by a word that showed him it was of no use to go further. They were not capable of it at that time” (Synopsis, Vol. 3, p. 374).

139. Saved by Blood Alone

“N. R.” Without date. Acts 10:4, teaches us the value of living honestly up to one’s light. Cornelius was an earnest man, and his prayers and alms, the precious memorial of his earnestness, had gone up before God. But prayers and alms could not save him, and hence he was told to send for Peter “who,” said the angel, “shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” The man of works had to hearken to words and find salvation therein. The works had gone up as a memorial, but nothing short of the blood of Christ could give him a title. It is well to see that the case of Cornelius proves the indispensable necessity of the blood of Jesus, just as clearly as the case of the thief on the cross proves its efficacy. The former needed nothing less, and the latter nothing more, than the precious blood of Christ. The thief on the cross, and the centurion of Caesarea were both saved by the blood alone.

140. God Forbid

“J. H.,” Brixton. The phrase which is rendered by the well-known formula, “God forbid,” is “μη γευοιτσ.” It is simply a deprecatory expression, and may be rendered, “Far be the thought.”

141. Purged or Stained

“C. T.,” Newport, Mon. We deem it a very great mistake indeed to say, “That God has nothing against the world, or the sinner, as to sin.” The world is stained with the murder of the Son of God, and each individual unbeliever stands charged with the same. Is this nothing? If it be said that God has nothing against the believer, we own it as a precious truth of Scripture. There are just the two classes in the world, namely, those who are purged by the blood that was shed, and those who are stained with the guilt of shedding it. What a solemn question for anyone to put to himself: “Purged or stained—which?” It is very sad to hear persons putting forth crude statements, wild fancies, and far-fetched opinions, which minister questions rather than godly edifying. Would it not be far better, wiser, and safer, to confine ourselves to what is sound, plain, and practical?