Bible Treasury: Volume 7

Table of Contents

1. Fragmentary Notes on 1 and 2 Timothy
2. Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 2
3. Thoughts on 1 Samuel
4. Thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 1
5. Achill Herald Appendix
6. Adam and Christ
7. Advertisement
8. Advertisement
9. Advertisement
10. Advertisement
11. Advertising
12. All Will Give Account of Themselves to God
13. Baptism and the Lord's Supper
14. Bethel, Penial, Beersheba
15. Brought to God
16. Brought to God
17. The Calling and Hope of the Christian
18. The Person of Christ
19. Christ the Wisdom of God
20. When Out of Communion With God
21. Conscience
22. Correspondence
23. Correspondence: Difference Between Members of the Body and the Church
24. Corruption
25. The Cross of Christ
26. Dead to Sin, Not to Creation: Correction
27. Death Is Gain
28. What Is Death to the Christian? (Duplicate)
29. Ecclesiastical System on Earth
30. The Eirenicon or a United Christendom
31. Thoughts on Ephesians 6:10-20
32. Errata
33. Erratum
34. Erratum
35. Everlasting Punishment
36. Everlasting Punishment: Part 1
37. Everlasting Punishment: Part 2
38. Exodus
39. Extract From Correspondence: Revised by the Writer
40. The Father
41. Fragment: 2 and 3 John
42. Fragment: Cast in and Cast Out
43. Fragment: Certainty of What God Is
44. Fragment: Christ Our Object
45. Fragment: Divine Law
46. Fragment: Dying for an Enemy
47. Fragment: Ear to Hear
48. Fragment: French Revolution
49. Fragment: God's Ways Behind the Scenes
50. Fragment: Government of God
51. Fragment: In the Spirit
52. Fragment: Inspiration of Scripture
53. Fragment: Liberty, Joy, Blessing, and Clearness of the Truth
54. Fragment: Lift Up, Bear, Offer To
55. Fragment: Man Departed Before God Drove Him Out
56. Fragment: Mohammedanism
57. Fragment: Moses
58. Fragment: Person Not Merely Doctrine
59. Fragment: Read His Word
60. Fragment: Receiving or Rejecting Him
61. Fragment: The Altar and the Laver
62. Fragment: The French Revolution
63. Fragment: Walking in the Light
64. Fragmentary Notes
65. Fragments Gathered Up: 1 Corinthians 14
66. Fragments Gathered Up: 2 Corinthians 3-6
67. Fragments Gathered Up: Alienation in Nature and Standing
68. Fragments Gathered Up: Baptism
69. Fragments Gathered Up: Church Seen Only in Christ
70. Fragments Gathered Up: Ephesians 4-5
71. Fragments Gathered Up: Genesis 3; 1 John
72. Fragments Gathered Up: Hebrews 1 and 2
73. Fragments Gathered Up: Hebrews 10
74. Fragments Gathered Up: Job 33 and 34
75. Fragments Gathered Up: John 1:28
76. Fragments Gathered Up: Matthew 26-28
77. Fragments Gathered Up: Numbers in Scripture
78. Fragments Gathered Up: Promise and Covenant With Abraham
79. Fragments Gathered Up: Revelation 4-22
80. Fragments Gathered Up: Revelation of God
81. Fragments Gathered Up: Righteousness, Life, Salvation
82. Fragments Gathered Up: Son of God Reveals God Himself
83. Fragments Gathered Up: The Fulness of Him That Filleth All in All
84. Fragments Gathered Up: Typical Meaning of the Tabernacle Metals
85. Fragments Gathered Up: "We Know"
86. Fragments: God's Sacrifice
87. Genesis
88. The Gifts and Calling of God
89. The Glory of God
90. The Glory of the Only-Begotten
91. The Glory That Excelleth
92. What God Is for Us
93. The Gold of the Mercy Seat
94. Grace and Truth
95. True Greatness
96. Heads of Psalms: Book 5
97. Heads of Psalms: Book 5
98. Heads of Psalms: Book 5
99. Heave and Wave Offerings
100. How to Study the New Testament
101. How to Study the New Testament: Luke
102. How to Study the New Testament: Matthew
103. I Have Brought You Unto Myself
104. Immortality and Everlasting Punishment
105. Inspiration: Ecclesiastes Dictated
106. Notes on Jeremiah 1
107. Notes on Jeremiah 11-13
108. Notes on Jeremiah 14-15
109. Notes on Jeremiah 16-17
110. Notes on Jeremiah 18-20
111. Notes on Jeremiah 21-24
112. Notes on Jeremiah 25
113. Notes on Jeremiah 26
114. Notes on Jeremiah 27-28
115. Notes on Jeremiah 29
116. Notes on Jeremiah 30-31
117. Notes on Jeremiah 32
118. Notes on Jeremiah 33
119. Notes on Jeremiah 34
120. Notes on Jeremiah 35
121. Notes on Jeremiah 36
122. Notes on Jeremiah 37
123. Notes on Jeremiah 38
124. Notes on Jeremiah 39
125. Notes on Jeremiah 40
126. Notes on Jeremiah 41
127. Notes on Jeremiah 7-10
128. Jeroboam and Rehoboam or God in Government
129. John 14
130. John 17
131. Notes on John 20:19
132. Thoughts on John 3
133. Jonathan and David: Or Faith and Its Difficulties, Part 1
134. Jonathan and David: Or Faith and Its Difficulties, Part 2
135. Joshua 1-13
136. Joshua 5
137. Jude
138. Just Published
139. A Kinsman's Duty
140. Thoughts on Lamentations
141. The Law and the Sabbath
142. Life and Incorruptibility
143. The Lord's Prayer
144. Notes on Luke 10:1-16
145. Notes on Luke 10:17-24
146. Notes on Luke 10:25-37
147. Notes on Luke 10:38-42
148. Notes on Luke 11:1-4
149. Notes on Luke 11:14-26
150. Notes on Luke 11:27-36
151. Notes on Luke 11:5-13
152. Notes on Luke 5:12-26
153. Notes on Luke 5:27-39
154. Notes on Luke 6:1-11
155. Notes on Luke 6:12-26
156. Notes on Luke 6:27-38
157. Notes on Luke 6:39-49
158. Notes on Luke 7:1-18
159. Notes on Luke 7:19-35
160. Notes on Luke 7:36-50
161. Notes on Luke 8:1-18
162. Notes on Luke 8:19-39
163. Notes on Luke 8:40-56
164. Notes on Luke 9:1-17
165. Notes on Luke 9:18-36
166. Notes on Luke 9:37-56
167. Notes on Luke 9:57-62
168. Brief Thoughts on Malachi
169. Notes on Matthew 13
170. Reflections on Matthew 14-15
171. What Is Ministry?
172. Miracles
173. The New Song (Duplicate)
174. Notes on Jeremiah 2-6
175. Notes on Roman 6:12-14
176. Order of Creation
177. Our Genesis
178. Our Place With Christ Glorified
179. The Panoply of God
180. Paul's Epistles in What Order Written?
181. Perfect
182. Notes on Philippians 1-4
183. Notes on Philippians 1-4
184. Philippians 1:21
185. Thoughts on Philippians 4
186. Philosophers and the Truth
187. Powers That Be - Capital Punishment
188. Presbyterianism: Part 1
189. Presbyterianism: Part 2
190. The Presence of the Spirit
191. Printed
192. Printed
193. Printed
194. Printed
195. Printed
196. Printed
197. Printing
198. Printing
199. Printing
200. Printing
201. Printing
202. Printing
203. Printing
204. Printing
205. Printing
206. Progress of Man - What?
207. The Promises to the Seven Churches
208. Practical Reflections on Proverbs 7
209. Practical Reflections on Proverbs 8:1-8
210. Practical Reflections on Proverbs 8:9-36
211. Published
212. Published
213. Published
214. Published
215. Published
216. Published
217. Published
218. A Few Words on the Punishment of Sin
219. Purged With Blood
220. The Relative and the Absolute
221. Repentance and the Preaching of It
222. Thoughts on Revelation 2:1-11
223. Thoughts on Revelation 3:7-13
224. On Revelation: Part 1
225. On Revelation: Part 2
226. Outline of Revelation
227. Review
228. Romanism
229. Romans 1-8
230. Notes on Romans 4:1-12
231. Notes on Romans 4:12-18
232. Notes on Romans 4:19-25
233. Notes on Romans 5:1-2
234. Notes on Romans 5:11
235. Notes on Romans 5:12
236. Romans 5:12 - Romans 8
237. Notes on Romans 5:13-14
238. Notes on Romans 5:15-17
239. Notes on Romans 5:18-19
240. Notes on Romans 5:20-21
241. Notes on Romans 5:3-5
242. Notes on Romans 5:5-8
243. Notes on Romans 5:9-10
244. Notes on Romans 6:1-4
245. Notes on Romans 6:15-18
246. Notes on Romans 6:19-23
247. Notes on Romans 6:5-11
248. Romans 7
249. Notes on Romans 7:1-6
250. Notes on Romans 7:14-20
251. Notes on Romans 7:21-25
252. Notes on Romans 7:7-13
253. Notes on Romans 8:1
254. Scripture Not Methodical
255. Scripture Queries and Answers: Acts 8:37
256. Scripture Queries and Answers: Characteristics of Scripture Readings
257. Scripture Queries and Answers: Dative and Accusative Time
258. Scripture Queries and Answers: Ephesians 5:26
259. Scripture Queries and Answers: Fine Linen in Revelation 19
260. Scripture Queries and Answers: Force of Christ Dying for All
261. Scripture Queries and Answers: God's Answering Prayer and General Laws
262. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek and Hebrew Questions
263. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek in John 6:57
264. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek Sequence Term in Luke
265. Scripture Queries and Answers: Greek Translated "Save"
266. Scripture Queries and Answers: Homage and Worship
267. Scripture Queries and Answers: Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16
268. Scripture Queries and Answers: Matthew 13 and 2 Thessalonians 2
269. Scripture Queries and Answers: Matthew 24:29
270. Scripture Queries and Answers: Offering of the Firstfruits
271. Scripture Queries and Answers: Parable of the Virgins to Jewish Remnant or to Christendom?
272. Scripture Queries and Answers: Prophecy
273. Scripture Queries and Answers: Questions About "Washed," "Cleansed," and "Sanctified"
274. Scripture Queries and Answers: Revelation 1:20 and 14:13
275. Scripture Queries and Answers: Romans 8:10
276. Scripture Queries and Answers: Sleep in Jesus, Dead in Christ
277. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Body of Christ a Heavenly Designation?
278. Scripture Queries and Answers: The Indwelling of the Holy Ghost
279. Scripture Queries and Answers: Two Miracles at Cana of Galilee
280. Scripture Query and Answer: By My Name Jehovah Was I Not Known to Them
281. Scripture Query and Answer: The Rising of the Old Testament Saints
282. Self-Consciousness and the Infinite: Part 1
283. Self-Consciousness and the Infinite: Part 2, Indefinite and Infinite
284. Self-Consciousness and the Infinite: Part 3, Personality
285. Self-Consciousness and the Infinite: Part 4, Revelation
286. The Serpent's Judgment
287. The Single Heart of Grace: John 20, 21
288. Thoughts on Song of Solomon
289. The Songs of Degrees
290. The Spirit of Prophecy
291. Spiritual Man
292. Superstition - the Will and Natural Conscience
293. The Sympathies of Jesus and His Isolated Position Among Men: Part 1
294. The Sympathies of Jesus and His Isolated Position Among Men: Part 2
295. The Talmud: Part 1
296. The Talmud: Part 2
297. The Talmud: Part 3
298. The Talmud: Part 4
299. The Clergy: Is It of God? Part 1
300. The Clergy: Is It of God? Part 2
301. The Times of Daniel and the Christian Hope
302. To Correspondents
303. The Truth and One's Cross
304. Notes on the Two Epistles to the Thessalonians
305. We Are Wrought for the Glory of God Himself
306. What God Is to Us in Christ
307. What Is the Church and Our Present Duty?
308. What Is the Meaning of the Greek Translated "To Worship"?

Fragmentary Notes on 1 and 2 Timothy

(1 Timothy)
The fact of flesh (i.e., of the flesh being in us) does not make a bad conscience. It requires flesh in action, so as to produce outwardly what is bad to do so.
“Holding faith and a good conscience” —in this we have the doctrine of the epistle.
I may see what is beautiful in creation, and delight in it; but the moment I rest in it, I make it an object, and then sink down into it.
“We know” is a technical expression for Christian knowledge. It is not merely knowing objectively, but rather such and such is made a subject of revelation, and we have got it and know it.
“Using the law lawfully” is convicting sinners by it. The legalist takes the ground that the law proves he cannot take. The law never goes beyond the brazen altar, that is, man's responsibility as man.
The law condemns all that flesh produces, but not flesh itself.
The sabbath—rest—is an integral part of man's relationship with God; God did rest in creation, but not now since man has fallen. The sabbath is annexed to everything (or order) that is set up (with responsible man as man); but in the New Testament, it is always set aside as is man, the child of Adam fallen.
Paul calls himself the chief of sinners; that is, he was a rejecter of the Lord after He was crucified and glorified; the Jew (properly speaking, is characterized as being) a rejecter before He was crucified. Stephen's martyrdom was the closing scene of the dispensation for the Jew. The chief of sinners is an end of self, and we are in the same boat with Paul when we take that place.
The gospel of the glory (of Christ) is the highest point of grace as it reveals the glory to the person who is trying to destroy it: in preaching, however, you must go back to where the want is in the soul.
“Make shipwreck of faith” is running into heresy, backsliding, giving up a good conscience.
Not only man has fallen—there are fallen angels, and the heavens are defiled; all things had and are to be reconciled. Those that are reconciled do need a mediator for intercession. A mediator comes in with a broken relationship, an advocate with a retained one.
In Ephesians we are called on to be imitators of God; in Colossians, like Christ; in Philippians, to walk as a saint, as personified in Paul.
An unmarried man might be a ruler, but he could not be an elder. A ruler is a gift, an elder an office; gifts are for the body; office is local. We have an example in Timothy of a young man who ruled elders. A ruler is a person who gets an ascendency over others morally and keeps their wills from working by the power of the word in the Spirit.
Christianity takes up creation as God made it and sanctions it, and brings in another power, viz., spiritual power.
The snare of the devil which is a bad conscience, brings in the same condemnation; the person is charged with the same thing Satan is charged with, viz., pride. See Ezek. 28
The precious stones are on the king of Tire in creation (worldly glory); on Aaron in grace (the high priest); in the new Jerusalem, in glory.
The Holy Ghost dwells in the individual believer, and in the whole Church, only.
Justified in the Spirit” —that is, the power of the Spirit characterizes the justification. “Seen of angels;” it is only by Christ angels have seen God. “Believed on in the world,” that is, announced and received there by faith.
The Reformation reformed the existing body as it then was: we go back to the beginning.
The everlasting covenant has a different character from the new covenant. There are many covenants in scripture, but the old and new are distinct, and with Israel only.
Every prophetic word comes from relationship broken; for us now, as Christians and in Christ, everything is restored. (1 Tim. 4:5.) Hence the creature is sanctified by the word to me, prayer goes up from me in response.
There are two characters of forgiveness of sins—the one as in Romans, justification, in which man has no power, the other, the sins or failure of a justified person. The Church can forgive these. It is administrative forgiveness.
Dependence is kept up in scripture without ever questioning acceptance.
Salvation is by grace; reward is for labor.
God is the only one that has immortality in Himself. When we speak of mortality, it only applies to the body. “The soul that sinneth it shall die” means that each one shall die for his own sin; in other words, it is individual responsibility.
(2 Timothy.)
When the power of evil comes in, then it is just the time to expect courage. These are truths for the times. There are truths for eternity, which are more blessed. Through grace we now have Paul's testimony, which bad been lost, brought out again.
In the early Church they used to pray for the saints, not to them. In the fourth century Christ was the only one they did not pray for.
“Purge from.” It is not exactly discipline here, but to separate myself from. There is the Lord's certainty, and man's responsibility, acting on which I then get ecclesiastical apprehension.
A thing may not be wrong for a person ecclesiastically, if he has no conscience about it; at the same time the Church cannot be ruled by an individual person's conscience.
The word “receiving” (into communion) should not be admitted at all. Properly speaking, we are all in. One has now to ascertain whether people are real—who calls on the Lord out of a pure heart.
“The last days” are more definite and distinct than the “latter times” — “perilous,” because of the form of godliness.
It is said, You must believe in the Church because it is holy, and you must believe it is holy by faith!
We are always deficient in strength in service if we do not recognize that we have to do with Satanic power, as in Jannes and Jambres.
If I do not believe the word till it is sanctioned by some one else, I do not believe it at all; it is the sanction I believe.
No one speaks of the Church but Paul, nor of Christ's coming for the Church but he.
When we meet together, we recognize the presence of Christ, not the habitation of God.
External testimony proves the folly of other men, but does nothing for faith. All arguments only remove the rubbish, they do not give faith. By removing rubbish from a plant, you do not make it grow, but you give it liberty to do so.
A gospel rejecter is under the responsibility of rejecting love. There is rather a want of will to come than a want of power: “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.”
We find that angels are the power of providence, Israel the power of government, and the apostles the power of grace in the Spirit.

Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 2

We get two things very distinctly here—the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world to our glory (and that in the person of the Christ), which the princes of this world did not know, or they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; and then we are told that, as “no man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of a man which is in him, so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God;” therefore the world is in total ignorance of the things of God.
They may be very learned and clever; but they do not know them. Nay, it is rather their boast that man can know nothing but what he sees, together with a few conclusions which he may thence draw. And it is perfectly true too, and therefore of the most fashionable infidelities of the day at the same time. Of all that is outside sense they are utterly ignorant; and so they must be. With all the learning and talent that is in man, if he meddles with things beyond these, he puzzles himself hopelessly. He only comes either to say, there is no God; or if there is, he does not know what that God is, just as Pilate asked, “What is truth?” He will make quantities of speculations and very clever ones, but can go no farther. Yet he has a conscience. There is a sense of being responsible to some one. There is a knowledge of the judgment of God (kept out greatly, it is true, by man's will); but God took care when man fell, that he should carry a certain knowledge of good and evil with him after eating of the forbidden fruit. So he does carry a conscience, hardened perhaps, but there it is to get hardened and perverted. You may see it in the case of the poor woman taken in adultery, all her accusers went out one by one convicted by their own consciences.
So it has always been, whether God gives man a law, or man is lawless, still there it is—a knowledge of good and evil. And so there is an instinctive sense that there is a judgment, but utter ignorance of what God is, except that He takes account of what man does. There is some feeling, too, at times, that He is good and must be good, but there is no knowledge of any Spirit of God or of His intentions. Of course, beyond this, there is Christianity in its general truths floating about us.
But it is wonderfully expressed here; the wisdom of God in a mystery, hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew. There cannot be a more wonderful expression than that, for Christ is the wisdom of God as well as the power of God, and Christ they crucified. The first thing we learn is, that these counsels of God were before the world. I am now speaking not of election, but of the plans and thoughts of God before the world was. There is this distinct contrast in this verse, thoughts and counsels of God ordained for our glory, before the world in which we are now living with all its responsibilities. Now, these counsels, which were before the world, had been brought out consequent upon the death of Christ.
I would insist for a moment on this, that there is a world which has its own thoughts and objects; but that world crucified the Lord of glory. All that had the wisdom of this world and its power were found in opposition to Christ. The governor Pilate, the chief priests and elders of the people, Jew and Gentile, the secular power and the religious power, refused the Lord of glory. And also there is a world in which we are living which has through the cleverness and skill of man under Satan formed round man a wonderful scene so far as man's thoughts go, pleasures, sciences, and the development of the things given in creation; developing again the talents of man amid these things; wonderful combinations exhibited; great skill in turning things to man's use; beautiful music with rich harmonies: all constituting just Cain's history again. He had built his city, he had his artificers in brass and iron; and so have we now: he had harp and organ, and so have we now; pleasing himself without thinking of God, shutting God out and making the world pleasant to the natural feelings apart from Him, then and now alike.
Now Christians are apt to go along with this world and all these things because they have natural powers to appreciate them. There is nothing wrong in these things of the world themselves; it is in the use man makes of them, there is the right and the wrong. There is no conscience in these things, no spiritual affections in them, no moral good in them (all God's creatures, of course). Nor are the things evil. Why, in heaven we read of the harpers harping with their harps. It is the use that is made of these things that is wrong; and Christians are very apt to slip into the world's way, and not see the value of what they do, from mere natural delight in things here. It is a world that is forming pleasures for itself out of what God did create; but it does not care for God, for it rejected Him. It did not know the Lord of glory, for it is a Cain-world, with plenty of music of its own, of course; and Christians take it up as something good that they can share; whereas it was nothing but Cain's world to begin with and Cain's world to go on with.
But mark there is another thing altogether—a reality that was before the world and which is known only by faith. It is the more solemn because responsibility began of course only with this world. The first Adam was the responsible man, and he failed, and all are sinners since. This is what came in, it was not the counsel of God (in a sense a counsel known to Him of course), it was not a definite design. My responsibility is not God's counsels, and that came in after these counsels were formed. And this is the way of God's dealings and the way He always deals—He has a thought which He will bring about; but in the meanwhile things are trusted to man, just as in the case of Adam. God had the intention of having the Second Man and all His glory set up in Him. This is what God had in His mind. It was set up in Christ before the world existed. After that God set up the first man Adam; and he—Adam—is the man of responsibility—not the man of God's counsels.
And you find the two great principles in the garden at the beginning in the two trees there—grace that gave life, and responsibility to obey or disobey. The law took up the same two, but put the responsibility first—this do and live. Again a breach. Man made a golden calf at once. Then when God set up the Church, all went to sleep, wise as well as foolish, or said, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” Then God brings out His counsel ordained before the world—that He will bring man into His own glory as well as sinless into His presence in Christ. He forms the Church to reign with Christ in that glory. And nothing of this will He fail to accomplish in result; but first He puts man in responsibility, and man has to learn his total failure in himself by powerful conviction by the Spirit of God and the word of God, so as to be cast upon grace, and find glory.
Now it is the place we get into thus that I desire to touch upon. You may find it in the scheme of God, but yet a soul must go through the place of responsibility for himself. He must own failure and the way in which he has failed—that in his flesh there is no good thing at all—and then, entirely cast on grace, find Christ. Now Christ as a Savior meets this position and need, by putting Himself in charge of the glory of God as to the whole responsibility. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, and has met responsibility completely, perfectly, as regards our sins and the glory of God both— “bearing our sins in his own body on the tree;” and again, “now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” He has completed the work, sins are gone, and God's glory is perfectly accomplished, so that all is finished, and the foundation laid, not on the responsibility of the first man, but on the accomplishment of God's work by the Second Man, so that the whole question is ended. And also Christ is the other thing. He is the life; He is both the trees; and the ruin that came in is met by Christ on the cross, and, infinitely more, by Christ becoming our life. It is all met now before the things are accomplished in glory, while, as regards the peace of the soul and the redemption of the sinner and his meetness to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, it is now a settled thing—perfectly settled, for he now has life not of the first Adam, but of the Second. In his mortal body it is now the life of Jesus that is to be manifested; it is Christ who is our life. This shows that the first thing is judged totally; if any man be in Christ not only is he a new creature but all is new.
And you find this borne out through scripture. In Ephesians it is not a man living in sins but one dead in sins, so that he is not there meeting sinners in their condition as such, but regards them as created in Christ Jesus, God's workmanship. Consequently there we have the whole full result—ourselves set in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus brought out. In Romans we have the condition of the sinner most completely met. And so the whole thing is settled. There is a world that Satan has formed round the first man, and the question is whether a believer is to go on with it. We have to go through it with this testing us—shall the glory revealed by the Spirit of God, or the world Satan has formed round us in nature, possess our hearts? I am not talking now of sins; but it is a solemn question whether this world possesses our hearts or not. The character of things now is not gross immorality; but is the first man to be exalted, or the Second? Of course there is immorality; but you find persons boasting of a general improvement of society, and with some ground it may be, but it is all beside the point. Externally it may be something less gross than in times that have passed, but which man is exalted in your hearts—the first, or the Second?
Now, the thought and counsels of God, in Christ first as center, are ordained for our glory that we may be thoroughly drawn out from the world in spirit altogether. He has called us in Christ and by Christ, and has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. And are our hearts there? Bodies not of course yet, but our hearts. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God, and we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” —suffer truly as regards this world, though at the same time we find it too is all ours while it does not yet appear what we shall be. Then how far are our hearts set upon that that we are going to be? It is wonderful how the scripture insists upon this with Christians. See in Colossians how it is declared we are dead and our life hid with Christ in God: you get the same share with Him. God has associated the Christian with Christ. Now as to your hearts, beloved friends, are they associated with Christ or does the world and its fashion get hold of you? It touches us all: we all have to go through it; and it is the purpose of God that you should walk by faith and not by sight. If a man saw God, the greatest sinner in the town would not go and sin in His face. Like children in a school, it is when the master's back is turned that they get into mischief.
But mark again this—God begins by a perfect redemption: you must not have the slightest cloud upon that part of the truth. Trial of you and your responsibility have nothing to do with judgment and acceptance: on this there is no question. “There is none righteous, no, not one;” and if God enter into judgment with us, no flesh shall be saved, no, not one of you: if you have anything to do with judgment, you have certainly to do with condemnation and nothing short of it. And yet we shall all appear (be manifested) at the judgment seat of Christ—that remains quite true.
Now God, anticipating all this, brings down the full testimony that you are total sinners, and that in your flesh dwelleth no good thing. God will show you it all, that He may bring it home to you, by your fears even, if Christ is coming; for you would not feel easy if He came. But God will bring you to this point if you are to get peace. He has done with flesh, He has condemned it; and so you can have nothing to do with looking for good in it, because He has condemned it. The body is dead because of sin. If it is life, it is alive in sin. It is not a question of amiable qualities—you find them in a dog; but it is a question whether you like to do your own will; for if you do, you are in rebellion against God. But God has perfectly redeemed the believer out of all this.
He has gone through the whole scene of man's responsibility, without law, and under law, and lastly sent His Son who was only rejected and then declared “now is the judgment of this world.” And there is your judgment; you are of that world and belong to it, and you have been judged in its judgment on the cross. Stephen charges the Jews that they had received the law by the disposition of angels and had not kept it—which of the prophets have not your fathers rejected? as your fathers resisted the Holy Ghost, so do ye; killed the prophets; rejected God's Son; resisted the Holy Ghost, and this of God's people on the earth. Well, it is all judged. And if through grace we have been individually brought to a consciousness of it in our own souls, then we are cast exclusively upon Christ, and the question is not whether you have failed in your responsibility, but whether God has failed in His work. This is all the question; and herein too is the truth of the gospel. What ruined the Church (that is, as a thing in man's hand, not, of course, God's work) was, that the simple completeness of redemption was lost; the fact, I mean, that man does not stand before God in his condition as a child of Adam at all, but in Christ, after Christ had done God's work for him. And each one must learn this in his own consciousness for himself. The things God must have judged man for Christ has borne. And yet more: He becomes our life. Consequent on this work which He has done, we can say we have died with Him; and He is our life. The tree is ended, as well as the fruits. The whole tree is gone for faith; and therefore one can say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” This is “I” now. I do not admit the flesh to be “I” any more. He is my life; “Christ liveth in me.” And this is what deliverance is—not forgiveness only, but deliverance. Deliverance is that we are not in the flesh at all, not in that which has man's responsibility before God. There is therefore no question of meetness. Christ is meet for heaven; and whoever is in Christ is also meet for heaven. You must add to the value of Christ's work before you can add to the title of your meetness for heaven.
Then comes another thing. The moment the Christian is seen in Christ—not merely that He has borne my sins, but in Christ—there is one who can be sealed with the Spirit of God. The moment he is washed by the blood of Christ, the Holy Ghost can dwell in him. We must never confound the quickening of a soul with the presence of the Spirit which seals Christ's work. The Holy Ghost quickens my soul, and brings me under the blood of sprinkling whereby I am as white as snow: after this the Holy Ghost comes to dwell in me as thus washed clean. God sees me perfectly cleansed and the Holy Ghost is the seal of it and of me—all in virtue of the efficacy of Christ's blood.
The presence of the Holy Ghost is a consequence of redemption. When Christ had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, and “being by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear;” and further, “because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts whereby we cry, Abba Father,” and then you see at once this gives me a capacity to enjoy whatever God opens up to me. But Paul says, “we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery;” but even a crucified Christ was a stumblingblock to a Jew and foolishness to a Greek. Ah! you may be a Jew or a philosopher; but you are a sinner; and this is all God knows about you. You must all meet God at the cross of Christ.
Having brought this in, the apostle goes on to say “we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew, or they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Now here we find Christ in the glory—a man there; and, connected with Him, God can bring out all these counsels. Christ, who is the center of it all, is actually a man in heavenly glory; and further, the Holy Ghost can come down and unfold all this. Man is in the glory of God, as Stephen shows at the very turning-point of man's depravity in resisting the Holy Ghost. Then the mystery comes out. The Holy Ghost having been sent down, associates us with it on the footing of a place in Christ (the old man is set aside— “ye are dead"). We stand in a righteousness in Christ which is God's righteousness, when man had none. Now the Holy Ghost can bring in all the heavenly glory, and this is what He is doing for the Christian. We have the life and the righteousness.
Let me ask you who profess the Lord, are you so distinct in judging all that belongs to nature that this is true to you? There is plenty to learn, I know. We have to be humbled and proved to do us good at the latter end; but why? Because we have been redeemed out of Egypt. You do not find this in connection with Israel until they were redeemed from Egypt. Has your heart taken the place of being delivered from this present evil world? Has your heart taken its place where the Second Adam has set you?
Oh, but you say, I do not know the things that are there. Why do you not? Have they not been revealed? People quote this passage, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” to show how great these things of God are—they have not entered into the heart of man. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: such is the scripture—just the opposite of the common quotation. You see God means us to know them; we may have been bad scholars at the lesson—very. But He has given us a title—to what? Simply to be saved? Is that all? Is it nothing to say, I am come to God the judge of all—I can look down upon things that are for judgment—the reproach of Egypt is done away—I am in Christ, and see the glory of the Son of God and Son of man—the Son who earned God's love? Yes, earned it! for He says, “therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life.” Is it nothing to see the Lamb slain?
And where is to be your place? You are going to be like Himself. Did you never think of this? As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” “And we have received the Spirit, not which is of the world but which is of God to know the things which are freely given unto us of God.” It is not the redemption, though we must know that truly and get clear as to it; it is more. Again, I ask, Have your souls never tasted what it is to be where there is nothing but holiness—not a jar with what God is? What a delight! And all around not one jar, not a thing that does not answer to the glory of God as God and to the love of God as love!—Nothing. Christ is the center of it, and we, in a certain sense, so too, as in Him. Are our souls living there? Well, you will get a white stone; but you say, Am I to have God's approving delight upon me? Yes. And the name. Ah, this will be a secret between you and Christ. Is there nothing in that? Is there nothing in His approbation so put upon us? Does it not come into your heart as that which is unspeakable joy? Again, “the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” But if I see the Lamb in the midst of the throne, Ah! I say, now I am indeed at home, that is the sight that dazzles every other, and that is the sight which is for one; the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple there. We shall sit upon a throne with Christ—conferred glory surely but none the less real. Will this be nothing? There will not be a thing in Christ's heart that is not satisfied towards us, and is this nothing to us? And is it nothing to us to see the Man that has suffered for us glorified? Now the Spirit of God has taken these things and revealed them unto us that we may live in these things.
And mark the order at the end of the chapter “what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God; now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are fully given to us of God, which things also we speak not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” —lit up in Paul's heart, like a candle in a lantern. And now he is communicating them by inspiration; he gets them by revelation and communicates them by inspiration. Oh, what a thing it is when I hear men babbling about the scriptures and talking of what is right and wrong in them forsooth! Here I have such things as these in the revelation given by inspiration, and men must seek to find faults here. How busy measuring spots in the sun and the bumps upon it if they can, when it has been the light of the world ever since it was created! First there was the revelation of the things and then the communication of them by inspiration, but then “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” Now I get the receiving of what is revealed and inspired—three things. First, revelation, and this some would deny altogether; second, communication by the Holy Ghost—some will not deny that the word of God is in it, but that scripture is the word of God. I say Nay, it was the revelation from God to man but it came out from the man as pure as it came in— “we speak not in words which man's wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” and as he says again, “we have not corrupted the word of God,” we have given it by inspiration as we have received it by revelation. And now I get the third step, which explains the infidelity as to the first— “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:” that is the truth of the riddle. He is a natural man and does not receive the things of the Spirit of God at all, it is only by the power of the Spirit of God that they are received. “Who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.”
Wonderful! a great deal to learn yet truly, but it has been given to us. We know in part as to details; but still the counsel of God in Christ, who is the wisdom and power of God, has been revealed, and revealed too through the cross in which the natural man has been totally judged, while also, consequent upon the exaltation of the Second Adam to the right hand of God, it has been given forth to us by the Holy Ghost. Our Lord said after His resurrection, “I go to my God and your God, to my Father and your Father;” that is, if I am going into the glory, I go as your forerunner, for I take you into such relationship. It is ordained for your glory. Beloved, do you believe that, that all these wonderful counsels of God are ordained for your glory? Do you believe?
Wonderful thought of God! He is showing to us the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. Are our hearts touched by it? or is this wretched world which rejected Christ still clinging to us as a briar might as we walk through a field? Has the power of the divine Spirit separated our hearts from it, and set our affections on things that are above, and not on the things on the earth? Weigh this. If Christ has died in love and given us that place where He is, see whether your hearts are living as what He has brought you to, or as what He has brought you out of. The friendship of the world is enmity to God. Our Lord give us to know the unspeakable love that has given us such things. Presumption! Suppose the prodigal son had said “the best robe is too good for me.” Too good! What business had you in the house at all? God has glorified Himself in this wonderful work of grace; and I must take my place according to what He has made it to be, and nothing loth to do it either. And yet our glory is in a certain sense poor, compared with seeing Him glorified. The Lord give you to live, in your life in the flesh, that inward life in connection with Christ which is practically dead to the world and alive to God through Christ, to find the blessedness of His love in these things born in your hearts.
The communications of God are adapted to the position of those who historically received them. This brings us into intelligence of all the counsels of God, for He reveals Himself in His authority, His wisdom, and His sovereignty in these counsels, as He makes Himself known in His nature by the revelation of Himself in Christ.

Thoughts on 1 Samuel

The first book of Samuel commences with the promise of the king.
Chap. 2:10. The people had walked badly, and God presents Christ when all else failed down here. That which man was not able to accomplish, God perfectly accomplished in Christ, but always going far beyond. In Adam, rule; in Noah, the sword; in Sinai, the law; in Aaron the priesthood (already before Eli). Prophecy does not imply responsibility, because it is a question of the power and of the sovereignty of God in grace; in Israel, royalty; and finally, the Church.
Ver. 18. In a certain sense, Samuel has, as it were, taken the place of the priesthood. The priesthood was the means by which man drew nigh to God; but when the priesthood had failed, God can work in sovereignty, and that is what He is doing here he gives Samuel, or prophecy, by means of which God draws nigh to man in His sovereign grace.
Ver. 35. It is no longer a question for the priesthood to walk before God, but before His anointed one, royalty being introduced. The king forms the link between God and the people, and the priesthood takes the second place.
Ver. 32. God forsakes His own dwelling-place, and in the land which God gave to Israel for their good, the enemies would take possession of it. It is not a question however in this verse of the tabernacle of the congregation; it is the tabernacle, in the general sense, to signify habitation or dwelling-place.
Chap. 3. Having determined to judge the house of Eli, God reveals it by the mouth of Samuel. Sincerity is worth nothing, if there is not also light and faithfulness. Nevertheless there was piety with Eli, for when he learns the death of his sons, this affects him little, but the taking of the ark causes his death.
Chap. 4. Samuel, prophet.
Judgment executed. For the present moment, that which takes the place of the ark in Israel is the Philistines. God takes care Himself of His glory, when His people can no longer take care of it. Yet it was a sad capture for the Philistines. They carry the emblem of power into the very midst of their idolatry. When the ark is taken, in the main, all is over with Israel. All their history from Sinai closes here. That is why the ark was never brought back to the tabernacle, but placed in Sion, and this commences an entirely new order of things. (Read Psa. 78)
Ver. 59. God in great wrath rejects all.
Ver. 65. He awakes in David.
Ver. 67. As to Joseph, who has the double portion of the inheritance according to nature, God refuses him.
Ver. 68. All is now on the ground of election according to grace.
Chap. vi. Good sense in the priests. They sent back the ark, with the thought that the God of the ark was more powerful than the affection of the cows for their calves. God could over-rule nature; otherwise, that which had happened to them was mere chance. When David brought back the ark, he had not the good sense of the priests of the Philistines.
Ver. 19. Much the same happens to the people of God, when they are not faithful. When one has lost God, one laments after Him; then, when He is there, they forsake Him.
Chap. 7. The sovereignty of God in grace acting by prophecy—Samuel, the center of all this system.
Chap. 8. Although God had already interposed in grace several times, they reject Him as king; they will have Him no longer.
Chap. 9. Saul, wretched man! He ignored the man by whom God had done so many things, and God who had wrought them.
Chap. 10. Nevertheless he is anointed. What was the state of Israel at this moment? Very sad. Still there remained the God of Bethel, who had promised to Jacob never to forsake him. If Saul had been honest, he would have said, That is what we want.
Then Saul is recognized by Israel.
The will of God—the seat of the sovereignty and power of God in grace, where the Philistines (the devil) were; and nevertheless a company of prophets (the Spirit acts in power in spite of the Philistines), a small remnant who praised the God of Bethel, so that if there had been ever so little faith, Saul could have known the thoughts of God, and being His anointed to be the leader and deliverer of the people (chap. ix. 16), he might well have driven away the Philistines, who were in the land of God. There are the signs; then, we must listen to the word. Whatever may be the signs that we may have, one must await the direction in order to act. The Philistines are always the enemies in the land; the others are outside; these are in the land of God. The worst enemies of the Church are those who are within.
Ver. 8. Saul remains two years before going down into Gilgal.
Chap. 13. The iniquity penetrates very deep. Although the people had their king, there were no arms in the land.
Saul is put to the test. He causes the trumpet to be sounded, not in order that God should hear in Israel the elect of God, but the Hebrews—a heathen name. He seems not to have had one single thought of God. If the Philistines have any strength, it is also needful that the Hebrews should listen. It was nation against nation—no intelligence, no link with God. Gilgal ought to have recalled something to Saul's mind; but he has neither faith nor intelligence. Saul may here represent some one who desires good; but it is only the flesh. He nevertheless follows the word of God outwardly; but he proves at the same time that he has never depended upon God for one single instant, and that the flesh cannot sustain itself in the path of faith. If he had known the need he had of God, he would have waited, whatever might have come. The faith of Jonathan begins, and the flesh cannot follow. When faith begins, all flesh is routed.
Chap. 14. Jonathan did not look for the honey, but God gave him some to refresh his heart in the midst of the energy of his faith.
Ver. 47. Saul was troubling everything. There is relief and not deliverance; for soon we find the Philistines and Goliath. He did not destroy the enemies, but He plucked Israel out of their hands. God had not yet anointed David, for He does not work until the people have entirely failed.
Chap. 15. Saul is here a second Achan. God has in His heart what Amalek did. He will destroy him. Saul ought to have understood that, but he is not identified with the feelings of God. He avails himself of the power which God gives him to rob God.
Chap. 17. When David was alone, it was a trial; but he was infinitely worse in Saul's court, surrounded by unbelief. After having been in the court, he could again mind the sheep. Self-denial of David. It is needful that after having worked with God, he should still wait on God for the reward. In order for faith to be something, it must go through every difficulty—family difficulties, &c. “Uncircumcised” —man who has not God—Goliath had committed himself by challenging God's army. This was the strength of David.
Ver. 58. Faith has no pretensions; it returns to its own insignificance, because, after all, faith is nothing. Chap. 18. Jonathan recalls to my mind the remnant of Israel, He loves David with all his heart; but he had not followed him. Chap. 23:16-18 tells us what Jonathan was. Abigail represents much more the faith of the Church. In the tribulation of Jesus the remnant does not take part with Him, whereas Abigail follows him everywhere. Although he is rejected, she calls him Lord, whilst Saul is to her only a man. She has intelligence. She judges Nabal, although the judgment was not yet executed. She becomes the wife of David in the desert: thus it is with the Church. When David was with Achish, he was in a sad state—a servant of God, who says he had done evil to the people of God, in order to be well with the world.
They said of David, The Lord is with him. They expected much from him, but nothing came. One must follow for a long time the path of faith.
Ver. 3.4. Here is the intelligence of David: when it is a question of enemies, David is always ready.
Chap. 19:20-22. Saul loses all conscience. The thought that David was with Samuel ought to have stopped him—Samuel by whom he had been anointed. God put all things in his way to stop him; but he was hardened. In prophesying himself, he ought to have understood that the power which caused him to act at this moment, and which rested on David, was greater than himself; but he despises these signs as he had despised the first. The career of David then became very painful, because it was a question of not killing Saul, of doing nothing.
Chap. 21. The sword of Goliath—the power of death. David carried it with him, but certainly did not show it to Achish.
Chap. 22. Here he is in his place. All was there—royalty, prophecy, and priesthood. Saul, after having despised prophecy, turns against the priesthood. Yet David is not discouraged; he will protect Abiathar.
Chap. 23. One of the characteristics in David is always to consult God.
Chap. 24. For the present David was doing nothing. It is difficult to do nothing, when one feels that God is with us. David has much more regard for Saul than Saul had for himself. Excellent spirit!
Chap. 25. Prophecy, properly so called, disappears. Nabal (Israel) is set aside, he who rejected David; and Abigail becomes the wife of the despised one, while he is in the wilderness. It is not properly the Church; but she is on the principle of the Church. Jesus, after all, was taking care of the sheep, although He was not owned. Abigail goes to meet David before the death of Nabal; thus of the Church before the nation is judged. The faith of this woman is very remarkable.
Ver. 26. Abigail, as it were, sentences her husband to death. She sees in Saul a man, and in David the anointed and the servant of Jehovah.
Chap. 26. God again gives to David the opportunity of killing Saul, and that which David says to him this time is much more severe. David never surrenders himself to Saul. He is a hero. He never lets go his object, and his persevering faith is a beautiful thing.
Ver. 10, 11. He has a profound respect for all that belongs to God.
Chap. 27. His faith here fails completely. He seeks the favor of God's enemies in boasting of having done evil to His people.
Chap. 29. Poor David! God permitted all that, to show that in bringing him to the throne, all was grace. He is set aside for a certain time, like Saul.
Chap. 30. David burns through the fire which he himself has kindled. But he always lays hold of God's actings.
Chap. 31. The Philistines are in full possession of all in order to be completely beaten. What grace that God prevented David from going with Achish! If he had put his hand on Saul, he could not have uttered the lamentation which he composed on the subject of his death.
The progress of evil in Saul deserves attention. After disobedience, after jealousy and hatred against David, he despises the prophet in the very circumstances which ought to have reminded him of his authority, then the priesthood, and lastly, he is totally forsaken, and seeks for help in the power of Satan. It is well also to notice that, when he falls, Israel is deprived of everything. David was among the Philistines—Samuel was dead—the priesthood was judged, and even Abiathar was far off. There remained nothing, the state of Israel was complete desolation. Mark well that (David, by his unbelief, having been obliged to hide himself among the Philistines) all depended on God in pure grace. Mark also that, when David leaves Saul, which is the beginning of his typical history in contrast with Saul, he takes with him the showbread and the sword of Goliath. When once he is in his normal position, we have with David that which Saul had despised—the prophet, the priest—David himself being king. This history is perhaps the most sad in the scriptures. It is the history of that which had the position of faith, without the faith which would have had the reality. All he does turns to judgment. On the contrary, in the same measure as that, Saul rejects all that is of God. It is found again with David. Thus the prophet, the priest, only in suffering: but the wisdom of God there.
2 Kings 2:2. Bethel (Gen. 28, especially verse 15), where God promises to preserve Jacob, type of Israel, wherever he went, to bring him back, and not to leave him until the promises were fulfilled, which he had made before. This name, Bethel, plays a great part in the word of God, as recalling the eternal care of God for His people. Here Elijah is type of the man Christ, who enters into the midst of the people and identifies Himself with them, starting from the principles proclaimed at Bethel.
Ver. 4. Jericho recalls the most complete curse. It was where Christ goes after His identification with the people.
Ver. 6. Jordan is death.
Ver. 8. The power of death, which falls at the touch of the power of Christ.
Ver. 9. After the victory Christ can distribute gifts. Ver. 10. If one can see Him far beyond death, He can give everything.
Ver. 14 and following. Elisha is the character of Christ, after His resurrection.
Ver. 22. He returns to Jericho and destroys the effects of the curse, and brings in blessing instead of it.
Ver. 23. He returns to Bethel—full realization of the promises made to Israel; but he exercises judgment.
Ver. 25. Then he goes to Carmel, the garden of God—millennial rest. Then one finds Elisha exercising the power of the age to come. The miracles are for the profit of the people of God.

Thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 1

There is great power of walk shown forth in this chapter. It brought persecution, but the word had power in them. The world's hatred of them was a proof that there was testimony to the truth. There was the witness of it constantly brought before others, as well as that there was this inward life in power. There were faith, hope, charity (or love) (ver. 3), these three great elements of the power of life in exercise. They were laying hold of things unseen. This was faith. They were waiting in hope for what was to come. And there was the activity of love. They were not going on listlessly, but there was divine energy manifested in their everyday life. When patience was exercised, it was the “patience of hope,” and what they had to do was done in faith. How strong a link this was between them and every other Christian When the living power was seen, they were recognized as God's children: the stamp of God was upon them. We know that divine counsels and thoughts of grace were the spring of it all; but there was that which could be seen.
The word was in the Holy Ghost on hearts, and not in word only, for there was power. There must be unhesitating confidence in the things laid hold of; then there is power. If I say merely, “I suppose these things are true,” this is not assurance. But they received the gospel “in much assurance.” The result was complete distinctness from the world, which became their enemies. This was not the most pleasant part. They had “much affliction;” but then there was also “joy in the Holy Ghost.” To the Corinthians he says, “As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”
These Thessalonians were living in another world after the word came to them in power. There was a divine spring in them that nothing could touch. In other places they might be getting on more quietly; but there was power here, and all they did was connected with God: all was done under God. This is what we have to seek. Then the testimony went forth, they scarcely knew how; but people saw there was this link with God. They did not trouble themselves about what was said of them. “Your faith to Godward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves show of us,” &c. That is, the world became a constant witness of what Paul's preaching was. It could be seen from the conduct of those who received it.
If we were all thoroughly faithful, the world would begin to talk about it, and there would be persecution, no doubt. “Let your light so shine before men,” &c.; not, let your good works shine, but “your light.” “Holding forth the word of life,” &c. They saw not only what the Thessalonians were doing, but they took knowledge of the new truth Paul was preaching to them. They “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven,” &c.
First, there was a total break with all they were going on in before. Not only did they abandon all the wickedness the heathen were living in, but next they served “the living and true God.” They had a new center of all they did. They “turned to God,” the living God. “They turned.... from idols.” The characteristic of these was something for and suited to the flesh. Men were looking to that which the flesh likes, and averting what the flesh did not like. There was no connection with God, nor link for the conscience in having to do with idols; but a license for lust, and all that is agreeable to the flesh. There are those now who look to their idols to help them to pleasure and money; there is no moral difference between stocks and stones, and what is of a more refined kind now in our day. The Thessalonians turned to God, who gave perfect present blessedness. He is a true God for the conscience as well as for the heart. The world at once sees if God is the center of a person. The heart is not morbid, but thoroughly happy in God—has perfect satisfaction in Him. This is what makes such a difference in life. When a man is happy—happy in that which is eternal, what he cannot be deprived of, and which prevents his desiring other things—this is the spring of all he has to do—the glory of God, whether eating or drinking, or whatever he does.
Besides this new spring and center for the present, there is something else waited for which gives a form and character to this blessing, “waiting for his Son from heaven.” A most extraordinary thing to do Waiting for God's Son! that is, all our hopes are clean out of this world. Do not expect anything from earth, but look for something from heaven; and this God's Son Himself, “even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come.” This forms a background in all this scene. There is a wrath to come to get out of. Not merely was man to be judged, but the whole scene was to be judged. When Christ returns to this earth, it will be to judge it; and they had nothing to say to the judgment. They were looking for Christ. They knew there was wrath coming, but they had nothing to say to it. Those who were looking for Christ were entirely delivered “from the wrath to come.” This gives a very distinct position to the Christian. There is very little depth of doctrine among the Thessalonians; they were only just converted: this letter was written to them directly after. But there is a great deal of the present living power of faith. “Your faith groweth exceedingly.” (2 Thess. 1) Truth, when a person is walking in the spiritual joy and energy of the Holy Ghost after being newly converted, is very different from people holding dull doctrine merely. Here is the historical fact of wrath passed. At Christ's first coming He had taken up the whole question of wrath; and they had turned to God who had laid all their iniquities on another. A divine person had taken all upon Himself—put all away entirely. All the question is totally and finally settled: sin is borne once, and He who bore it is raised from the dead. This is what proves my sin put away. The fact that God will judge the world, by that man whom He hath ordained, is what gives me the consciousness of being entirely free from it, because it proves He is risen from the dead.
This sets me in perfect freedom; and it does more, because it links me up with Christ in heaven. I know He is coming. Why? Because I know Him there. This divine Person before my mind—this Christ—this man who has died—been interested about me—died for me. He is waiting in heaven. It is now the patience of Christ. He is expecting until His enemies are made His footstool. So we are waiting. Our interests are entirely linked up with His, and so we are waiting for Him, while He is waiting to come.
There are three ways in which Christ's coming is put before our souls in scripture. First, it is the fulfillment of our hope. We are waiting, our bodies to be raised, and we are to see Him and be like Him. This gives a strong living link that takes the heart out of present things—one object before our souls, a living man who is coming again. We are really waiting for something: for what? For this person who has so loved us. This is connected with two great systems: the government of God, and the Church of God.
Government under Christ is going to be set up. All things are to be put under His feet. This applies to the appearing of the New Testament, the day of the Lord, if you look at it as to wrath— “brightness of his coming.” I shall be happy long before that. Why then do I long for His appearing? Because Christ will then have His rights. It will be the setting up of divine power in goodness—setting up of divine righteousness too in goodness. This will be the liberty of glory. We have the liberty of grace now, but not His glory. We wait for that. The great center of all is Christ taking His rights. He has not these now. He has all His personal glory; but He will come in His own glory and in His Father's and of the holy angels. That is the heavenly part of the government of God, but there is this on earth also. It will be the manifestation of God's power to put everything in order where Christ has been crucified and cast out.
Government also applies to the Church (saints). Are we not under government? To be sure we are responsible. If we know to do good and do it not, we are guilty. We are to walk even as He walked. He was the display of divine life in a man. Not merely is there in Him the perfectness of a man before God, but the perfectness of God before man: therefore His example is far more than the law for us. Another thing is the Holy Ghost given. We are responsible for gifts bestowed by the Holy Ghost (as in the parable of the talents). If I have any service as a Christian, I must do it or I shall be chastened. He takes away what He has given if I do not use it. All this is connected with government. As His sons we are all alike saved; liable to judgment as regards our wrong ways, but in blessedness. The “day of the Lord” will be deliverance for all those waiting for Him. There will be the display of all previously gone through. We come with Him.
We always find responsibility connected with the appearing.
Another, third, thing, entirely distinct, is connected with the Church's proper blessedness. He has taken it up and given it that same place as Himself. We are wrapped up with Christ as part of Himself—entirely outside, or rather inside, the question of His kingdom. No question of government as to that, but the outgoing of the heart of Christ—loved as Himself. It is as connected with this we are caught up to meet Him—His heart identified with mine—not a thought moving His heart that does not touch mine. This promise is given us in John 14 “I will come and receive you.” There is no thought of anything to do with the world, judgment, or government there, but one single thing, “I will come and receive you unto myself.” The secondary and inferior thing is the inheritance that we shall have.
Caught up into the Father's house first, we get “the inheritance as Christ, and with Christ.” “We have borne the image of the earthy,” and we “shall also bear the image of the heavenly; no question of degrees of blessedness or rewards, but all conformed to His image—He the “firstborn of many brethren.” The next thing is, we come into the Father's delight, as Christ is loved with the same love as He is (the full enjoyment in immediate presence); it is given us now in spirit” loved them as thou hast loved me.” We shall enjoy this blessedness along with Christ Himself, and be with Him forever. “So shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4)
There is, of course, a great inheritance, but not a word is here about that. “Comfort one another with these words.” There is rest in this prospect. We cannot help resting there; and when He comes, we shall come with Him. Our joy is to be with Himself. We shall be displayed, but that is not our proper joy. The Church's and saints' place (I speak of the Church including all the members together, and the saints individually for themselves) is associated with Him as His body, and to be with Him when all is displayed. If we have entered into the reality of His love, and our union with Him, it is the great joy and delight of our hearts to think of being with Him.
The consequence of all this is, that when He comes forth the Church, as the “armies which were in heaven,” come with Him. They must be with Him before they come with Him. How have they got with Him? When He rises up from His present place, we shall go too. He is now hid in God, so are we. He is our life. When He shall appear, we shall also appear with Him in glory. He comes out, the Rider on the white horse, and we come with Him. We have the same portion as Himself. We are still waiting; but He is coming to take things into His hands. At His appearing everything must be in order. He cannot be in a world where all is disorder, and going on in willfulness. That will be “the day” —the display of His power; but besides and within this we have our own portion.
We love His appearing, but we love Himself better.
Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are “members of His body.” “Our life is hid,” &c. He is to take us up to the Father's house, the fullness of His own blessedness—with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father's love connects itself with the Church's position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, &c. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God's Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God's Son from heaven if I am linked up with the world. If this world is the scene where my heart is building itself up, if I have an object in this world, Christ will spoil it all.
Suppose God said, “To-night,” &e.; would you say, That is what I want? If not, there is something between your affections and Christ.
No trial can touch a person who has Christ for his all. He may have lost this or lost that; but if he has Christ he has that which he cannot lose.

Achill Herald Appendix

The author's charges differ from the Bishop of Kilmore's. There is no reason for evading either—least of all for not meeting the more violent of the two.
I have replied to Dr. Verschoyle elsewhere, and now proceed to refute the rector of Skreen.
(1.) Mr. Nangle's statement is, that those he calls Darbyites “reject a ministry set apart by the laying on of hands to rule and teach the Church, as laid down in the Apostle Paul's epistles to Timothy and Titus, and various other parts of the New Testament. That they do reject such a ministry is notorious, and the apologist of the sect does not dare to deny it.” It is evident that he does not understand the matter; nor should one be surprised at this.
All is confusion in Christendom on the point. The Roman Catholic does not allow the validity of Anglican orders, though the Anglicans own those of Rome, for a recanting Romish priest never undergoes presbyterial ordination within the English Establishment. The Presbyterian reckons episcopacy a fiction. The independent rests the essence of his call on the choice of the congregation, as the Presbyterian does in a measure. Thus for the most part the theories and practice of Christendom, if applied and held fast, are mutually destructive; one only could be true.
“Brethren” believe that not one of these conflicting schemes is according to God's word; because even those who have a measure of right, in upholding the truth of apostolic authority as the sole adequate ordaining power, falsely pretend that the modern bishop succeeds to this authority. If “Brethren” arrogated such a claim to themselves, they would be as wrong as their neighbors; but as long as they hold to the truth in this respect, they will avoid this error of Christendom. They leave it to others, who have as little real ground as themselves, to imitate an apostle or an apostolic delegate. Instead of aspiring to an authority which “Brethren” frankly own they do not possess, and which they firmly believe neither Roman Catholics nor other Episcopalians possess one jot more than themselves, they thank God for the gifts which remain, being amongst themselves more or less as also among the members of Christ's body everywhere.
I flatly deny, then, that they reject a ministry set apart by the laying on of hands, as laid down in 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and elsewhere. It is notorious that they on the contrary hold so tenaciously to the due scriptural order as to reject the poor and baseless imitations of this current among modern Episcopalians, and still more the substitution of the popular voice for it, which passes among Dissenters. But they hold that the Lord (as from the first, even whilst apostles and their delegates appointed elders) gives such gifts (evangelists, pastors, teachers, &c.) as are needed for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. From the beginning, there was the free exercise of gift within and without the Church, beside the local charges of elders, &c., which needed orderly appointment. Have gifts ceased, because apostolic authority no longer exists?
1 am grieved to say that the charge of evasion under the head of confessing sins is inexcusable, not to say worse. The Bishop of Kilmore was misinformed if he thought “Brethren” held that the confession of sins is to be laid aside by those who have already received forgiveness; for they would support himself in resisting that grave error. Mr. N.'s hostility forthwith suspects evil couched underneath a straightforward denial: any candid gracious soul would be gratified by it, because he loves to hear good of his brethren and rejoices to have a prejudice removed. What does Mr. N. say and feel? “We have here another evasion put forth as a reply to my charge. I never denied that the Darbyites, as a body, insist on the duty of a believer to confess his sins; but I did and do charge them with the grievous error that a believer needs not daily to pray for the forgiveness of his sins.” How comes this shifting of the point before us? Why does he charge the reply to Dr. Verschoyle with “evasion” because his own different statement was not answered? Did he forget that the reply was to Dr. V. not to himself? Again, why did he “adopt” the Bishop of Kilmore's words on this head if he never believed of “Brethren” what the Bishop imputes? Was this upright? Is it lawful to use another's words against the “Brethren,” which, when exposed, you deny that you ever held, and then to substitute quite a different statement, with a confident accusation that your charge (which was not in question) is evaded? This is what Mr. N. has done. I do not think any worthy members of his own party will approve of it.
No intelligent Christian objects to the Common Prayer Book on the ground here alleged, but to the merging saints and sinners in a common petition and confession of sins, to the exceeding detriment of the converted, to the imminent peril of the unconverted, and above all to the trampling under foot of the primary idea, the express design, and revealed character of God's Church.
To be precise, let me add, first, that “Brethren” do ask forgiveness of their sins; secondly, that confession goes beyond this. Who does not know, save the thoughtless, that it is far easier to ask forgiveness than to confess honestly and thoroughly? Have you never felt it? Have you not seen it in your child? For what are sins confessed, if not to seek forgiveness from our Father?
Neither is there any evasion as to the Lord's prayer. I have never hinted that it was used at meetings of “Brethren,” though there is no rule expressed or understood against such a thing. It is evident that the Lord gave it for the closet use (Matt. 6:6) of His disciples, who were regenerate at that very time and had not yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete. I believe that it abides for such use on the part of disciples in a similar condition; but that it never was intended for souls after they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and possessed (not merely the title, but) the Spirit of sonship. This vast change is, I am convinced, the teaching of our Lord Himself in John 16:24-26. The disciples had been no doubt for a long time using the Lord's prayer; yet the Lord tells them “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name.” “At that day ye shall ask in my name.” “That day” is now come: are we as the disciples were? or, having received the Comforter, are we asking the Father in Christ's name? To my mind this distinction is clear and certain; but Mr. N. counts it “shuffling by which your correspondent endeavors to exonerate the sect from this sanctimonious blasphemy,” and then talks about the distinction already pointed out in such a style as to show himself wholly in the dark on this subject. “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”
From these bold and bitter, bit powerless words, in the face of our Lord's declaration and the evident facts of scripture, it is refreshing to turn to the excellent and learned Dr. John Owen. None can say that Cromwell's Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Plymouthized; none can deny that for spiritual judgment be is incomparably beyond any of the adversaries of the “Brethren.” His orthodoxy and his piety are unimpeachable; yet his doctrine (as far as it goes), and no doubt his practice, as to the Lord's prayer, accords with ours. “Let it therefore be taken for granted that our Savior did command that form to be repeated by His disciples, and let us then consider what will regularly ensue thereupon. Our Savior at that time was minister of the circumcision, and taught the doctrine of the gospel under and with the observation of all the worship of the Judaical church. He was not yet glorified, and so the Spirit was not as yet given; I mean that Spirit which He promised unto His disciples to enable them to perform all the worship of God by Him required at their hands, whereof we have before spoken. That, then, which the Lord Jesus prescribed unto His disciples for their present practice in the worship of God, seems to have belonged unto the economy of the Old Testament. Now, to argue from the prescription of, and outward helps for, the performance of the worship of God under the Old Testament, unto a necessity of the like or the same under the New, is upon the matter to deny that Christ is ascended on high, and to have given spiritual gifts unto men eminently distinct from and above those given out by Him under the Judaical pedagogy.” (Works, Vol. 15, p. 14, Goold's ed.) Of course, I attach not the smallest authority to Dr. 0.; but it suffices to evince the abuse and lack of knowledge on our accuser's part.
(4.) It is in vain to appeal to 1 John 2:8; 3:18, 19 to prove that scripture makes the full assurance of our acceptance to depend on our works or our experiences. The apostle treats of a wholly different question and assumes, in this very epistle, that the former was already settled even for the babes of the family of God. See 1 John 2:12.; v. 13. There were those who sought even in that early day to set up Gnostic conceits, to despise love and holiness, and to assert the necessity of their teaching for the children of God. Hence, not to raise internal questions, but to comfort the true saints, and to expose these aspiring false teachers, the apostle says, “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” There is no thought of insinuating an inquiry whether their own faith was real. So in chapter 3 it is expressly a question of “assurance of heart;” not of ascertaining one's individual interest in Christ, but of keeping our confidence toward God unbroken. But I quite agree that without holiness (practically) no man shall see the Lord; and that carelessness of ways even in a real saint is always destructive of spiritual enjoyment.
So far is it from being true that individuals among “Brethren” are insensible to discipline, that one of the greatest hindrances we know is from the spirit of in-subjection which prevails generally over Christendom. When the high-minded among us receive censure beyond their grace to endure, sometimes they resent it by going back to the country whence they came out, or by making a party of their own. It is commonly alleged against “Brethren” that they take “the best” from the various religious societies. Others are perhaps better judges of this. We can thankfully say that none but our worst or weakest leave us to join any denomination. The singular fact is, that our adversaries do not seem to perceive how serious for themselves are both these allegations, if true. And who can deny them?
I am sorry that the most prejudiced Christian should judge it wrong, when souls established in Christ are taught any truth they need, particularly what is so near to Christ and so practically necessary to our walk and worship as the nature of God's Church. But I can well understand why some are sensitive on this head.
I had almost omitted to add that our reason for not putting forth creeds, or articles of faith, is not in the smallest degree because of diversity of opinion. Tracts and books, however, by men respected among us are abundant and accessible. Why not quote fairly from them, instead of imputing to “Brethren” sentiments which they abhor? First, it is evident to us, that symbols of faith do not secure unanimity in Mr. N.'s system, which affords to all men the spectacle of compelling men to sign what they openly deny, without an approach to the right use of ecclesiastical discipline (though the second part of the Homily for Whitsunday declares this to be one of the three notes or marks whereby the true church is known). Secondly, it is equally clear that the Church of God walked without these Egyptian reeds during its best days here below, as we are seeking to do now by the grace of the Savior.
As to the reproach of being a conglomerate of the errors of the Quakers, the Anabaptists, and the Antinomians, with supplemental errors increasing and special, it is not worth more answer than that of our scandalous immoralities. I retort nothing; I appeal to those who have knowledge and conscience.

Adam and Christ

There is a second man into whose condition we are brought. The first man was the highest in order as a creature and withal responsible. But through the second man, the Lord from heaven, he has a place far above all creatures, being brought into the place (by redemption) of the son of God himself as man—the responsibility of his old place met, but a new place given. This last is not creation, but new creation


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All Will Give Account of Themselves to God

Surely there is great gain in light and love in giving an account of ourselves to God. Not a trace then remains of our old evil: we shall be like Christ. If a person fears to have all out thus before God, I do not believe he is free in soul as to righteousness, as to being the righteousness of God in Christ. He is not fully in the light. Has the Christian to enter into judgment for anything? Christ has put sin all away.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Baptism and the Lord's supper (1 Cor. 10) are for the wilderness. One introduces into the wilderness, but it is Christ's death, not mine only. I thereon reckon myself dead as a consequence, planted in baptism in the likeness of His. But we have not in Romans resurrection with Him; and, even where we have, as I think we must say in Col. 2, no ascension, no Canaan.
As the one brings into, the other sustains in, the wilderness. So we show forth Christ's death till He come. I am on the earth, but in the consciousness of being a member of the one body, which implies union with Christ; but it is on earth I celebrate it, not in heaven; i.e., not as being there myself. I look at the humiliation as over with Him, but remember Him in it. Our service in it is simply owning the preciousness of His death, till He come. Our state is in resurrection; but we are occupied and celebrate His having been once down here and show forth His death. The question is, Where are we when we celebrate it? In the wilderness.

Bethel, Penial, Beersheba

There are four stages in the journey of the life of Jacob (see Gen. 25-49): his residence at home in Canaan; his sojourn in Padan-aram; his second residence in Canaan; his sojourn and death in Egypt.
Between these four stages there are three links or times of transition, which we may call Bethel, Peniel, and Beersheba.
Bethel, or the scene there, happens as he journeys from Canaan to Padan-aram.
Peniel, or the scene there, happens as he journeys back from Padan-aram to Canaan.
Beersheba, or the scene there, happens as he journeys from Canaan down to Egypt.
These are the eras in the life of Jacob, and the transitions from one to the other. I would now meditate on these transition scenes, or on Bethel, Peniel, and Beersheba.
Jacob had offended the Lord, having taken the way of nature, in listening to the counsels of unbelief touching the blessing. He is therefore put under discipline, that he may learn the bitterness of his own way. His place of stones, the very night on which he left his father's house, witnessed this. It was the fruit of his transgression, but it told that God was his God still. It is the place of discipline, however, and not of sin. God can therefore own it and visit it. Had it been the tent where he and his mother had dressed the kids for Isaac's feast, God could not have owned it, for iniquity was practiced there: but Luz, or the place of discipline, the Lord can visit with His presence.
He does accordingly come, and He comes to make glory a great reality to His servant. He does not come to soften his pillow, or to change his condition, sending him back to enjoy the home of his father and the care of his mother. He leaves Jacob still to taste the bitterness of departure from God, but comes to make glory and heaven great realities to him. Onwards, therefore, this chastened child of God goes, and for twenty years knows the bonds of an injurious taskmaster in Padan-aram.
In due season he is on his way back: But it is a different Jacob we now see, as well as a different journey. He was an empty Jacob at Bethel, he is now a full Jacob at Peniel. He has become two bands. Flocks and herds, and servants and wives and children, tell of his prosperity. He has become a rich man. He has a stake in the world. He has something to lose, something which may make him an object and a prey.
He bears of Esau coming with four hundred men. He trembles. He manages as well as he can, religiously committing all to God. But still, unbelief has mastered his heart, and he is in fear of his revengeful brother.
The Lord comes to him; but He comes in a new character altogether. He had been a child under discipline at Bethel, he is an unbelieving child now; and the Lord comes not to comfort him as then, but to rebuke and restore him. “There wrestled a man with him till the breaking of the day.” This was the Lord in controversy with Jacob's unbelief touching Esau. But what is the issue of this controversy? Grace is made a great reality to Jacob now, as glory had been before. The wrestling Stranger in abounding grace allows himself to be prevailed over by the weak and timid Jacob, and the spirit of faith revives in the soul of Jacob. Very blessed this is. He comes “boldly to the throne of grace.” He says, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” And Jacob becomes Israel. The unbelieving Jacob is restored now, as the chastened Jacob had been comforted before. Grace is made a great reality to him now, as glory had been to him then. At Bethel he walked at the gate of heaven, here he walks in the presence of God. Christ was giving him promises at Bethel; He is giving him embraces at Peniel. He was opening His house to him there; He is opening His heart to him here.
Such was Bethel, and such was Peniel to Jacob: such is God to him in his various need. Heaven was shown to him in the day of his sorrow; restoring grace in its exhaustless treasures in the day of his failure.
But Beersheba is still to be visited, and it has its peculiar character also. Nature had spoken very quickly in Jacob, when on hearing that Joseph was alive and governor of Egypt, and seeing the wagons which he had sent to take him to that country, he said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go down and see him before I die.” This was just nature; and though nature may speak rightly in a saint, yet its voice ought always to be challenged, for it may be wrong as well as right. In a calmer moment of his soul, this decision, this unchallenged decision of nature, becomes the occasion of uneasiness to Jacob; and it is this uneasiness, as I surely judge, that gives us Beersheba. For, I may ask, Why the sacrifices there? “And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.”
This is remarkable. And why all this? I ask. There had been no altar at Mamre before he had set out. Why this delay at Beersheba on the road? The spiritual sense has now been awakened, and the saint feels reserve where the father had felt none. Very common this is with the people of God. Nature had acted at Mamre, but now that the mind of Christ awakes to take the lead, the judgment of nature is reviewed.
Many years before this the Lord had said to Isaac, “go not down into Egypt,” and had said this to him in a day of famine in Canaan, as was the present. (See chap. 26:1, 2.) Faith reviving in the soul of Jacob at Beersheba (lying on the southernmost border as you go to Egypt), this is remembered, and Jacob pauses. Uneasiness is felt when faith thus challenges the verdict of nature. And God is sought, the God of Isaac. Most fitly so; for it was the word of the God of Isaac which had awakened this conflict and uneasiness. The word of the Lord, as we have now seen, had raised a wall or dug a gulf between Isaac and Egypt. So that this delay at Beersheba, and these sacrifices, tell the secret of Jacob's soul, that faith, and not nature, was now taking, the lead of the motives that were stirring there.
Very lovely this is, and very precious with God, as the sequel of this perfect little story of other days at Beersheba tells us. God comes to Jacob, and comes at once upon the raising up of the altar at Beersheba. He had been with him before, as we saw, on his way from Canaan to Padan-aram, and again on his way back from Padan-aram to Canaan; and now is He with him on his way from Canaan to Egypt. At Bethel, as we also saw, He had made glory or heaven a great reality to the chastened sorrowing Jacob. At Peniel He had made grace, in its restoring virtue, a great reality to the timid and fainting Jacob, and now at Beersheba He makes divine sympathy a great reality to the tender self-judging Jacob.
The communion between the Lord and His elect one here is full of the witness of this. The Lord lets him know that He was acquainted with all the workings, both of nature and of the spiritual mind in him, that He had marked the path of his soul from Mamre to Beersheba. “I am God,” said the Lord in a vision of the night to him, “I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt I will go down with thee and Joseph shall put his hands upon thine eyes.”
What a communication this was! How thoroughly did it disclose this most comforting truth, that the Lord had read all his heart, his present fears, his earlier affections, the mind of the father and the mind of the saint in him, the desire of nature and the sensibility and suggestion of grace. “Fear not to go down to Egypt” calmed his present saintly apprehensions; “Joseph shall put his hands upon thine eyes” gratified the earlier motions of a father's heart. How full and perfect all this was! What a reality it proved communion or the sympathy of Christ to be!
“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, thou knewest my path.” The groan that cannot be uttered has entered, with exactest meaning, the ear of Him who searches the heart. All this is now made a great reality to Jacob, and in the joy of this he goes onward. How could he any longer fear Egypt? How could he question any longer the desire of indulging his fatherly affections? All was answered and satisfied, and Jacob resumed his journey, and accomplished it. “And Jacob rose up from Beersheba.... and they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him.”
Rich and wondrous instructions! Glory is made a reality to Jacob at Bethel, grace is made a reality to him at Peniel, and divine sympathy is made a reality to him at Beersheba.
I might add “Shechem” to these cases. Correction is made a great reality to Jacob's conscience there. The Lord told him to go from it to Bethel, for his way there was evil; and he sets himself on the journey, not only at once, but under a purifying of his whole house, showing how his spirit had received correction. (See chap. 35:1, 2.)

Brought to God

After the establishment of our faith in the great truths of the epistles, we are led back to the gospels, to enter into and dwell upon the blessedness and fullness of Him, in whom all the truths have their center and accomplishment.

Brought to God

We are brought “to God,” who cannot do less than bring to heaven those who are already brought to Himself.

The Calling and Hope of the Christian

The right application of the truth of the Church in both its calling and its hopes depends, more than many Christians are aware, upon the spiritual condition of the soul. I doubt not, indeed, that spiritual condition has much to do with all apprehension of divine truth, but of this beyond all others, for the simple reason that the Church's privileges are so boundless and so special that the mind of man and even the heart of the believer find no small difficulty in accepting them simply in their integrity. The very conscience of the believer makes a difficulty unless there be a child-like acceptance of the word and grace of God. We can easily understand this; for it is natural even to the believer to mingle the question of his own feelings of acceptance with the reception of the truth of God. He examines himself, but finds only unworthiness; he feels painfully, humiliatingly, day by day, his own shortcomings and positive faults. Such being the fact, it looks a hard thing to receive the astonishing truth that grace has given even him oneness with Christ.
Yet the great distinctive feature of the Christian's calling is found in these very words, “Together with Christ.” Sovereign grace can alone account for it. As God claimed and exercised the title, at all times, to bless according to His good pleasure, so now He puts the members of Christ's body in the place that seems good to Him. He looks for unqualified submission in our hearts. And in proportion as we are simple in bowing to God, His grace and truth open far more largely and more distinctly on our souls. Now the bearing of this will soon be seen as I make a few remarks upon the scripture just read. The subject is the Church's calling and hopes—the latter, of course, in connection with the coming of the Lord. The Holy Ghost opens the subject with a kind of allusion to Israel's place. They were the chosen people, but it was on earth and for the earth. I do not deny that there were elect men in Israel, upon whose hearts brighter hopes dawned. No doubt Abraham was but a sample of the faithful. And indeed in the dealings of God, before there was a people called, there were those who looked by faith beyond the earth, who saw what is brighter than earthly hopes. But here we have a different character of blessing: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” The heavenly places are clearly in contrast with Israel's earthly place. Now Israel looked, and rightly looked, to be thus blessed here below; indeed, it is to disparage the word of God to lose sight of this: God will make it good to them in a future day.
But we ourselves are in the same place as these believers, addressed by the Apostle Paul— “Blessed with all spiritual blessings.... in Christ.” That little word, “in Christ,” is the key to it all. In one sense a Christian is nothing in himself; in Christ he has everything. Let my heart only get hold of this precious truth. Christ now shows what a Christian is in the presence of God. No doubt, besides being the risen man, He is also God, the object of worship, equal with the Father. He has a divine right to all, yet is He pleased to possess all as the glorified man by right of redemption. He came into this world. He had the only claim as man, for He alone had accomplished God's will. He was the perfect manifestation of what man ought to be to God under law, and He was the perfect manifestation of what God is to man in love, He was above law—it was grace. If the law dealt with evil, it must destroy. Grace takes the supremacy. It shows grace to those who do not deserve it. Christ as under law showed perfectly what God's will was. Then He manifested what God is to man. It was His place to manifest perfect grace and truth. Christ takes the inheritance neither as man or God only, but as Redeemer. He suffered on the cross that He might have others to share it, others to say, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” It was only in resurrection that the Lord Jesus took all things. When upon earth He did not take the inheritance; He took sorrow, He took shame, He took suffering—every kind of hatred from man. He took God's judgment about sin. In this He was alone upon the cross, because there the wonderful problem was being solved, how sin could be put away. Christ abolished sin that God might justly justify, that God might manifest all His character.
Here, however, it is a larger measure than merely justifying. God blesses with all spiritual blessings in Christ. He had never uttered such language before. In the Old Testament there is not such a thought as Christ having members. You have a king reigning in righteousness, and nations blest through Christ that blessed One who will take all things from God. What we have here is quite different. It is God not only pardoning, and not merely justifying, but making Christians to be the members of Christ, of His flesh, and of His bones. Here we have language rising above everything that believers had before redemption. There is no disparagement of the privileges of saints before, but what I am anxious to show is that Christians are not generally alive to their own privileges.
The first thing to point out is this, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Mark the language. It is God acting in this especial manner of relationship. He means to bless the believer as He blesses Christ. That is, not as Christ is blest as a divine person—that would be blasphemy. Here we have what is bestowed upon Him as man in heaven. “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them” is a kindred truth. Christ as the risen man is exalted on high, having glory conferred on Him as the risen man that by the grace of God had died. The risen man is also God, but we must never confound His deity with His humanity. As thus risen He said, “I ascend unto my God and your God, unto my Father and your Father.” Here we have His and our God and Father, and the apostle shows that we reap infinite blessing from each of these relationships. As God of our Lord Jesus, He gives us to partake in the divine nature, holy and blameless before Him in love. He means to have men in heaven along with Jesus. To have that blessed glorified man there is not enough. He gives Jesus companions. These companions of His must have, of course, the divine nature morally. (2 Peter 1)
Again, angels are servants: they never rise above the nature of servants. The archangel even never rises above the place of a servant. The angels are called the sons of God in a certain sense, as all men are by virtue of creation. Angels are a spiritual class of beings, but they have not the intimacy of those born of God, the place of children, the Spirit of adoption, &c. Now I call your attention to this, because it is but feebly understood by Christians in general. It is not presumption to know that our sins are forgiven. I would ask any person who knows the name of Christ, who loves Him, On what ground is it that you take the place of a believer? On what ground have you received favor from God? Do you believe in Jesus as One that suffered for sins? I ask you, Has He done the work perfectly or has He not? There is no believer who would not at once answer, Yes—perfectly. Then as surely as you are a believer, you have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. If you have not this forgiveness, when can you have it? Christ will not suffer again. Suffering and offering go together. They must go together in the mind of God. Once purged is the word for a Christian—once, because it has been done perfectly, done forever. Now I maintain that it is done for every Christian. Every Christian owes it to Christ to believe unhesitatingly that He has done perfectly the work of putting away sin. There may be failures. Far would I be from saying that a believer should not confess failure always. Daily failure calls tor daily humbling before God. Still the fact of redemption remains unchanged. Take the case of a child: he may offend and offend grievously, but he remains your child all the same. The more you enforce on him that he is your child, the more is his failure felt, as it is the worse in itself. In the same way, instead of the holding fast our relationship, really weakening the sense of sin, it is the very and only ground of judging it aright. It is that which makes sin to be most exceedingly sinful.
We have here the full roll of Christian privilege. How striking it is in all this passage there is not a word said about our original condition as sinners. In the Epistle to the Romans it is quite another method. In Eph. 2 we have a deeper character of sin than we have even in Romans” dead in trespasses and sins,” &c. But first we find God unfolding His counsels which refer to the Christian. It was a purpose of God in Christ before the foundation of the world, entirely apart from man's condition upon earth. We find here the very blessed truth that redemption is no mere remedy, it was the first choice of God. God counseled and determined in Himself, before there were any creatures at all; He determined to have beings in heaven capable of fellowship with Himself and with His Son. Then He allowed man to be tried upon earth. This took place with Israel, &c. When the wickedness of the world rose to its height in the cross of Christ, at that very moment when Jew and Gentile united to kill the Lord of glory, God answered their awful conspiracy by bringing out His richest grace. God showed through and in His Son a salvation that not only meets man ruined upon earth, but that would give man an everlasting portion with. Christ in the presence of God. The Church consists not merely of persons pardoned and saved, of people looking to heaven; it has a deeper character of relationship; it implies union with Christ in heaven. This is what God imparts to believers now.
The next thing taken up here is that God not only brings us into this astonishing place of blessing, but opens His secrets: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will.” Thus, first of all, He makes us holy in Christ; next, He gives us the place of sons to Himself; and then He makes known to us what He is going to do. And what is that? To put the entire universe under Christ, to have all in heaven, all on earth, put under the glorified man. This is the first part of the secret of God's will; the next is, that the believers now—all believers in Christ—are made joint-heirs with Christ over this inheritance. Not that we are the inheritance: the Jewish people will be a part of the inheritance; but the peculiar character of Christians, that is, they are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.
As to this, the simple question is, What does scripture say? What is the teaching of God on this head? It is said to be a mystery, which means that which could not be found out by the wit of man, but what can be understood when revealed. “The mystery of Christ” consisted in this—Christ, the center of all God's dealings, and believers now united to Him. There is nothing wonderful in the Son of God being over all things. God the Father could not be said to confer anything upon God the Son as such: it would deny His supreme deity. But yet it is perfectly certain from scripture that Jesus now receives all from God the Father. A man is at the right hand of God!—a man is the object of heaven's delight and adoration! But more. By the Holy Ghost the Church is united with this glorified man, the spiritual Eve of the last Adam. The Church is the bride, the Lamb's wife, as it is the body of the glorified Christ who is Head over all things. Thus it is written at the end of this chapter. Christ is said to be “Head over all things to the church, which is his body.” The Church is really associated with Christ over all things, “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
The wonderful mystery is here made known—the Church called into oneness with Christ. Into this one body we are baptized by the Spirit now; and now is the time that the believer is responsible to receive it into his soul, and to manifest it in his ways. Of course it is a matter of faith; for, as to his body, he is the same as any other man. He can only triumph through Christ; but he has Christ in glory not only as his righteousness but his life, yea, one with Him. All that God confers upon Christ, Christ shares with the Church. The effect is immediate and immense. Suppose a person were to wake up to the fact that he was the queen's son, would it not have a mighty influence practically on him? So, to be given now to know not merely that a person is saved, but that he shares with Christ all that He possesses, that he is a member of His body, that he is viewed now as perfect by God in Christ: such is the position of a Christian. It is not that one does not take into account a Christian's failure: I do, but the way to feel our failure most is to hold fast our relationship to Christ. Upon Christian doctrine is founded Christian practice.
As the believer even now is set in this blessed place of enjoyment, God has sent down the Holy Ghost to dwell in him, in such a sort as never was before. There never was a time when the Holy Ghost did not work; He beyond all doubt is the active agent in all the dealings of God from creation downwards. There could be no power of God at work in man without the Spirit of God. But not the less do I maintain along with this, that the Lord Jesus Christ prepared the disciples for a greater blessing than either they or others had ever known before. He told them “it is expedient for you that I go away,” &c. What could make up for such a loss? The answer is, “if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” It is contrary to Scripture or even sense to suppose that it was merely prolonging something they possessed before. Nay, there was a deeper blessing. It was the same Spirit that had made them born anew, but He was now for the first time sent down from heaven to dwell in the saints.
Who had ever been thus blessed before? Yes, there was One who had enjoyed Him thus. Who was that One person who had been the temple of God upon earth? It was Jesus. Upon Him, the Holy Ghost came not as a flame of fire, but as a dove, the witness of the perfect spotlessness of Jesus. The humanity of Jesus being absolutely pure and holy (Luke 1), there was not the least hindrance to the dwelling Of the Holy Ghost in Him. We can understand Jesus being bodily the temple or habitation of the Holy Ghost; but how could it be true of us, evil and defiled as we are by nature? Christ has so perfectly put away the sin and sins of a believer, that it is as though the evil, root, branch, and fruit, had never been. Hence the Holy Ghost has come down from heaven, and actually now dwells in the believer, as the proof and result of the perfect putting away of sin by Christ's sacrifice.
The saints of old were waiting for what was coming; they knew there were good things to come. “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” (1 Peter 1:12.)
Manifestly then there is a special blessing in the gift of the Spirit consequent upon redemption. When we know and weigh what redemption is, there will be less difficulty. It is a poor partial notion of redemption as an accomplished fact that makes people ask, Why should not God always act in the same way? The right understanding of its infinite work teaches us, that God sees such virtue in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ that He reserves a special blessing for that hour. The believer now is blessed with, and will share, His supremacy over all things.
What makes us members of the body of Christ? We are made so by the Spirit, and not by faith only. Of course, no one but a believer has this place; but it is nowhere said to be by faith, but by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor. 12) The saints of old time were not baptized into this one body. There was nothing of the kind. The Jew preserved his separate place; the Gentile might come in (as a proselyte), but there was no identity: still less was either one or other made one with Christ. In Christianity these distinctions disappear. There was faith among the Old Testament saints, but there was no “one body” yet; not even when our Lord was upon earth. He told the disciples that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The cross of Christ, on man's side of it, was a joining of all men (Jew and Gentile) in wickedness; on God's side it led to a joining of Jew and Gentile in common blessing by grace. In Matt. 16, Peter answers Christ's demand with the confession, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” Christ says, “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” What does He mean by this? Peter confesses His glory not only as Messiah or the Christ, but as Son of the living God. He was marked out the Son of God by resurrection from the dead. “He is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead.
What hope is suited to such a calling? Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself.” The portion that Christ has is the portion of a Christian. Even now He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. As He took our portion on the cross, so we have His portion in glory. He will bless the Jews on earth. God promised to do so. Whereas, He has in title blessed us with Christ in heaven. Some think the mystery was that the Gentiles were to be called, but this is plainly referred to in the Old Testament. The mystery goes much farther, namely, that all who now believe, Jews and Gentiles, should be united together as the one body of Christ, head over all things.
Our hope is for Christ to come and take us to be with Himself in the Father's house. This implies the highest scene of enjoyment even in heaven. Can any place there be too high for Christ? Assuredly not. The Father manifests His love for His Son thus. If God gives us such a place in Christ, we ought to believe it; and this is not merely for ourselves, but for every believer, for every Christian. This, and nothing less than this, is the portion of all who believe the gospel. Christ will come Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. We shall be with Himself, in that glory which is entirely above the world. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” (Rev. 22:17.) To say “Come,” depends not on great knowledge, but on His great salvation and love.
It cannot be too much insisted on that there is no difference between the standing of one believer and another. When you come to a question of faithfulness, there are degrees; but to suppose a difference in the whiteness of the robe, or the righteousness we are made, is to suppose a various value in the blood of Christ, or uncertainty in the power of His resurrection. There is no difference as to sin in one sense, all being equally dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no such thing as one saint being brought nearer to God by redemption than another; it denies the work of Christ. All believers now are equally, i.e., perfectly, made nigh as to standing, though bad teaching does much to darken the truth, and lack of spirituality hinders holy enjoyment, even where the truth may have entered. Besides, we are made one with Christ, but for this the gift of the Spirit was requisite.
Where Christ is before us, there is nothing we may not be able to do through Him that strengthens us.

The Person of Christ

Stability is in the person of Christ, first, for eternal life, and also for the ways of God on earth. If the church was spued out of His mouth, He was the faithful witness, the beginning of the creation of God. This is the theme of John. For Paul, the church belonged to heaven, though built for God's habitation in the spirit on earth. John had neither Peter's place nor Paul's, but was linked with the one, and carried on the testimony among the gentiles where the other had been a master-builder.

Christ the Wisdom of God

The wisdom of God is a wonderful thing. It must put things in their place, or it is not wisdom. That the cross does. We are sinners. We must come as such. All then is changed. Yet all is manifested, what sin is and what holiness, what hatred and what love, what man, what God, what the world and its prince; but this by the by. We come as sinners, and love meets us there. So Christ always drew out what people were, and met them divinely. For surely here is wisdom too. Christ in life and in death is God suiting Himself to man and drawing man to Himself.
Now, philosophy assumed the competency of man, and to make even God the subject matter of its judgment and thoughts. This was necessarily false. It either left God out, and all was clearly wrong; or it brought God in, and it was worse, because God and man were both out of their place. They are in it at the cross. But there, further, the saint becomes nothing, and God—Christ—all. This is just right and the very fullness of blessing—to have done with self and have the fullness of God to dwell in and enjoy. And here is the daily process. It is done completely in principle at the cross; it is wrought out practically by all the discipline of God. But then, when we have got this place of nothingness of self, there is divine wisdom unfolded to us.
All things were made by Christ and for Christ. All things are to be gathered together in one in Him, and to be reconciled all to the eternal fullness of God—all that is in heaven or on earth. The result is purposed before the foundation of the world; but in the world, in the creature, responsibility has come in. We are guilty and all is defiled.
But it was all ordained before the world to our glory. Christ has perfectly glorified God morally, and brought out what He is as nothing else could have done. Redemption and grace have a glory, and that through perfect separation from evil, and perfect obedience of man in the midst of evil, which is all its own. As it is done for us we have a part in the glory which belongs to it—the glory of God; we are the firstfruits of it, the inner circle round the blessed and glorious center in which God is displayed, even Christ. Then all things will be gathered round as a redeemed and reconciled creation to the praise of His glory, the glorious result of the hidden wisdom ordained before the world to our glory. Jesus Christ will be displayed as the power as well as the wisdom of God.
Finally, the great center, the moral center, is the cross—redemption; where (in the weakness of the creature and the fullest effort of the power of evil, and display of evil and its present effect—death) good triumphed. Its weakness was stronger than the power of what was against it. It was really divine power, but in the weakness of the creature—at least of what was of the creature though divinely, for creature it could not be rightly called. Death was the end of the creature in itself, the birth-place of the new creation as leaving the old wholly behind. I speak of its effect; for none but a divine person could have done it. It is Christ, and He crucified, in the lowest place the creature, man, can be brought to, but Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God. Then we can have a place in the glory itself—the glory of God, because He is made to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—not power. We are brought before God, and intelligently according to what God is. We are always dependent and subject: such only is our place as really with God, and our blessedness. To be out of that place is perfect and everlasting misery. The pretension to power is man's folly in assumed independence, which is sin. We are of God. This is our nature and actual condition in Christ Jesus, and He is of God wisdom to us and righteousness, &c., so that we glory in the Lord. Power remains in His hand. We may and shall be instruments of it hereafter, and spiritually may be vessels of it now, as emptied of self.
The great point is the place wisdom has, subjection and nothingness, beginning with the cross for the sinner, which is deliverance, Christ being all. We know perfect love. We know the counsels and purpose of God; we have Christ's mind; but we are as soldiers in an army who do not know the bearing of each act in carrying out the plan in presence of the enemy. Marching right and left is all they have to do, and perfect wisdom is in each step of obedience, and inward wisdom in restoration. For each of us is thus in his place with God, and in motive; for it is love to the commander and confidence in him, as well as obedience. All thus becomes right.
The cross is the end of flesh and of the world—death to the one, the deepest possible shame and ignominy to the other. Flesh is wholly set aside, and now folly is written on its wisdom. No flesh is to glory in His presence. He that glories is to glory in the Lord. Flesh cannot glory before Him. We are to glory in Him. But then the whole being of man in the flesh, morally speaking, has ceased for the Christian. Of Him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus. And Christ Jesus is made to us wisdom from God (for this is the main subject here), and then righteousness, sanctification, and final deliverance or redemption. We glory thus in Him.
This gives a peculiar place to men, which does not hold with angels. Man—the old thing—is entirely done away with, not restored or remedied and set up again. God is substituted for it: often we see the Second man, Christ, taking the place of the first; but here God Himself and what is of Him. We are of God in Christ Jesus; and Christ of God is made unto us wisdom, &c. What is in contrast with flesh is not another kind of man, but what is of God Himself: so all that constitutes our position and the power of it. Angels have been kept in their first estate: man lost his as did the fallen angels. But as to man this is wholly set aside: death comes in Christ, and it is ended. And what takes its place? “We are of God,” and all our title and place is in Christ who of God is for us all we are before God.
The whole thing is new. (Chap. 2) There is a purpose of God for our glory, a purpose before the world. The highest in this world knew nothing of it; if they had, they would not have crucified the head of it. This is revealed to us by the Spirit. Man's heart has not conceived it; but God's heart has revealed it, and this is the Spirit the apostle had, as we too have in our place. Then the same Spirit gave the words which were the medium of communication; and the same Spirit enables us to receive it. No one can instruct the Lord; but we have the mind (νοῦν) of Christ, in whom all this wisdom is.
So it is a wholly new sphere and form of wisdom which is in this purpose of God, the hidden wisdom, before this world of responsibility, and failure, and sorrow. But note: it was the princes of this world not knowing it, which, as to means, brought about that on which its accomplishment is founded, the cross.
Observe too that a positive fresh revelation is in question, not anything discoverable by man's mind. A man's spirit, and none else, knows what is in him. God's Spirit, and none else, knows what is in His mind, even this purpose which was before man or the world existed. And it is revealed and communicated, not by man's wisdom, or in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches.

When Out of Communion With God

When we slip out of communion with God, how wretched we are, and how we contribute to the unhappiness of others! Whereas in communion with God there is power to enable us to resist the devil, to enjoy the Lord and to promote the true blessing of His people. The Lord give us to have our Lord Jesus very simply and constantly before our hearts! We shall never go wrong with him as our object; we are sure to stray where any other thing slips into his place


As regards conscience I have more than one thing to note. First, speaking (as infidels and annihilationists do) of its being the effect of education, &c., is all confusion. This confounds the intrinsic power to judge with a rule by which it judges. No one denies that it may be misled by education making such or such feelings, or an obligation. But a rule or obligation imposed (and all such rules are so) is quite different from conscience, which is the sense that there is right and wrong. Hence when called into activity by an act that such is right or wrong, it pronounces by its own judgment that this is right and that is wrong. It pronounces for itself. I may have dimmed, blinded, influenced, misled it; but conscience is the judgment I pronounce on firm, instinctive, and uninfluenced persuasion that such an act is right, such wrong. So far from its owning a law, it ceases whenever there is one which has authority, because it has not to judge for itself. It is quite true that the instinctive judgment of conscience is according to some immutable law; but this is another thing. It is not the perception of the law, but man's judgment of right and wrong in itself. It is our own knowledge of good and evil, not a rule outside us. Hence when Adam had it not—was not “become as one of us” knowing good and evil, he had a law to which obedience was to be paid, and as to an act in which there was no right and wrong in itself. He might have eaten, had it not been forbidden. Man acquired this judgment of right and wrong: of this there was no trace before. It was a question of obedience, law, and authority—of subjection to God; but he enjoyed the blessings of goodness—had to be grateful, but had no question of there being a right and a wrong perceived by himself—no power of it, no occasion for it, no possibility of it. It would have falsified his whole position. He would have ceased to be innocent. Indeed the thing was impossible; for he was not as God, holy (i.e. essentially abhorring perfectly known evil—known because of and by being holy); and sin was not in him. He could not innocently have known evil to judge it. When a law was given, it might no doubt condemn what conscience did; but conscience had no more to do. If God gave a law, man had only to obey. Again, education may corrupt the judgment as to what is right and wrong, but supposes the judging faculty. I suspect that the true test is that, whenever the conscience is falsified by education, the will and passions will be found to be at work, and, though the person may not think of it, could not be denied by a person not having his passions engaged. It is conventional right and wrong formed by circumstances.
Hence as in mere civil circumstances, convenience is the ultimate rule. We have Pascal's diet um— “juste, c'est ce qui est etabli; done tout ce qui est etabli est juste.” Only when this violates too seriously the conscience or natural sense of right and wrong, it tends to revolution—that is, will break out against the pressure. I suspect the immutable law, of right and wrong is founded on relationships, whether with God or as God has formed them. From these duties flow. Only that man having been set lord over the earth, possession has come in also. It is regulated by convention: only if it violates too much the right in others (in many) to possess, it tends to violence in order to possess, wants ministering to this.
Grace has brought us out of law into absolute obedience to a person; but then it has its own rules which we need, and has set up the absolute authority of a person and a relationship which governs conduct (i.e. right and wrong), as all relationships do, Christ being the perfect model of that in which we are with God and man. But we must not confound the rule of right and wrong with conscience or the discernment of right and wrong. “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” That rule varies divinely, even because our relationship is changed. My duty was a man's, a child of Adam's, to God and to other children of Adam; for that was my place and relationship. It is of a child, a son of God, of which Christ is the pattern. Hence our rule or test of right and wrong is universality (practically what I hold to be right for all everywhere), but modified by this principle—when the same relation exists (i.e., one formed by God), creature, son, daughter, wife, &c., man with God and with men, general or specific, whatever He has ordered. Only we must distinguish between obedience to God (or what represents Him) and conscience viewed as judging right and wrong. It is right to obey Him, wrong to disobey; and so far conscience comes in; for man had a given—has an instinctive—recognition of God; but it is not any judgment of right and wrong as such in the act itself. It is not what man acquired by the fall, i.e., the divine prerogative of judging right and wrong for himself— “one of us.”
The question may arise, how far grounds of judgment, and so far reason, enter into conscience; and I answer, Not at all. They go to lead to the estimate of the fact of the relationship, whether it be violated; and I conclude that the thing is wrong. I then pronounce judgment, not on the thing, but on myself or another. But conscience judges the thing. Conscience is at work: I call it wrong.
There are thus three ideas connected in our mind with conscience, which we must look at if we would not have confusion in our minds. First, there is the sense of responsibility to a being above us, principally to God—not the duty of loving Him (that is law), but authority. This Adam had before the fall. Secondly, there is the sense of good and evil (which is properly conscience). Thirdly, there is self-judgment or repulsion of heart as to others produced by it when an act is contemplated it condemns.


WILL your correspondent, “C. E. S.,” kindly state his authority, if any, for saying “Some inspired communications (written by the Spirit of God) have perished?” — “Thoughts on Canticles,” Bible Treasury, March, 1869, p. 225.
Have we any divine proof that the 1005 songs by Solomon, and his works on natural history, ever belonged to the canon of Scripture? Were they more than the sayings of the wise man? Yours, &c., NESCITUR.
To the Editor of the BIBLE TREASURY.
Apart from the questions of “Old Testament Canon,” and the perpetual miracle in order to preserve the scriptures, there will many grave questions arise if it be allowed that ONE divinely written communication has perished.

Correspondence: Difference Between Members of the Body and the Church

To the editor of the “Bible Treasury.”
Sir—at all times, but very specially in this day of abounding error, it does indeed seem of first-rate importance to cleave to the written word, looking for the spirit's guidance therein as the only and all sufficient rule of faith and practice. You, sir, I am sure, will not dispute this—you have often pressed it upon your readers. Though deeply respecting those whom God has given to be pastors and teachers in the church, I dare not receive any proposition on their authority merely—in principle that would be popery, and would neither be faith in God nor in his word. In that word I read “the church, which is his body.” (Eph. 1) I read moreover of “churches of the saints,” “churches of Galatia,” “the church of God which is at Corinth,” and so on; and I feel no difficulty about these things. Clearly, in principle and before error and division came in, all believers in a given place would meet together as God's assembly in that place. I read too of “the church in thy house.” it is perfectly plain the church existed before and quite independently of any meeting of the church. Some members of the” one body” assembled together to worship God, but their assembling did not make them to be members of “the church, which is his body:” they were such before. And most cordially do I agree with you (p. 252 of your “new testament doctrine of the spirit"), that all the members of Christ are responsible to “abandon everything that falsifies their relationship in conduct, position, and objects;” and that “they ought to assemble and walk together according to the word of God, the Holy Ghost being allowed his own place of sovereign action for the glory of the Lord Jesus.” but where, I do most earnestly ask, do you find any scriptural warrant for the (to me, startling) assertion, that as to the church “here below,” as you say, “it is not the simple fact of being members of Christ's body that constitutes the church"? Where does the new testament say anything of the kind? You have certainly given no proof from God's word; if you can give it me in your periodical, I shall be truly oblige to you. Oh! How often am I reminded “the Lord seeth not as man seeth.” he does bless those seek him, though amidst much of error and mistake, it may be. Let the “two or three,” or more, by all means meet in what they believe to be “the more excellent way,” as plainly indicated in the word of God; but let them not unchurch their brethren, but rather seek to win them by love to a fuller and more practical realization of their privileges, instead of stumbling them by saying hard things, which cannot affect their consciences, when no proof is given from God's word. What the difference in your mind is between “his church” and the “church of God,” I must leave you to determine. (p. 252.)—whether I say, God's book, or the book of God, appears to me precisely the same thing
Yours, Sir, very sincerely,
- Anxious.
[“ Anxious” is disturbed and perplexed without the least reason. Membership of Christ is said of the Christian individually; the church or assembly supposes the corporate relation of all who are baptized by the Holy Ghost into one body. All Christians are members of that one body, but they are not on Church ground, they do not meet ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ (1 Cor. 14) in the sense in which scripture speaks, unless they are gathered to the Lord's name, which implies now the free action of the Spirit for Christ's glory and according to His word. To say that because they meet as Wesleyans or Independents, they come together ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ is mere sophistry, which aims at obliterating the landmarks of God's word under cover of upholding it. This may influence souls, the self-willed assuredly, and perhaps the weak. It is a work worthy of disappointed spirits, whose ambition enormously exceeds their power. Alas! the hand that could not build a hovel might destroy a palace. The objection of “Anxious” seems to me either ignorance or a denial of the Church.
“God's assembly” is true of those assembling truly on that ground, even if but a few; “"the assembly of God” is strictly true only of all Christians so assembled. Even the comparison fails for strictly “"the book of God” means the whole of it; whereas a part of it, if not the whole, might be justly characterized as “God's book.” Undoubtedly scripture contemplates all the members of Christ meeting ἐω ἐκκλησίᾳ, and nothing else; but it does provide even for two or three so gathered, and in no way imprints such a stamp on ever so many saints otherwise met and guided. If a large family break up in disorder and sin, and two or three return to the family board they ought never to have left, do they or do they not hold the family character? do not those who turn their backs lose it, whatever they may be individually? It is idle and worse to call this unchurching our brethren, or saying hard things; it is really to unchurch their systems, and to say the truth in love to themselves.—ED. B. T]


When corruption governs a thing which God made for blessing, he rejects it; or replaces it by introducing something better. Those who would perpetuate or continue that which is spoiled rest under the effects of an evil which they count licensed by the word of God

The Cross of Christ

The cross is the place where all that was against us, our transgressions and iniquities—in fact, the things done, and the nature which did them—were laid upon Christ: “our old man is crucified with him.” He bore the full judgment of God on their account in His sufferings on the cross. He carried them all down to death, under the wrath which He endured, that He might leave them in the place of ashes, having made atonement by the shedding of His own blood. God has there put an end to man in the flesh, to sin and sins, by the judicial death of Christ as our substitute; and Christ, having brought these things under the eye and hand of God to be thus dealt with, has forever put them away from before God, and from us, by the sacrifice of Himself.
The cross, moreover, is the place where the nature of God has been vindicated; for the full claims of His holiness, and majesty have been met, and His glory established, by what Christ has borne, and the judgment that fell upon Him there. The penalties too, which divine righteousness inflicted on the man who fell, have been met, and endured, and set aside; yea, more than this, for Christ has “taken the cup” from the hand of God and drunk it to the dregs. What was contrary to God is gone forever, and gone by death. Nothing remains but the blood in the prevalence of its own efficacy, shed where we were, and because of what we were, as sinners in our sins; but carried in where God is, in the supremacy of His holiness; and we are thus “reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”
Again, the cross is the place where all that was contrary to us has been taken out of the way; the middle wall of partition, which separated man from his fellow (the Jew and the Gentile), has been there broken down. “Christ has abolished in his flesh the enmity for to make in himself of twain, one new man, so making peace.”
Besides this superiority in the flesh, of which the Jew properly boasted against the Gentile previous to the cross, there was also the corresponding “handwriting of ordinances,” which maintained this difference, as long as Christ was known according to the flesh. But at the cross this religious superiority is also set aside, and Christ has taken that out of the way, and blotted out what was contrary to us as Gentiles, who were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”
Thus, in this threefold aspect of the cross, there is an end made of man in the flesh before God in Christ; and all that once separated a sinner from God has been forever put away by the sacrifice and death of our Substitute, who was nailed to it. Again, we have seen how Christ destroyed the enmity between flesh and flesh which separated man from man, and broke down the middle wall of partition which Judaism sustained. Lastly, we have traced how religious ordinances, which favored the Jew and were contrary to the Gentile, have been blotted out, and “taken out of the way, Christ nailing them to his cross.”
How plainly may we see thus the break-down of all that man was in the flesh, whether by his birth, circumcision, or religion, at the cross of Jesus Christ! Truly must God in righteousness judge, and set aside Jew and Gentile, who had thus condemned, cast out, and crucified the Son of His own love, sent in grace and mercy into their midst. How can He any longer recognize or sustain distinctions in the flesh, when the most distinguished of men were “the betrayers and murderers” of Christ? Where would righteousness be in a scene like the cross, if God did not put down forever, not only distinctions, but the flesh itself, which had rejected Him in the person of His Son? This He has done in the double form of death by judgment on the old Adam, and by the introduction of another life, declared to be His free gift in the Second man. There is yet a further lesson from the cross for those who by grace can say, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;” and it is this. The cross discovers to such what the world is—this busy, active, self-willed world, which has rejected and killed the Savior, the Prince of glory, that it might be left free to pursue its principles and objects, in its own way.
Can there be a link then between it and one who is Christ's? Surely not, if there be any true-heartedness and loyalty according to God and to Christ, as the rejected One! No, the last link is broken, as the spirit of such a one (disentangled once and forever from all that is of it and in association with it) says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” If the cross be this, as regards God and Christ—sin and holiness—the flesh and the world—death and Satan—Jew and Gentile, where can we learn the true character and measure of these things, except in the place where all that was our own was judged, condemned, and brought to an end? For example, can we discover the nature and heinousness of sin anywhere else, as we are taught it at the cross, where “he who knew no sin, was made sin for us;” and who could only put it away from the presence of God by the sacrifice of Himself? We may look into ourselves, and see and feel something of what indwelling sin is, as measured and estimated by a guilty conscience, or a terror-stricken heart, and say, “O wretched man that I am!” But is this to be compared for a moment with the cry of Him who said, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” We may think of the punishment of sin “where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched;” but can any discovery of the righteous desert of transgression, as borne by those who committed it, be compared with what sin must be to the nature and being of God who could not pass it by when imputed to His only begotten and well-beloved Son, who knew no sin?
We do well, as believers in Christ, to celebrate the triumphs of the cross as regards God and ourselves, and its victories and gain to Christ raised from the dead, and crowned with glory and honor on high; but where shall we learn the lessons it has to teach us respecting all that God has blotted out and cast behind His back forever? Shall we forget that this same cross which has purchased our liberty, and is the witness of our eternal salvation, tells us that Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works?” How can a Christian practically set himself in correspondence with the thoughts of God since the crucifixion, but by death—his own death—in the true confession of the darkness and death, under which the whole world has brought itself, by the rejection of Christ, and in which He has left it, who is the resurrection and the life?
Our way out from under the whole power and range of what once separated us from God is by death. It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” The penalties which are exhausted by Christ on the cross, can no longer shut out and separate us from God; on the contrary, they are the open doors of faith's deliverance, as we follow our ascended Lord to the throne of the majesty in the heavens. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” The death which Jesus died enables us now to read without terror, that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” —because we know Him who put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
It is of great moment for the believer to learn that our undisputed passage out of this world is by means of these very penalties which the righteousness of God inflicted on the man who sinned. “The wages of sin is death,” and these wages have been paid (not avoided) by our Substitute, and we are free.
By man sin entered, death entered, and the law entered into the world; and these held their undisputed title and sway, when we were born into it. Moreover, each of these three mighty powers (being what they are in relation to mankind) had their respective dominions. Besides this, we know that because of what we personally were by nature, and on account of actual transgression we added to their power; but neither of them has a title to pursue us beyond the limit of death's dominions; and this very death has been accepted and paid by Christ, as our only discharge. We are “free” by death (not by life) though a Christian, in virtue of another life communicated, asserts his deliverance by his obedience. These three dominions of sin, death, and the law, are plainly treated in Rom. 6:9, 14; 8:1, and our deliverance is as fully declared to be from under each, by death. “Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Again, “knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead: dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him.”
How different are the lessons from life unto death in the first man, and death unto life in the Second man! The first was a defeat, through the temptations of the devil: the second a victory, through resurrection from the dead “by the glory of the Father.” And as to ourselves, “sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law but under grace.” Finally, the cross is the vindication of the “throne of the majesty in the heavens” to those who dwell there, against all that outraged the government of God in the earth beneath. The great High Priest at “the right hand of God” is the guarantee to faith of the coming glory, which is God's answer to the cross, and of the travail of Christ's soul in death. In the meanwhile, God has sealed us as heirs, joint-heirs with Christ, by the Holy Ghost who dwells in us. Morally as men, and judicially as sinners, we are set right with God by the cross of Christ— “there is no condemnation.” Moreover, the reproach of Egypt the world that we came from is rolled away from us,” as we pass into the glory by ascension in the image of Him who died to bring us there. A further demonstration will thus be given of what the cross has introduced us to, as we settle in forever in the mansions which He has gone before to prepare for us in the Father's house.
Here we might close, in the happy acknowledgment of what the cross delivers from, and establishes the believer in, were it not that (during the little while we are waiting for the Lord, and carrying on the testimony of present salvation in the world where the cross of Christ is still preached, through the longsuffering grace of God), the scriptures point out three dangers, where the crafty power of the enemy lies concealed.
The first is found in 1 Cor. 1:17; “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” It is plain there is a double warning here—putting baptism, which is an ordinance (or, as is now affirmed, a means of sacramental grace) in the place of preaching the word, by demonstration of the Spirit, in saving power to him that believes; the other, pulpit oratory, as though the cross of Christ could gain anything in its effect on the conscience by excellence of speech.
The next danger is pointed out in Gal. 5:11, where Paul asks,” if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.” Here it is equally plain that something good in the flesh and the consequent improvement of the flesh (for this is what circumcision supposed) is the thing which makes the offense of the cross to cease; for the cross is the denial of man in the flesh, with all his pretensions. It is therefore an offense to man as such, by showing him that he is the betrayer and murderer of the Son of God, and that there is no salvation for him as a sinner, except through the blood of Christ, which proves his guilt.
The last danger presented is in Gal. 6:12 “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” What is this fair show in the flesh, but an acceptance of the prevailing and established religion of the day, and so escaping persecution for the cross of Christ, which denies the formalism of mere outward and established pietism? In this instance, persecution (the natural accompaniment of the true confession of the cross) is separated from it; just as in the former examples circumcision did away with the offense of the cross, and excellency of speech made it of none effect. How little the pulpit and the churches of Christendom have attended to these warnings of the apostle is too notorious to require any comment.

Dead to Sin, Not to Creation: Correction

ALL exclusive points are out of place at the Lord's table. It is clear Christ's death is before us; but εἰς τὴω ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιω, or εἰς τὴν ἀνάμνησίω μου does not affect the question as to whether it is a remembrance of Himself or only of His death. One way or the other, ἐμήν is ‘of me;' and whether it be,ἐμήν or, μου, the only difference is that putting before makes it somewhat more emphatic and contrasted. It was not to be done in remembrance of deliverance from Egypt, as the passover was, but in remembrance of Him, “in my memory.”
- - -
When Christ comes again and takes this world, and governs and blesses it, it is as Himself risen. That is true, but you can hardly call this world then the new creation. The link of life in Him with this world was broken. But then I should be a little shy of speaking of His being linked with it at any time, though coming into it as a tried man, born of a woman, for the suffering of death, and partaking (παραπλησίως) of flesh and blood. But He says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” And again, “Ye are of the world, I am not of the world.” “Ye are from beneath, I am from above.” Though it be in death He is symbolized before us, it is Him we remember. But, as an effect, it does imply our having died to this world: for we show forth the Lord's death till He come.
But I cannot admit with this absoluteness, that every Christian is, according to scripture, dead to the old creation. We are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. It is held up as desirable that a man should live absolutely in the power of the Spirit and know nothing else. Still “he that marrieth does well.” Of what creation is that? And he that forbids to marry does very ill. I see two things: first, God's part in the old creation as yet fully recognized; marriage as “in the beginning;” children, amiable nature—the Lord loved the young man, when He looked on him; but, secondly, a power brought in wholly above and out of it. If one lives according to this latter, it is all well: but to condemn the former is to condemn God. Sin has come in and spoiled creation; and there is thus hindrance, care, sorrow in the flesh. That is true; but God ordered it in the beginning, and God owns what He ordered, till He brings in something new. Dead to sin, to the world, to the law—this I find in scripture; but not dead to the old creation. And this is the place of every Christian, who is to hold himself so. But dead to the old creation, God does not say; for it is God's creation. Every creature of God is good. Live above it in its present state, all well; and better, if it be given to us. But death to the first creation, and breaking every link with it, is not true, whilst we are in the body. Scripture does not say so, and scripture is much wiser than we are. There is a new creation, and, as in Christ, we are of it—I think we may say, the firstfruits of it, “of his creatures,” at any rate, καιωὴ κτίσις. It is a very singular expression. It is not “he is,” as in English. It merely affirms its existence and character for one in Christ; but then when it goes on to say He died, it is not to the old creation; but He who knew no sin was made sin; and elsewhere, In that He died, He died unto sin once.
It is wise and safe not to go beyond scripture. Fresh truths and mighty power fill our sails—and it is well; but they may carry our minds, if we trust them and consequences we draw, on to rocks hidden underneath the surface. The word of God checks, or keeps us rather, in the right and safe course. The first intuition may be right: but when not so kept, when one's mind is trusted, it may run into open ungodliness—the common result of the human mind trusted with mighty truths, or rather trusting itself with them; and in these days this has to be watched.
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It is a very humbling thing to think how always at the first what God had set up was spoiled. We have only the power of good in the midst of evil, till the Lord comes, when power is not, rest is. But Philadelphia marks our state; and as we find truth spreading, decision in walk and waiting for Christ (not the doctrine merely of His coming) will be the test. Devotedness, heavenly-mindedness—these are what we must look for. The foolish virgins were awake with the wise, but not ready. I have no doubt the doctrines we hold are penetrating widely. It is another thing to have the heart in heaven and to depart from evil on earth.

Death Is Gain

The death brought into this world through sin, as the consequence of Adam's fall, separated us from God—from life also, as towards ourselves, our own natural existence—from present peace as moral beings—and from everlasting blessing. Death as the wages of sin, made us personally conscious of guilt before God—of, Satan's title over us, wrought out by our actual transgressions, “led captive by the devil at his will.”
Death—eternal death in everlasting fire—is the measure of God's righteous judgment against the sinner—the only way by which the majesty of God and the holiness of His throne could be maintained against sin and Satan.
On the other hand death, as known in Christ on the cross, has separated us from sin, from a guilty conscience on account of it, and from all fear of judgment from God, for Christ has suffered in our stead, “the just for the unjust.” The death of Christ has set aside the whole power of Satan, for through death He has destroyed him that had the power of death, and separated us by it from that nature (the old man), which, before we knew Christ, alienated us in mind and heart from God.
The judicial death of Christ on the cross has glorified God by putting away sin through the sacrifice of Himself, and opened a way by which God has displayed His power in holiness as the raiser of the dead. Moreover, the death of Christ has become the ground of all present grace to the sinner, as well as unto eternal glory between the Father and the Son, God and the elect, Christ and the redeemed, by which the heavens and the earth in the day of millennial blessing will be filled with His glory.
Again, the death and resurrection of Christ has changed the whole position of the believer before God, even the Father. We are born out of death, and take life, eternal life, in and with Christ Jesus the Lord, and as joined with Him now— “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” We are on the other side of death, whether viewed as the enemy's power over the sinner, or as the judgment of God against sin, for we are risen with Christ. God, who made His Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, has made us to be “the righteousness of God in him.” We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, and in the face of sin and death can say, “O death where is thy sting.... thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our relations to death and judgment, God and Satan, the flesh and the world, are all reversed by the cross of Christ. The death which we feared, and which, before we knew Christ, fed upon us as in the flesh, is what now we feed upon—death is gain, and we “show forth the Lord's death till he come.” He spoiled the spoiler, and Satan is defeated by death. But more, the judgment of God has found its full vindication in the death of Christ; and it is now behind us. As to the world, we are not of it, even as Christ was not of the world; and, as regards the devil, “God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”
5. As a consequence of these changes and victories accomplished by the death of Christ, we cannot (for God, any more than for truth or for faith) live in the flesh or in the world, or in relation to any other thing, from which He has redeemed us. “How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not that as many of us as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ?” Our springs are in the risen and glorified Lord; and the soul is in connection by grace with Him there, and from that height we draw our life and motives for manifesting Him below. No power less than the Holy Ghost can work in us according to this new rule of life and death, in order to maintain us in correspondence with the truth about ourselves, “as it is in Jesus,” or enable us to be “imitators of God as dear children.”

What Is Death to the Christian? (Duplicate)

Look at what death is to the believer. The hope of the believer is not death; it is not to be unclothed (that is of himself) but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life. The purpose of God is nothing less than that we should be conformed to the image of Christ. (Rom. 8) We are to be in the presence of the Father also. Our proper hope is to see Christ as He is, and to be like Him. It is the power of divine life conforming us to Christ the Head. This is what He has wrought us for. Being in utter ruin, we can now only look to what are God's thoughts and purposes about us; but hope is not all our joy now, and when we get to heaven there will be no hope left: our proper joy is no hope at all. But now there is nothing satisfying here, and therefore one of our greatest joys is hope. What He has brought us into now is not subject of hope. We do not hope for the divine nature, or the love of God. The divine joy of the believer is having these, while rejoicing in hope, &c. We have a hope in death, but death is not our hope. There is that in it which is more than hope—the possession of life; and this death does not touch but sets free. There are some things we should be at home in, as, for instance, in God's love. Yea, at the judgment-seat of Christ, being like Him there, we may be at home. True, we shall have conflict here, trials and sufferings. The promise is “to him that overcometh.” But in spite of conflict, our hearts should he at home where God has put us. We cannot be at home here where sin is, where no water is. So far as the Spirit of God animates and fills us, we find no water here. When death comes in, it breaks every possible thought of nature—a terrible thing in this way—every thought of man gone—not a single thing to trust in—everything in nature wrecked.
Again, death is the power of Satan, which none can control. God has the power of life, but if He had called in question Satan's power in death, He would have annulled His own sentence. Death must come in, breaking every tie of nature, and bringing in every terror connected with Satan. The sentence must be executed by God Himself, and therefore it is the judgment of God. For man as he is, there is judgment after it. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.” What can this judgment be? If I die, and God brings me into judgment, I must be condemned for the sin that brought me there. “Death has passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” I am not now speaking of deliverance. In every sense, death is a terrible thing. Besides the natural dread that even an animal has, all ties are severed; everything, however lovely, is ruined. The power of Satan ushering into judgment—it can bring nothing but the condemnation of sin. It is what God has put as a stamp on man, and no skill of man can avert it. It comes with bitter mockery amidst all the progress of which man boasts.
This is what death is in itself— “the wages of sin.” But there is another way to look at it—the way in which God has taken it up, and entirely delivered us (those who believe); so that if there is a bright spot in a man's life, it is at his death. It brings in a gleam of the future entirely by Christ. “If one died for all, then were all dead,” &c.; that “through death he might destroy him that had the, power of death, and deliver them who through fear of death,” &c. This blessed truth is simple in itself, familiar to us, that the Son of God (of whom it is said, it was not possible that He should be holden of death) has come down into it, gone under it, &c. The Second Adam came by grace into the place of the first Adam. There we were—under sin, judgment, wrath, condemnation; and He has been under it all. “God made him to be sin.” Had He not measured the sin? Yes. Did He not know the consequences of it? Yes; yet He spared not His own Son.
Did Christ not know? Yes, and He comes in the full love of His heart to accomplish the purpose of God—to drink the cup: but such was His agony at the thought of what the cup was, that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood.” It was the thought of sin, death, and judgment that made Him shrink from the cup, but He goes through it with God. The power of death was gone, in a sense, when those who came to meet Him saw Him. “They went backward and fell to the ground.” He had nothing to do but to go away then, but He does not. He offered Himself up. His disciples may go away, because He stands in the gap. Thus He takes the cup as judgment, suffering the penalty of sin. When on the cross, it is not now Satan, but God. He cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He drank the cup thoroughly on the cross. Then He dies. His body goes down to the grave. Was it the power of Satan, when He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit?” He gives up His spirit, waiting for the resurrection. He went down under death—took up the whole thing—sin, Satan's power, wrath. He was “made sin for us.” “He died unto sin once.”
We have seen what death was for Christ. Now see what it is for us—in nature, everlasting wrath; but there is not a bit of the wrath, not a bit of the sin, remaining for the believer. Is He going to judge the sin He has put away? There is not a trace of it remaining. “He (has) put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” — “condemned sin in the flesh.” The strength of it all is in this, that He was “made sin,” because He had no sin of His own. He suffered for it. (Rom. 8) God “condemned sin in the flesh.” Christ has done it once for all, and now Be lives, and there is no more to be done about it. “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “Without sin” means having nothing more to say to it, apart from the question of sin altogether, to take us into glory. Looked at as to the nature, He had no sin; but I had sin, and this is put away: sin is entirely abolished and annulled for me. And He has come up from under the consequences of death, after sin is put away. The life He took up is in the power of an endless life. I have new life in Him, being born of the Spirit: and the life that I live I live by the faith of the Son of God.
Then what about the old man practically? Having this new life, the old man is reckoned dead. “Ye are dead.” What is dead? The old man. We are “baptized into his death.” The “corn of wheat” must die. Death ended all that was connected with itself. It is dying unto that by which we were held. The law has killed me. The effect of the law, if we see its value, is that it has killed me. I have life in Christ. Scripture does not speak of our dying to sin. We should be dying daily, but we are dead, and are to reckon ourselves dead. “Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living [alive] in the world,” &c. The old Adam is an antagonist in its will, but I am dead to it. I have done with that which hindered my going to God. A man has done with that to which he has died.
Literally, when death comes, I shall have done with what is mortal—mortality swallowed up of life. The old nature is a thorn I shall be glad to get rid of, mortal, corrupt, under the power of Satan. The one thing that will be gone is corruption—mortality. The mortal body having died, I shall have nothing more to do with death or the old nature. What of the new nature? Is this done with? It is getting home, where the affections will have full play. It is having done with the first Adam, and getting a great deal more of the Second, in death. I have got rid of mortality when I die, always confident, “knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” Who is this person? The new man. I am absent from the body and present with the Lord.
Leaving this wretched poor mortality to be with Christ is positive gain. It will be better still to be in the glory with Him, complete in all with Christ; but now it is gain to die.
What was Christ's own thought about dying? What He said to the thief shows— “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise;” and to His disciples, “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said I go unto the Father.” In Christ there was the perfect consciousness of gain. Was Stephen less happy in his measure when he died? “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
The fact of death is leaving the old man entirely behind, and going to be with Christ. There is positive gain in having done, in measure by faith now, or in fact by and by, with mortality. Then there is the dying daily, but there is not a single thing in which death can come that is not positive gain, and for the life of the spirit. The sorrow which comes in by the breaking of natural ties is for blessing, reducing the flesh, &c. If there be will in the sorrow, it is bad; but trial is meant to be felt.
Peter did not like the thought of the cross. His flesh was not broken down to the point of the revelation he had from God. Then there must be a process gone through to break it down, either with God in secret or through discipline.

Ecclesiastical System on Earth

The rejection of the last phase of the ecclesiastical system on earth is the starting-point of the properly prophetic portion of the Revelation. (chap. 4-22.).

The Eirenicon or a United Christendom

DR. Pusey's bold proposition of a united Christendom, published in his “Eirenicon,” has been more than welcomed of late by ecclesiastics in the Anglican Church. The silence which prevailed for so many months on the direct proposal, led some to suppose the idea was likely to be confined to the author and the book which developed the scheme. This conjecture deepened in the minds of many, as they heard rude-spoken men take up mere ritualistic observances in their grosser forms, for the purpose of proving modern innovations or practical departure from the Establishment. The Eirenicon, however, has made a path for itself, and opened the way to others far removed from the popular outcry, and the material symbols of worship which excite the multitude. Leaving this region of agitation and strife for the more scholarly interchange of thought and theory Dr. Pusey's Eirenicon is now accepted. The symbolical “olive branch” has been made matter of fact by the encyclical letter to the Patriarch of the Greek Church, by the late Primate of England. True, the Dean of Carlisle (Dr. Close) was roused against his superior, and to the pitch of declaring “rather be my hand withered than I should hold it out to the Eastern and Western Churches,” adding a hope “that the Pope would deal with the encyclical, as he dealt with Dr. Pusey's Eirenicon, nail it to the church doors.” In spite of this exceptional voice, though a loud one, the Primate, the Patriarch, and the Pope, are no longer confined within their own circles, but may meet each other as the centers of their ecclesiastical systems, but upon the avowed possibility of a united Christendom—the preliminaries are under consideration. The circle narrows, as the Dean of Canterbury (Alford) issues his proposals for union between Churchmen and Nonconformists at home. The original principle is maintained by him, but for the moment to be experimented on within the range of an ordained ministry (no longer “clergy") of England, and to be practically manifested by an interchange of pulpits, and a more mellowed social intercourse between the respective ministers and congregations.
The Dean of Westminster (Stanley), while open to the full width of his primate, yet puts into the picture his own tints and colors; and in this way, artistically illuminates what else would be too much in the sombre gray of pietism. He practically gives up the idea of an existing Establishment, and foreshadows a social revolution—the church itself being civil society. For instance, the Dean would abolish all distinctions between clergy and laity, and would recognize every man a minister who is capable of rendering good service to the community. On the other hand, if the Church and State should continue united, it is because the Church is not more holy than the State. The Politike, or State, he says, is as much invested with “divine authority” as the Church; Paul appealed to the tribunal of Caesar, and in this way recognized the supremacy of the State over the priesthood. Further, the Dean asserts there is an advantage by merging the Church in the State, as it affords scope for the growth of various opinions, and favors such changes as the State may see fit to effect, thus ignoring the existence of a body of revealed doctrine, which it is the Church's privilege to hold and to inculcate as being the ground and pillar of the truth. To crown all, Dean Stanley selects Gallio as the model statesman (though often reviled as a careless libertine), for he skewed the true judicial attitude towards petty sectarian squabbles, of which he would take no cognizance.
The Anglican group in this sketch, though too heterogeneous and contradictory in itself, for any combined and really practical purposes connected with the evangelical party, gathers up strength from this confusion, and in this growth of various opinions finds an advantage over all the old ideas of uniformity and agreement. Scope is moreover demanded for the spread of mind and will thus liberated from the shackles of a revolution, and a corresponding responsibility to divine authority over conscience and faith.
One may well ask, What can be the product of these ideas but uncertainty upon all points respecting which the word of God is definite and obligatory? What is a united Christendom but union on the differences which mark it and have made it what it is? What is fraternization with the Eastern and Western churches but the further abandonment of the modicum of truth which made them different from each other? It is no wonder that national establishments should seek shelter under the covering wings of this Eirenicon, of larger or smaller diameter, in face of the declaration that the Politike is as much invested with divine authority as the Church. Such a fusion is but the embodiment of the prevailing idea of church extension. What is there left, but that civil society in the nineteenth century should boldly take the place of the Church on earth, and that all distinctions should be set aside in the common abandonment of the claims of the truth of God?
Shall we ask such a question as whether Christ can own this confederation? Is civil society what He loved and gave Himself for? or is it what He will present to Himself “a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing?” horrible thought! If so, what and where is the vine of the earth, which is to be cast into the winepress of the wrath of God?
The spirit of sacerdotalism is fast taking the place even of evangelical doctrine; but this change, serious though it is, as regards the effect produced on the masses, is but a consequence. The originating cause springs from the partial (where not complete) denial of revelation, and of the authority of God, by His word and Spirit, over conscience and faith. The masterminds, the guiding spirits of the present movement, which have stepped into this place of divine prerogative, have sacrificed the truth and all certainty between God and the soul to a sliding scale, which accommodates itself to the conjectures or speculations of philosophers and religionists. Fraternization or union is the absorbent of all else: and what can the value of such a unity be which is only successfully reached in the measure of its departure from the truth and from God? By what rule can this abortion be estimated as it lays hold on the two extremes of Popery and Unitarianism at the same moment?
If we drop the National Church (this troublesome excrescence of the State), and look at the schools to be established for religious education, it is only to discover the same turbulence of spirit in debate and action, upon this new problematic question. Strange that in the same country and moment, and by the same legislature, “The Educational Bill” should be announced with a “conscience clause,” when the Establishment of the country has grown weary and old under the weight of such restrictions; and only sees liberty and daylight as it cuts its way out from the entanglements, by the surrender of conscience. 'What can the State do in the double dilemma which the church and the school-house impose upon it, but Gallio-like say, “If it were a matter of wrong, or wicked lewdness, reason would that I should bear with you; but if it be a question of words, and names, and of your law, look ye to it.”
Legal obligations were formerly in operation, and members were bound to profess the Christian doctrine. Tests and Corporation Acts were also in force; but these have long since been pronounced grievances, and are expunged from the records of the State which inflicted them. Vain are all the bulwarks, and an educational clause besides, which the legislature imposes as a last and puerile attempt to check the infidelity which threatens to carry everything along with it that is even a shade better than itself. The word of God and the relation of conscience to divine authority thereby is set aside: the direct link with what is Supreme has been broken, and the whole world is drifting and at sea.
The real question at issue cannot now be what it was. New forms of old corruptions are developed as the energetic movement of unbridled will rushes onward to its object. For instance, the State Church principle was formerly the antagonism to Nonconformists; but this has in measure ceased and given place to a far graver matter, the question of to-day being between Christianity and Infidelity. In the education scheme which was lately the subject of a petition from the Oxford University to the then Primate, the thing dreaded was a system which would make all Christian teaching in a high sense impracticable, and would hand over even the government of the Universities and of the English youth to those who deny the first principles of the Christian faith. What a spectacle was presented as the Archbishop received with one hand this petition from Oxford, begging that the floodgates might not be opened to superstition and infidelity; and with the other holds out a letter of amity to the head of the Greek church, proposing the closest brotherhood.
The solemn word of Isaiah's warning to a similar confederation in Israel's history may well be quoted in conclusion and as a last appeal to a united Christendom. “Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary.”

Thoughts on Ephesians 6:10-20

It might seem strange at first sight that, in an epistle in which we get the greatest unfolding of the privileges we have as saints, at the same time, conflict is most brought out where we have specially the relationship of Father and of the Bride—there specially, in conflict, saints are called upon to take the whole armor of God, in order to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. It may seem strange at first sight here to talk of armor, but just where it is needed is such a place; and we never get into conflict till we realize privilege. Mark, it is not conflict of flesh and spirit, but warfare in heavenly places against spiritual wickedness; not the same as in Galatians, the flesh lusting against the Spirit. Here we are in the new creation, Christ having ascended on high as head of it, having led captivity captive, and having taken us so thoroughly out of Satan's hands that He can make us vessels of His glory in this world; and that very thing brings us into conflict. If we have hold of this place, which is ours in Christ Jesus, we must reckon on having special conflict. We cannot cross the Jordan without finding the Canaanite and Perizzite in the land. The wilderness tests the heart, but it is not Canaan. There it is not wilderness exercises, it is wrestling not against flesh and blood but spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. The subject we had lately was our being dead with Christ and risen with Him, brought into the heavenlies in Him, a most valuable and precious truth to get very distinctly hold of. It is the place of every Christian, but not realized by many. To many one has to speak of the blood on the door-post rather than of the Red Sea (i.e., the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ having entirely delivered them out of Egypt).
The whole question of sin was settled by the cross. As man was driven out of the first paradise because sin was completed, he is brought into the second because righteousness was completed and the whole question of sin settled by Christ, now sitting at the right hand of God in glory. Not a thing between God and the saints as to sin, but we have them passing through exercises of heart, all in them tested and tried in the wilderness. Then is the Jordan: they pass through death and rise again, and get into the land of Canaan and eat the old corn. “Blessed with all spiritual blessings,” &c., a place that is ours in spirit now and shall be realized hereafter. It is the character of the Epistle all through, true as to our title. But first we find Canaanites in the land. We are sure of our place in Him, but His enemies are not yet all put under His feet, and the very fact of our being there in Him is to put us in conflict with these spiritual enemies. When people speak of Jordan as death and Canaan as heaven, they forget that fighting characterizes Canaan. As soon as Joshua comes into the land, a man meets him as captain of the Lord's host with a drawn sword. A redeemed people are the Lord's host, and so completely the Lord's servants that He uses them to execute His judgments against His enemies. How could they fight the Lord's battles with the flesh? If He uses a people, He must have them dead as to the flesh. Paul does not simply reckon himself dead, but when it was a question of service, it was always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, &c. He kept all that was of Paul completely down, so that to him to live was Christ, and nothing of Paul appeared. We are delivered to death, that the life, &c. What has a dead and risen man to do with the world? As soon as Jordan is crossed (not only dead and risen, but circumcised, putting off the body of death, mortifying the flesh), then is the old corn of the land, the reproach of Egypt being rolled away. We never get circumcision in the wilderness. What have we to do with this world as dead and risen with Christ? True we have to run across the wilderness to glory, but as one with Christ in heaven, we are the witness and testimony of what a heavenly Christ is in the world that rejects Him. And in maintaining this place, will Satan (do you think) let you alone? Infidelity, superstition, and worldliness, these are things by which Satan is seeking to get souls into his power. His wiles are things that puzzle (the cities walled up)—great forms of piety, without the power, us seen in this day. Then we get these instructions for putting on the whole armor of God, in order to be able to fight against spiritual wickedness. We are not to get through in our own strength, and we have to find out what this armor is which we have to be clothed with.
The loins girt with truth is the first thing. Subjection to the word points out our soul's state, and therefore it comes first. There can be no divine activity till the loins are girt about, a common figure in eastern countries, where the long garments are girded up, not to impede; so we get the soul into order through the power of the truth applied, and everything—the thoughts, and intents, and purposes of the heart tested by it. The Lord said, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” (John 17) We have in that word all the thoughts of God, that can judge and bless man, and Christ is the center of all. He was the light in the world. He brought out all the darkness in it, and applied the truth to it all. He brought out all that is divine and heavenly in a man, in contrast with all in men. People think the world is a fine place; but Satan is the prince of it—they do not believe it; but he proved himself to be so, by bringing all against Christ up to the cross, and be will head up the world against God soon. Death had not been executed up to the cross. The truth, Christ Himself, came into the world, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. When the truth is effectually applied, we get the loins girded, the whole condition, as it were, tucked up and not trailing, ready for the activity of service. I have to meet Satan, and carry on the Lord's battles, in conflict against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places; my heart is first to be tested, and to be brought into a heavenly world. Christ brought it there, and He says, Is heaven in your heart? I get the revelation of all in me that is against Christ, and all that is heavenly in Christ; my condition is the effect of truth. He was it, I get it from Him. I do not want armor walking with God—I want arming against Satan.
Next, the breast-plate of righteousness, not righteousness with God, but taking up armor against Satan, my condition of soul, and heart being right. My feet walk through the world, shod with the preparation, &c. It is the practical effect of the condition of my heart, and what a blessed condition! not selfishness, saying, “I must maintain my rights.” It is when a soul is at peace with God, he will be meek and lowly, like Christ; he goes out then in the Spirit of peace, and carries through the world the character and spirit of Christ. “Peace that passeth all understanding” keeps his heart and mind—how a man full of peace subdues all around him! Christ practically had perfect restful peace; He carried it with Him in all He passed through; in Him we have the fruits of righteousness sown in peace.
First, then, we have the loins girt—the truth of God applied, to bring the soul into a right condition; secondly, practical righteousness (breast-plate); thirdly, the feet shod with the gospel of peace. Now, we have to take up the shield of faith. I need not be thinking of self, though it is quite right to judge myself. I am to have practical faith in God. We are not called upon to confess sin but sins, confessing the sinfulness of my nature, but it is never to be made an excuse for sinning. If I sin, it is that I have failed in keeping my eye on God, and so have failed in keeping sins down, and in keeping the enemy closely shut up. The shield of faith is having the eye on God, with perfect confidence that He can keep us walking in the light, as He is in it. Satan may do what he pleases, shoot his arrows from his lurking place; but they cannot break through the shield of faith. The victory has been attained over him by Christ as man. He not only put away sin, but through death destroyed him who has the power of death. We arc exhorted to “resist the devil,” &c. Flesh does not resist him, and if he is resisted, he knows he has met Christ in us and runs away. It is not the question of the power of Satan, but of faith, looking to Christ. The fiery darts of Satan never get through the shield of confidence in God; my weakness is just what His strength is made perfect in. What so weak as death? Christ crucified through weakness. What so contemptible to man as the cross? But it is the wisdom and the power of God.
When we own ourselves weak, then we have power from God to overcome Satan. He is a most subtle enemy, he knows how to deal with man, and is much cleverer than the wisest of men; therefore when you see learned and clever men give way to folly, you must remember that Satan is behind it all; they are using his strength and he is laughing at them. If the shield of faith is down, the fiery darts will get in.
How blessed to know we have Christ to go through everything with, and having Him all the evil in the world cannot overcome us. It is not “Because I go to the Father, you shall overcome the world; but I have overcome it.” Still we have to be overcomers in a world where Satan, as the power of evil, was never more actively employed than at present. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Having full confidence in God we can hold up the head, because we have for an helmet salvation. First, godliness of walk; second, peace of mind; third, confidence in God and salvation covering him. The believer now can be active. He takes the sword of the Spirit, and fights, shielded from all the attacks of Satan. Now, there can be activity in using the sword of the word.
But we do not always judge ourselves; we do not always look to see whether we are walking in a practical sense of being all for God, so that God can be all for us, when in conflict. The first great thing, if we are to be active for the Lord, is being right with the Lord. Look at Paul, always self-judging, keeping under his body; always completely for the Lord, and the Lord completely for him: ever in the secret of the Lord's presence. He got the power of God for service—the strength of God made perfect in his weakness. He was not hindered, or distracted by circumstances, whatever came; he never drew back; he had the secret of the Lord, and could go out in service, according to what His presence and glory required. Herein do I exercise myself, to have a conscience void, &c.
“Praying always,” &c. We now get the word of God and prayer. Mary sat at the feet of the Lord, and heard His word. Then, in Luke, the disciples say to Him, “Lord, teach us how to pray;” again, “Men ought to pray always and not to faint.” The apostles appointed deacons to serve tables, that they might give themselves continually to prayer. When the Lord was in an agony of prayer, Peter was sleeping instead of watching, and so went out and denied his Lord, whilst the Lord witnessed a good confession; and when the soldiers came to take Him, He had calm power. If you want to know what prayer is, see the Lord agonizing in prayer in Gethsemane: that is prayer—no hurry or bustle, but the soul perfectly calm with God. Has God given us to be associated with His own interests? Does not my heart yearn for the conversion of sinners? Do I not yearn to see a saint representing Christ more perfectly? I must go to God about it in earnest prayer and supplication, watching with all perseverance for the answer. The same word that is used for the praying of the Lord in Gethsemane is used by Paul here—agonizing in prayer for saints. We get this earnestness in supplication from being in the interests of God, and knowing that His interests have to be carried on in earnest supplication and prayer, watching thereunto. I have to get with God in prayer, if preaching the gospel. Prayer is the expression of entire dependence on His power; not simply asking God about things, but agonizing for the answer. People think that the Apostle Paul is beyond, sailing over the head of, all others; but what is his language? “I was with you in weakness and many tears” Faith goes with God's affairs to God, so interested with Him about them, that we make them our own. God takes the people delivered by His Son out of the hands of Satan for His own servants, saying, I want Christ to be glorified on the earth, and you are to do it. We may be poor feeble things, but we have the same interests as Christ, and His strength is made perfect in our utter weakness. What a blessed place to be in! Being made the Lord's host, to battle against His enemies and Satan. Those in the forefront of the battle need more the whole armor, because more exposed to the fiery darts, and more in the way of the enemy's snares and dangers; those who lag behind are not in the same danger. But more strength will be given to meet and overcome everything, if there is perfect dependence on and faith in God, as in John, “This is the victory that over! cometh the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4.) But no place where one needs to be more unceasing in prayer and watchfulness as in the forefront of the battle.
In bearing witness for Christ, we first have the helmet of salvation from Christ. How little we know how to watch unto prayer! Is all that you and I pass through in the day turned into prayer, and supplication in the Spirit, watching thereunto for all saints? Do you find you are continuous in prayer? Do you find your heart going up in earnest agonizing supplications for the saints? Nothing I find so difficult, and nothing so tests my heart, as to the right way to think of others, as asking, Is my soul so interested in others that I can have continuous and earnest supplication going up for them? To do so, the soul must be right with God. I must think of myself else, and that stops intercession for others. It is an amazing thing to walk with God in the light, so as to be able to take up His interests; provided with this armor, which we have to keep on, to stand against Satan. Satan has no strength against those who are faithful to Christ. It is not leaning on human wisdom. Satan is much cleverer than all the learned men down here. You will always find it is where redemption is not fully rested in that Satan plays all his tricks. If the finished work of Christ were really known, and full and complete redemption rested in, all superstition and ritualism would have no ground to stand on; the foundation of it all is, that something has to be done by man to make the soul right with God. If Christ has settled the whole question for me, I do not want any of their means to settle it. The Puseyites can speak beautifully of the incarnation; but they cannot bear to hear of the finished work, or of your place with God being once and forever settled by redemption. The sophistries of rationalism and infidelity cannot tell on a soul that knows Christ, and has Him dwelling in the heart.
Oh! beloved friends, may the Lord keep us in more entire dependence and unbroken communion with God, ever walking in the presence of God, in the light, till that blessed day, so soon coming, when Christ will rise up and take us to Himself!


Page 243, col. 1, line 17, read, “be, in Him whom the sacrifice prefigured would be—”
Page 244, col. 1, line 14, read, “not only bring”


Page 190, col. 2, line 13, for “presented” read punished.


ROMANIS31.—Page 221, first paragraph. Put “and” before, NOT after, the parenthesis, thus:—“and (in its true sense, &c.) Protestantism.”
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Everlasting Punishment

[The subjoined paper by the Incumbent of Eaton Chapel, Eaton Square, was submitted for examination by one whose mind seems needlessly perplexed by a different gospel which is not another. “The views,” says this enquirer, “herein expressed are being extensively received, and that by well-instructed and devout Christians [??]. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death; its general teaching is not endless pain, but everlasting death and destruction. Adam was not threatened with never-ending torments. Do favor me with your thoughts on this great subject. Yours gratefully, E. E. G.” This has drawn out the concluding remarks from a valued servant of God, who has seen much of the workings of this pernicious system.-ED.]
“The Eternity Of Evil.
“Finding that great misconception prevails with regard to the views propounded in a course of sermons lately preached at Eaton Chapel, I think it well to give the following summary of them.
Scripture declares, that the ‘everlasting punishment' of the wicked will consist of ‘everlasting destruction,' after the infliction of ‘many' or ‘few stripes,' according to their several deserts. The popular theory teaches, that it will consist of everlasting pain.
Scripture declares, that God will ‘destroy both body and soul in hell.' The popular theory teaches that He will destroy neither one nor the other; but preserve both of them alive forever, in unmitigated agony.
Scripture declares, that ‘our God is a consuming fire.' The popular theory teaches, that He is only a scorching fire.
Scripture declares, that the ‘fiery indignation' will devour the adversaries. The popular theory teaches, that it will do no such thing, but only torture them.
Scripture declares, that the wicked will perish like natural brute beasts. The popular theory teaches, that there will be no analogy whatever between the two cases.
Scripture declares, that whosoever 'will save his life' by unfaithfulness to Christ, shall ultimately ‘lose it' in a far more terrible manner. The popular theory teaches, that no man can lose his life more than once, and that the ‘second death' is no death at all, but eternal life in sin and misery.
Scripture declares, that whosoever ‘doeth the will of God abideth forever.' The popular theory teaches, that every man will abide forever, whether he does the will of God or not.
Scripture declares, that if we desire ‘immortality' we must seek it ‘by patient continuance in well doing.' The popular theory teaches, that every man possesses inherent indefeasible immortality, and what we have to seek for is, that it may prove a blessing and not a curse to us.
Scripture declares, that ‘the wages of sin is death.' The popular theory teaches, that it is eternal life in misery; in other words, that God will inflict upon impenitent sinners a punishment infinitely greater than what He has pronounced to be their due.
Scripture declares, that ‘the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' The popular theory teaches, that eternal life is the common possession of all men, and that the gift of God through Christ is the privilege of spending it in holiness and happiness.
Scripture declares, that ‘the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.' The popular theory teaches, that they never will be destroyed at all, but that a portion of the universe will be specially set apart for the eternal exhibition of them in their fullest maturity.
Scripture declares, that Christ is to 'reconcile all things to God.' The popular theory teaches, that all things will never be reconciled to God; that discord and disorder will never cease, but only be confined to one particular locality.
Scripture declares, that in Christ ‘all things consist.' The popular theory teaches, that a whole kingdom will consist forever, although not ‘in Him.'
Scripture declares, that ‘he that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life,' that ‘if we live after the flesh we shall die, but if through the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body we shall live.' The advocates of the popular theory say, that the life of believers and unbelievers, of natural men and spiritual men, must be of equal duration—that the doctrine of eternal happiness and the doctrine of eternal misery must stand or fall together—in other words, that if what Scripture asserts be true, what it denies must be true also.
“I take my stand, therefore, on the plain, consistent, emphatic teaching of the whole Bible, from beginning to end, as opposed to the ‘traditions of men,' which have so grievously perverted it, and thereby obscured the glory of Christ, reduced to an unmeaning form the declaration that ‘God is Love,' produced a frightful amount of infidelity, robbed the law of its terrors by making it threaten sinners with what they are sure will never be executed, incalculably weakened the saving power of the gospel, and damaged the believer's whole spiritual constitution, by putting an unnatural strain upon it, that God never intended it to bear.
“The three or four passages that are thought to confirm the traditional view have been examined in a volume entitled ‘The Glory of Christ in the Creation and Reconciliation of all things' (Longmans), and been found either to entirely fail in lending it even the appearance of support, or to be but as dust in the balance against the overpowering weight of testimony on the other side. SAMUEL MINTON, Incumbent of Eaton Chapel, Eaton Square.”
I SEE, as I have ever seen in like cases, simply Satan and the will of man in the paper of Mr. M. on “the eternity of evil.” The accompanying inquiry is in a different spirit; but it is a mere fallacy. The scripture does not merely teach that the “wages of sin is death;” though this be true, it states that after death comes the judgment—that is, that the whole proper final punishment of sin is after death. It never speaks of everlasting death; it does several times of everlasting punishment or torment. This no one can deny. That is, the facts are quite opposed to what the enquirer states. It does speak of everlasting destruction. But this proves, not that they cease to exist, but that destruction does not mean what they say, as it may last. And those who hold these doctrines admit it does last, and may a long time, for the everlasting destruction is at the coming of the Lord to be glorified in His saints (that is, at the beginning of their punishment, not at the end). That is, “destruction” does not mean their ceasing to exist. Adam was not threatened with never-ending torments! Quite true. Life, incorruptibility, and wrath from heaven (though gathered from a few passages in the Old Testament, and rightly) were not revealed and brought to light but by the gospel. The gospel does speak expressly of everlasting punishment. And everlasting (though accommodated to what lasts as long as the thing it is attached to—to what only ceases with the existence of the object spoken of) yet properly means eternal, ἀεὶ ὤν, always existing. We read of the “eternal God,” the “eternal Spirit,” an “eternal redemption,” an “eternal inheritance,” and “eternal life.” It means eternal or everlasting; and eternal life and eternal punishment go together in Matt. 25, as of equivalent import as to the word eternal. Any attempt to get rid of the force of this word proves the will of him who attempts it, and nothing else. Further, the same words are used as to torment and the existence of God. He lives “forever and ever,” and they are tormented “forever and ever.” (Rev. 14:11.)
As to the first statement of the accompanying paper it is false. Scripture does not speak of everlasting destruction after the infliction of many or few stripes. It is simply false; it speaks of everlasting destruction from His presence, when Christ comes, and it speaks of many or few stripes at the same time—in Luke—not after; proving quite the contrary—that destruction does not mean ceasing to exist.
Destruction does not mean causing to cease to exist. “The lost sheep of the house of Israel” is the same word. “Ο Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.” “Carest thou not that we perish?” Destruction cannot be everlasting if it means causing to cease to exist. Indeed, it is not said (which I merely note to show the carelessness of the writer) that “God will destroy both body and soul in hell,” but that He is able. Man can only kill the body. It is a question of power to be feared.
As to the third, it is clap-trap; and when scripture is consulted, it proves the contrary. In Deut. 4:24, God is a jealous God, a consuming fire, and Israel are destroyed (i.e., perish off the land and are scattered). They are destroyed and perish, but do not cease to exist.
This again proves the idle inattention to scripture on this weighty subject, if devouring adversaries means ceasing to exist. It is the end of sore punishment and is the same result as for those who died without mercy. Yet it is much sorer punishment; that is, the whole principle of interpretation is careless and false.
As to this, the scripture never says anything of the kind. The people are compared to beasts, not the destruction. The word too itself is used here for moral corruption, showing it does not mean mere ceasing to exist. Compare 1 Cor. 3:17 in Greek.
As to this, scripture says nothing of the kind. This is too bad, because scripture speaks expressly of the second death which is the lake of fire; that is, as far as language goes, that he does lose his life more than once. A second death is declared to be the torment of the lake of fire, not its termination; at any rate a second death is a statement of losing life more than once. I notice it to show the extreme carelessness of assertion; for I do not believe that, in the full sense of ceasing to exist, life ceases in either case.
In saying he that does the will of God abides forever, it is wholly in contrast with the fashion of this world, and there is no allusion to the wicked, good or bad; nothing is said about them elsewhere. It is taught that they survive death and are punished eternally.
It is false; it speaks of incorruptibility which scripture distinguishes from immortality; and in the passage a state of glory is referred to, not the mortality nor immortality of the soul, neither of which is spoken of.
Of this I have spoken. It is dishonest, because all admit judgment comes after. Eternal life and immortality are distinct things. Christ is eternal life (see 1 John 1), and God gives it us in giving Christ; nor is it ever said even to be in us, but in His Son; and so we have it. Eternal life is in the Son; and he that has the Son has life. This the wicked have not. The angels are immortal, but they are never said to have eternal life. There is no such thought as that eternal life is the common possession of all men; there is, that men have immortal, undying souls—a very different thing.
It is a gross blunder. The punishment of the wicked is not the work of the devil; he is in the punishment himself.
This, again, is quite false. Destruction is a strange reconciliation! But it is not said. It is said in Colossians that God will reconcile all things to Himself in heaven and in earth by Christ. But in Philippians it is said that all things bow in heaven and in earth and under the earth (infernal), not ὑπὸ τῆς υῆς, showing that there are things forced to bow which are not reconciled.
It is another blunder. All things are said to consist in Him now or subsist by Him; and so, if this argument be of any avail, the devil and wicked men do so now—and may much more reasonably when presented. But it speaks of all as creatures simply being upheld in existence by Him, as they must be by God. There is no kingdom at all.
It proves simply nothing. It speaks of spiritual life. “He that hath not the Son hath not life;” but he is fully alive now in this world; existence has nothing to do with the matter. All this is really trifling with scripture.
But I have a word to add. The doctrine presented does not say all. I have not, according to it, an immortal soul, now or at all, but a mere animal life, such as a beast has, though superior in degree of intelligence. God, it may be alleged, could give eternal life to a beast. Be it so; but the beast cannot be responsible for sin while he is a beast, nor repent of what he had done; nor can I; nor can any atonement be made for it. Thus, with a pretended doctrine of eternal life and love and mercy, responsibility, repentance, and atonement disappear. This is wholly of Satan. Scripture everywhere teaches these truths; and I cite, as first distinctly establishing it, the case of Cain. (Gen. 4:6, 7.) The creation of man brings out as distinctly as possible the difference of man's position as to his soul. (Gen. 1:24.) “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creatures after his kind.” And man is not included. “God saw that it was good.” It was the subject creation; man's is taken up apart in verse 26, when man is created in God's image, and after His likeness. And the manner is taught in chapter ii. 7. He formed man out of the dust, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. That is, it was by a direct communication from God Himself that he became a living soul.
Hence we are declared in Acts 17 to be the offspring (the γένος) of God. And the body is distinctly and expressly said to be mortal in contrast with the soul, as in 1 Cor. 15 Cor. 4, &c. And where it is said, “Fear riot them which can kill the body, but afterward have no more that they can do. Fear him who, after be hath killed, hath power to cast into hell.” The testimony of scripture is express; “their [not, the] worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” It is not punishment, if there is no one to bear punishment; and the contrast with life leaves no ambiguity as to the force of everlasting.
There is a passage which illustrates this doctrine: “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.”
I can only briefly reply to what is before me. It is much more elaborately taught in other publications. Nor does it in any shape approve itself to a right-feeling mind. A hater of God, if immortal, must be miserable when time has ceased to be. Pure vengeance for a lengthened period on what is to perish is gratuitous misery. I admit fully this is no proof. It merely sinews that what men may allege as better to attract may, when rightly viewed, repel as offensive.
The remarks of Mr. M. seem to me singularly weak and careless; but it is these I have to meet here. I know it is spreading; but so is infidelity in other shapes. I have had a good deal to say to the doctrine elsewhere. Responsibility and the atonement are lost, and must be so, wherever it is received. It is simply a work of Satan. It is infidelity even as to what man is; for in this case we are beasts with a bigger brain. The creation of man directly contradicts this.

Everlasting Punishment: Part 1

[The following paper, though written originally in German and in view of the special form of the error which is rampant among the evangelicals of that land, has a sorrowful interest for us here too.-ED. B. T.]
Eternal damnation! Who does not feel the deep, serious signification of this sentence of divine justice? Who does not tremble before a fate which according to the clear unequivocal announcement of holy scripture is the portion of every fallen and unrenewed man, and which will infallibly overtake him with unrelenting severity? Everlasting condemnation! Endless woe!
However serious and important, meanwhile, this portion of divine truth in itself may be for us, still a closer examination of it becomes imperatively necessary, since in our days questions are raised with continually increasing vehemence, which are only too well adapted to shake the foundation of the truth, and to stifle its blessed influence on the conscience. The Lord Jesus has brought to light the reality of eternal damnation most clearly and decidedly; the Holy Ghost by the mouth of the apostles has confirmed it with all precision. Notwithstanding this, not only do thousands lightly allow room for doubts on this question, but not a few are bold enough to deny without hesitation the eternal and unlimited duration of damnation.
In the Romish Church, through the introduction of masses for the dead and the doctrine of purgatory connected with it, the edge of the divine judgments with regard to the eternal destiny of mankind is blunted. Rationalism and other still more sharply defined species of unbelief threaten to undermine the simple truths of scripture. Through the deceitfulness of human reasoning, in our days, an error seeks to open a path for itself, which supported by the freaks and fancies of unstable and more or less mystically inclined minds, under the name of the doctrine of the restitution of all things, has already taken root in the hearts of innumerable Christians, to spring up in due time and produce the most sorrowful fruits. We consider it therefore a holy duty to bring forth a simple testimony, based on the infallible word of God against an error, which, while it robs the truth of its power, not only checks the workings of grace in the conscience of a sinner, but also dims and blinds the eye of the believer, in regard to the counsels and ways of God in Christ, and thereby entangles and defiles the heart, and exposes it to the most destructive influences.
However, it is by no means our intention to commence a fruitless war with the determined and notorious advocates of this false system. For however earnestly we may desire and ask the Lord for their return to the truth, yet the experience of many years has convinced us that it requires a very special interposition of grace on God's part. And why? Because souls who are robbed of the light to such a degree, that they, believing a lie, have received a certain error, have either never attained to a clear consciousness of salvation, and to the full knowledge of the truth, or through the deceitfulness of sin, have gradually lost their reverence for the authority of the divine word, and have lent a willing ear to the conceited overtures of their deceived hearts. Such souls not only wantonly and determinately turn away from the truth, but also commit themselves frivolously so as to apply the most unequivocal testimonies of the truth to their system and use them for their own ends.
Their condition undoubtedly betrays a secretly bad motive, which God must first expose before a simple testimony against their heresy can be blessed to themselves. Alas! they only too clearly confirm the words of the Lord, “If thine eye is evil, thy whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.” (Matt. 6:23.) We can therefore scarcely hope to convince them of the error of their ways; but with God all things are possible, and may He have compassion on them! Our testimony is however intended for such souls as have not yet fully accepted this doctrine as an irrefutable truth, but have already begun to allow it a place in their hearts. And oh! it is alarming how great this number is in our day! As yet the truth, planted through the scriptures in their hearts, raises a barrier against the full reception of an error with which they begin to daily: as yet the light of their spiritual eye is not so completely extinguished as to cling to an error, which is most entangling and attractive for their poor unstable souls. But certainly the danger is imminent that, if the Lord Jesus does not come in, they will get farther and farther from the truth. If their heart is still in some degree upright, we cherish the hope in the Lord, that the reading of these pages under the mighty influence of His grace may serve to their establishment in the truth.
The warning of the apostle, “But this I say, let no man beguile you with enticing words” should incite us to follow, in all cases, the only infallible word of God with holy fear, as a shining light on our path. But whence comes the deplorable ignorance, which we meet with in the present day with regard to the truth of God in so many souls? Whence comes it, that so many of whom eternal life cannot be denied, “are carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness?” (Eph. 4:14) and open their hearts to an error which relaxes the conscience, robs the truth of every support, and will inevitably entail the most disastrous consequences? Is not indifference to and disregard of this word the only cause of this lamentable state of things? Ah! how little is it searched with prayer, and under the living conviction of its divine power and majesty! How little is its influence to be perceived in the walk of many Christians! Oh that they might begin again to prize this precious word according to its divine value! Oh that the need might everywhere be felt anew to meditate therein day and night (Psa. 1:2), in order to experience its vivifying power, and enjoy its exhaustless fullness!
Truly the human understanding is not the touchstone of this word, but the word is the touchstone of the human understanding. “It is quick and powerful sharper than any two edged sword, and pierceth even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12.) When God Himself speaks, all the reasonings and imaginations of men must be silent. Everything may deceive—who can venture to deny it? But the word of God never deceives. The suggestions and wishes of our hearts may lead us astray; the word of God alone casts a clear light on our path. Reason and feeling are channels which are troubled and muddy by reason of sin; the word of God alone is a clear untroubled springing fountain. Leaning on this mighty unchangeable word, we give publicity to these lines. May the Lord in His grace and by His Spirit enlighten and lead the writer and the reader, so that both may earnestly withstand a power which, belonging to the spirit of “this present evil age,” has its root and its fruit in lies and the deceitfulness of sin.
Before entering on our subject, it will be necessary to give the reader a general sketch of the way in which the supporters of the doctrine of the restitution of all things view it.
This system branches out in two different directions. On the one hand, they proclaim a final universal salvation, which will include even the devil and his angels; while, on the other hand, they deny the universal immortality of the soul, and most positively maintain, that every sinner, after suffering for a time appointed by God “from the worm that never dieth and the fire is not quenched,” will be given over to entire destruction and annihilation. The first of these ideas has many secret and open adherents in Germany, particularly in Wurtemburg; the last finds a fruitful ground in America and England, and will not therefore, as lying so far beyond our range, form the subject of inquiry in this paper. Only the view of the German advocates of this unscriptural system of a universal salvation will occupy us at present—a view that has chosen for its foundation the words “God is love;” and from this precious irrefutable truth the adherents of this system draw the conclusion that the acceptance of a universal condemnation is irreconcilable with such a love.
They therefore contend for a universal restoration embracing all creatures, because otherwise the saving love would only be able to undo for a very small number the destructive consequences of the fall. “No,” say they, “we reject a judgment that excludes love. Could even an earthly father ever feel happy who had cast out his disobedient child, and given him up to an indescribably dreadful punishment?” “And would the sorrow of God's heart as a Father ever cease, if through eternity the song of praise from the elect and the angels must be always mingled with the howling and gnashing of teeth of the lost? No, it is incompatible with His love. What can the judgment to which the hardened and God-despising souls are doomed be, but a continuous chain of those chastisements which have their origin in God's thoughts of redemption and which are already applied down here to His creatures, till every trace of sin will be obliterated and the gnawings of the worm and the pain of the fire be forever ended?”
Such are generally the views of the adherents of this doctrine. Such an assertion, however, stamps all creatures as children of God, and builds its system on the foundation of a love, which measured by human notions, flatters human nature or the flesh, and shuts out the perfect righteousness of God, or at least robs it of its characteristic edge. Let us examine these ideas in the light of the only infallible word of God, and we shall find its beams sufficiently powerful to dissipate all the shadows of human imaginations and human presumption.
It is true God works according to the fullness of His love. Even before the foundation of the world this adorable boundless love was in activity and in motion. It has manifested itself ever since man became a living soul. It unfolded itself in its fullest, brightest luster, and in its highest majesty, when God gave His only begotten Son up to death for the ungodly and for sinners; and surely it will but shine in unhindered clearness when the last enemy shall be destroyed, the last judgment executed, and God shall be all in all.
And this love, which up to this very moment is occupied with the salvation of needy sinners, will never suffer a child of God to be delivered up to the sword of the coming judgment and the unquenchable fire of hell. That is impossible, for “there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. viii. 1.) And again, “he that believeth on the Son hath eternal life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life.” (John 3:36; 5:24.) All this is an undeniable truth. But he who presumes to assert that all men are in the relationship of children to God gives the most positive evidence that be does not know the truth revealed in scripture, and that he is in entire ignorance both of the nature of God and of the sinner. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9), says the word. We are only sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus, and only we can cry “Abba Father,” when God has sent the Spirit into our hearts. (Gal. 3:26; 4:6.) It is therefore clear, that God does not enter into judgment with His children, but with a wicked world, that has scorned His love, rejected His word, and despised His only way of salvation, presented in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Evidently therefore the assertion of a universal salvation, on the ground of filial relationship, is nothing but an invention of the human mind, adapted to corrupt the sensibility, to perplex and deaden the conscience, and to shake and undermine faith in the truth of everlasting condemnation. Let us not deceive ourselves! Surely the love of God is boundless and infinite; but are His righteousness, holiness, faithfulness and truth therefore less perfect? Has His love at any time set aside the fullness of His other attributes? Ah! infallibly will all those perish who despise His love down here, and scorn the righteousness of God. And have we not the same right to ask, How can He bear this wail, if they only, as these persons admit, are exposed to indescribable torment for a period of a hundred or a thousand years?
Where then shall we find a measure for the righteousness of God? It is as perfect as God Himself. No human mind can fathom it. If we follow its traces in the history of man, we shall find it everywhere walking about with iron front to weigh the doings of man in a divinely-adjusted balance. Nothing has hindered it from pronouncing the judgment of death upon fallen man. The thunders of Sinai speak of its fullness and power and reveals that jealous God who visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. The whole history of the children of Israel shows its straight way and steady step. Its lightning struck to the ground the refractory ones in the wilderness, and to this day the whole nation bears on its forehead the curse for the rejection of the Messiah. Notwithstanding this, Israel was His chosen people, whom He loved with such a jealous love that He threatened to blot out the remembrance of the Amalekites from under heaven, for fighting against them (Ex. 17:14), and caused this threatening to be executed by Saul with the direction to spare none, but to slay men and women, children and sucklings. (1 Sam. 15:3.) Can such a righteousness, which visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, be judged by human rules? And has God ever suffered Himself to be hindered in executing His righteous threats by what men would call love? On the contrary, had not Saul to suffer the consequences of his disobedience, because he failed to carry out the requirements of God's justice in every respect.
And if we place ourselves for a moment, in spirit, upon the spot, where in that hour of darkness, under the overpowering weight of our sins, the cry rose up to God from the lips of the dying Savior, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” do we there meet a love that turned away the stroke of God's justice from the head of the only-begotten Son? Surely it was a cry of agony that told of the terrible depth of the sorrow of the righteous One made sin; and never before had such a cry of anguish reached the ear of God, who is a God of love; and yet the sword of justice delayed not a single moment in striking the avenging blow. God saw our sins on the head of Him, who voluntarily gave Himself up to the death for us; and that was enough to turn away His countenance from Him and to execute on Him in all its severity the judgment hanging over the sinner.
Only the perfect righteousness of God could do thus, and blessed be God forever! He has found so perfect a satisfaction in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that now every true believer can rejoice in the unhindered enjoyment of perfect and divine love. But is the character of God's righteousness therefore changed'? Oh! let us not deceive ourselves! It will meet the sinner, who opposes to the end such infinite love, with the same unrelenting severity, as then when the Savior bowed His precious head to its death-stroke, and then will every one know that the righteousness of God is equally as perfect as His love.
It is therefore manifest that a system is to be entirely rejected which has chosen a love for its foundation, which is not in harmony with the character of God, but betrays itself as the phantom of imaginative minds to the exclusion of the divine righteousness, holiness, and truth. Would not God after having given His law, or at least a conscience to man to distinguish between good and evil, be acting unjustly and unwisely, if He let sin go unpunished? And a ruler certainly does not merit the reproach of want of love to his subjects because he punishes the evil-doers: on the contrary, love imposes this as a duty on him.
But of God, who has proved His love to the sinner in the gift of His Son, we read “Thy right hand is full of righteousness” (Psa. 48:10), and “He will judge the world in righteousness (Psa. 9:8); and of Him it can be said with all certainty, that He punishes the evil-doers, because He loves His creatures. It is impossible therefore, that one attribute of God can exclude the other: their connection on the contrary is inseparable.
We see in the cross of Christ the perfect love of God toward the sinner, as well as His perfect hatred against sin—His perfect grace, as well as His perfect righteousness.
But it is objected, “How can God who is righteous, pronounce an everlasting punishment on sins, which committed during a short and limited period, were interrupted in their continuance?” Now where is the scale by which we can determine the amount of punishment for sin? It is quite evident that the duration of the punishment cannot be dependent on the length or brevity of the time in which the sin was committed. A person may commit a crime in five minutes, on which the best earthly government pronounces the punishment of imprisonment for life, or even of death. Even the action in itself does not determine the period of punishment. Two men for instance may be guilty of one and the same crime, and notwithstanding this, the court may sentence the one to two years, the other to twenty, because the one may be for the first time before the bar, whereas the other is known as a hardened and repeatedly punished criminal.
It is therefore impossible that the deed merely, as such, could determine the duration of the punishment. Much rather will the motives which led to it, and other accompanying circumstances, induce a mitigation or aggravation of the judicial sentence.
If then among men such a difference exists in the judgment of a wicked act, who is able to measure the punishment for the sin of men against God? Can man as the guilty one at the same time be the judge, to fix the duration of the punishment of his own sins according to a divine and righteous scale? What folly! And when even a human judge increases the punishment in case of a repetition of the crime, what will be the judgment of God on a sinner who, in spite of all the warnings and reproaches of his conscience, and even despite of all the admonitions and entreaties of the love of God to be reconciled to Him, still continues in this course of sin against his Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor? Even in the most favorable circumstances man has never denied his true nature. Israel, God's chosen people, furnishes us with the saddest proof of this. From the lips of God Himself we hear the words, “I have nourished and brought up children, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isa. 1:2-6.) “Ah! sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint, from the soul of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores; they have not been closed neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” This is God's judgment of Israel. And what does Rom. 1 say about the Gentiles? What a terrible picture does 2 Tim. 3 give of the position of those who bear the name of Christ! But if we want to see the carrying out of God's judgment upon sin in all its fearful reality, let us fix our gaze on the cross.
The believer may say, “Christ bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24.) “He is wounded for our transgressions, he is bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5.) Has God given His only-begotten Son, and has the Lord Jesus willingly given His life to free the sinner from a punishment that is only temporal and passing? Why then did such a terror, such an indescribable anguish, fill His holy soul? Was it not because He, bearing our sins and made sin for us, was crushed under the terrible smitings of the wrath of a righteous and holy God? Did it need such a sacrifice if the consequence of our sins was only a temporal punishment? No. Nothing less than this shameful death of the Son of God come down from heaven on the cross would satisfy the justice of God, appease His wrath, and extinguish the flames of hell for him who believes. And surely this infinite price of redemption testifies that the damnation must also be unlimited—never ending; and the word of God speaks always of an “eternal condemnation,” of “everlasting” torment, of the “fire that is never quenched,” and the worm that “dieth not.” Ah! who are we that we can dare to judge the ways of God?
(To be continued.)

Everlasting Punishment: Part 2

“But,” say they, “can it be called just, if the condemnation of all the wicked is an everlasting one, though they have not all deserved the same punishment:” In answer to this question we remark according to scripture, In the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for some than for others (Matt. 11:22-24), and that some shall be beaten with many, and others with few stripes. (Luke 12:47, 48.)
But does this call in question the eternity of punishment? By no means. We will try to illustrate this again by an example. Two persons may by the same judgment be condemned to a punishment of equal duration; but whilst the one of these prisoners has nothing to lament but the loss of his liberty and still enjoys many little comforts, the other may have only bread and water with hard labor and corporal punishment. We see therefore different degrees of punishment even down here, but still the time of imprisonment is the same. And if in human government such cases can exist, how much more may God according as the evil deeds of men vary, multiply the punishment, while nevertheless it is an everlasting due for all!
We will take another example, and suppose the case of a person in debt, which he is not in a position to pay, and cast into prison till full payment is made. Every opportunity of getting money is naturally cut off from him; but the debt is there, and he is in prison till he pays it. Surely this punishment is on the principle of a never-ending one. Whether he owes five sovereigns or 500 sovereigns does not alter the case; he is, in the one case as in the other, imprisoned till he pays. Has not God a right to act in like manner? Has not man burdened himself with a heavy debt towards Him? And how will he pay it off? The judgment pronounced by God on Israel runs thus— “Thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Are we going to contend with Him on account of such a sentence? Certainly no one will venture to say that a person might not commit so great a crime as would impose on every righteous tribunal the necessity of passing sentence of imprisonment for life. Would it not from all sides be demanded that such a delinquent should be deprived of all the privileges which he hitherto enjoyed as a member of human society? Why then is God blamed when He finds it necessary to banish the ungodly forever from His kingdom?
What is man? He denies God the very rights that He claims for Himself. “But,” say the advocates of this doctrine, “the word of God itself gives many passages which fully convince us that the punishment of the wicked cannot be everlasting. We read, ‘For the Lord will not cast off forever, though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.' (Lam. 3:31, 32.) And again, ‘He keepeth not his anger forever, for he is merciful.' (Mic. 7:18.) And again, He will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger forever.' (Psa. 103:9; comp. Isa. 57:16.) Do not these and many other passages show clearly and distinctly that the wrath of God, and therefore the punishment of the ungodly, will come to an end after a certain time?” But nothing is easier than a refutation of this objection. For even those least acquainted with scripture will know that these words are addressed to Israel. This people, so beloved of God, but set aside for a time because of their unfaithfulness and determined rejection of the salvation offered to them in Christ, will, according to the testimony of God's word, once more be reinstated in these privileges as His earthly people. The wrath of God which will have reached its height in the days of the outpouring of His judgment over the earth, will turn, and then humbled Israel will return under the scepter of their true King, and entirely on the ground of unbounded grace, into the land of Canaan in fullness of blessing. It is evident, therefore, that it is no question here of the deliverance of the wicked from the torment of the fire that never shall be quenched, but the return of a people, which, cast off by God, is at present wandering about.
Oh that it might be understood that he who chooses any passage he pleases, the meaning of which in its connection he has not learned, for the foundation of a system, either betrays gross ignorance as to the character of God, or shows such presumption as human language can scarcely characterize!
“But,” object our opponents, “it is proved that the word ‘eternal' used in scripture does not always denote an endless continuance, but often a temporal limited state.” Accordingly the Lord in Ex. 12:14, 17, and Lev. 3:17; 6:18, 28, relative to the passover and certain offerings, says to Israel, “This shall be a memorial, ye shall keep it a feast forever, an everlasting statute, an ordinance forever.” It is indisputable that here the word “everlasting” cannot signify a never ending condition, because the whole Jewish economy under the law, with all its memorials, statutes and ordinances, has found its end in Christ. We grant this fully, but at the same time we dispute the right to draw conclusions from these passages, which could cause any erroneous apprehensions as to the question of condemnation.
Let us, therefore, go to the root of the matter, and we hope fully to enlighten the mind of the upright reader as to the meaning of the word “everlasting” or “forever,” and to prove to him how untenable this objection is.
Let us again choose some examples from every day life. When a person says to his friend, “I give you this book, it is yours forever,” he thereby simply expresses his intention not to ask for the book back again so long as it exists. But would the friend be in any doubt as to the meaning of the expression forever? We believe not. Or, when Paul writing to Philemon relative to the runaway slave Onesimus says, “For perhaps he therefore departed from thee for a season that thou shouldest receive him forever” (Philem. 1:1, 15), will therefore the meaning of the word “forever,” applied to a relationship which at any rate ended with this earthly life, present any difficulty to the unprejudiced reader? Certainly not: and when in Exodus and Leviticus the above mentioned “memorials, statutes, and ordinances” are spoken of as “everlasting” in order to give expression to this unchangeable character and continuous validity whilst the Jewish dispensation lasted, is it therefore conceivable that on this account there is any want of clearness as to the expression “forever?” Now if, in the above-mentioned passages, the meaning of “forever” denotes the unchangeableness and continuity of a condition during the existence of another state of things bound with it, where is then that other state of things relative to the everlasting condemnation of the wicked which is of limited duration and in connection with the eternity of condemnation?
Let us examine attentively the following scriptures. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36.) “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9.) “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:22-26.) “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:11.) “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off. it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:43-46.) Now where is the thing associated with condemnation, and the duration of which is for a limited period that hinders the “abiding” of the wrath of God, checks “everlasting destruction,” cools the “parched tongue,” alleviates the torments of the flames, and removes the “great gulf” which hinders the lost from escaping the torments of the fire that never shall be quenched, and the worm that never dies? If therefore the Greek word translated by “everlasting” or “forever” denotes in some cases a limited period, no one is therefore justified in transferring the same meaning to such cases, which, as we have seen, the word of God places clearly and unequivocally before our eyes in other passages. Even heathen writers have used this word to describe a never-ending condition, and the Greek language possesses no word by which it could give a more precise expression to the uninterrupted continuance of eternity. The scriptures also employ this word in several passages in a sense the unequivocal character of which even the most determined advocates of this doctrine will admit.
When for instance the apostle says “the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18); and, again, “For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1); do these contrasts leave the true meaning of the contested word “eternal” still in any degree in question? Certainly not. Further, the idea that the term “everlasting” applied to the condemnation of the wicked is not the expression of an endless condition must lead each believer to the saddest conclusions. If everlasting damnation is not everlasting, what right have we to the conclusion and what security have we that the same word, when it refers to life, to salvation, to glory, and to the inheritance of the ransomed, has the meaning of a never-ending condition? The word of God says with all certainty, “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43, 44; Comp. Matt. 12:8); “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire... and these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:41-46); Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9); compare “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever” (2 Peter 2:17), and “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13); and “the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:10, 11), and “her smoke rose up forever and ever” (chap. xix. 3); and, “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of “eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29); and “even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Nothing can be more decisive. But if, as these persons assert, by the expressions “everlasting fire,” “everlasting torment,” “everlasting destruction,” “everlasting judgment,” really immutably continuing conditions, are not indicated, then this can be as little affirmed when the word of God speaks of eternal life (Matt. 25:46; Luke 18:30; John 3:16, 17; 5:24 John 5:20), of “everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9), of everlasting consolations (2 Thess. 2:16), of an “eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17), of “everlasting glory” (2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Peter 5:10), of “everlasting salvation” (Heb. 5:9), of an eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15), and of “everlasting kingdom.” (2 Peter 1:11.) If the reality of a never-ending condemnation of the wicked is in question, then is faith in an unbroken, continuous state of happiness also a mere fancy. Whoever denies the perpetuity of the one condition has no foundation for a belief in the perpetuity of the other. If it is not true that the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever, what security exists of everlasting life for the believer? Indeed everything loses its certainty as soon as man sets himself up as judge of the thoughts and ways of God. But what shall we say when the Lord says distinctly, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46)? Have we not here before our eyes the sophisms of human speculation in all their poverty and folly? If everlasting punishment has an end, why not everlasting life also? One and the same word is used to denote the duration of the one as of the other condition. The punishment of the wicked is eternal, and the life of the righteous nothing more than eternal. Would God indeed have used the same word for two conditions opposed to each other, and for all that have intended a double meaning?
The apostle says, “I would they were even cut off who trouble you.” (Gal. 5:12.) However, we find this expression denoting the time of condemnation equally applied not only to the life of the believer, to his redemption, his glory, his abode, his inheritance, but also to the existence and character of God as well as to the time of the kingdom of Christ. “According to the commandment of the everlasting God” (Rom. 16:26); “to whom be honor and power everlasting.” (1 Tim. 6:16.) “Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.” (Heb. 9:14.) “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever.” (John 12:36.) “The Creator who is blessed forever.” (Rom. 1:25.) “God over all blessed forever.” (Rom. 9:5.) But God “the King eternal.... be honor and praise forever and ever.” (1 Tim. 1:17.) “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” (Heb. 1:8.) “That sat on the throne that liveth forever and ever.” (Rev. 4:10; compare xv. 17.) “He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15.) These passages will suffice; and certainly no one will dispute that here the Greek word, translated by “everlasting” and “forever and ever,” leaves no room whatever for any doubtful meaning as relating to the unchangeableness and endlessness of the existence of God and His kingdom.
And now I put the question to every honest reader, Is it not presumption to interpret a passage of scripture according to one's own fancy in order to gain support for any system? And does it not become still more evident, when in the seventy-one passages in the New Testament in which the word “everlasting” is found, by far the greater number relate to the Holy Ghost, to God, as also to salvation, to life, to the inheritance and glory of the redeemed, and therefore place a continuous, endless perpetuity beyond all doubt? How can any one dare to take five or six passages, as he likes, out of these seventy-one, and to give them a meaning which forms an exception to the rule? In a word, if any one makes the assertion, because the term “everlasting” in isolated passages in the Old Testament denotes a period, that therefore the “everlasting” condemnation threatened by God can only be a passing temporary chastisement; then may another with equal right draw the conclusion from these passages, that neither “everlasting” life is a perpetual and endless condition, nor God Himself an unchangeable Being. May God in His grace preserve us all from such a terrible misuse of His holy word!
It is certainly a striking proof of the deeply sunk condition of man, that in spite of the simple and distinct declarations of God's word in regard to his future destiny, he should be guided rather by the phantoms of his own erring reason than by the revealed truth itself. When, for example, scripture says, that “he that believes on Jesus is not lost, but has everlasting life,” how can any one thence draw the conclusion that he who believes not shall one day enjoy the same lot? When with regard to the wicked it is said, “whose end is destruction,” it surely does not mean that their end, though even for a time delayed, shall at last be as glorious and blessed as that of the righteous. When it is written, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched;” these words certainly do not announce the final salvation of the wicked and their entrance into glory: and when we read after this the following words, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal„“ how can we dare to assert that the life is eternal, but the punishment temporal? In Rev. 4:10 we find the words, “And they shall worship him who liveth forever and ever.” Also in chapter xiv. 11: “And the smoke of their torment rises up forever and ever;” and lastly, in chapter xx. 10, “And they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Now when these passages clearly show that an equal duration is assigned to the punishment of the wicked as to the life of the saved, yea, as to the life of God Himself, then I should like to know whether the endlessness of condemnation could be painted in clearer colors. Or, does the Lord only wish to terrify men by a lie when He says of the blasphemer of the Holy Ghost, “he hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” (Mark 3:29.)
But to return to a few more objections of our adversaries: they say, “Still it is written that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10, 11), and that all shall be put in subjection under His feet (Heb. 11:6, 9), all things shall be subdued under Him (1 Cor. 15:27), we also read that Christ will reconcile all things unto Himself (Col. 1:20), and that God will gather together all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10); and lastly, we read, ‘And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him, who hath put all things under him that God may be all in all.' (1 Cor. 15:28.) Do not these passages speak in the most decided terms of a finally universal salvation?” Certainly not. If the advocates of this doctrine will draw in their own way upon the word of God to obtain a scriptural ground-work for their system, they cannot thus overturn the truth of God. They certainly have not thought in their quotations of these passages, that they confound two things, viz., “subjection” and “reconciliation.” I can be subdued by my adversary without being reconciled to him. Assuredly, all power and might will one day be annihilated, and all things be subdued under the feet of Jesus, and all enemies be brought to the acknowledgment of His lordship, yea, at last even death itself will be done away. Its destruction stands in connection with the resurrection of the wicked, whom the voice of power of Christ calls out of their graves. Christ is clothed with all power and might, even death has lost its dominion over the wicked. He destroys death by raising these last to deliver them forever “to the second death, the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14.) But where is reconciliation spoken of here? It is an undeniable truth that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10, 11); and none will dispute that all creatures that are in heaven and earth and under the earth will one day say, “To him who sitteth on the throne and unto the Lamb, blessing and honor, and glory and power, forever and ever.” No creature is excepted; even those under the earth (or, infernal), i.e., hell with Satan and his angels, will be compelled to this homage. But has God therefore reconciled them to Himself? By no means, for when in God's word things reconciled are spoken of there is no mention made of “things under the earth.” In Eph. 1:9, 10, we read, “In that he hath made known to us the mystery of his will, namely, to gather together in one all things both which are in the heavens and which are on earth in him.” And again in Col. 1:19, 20, “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and by him to reconcile all things to itself, whether the things on earth or things in the heavens.” The things under the earth (or those which stand in connection with hell, the devil and his angels) have no place here. Only those in the heavens and on earth partake in reconciliation. As regards the passage “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28), we really do not understand how these persons can regard these words as the pinnacle of a system resting on such a rotten foundation.
When will the subjection of the Son to the Father take place? Only when all things are put under His feet, when all authority and power are abolished, and all enemies are made His footstool, then will all things come to a final conclusion. The beast and the false prophet (Rev. 19:20), the devil, death, hades, and all whose names are not found written in the book of life, are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10, 14, 15); and now the Son delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father. Will the Father introduce a government on new principles and reject and annul all the arrangements made hitherto by the Son? How presumptuous would be such an assertion! He accepts the kingdom as the Son delivers it to Him, at the subjection of which it is solely a question of the position of Christ as man and also His lordship as such over all things. He Himself is there in His position as man entirely in subjection to the Father, as He was down here, in order “that God may be all in all.” He will take His place as man, as head of the whole redeemed family, although at the same time God and one with the Father, “blessed forever.” Can the word of God put this subject in a clearer light? Oh that this word might always be our only teacher, and our hearts humble enough to receive it in simple faith and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
Truly then one would always be able to distinguish the hiss of the old serpent, even when he, as once to the Lord, dared to say “It is written.” And certainly we should not then, above all things, lend an ear to the reasonings of a doctrine which sets the sacrifice of Christ on one side, or at least calls in question its imperative necessity. “No,” is the reply; “that is by no means our intention. On the contrary, we give the widest scope to the love of God, and own that the effect of the sacrifice of Christ stretches far beyond the grave; and is it not written, 'As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive?' (1 Cor. 15:22.)” The sacrifice of Christ is just that which constitutes the foundation of our teaching relative to the salvation of all creatures! And notwithstanding we still assert that the adherents of such a doctrine put the sacrifice of Christ on one side. Christ suffered and died for sinners! “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24.) Was not this sacrifice fully sufficient to satisfy the demands of God's righteousness? Was it not enough to cleanse from sins and to give to the believer pardon, peace, life, and righteousness? But if the possibility exists for any one who dies in his sins to be prepared for salvation by his own torments and pains of hell, is then the cross of Christ the only foundation of salvation? Certainly not; on the contrary, a proof would thereby be given that the justice of God had not found complete satisfaction in the death of Christ, but in regard to certain creatures required in addition the torments of hell fire. The full sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice would then be denied, for by every addition to this sacrifice it is not only weakened but abolished.
Let us take up the Epistle to the Galatians. The false teachers of that day preached circumcision. Was it their intention to reject the cross of Christ? Oh no! They only wished to add circumcision to it. And was not circumcision commanded by the law? But what says the apostle? “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:2-4.) How solemn! An addition to the sacrifice of Christ is therefore nothing less than an entire abolition of it. If the pains of hell are still necessary to the salvation of one individual, then is the sacrifice of Christ not sufficient, not divine; and then certainly the justice of God has not been divinely satisfied. But what does the passage mean? “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.) Who are these “alls?”
In order the better to understand this passage, we must remember that among the Corinthians, the error was preached that there was no resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:12.) If this was in reality so, “then,” as the apostle says, “their faith was vain.” (Chap. 15:14) It treats here only of believers who have died and who are to be made alive again, and not of the life and redemption of all creatures, the wicked included. Adam and Christ, the two heads of two races, are brought before us. Adam brought death into the midst of all in association with him, as his descendants, “for death passed upon all men.” Christ, who is the life, brings this life into the midst of all who are His; all who believe in His name possess it in Him.
The first Adam and his race are characterized by death, the last Adam and His race by life.
The simple meaning of this passage therefore is—as all find death who stand in association with the first Adam, so will all who are associated with Christ be made alive. Nothing can be simpler or clearer.
But to what inevitable consequences will our opponents be driven, through the belief that all creatures will be redeemed? They must include the devil and his angels. Certainly many among them would not dare to give their ideas so bold a scope. But why should they shrink from such a consequence, when they have the boundlessness of the love of God written on their banner?
Are not the devil and his angels creatures of God? But where do we find a sin-offering for hell and for Satan, and his angels?
Christ must become man in order to glorify as such the God that has been dishonored by men, and to take the place of sin-burdened man on the cross. If He must become man to save men, what would He have had to become to save devils? Christ died as man, and for men. But who became a propitiation for devils?
Is there still another reconciliation besides that of Christ? If all creatures will be redeemed then I am forced to this conclusion, and then is the gospel worthless and without foundation. Such is the fearful consequence of this horrible doctrine of the “restitution of all things.”
Our space however will not allow us to enter at greater length into the objections of our opponents. We believe that we have exposed the principal points of their false doctrine, and pointed out their utter groundlessness.
Every honest reader will feel with us how much we need sobriety and watchfulness, lest we should be entangled in the mazes of error.
For centuries has the eternity of punishment been believed and preached in the church, and in all times has this truth exercised an immeasurably blessed influence over the moral condition of men.
Thousands upon thousands believing in an endless duration of the terrible consequences of their sins turned to God, being condemned by their own consciences, and have been led through grace to find salvation by faith in the blood of the Lamb shed for them.
Can you who defend your unscriptural system with such obstinacy—can you, deny the mighty workings that belief in an endless, eternal condemnation has during the long period of the church's existence, called forth in the consciences of countless souls? But what are the results of your teaching? On the ground of a love that excludes the righteousness of God, and dressed in the glittering robes of a mercy which drags the exalted majesty of the character of God into the dust of human weakness and human changeableness, you preach by word and pen, with regard to a hardened sinner, the torments of hell are able to bring about that which perfect grace was never to do. You do not remember that God exclaims over Israel, “Why should you be smitten any more; you will revolt more and more.” (Isa. 1:5.)
You do not consider that in the day of the wrath of God, men terrified even to despair will continue blaspheming God, and will not repent. (Rev. 16:11-21.) You have never remarked that in regard to the wicked it will one day be said, “He that is unrighteous let him be unrighteous still,” and he “that is filthy let him be filthy still,” and “without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters,” and “whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Rev. 22:11-15.)
Do these passages in any way give us the slightest ground for the supposition of a change and the salvation of the damned? Ah, man by nature is sin and enmity against God, he hates his Creator and will hate Him forever, and most assuredly even in hell would he reject the sacrifice of Christ, just as he has rejected it here. And notwithstanding you continue to preach the non-eternity of punishment and the final salvation of all creatures, yea, even of devils, and to scatter seed that is beginning already under the influence of the enemy to flourish exuberantly; you violate the truthfulness of God, set aside His perfect justice, and undermine the veracity of His word, perplex the conscience, and make souls indifferent to sin.
We know, however, that there are many among you who dare not come to the light with these ideas so highly prized by you, and that they say rather in their pretended wisdom, “We do not feel at all called upon to treat of this truth publicly, but keep it for ourselves, and let each have his own opinion.” But why this peculiar reserve? Are you convinced of the excellence of your theory Do you consider it one of God's revealed truths? Then step forth from your hiding place, that others also may become acquainted with your new gospel. Yes, go ye out into the streets and highways, and scatter your baneful but sugared poison on the hearts of unstable souls; and no doubt that great multitudes who fain would say “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32), and who would rather perish like the brute and be utterly annihilated, than enter into the presence of a righteous God—they will applaud you.
Draw near to the open graves of those who to the last have rejected the blood of Christ, despised the Spirit of grace, and say to the sorrowing bystanders, “Be comforted for the loved ones whom ye now lament will assuredly enter into glory, where ye all shall meet them,” and no doubt you will dry many tears; but ah, with a lie—a terrible deceit. Hasten with your doctrine from house to house, and you will be welcomed by thousands who feel the thought of eternal damnation insupportable, who do not wish to be disturbed in their sinful ways and their despising of God's word, who rather lend their ear to the sophistry of human calculations, and lull their conscience to sleep than seize the salvation offered them in Christ, and thus forever escape the lake burning with fire and brimstone.” Yes, do all you can, but you will never be able to invalidate the truth of God, namely, the truth “that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment” —there where “their worm never dieth and the fire is never quenched.” For that word remains irrevocably true, “after thine hardened and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds.” (Rom. 2:5, 6.)
But you, dear brethren—you, who hitherto, thanks to the preserving grace of God, have not received this fatal error into your hearts, may the Lord give you light and grace at all times to perceive the deceitfulness of sin, and mightily to testify against the ever-increasing boldness of the adherents of the system which undermines the ground of the truth, though its sophistry shakes the whole teaching of Christianity in all its parts, and lulls the awakened conscience into slumber again.
Let us testify to these poor souls that it “is a fearful thing to fall. into the hands of the living God,” and that for him who down here despises the sacrifice of Christ, there remains nothing but “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26, 27.) Let us testify to them that man whether saved or not must one day look eternity in the face, that he will one day find a dwelling place somewhere and forever—either in everlasting glory or in everlasting condemnation. And then, ah, but too late the dreaded reality will scare away all human deceptions. Yes, but let us testify to them by word and walk that now the mighty arms of Jesus are wide open to receive every weary, heavy laden one, and lead him into the unspeakable blessings of a never ending eternal glory. “Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2.)
(Concluded from page 125.)


This book, like others in the Old Testament history, differs from Genesis, in that it has one or more leading topics, instead of giving the comprehensive circle which has been shown to be characteristic of that which so fittingly opens the revelations of God. It is the account of God's deliverance of His people, who are first seen under the dealings of grace, then voluntarily put under law, and lastly under His government with provisions of mercy and mediation.
Chapter 1 shows us Israel multiplied in the strange land but persecuted, yet kept of God; chapter ii., the deliverer is born, providentially saved, brought up by Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather the reproach of Christ, escaping to Midian till God hearkens to the groans of afflicted Israel. In chapter 3 Moses sees Him that dwelt in the bush, and is sent to Pharaoh, not without signs (chap. 4) for the people, nor without the token of the mortification of the flesh of his son by her hand who had hindered it. In chapter 5 we see how God's summons and testimony increase the trial of His people at first; but (chap. 6) His name Jehovah is revealed. The I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the unchanging God of Israel, who will make good in government what He promised in grace, however he may delay during the process of putting the people to the test. In chapter 7 we see wonders begun to be wrought in the land of Ham; but the magicians imitate the plagues till that of lice extorted from them the confession of God's finger. (Chap 8.) The judgments fall more heavily in chapters 9, 10 till Moses in chapter 11 threatens the death of the firstborn, which accordingly comes in chapter 12 with the institutes of the passover for Israel, which is commanded in chapter 13 as a memorial, whilst the people go forth with a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Then chapter 14 describes the passage of the Red Sea—death and resurrection, as chapter 12 gave us the sprinkled blood of the Lamb. Chapter 15 is the song of Moses grounded on redemption accomplished in type. Then follows the experience of the wilderness, but of grace there. The manna comes down from heaven, type of the incarnate Word, bringing in rest (the Sabbath) for the people; then follows the smitten rock with its flowing waters (the Spirit given), conflict with Amalek, and the power of intercession. Chapter 18 completes the series with a picture of the kingdom in order and righteous rule, the Gentile joining the elders of Israel in sacrifice and eating bread before God.
Chapter 19 is the transition from grace to law, under which the people—forgetful of the promises, heedless of God's ways up to this point, and ignorant of themselves—put themselves. Chapter 20 gives the ten words, followed thence to chapter 23 by laws and regulations for Israel, who (in chap. 24) are sprinkled with blood, as is the book of the law, as the sign and sanction of their legal obligations under penalty of death. Then are found the patterns of things heavenly and earthly in the vessels of the sanctuary and of its court, as well as the tabernacle itself, in chapters 25-31. The call to consecrate the priests intervenes in chapters 28, 29 which separates part of these types displaying God to man from the latter portion which concerns man's access to God, and therefore properly follows the priestly institution.
Chapter 32 describes the ruin of the people through idolatry; the high priest led away by their wickedness instead of standing in the gap; the tables of stone broken by the indignant lawgiver, who executes vengeance for God on the people, but intercedes for them with God. Nevertheless Moses enjoys unexampled familiarity with God, who shows to the mediator of Israel, not His face (chap. xxxiii.) but His passing by in goodness, as the terms of a covenant of mingled law and grace, so as to dwell in their midst while leading them into the place destined for His people. (Chap. 34)
Chapters 35-40., after bringing in the sabbath again, show us the liberality of the people, the fitted workmen, the tabernacle and its furniture made, reared, and anointed, with the cloud covering and the glory of Jehovah filling it.

Extract From Correspondence: Revised by the Writer

There may be, and no doubt is, practical failure in this as in other matters; but I do not think that, as a principle, or as a rule practically, the so-called “exclusive” Brethren refuse the table to any Christian who may be walking consistently, merely because he may be connected with one or other of the various systems around. Such a course would be to abandon the true breadth of the church of God, and to make ourselves in very deed a sect. It is of the utmost importance that the absolute freedom of every believer, as a member of the body of Christ, to the Lord's table, and to all the privileges and responsibilities connected therewith, should be jealously maintained and acted Upon. What they do (and so long as this fundamental principle is secured from violation, what I trust they ever will do) is to guard against any such supposing that the ground we are upon is the same as that which others occupy; and that accordingly we ought to go in and out amongst the denominations, or at least, by expressly stipulating to let those do so who wish to break bread with us, admit that they are as right as we. Now it is just here that the shoe pinches them (to use a common but forcible figure); and, believe me, it is just here that it ought to pinch, because it is the truth of God that is involved.
It is not that we are better than they, or more faithful to the light we have received; no, but it is a question of perceiving the mind of God, as to the unity of the body of Christ on the one hand, and what is contrary to it—what in reality sectarianism is—on the other hand, and of simply holding to His will at all cost.
You will often find (and from what little you say of your friend it may be so with him) that other Christians of the more spiritual sort would like to be identified with “the Brethren” (so-called), provided we could receive them on the ground of their being at liberty, as with our sanction and approval, and as if it were scriptural, to continue in fellowship with their respective systems. It is a device of the adversary, plied with great energy, and made to press heavily upon us on all hands of late, to swamp the true character and testimony of the church of God.
We do not attempt to re-establish the church in its outward unity as at the beginning, much less do we profess to be it—that would be arrogant indeed; but we do not and cannot admit that the ground we are upon (viz., the unity of the Spirit), finds its expression in the saints' deliberately, and of choice, identifying themselves one Lord's day with one system which denies that unity in one way, and with another the next Sunday which denies it in another, and then on the third identifying us with their loose position and ways.
If a Christian, sound in doctrine, and blameless in morals and in his associations, wish to break bread with us (upon adequate testimony of those who know him to be such), none could refuse or make bargains one way or the other with him; nor could any put him away for continuing to identify himself with the orthodox systems; but that is no reason why we should not remonstrate with him, and try to teach him better. But, alas! this is just what our alleged and obnoxious exclusiveness consists in, and what those who like “liberty” in these things, better than they understand the interests of Christ that are involved, will not tolerate. Looked closely into, I am persuaded that, without being conscious of it, a large number of Christians are too much occupied with the interests and rights of the saints with respect to this matter of fellowship. I mean too much in comparison with the interests and the rights, &c., of Christ. Both are true, but each must have its due place, Christ and His claims first; and if these be entertained, the others will inevitably follow. What now characterizes the bulk of the more spiritual and active Christians is that a preponderance of their interests is on behalf of sinners on the one hand, and on behalf of the saints on the other hand: that is to say, both evangelically and also ecclesiastically their labors begin from the human side and not from the divine. The interests of God and of His Christ are a good deal, to say the least, overlooked.
You say that your friend admits it would be inconsistent to receive “constantly” at the table one who continued to go to and fro; but are there in scripture two kinds of receiving, one less important, and less definite, and less responsible than the other? Either a person is on the ground of the church of God or he is not. If he is not, he ought to be seriously instructed, and if possible made to understand before he practically takes that ground with us, that he makes himself a transgressor in having done so if he abandon it. But whether he understand it or no, you have no right to refuse him his place, if he be not otherwise disqualified. If however he be eligible to break bread once, it could only rightly be upon ground that would make him always so; and if his not having renounced denominationalism was no obstacle at first, it could not be such at any time. He not only has title to the Lord's table as being a member of Christ, but has actually taken his place there, and, unless he should disqualify himself otherwise, is free of all its privileges and responsibilities.
It is said, Oh, but after all, the unity of the Spirit has long since been broken, and we must in all love bold one thing in the way of church fellowship to be pretty much, if not altogether, as good and as right as another: therefore who is to arrogate to themselves such exclusiveness as prevails in certain quarters? To this my reply is very simple. I deny altogether that the unity of the Spirit is broken or can be. It is an absolute and unalterable fact that the saints of this dispensation are baptized by one Spirit into one body. In Eph. 4 the saints are exhorted to keep this unity, not from disrupture, but “in the bond of peace.” They were to exhibit not outward only, but in condition of soul that unity, but it existed to be so kept, and it exists still, though we have grievously failed to hold it and to exhibit it in the bond of peace.
Now if these loose brethren, where and whoever they may be, deny that there exists this unity for the saints to keep, we do not wonder that to them one thing is pretty much as good as another. As to unity, they have themselves nothing that is divine to contend for, and do not see the use of contending, and would have us to give up the truth we have learned, and for peace' sake to resolve ourselves into a mere sect, like the denominations, and go on comfortably as they do. But no! it was the true mother of the child who exclaimed with horror at the decree of Solomon to divide it. The other had nothing to lose by it and could afford to consent; but it only betrayed the true state of the case—she had nothing to lose. The true one had a living mother's interest in a living child, whose life was most precious to her: she could not and would not consent to such a compromise. So is it with the so-called exclusives. They have—I would rather say the Lord has—something to lose by a compromise, and they cannot consent to it. Let us hold fast. We shall never really help our brethren by lowering our ground, or relaxing our hold on the truth of God as to the character and testimony of the church. Let us receive as many as will come, telling them faithfully that in coming they take ground which, whether they apprehend it or not, utterly condemns all denominationalism; but if they come, let them come. “Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them.” (Jer. 15:19.) If this seem to be taking very high ground, be it so: we dare not contend for lower. The best way to prevent their going back to what they have left is to give them what is better. The ministration of Christ to each other in the power of the Holy Ghost cannot fail to bind together those that are His.
In these remarks I have passed over the question of evil doctrine, which God suffered to trouble us some years ago. It was needful in order to arouse us to the question of fellowship; and it tested the ground we were upon, and it was found that with some, to meet “as Christians” simply had lost its true and scriptural import, and had come to signify that, if a person was a Christian, we had no responsibility to ask any other question. He might hold all sorts of evil doctrine, or be suspected of it, and yet because he was a Christian, he had his right to a place at the table of the Lord. Others seeing the evil of that principle did not see that deliberate identification in the breaking of bread with a gathering in which evil doctrine about the person of the Lord was known to be held and taught, made the individual guilty, although he did not himself imbibe it. They overlooked 2 John 10, or denied its application. They hold and have taught that the fornicator was to be put out of the church at Corinth, not because his presence defiled the assembly, but lest he should corrupt others!! Alas, what an overlooking of the character of the assembly as the place of the presence of Christ. Read Num. 19.
Jude directs us to have compassion of some, making a difference; this has always been enforced and acted upon, so far as I know. But when we find saints ignorantly linked with those who leave the door so wide open to evil, we do, and I trust ever shall, try to make them see and understand their danger, and the dishonor that is done to the Lord Jesus. I have lately been informed that some of these brethren, unable longer to resist the effect of the truth as to the unity of the Spirit upon many of the simple-hearted, are now advocating it themselves, but in such a way as to make it sanction and uphold what is really the utter denial of it. That is to say, just as, according to their reasoning, the name and profession of Christ ought to bind together individual saints in fellowship, without reference to their guilty association with evil; so the unity of the Spirit should be enforced as linking together the various denominations as such. Scripture speaks of many members, yet but one body; it does not say many bodies, yet but one body.
- O.

The Father

“I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it.” These words were spoken to the Father by Christ respecting the saints. They tell us that the great business of the Lord was to acquaint saints with the Father, that such had already been His business, and that such He purposed should be His business still.
This is full of blessing. To think that our souls are under such instruction as this! The Son nourishing and enlarging in us the sense and understanding of the Father's love, and using His diligence to give our hearts that joy and to give it to us more abundantly! We may be slow and we are slow to learn it. We naturally suspect all happy thoughts of God. Christ has to use diligence and to put forth energy in teaching us such a lesson. “I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it.” But so it is. This is the lesson of which He is the teacher, and our inaptness to learn it magnifies His grace, for He is still at it, still teaching the same lesson.
The earlier chapters (14-16.) show us Christ declaring the Father. They begin with His telling us that the Father has opened His own house to us—nay, that He had built it with direct respect to us, having made it a many-mansioned house for our reception. (Chap. 14:2)
He then, with some resentment of their unbelief, tells them that the Father had been already revealing Himself to them. “Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Because the things He had said and done, He had said and done as Son of the Father, as the One who was in the Father and in whom also the Father was. (Ver. 5-14.)
For this was natural unbelief, the indisposedness to learn the lesson of the Father of which I have spoken. And happy it is to find it here rebuked by the Lord. Indeed it is only faith which can sit as Christ's pupil—that principle which only listens. The moral sense of man reasons itself out of that school.
Jesus, however, goes on with the lesson in spite of this dullness. He tells them, after this interruption, how He purposed, when away, to glorify the Father in their works and in their experience. (Ver. 12-14.) And then He tells them that the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Ghost, who was about to come to them, would come as the Spirit of the Father, letting them know that they were not orphans, but had the life of the Son in them. (Ver. 16-20.) And again He tells them that the keeping of His word would secure to their souls the presence and fellowship of the Father, as well as His, because the word was not His, but the Father's who had sent Him. (Ver. 21-24.) This word or commandment which was to be kept in order to this fellowship being secured to the soul was about love, because it was the word brought by the Son from the Father, and not a word brought from a king, or from a judge, or from a legislator. (See chap. xiii. 34; 15:12, 17.)
In all these truly blessed ways He declares the Father to us and uses Himself only as the witness or servant of such a revelation. His own personal glory is implied in such a service; but that is not His object—the declaration of the Father is. And so also, as He proceeds through this wondrous discourse, He declares the Father to be the husbandman of the vine, thereby letting us know, that the fruit sought for is fruit worthy of a Father's hand, fruit which children, not servants or subjects, must yield.
(Chap. 15:1-14.) And again, the friendship He introduces them to with Himself has respect to the Father, because it was the Father's secrets He was communicating to them in the confidence of friendship. (Ver. 15.) And then, at the close of the same chapter, He presents the world simply in the character of having hated the Father, testified in and by the Son. (Ver. 23, 24.)
How does all this make good the word, “I have declared unto them thy name!” But further. He anticipates the day of the Holy Ghost, but He does this in constant recollection and mention of the Father. The Spirit was the Spirit of the Father, given by Him, sent by Him (chap. 14:16, 26; 15:26); and when He came, their divine Teacher now tells them that they should ask the Father and receive from Him, that this their joy as children who know a Father's love and blessing should be full.
(Chap. 16:23, 24.) And He further tells them that in that day they should plainly know their adoption, or their place with the Father. (Ver. 26.)
And somewhat beyond all this, and as crowning all He had said, He tells them that His prayers for them in heaven were not to be understood as though they and the Father were somewhat distant from each other, but that rather they must assure themselves that the Father's love rested immediately on them, as in the full power of the relation in which He stood to them. (Chap. 16:26, 27.)
Thus, it was the name of the Father He was declaring to them all through these wonderful chapters, bringing the Father into the thoughts and enjoyments of their hearts. And if love and heaven be prized by us, what welcome communications will these be!
So, on the closing chapter (17) we may say, No tidings from us return to God so acceptably as this, that we have, by faith, received these tidings of the Father. The Son brought a message of love to us from the bosom of the Father, and if He now report to the Father that we have received the message, this will be the most prized answer with the Father. And such receiving of this word about the Father will also be our truest sanctification or separation from the world, for the world is that which refuses to know the Father.
I might more shortly express it thus. In chapter 14-16 the Lord purposes to put our souls into communion with the Father. He fills the soul with thoughts of the Father; recollections, present exereises of spirit, and prospects, are all by Him connected with the Father. He tells us, it is the Father's house that is to receive us by and by, it was the Father who had been working and speaking in Him, so that what He had said and done had been the sayings and doings of the Father; that greater works than He had done they soon should do, for He was going to the Father; that the Comforter would be sent to them from the Father; that their fruitfulness should arise from the Father being the husbandman; that the world would bate them, because it knew not the Father nor Him that the Father Himself loved them, and that they should soon enter into the sense of their relationship to Him.
If the Spirit of truth, the Comforter, realize these things to us, we may set our seals to that word, “it is expedient for you that I go away."
May this blessed sense of relationship fill and satisfy our souls more abundantly!
He shows us Himself in heaven, as the very home of love and of glory, because He was to be restored to the Father there, and to have all things put into His hand by God there. And after this manner He anticipates heaven as the home of love and of glory to Him.
But then He lets us know that He would ever continue in His love towards us there, and in His service of our necessities—that, though there, He could never forsake either us or our need. Thus He seeks to put us into communion with Himself as He is now in heaven, just as afterward (in chapters 14-16.) He seeks to put us, as I have been observing, into communion with the Father.)

Fragment: 2 and 3 John

The two briefer epistles (2 and 3) of John show truth as to Christ's person to be the test of true love, and to be held fast when antichrists come in. Along with this, we see the free ministration of truth, which those who assume clerical authority oppose

Fragment: Cast in and Cast Out

“They cast Him out.” Cast out? yes; but where to? into the bosom of Jesus. Oh! That is cast in! Never mind the Pharisees.

Fragment: Certainty of What God Is

Revelation does not tell me that I have a conscience and aspirations; it gives me the answer to them, and that is what I want—not to be told I have got such: I do not want a book for that. To answer this need of my soul, I want a certainty of what God is. I know what He is by His revelation of Himself in Christ.

Fragment: Christ Our Object

If our souls go on with God, sweet as is the assurance that we, washed in the blood of Christ, belong to God, yet the uppermost thought will in the long run be Himself. We shall come back to His person. We shall in our praises weave with it what He has done, suffered, and won for us; but the first of all thoughts in our souls is, the first of all thoughts in heaven is, not what we have gained, however true, but what He has been for us and what He is to us, yea what He is in Himself.

Fragment: Divine Law

The divine law asserts God's authority, and declares man's responsibility, but does not, save in type, go beyond the exercise of His judgment. The gospel reveals what God is and what He has done for the sinner in Christ. The law only required what man should be.

Fragment: Dying for an Enemy

Man could die for a benefactor perhaps; but he is not capable, in true simple-hearted love, of unostentatiously dying for an enemy. God's becoming a man to do it silences the heart, and creates, by the sovereign title of love, a new order of feeling.

Fragment: Ear to Hear

In Rev. 2; 3, simultaneously with bringing in the Lord's coming, the “ear to hear” comes after distinguishing the overcomers. Such a remnant only is looked for.

Fragment: French Revolution

At the French revolution man emancipated himself—to have what? Uncertainty in everything, and a ruin from which he found no resource. Conscience and the bible, under God's good hand, emancipated at the reformation—imperfectly, but really; man's will, without the Bible, at the revolution

Fragment: God's Ways Behind the Scenes

God's ways are behind the scenes: but He moves all the scenes which He is behind. We have to learn this, and let Him work, and not think much of man's busy movements: they will accomplish God's—the rest of them all perish and disappear. We have only in peace to do His will.

Fragment: Government of God

I think that the children of God have too much forgotten the government of God—day by day. This supposes salvation. But God passes over nothing, just because we are His children

Fragment: In the Spirit

John “was in the spirit on the Lord's day.” it is his place and privilege as a Christian that is spoken of, not the prophetic period. On the resurrection-day, on which Christians meet, the apostle, removed from their society, enjoyed the special elevating power of the holy spirit, though alone; and is thus and then used of God, allowed. To be banished for the purpose, for what could not ordinarily have been communicated to the church for its edification

Fragment: Inspiration of Scripture

“Some inspired communications have perished,” i.e., are not in existence; e.g., the word of the Lord by Jonah the prophet of Gath-Hepher concerning the restoring of the coasts of Israel, from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain (2 Kings 14:25); the prophecy of Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-Jearim, against Jerusalem and the land of Judah (Jer. 26:20); the prophecies of Micaiah the son of Imlah, against Ahab, which led to the king's statement— “he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil.” (2 Chron. 18:7.) It is a mistake to suppose that every inspired communication of the spirit of God to man is contained in the Bible. All that was needful for us to know and have, we possess; but not all that others, at different times, had communicated to them by the prophets. Where are the visions of Iddo the seer, against jeroboam the son of Nebat, among which some of the acts of Solomon, not mentioned in chronicles (“the rest of the acts"), were recorded? C. E. S
[Is not “the perpetual miracle in order to preserve the scriptures” a mistake? A miracle absolutely accomplishes by divine power. It is fully admitted that God works providentially to the end in view; but this is a very different statement and leaves room for the responsibility of man in his care of and reverence for the scriptures, text or translation, exposition or study; and alas! man fails here as everywhere; but God does not, and suffices for every need of His children and work. It is not meant either that any book in the Hebrew Scriptures or in the Greek New Testament is not inspired, or that any book is now lost which ever formed a part of scripture, which consists not only of inspired communications, but of those given and designed to be the permanent standard of divine truth. Even as to this the larger part of Christendom has proved faithless, not by rejecting real scripture, but by accrediting as such the Apocryphal Greek books of the Old Testament.—En. B. T.]

Fragment: Liberty, Joy, Blessing, and Clearness of the Truth

No man can ever get into the liberty, joy, blessing, and clearness of the truth, unless he is acting on what he knows.

Fragment: Lift Up, Bear, Offer To

Αἴρω is to lift up or take away—never to bear on oneself. Ἀναφέρω is to bear, but as a sacrifice on the altar (or spiritually), for which ὐποφέρω is never used. Προσφέρω is to offer to, as in Heb. 9:14

Fragment: Man Departed Before God Drove Him Out

In the garden of Eden man, conscious of sin and unable to bear the presence of God, withdrew from Him before God drove him out.

Fragment: Mohammedanism

Mohammedanism has borrowed much from revelation; but it met the lusts of men as on God's part (who, as He is there represented, will and does satisfy them); Christianity does so not even in thought.

Fragment: Moses

Note the difference of Moses in his intercourse with God at the bush, and what he was in Egypt—how entirely, when God is working by him, all questioning is gone. He is possessed and moves on in unhesitating energy every step, not so much thinking about the power as animated by it—having a just sense of what God was. The power was acting in him. God willed that his own state should be exercised, brought into question—brought out into his own consciousness. In Moses the power of circumcision predominates over a present God as to his heart; but God working by Moses, every trace of this disappears. Not that Moses was changed in this way morally—not necessarily so. But God had taken him up into his hand and was now using him.
The long sojourn in the desert was not the presence of God, which revealed and brought out all in his own sight between God and Moses, though it may be needed too. Nor was it his work in Egypt, for it had wholly disappeared before.
At any given time God may have us to pass on in peace, or in regular duty which requires absolutely His power and presence, without placing us in either of these cases. It is important to remember that the absence of the power of circumstances over us, and our power over them, is not necessarily our state if God is using us, though He may empty the vessel so to use it, as is indeed His way.

Fragment: Person Not Merely Doctrine

It is a person whom we know, and not merely a doctrine. By this precious means which God used truths with respect to Jesus are far more connected with the Old Testament history.

Fragment: Read His Word

By far the best means of assuring oneself of the truth and authority of God's word is to read His word itself.

Fragment: Receiving or Rejecting Him

The presence of God himself, a man among men, changed the position of everything. Either man must receive, as a crown of blessing and of glory, the one whose presence was to banish all evil, and develop and perfect every element of good, furnishing at the same time an object which should be the center of all affections rendered perfectly happy by the enjoyment of this object; or, by rejecting him, our poor nature must manifest itself as being enmity against God, and must prove the necessity for a completely new order of things in which the happiness of man and the glory of God should be based on a new creation

Fragment: The Altar and the Laver

The altar comes before the laver in what is presented to man, nor can the laver be without the altar.

Fragment: The French Revolution

The working of the mere will of man, under the impulse of evil, brought about the French revolution. The Bible was not there as a restraining power, nor as formative of human inquiry and thought. Superstition and a hollow state of society came down with a tremendous crash, and all reverence for God was buried in its ruins

Fragment: Walking in the Light

The world is selfish. The flesh, the passions, the desires of the mind, seek their own gratification. But, if I walk in the light, self has no place there; I can enjoy the light and all I see in it with another, and there is no jealousy. If another possess a carnal thing, I am deprived of it. In the light, we have fellow-possession of that which God gives, and we enjoy it the more by enjoying it together

Fragmentary Notes

Negatives are universal, and are therefore dangerous things. If I say a thing is not in scripture, I must know all scripture to say so.
Mary is the mother of Him who is God; not mother of God, as the Roman Catholics say.
It is most important to hold Christ's eternal Sonship, for if I lose the eternal Son I lose the eternal Father also. He never could have been sent from heaven either; but He says, “I came forth from God, and am come into the world.”
It is remarkable that in chapter 1 of John's Gospel, where you have nearly all the names of the Lord, you do not get His relative names, such as Head, Priest, &c.
In the parable of the talents in Matthew we have grace; in that of the pounds in Luke, responsibility.
It is only when the coming of the Lord is looked for that you will find bridal affections.
The consciousness of life could never be produced till after redemption.
When you have Gethsemane fully brought out, as in Luke, you find the Lord humanly above the sufferings at the cross.
The object is to get the good fish and throw the bad away—I must leave the tares; that is, I discriminate as to good and not as to bad in a positive way.
The large system outside is founded on the ground of the non-recognition of Paul's ministry, a denial of the παρουσία—coming.
We are to be transformed into a glorified Christ, though we feed on a humbled Christ.
We have to do with a dead Christ at the Lord's table; we have no such Christ existing. The Lutheran theory is a glorified Christ brought down there.
Being occupied with a glorified Christ makes one like a humbled Christ down here. Power is in the glorified Christ (Phil. 3), character in the humbled. (Phil. 2)
Nature will neither receive the death nor the glory.
We could not have miracles now on account of the sects, because a miracle would be virtually saying, Here is the Church.
Deacons were only chosen to manage the distribution of money, and by those who gave it. Elders were authoritative and appointed from above.
Christ is Savior of the body (that is, our body).
A broad path is not a broad heart, but a broad conscience.
Do we sufficiently understand, that though it was a poor woman speaking to Him, by His side, and talking to Him about her sins, that the person to whom she was talking was God?
No sin of the saint, properly speaking, is willfulness; it is the will of the flesh: the saint yields to it, no doubt. In another shape, all sin is willfulness. But real willfulness is determination to have one's own way in spite of God, which amounts to denial of God.

Fragments Gathered Up: 1 Corinthians 14

1 Cor. 14 Power is subject to intelligence. So it is in God. His wisdom necessarily in action precedes His power and guides it. Just so the wisdom and moral guidance of the Spirit go before power and guide its use. It is for profit; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. This last is a very interesting point. As a divine work it could not be otherwise. For God must be first wise.

Fragments Gathered Up: 2 Corinthians 3-6

What a ministry Paul speaks of in 2 Cor. 3-6! Thoroughly of God, yet it passed through man's heart to reach man's heart, which indeed is of the essence of Christianity. Not surely that it is by man's strength, but God's made good in man's weakness.

Fragments Gathered Up: Alienation in Nature and Standing

Besides our actual sins, there are two points of our state connected with the fall in Adam: our alienation from God in nature and will; and our alienation from God in condition, place, or standing. Both must be corrected. The former is by having Christ for our life, being born again; but this does not in itself take us out of law. The new nature feels the evil of the old, not only what we have done but what we are. It is not merely we cannot say we have not sinned, but we cannot say we have no sin. I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. The law is a mere means of discovering this. The remedy is not in dealing with it at all; but my place is altered in Christ. Not only I have a new nature, but I have died, as in the old, with Him. I am not in the flesh at all; I am in Christ who has died and risen again. I have a new nature—this must be; but Christ having died and risen again and I being in Him, I have a new place too. This is what Rom. 7; 8 teach us. Baptism is not the sign of life-giving but of change of place. We arise out of death, but death is the main point here. The “for” of verse 2 is not inferential. Verse 1 is the result of what goes before and stands by itself; verse 2 begins an explanation of the law of the whole matter in life—the change in nature, as previously the change of place or condition—deliverance, not new life. We must not confound παλιγγενεσία and ἀναγεννάω. Παλιγγ is a change of state, as Matt. 19 and used for a recovery of wealth when fortune has been lost. Ἀναγεννάω means to be born again, as with βλέπω, καινίξω. It has the sense of “up” often; but “again” or “back,” the beginning of something new with the sense of the contrary of what it was before. Of ἀναλύω, ὰωακἁμπτω, ἀνακαλύπτω. The other sense is pretty much our use of “up.” See 1 Peter 1:3, 23; Titus 3:5.

Fragments Gathered Up: Baptism

Paul alone puts baptism, as far as I am aware, on the ground of death and resurrection with Christ. Thus it becomes the means of doctrinally bringing the Christian on to the point, where, on the new ground and in a new position, he is united to Christ as Head.
In Romans he only carries it out to the individual position; but in Colossians he uses it not as union of course, but as that which, by taking out of flesh into what is beyond it, is the inseparable introduction into holding the Head. It is only life, but life hid with Christ in God. But He introduces holding the Head as the necessary and inseparable consequence: only the Holy Ghost is not brought out in this epistle. The connection is in chap. 1:18—not the same but connected so immediately in Christ. Hence it glimmers, though not unfolded, as in chap. 1:24, 25; 2:19.

Fragments Gathered Up: Church Seen Only in Christ

In the book of Revelation, as in all prophecy, the Church is seen only in Christ: so the rapture in chap. 12, and the saints are seen in full distinctness in chap. 19. Only before the prophecy begins, their place in respect of the judgments is seen (in chap. 4, as kings on their thrones, though owning all glory to be the Creator's, the Almighty; and in chap. 5 as priest).

Fragments Gathered Up: Ephesians 4-5

In Eph. 4; 5 God is in every way brought in. The new man is after God, &c., and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God.

Fragments Gathered Up: Genesis 3; 1 John

Gen. 3-1 John.
Eve surrendered God to the serpent. Assurance of truth and love in God is our strong tower. (Prov. 18:10.) The lie has darkened our mind as to God: the truth restores us to God morally; the blood judicially. The Son brings the truth that God is Light and Love. He is therefore called “the Word,” “the Light of men.” He puts us back in the strong tower. (1 John 4:6.)

Fragments Gathered Up: Hebrews 1 and 2

Heb. 1; 2 Before presenting Christ in service founded on His person, chapter 1 not simply gives the natures to which the respective services belonged, but presents His personal glory and place—what He is, not what He does for others. In order to this last, it states His divine and human nature; but before this, as I said, His place. God now spoke (ἐν υἱῷ) in [the person of the] Son. He is at the beginning of all creature existence as Creator, at the head of it as Heir of all things. Then, as between God and man, He reveals God, the brightness of His glory and express image of His being. He continuously upholds all things; and this, in a divine way, gives man his place with God. By Himself He purged our sins and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens—His own place, and His mediatorial place. It resembles Col. 1 in each part.
In chapter 2 we have Psa. 8 fulfilled as to the glorifying Christ, but not having all things put under His feet; but this the fruit of sufferings and death, so that as to title through righteousness God could bring sons to glory, and the power of Satan over them was destroyed. And while in the place of glorified Priest on high, where He has entitled us to enter, and where we as worshippers belong, He has passed through all the sorrows and temptations of the way so as to be perfectly suited in grace to our trials in the same path.

Fragments Gathered Up: Hebrews 10

Heb. 10—Here we see sin and atonement as estimated by God's thoughts and dealing. He before all, in His counsels (the volume of the book), dealt with sin in the way of His will. Christ offers Himself to come and do it. Sin is judged, thought of as God sees and thinks of it and in reference to himself. Such too is the measure of his love. And we are brought so to see it as regards ourselves. Hence the full peace and assurance we have. Atonement gets its value, and so does God's love, and sin withal.

Fragments Gathered Up: Job 33 and 34

Job 33 differs from chapter 36. The former speaks of God's ways with man, the latter of His ways with the righteous. Hence it does not follow from the first that man is converted: only God deals with him. If he hears, it is well, he gets the blessing. It is God—God dealing with man who owns He is and so breaking his pride: then if he hears the word, he gets the blessing.
In the latter chapter God is dealing with the righteous. He withdraws not His eyes from them: it is not only that He deals with them. Hence He has a specific object. He shows them their own ways, opens their ear, commands them to return, if they obey, and so on. This is a different and specific action. With hypocrites it is another thing. The general government of God is to be considered in the first case. (See ver. 29, 30.)

Fragments Gathered Up: John 1:28

John 1:28. The ground of God's first relationship with man was innocence; the next was sin, in respect of which He has developed what He is and glorified Himself in grace and divine righteousness. Hence this leads to what is heavenly, because it displays as He is there. In the new heavens and earth His relationship will not be as to innocence, nor, of course, sin, but righteousness. This is through Christ the Second Adam. It is secured in righteousness, which is past evil and all its power, but in those who have the divine quality of the knowledge of good and evil. This it is that is marked in the words, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Without that, God could not have been in relationship with it on the ground of righteousness.

Fragments Gathered Up: Matthew 26-28

Matt. 26-28
A very sure highway from our rains to His glories has been cast up and we are to tread it boldly.
All are present in this last scene; God, angels, disciples, man, Satan—proving themselves. And all get their answer. God in righteousness is satisfied—angels get fresh light and joy—feeble, failing disciples are restored—man is set aside as incurably apostate—Satan, with death, is defeated and spoiled.

Fragments Gathered Up: Numbers in Scripture

Numbers In Scripture.—Seven is completeness in an inward way—constituted completeness in a thing in itself, not in relationship to others, not compounded but constitutive completeness. Seven cannot be divided—it is the highest uncomposed number that cannot. Twelve is the most divisible of all, and means administrative completeness in man. So twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve apostles; as on the other hand, seven spirits of God, seven churches, seven seals and trumpets and vials.

Fragments Gathered Up: Promise and Covenant With Abraham

In Luke 1 the horn is raised up in the house of David, but all the expectation and testimony of the Spirit of God is connected with the promise to Abraham, when Christ (not Moses) is born. The angel only speaks of the fact. The heart of the saint recognizes the fulfillment of the promise and covenant with Abraham.

Fragments Gathered Up: Revelation 4-22

The rejection of the last phase of the ecclesiastical system on earth is the starting-point of the properly prophetic portion of the Revelation (chap. 4-22.).

Fragments Gathered Up: Revelation of God

Does not the nature of the effect produced as to the knowledge of God, where Christianity has existed. (or even Judaism), prove that there was a revelation of God?

Fragments Gathered Up: Righteousness, Life, Salvation

The righteousness we enjoy is of a new order, accomplished in another, imputed to us; unlike what the law proposed and demanded. The life we breathe is of a new order, infallible and victorious, had from the risen Christ, and unlike the life in Adam which had to be tested. The salvation which we inherit is of a new order; it is reserved or kept safe for us (1 Peter 1), unlike the Canaan which Joshua divided to Israel.
Thus, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” Note—righteousness is discussed by Paul; life by John; and salvation in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Fragments Gathered Up: Son of God Reveals God Himself

It is the Son of God who reveals God Himself, and thus becomes the center of His counsels, the manifestation of His glory, and the object of His ways.

Fragments Gathered Up: The Fulness of Him That Filleth All in All

The fullness of Him that filleth all in all is not simply Godhead, but Christ in redemption. Eph. 4:10 leads one to this. It is redemption, He who went into the lower parts of the earth is now far above all heavens.

Fragments Gathered Up: Typical Meaning of the Tabernacle Metals

Typical Meaning of the Tabernacle Metals.—Gold is intrinsic righteousness in God's nature—that which we approach in Him. I do not mean His essence, but what we approach. We come to the gold within in virtue of the blood, which not only introduces us but has glorified God perfectly as to sin.
Brass is the judgment of righteousness as applied to men. Hence the altar of burnt-offerings was of brass, as the laver was of brass; one judging sin in a sacrifice, the other by the word. It marked the immutable nature of that judgment. God who could not bear sin must deal with it. The sockets of the pillars of the court were of brass. The evil, measured by what man ought to be for God, has been put away on the brazen altar. This purges the conscience, as the blood on the mercy-seat brings into the light of God Himself.
But the fillets and hooks were of silver, as what gave stability was judgment or Gilgal work. The curtains separated the profane from the holy (i.e., God's) people, as with Him apart from the world at large. The hooks on the pillars, and the fillets were silver: this seems to be grace as displayed in man, God's grace; as the brass was God's judgment firm and immutable. So did grace secure, but it was the ornament. Judgment in God's ways secures, but it is its stability and as the foundation of God's immutableness. Grace in fact is what all hangs on in its actual maintenance.

Fragments Gathered Up: "We Know"

“We know” is a technical expression for the portion of Christians—known to them as such. “We know that the law is spiritual;” “we know that the Son of God is come;” and so on.

Fragments: God's Sacrifice

God was manifest in the flesh to fulfill a work of self-sacrifice for me. A man's sacrificing himself for me would present the highest human claim on a grateful heart; but God's doing it (that new, lovely, yet infinite fact, capable of filling the whole moral world) puts all that world in a new condition.


The first book of the Bible is the remarkable preface, as the Apocalypse is the equally striking conclusion, of the revelations of God. Its office is to present the germ, in one form or another, of nearly all the ways of God and man, which we find separately developed in the succeeding books of scripture: just as the Apocalypse is the natural close, presenting the ripened fruits even for eternity of all that had been sown from the.first, the ultimate results of every intervening interference of God and of His enemy.
Thus, Genesis sets forth the creation, of which man is chief (chap. 1.); and, adding (as we ought) the first three verses of chapter 2, the work and the rest of God, the principles of moral relationship with God and His creatures (2); the temptation of Satan with the fall, and his judgment by the Seed of the woman; and as in this chapter (3) sin against God, so in the next against man—his brother (especially this against Christ in type), sacrifice and worship, the world and the household of faith (6); the heavenly and the earthly testimonies to the coming of Christ (5); the apostasy of man (6); God's warning by His Spirit, and judgment in the deluge, with the salvation of a spared remnant in the ark and mercy to the creature (7); reconciliation in view of the earth and not of man only (8); God's covenant with creation and institution of government (9). The history of the present world is then given in its early rise and progress (10, 11.); the call and promises of God, and the history of the called (12); the heavenly and the earthly callings (13); the defeat of the confederate kings of the Gentiles, and the Melchizedec priesthood (14); the Jewish portion unfolded and confirmed, with the disclosure of long oppression previously from those specially judged, as others also (15); the typical introduction of the law or Hagar covenant (16); the intervention of God's grace, sealed by circumcision, and to be displayed in the heir of promise (17); whose further announcement is linked with the divine judgment about to fall once more on the yet more guilty world, but with intercession not in vain for the earthly people mixed up with the objects of vengeance, as the due place of those who, outside the evil, enjoy communion on high with God (18); salvation so as by fire out of the tribulation and judgment which swallow up the ungodly (19); failure of the faithful in maintaining their real relationship before the world (20); the son of promise is born, and the child of the flesh according to the law, is cast out, followed by the world's submission instead of reproof (21). Then follows the well-known shadow of Christ's death, as the provision of the Father's love and the oath of God after His resurrection (22) the covenant form of the blessing disappears (23); and the calling of the bride for the risen bridegroom, the new thing, ensues (24) Finally is seen the sovereign call of him, afterward named Israel, who is identified with the sorrows, exile, wandering, but ultimate blessing of that people (25-50), with the wonderful episode of his son Joseph, who is first rejected by his brethren after the flesh, suffers more still at the hands of the Gentiles, is next exalted (as yet unknown to his natural kindred) to the right hand of the throne; and lastly is owned in glory by the very brethren who had rejected him, but who now owe all to his wisdom and majesty and love.
Genesis is at once a book of matchless simplicity to him who glides over its surface, and of infinite depth to him who searches into the deep things of God.

The Gifts and Calling of God

(Rom. 11)
God has at all times a mind of His own in reference to those whom He has determined to bless. This mind, in its broadest view towards man, as meeting his condition and need as a sinner, is made known by the gospel to faith through the person of God's Son, and the finished work of redemption by His death on the cross. God's counsels in grace are thus set up in testimony before every creature under heaven; and believing in Christ introduces the soul into the blessings which lie in that purpose. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
When God by His sovereign and effectual grace thus gathers any to Himself, He makes known a purpose which exclusively pertains to them as His. This He reveals in a risen and glorified Lord and Head; and acquaintance with His mind and obedience to His will through the Holy Ghost connect His people with His thoughts and their own eternal blessing.
God had a purpose with Israel—the establishment of government upon the earth; and this He introduced by Moses and set up in the kingdom of David. A very important principle necessarily springs out of this manifestation of God to His people, since on this relation is formed their privilege, both as to intercourse with Himself and its moral result, or fruit in the sight of all around, to the glory of the Father.
Another thing is equally true, that the judgment of God finds its rule and exercise upon this ground; and by this standard “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” The way in which He introduces Himself and walks before them is to be the character of their walk towards each other.
While such manifestations of God give the common footing on which He stands with His people, yet there are higher revelations which He has made of Himself, and which, being circumscribed by calling, mark what are known as dispensations. This present one has its own peculiar communications from God the Father, consistency with which becomes our new and present consistency. Within the last half century God has been pleased to raise up in His Church a much fuller testimony to His grace in the gospel of His Son. Man, in his loud pretensions, has been exposed. Jesus, as Savior and Lord, has been exalted, and God's love seen to be triumphant by the cross over sin, the flesh, and Satan. Thousands of souls are the glad witnesses of the peace which the reception of this testimony has brought to the conscience and heart.
In addition to this, the Lord was pleased to awaken the attention of His saints to the dispensational structure of His word. Distinctions were seen to exist in the mind and actings of God towards the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church, which had long been overlooked; and this mode of dividing the word cleared away much obscurity from the eyes of His people. It was seen that these classifications were not only distinct from each other, but that each had a history peculiar to itself; and that intelligence as to this was the basis of communion with God, and with the government He executes. An immense breadth of truth was thus opened for the instruction and guidance of faith; and as all promise and blessing were found in divine counsel to be connected with the person of the Son, so the Lord Himself became more glorious to His people, not only as the accomplisher of salvation, but the fulfiller of all their cherished hopes, whether as the “root and offspring of David,” or as “the bright and morning star.”
Hence, this connection of the Lord with His own by the past, present, and future, brought Him into that prominence which the scriptures gave Him in the counsels of God, inasmuch as all covenanted grace and promised blessing in the coming glory were seen to be made “yea and amen in Christ.” Beyond this, there were discovered to be certain relations in which Jesus stood with man and Israel, which had not as yet been maintained according to the fullness of the prophetic word, and that these could not be displayed during His rejection from the earth and while hidden at the right hand of God. The cast-out Savior, the despised Messiah, and the rejected Lord, is gone “to receive for himself a kingdom and to return,” so that the glory proper to these relations is yet future. Nor is it till His second coming that the heavens and the earth will be the scene of their display.
Many hearts, once oppressed by disappointment or perplexed with doubt, have been set at rest by these blessed disclosures of the future glory of Christ at “his appearing and kingdom.” Many a saint has also been established in the certainty of the blessed hope of the Church—its being caught up previously, to meet the Lord in the air, in view of that day when “the marriage of the Lamb is come.” All these purposes of God towards His people, and their manner of accomplishment in Christ, and the believers' portion therein by grace, according to the seasons which the sovereignty of God has appointed, were opened up, and became the common ground of enjoyment with all whom He had thus separated unto Himself by His effectual calling. But there was a further revelation of His mind before the glorification of Christ and His people could take place, and consequent upon His ascension into heaven. This was to be based upon nothing less than the presence and relation of the Holy Ghost to the body—the Church— “the habitation of God [on earth] through the Spirit.” This body, so formed and recognized, has become the new object of the Lord's special care and love, as well as of His faithful ministry as its Head. The epistles generally, and some in particular, get their very subject from these relations, and plainly reveal the mystery of Christ, and the Church—His body and His bride, “which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”
Luther and the Reformation described its own circle for the given time, when the Papacy was dominant in Christendom; but the grand distinction between then and now, which has just been given in outline, is immense. It is scarcely possible to overrate the value which attaches to the great cardinal truth of a believer's justification by faith in a crucified Savior and Lord. Still it was but as drops from a cloud previous to the shower of blessing which was to be poured out on the Church of God, according to the largeness of His own thoughts towards His people.
Since Luther's days, God has as surely brought into prominence some further truths connected with Christ and the Church, which had been long lost; and it is of the greatest moment for us to challenge our souls whether we know and hold them fast. Who has not been interested in observing corresponding differences when reading the history of the nation of Israel under its revival kings, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, in the days of its Tirshatha, or of its scribe? Nehemiah, as we know, was occupied with building the wall of Jerusalem; and Ezra with the re-establishment of its temple.
Luther, like Nehemiah, may thus be classified as a builder of the wall; for surely justification by faith is the great bulwark of Christianity. Ezra, with his temple work, may, in principle, be as fitly the representative of those who are now led to the acknowledgment that there is one body, and who are seeking to gather upon this ground, in the confession that “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” Wherever the Church is thus viewed, the practical effect has been manifested in the accession of thousands from the established and dissenting forms of our times, though there has been nothing tangible or attractive to please the outward eye. All such as have been delivered in the present day from the false systems around can say, at the very least, with Ezra, “And now for a little space grace hath been shown from the Lord our God to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage, for we were bondmen.”
It is useless accounting for the present wide departure from God's revealed thoughts concerning the Church; but one may well say on this point, If the Jehovah of Israel was so imperative with Moses, that the tabernacle should, in the minutest things, be made according to the pattern showed to him on the mount, what must the offense of our day be in His sight, when the amalgamation is so complete between these establishments and the nations of Christendom, that it may be fairly said there is neither Church nor world any longer visible? These terms are no more distinctive, as relating to two bodies, essentially different in their nature and destiny. If this be questioned, where is anything to be shown which corresponds to what Paul said: “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy, for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ?” Or again; to what existing body can such a scripture as this be applied: “Ye are the epistle of Christ written in our hearts, known and read of all men"? The prophetic word by Paul and the Apocalyptic writer warn of a falling away, and of an apostasy—and it is a reflection on Pentecost and the apostles to say these are gone by—and more especially as they write of “the last times.” But it is a proper confession for all to make, that these be the days, and that we are living in the closing hours of a present evil age.
Intelligible enough to him that hath an ear to hear is that voice from heaven— “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.” Is this admonition bandied about from Protestantism to Popery, and from St. Peter's to St. Paul's? Let those who do so take heed, and rather accept the closing words of prophetic warning to the churches, before the Lord comes for His own, and before the angel with the sharp sickle does his work on “the clusters of the vine of the earth” when it is “cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” No discovery can equal that of the man who is led by the Spirit to see what is the special and particular work that God at any time is carrying on, and particularly in these last days, by which He seeks to rescue souls from the general apostasy, and bring a remnant into His own mind and work. Can we not value the separated place which Elijah held with Jehovah in the days of Jezebel, and the bright testimony which he gave to Israel against Baal? Is this altogether a voice in the past, or is there now a Thyatira, and Jezebel and her children, in the messages to the seven churches? Is it not a present warning, when the angel says, “I will kill her children with death?
Can any one weigh these warnings and threatenings aright, who for a moment longer stays in the thing prophesied against? Would any learn to estimate the value and sweetness of the promise, “I will sup with him,” and “I will give him the morning star?” let him come out upon the authority of that word— “I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it.”
May all who have followed in obedience these previous directions of the Lord to the churches, and have proved that “outside the camp” is to be with Jesus, remember the exhortation to such, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

The Glory of God

The path of the glory through scripture may be easily tracked, and has much moral value for us connected with it.
Ex. 13 It commences its journey in the cloud, on the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, when the paschal blood, in the grace of the God of their fathers, had sheltered them.
Ex. 14 In the moment of the great crisis it stood, separating between Israel and Egypt, or between judgment and salvation.
Ex. 16 It resented the murmurings of the camp.
Ex. 24 It connected itself with Mount Sinai, and was as devouring fire in the sight of the people.
Ex. 40 It leaves that Mount for the tabernacle, the witness of mercy rejoicing against judgment, resuming also in the cloud its gracious services toward the camp.
Lev. 9 The priest being consecrated and his services in the tabernacle being discharged, it shows itself to the people to their exceeding joy.
Num. 9 Resuming their journey in company with the tabernacle, the congregation enjoy the guidance of the cloud, which now attends the tabernacle, while the glory fills it.
Num. 16 In the hour of full apostasy it shows itself in judicial terror in the sight of the rebellious people.
Deut. 31 In the cause of Joshua, an elect and faithful vessel, it reappears in the cloud.
2 Chron. 5 On the temple being built, a new witness of grace, the glory and the cloud reappear to the joy of Israel, as of old.
Ezek. 1-11 Again, in another hour of full apostasy, the glory, taking wings and wheels to itself, as it were, leaves the temple.
Acts 7 Stephen, an earth-rejected man, sees it in heaven in company with Jesus.
Rev. 21:9 In millennial days it descends from heaven in its new habitation, the holy Jerusalem, “the Lamb's wife,” resting above in the air, from whence it shades and illumines the dwellings of Israel again (Isa. 4:5), as it once did from the cloud in the wilderness, or enters the second temple, the temple of the millennium. (Ezek. 43; Hag. 2)
Such is the path of the glory, the symbol of the divine presence. Its history, as thus traced, tells us that, if man be in company with grace, he can rejoice in it; but that it is devouring fire to all who stand under Mount Sinai. It tells us also that, while it cheers and guides them on their way, it resents the evil and withdraws from the apostasy of God's professing people.
It is very instructive and comforting to note these things in the history of the glory, which was the symbol of the divine presence. And if that presence displayed itself in other forms, the same lessons are still taught us. The most eminent of the sons of men were unable to brook it in themselves; but in Christ all, high and low, unnamed and distinguished ones, could not only bear it but rejoice in it.
Adam fled from the presence of God. But the moment he listened to the promise of Christ, believing it he came forth into that presence again with fullest and nearest confidence.
Moses, favored as he was, could not abide it save in Christ, the Rock, the riven rock of salvation. (Ex. 33)
Isaiah, chief among the prophets, dies at the sight of the glory, till a coal from the altar, the symbol of Christ in His work for sinners, purges his sin away. (Chap. 6)
Ezekiel and Daniel, companions with him in the prophetic office, with him also fail utterly in the divine presence, and are able afterward to stand it only through the gracious interference of the Son of man. (Ezek. 3; Dan. 10)
John, the beloved disciple, the honored apostle, even in the very place and time of his suffering for Jesus, takes the sentence of death into himself at the sight of the glorified Jesus till He who lived and died and lived again spoke to him and gave him peace and assurance. (Rev. 1)
These distinguished ones cannot measure the divine presence by anything but the simple virtue of what Christ is to them and for them. In that virtue they abide it at peace; and so, with them, does the most distant and unnamed one of the camp witness a scene already referred to. (Lev. 9) There, all who stood at the door of the tabernacle beholding the consecration and services of the priest, the typical Christ, triumph in the presence of the glory; as also in another scene referred to (2 Chron. 5), when the ark, another type of Christ, is brought into the house of God.
Sin and righteousness account for all this.
Sin is attended by this, as its necessary consequence—a coming short of the glory of God. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” This has been illustrated in the cases or in the histories I have been tracing. Sin incapacitates us to stand the force of the divine presence. It is too much for a sinner. But there is full relief. For if sin and incapacity to brook the presence or glory of God be morally one, so is righteousness and a return to that presence.
Sin implies a condition or state of being; and so does righteousness. And as sin is incapacity to come up to God's glory, righteousness is that which measures God's glory. It is capacity to stand in the fullest brightness of it; as those histories also illustrate. For in Christ, through the provisions of grace, or set in the righteousness of God by faith, all those whom we have looked at, whether great or small, found themselves at ease in the divine presence.
We experience all this toward our fellow-creatures. If we have wronged a person, we instinctively “come short” of his presence; we are uneasy at it, and seek to avoid it. But if we receive a. pardon from him, sealed with the full purpose and love of his heart, we return to his presence with confidence. And how much more so, I may say, if we saw that he was pressing that pardon upon us with all the skill and diligence of love, and at the same time telling us that all the wrong we had done him had been infinitely repaired, and that he himself had good reason to rejoice in the wrong because of the repairing? Surely all this would form a ground, and be our warrant, for regaining his presence with more assurance and liberty than ever.
Now, such is the gospel. It warrants the sinner to entertain all these thoughts with full certainty. The wrong we had committed, the offense which Adam did against the love, the truth, and the majesty of God, has all been gloriously repaired by Christ. God is more honored in the satisfaction than He would have been, had the wrong never been done. All His rights are provided for in their fullest demands and to their highest point of praise. He is “just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
Faith assumes this, and the believer, therefore, does not come short of the glory of God, though as a sinner he once did. Faith receives “the righteousness of God;” and the righteousness of God can and does measure the glory of God. In His righteousness we can stand before His glory. And that it can in this sense measure His glory—that faith in the gospel, or in the ministry of righteousness, can set us with liberty, or open face in presence of the glory of God—is taught in 2 Cor. 3; 4; yea, indeed, that the expression of that glory can be had only in the ministry of righteousness, the full glory only “in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The Glory of the Only-Begotten

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”
This was the manifestation of the Christ as Son, and declared through the Spirit by John. And it is this glory, this fullness of grace and truth, which shines throughout the public ministry of the Christ as recorded by John in chapters 1-9. And in the progress of that ministry, I have observed two attributes or actings of this glory.
1. It always refuses to join itself with other glory of any kind whatever.
2. It perseveres in displaying itself in defiance of every kind of resistance.
These two ways, constantly adhering to it, evince the value it had for itself, and the fixedness of the divine purpose to bless the sinner, to whose condition and necessities this glory suits itself.
In chapter 2, Jesus is tempted by His mother to let the glory of power break from Him. In chapter 3, Nicodemus invites Him to display Himself as a teacher. In chapter 6, the multitude would make Him a king. In chapter 7, His brethren would have Him show Himself to the world. In chapter 8, the Pharisees would have Him use the thunder of mount Sinai in judgment. But no offer or solicitation prevails. Jesus will not show Himself save as “full of grace and truth,” or in the glory of the “only-begotten of the Father.” He refuses to appear in any other glory or act in any other character. But then in that glory He will shine, and in that character He will act, be the resistance or hindrance what it may; and in considering this I would be, at present, a little more particular.
In chapter 4, we see the Lord insisting to shine in the glory of grace and truth, in spite of hindrance and resistance from a most determined quarter— “the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. But Jesus, the Son of God, shines with as bright and diffused a beam in one region as in another, refusing to be hindered.
In chapter 5, the Lord holds on His course in the same simple undistracted character, in defiance of fear or danger. The Jews sought to slay Him, because He did these things on the sabbath day. But His answer to such danger or threatening was only this— “My Father worketh hitherto and I work;” and on He goes, still He perseveres, as the witness of the way of the Father or the grace of God, though this might only sharpen the enmity and dispose the Jews the more to seek to slay Him.
In chapter vi., this peculiar glory, by which alone He was tracking His path, again has to meet a sore hindrance. The Lord evidently feels a great moral distance from the multitude. They were very much, as we speak, His aversion. They had stirred some of the holy loathing of His righteous soul. This is evident, and this the heart knows to be a sore hindrance. But this does not hinder Him from maintaining the display of His proper glory, which was for their blessing. “Labor not for the meat that perisheth,” says He to them, “but for that meat that endureth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him hath God the Father sealed.” And so in chapter vii., as in chapter v., He holds on His way, though enemies were angry and confederating, and sending officers to. take Him. For after all this, the glory that was full of grace and truth breaks forth into some of its brightest shining, on the great last day of the feast, Jesus standing and saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” What vigor in the purpose must there have been which could have thus borne it on in triumph through such a series of opposition and hindrances! And so, to the very last, I may say, this glory appears in unmeasured regions. Jesus “passes by.” (Chap. ix.) He goes wherever He may go. But it is still in the same character. Change of clime, so to speak, makes no difference. The glory is still full of grace and truth, the glory “as of the only-begotten of the Father.” Jesus sees a man blind from his birth; but He is “the light of the world.” And Jesus afterward finds him cast out, but takes him up for eternity.
I know not that anything can more thoroughly assure the heart of a sinner of his interest in the Son of God than all this. No resistance prevails, no temptation. Nothing can force Him, nothing withdraw Him, from His purpose to bless them, for a single moment. That glory, and that only which suits their necessities, breaks forth on every occasion in which we see Jesus acting, urging its way through every hindrance, and retiring from every distraction. What intimates fixedness of purpose like this? If you see a man going on with his work, undaunted by opposition and undiverted by allurements, what need we more to know the singleness and decision of his soul? And such is the Son of the Father in this action. In the glory that suits the need of sinners He shines, and in that only, be the medium that would obscure it as thick as it may, or the solicitation that would distract it as flattering as it may.
O precious, saving grace! How does all this, in other language, tell us that God has found it more blessed to give than to receive! Jesus was “the Word made flesh,” “God manifest in the flesh.” And had He pleased, as these chapters show us, He might have received the praises of men, the admiration of the world, the crown of the kingdom; but He passes all by, fixed on the one purpose of carrying out the blessing to poor sinners.

The Glory That Excelleth

(2 Cor. 3)
This chapter contrasts two glories—that of “the letter,” and that of “the Spirit” —law—glory, and gospel-glory, or old and new covenant glories.
Moses, as he stood at the foot of the hill, reflected or represented the glory of the law. The children of Israel instinctively shrank from it as Adam did from the voice of the Lord God in the garden. It was intolerable; and Moses had to put a vail over his face.
Moses, as he stood on the top of the hill, was in the light or sphere of the new covenant. The glory he saw was the glory of “the Lord,” or of “the Spirit,” the glory of God in the face of Jesus. And he necessarily took the vail off his face. This is very simple and full of comfort.
The old and new covenants are just, in this way, the contradiction one of another. The old calls on man to act for God, the new reveals God as acting for man. (See Heb. 8) If the soul instinctively apprehend death in the one, it instinctively apprehends life in the other. If the old demanded a vail, the new takes it away.
The first operation therefore of the glory which Moses saw on the top of the hill was to remove his vail. The light of life was shining in that region, and Moses must walk there with open face. It was not the voice of thunder that was heard there, but the voice of the truth, and Moses could not but listen. He was all eye and ear in so happy a place. He used great plainness or openness. And Paul tells us that he was in spirit exactly one with him in all this.
The second operation of the same glory is also blessed. For as it rent the vail off Paul's face, so did it leave its own impression on his face. This was another virtue which was in it, With unveiled face Paul beheld that glory and was changed into the same image from glory to glory. And he lets us see through this Second Epistle to the Corinthians, how in various rays or features of glory, he was manifesting the truth of the new covenant, or savoring of Christ (a fellow worker with Him), and thus changed into the same image.
Here, however, a distinction full of beauty and of comfort presents itself. The first of these operations is perfect, because it was accomplished solely by the Lord on Moses or Paul. When they turned to the Lord, the vail was taken away, as it will be from Israel by and by. The second of them is imperfect, because it was carried on by the Spirit in Paul. It was a progressive operation meeting with resistance from nature in Paul. We are not to measure the one by the other. This is comforting. We are not to say, because I am not fully changed into the same image, therefore is the vail not entirely taken away. This very scripture resents such a conclusion, because it skews the vail gone altogether, but the image only coming as it were progressively. Indeed, it teaches us to say this—that the vail was no more able to stand the light of the glory which shone on the top of the hill, than the Israelite was able to stand the light of the glory which shone at the foot of the hill. The face of a sinner cannot abide the one nor the vail on his face the other. But it likewise teaches us that the second of these operations is also very excellent.
The apostle sought to reflect that glory before which he was set, as well as to enjoy it. And as I have said before, the exhibition of this in a desultory informal way is very much the business of this epistle. The early chapters present the apostle in much of the spirit, and in many of the leading moral energies, of his ministry; and such he expressly connects with the Lord and the truth which he had received, and before whom he was walking. Thus, his stability (chap. 1:17-22)—his healing a repentant brother (chap. ii. 5-10)—his being a savor to God. in all his ministry (chap. 2:14-17)—his not fainting in his labors and his renunciation of all deceit or dishonesty (chap. 4:1, 2)—his dying daily (chap. 4:10, 11)—his hoping for resurrection (chap. 4:13, 14)—his personal devotedness (chap. 5:14, 15), these and other characteristics of his service in the churches he exhibits as so many reflections of that glory he was beholding, and into the image of which he was, as from glory to glory, changing. The third chapter is, thus, in the midst of this, a disclosing of the spring of all that grace and strength he was exhibiting in his labors in the gospel. And this is real ministry.
What beautiful rays of glory shine in this way! And they are but reflections, faint reflections, of that great original glory, the glory of God in the—face of Jesus, which he was ever beholding. And then what wondrous consolation springs to our souls from this! For if Paul could thus serve—if he could walk in such ways of personal grace and devotedness in the midst of temptations and sorrows, and all this for others, what riches and glory of grace must we have to do with and to trust in, seeing that his ways are but the reflections of all that! This is, indeed, consolation. The glory which Moses reflected caused him to hide himself, for he could not bear it; the glory which Paul reflected brought him into the midst of the need and sorrow of others, there to act in full self-devotedness and grace.

What God Is for Us

We have in the death and resurrection of Christ a standing witness of what God is for us.

The Gold of the Mercy Seat

The gold on the mercy-seat is intrinsic, and so proper divine righteousness; the brazen altar is governmental righteousness in connection with sin. Both answer to the character of acceptance in Christ. God has in the cross judged and put away sin. He has dealt with sin so that we are free. But then in Christ’s death God was perfectly glorified, and the reception before the throne is in the perfection of this. Christ is there in consequence of this and we are there in him—the righteousness of God in him. This is not dealing with sin, but what God delights in—can and must delight in. No doubt the blood on the mercy seat is witness of the putting away of sin according to the exigencies of divine perfection; but there is more than this—Christ is sitting there. On the brazen altar sin is righteously dealt with; on the golden throne divine righteousness is delighted in

Grace and Truth

Scripture speaks of grace as well as truth. It speaks of God's love who gave His only-begotten Son that sinners like you and me might be with Him, know Him, enjoy Him forever, and enjoy Him now; that the conscience, perfectly purged, might be in joy in His presence, without a cloud, without a reproach, without fear.

True Greatness

I do not know that there is a more touching lesson in any of the words or ways of our Lord Jesus Christ than that which comes before us at the last supper.
First of all His desire is to eat that paschal feast with His disciples. He was the only One who knew what it meant—the One to whom it spoke of such a burden as never was nor could be borne by mere man. And yet with desire He desired to eat of that passover before He suffered. He knew it was the immediate harbinger of His death upon the cross. Yet there was not one of the disciples that so desired to eat it with Him, as He desired to eat it with them. This is love, and love is self-sacrificing.
It was this cup that He told them to divide among themselves—not that of the Lord's supper. Our Lord Jesus never partook of His own supper. He partook of the paschal supper, but not of His own. For this is for us, being the witness of a redemption which He wrought for us (not for Himself, of course). The paschal supper was for Him as well as for the disciples, and He desired to eat it along with them. On the occasion of the passover, after its cup was passed round, He institutes His own supper; but before that He says He was no longer to drink of the fruit of the vine till the kingdom of God was come. He had done with the earth and had no fellowship more with men in flesh and blood. He took the supper, to Him not a sign of joy, but of the deepest suffering. The Lord's supper, which speaks to us of perfect peace through His suffering, He needed not: He gave it all to us.
But this very thing forthwith brings out, as grace invariably does, whatever is unjudged in nature. The more love you show, if there is not a heart that answers to it, it is but provoked by it, and takes advantage of it. The very perfection of Christ's love brought out whatever was unjudged in the disciples. As for one of them, there was nothing at all in him but unjudged self, and he betrayed his Master. As for the others, what were they doing? They were striving at that precise moment which of them should be the greatest. That was the question in their minds. Jesus was going to show that He would become the least and lowest of all, that they might be exalted; yet this was just the moment in which they had this discussion which should be the chief among them. But our Lord turned it to infinite profit, bringing out for us the character of true greatness. Self is never great, and it has the consciousness of its own littleness. Persons strive to be great, when they have no greatness in reality; whereas when the soul has found Christ and when Christ is the object of the soul, our satisfaction in His greatness forms our affections. Accordingly, here with the disciples, self was their object. Thus they were totally inconsistent with what Christ had made them. Had they had Christ, not only as their life before God, but as the object of that life, there would have been, without a thought about it, the real greatness which properly belongs to the child of God.
True greatness at the present time is shown by being nothing at all. Greatness can go down; greatness, instead of seeking to be served, serves others: greatness now, in an evil world far from God, shows itself in the resources of grace known in Christ before God, and going out of that fullness which it possesses in Christ. Everything in the world is founded on the exact opposite; and the deeper runs the stream of the world, the greater is the desire to be something, and the desire to parade whatever we think we have. This is flesh in its littleness; and flesh and the world always keep company together. Self likes the world: it holds hard what it has got, and seeks to make a bargain with the world to get more. The knowledge of Christ delivers from all this. But a Christian who does not know that he is a Christian, who does not know that he has got Christ and eternal life in Christ is entirely inconsistent, and all else must be out of course. In order to have practical power, I must not only have the thing, but know that I have it. Supposing a man possesses all the wealth of India and does not know that he has got it, it is practically useless to him. The consequence is that the man, after the manner of men, is miserable; he can do nothing, serve nothing, help nothing. The possession of the things of this life never makes a man happy; but Christ does, and we possess all in Him.
Why was the poor widow who gave the mites the richest of all, as the Lord Jesus marks her out with His eye of love? She was the only one who had such consciousness of what she hoped for from God, that all that she had in the world was but an offering for the Lord. And we rob ourselves as well as defraud Him if we do not exercise this ennobling faith. Conscious of what we possess in Christ, all that we have is at the Lord's disposal. The consciousness of the grace of Christ imprints its own character upon us; and instead of seeking, it gives, and instead of seeking to be served by others, it loves to serve. There is not one of us that is free from this tendency to self, but there is not one that may not have a complete victory over it. Let my heart be only towards Christ and set upon Christ, and it will be impossible for Satan to get me into anything mean or selfish. But let my eye be off Christ, and there is nothing I may not do, nothing too low or too unworthy that Satan may not slip in by.
What is the Bible? The history of the struggle between God and the devil. This one thing runs from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. It is not merely a question of man, but of Satan working by man to dishonor God. The earth was the place where the battle was fought. The first Adam comes, but falls; and all the history of the Old Testament is the failure of the first Adam with promises and predictions of the triumph of the Second. Then the New Testament comes; the battle is over, the triumph is won. We are put with the Second Adam, and Christ looks that we should be victorious. But we are never victorious except so far as Christ is our object, when He is before our eyes at each moment, in each difficulty or trial that comes before us here below. When are we happy? When Christ is before our eyes—not when we are looking back to the happiness of yesterday. Satan would have us look back upon past happiness, and perhaps date our blessing upon such or such a day. But it ought not to be so. I am, of course, to have a joyful recollection of all that the Lord shows me, and I shall certainly not forget the first moment of blessing from Him. But how miserable if this only be our comfort and stability now, and our assurance that we shall be with Christ! Nay; it is a living Christ that we have—a Christ that died and is. alive again, and a Christ that would imprint His own character upon us, making us truly great. It is holding fast what Christ has given us that delivers us from littleness, and bolding it fast in Christ Himself.
The Lord grant that, strengthened of His grace, we may be enabled thus to do. Then each word of Christ will have its own power over our souls, will be clothed with His own love; it will come to us not as some great draft upon us, as if the Lord could be enriched by us, save only in such honor to Him as really blesses our own souls. It is the consciousness that we have such blessing, such wealth, such dignity in Christ, which gives and keeps us in the feeling that all that is of this world would rather detract from us than add anything to us. It is not only that we have got Christ, but that there is nothing but Christ that is a real honor or power or glory to the saint of God. And the bright day will come when Jesus will tell us what He told the disciples, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” This was after the discussion of who should be the greatest, after He had before Him the treachery of one disciple, and the unworthy vanity of the others; after it all that He says, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” But knowing all that they had been in the past, the trial they had been to Himself, their many weaknesses and failures, yet He puts it as an honor to them, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” It was He who had continued with them, who had sustained and kept them in spite of themselves. Yet see how love delights in saying to us, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me: that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”
The Lord give us then to be steadfast. It is but a little while. Soon the time of our trials and temptations will close. Soon the time of Christ's dishonor in this world will give place to a throne of glory, and every eye shall see Him, and every knee bow before Him. May we be faithful to Him for this little while. Bright will be the remembrance of suffering for Him in His presence forever!

Heads of Psalms: Book 5

(Psa. 107, &C.)
We begin here a new sphere. Israel restored is the occasion of the display of all the characters of God's dealings with the world as to His righteousness and judgment; and, by the introduction of the personal history of Christ in His rejection and exaltation, of deeper principles of His dealings relative to the person of Jesus, as the center of all economy. It is Jewish, but Jewish as to circumstances which concern all mankind.
Thanks to Jehovah characterize its introduction proclaimed by restored Israel, and witness His mercy their well-known song in the end. Verses 2, 3 especially call for this praise in the circumstances of Israel. The psalm itself speaks of the restoration, and, though there was a similar deliverance from Egypt, that shall be nowise mentioned; for they shall not say The Lord liveth who brought them up out of the land of Egypt. “They wandered;” therefore verse 4 I take to be on their return in the latter day; they had been (ver. 10) sitting in darkness; “for he hath broken the gates of brass.” (Ver. 16.) So of their tossings on the sea. From verse 32 is what happens to them after they find their place in the land; and though they are then punished and brought low, yet all iniquity in result shall stop her month. Those who observe and understand these things will, in spite, and even through all the miseries of Israel, as ever, understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. But His dealings are a pattern of instruction for the children of men in these days; and they are called (ver. 31, 32) to execute this praise in Israel, in the assembly joining with them.
In Psa. 108 we have the full political arrangements under the glory of Christ. God is to be exalted; Messiah, as man, addresses God; and the Lord Himself with God making His glory as man the expression of what He is thereto subservient. The Lord among the peoples as chief of Israel for His mercy is above the heavens, and His truth above all seats and ways of authority or appearances which may pass through the heavens. He, even God, is to be exalted, that His beloved, the Messiah, Israel in Him, may be delivered; the right hand of God's power is to be manifested. Verse 7: God answers (Elohim) in His holiness from which He cannot depart—thus generally. Verse 10. Edom is singled out, long and specially hostile (see Obad. 1:1, 1, 3, 7); and Messiah in the name of Israel demands who will go out and bring him into Edom, the center of hostile power (so in many passages). Man's help is now vain; God will do it—God's immutable glory leaving all earthly appearances far behind, and producing its own upon the earth. Israel concludes, thus encouraged, “Through God we shall do valiantly.”
Having in Psa. 107 the providence, and in Psa. 108 the determined glory of God, we have now (Psa. 109; 110) the part of Christ respectively in rejection and heavenly glory, until His manifestation. In Psa. 109, as the poor man entirely and self-emptyingly dependent upon God; but therefore the prey of the treachery and wanton, but proud hostility of the Jews and those who lead them, who were guide to them who took Jesus. The Jews are manifestly noticed as verse 4 and Judas, but both headed up in the wicked man who shall be set over them—the representative of both the Jews and Judas; but after all, it was all the Lord's doing; and then let them curse, but “bless thou.” Verses 29-31 are faith's estimate as from the Lord's truth of the result.
Psa. 110 We have on this rejection of Messiah, the answer of Jehovah, and Christ recognized in the midst of all this suffering and rejection by His Spirit, even in the mouth of the most exalted of Israel, and of all Israel as Lord. David in Spirit calls him Lord.
Foes He had found plenty—the same as all; for His love they were His adversaries; but He was to sit at the right hand of Jehovah until His enemies were made His footstool. Hereafter the Lord world send the rod of His power out of Zion: He should rule, instead of suffer, among His enemies. His people should be willing, not in the day of His humiliation, but of His power. “The dew of thy youth” is, I apprehend, the progeny given Him in Israel instead of fathers in that day. Moreover, Jehovah both sworn He shall be a priest after the order of Melchizedec. He does not say He is on high—that was not Melchizedec’s place, but a royal priesthood of the Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, though the title of His life is not on high. Further, there is a day of Adonai's wrath as well as power. “He shall smite through kings in the day of his wrath.” He shall in that day judge also among the heathen which shall be His empire, powerful and decisive His judgment. He shall smite not only many, leaving there their carcasses, but the haughty head of a great country. I used to think this Antichrist; but it does not appear to me certain that this is not Gog, for he is exercising apparently his authority rather amongst the Jews than amongst the saints. We may inquire more of both, for both are true, but it is rather, I conceive, Antichrist. Verse 7: He shall be humbled, in dependence on the refreshings of God in the way: therefore shall He lift it up. The other had exalted it, and he shall be brought low. Such is the proposed glory of Messiah as such, as Jehovah's answer to His adversaries' betrayal and humiliation. One cannot exclude Antichrist without further inquiry, however.
The three psalms which follow are the joint Hallelujah upon these things.
In Psa. 111 Messiah leads the chorus, or instructs it rather, of the assembly of His people of the upright. The works of the Lord in providential power for the accomplishment of all the promises of His covenant are the theme—redemption for them, truth for Him—power and judgment. His covenant proved and established also, as commanded forever. It is holy glory proved in it—the fear of Him—the way of understanding despite of all the rebellions of man.
In Psa. 112 the difference of the character and results (as God's part previously) of these fearers of the Lord who delight (for the heart is active in these things) greatly in the Lord's commandments. Here now is the way even of earthly grandeur, but the desire of the wicked shall perish, the dealings of the Lord, the result and character of uprightness, and His fear in man being shown. The results break forth in praise in the chorus of those happy through it. Christ summons them in spirit, thus blessed at their head, to praise the name of Jehovah, the subject of the hallelujah in each; for none is like to Jehovah, the God of that people high above all the heathen and His glory above the heavens. All things in heaven and earth united under His possession, and specially blessing the poor and lowly Israel. This is Psa. 113 Note His name is to be praised to the end of the earth.
Psa. 109 and 110 having brought in the rejection of Messiah by the Jews and His exaltation to the right hand of Jehovah, and so judgment on Antichrist, or at least the head over a great country, on account of His humiliation (it may possibly mean, and more probably, Israel's after enemies, not Antichrist), then the relation of Jehovah and Israel and what is connected with it. Psa. 114 begins the application and effect of this to the earth—the effect of the presence of Israel's God. It recalls to the earth; to what happened when Israel was first delivered by Him. But Israel was now brought back to refer to God. Their souls were in communion with Him and their minds were so full of Jehovah Elohim that they say Him without mentioning Him. They know Him as their God and conceal His name as it were in a sort of secret triumph as belonging to themselves, and put forth only His works, until having stated them, the psalm calls upon them to triumph before Him, the God of Jacob. There is great beauty and natural power in the structure of this psalm. Of old time this was the case. Israel went out of Egypt; Judah was His sanctuary and Israel His dominion. What happened? How did nature quail before Him, before this power in Israel, before Israel coming forth! What ailed the sea and the mountains? Tremble they now at the presence of Jehovah, the God of Jacob? What joy for Israel! It was the earth, for in Jacob He is in the earth, and when Jacob says Tremble, he still remembers that to him He was a God of grace. He turned the rock into a standing water.
Psa. 115 But though Israel may boast themselves triumphantly, turning to the earth when it looks on high, it can only say, He hath done what pleased Him. “Not to us, not to us, O Jehovah,” the expression not merely of humble consciousness but of righteous desire. “To thy name give glory;” but His name is identified, for He has identified it, with them: “for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake,” for thus His name was manifested towards Israel. If only truth, then must Israel have been rejected, for they had crucified their Messiah as well as broken their law, but the promises of Jehovah must not fail because man does; and therefore in His inscrutable wisdom He brings in by mercy the accomplishment of His truth, and when (instead of going about to establish their own righteousness, they stumble at the stumblingstone) they take mercy as their only and just hope, then the truth is re-established according to God's own promises and heart, and Jesus is owned as the way of it; for חֶסֶד and אֱמֶת came by Him and, though rejected, will be established with greater additional splendor and glory by Him. This then was now different—a ground for Israel, not the law. The law was given by Moses—that was their righteousness. But they had failed, utterly failed. Such is the ground Israel rests on then, and the question can really be raised between God in Jacob and the heathen acting in scornful despite of their old sorrows and present abasement, saying, Where is He? The answer is of faith. Though Jesus may not yet be publicly manifested, yet by the Spirit of Christ in the midst of them, “our God is in the heavens,” and as to all the prosperity of the Gentiles and their abasement, they say, as Jesus on the non-repentance of Israel, “He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” The heathen idols are nothing (compare Isaiah from chapter 50, where the question is raised and the humiliation of Christ also brought in) and so they that trust in them. Then the Spirit of Christ thereon turns and addresses itself to Israel, “O Israel, trust in Jehovah,” and asserts also the mercy—He is their helper; and then the promise of millennial blessing from verse 14; but Jewish and earthly then opened. Verses 17, 18 are full of blessing, but blessing for Israel on earth.
As in Psa. 115, the Spirit of Christ entered into the confidence of Israel on the footing to them of mercy, so in Psa. 116 into the sorrows in sympathy. Then as mercy was to them merely, it begins “to us;” here being their sorrows, it begins at once, “I love the Lord,” though in answer to a cry, for He cried for them (i.e., in the world); and was just the One that did, taking their sorrows. Present salvation was the point, when only faith in the Lord could enable him to speak—such was the persecution. Death so wrought in him (not θάνατος where this is quoted, as the portion of the remnant partaking of the sufferings of Christ; but νέκρωσις) but here still referring to the Jews' portion. “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living,” which the Lord as amongst the Jews sought, “if it had been possible;” but it was not, “for sin was in the world.” The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die—a man must be born again. But the apostle uses it in the energy of the Spirit, when the sufferings of Christ abounded in him, always bearing about, &c. And after all, if even bitter things were reserved for them, the hairs of their head were all numbered. Satan could do nothing unpermitted (and thus for glory and sowing precious seed of faith, showing them there was a better resurrection, so that with us men could be baptized for the dead), for precious in the sight of the Lord was the death of His saints. He did not lightly permit it. Oh for faith to go straight on in this confidence, not fearing them which can kill the body! And if we have to say, “All men are liars,” still speaking because we believe, because we trust in the living God, we shall soon say with Paul, “Thou hast loosed my bands.” “I am thy servant” (not to their enemies). He hath delivered us from so great a death, and will (though life was despaired of), for precious in the sight of Jehovah was the death of His chosen one. Specially will this be manifested in the latter day for the remnant; in the land of the living will they walk before the Lord. The flesh of the elect will be saved; for their sakes the terrible days will be shortened, and the vows of the Lord will be paid in the presence of His people (i.e., the Spirit of Christ in and as the Head of the people, whom when thus persecuted He calls “me” in like manner). “In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee” —for it is addressed as a present thing— “O Jerusalem.” The union between the Church and Christ, and the Jewish remnant and Christ, is different: we being as His body above, and therefore in a heavenly manner being one spirit; the other, as their Head and standing for them in present blessing and manifested, yet still completely taking their cause as His own, and in His Spirit entirely one with them; and therefore in this sense the erased passage alluded to and the Apostle Paul's quotation, I believe, has its force; the latter however was during life, and so with the remnant. Light is here also shown in the glory out of the remnant of Jacob. As dew, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, a more general expression (John baptized could do that), and the outpouring of the Spirit. (See 2 Cor. 6:9; Psa. 44:22; Rom. 8:36; 1 Cor. 15:31.) The practical connection of the then Jewish remnant with those of the latter day and those with Christ, may be further searched out, for it clears up many things; in this also Matt. 24 is involved. We do not attach sufficient importance to the remnant in this character. The Lord looks at it especially.
We must remark that Psa. 116 is a psalm of thanksgiving, and, on the principle recognized above. He does not love the Lord as under the law but as first loved—as for deliverance because heard when judgment and evil were upon his soul. Christ leads this thanksgiving or return of heart to Jehovah, saying, our God is merciful. (Ver. 5.) It is the thanksgiving cry for deliverance producing love: and love, a voice of praise and thanksgiving in remembrance of their estate. The vows are now to be paid, and they can be paid in the midst of Jerusalem, for the deliverance is wrought. (See Psa. 42:3, 4, and the psalms there.) Then they are under the sorrow. Here the Spirit of Christ puts Himself in the place of deliverance. Then it was the people we have heard, and Christ the object as King. Here He Himself leads, as a matter too of individual joy to His people. “I love Jehovah.” This makes the position quite different. Ever near and a matter of affection and intimacy because of what was wrought, and Christ intimate with Jehovah in union, but as helped, and the people having put Himself in their place, His hand laid on both. This makes this last Psalm (116) more blessed. It is His own Spirit rejoicing in the deliverance as one of the people, and so saying “our God.” The Apostle Paul quotes both these passages (2 Corinthians and Rom. 8). There is an analogous exercise of the Spirit in us. We may look at Christ as taking us as united to Himself, and so presenting us before God; and then in the highest perfection and place before Him, and also as in us looking up toward Him and saying “our.” The Spirit realizes our union, and then all is liberty and joy because for us accomplished. The Spirit realizes our position and looks up to Him alone there, saying “our;” and here is the difference of the remnant there. Now, or in the apostolic days, when we speak of union, we speak of glory, and perfection, and rest; whereas in the suffering we are substitutes for Christ in the world, though it be only by union we can go through; and we say, as it is written, “I believed,” &c.— “we also” (and therefore adds positive resurrection de facto as to the direct testimony; whereas He says, “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living,” and the bands are loosed—the power is shown. (2 Cor. 1.) Whereas the sufferings being before them as their portion before they find Christ, He comes down as it were, and enters into them, and says, “I;” and thus, while there is a strong connection, there is a real difference. The moment it was a mere fact, and Christ looked at as an object, it could be taken up directly, as it is written, “for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are appointed” —this was common to both.
In Psa. 117 and 118 the results are fully brought out.
In Psa. 117 we have all the nations called into the blessing and praise of Israel's deliverance. It is still the mercy and truth of Jehovah. Jerusalem having now been made a center, they are called around; the possession of blessing in mercy begets the spirit of blessing. Though once forbidding to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, because they rejected mercy, filling up their sins, for wrath was come upon them, εἰς τέλος. Now they had tasted mercy, and they can say to the nations, Praise the Lord, for He is merciful to us. Here note, too, the greatness of the mercy is felt and first put; for so Israel comes in, brought in under mercy, and then the truth (they being morally restored) is proved to have endured and been forever. They could not find it under their lie, yet their lie had abounded to the enduring glory of His truth: under mercy they had come into this. How deep is the wisdom of God The next Psalm (118) takes up mercy as enduring forever—not merely the sense of the present greatness of it. But when they saw how God's truth had abided in spite of their sin, they see the incomparable patience of God—His own character celebrated in them as of mercy forever. Israel, Aaron, and all may now say, His mercy endureth forever. As the Lord's going before or amongst the people had been announced to the earth in Psa. 115, so here we have the fellowship of Christ with the national, especial sorrows of Israel in that day, and thus bringing Jehovah to be with them. (Ver. 4, 5, 7.) All the nations had gathered together against Jerusalem, but Christ was there with them in His heart in the trouble. With Him Jehovah could be, for He trusted in Him and in His name He destroyed them. The adversary was sore to make Him fall, but Jehovah was with Him. Lastly, Jehovah had chastened Him sore, but He had not given Him over unto death. There were the three points (and so known in an individual soul), the nations around compassing Him, the adversary thrusting sore, and, lastly, the real secret deepest in sorrow, yet the key to all deliverance in it—Jehovah had chastened Him sore. Ver. 14-17 is the triumph against the adversary, because the Lord must be exalted, trusting in Jehovah's name, of which this is still the celebration. Jehovah's name must be exalted above all these things. Verse 17 is Jewish confidence clearly. This psalm is a remarkable summary of the identification of Jesus and all the circumstances of the Jews in the latter day; and then, in verse 19, Christ's victory through trust in Jehovah in all circumstances opens to Him the gates of righteousness (now this more deeply true, even in the resurrection).

Heads of Psalms: Book 5

The division of this closing Psa. 118 (closing, i.e., as to this subject) is this: first, the celebration of the truth for Israel. Compare 1 Chron. 16:34 and the structure of that psalm very particularly; 2 Chron. 5:13; 7:3; Ezra 3:11; Psa. 106; 107; 136 The psalm in 1 Chron. 16 is a summary of the heads of what Jews are interested in as the ground, exhibition, and resting-place of confidence in the latter-day, but there only the blessing and prayer, for it supposes the first step of blessings in accomplishment, and accordingly can rehearse together the statement, “Mercy endureth forever,” and omit the intermediate miseries. Then the summons to each sort of persons to use the song, verse 5, Messiah for Israel and trust in Jehovah, and that answered to verse 9. Verse 10, the circumstances of Israel in the latter day as to the nations. Verse 13, the adversary's part, this Satan, and by Antichrist, but the adversary. Verse 13, the Lord's hand in it—chastening, but preserving. Verses 10-13, therefore, is in a manner a common subject. Verse 19, Messiah takes the advance, being in this now living, accepted position, and then it is the Lord's relation with Israel in connection with Messiah, not Messiah's connection with Israel in respect of the evil—that was once true. Messiah's grace in subjecting Himself to their sorrows in this, though they esteemed Him stricken, is the way by which He can take them (now again at the last recognizing Him) with Him into the blessedness which (as their head, as the righteous Son) He is going into. The Lord's own use of it makes its force and application manifest. I question whether it should not be (ver. 27) Jehovah is El (the mighty God).
Psa. 119 This exceedingly beautiful and well-known psalm appears to me to be this: other psalms testify of the circumstances surrounding the remnant as having the Spirit of Christ by that Spirit; this of their state, the Spirit of Christ in them expressing that state, the law written in their hearts, the judgments being executed; so that there is what shows the Lord's interference, so that the sense of this is expressed, but not yet deliverance finally from the oppressor, their estimate of their whole condition, under and as connected with their circumstances, the mind of the Spirit of Christ in them. It is most interesting in this point of view. All the holy yet humbled thoughts and feelings of this poor people expressed in the now returning righteous confidence of their delight in God, breaking forth to God, who has put His law in their hearts when He is interfering for their deliverance. Its moral depth too is admirable and blessed in instruction and joy, and our delight in His holy will (the expression, and commandments, and holy roots of His will); for we know His law is spiritual and we carnal. The condition, however, prophetically in strict application is a Jew, a godly Jew, in that day.
From Psa. 120 to Psa. 134 is confessedly one series of psalms and ought to be viewed together; they are the songs of Zion, describing, if I may so speak, the process of their restoration. It supposes them to be already altogether in the latter-day times and that in a very definite character. Indeed generally they are retrospective of its earlier character, and, to say the least, commence with the certainty of the destruction of Antichrist, and that is entered into rather by a retrospective operation of the Spirit. It is on the whole of it rather the restoration of Israel—all Israel: that is the subject (the people leaning fully on Jehovah as one they knew and that distinctly, and He known and recognized, and they knowing Him and openly owning Him as their resource not in any uncertainty of position). It has more the character of a recital of what they had been enduring than the expression of those who had none that cared for their souls.
“In my distress I called on Jehovah, and he heard.” This first psalm tells the cry under Antichrist. The judgment on the false tongue for deceit was his, and characterized him; as Christ was the Truth. The next is the sorrow of sojourning among hostile powers, much connected with Gog. Kedar would come and Mesech before the last capture of Jerusalem, with whom they had no wish for war, but who were men of violence—were not godly men, still less had God for their habitation. They were weary of their spirit.
Psa. 121 They will look around them to the hills for help. Whence should it come? Ah there is the well-known truth for Israel! My help comes from Jehovah, who hath made everything man could trust in. He keeps Israel. He never slumbers or sleeps—a secure guardian: no power of evil shall smite them. The Lord shall preserve their going out and coming in from this time forth for evermore. The first of the two, the evil to which they were liable; the second, their sure, safe, and secure refuge, and that forever.
The happy results in worship (the third part of the sentiments of the delivered remnant, the happiness of Christ in them) is in Psa. 122. It is ever Israel in all this. These three psalms are rather prefatory, such as will be used, but retrospective, as I have said, not historical. From Psa. 123 we enter more into detail. They respect the full restoration, in one form or another, though it may not be viewed as accomplished in them all. Psa. 122 is the joy of Christ's Spirit in the fruits of it in others in actually going up; but all is restored joy of Israel, and verse 4 in assembled thanksgiving of worship in the temple; verse 5, judgment—His delight in the place of judgment. The Lord's heart who once wept here goes out in yearnings over His beloved Jerusalem; and, calling to prayer for its peace, pronounces peace upon it. Two great motives too, animating to the brethren and glorifying to God, draw it out. Them He still is not ashamed to call brethren and companions, and having so blessedly named, He (at once introducing them into full connection with the glory and blessing) says, “Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good.” Nothing could be added to this.
Psa. 123 The intercourse is all here entirely with Jehovah and expresses their position and feelings towards Him. It is this rather than the circumstances that are entered into. They are occupied with themselves and Him, because with Him. The Lord is looked at as dwelling out of the reach of circumstances where evil really was. Then out of the reach of circumstances the believer could direct his heart, and then there was the ground of patient faith. As Psa. 119 gave the position of the Jewish remnant as regards law in that day, so this as regards faith. It was their condition as to their heart that was in question or expression. They wait on the Lord their God, who is in the heavens, as the eyes of a maiden or a servant to her master and mistress—helpless, and who have no business, till they get the word of their master, until He have mercy upon them. Patience, submission, the consciousness of no desert, yet the confidence of mercy—this characterized this waiting people. Then their sorrow and despisedness was an occasion for mercy—a plea; and so it is in their mouth, and so ever when one is in this disposition; so in the plea of this confidence of mercy they have to wait. They have nothing else to say but this is strong in the mercy and lovingkindness of the Lord. There were others at ease and proved they were associated with, and dependent on, the Lord. This was the blessed, holy, and submissive position of heart of the remnant. This was the perfection of faith in their position, the expression of the Spirit of Christ which enters into all our conditions. In all their afflictions, He was afflicted.
Psa. 124 It was well they did trust in Jehovah. For if Jehovah Himself had not been on their side, in man all help was utterly lost. Men rose up against them, and the proud waters had gone over their soul, but it was the occasion of their being able surely to say, Jehovah Himself was for them, for there was none else, and to Him they had looked. Such is the effect of extreme and hopeless trouble—in Jehovah's deliverance, the clear certainty that Jehovah is for them. This Israel might now say—a long last word in the revolt of the sorrowing but still loved people—Jehovah is on our side. “Blessed be Jehovah” was now therefore their word. The snare is broken, they are delivered, and they could say now with experience, “our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” This great and hopeless trouble thus becomes the certainty of Jehovah’s being with them.
Psa. 125 Here is the celebration of their distinctive confidence. They can now speak about it in the maturity of peace rather than the joyous excitement of deliverance, when they were just saved from being a prey to their teeth. They that trust in Jehovah shall be even as mount Zion which abideth, for the peace of mount Zion is now a witness of deliverance—the same mount Zion as of old, the seat of the gracious counsels of God uncovered. They trust in the Lord—have the same portion as the mountains round Jerusalem. Verse 2, Jehovah is around His people, and that henceforth even forever; but then it was a distinctive blessing. It was judgment, the rod of the wicked, and then came against them: it should not rest on the lot of the righteous. There was no peace to the wicked; and this applied to the wicked among Israel. It was not a distinction merely between Israel and the nations, but a distinction in the deliverance of the righteous remnant; so the prayer is for them, the good and upright in heart. As for those that turn aside to crooked ways, Jehovah gives them a portion with the wicked; but there will not be now any more. Therefore, numbered with Israel, peace shall rest on Israel; now accepted and righteous before God, the righteous remnant becomes the nation.
Psa. 126 This restoration of the captivity of Zion is now specially noticed. The very heathen were astonished, and noticed the hand of the Lord for them, and the echo of praise came from His people: “He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” How simple and eloquent this word! Verse 4 takes the restoration of the captivity of Zion as the fullness of the restoration of the whole people. Verse 5 is the joyful experience of Israel, the humbled and sorrowful remnant grieved and laid low, but with godly sorrow now reaped with joy. But there was One above all who had sown precious seed in Israel, and in love as well as righteousness, and in both continued. He had been a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, their faces hid from Him; but now He filled His bosom with the sheaves, for though sown in tears, the seed was indeed precious seed, and the fruit sweet to His taste, and the joy of His labor of love—now He reaped it. The husbandman had had long patience for it, and waited the early and the latter rain; but now the precious blessed fruit came. First laboring. He now partook of the fruits. He came again rejoicing.
Psa. 127 This is for Solomon, in which character the Lord builds the house; and we have the expression of the experience of the utter folly of all carnal Jewish expectations and efforts. They might have built the house, and great stones and buildings be there: it was in vain. The Lord did not own it. They might have watched the city, but they had awaked in vain: all had been in vain for Israel till the Lord arose and had mercy. These Jewish blessings flow forth as upon earth in a gratuity given us—blessing in the Lord's peace.
Psa. 128 It is the fearers of Jehovah that enjoy this blessing; yea, even to children's children. All the associations of their hearts would be satisfied. It was out of Zion the Lord would bless them, and they would see the good of Jerusalem all the days of their life. How of the Lord—and yet how truly earthly, and of man, human nature—these blessings are!
Psa. 129 particularly takes up the enemies, these desolators. Many a time had they done it. And so indeed it was from the days of Cushan-risathaim onward, till Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon broke the bones thereof; and after, in their yet worse and more terrible (because more real) desolation, their back bad been plowed in and long furrows made. They had just to lie down and be treated at the very will of the enemy who had enslaved them. Yet, wonderful mystery, they had not prevailed against them. But there was One who said He was for them—One who in all their affliction was afflicted. His Spirit now taught them to speak in the recognition of the ways of God; and then comes the sum, for Israel through mercy now stood in righteousness. The Lord is righteous; He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Their character was now brought out: they hate Zion, with which the Lord in grace was now identified. But there was not blessing from God or man upon them, when Israel should blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit. No mower would fill his hand with them, nor any goer-by say, “The blessing of the Lord be upon you.”
In Psa. 130 we have Him who truly took this place; and though true of Israel, by Him and in His Spirit casting from the depths His soul on the Lord, and therein leading Israel into all the blessing of its forgiveness. This was the true hope of sinful Israel—the new ground, not under the law at all, and then looking for no other hope but waiting for Him; and so in verses 7, 8 His Spirit fully teaches them. The place of the cry is the leading point here. The place acknowledged Christ's Spirit, who had been in it, taking His place with them in it, and putting loved yet poor Israel into the place of God's thoughts and its true comeliness in it—acknowledgment, faith—but that in mercy. His answer (i.e., the answer of the Spirit of Christ) is in verses 7, 8.
His place of holy subjection and littleness is brought out in Psa. 131; and so was the place Christ had taught them and taken. He knew all things, but He had put Himself into the place of quiet subjection to God's will, and therein was in the way of blessing. The things which were revealed He took up and taught to Israel; and there Israel found and would find its blessing. The Spirit is the Spirit of all learning and instruction; but it is not the character of the Church's language, but of the quiet child-like subjection of Israel, entering as an obedient child into the place of its hope.
[Psa. 132 First of all David's (i.e. Christ's) sufferings are the basis of all. Next, it is sovereign grace, for responsibility, even under the mercy declared through Moses, was closed when the ark was taken captive by the Philistines. There could be no day of atonement, no blood on the mercy-seat. Ichabod was written on all. God had delivered His strength into captivity, His glory into the enemies' hands. Sovereign grace raised up Samuel the prophet, and then David who brought the ark not into the tabernacle at all, but to Mount Zion, which was thus the seat of sovereign grace in power as contrasted with Sinai. God is called on to arise into His rest; for He will rest in His love. It is His rest we are to enter into, when His love will be satisfied and His nature perfectly met through the fruits of it as in Eph. 4:4, 5. Christ will see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Hence it is God's rest and of the ark of His strength—a new thing. It is not, “Rise up O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered,” and “Return O Lord, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel.” But then man's (i.e., the saints') rest is only in this. “Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.” His rest, his heart's rest, could only be in rest of God perfectly glorified. Here we find the rest of the saint's heart, in its desires identified with God's, so that it can have no rest till He has rest and be perfectly glorified: a vital principle, the effect of being partakers of the divine nature. And this, we shall see, brings one in this blessed way into God's counsels, as it is written, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor that he should instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ—the Holy Ghost by the word leading us into all truth. (Compare Ex. 15; 29:46.) Our rest is entering into God's rest—an infinite blessing.
But the desire is right according to man, the answer is according to God: the desire is right according to the divine nature and ways, but the blessing according to the riches of grace. The desire (ver. 8) is that Jehovah should arise into His rest, He and the ark of His strength. For the strength and faithful covenant-working of God enter into rest when all is accomplished. The answer (ver. 13, 14) is, “The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” It is more than asked, clearly more. The heart led of God has been brought to desire what is God's desire and the object of His election.
So the desire (ver. 9) is that Jehovah's priests be clothed with righteousness, as John the Baptist's father; and the answer (ver. 16) is, I will also clothe her priests with salvation—the full, final deliverance of God. The desire is right: righteousness becomes them; the answer is from God, and becomes Him in the power of His grace. The desire again (ver. 9) is, that His saints may shout for joy. All right: the renewed heart must desire the prosperity and joy of God's chosen. And God will give it abundantly (ver. 16): “her saints shall shout aloud for joy.”
Remark another thing. In the desire they are Jehovah's priests, and Jehovah's saints— “thy priests,” “thy saints.” It is so as to “the rest:” and as to the rest it is repeated (compare verses 8 and 14), but as to Zion, This is my rest; and this is what we want: nothing else will do or would be rest. But as to the priests and saints, the answer does not say “thy,” but “her,” that is, Zion's. They are His; but so perfectly does God own the complete association of His people with Him in rest and blessing, that the priests which are His He calls hers (for they do belong to Zion), and the priests which are His to be hers. This in the identity of the rest is of unequaled beauty.
I have omitted the desire (ver. 10) not to turn away the face of God's anointed. The answer (ver. 17, 18) also is more: the born of David is to bud; a lamp is there ordained for him, and his crown shall flourish on him. That is, He goes beyond the wish. But note it is “there” —in Zion. Christ literally is King there, as in Psa. 2. There too it was first sung” His mercy endureth forever;” for it had blessed Israel after all, and in spite of all, and found in the end of His responsibility the occasion and beginning of His perfect grace. We see the outgoings of His goodness in that which He will do for Zion.]
Psa. 133—The person of the high priest represented the whole people. But the power and anointing of the Holy Ghost in the fragrance of grace was that which united the whole people; so exactly in Christ—one Spirit—one body. They shall in that day appoint themselves one Head; they shall not be two peoples any more in the land, and this not only in form but in Spirit and unity of blessing. Hermon caught in its lofty head the dew or produced it; but it fell in the central place of divine blessing, thus ministering the power of unity. Hermon was called Zion, but it was with ש not ö. This seems to be Zion as we ordinarily understand, where the Lord commanded His blessing and life for evermore. It was the place of grace, the hill of grace. Though Hermon, whose head was in heaven as it were, was the attractive place of dew, it was the dew of Hermon, but it fell on Zion. The Spirit will be poured on them from on high, and Ephraim will no more envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim.
Psa. 134 Zion thus established, praises rise, Men by night in the sanctuary at peace there, His servants, stand in His courts; and as once the day only brought clearer light on their sorrow, now the night itself is awake with the praises of Jehovah who has restored them and given them cause for praise day and night; and He who has been the center and power of this blessing—David is now in Zion which the Lord hath chosen. They bless out of this seat of grace and royalty. The sanctuary owns the royalty—the seat and place of blessing. He who has made heaven and earth, the Jehovah of His people, the Creator of all things is in this power called to bless Him out of Zion, the place of grace and desire to the Lord. It is not Sinai now; Psa. 132-134 all center in Zion. The Lord hath chosen Zion—commanded blessing there—blesses Messiah out of Zion. Surely the people is restored now. The priest blesses Jehovah and calls for benediction from Jehovah on him from this seat of royal grace. Thus is Christ placed, as the remembrance of David and his afflictions, who had no rest till a place was found out for the Lord. Heaven and earth the compass of heaven, but Zion the seat of peculiar blessing; Psa. 133, especially priestly blessing, as Psa. 132, the king. Psa. 134 brings both in pronouncing and ministering praise and the blessing.

Heads of Psalms: Book 5

Psa. 135 This and the following psalm seem to me to be the praise to which the songs of degrees have led. Jehovah is celebrated, the name of Jehovah, and is called to be by the servants of Jehovah. They stood now in the house of Jehovah, in the courts of the house of their (Israel's) God. Jehovah had chosen Jacob for Himself. Israel was His peculiar treasure. He was great, and Israel's Adon above all gods. Whatever Jehovah pleased, He did with universal power, as in creation and providence, and that power in delivering Israel, judging their enemies, exercising divine and righteous authority over them in favor of His people, and using that righteous sovereignty in preparing a place for an heritage to them. Verses 13, 14 remarkably take in the record of the name of promise to the fathers given to Moses, as in Ex. 3; and of sovereign mercy in their utter destitution, Deut. 32 The heathen are therein shown their vanity. Verses 19-21 take up the full Israelitish located blessing according to the ordinance of God in Israel, not His in them, but their return to Him as blessed. At least they are so called in, and in spirit summon their companies, and close with the utterance of the praise itself with a final hallelujah as it began.
Psa. 136 takes up the well-known hallelujah, Israel's chorus, “for His mercy endureth forever.” The present occasion of their praises proved that mercy endured forever, and that that mercy had really gone on unceasingly, and had preserved them (through their rebellions), and remembered them, as Deuteronomy bad said in their low estate, redeeming them from the hand of their enemies. It still takes up the almighty sovereignty of God-Jehovah, and takes up the same elements of power, but adds Israel's sense of mercy, and that, its having endured forever, enabling it to take up this very praise now. “He remembered us in our low estate.” Then indeed it is that praise really comes out from a humble spirit, and mercy known now, and known in unchanging favor in personal blessing, yet more glorious and lovely, because a love which flowed from itself, not caused by the object, is added to the praises as the sinner's only basis for them all. It is a beautiful expression of this; and the mind, thus taught, recounts them with happy particularity—power, wisdom, skill, grandeur of governances in the objects formed in their proper order, judicial and mighty power, in deliverance to the people, for the Creator looks at them, and they are immediately associated with creation in its blessing. He did everything in controlling power over creation for them. Distinctive in judgment, Israel passed through, Pharaoh overthrown. He led them with unceasing care when there was no way, and smote their enemies when they would have checked their entrance into their inheritance, giving their possessions to them His people, and after all redeemed them from their low estate, for indeed His mercy endured forever; and then blessed in providence all the race of man and the animal creation too, for to this His mercy reached—the God of heaven whose mercy endured forever. It is not here “of earth” merely, for it is for them as much to look up as the Gentiles who had the earth, and the Church, apt to think God did not mind the earth, to look down and own Him the God of the earth. Messiah's reign in that day shall prove Him gathering both their dislocated elements—failing Israel on earth, and a failing Church for heaven—into perfection and stability.
This closes, I think, the rising up by degrees to the Lord's house, where this or these are sung. What follows takes a wider scope and yet looks back to the interval which has been entirely omitted in these two psalms—discipline and sorrow and humiliation for sin by the way the people visited.
The former two took up merely the land in their introduction into it, and looks at them then in their low estate, and this, whatever its cause, was looked at as an object of compassion. Mercy forever was the word, and they could truly sing it then. Circumstances are entered into here, connected with visitations and sorrows in strange lands and deliverances there, and all that was associated with Israel's state when far from Jehovah, and Lo-ammi indeed really written upon it—quite another and different aspect of things.
Psa. 137 This therefore gives an important character to this psalm—the period of Israel's rejection, and the impossibility of praising the Lord in such circumstances. It is the Spirit thus in the remnant. Faith put to the associations of God's glory with Israel, but for that reason incapable of uttering the Lord's songs. They might (with a sort of holy boldness in God's own principles and holiness, yet with bowing of heart) say, as elsewhere— “Praise waiteth for thee in Zion.” Jehovah had His own law, His own place. This He had made Israel's: were they to forget this? It would have been slighting His favor, renouncing the specialty of His mercy. Babylon they might get—they had got into: their sins had brought them there; but there they must at least hang up their harps, weeping because for them the place of this world's careless and apostate glory. For indeed, if in sorrow, they were identified with the place of God's glory in the earth. Their portion, if the Spirit of righteousness was in them at all, was sorrow then. Well, the Lord too was very sore displeased with the heathen that were at ease. He was but a little angry, and they had helped forward the affliction. For good He suffered His people to be afflicted; for righteousness too now, but still they were beloved. Now the testimony to their righteousness in sorrow is rendered to them by the Spirit there. And this is the blessed point of this psalm; even it carried away captive, there were those of whom Zion's sorrows were the sorrows, and, in spirit, Jerusalem, the Urim of God's peace, preferred above their chief joy. They could say when free—this in the truth of the spirit of their state then. So shall it be in the latter day. All the intervening sorrow of a separate people in judgment is witnessed and owned of the Spirit of God. Then we have the three great powers of the world or cities that concerned Zion; but they were Zion's songs, not to be sung but there. “Babylon” (if it could be said, for judgment; full judgment was not yet come about) “who art to be destroyed” —haughty evil. He who would be blessed is he who executed the judgment on it. Then there was a third party, haters of the Lord, who would be found liars; implacable enemies of Jerusalem, hating it just because it was the Lord's, and they were ruiners of it; but as they dealt thus in the day of Jerusalem, the Lord would remember them. We see thus that deliverance from Babylon (and so we may add its fall) precedes its destruction; and before they can triumph in the setting-up of Zion, they can, as delivered, and with the remnant's feelings, speak of their previous position as one that had been. Though Babylon was not destroyed, and Edom yet to come up in remembrance of judgment before God, Jerusalem was still to be spoken of as one remembered, not forgotten—not as one which they possessed and dwelt in peace as their glory. But Babylon is spoken of as one remembered too, and yet in existence. There they had done so and so, and he would be happy that destroyed her; and Edom, still viewed as in power, to be visited of the Lord. It is thus a very instructive and pointed psalm, as well as exceedingly beautiful in its spirit and strength of association with the Lord in the sense of the appointed place of His favor, blessing, honor, and glory. The Lord would remember Edom; but Babylon was to have, it seems, some instrumental rewarder of her ways. The judgment on these two closes the psalm.
Psa. 138 then takes up the praise before the whole earth—the Lord's word. His faithfulness in truth was magnified above all His name. Mercy might have done it and be sung, but faithfulness to His promise in spite of all man's unfaithfulness (see ver. 1-3) now shone out in all its glory, and they that blessed themselves in earth would bless themselves in the God of truth. This is a glorious position—the position of the strength of the Spirit, while its tender mercy is true too to the needy and in our infirmities. But this was risen above in His strength now. The holy temple was then to be worshipped toward. Every promise had come out in its own glory in spite of the utter unfaithfulness and utter failure of man. It was true the kings of the earth had not yet come to bow to the glory of the Lord, or yet sing consequently in the ways of Jehovah, and Israel had therefore to praise before the gods. Still this in one sense exalted Jehovah's strength. All was not as yet brought into the peaceful blessedness of acknowledged rule; but Jehovah had appeared of Israel's side, so that they had that glory before al the princes of the earth. Israel had cried in the day of his trouble and the Lord had strengthened him, and now all the kings of the earth would have to bear the words of Jehovah's mouth and would sing, for indeed it would be and was blessing in the ways of Jehovah; for great (the delivered one now can say) is the glory of Jehovah. Such is the substance of the psalm as regards the remnant, as it is in the period after the destruction of Antichrist in the time of Jacob's trouble, the first great act of judgment in the person of the associated oppressor of the remnant, before the earth is subjected or its kings have learned to bow before Jehovah, the faithful God of His people in blessing. Still the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the great binge of this psalm, and when the mighty one of death was against Him in His entering into the time of Jacob's trouble, yet with Israel against Him, associated with him; so that it could be said, This is your hour and the power of darkness. He was strengthened in His soul with strength and met in His own blessed peaceful dignity their apostate rulers that stood up against Him—was heard in that He feared, and could take the ground of resurrection against all that was against Him; and so in the strength of divine favor could in blessed perfect obedience take the cup and thus seal the certainty of this submission of all to Him in the strength of the Lord over all evil, even in the power of death. We have then in the last three verses the three great aspects of Jehovah's ways—high, but having respect to the lowly; reviving His true loved faithful servant, though such may be in trouble; stretching forth His hand against the wrath of His enemies, perfecting that which concerns His faithful servant. “For his mercy endureth forever,” and this it is has made way for the glory and manifestation of His truth according to the depth of His wisdom and unsearchable judgments. In Christ indeed, and so of all promises in Him, His word is magnified above all His name—His promises, “Yea and Amen” in Him. Blessed be He who is both Lord and servant, David's son and David's Lord, Israel's sufferer and Israel's Savior (the same love making Him one, that He might be the other in divine perfectness).
Psa. 139 The day of Christ's trouble having been thus introduced, the mystery of the Church according to divine righteousness, and searching all things even according to death, is brought in. But the Church being brought out of it stands of course above and beyond the reach of it in judgment, for it stands in the power of it according to the favor due to the person of Christ, and which in Him has raised the Church out of the full result of the judicial fullness of divine righteousness against all that divine righteousness could search; and if it reached heaven or the power of death, the two extremes of that righteousness, it found it in one in perfection, in the other in suffering its full exaction in Him who thus, in it for the Church, and the Church in Him, fills all things. (Ver. 17, 18.) The purpose of these thoughts concerning Christ and His glory is referred to, and then, consequent on this, the judgment of the wicked in vindication of His honor (who opposed and rejected Him) and that righteousness may prevail (for in truth His soul was perfect, though He went into the dust of death in its hatred of evil); and so the Church in Him. And thus the searching eye of divine righteousness, desired for it, is disciplinarian and directive—not judicial as to the acceptance of the person. This rests the whole question on higher ground—the highest and fullest ground yet taken in this book as to the manner of its communication to us, and our portion in it. It is the mystery of the Church, but hidden here. It is not, I will praise thee for I am searched; but, “I will praise thee for I am made.” The whole Epistle of Ephesians is the Spirit's unfolding and applying according to the full light of an ascended Savior; the force of this psalm is a commentary on it according to the light of the gospel, and its actual accomplishment. Verse 18 is restoration—His place in spite of death.
Psa. 140 The sacred people being righteous and searched, and the wicked to be judged and slain—these in their relative condition are brought in. And passing on to the condition of the Jewish people, to speak the words of Christ among the remnant as taking up their cause in that day, it looks for deliverance from them on the earth, possibly in the evil man noticing the last enemy rising from within them, especially the Antichrist; and in the violent, those who seek their own will from without against the men of peace and righteousness. Verses 12, 13 show the sure confidence of faith in their circumstances. The psalm, however, is one of character in these He sought to be delivered from—the evil ones and enemies (not designation).
Psa. 141 makes a scene deserving investigation, and enters into the position of the righteous one amongst the people—his being thrown entirely on the Lord for keeping righteousness, so that he may have no part with the wicked, willing that the righteous should smite him. He will pray for them in their trials, though they rebuke and reprove him. All he wants is righteousness; but he desires to be preserved from the vanities of the wicked. Snares they had laid around, but he was securing himself to God, and desiring this only practical acceptance with Him, Jehovah, and to Him only therefore he looks—instructive lesson. Though willing to be smitten by the righteous, verse 6 implies still an owning of them, but their liability to heavy chastisements; but as he prayed in their calamities, for a blessing is in it, in the cluster; so when chastened and overthrown, they would hear his words, for indeed they were sweet He knew it before the Lord in the day of visitation: there would be hearkeners. Thus the Spirit of Christ took up the people of Israel found in Jerusalem; as for the enemies, it was deliverance from and judgment. In verse 7 He looks at the relentless evil and violence—murder committed against the nations. He calls them in that—in spirit He loves them still; still the individual believers—for it was now on earth a question—on earth would escape, while the wicked would fall into their own nets. Look at David in the time of Saul, and there is much to guide in the understanding of the psalm. Prayer is the position in which he puts himself, praying the Lord to put a watch over him.
Psa. 142 Here we find the loneliness of Christ and consequently of His Spirit in the remnant; but Jehovah was the refuge in loneliness; and where all failed of man, he did not; and the voice of groaning was the glory of the Lord's only faithfulness. The Spirit of the Righteous and Holy One was overwhelmed. So of His yechidim in the latter day. But Jehovah knew His path, terrible, troubled, and trying as it was; and no man would know Him, not only of the peoples none were with Him, but none of His people. And so shall iniquity abound in that day: so are the saints ever tried. Look at Paul— “no man stood by me; but the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me.” See the account of these very latter days in Matt. 24. But when his faithfulness was proved, the righteous would compass Him about. This then is desertion, while his persecutors stronger than he pressed on him, i.e., as to the land of the living.
Then in Psa. 143, it is not solitariness as to trial, but judgment that is the question, that the Lord might be with Him—this between His soul and God. Trials existed—his life was smitten down to the ground—his spirit was overwhelmed within him, and his heart desolate; but judgment could not be met by man. No flesh living should be justified. This is, indeed, just what we have learned by the Holy One entering into it. He showed this very necessity of all, and the Spirit in the Lord's remnant express just their sense of this; and He, bearing it as their representative, was heard in that He feared. Still it drew His Spirit for Israel (for Israel here it is that is in question, and that in the truth of their latter day position, oppressed and having enemies, ver. 5) to the Lord as His resource, for the communion with Him was uninterrupted and unbroken. On the cross vicariously the Lord did enter into judgment, but that is just what makes all the rest true for Israel, and this only as purging. Thence direction is sought—teaching, deliverance, guidance, and the cutting off of enemies, for He was Jehovah's servant. This, then, is the psalm of judgment, and Messiah's and the people's part in it is very plain, and how He could plead this for them, and they by His Spirit in them. The cry is founded on God's faithfulness and righteousness—not on theirs as regards the servant's condition. There was no entering into condition, This, I repeat, was just what Christ proved in the atonement. Righteousness is pleaded in all His relationship with the Lord; and then cutting off His enemies is mercy, and only mentioned as to this which puts mercy clearly in a new place—riddance of the earth, that there may be a land of uprightness and an earth of peace, through the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and they that troubled gone in mercy.
Psa. 140 then enters into the position of the righteous generally in the latter day, in presence of the enemy of the Spirit of Christ. Psa. 141. His thoughts before the Lord in the midst of the people in that case. Psa. 142 He finds there are none—He is left alone. Psa. 143 The question of Lord as His servant through the available intercession of Christ—the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the remnant thus brought before the Lord alone, with the consequent direct supplication from verse 7 to end.
Psa. 144 Jehovah is celebrated by Messiah as in the war and conflict for the people. First (ver. 2), what He is to Him; then subduing His people under Him. Then comes the righteous inquiry for judgment: what is man? that the Lord so long lingers and pauses before He gets rid of the wicked and the evil. (Comp. Psa. 8) For here man is seen the proud adversary on earth of the man of God's right hand, after lengthened and infinite mercy bounded first by this state of adversary, which was patience, not with abstractedly possible return, but manifested opposition to good, and therefore would be feeble acquiescence in evil, now God's patience had been the patience of perfect power not of feebleness with evil. Man's worthlessness is here thus presented to Him. It was now the hand of strange children, and Messiah (pleading withal for those put for, and then with, whom He was afflicted) must be delivered. Man is like to vanity. “Bow thy heavens, O Jehovah;” and the righteous Messiah claims the intervention of power, and this brings judgment and new songs—judgment in order that righteousness may bear its unhindered and natural fruits of blessing. It is here with intercession for judgment, because of the position of things. Happy the people in this case of blessing of righteousness—Messiah's blessing; yea, the people that have Jehovah for their God. Thus the vanity of man, the judgment and blessing of righteousness, are all identified through Messiah with His people, even the remnant of Israel.
Psa. 145 Messiah extols Jehovah in the millennial blessings of peace (ver. 18, 19, 20) sheaving its introduction by the hearing of the cry of the sorrowful, oppressed, then yechidim-mercy and judgment. But that first statement gives the force of the psalm, and it is most lovely in unfolding His intercourse: the anthem between Him and His saints and all creation, His works and all flesh—the chorus extolling Jehovah, the blessed in that day. It is a most beautiful psalm in this respect, and carries us far into blessing: and it shall be centraneous. We however, in our own abiding—in sphere, eternal blessing; this with Messiah below.
Psa. 146 to the end is the great chorus of praise to Jah the Lord, the Jehovah, or Eternal One of creation, and of Israel, of which Israel was made dispensatorily the tried and blessed bead; Messiah as of the earth and of the flesh coming of them and coming to them, and withal the Lord's earthly sanctuary being in the midst of them, the center of the blessing and the peculiar place of nearness.
Psa. 147 The deliverer and executor of judgment, Zion's God the Lord. Messiah announces Him thus—He only could. They were the objects of it. Then He is to Israel the remnant, our God; and praise (and they at peace) is pleasant and comely. How lovely is this peace, and the Lord's prosperity in them! Yea, He takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy—not their own righteousness. Also they have His word, the oracles of God. He had not dealt so with any nation (the Church is high up above in these blessings). There are two points then: His mercy to Jerusalem, building it up and gathering the outcasts of Israel; and His power in creation (His own strength being the thing displayed and delighting in none else). The connection of Israel with creation blessing is very strong, and a very cardinal point in the order of God's economies. Christ as originally coming would have been (had men not been all sinful) the head over them in this blessing. He shall be but taking in the heavens on a larger scale, and elevated on a higher principle of grace, and that in purification and redemption, risen as He shall be (as in Hos. 2:21, 23). Creation shall be restored in their restoration; but these higher things are brought in, and a more glorious source of it; but all linked together by the exaltation of the rejected but returned Man. The Second Adam is the Lord from heaven; but it is grace and government at this time, and not simple order of beauty with God all in all.
He sends His word into the world, and shows it to Jacob. His power in this nearness to Israel brought low is the great theme, however, of this psalm. His power—Jehovah is the theme however, not the Father, as in that character; and the heavens shall praise Him; though we in our own special church position rejoice there in the Father—our Father” the kingdom,” it is written, “of their Father.”
Psa. 148 Israel's relation with this general or universal praise is then taken up. This is the great earthly millennial result, but connected, as we have seen, with a sphere beyond it—all creation. Praise Jah is still the key-note. First, Praise Jehovah from the heavens; verse 7, praise from the earth. In the heavens are we; but this is not the subject of the Old Testament word. This mystery is hidden from ages and generations; but we know our place in it; but all the creatures in it are to praise Jehovah, for He created them. Then from the earth; and here the kings of the earth come in, and all people, princes, and judges of the earth. They are to praise the name of Jehovah; for His name alone is exalted—His glory above earth and heaven; but He had elevated the horn of His people. He is the praise of all His chasidim, even of the children of Israel—a people near unto Him. As power was shown in the former psalm in act, so the place of praise; Israel and creation are shown here, as alluded to at the close of it in the millennial hallelujah.
Psa. 149 rises up to the proper praise of Israel for themselves, as between themselves and God in this nearness. The saints here are always chasidim, i.e., Israel so accepted and beloved in mercy—the meek and God-honoring ones—the remnant.
Psa. 150 is the great and comprehensive chorus: God—El—the mighty and strong, and only One, who judges and swears in Himself alone, is celebrated—not Jehovah. It looks in the sanctuary, now indeed specially the heavenly Jerusalem is this in the day of glory for the Lamb, but intrinsically in the light which no man can approach unto. His own secret place of holiness and separatedness from all, He is praised in their thought—spiritual thought by the Holy Ghost—on earth at least alone reaches Him; then not only in His separation above all, but in the firmament of His power, the strength and stability of this place of steadfast testimony of immovable greatness and power. Then His acts and greatness; then with man's (still on earth) best praise; and then everything that hath breath is to celebrate Jab, the existing One—Him indeed in whom they live and move and have their being and breath to praise. It is our privilege now, but it is anticipative of the time when we shall actually be called on to do so. This shall be the full tide of unhindered praise to God Himself where He is for what He has done, goes with all given energies, and by all that hath breath in formal character. It is indeed Jewish and earthly; but as before it reached to the heavens—the created heavens—where we may be, here to the sanctuary of El where He is in His own glory. And this must close, as indeed it is the source of praise. For the soul rises up from Ashrēy-Ha-Ish to Hallelujah (Halleloo eth Jehovah), Halleloo ēl Bekodsho. Then the soul necessarily stops—at least, finds itself at the infinite close of all. Before it is known only by the Holy Ghost.

Heave and Wave Offerings

The heave-offering תְּרומָה (t’rumah) and wave-offering תְּנופָה (t’nuphah) formed part of the provision made by the Lord for the priests and their families. By a grant, everlasting in its duration, God thus endowed the house of Aaron: “And this is thine, the heave-offering of their gifts, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel. I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons, and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute forever: every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it.” (Num. 18:11.) To this law there was annexed one exception: “if the priest's daughter be married to a stranger, she may not eat of an offering (t’rumah) of the holy things. But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.” (Lev. 22:12, 13.) Whilst the people were in their land, before the captivity as well as after it, the priests received these offerings (Neh. 10:37-39; 12:44; 13:5); and when faithfully surrendered by the people, they were found to be a plentiful provision. (2 Chron. 31:10.) When the nation shall be restored, never more to be exiled from the land of their fathers, this grant made in the wilderness shall be again acknowledged; and in God's holy mountain, the mountain of the height of Israel, there will He require their offerings (t'rumah), and the people shall bring them, “that the priest may cause the blessing to rest in their house.” (Ezek. 20:40; 44:30.) The need of bringing the offerings Mal. 3:8 makes plain. The returned remnant had robbed God of tithes and offerings: so the announcement of the prophet follows, “ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” the tithes and offerings were God's; though the portion of the priests. Defrauding the priests of their just due, they robbed God and lost the blessing. When finally restored to their country, the law being written on their hearts, they will bring all the appointed offerings, and the priests provided for will cause the blessing to rest in their house
The terms in which this grant was made distinguish between the heave-offering and the wave-offering. The heave-offering was a portion of their gifts” heave-offering of all their gifts;” the wave-offering might be the whole of the thing offered. The idea conveyed by a heave-offering was the taking up a part to offer it to God; whereas the idea of the wave-offering is more general, implying consecration to God, for it was waved before the Lord. A gift might therefore be termed both a heave-offering and a wave offering; but every wave-offering could not be also called a heave-offering. To heave, required a residue from which it was lifted up; to wave, the gift itself only was requisite.
When the people were permitted to contribute of their substance for the tabernacle, their gifts were called heave-offerings (Ex. 25:2, 3; 35:5, 21-24; 36:3-6), for they offered of their possessions; but, in Ex. 35:22; 38:24-29, the gold and the brass which they brought were called wave-offerings, because consecrated to the service of God. Again, in Lev. 9:21, we read of the breasts and right shoulders of the peace-offerings of the congregation, at the consecration of Aaron and his sons, being waved before the Lord. But in Ex. 29:28 the breast and right shoulder are termed a “heave-offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace-offering, even their heave-offering unto the Lord;” for looked at as a part of the sacrifice of their peace-offering they could together be called a heave-offering. The distinction between these terms is clear, and always kept up; for whilst, as above, the breast and the right shoulder could together be called a heave-offering, Scripture, when describing them as separate portions, with one exception noticed lower down (Num. 6:19), speaks of the wave-breast and the heave-shoulder; for the whole breast was waved, but only one shoulder was heaved. A portion of that which the shoulders symbolize was thus claimed by God, whilst all that the breast shadowed forth was declared to belong to Him. By the shoulder, capability for service seems to be symbolized; and by the right shoulder, that that which was best able to bear the burden should be yielded up to Him. See Gen. 49:15; Josh. 4:5; Psa. 81:6; Isa. 9:4, 6; 10:27; 22:22. Compare also Neh. 9:29; Zech. 11, where disobedience is described as “withdrawing the shoulder.” By the breast, affections would appear to be symbolized.
The heave-offering included the right shoulder of the peace-offering (excepting in the case of the Nazarite referred to below), and one cake out of the whole, but which accompanied the animal offered up as a peace-offering; the first of the dough (Num. 15:20), and all the tithes (Num. 18:24) including the corn, wine, and oil for the priests' use. (Neh. 10:39.) Besides these regular heave-offerings, the atonement money when the congregation were numbered (Ex. 30:13-15), the Lord's portion of the spoil of Midian (Num. 31:21), and the king's present, and that of his counselors, with the offering of the children of Israel for the second temple (Ezra 8:25), are called heave-offerings. And when the land shall be divided among the tribes afresh, the portion to be set apart for the Levites and the sanctuary will be regarded as a heave-offering. (Ezek. 45:6, 7; 48) Differing as these offerings do, the one from the other, they have one feature in common, viz., that they are all portions taken out of a residue, whether of fruits, of animals, of money, or of land, and as such are called heave-offerings.
Turning to the wave-offerings, beside the breast of the peace-offering, and the rites at the consecration of Aaron and his sons already referred to, there was the sheaf waved before the Lord, the firstfruits of the harvest, on the morrow after the sabbath in the passover week; and the two wave-loaves with their accompanying sacrifice offered in the feast of weeks. (Lev. 23:10, 17-20.) In addition to these were the offerings of the leper on the eighth day of his cleansing (Lev. 14); the jealousy-offering (Num. 5); that of the Nazarite at the completion of his vow (Num. 6); and the taking of the tribe of Levi for the service of the priests in lieu of all the firstborn of Israel. (Num. 8)
Understanding by the act of waving before the Lord consecration to Him, the breast of the peace offering was waved in token that the affections should be in Him whom the sacrifice prefigured—would be consecrated to God. So also the waving of the sheaf on the morrow after the Passover sabbath, typified the sanctification, or consecration, as risen from the dead, of Him who is the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:23), and who rose on that day. At the expiration of the seven weeks, the two loaves baked with leaven were brought out of their habitation, and were waved before the Lord with the prescribed offerings. But here we meet with a most significant injunction. They were waved with the sacrifices still entire, though killed. Death had taken place, but not dismemberment. The whole animals were waved with the two loaves. (Lev. 23:19, 20.) Remembering what these two loaves typified—the Jew and Gentile together offered to God as the firstfruits of the harvest (James 1:18), we can see the reason of this peculiar feature in that day's ritual, the whole animals waved, but waved after death. It is the Church publicly, as it were, consecrated to God as a whole. But since the Church was only formed after the resurrection of the Lord, and has its standing in resurrection, the animals were first killed and then waved. Death took place before the significant act of consecration was performed. Then death having taken place, the animals were waved whole before the Lord by the priest, presenting thus in type the Church as a whole consecrated to God, belonging for evermore to Him.
The sacrifices of the leper on the eighth day of his cleansing bring before us another thought, beautiful surely because true, and clearly shadowed forth in the act of the priest. In the leper cleansed we have an individual formerly redeemed, now restored to communion with God's people. The disease which had its seat in his flesh having broken out, he had been put outside the camp—was healed, the priest had looked on him and pronounced him clean, and his offerings had to be completed on the eighth day of his cleansing. “And he shall take two he-lambs without blemish, and one ewe-lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering mingled with oil, and one log of oil and the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a trespass-offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave-offering before the Lord: and he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin-offering and the burnt-offering, in the holy place; for as the sin-offering is the priest's, so is the trespass-offering: it is most holy.” (Lev. 14:10, 12, 13.) On the day of Pentecost they waved the sacrifices after they had been killed, here the trespass offering was waved with the log of oil before death. Why this marked difference? In both cases the whole animal was waved, to show that all connected with or typified by the sacrifice should be held as consecrated to God. In the case of the leper, however, the living animal was waved, to show that man as alive on earth should be really given up to God. Redeemed by blood, a member of the assembly which had God dwelling in their midst, all his life ought to be consecrated to God. In this he had failed, so the offering waved was a trespass-offering, not a peace-offering. The peace-offering spoke of communion enjoyed, the trespass-offering, of communion interrupted by sin on the part of the offerer. With the trespass-offering there was waved a log of oil, with which the quondam leper was to be anointed on the tip of his right ear, his right thumb, and the great toe of his right foot, and the rest of the oil in the priest's hand was poured over him, in token that now his ear must hear, and his hand act, and his feet walk as directed by the word of God, and the rest poured over him to show that whilst he had failed before, he was to remember he had been consecrated to God, because redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
The jealousy-offering, too, was waved. The charge against the woman was one of unfaithfulness to her husband, so the offering (a tenth part of an ephah of barley meal) was waved before the Lord. Consecration to her husband as his wife should. characterize her: this the offering spoke of, and this her husband had charged her with violating. So the priest was to take the jealousy-offering from her hand; and wave it before the Lord. (Num. 5:25.)
In the Nazarite we have special consecration, separation unto the Lord. When that time of special dedication was ended, the Nazarite presented himself at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and brought his sin-offering, his burnt-offering, and his peace-offering with the accompanying meat and drink offerings. The sin and burnt-offerings having been properly offered up, he presented his peace-offering, a ram, with the basket of unleavened bread. The ram was brought because it was a question of special dedication to God, just as in the consecration of the priests the ram of consecration was enjoined to be offered up. When the ram had been killed and dismembered, the right shoulder sodden, with one unleavened cake and one unleavened wafer, was placed in the Nazarite's hand by the priest, and then waved by him (i.e., the priest) for a wave-offering before the Lord. (Num. 6:19, 20.) In the ordinary peace offerings the shoulder was heaved with the cakes, here it was waved; for this offering did not spring from a thankful heart rejoicing in its blessings, and desiring to present something of its substance to the Lord in recognition of His goodness: but it was the public declaration that the time of special separation to God had ended, so the right shoulder with the cakes was waved before the Lord. The man had been wholly separated by his vow to God; now be was to pass out of that state which he had voluntarily entered. Hence all was waved not heaved, and the shoulder symbolizing service was the portion commanded thus to be offered.
One more wave-offering has to be noticed—that of the Levites, taken for the Lord's service, instead of the firstborn in Israel. When that was done in the wilderness, the Levites did not bring a burnt-offering and sin-offering, but were waved by Aaron as an offering themselves. “And Aaron shall wave the Levites before the Lord for a wave-offering of the children of Israel that they may execute the service of the Lord.” (Num. 8:11, 13, 15-21. See marginal reading.) On that day all the Levites were publicly consecrated to God's service—all the firstborn in Israel belonged to him (Ex. 13:2), but He accepted the Levites in their stead as far as they would go man for man. A heave-offering here as in the other cases would have been out of place. It was not some of the firstborn whom God claimed, nor some of the Levites that He accepted. He claimed all the firstborn, but took all the Levites as far as they would go in their stead, a wave-offering of the children of Israel.
Comparing the different passages then in which the heave-offerings and wave-offerings are mentioned, the distinction between them comes out, and the teaching regarding more especially the latter is made plain. We see that the language of scripture is indeed accurate, and may note, in this, as in other things, that the substitution of one term for another (often found in the writings of men) would introduce confusion in the things of God, and mar the beauty of the lessons intended to be conveyed by the divine author of the book. C. E. S.

How to Study the New Testament

Such is the title of Dean Alford's small book before me. The first volume is devoted to the gospels and the acts of the apostles. Experience shows how few can form a just estimate of what is written with a knowledge beyond that of most and in a style attractive to the multitude. I propose therefore to notice the work briefly, so as to convey a correct notion of its character and plan, and thus to check undue confidence on the one hand and unjust depreciation on the other. Active-minded the author always is; and this is shown in suggesting questions rather than in settling them.
The first chapter is introductory, which opens with the parable of a varied landscape presenting wholly different objects to those who really observe it, not to speak of such as pass on as heedlessly as the cattle on the hill-side. It appears to me, however, that if the Dean still adhere to his denial of a distinct divine design in each of the Gospels, he himself destroys the main key to an intelligent enjoyment and application of their stores, as well as the true solution of their apparent discrepancies.
We are told indeed of God's beneficent purpose in giving us not one indubitable, plain, historic Gospel, but four, differing as originally written, and yet more through thousands of various readings, and again through translation from the tongue of inspiration into the many languages of the earth (p. 9). But this is both superficial and confused: superficial, because if there be a difference of divine design in each of the Gospels, they must necessarily wear a diverse form flowing from the special object of the Spirit; confused, because variety of reading and version is only a question of man's infirmity, not of God's design. Things differing so widely and essentially ought not to be classed together.
So in page 10 the ignorance of the clergy and laity is not without reason rebuked. “The utmost that seems expected even from the clergy themselves is to be able to affirm that the scripture says so and so. But what scripture says it—with what intent—how far, in the words quoted, the context is duly had in regard—whether they do or do not rightly represent the sense of the original; these things not one clergyman in ten seems to take into account; still less those laymen who would be ashamed to quote in the same slovenly manner any of the well-known classical authors.” But it is evident that when the various readings and the true rendering are ever so settled, to overlook the design of the Spirit is fatal to anything like a full understanding of the Gospels, which like the rest of scripture differs in this respect from all the books of men. God never writes save with a worthy moral purpose: still less is it conceivable when He is unfolding to us the glorious person of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us. The accuracy of a critic carries him not beyond the letter: the denial of design is more fatal than all the faults of a sloven, bad as these are.
“If we could know exactly how any given event related in the Gospels happened” (p. 11), it were but a small part of the matter; nor is it true that with this “we should at once be able to account for the variations in the narratives and the separate truth of each would be shown.” It is a deeper question than one of “the exact details of any event thus narrated” or “of the position of the narrator with respect to it.” The Dean only skims over the surface. No such acquaintance with facts suffices to meet the case; for scripture is not a mere human book. The solution is far more profound; yet is it nigh at hand, in our mouth and in our heart, if we confess a divine author and believe in a purpose in each according to God. “Our plain duty in making a right use of the Gospels is, firmly and fearlessly to recognize these (i.e., the apparent discrepancies), and to leave them as fearlessly unsolved, if no honest solution can be found. A way may be opened by and by, in the process of human discovery and the toil of human thought; or the time for a solution may not come till the day when all things shall be known.” Our readers will see how all sinks to the level of man in the Dean's language; and consequently he rises no higher than the wit or labor of man. Is God duly in his thoughts? Can one write thus who believes in the presence, operation, and teaching of the Holy Spirit? He throws away the key, and then talks, with more or less despair, of the difficulty of opening the door. This is not the wisdom that descends from above, nor the faith that expects from the most bountiful Giver. It is honesty no doubt to confess our ignorance; but is there not One sent down to guide into all the truth? Distrust of Him is not good. It is to fail in faith, the first of requisites for the right use of the gospels, or of scripture in general, on the writer's own spewing.
I cannot admire the comparison of spots in the sun apparent to the telescope (p. 13). We must not confound original perfectness as given of God through inspired men; and providential preservation in man's hands, spite of his feebleness and unfaithfulness in detail. Nor do I like the suggestion that one only supreme record, instead of four inspired records, “might have been perilous for a dispensation and a Church which was to regard not the letter but the spirit, and to walk not by sight but by faith” (p. 17). How evident the ruinous results of overlooking specialty of design. Admit this, and the true answer is plain: the fullness of Christ could not be adequately shown out but by the four Gospels.
As little does the aim of pp. 18-20 commend itself to my mind. Granted the variety of readings in the five hundred and more manuscripts of the Gospels; granted also that the most ancient MSS. least sanction the tendency to that assimilation of the Gospels which is found in the more modern copies. The distinct forms are of the greatest moment as the expression of distinct purpose, while every gospel is of course thoroughly true. In short, it is not the poor thought of merely trusting the Gospels, but of appreciating the higher truth of their various presentations of Christ.
The Dean proceeds next to compare the original with our Authorized English Version, which he says “abounds with errors and inadequate renderings.” (p. 22.) This is true; yet I question whether any critical text yet offered would not lead to errors quite as great, and whether his own translation does not abound in renderings quite as inadequate. No doubt many mistakes in the Received Text are corrected by the results of critical labor; but who does not know the too many errors adopted so strangely by Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf, &c., by one or more, from which the faulty common text is free ? Nor has Dean Alford himself kept clear of this perverse taste.
The chapter closes with the setting forth of two qualities indispensable for this holy study—honesty and charity. Are they really understood?
Is it real honesty to be ever exaggerating the apparent discrepancies of the gospels Is it honesty at all to yield this point or that to the free handling of adversaries, when a spirit of unbelief has deprived one of the true God-given means of vindicating His word? Certainly there is no reason to be afraid of any truth; but why fear the lies or sneers of the enemy? Compromise of the truth will not conciliate cavilers; and we are bound to resist such as firmly as we would disclaim all compromise with falsehood. I have proved that many alleged facts among the critics are no facts at all; and there are many more which are in no way the fruit of God's will, but of man's weakness or worse, who has failed in respect of transmitting His word as decidedly as in every other sphere and function.
It it real charity to write softly of those who corrupt or undermine the scripture? Human amiability is not divine love which abhors evil as decidedly and uncompromisingly as it cleaves to what is good.
“For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments.” Forbearance is all well in matters of conscience: of grace in enduring personal slights or wrongs there cannot be too much; but there is nothing like true love for resenting a dishonor done to Christ or to God's word. It is sheer weakness, if not an utterly faithless heart, which bears patiently infidel inroads on scripture, and which claims credit for honesty when, half-rash, half-timorous, it surrenders fragments of divinely-inspired truth to the pertinacious efforts of the unbeliever.
is the subject of the second chapter. Here the same painful humanitarian spirit prevails. The Dean dwells much on the eye-witnesses. “Their oral narratives had been for the most part nearly in the same strain, especially as regarded those sacred words of the Lord. But in different parts of the Christian world, according as the living voice of this or that apostle was present, the great narrative took different shapes and arrangements. Truth they all told—truth of a more precise and higher order than narratives founded on human accuracy can usually (!) attain; but each, from the very circumstance of his having been himself present at the occurrence of the facts, gave them as they impressed his own character and were reproduced by his own feelings. One loved to describe to his hearers the very look and gesture of the Lord as He spoke comfort or warning; another seems ever given to contemplate Him as the King and Lord of Israel announced in Old Testament prophecy, to retain in faithful memory the long connection of His wonderful discourses, and to enounce with reverent recollection their stately periods; while another, or more than one, in different fields of Gentile labor might love to dwell on those of His sayings and acted parables which had world-wide reference—might love to look on Him as the light of the Gentiles as well as the glory of His people Israel. And so various narratives grew up here and there, all showing in the main form the common testimony which all the apostles bore before they parted from Jerusalem, but differently deflected from that common narrative in things indifferent.”
This long extract (pp. 29, 30) will suffice to show the possession which this very low theory has got of the author's mind mainly flowing from the error already noticed; as if the differences were accidental infirmities, instead of being designed of God as a part of His wonderful method for giving us the truth fully and perfectly.
Again, it is another error, common alike to the traditional and to the rationalist parties, that Mark was Peter's interpreter and took to writing down the good tidings as usually delivered by that apostle. There is hardly more solidity in another tradition, that while Peter and Paul were founding the church at Rome (!), Matthew wrote his gospel. Of course, tradition makes Luke stand similarly related to Paul as Mark to Peter. Dean Alford rightly rejects the idea of each evangelist supplementing the account of his predecessor, but be makes them “three forms of the oral apostolic testimony, committed to writing, under the direction and inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, independently of one another.” Yet inspiration, according to him, does not preclude mistake. He carries his Arminianism even into his notion of the inspired word. He then gives a sample of Mark's minute touches, as well as additional details not given elsewhere, which refute the otherwise unworthy notion that his gospel is an abridgment of Matthew's or Luke's. The chapter is closed with two useful lists—one of the more remarkable differences from the received text, the other of the chief differences from the Authorized Version in matters of translation.
His first list consists of course chiefly of corrections in the text common to the best editors, such as chapter 1:2 (“Esaias the prophet” for “the prophets” which is an evident accommodation to the circumstances, and “before thee” omitted at the end); chapter 2:17, “to repentance” (brought in from Luke) omitted; so also chapter 3:5, “whole as the other” (from Matthew); verse 29, “sin” for “damnation” or judgment. I have passed over his second instance, which seems to me altogether precarious. Chapter 1:4, “John the Baptist was in the wilderness preaching.” That is, he inserts the article and omits the conjunction, contrary to the judgment of Griesbach, Scholz, and even Lachmann. Bengel does not even notice the various readings. Tischendorf in his second and third editions of Leipsic (1849) reads as Alford now does; but in his seventh he went back to his first impressions, though now in his eighth edition, which is excessively modified by the Sinai MS., he adopts the article, but retains Kai which is wanting only in the Vatican and three cursives. It seems rash indeed to present this at least doubtful question as one of the more remarkable places where our present text in this gospel is not that of the more eminent authorities. He omits “that hear” in chapter iv. 24, and from “verily” to the end of chapter 6:14 (“most probably"), as also “about” in verse 44. In chapters 9:31, 10:34 he reads “after three days;” in chapter 11:8 not “off the trees” but “out of the fields;” in chapter 12:32, “thou hast truly said that he is one;” in chapter 13:4 “when these things are about to be all fulfilled” (omitting “spoken of by Daniel the prophet”); in chapter 14:22, he omits “eat” rightly; verse 24, with Tischendorf and Tregelles “new,” also “because of me this night;” and verses 27 and 70, “and thy speech agreeth thereto.” In chapter 15 verse 28 is omitted by recent critics save Lachmann.
I utterly reject the criticism which makes the gospel of Mark end with verse 8, because the Vatican and Sinai MSS. agree with some other slight confirmation, more particularly as there appears to be a space left at the end of the Vatican MS. The motive of the scribes for stopping there may be a question; but there is no sufficient reason to conclude that the gospel really terminated so abruptly. Nor does the difference of style, or rather the employment here of words and expressions not used elsewhere in the gospel, justify the inference that it was not written by Mark. Possibly it may have been added later by the same hand; for certainly the last verse indicates a date considerably later than that which is usually assigned to the publication of this gospel. Language can be easily imitated in so short a fragment; whereas writers would freely describe new facts with new expressions, while underneath the surface lie, in my opinion, the most indelible traces of connection with the character and aim stamped on this evangelist by the Holy Spirit. Would this organic link have been kept up, had apostolic men, during apostolic times, added the general compendium of the events of the resurrection with which the present gospel concludes?
The correction of renderings is generally right. Thus chapter 1:10, “cleft asunder” and verse 14 “delivered up;” in chapter 2:18 “were fasting,” and verse 27, “on account of,” twice; in chapter 3:14, “appointed” (not “ordained") (chapter 4:11, the omission of “to know” ought to be in the former list); in chapter 4:22, for “abroad,” “to light;” in verse 2:37, for “full,” “filling;” in verse 38, the pillow (or boat-cushion), and in verse 41, “who then is this?” In chapter 5:30 for “virtue,” “power;” in verse 36, “overheard,” instead of “heard.” In chapter 6:20, “kept him safe,” for “observed him;” in verse 21, “chief men;” in verse 49, an apparition;” and in verse 56, “market-place.” In chapter 7, he puts Corban in the regular place of a predicate; in verse 28, “for even” (instead of “yet"); in verse 31,” borders” (as also in chap. 10:1). In chapter 8:36, 37, he would say “life,” instead of “soul,” as in verse 35—a very questionable change, if it be not worse. In chapter 9:12, he would make the latter part a question. In chapter 10:52, “saved.” In chapter 11:17, “for all the nations.” In chapter 12:26, “in the history concerning the bush, how;” and in 39, “chief places.” In chapter 13:12, “shall put them to death.” (Is not this a change for the worse?) In verse 28, “now learn the parable from the fig tree: when now her branch becometh tender;” in verse 32, “none,” and “not even.” In chapter 14:2, “during the feast;” in verse 18, “even he that eateth;” verse 31, “must die;” verse 38, “willing” verse 68, “I neither knew him, nor;” and in verse 69, “the maid,". omitting “again.” In chapter 15:5, “made him no further answer.” In verses 31, 32, there must be an error. It ought not to stand, “himself he cannot save, the Christ, the King of Israel. Let him descend now.” In verses 37, 39, “breathed his last.” In chapter 16:2, when the sun was risen;” in verse 8, “for trembling and amazement had possession of them;” in verse 12, “was manifested;” verse 14, “the eleven themselves;” in verse 15, “the whole creation;” and in verse 20, “the signs that followed.”
Most of these are known. But some are doubtful, others I believe wrong. Space forbids discussion, even if other reasons did not weigh.

How to Study the New Testament: Luke

The Dean appears to seize the bearing of this third gospel more distinctly than that of the first two. Pages 79-95 are a fair account of his leading characteristics in sketching the general course of the gospel. One of the few notices which must be excepted is the use made of the Pharisee and the publican, in chapter 18, where he still teaches, as in his larger work, that the latter “went down to his house justified.” “How sweet an echo there is here of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith, for which Luke's great companion, himself in his own estimation ‘the chief of sinners,' argued and toiled.” (p. 83.) This, as an exact interpretation and not a mere accommodation for evangelical purposes, is quite unfounded. It ought to have been left to the late Mr. J. Walker, in whose “Remains” the idea is given. There are many reasons for rejecting the notion. One is the very point of the parable, that though so deeply overwhelmed by his sins, he went down to his house justified rather than (exceeding) the other; for such is the regular force of παρὰ with the accusative. Here it could be nothing else. But this excludes justification (in the doctrinal sense of the Apostle Paul), which does not admit of comparison or degree. “By him all who believe are justified.” Besides, if this were meant, the participle ought to be δικαιωθεὶς, and not δεδικυιωμένος. The perfect is only used by the apostle to express, not justification by faith, by which we have peace with God, but justification from sin—the state in which the believer is set as knowing himself dead to the old man, which has been crucified with Christ. This, clearly, is in no way intended in the parable, as it is unfolded in Rom. 6 and not chapter v. And this lands the Dean, in his earlier work, in the mischievous conclusion that “he who would seek justification before God must seek it by humility and not by self-righteousness.” It is very sure that every converted man is broken down; but is it sound doctrine that the soul must seek justification by humility? What confusion results from jumbling together the meanings of a word in God's book!
The Dean's first list suggests the omission (with and B.) in chapter 1:28, of “blessed art thou among women;” verse 29, of “when she saw him;” and verse 35, “of thee.” In chapter ii. 14, “Peace among men of good pleasure” (i. e., God's elect); verse 22, “their (for her) purification;” verse 35, “his father and mother;” and verse 40, omit “in spirit.” In chapter 4:4, omit “but by every word of God;” verse 5, read “And taking him up, he showed him;” verse 8, omit “get thee behind me, Satan; for;” and verse 18, “to heal the broken-hearted.” Omit “Christ” in verse 41; and for “Galilee,” in verse 44, read “Judaea.” In chapter 5:33, omit “why do;” verse 38, “and both are preserved;” 39, “straightway,” and for “better,” read “good.” I need not say that some of these changes seem precarious. But the omission of the “second-first” (or second after the first") in chapter 6:1, though not given by some of the most ancient copies, is due to the difficulty of the phrase. The Dean thinks it has never been satisfactorily explained. It really means the first sabbath after the first sheaf was waved before the Lord; not the first sabbath of the paschal week, which was a high day, and followed by the day of waving the first-fruits. The next sabbath was this “second-first,” the earliest sabbath when a pious Israelite would venture to eat from a cornfield. In verse 25, read “full now;” verse 36, omit “therefore;” and verse 48, “for it was founded upon a rock,” should be “because it was well-built.” In chapter 7:19, “the Lord,” for “Jesus;” and verse 31, omit “and the Lord said.” In chapter 8:3, “him” should be “them;” verse 37, “the country round about the Gadarenes;” verse 48, omit “be of good comfort;” and verse 54, “put them all out,” &e. In chapter 9:1, “the twelve;” verse 7, omit “by him;” verse 10, “to a city called Bethsaida;” verse 35, “chosen” for “beloved;” verse 48, “is” for “shall be;” verse 54, omit “even as Elias did.” He admits the omission of MSS. in verses 55, 56 (from “and said save them") is contrary to the evidence of the oldest versions and very ancient writers, and so the question is doubtful. In chapter 10:15, read “And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted to heaven? thou,” &c.; verse 19, “have given;” verse 20, omit “rather;” verse 21, read “in the Holy Spirit;” and verse 39, “the Lord's feet.” In chapter 11:2-4, “Father, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; give us day by day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” In verse 44, omit “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites;” and verse 48, “their sepulchers;” verse 53, read “when he was gone out;” and omit “seeking” with last clause in verse 54. In chapter 12:15, insert “all” before “covetousness;” and in verse 31, omit “all.” In chapter 13:15, “ye hypocrites;” verse 24, “the narrow door;” verse 31, “in that hour;” and verse 35, omit “desolate” and “verily.” In chapter 14:3, add “or not;” verse 5, should be “a son(!) or an ox;” verse 34, “salt therefore is good; but if even the salt,” &c. In chapter 15:22, add “quickly.” In chapter 16:9, “it fails;” verse 25, “he is comforted here, and,” &c. In chapter 17:3, “if thy brother sin;” verse 9, omit “I trow not;” and verse 36 altogether. In chapter 19:45, omit “and them that bought.” In chapter 20:30, omit “took her to wife, and died childless.” In chapter 21:4, omit “of God;” and verse 8, “therefore;” verse 25, “distress of nations, in despair at the roaring of the sea and the waves;” and verse 36, “may be able.” In chapter 22:64, omit “struck him on the face.” In chapter 23:8, omit “many things;” (verse 17, doubtful;) verse 35, “the Christ of God, the chosen,” or “the chosen Christ of God;” verse 39, “art thou not the Christ?” verse 42, “Jesus, remember me;” and verse 51, omit “also himself.” In chapter 24:1, omit “and certain others with them;” and perhaps 42, “and of an honeycomb;” verse 46, read “Thus it is written that Christ should suffer and should rise,” &c.; verse 49, omit “of Jerusalem.”
As to the second list of better translations, there are given the following:-In chapter 1:1, “narrative concerning;” verse 3, “traced down accurately;” verse 4, “those sayings wherein thou wert instructed;” verse 48, “shall congratulate me,” or “account me happy;” and verse 59, “were calling.” In chapter 2:1, 2, 3, 5, “enrolled” and “enrollment;” verse 10, “all the people;” verse 12, “a babe;” verse 19, “kept all these words, pondering them;” verse 33, “concerning him;” verse 35, “that reasonings out of many hearts may be revealed;” verse 38, “she coming in at the same hour;” verse 40, “becoming filled;” verse 43, “boy” or “lad;” verse 49, “among my Father's matters.” In chapter 3:7, “He said therefore” and “offspring;” verse 23, “was about thirty years of age when he began (his ministry).” In chapter 4:9, “the pinnacle.” In chapter 5:6, “were bursting;” verse 22, “reasonings;” verse 34, “sons” (and in chapter 6:35; 16:8, twice). In chapter 6:11, “folly;” verse 15, “son” is not expressed (nor “brother,” nor sister, nor mother chapter 24:10); verse 17, “upon a level place.... number of the people;” verse 19, “power” (also ver. 46); verse 20, for “be” read “are;” verse 48, “he is like a man building an house, who digged and went deep.” In chapter 7:5, “and himself built us our synagogue;” verse 24, “multitudes,” as in Matt. 11:7, and “gaze upon;” verse 30, “towards.” In chapter viii. 4, “coming;” verse 19, “multitude;” verse 29, “was commanding,” and “demon” (as 9:42); verse 33, “precipice;” verse 40, omit “gladly,” and verse 44, “hem,” as in Matt. 9:32. In chapter ix. 32, “but having kept awake;” verse 43, “majesty;” verse 45, “that they might not perceive it;” and verse 51, “And it came to pass, as the days of his receiving up were being accomplished, he himself,” &c. In chapter s. 22, “is pleased to reveal.” In chapter 11:8, “shamelessness;” verse 12, “give;” verse 13, “the Father from heaven;” verses 31, 32, “more than,” twice; verse 34, “candle,” as in verse 33. In chapter xii. 15, “For not because a man hath abundance, doth his life consist in the things which he possesseth;” verses 18, 19, “good things;” verses 22, 25, 26, “anxious thoughts;” verse 37, “their lord;” and verse 49, “what will I? would that it were already kindled.” Those from chapter 13 to the end are of no great moment. Nor do these given here call for particular remark.

How to Study the New Testament: Matthew

IT is pleasant to observe an improvement in tone as to the writer of this Gospel, and that the Dean no longer labors under the indecision of the earliest issue of his larger work, as if there could be any doubt that Matthew and Levi are but two names of the same person. He who had been a publican till called to follow Jesus, was just the man, if the Spirit inspired him, to write the account of the Messiah rejected of the Jew, and then God's salvation to the ends of the earth. Here of course the failure to seize the design enfeebles the view of this Gospel. Nevertheless, it was impossible to overlook the fact that THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN—a phrase found here only—is a characteristic theme of this Evangelist; as also his presentation of the longer discourses of the Lord in His general ministry, as well as his fuller parabolic and prophetic teaching.
The Messianic character of the Gospel is, spite of theory, briefly described in the pages that follow. But is it correct to say that by the “Forerunner, the Elias of the new dispensation, it is necessary that the Messiah be anointed” (pp. 57, 58), seeing that the manifest fact is that to anoint others with the Spirit was the peculiar distinctive privilege of the Lord, in express contrast with John the Baptist (John 1, Acts 1), and that God, not man, anointed Jesus Himself as man? Nor is there the least warrant for treating His victory in the temptation or His ministry with its miraculous seals as the king going forth “to his work of saving his people from their sins.” This may be poetic, but is certainly vague and loose.
He says rightly, however, that in several of his groupings Matthew does not regard historic sequence; and this is as true of some discourses as of facts brought together for a special end. But it is untrue that this is a question of laxity; or that one who thus arranges for a dispensational object like Matthew or for a moral design like Luke departs from the strictest truth any more than Mark, who adheres to the mere succession of time. Both plans are excellent and both are given of God, which is the best of all, though obviously the style of “chronological annals” is the more elementary, and that of groupings the profounder of the two. In neither case is a Christian to be “a slave of letter” (p. 60); in every case both the words and the spirit are of God and addressed to the faith of man.
There is nothing in the sketch of Matthew which follows that calls particularly for praise or blame, save to notice that the closing scene of the prophecy on Mount Olivet (chap. 25.) is quite misunderstood. The gathering of the nations before the Son of man is not “the great final judgment!” It is the judgment of the quick, not of the dead—of a part of mankind, namely all the Gentiles, but not the Jews, and on a single issue suited to a single generation, not an appraisal of works in general. The question was, Did they (the Gentiles) honor the King in the person of His messengers who bore witness of His coming kingdom (the “gospel of the kingdom” —chap. 24:14)? Hence “THE KING” is as suitable here as it would be out of place in the great white throne judgment of the dead (Rev. 20:11-15), where none but wicked appear, whether Jews or Gentiles, and are all alike judged according of their works, and all alike consigned to the lake of fire, for no blessed are there spoken of but only the lost.
The following is his list of correct readings in this Gospel, though I am far from accepting them all—
In chapter 1:25, “a son” instead of “her firstborn son.” In chapter 5:22 “without cause” probably to be omitted; verse 27, omit “by them of old time;” in verse 44 omit “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,” and the words, “despitefully use you and” to be omitted; and in verse 47 for “publicans so” read “Gentiles the same.” In chapter 6:1 “alms” should be “righteousness;” in verse 12 “we have forgiven;” in verse 13 the prayer should end with “evil;” in verse 18 omit “openly.” In chapter 8. 15 it should be “unto him;” in verse 28 most probably “Gadarenes.” In chapter 9:13 omit “to repentance;” in verse 36 for “fainted” read “were harassed.” In chapter 10:4 for “Canaanite” read “Cananean,” i.e., a zealot. In chapter xi. 2 for “two” read “by means of.” In chapter 12:6 for “one greater” read “that which is greater.” In chapter 13:55 for “Joses,” read “Joseph” (some read “John"). In chapter 17:4 read “I will make.” In chapter 19:17 read “Why askest thou me concerning good? There is One good;” in verse 20 “from my youth up” should in all probability be left out. In chapter 20:7 omit “and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive,” as also “and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with” (inserted from Mark). In chapter 21:13 read “are making.” In chapter 22:7 read, “but the king was wroth;” in verse 23 for “which say” read “saying.” Verse 14 of chapter 23. to be omitted (inserted from Mark and Luke). In chapter 24:7 omit “and pestilence;” in verse 42 for “hour” read “day.” In chapter 25:3 read “for the foolish, when they took their lamps, took” In chapter 26:3 omit “and the scribes;” in verse 42 read, “if this may not pass away except I drink it;” in verse 60, “but found none; even though many false witnesses came.” In chapter 27:64, “by night” should disappear. In chapter 28:9, “as they went to tell his disciples” should be probably omitted.
This is the list of wrong renderings corrected—
In chapter 2:16, “borders” for “coasts” (and so in chapters 15:21, 22; 19:1). In chapter 3:7 “generation” should be “offspring” (as in chapters 12:34; 23:33). In chapter 4:5, “the pinnacle;” in verse 12 “delivered up.” In chapter 5:9 and 45, “sons.” In chapter 6:23, “how dark is the darkness;” in verses 25, 27, 28, 31, 34 (and 10:19), “thought” should be “anxious thought.” In chapter 8:12 “sons” (and so chapter 9:15, 12:27, 13:38, and 23:15, 31); in verse 16 “a word;” and in verse 24 “was being covered.” In chapter 10:39 read “hath found,” and “hath lost.” In chapter 11:7 “see” should be “gaze upon” (not the same as “see” in verses 8 and 9); in verse 14, “shall come;” in verse 19 “was justified;” and in verse 27 “will (or ‘is minded to') reveal him.” In chapter 12:21, “hope;” verse 24, “this man” (so in chapters 26:67, 27:47); in verse 31, “of the Spirit;” in verse 41, 42, “more than,” twice. In chapter 13:19 “this is he which was sown by the wayside;” in verse 20, “be that was sown upon the stony places; in verse 22, 23, “was sown upon” or “among.” In chapter 14:26, “apparition.” In chapter 15:5, “that wherein thou mightest have been benefited by me is a gift [to God]; [he is free] and shall not honor his father or his mother;” in verse 27 “yet” should be “forever;” in verse 32, “will not,” “am not willing to.” In chapter 16:22, “God be gracious to thee;” in verse 26, “soul” twice is taken as “life.” In chapter 18:12, “Both he not leave the ninety and nine upon the mountain and goeth and seeketh.” In chapter 19:10, “expedient;” in verse 23, “with difficulty.” In chapter 20:14, “it is my will to give.” In chapter 21:33, “left his house,” (as in chap. 25:14 also). In chapter 23:6 “uppermost place;” in verse 10, “neither be ye called leaders; for one is your leader;” in verse 24, “straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel;” in verse 26, “the inside of.” In chapter 24:12, 13, “because iniquity hath abounded, the love of the many shall wax cold. But he that endured,” &c.; in verse 32, “Now learn the parable from the fig-tree; when now his branch becometh tender;” in verse 36, “none.” In chapter 25:8, “going out;” in verse 46, both “everlasting.” In chapter 26:5, “during the feast;” in verse 35, “though I must die;” in verse 64, “henceforth.” In chapter 27:9, “set a price on;” in verse 10, “commanded me;” in verse 44, “cast the same in his teeth” has nothing corresponding in the original, but “reviled him;” in verse 45, “all the earth;” in verse 50, “yielded up his spirit;” in verse 56,” the sons of Zebedee;” in verse 66, “sealing the stone, besides posting the guard.” In 28:3, “appearance;” in verse 19, “make disciples of;” and in verse 20, “all the days.”
Most of these are familiarly known and just. Some in both lists are questionable. It not my purpose to discuss minutiae now, but only to add that the Dean of Canterbury confounds, as do most, the relation of Christ to the Church with that in which He stands toward Israel. It is unscriptural to say, “the King and Head over all to His Church.” (p. 77.) So to the soul individually, in the following page, “Seek ever this thy King and Savior.” For never does God's word so speak. It is to Judaize unwittingly. He is my Savior and Lord; He is Head to the Church; but He is King of Israel. There is no error more widely and profoundly injurious to the Christian than this, trifling as the ignorant might account it.

I Have Brought You Unto Myself

There are two subjects of special importance, between our souls and God: how God made us His—and the new associations into which He brings us, as suited to Himself.
Christ, in the efficacy of the work which He finished on the cross, is the answer to the first of these subjects: and a risen, ascended Lord, who lives in the presence of God for us, “crowned with glory and honor,” is the ground of the last.
Another point of great moment to us individually, is how we enter into these; for unless we know that all which separated us from God once, when we were “dead in trespasses and sins,” is put away forever; and that we are brought nigh by the blood, which, though shed on earth, is sprinkled where God is—there can be neither confidence nor boldness for worship “in the holiest.”
These two subjects may be further considered in the light of scripture: the book of Exodus, teaching how God makes a people His own; and the Chronicles, what are the associations which He forms for Himself and them.
A passing glance will show us the difference between a people coming out of the house of bondage, with their kneading-troughs and borrowed jewels of gold and silver, and the same people in the possession of all that Jehovah could bestow on Solomon and the nation, as the outward expression of God's delight in them. Another glance will tell us that the power of God in Egypt, when He was making this people His own, manifesting itself by plagues and judgments against Pharaoh, so that none escaped; whereas, in the brightest times of Solomon's reign, there was the unrestrained power of God in blessing, filling all hearts with rejoicing and praise.
Leaving these outward distinctions, let us bring into prominence the great fact, that deliverance from Egypt was by the overthrow of all enemies; and that relations with God are established in the peace, rest, and glory, which suit Himself, when there is no longer an enemy to overthrow! The triumphant song at the Red Sea was after Israel saw Pharaoh, his captains, chariots, and horses sink as lead into the depths.
It is thus God makes us His own. The power of the foe, from first to last, must be overthrown; so that we can look behind, and know there is nothing to pursue us; and we can look before, with the certainty that there is no power “to separate from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The redemption song of Ex. 15 takes in these two extreme points in its compass, commencing with “the Lord hath triumphed gloriously,” and concluding with “all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away, till thy people pass over, O Lord.” Our deliverance from every adverse power is not to be confounded with our peaceful associations with God Himself.
The Red Sea was but a preliminary step to this blessed consummation, as was also the subsequent crossing of Jordan. What a grand inauguration of a people, as we see them led out from cruel bondage into Canaan's rest; and what an expression to us of a yet greater calling, when the heavens shall open to let in the new-born race, made one with Christ in life, righteousness, and glory God knows how, in faithful love, to record in His book the exodus of His Israel; and the night of their departure is to be as sacredly kept throughout their generations, as will be their entrance into the promised land under the Captain of the Lord's host in the time of Joshua. Who has not marveled at the records which the loving care of God has so minutely preserved—their departures, journeyings, encampments! The cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night; all tell of the faithful love that accompanied them every step of the way.
Still, this is the history of a migratory people in wilderness circumstances, as yet on their road to Canaan and the glory. The tabernacle, rich in its types and altars, with a mercy-seat surmounted by the cherubim which looked inward in rapt surprise, must yield to the temple, and to the Mount Zion, and the city of the great king, and the day when these same cherubim shall look outward with delight upon the grand result of accomplished redemption.
Moses and Joshua have served their day and generation, and are succeeded by Solomon, in whom will be displayed the associations which Jehovah had prepared for Himself and His people. Peace, prosperity, and blessing are to be the characteristics of these illustrious times. Foundations will now be laid; hewn stones and timber of Lebanon; castings from the plain of Jordan; Huram the king of Tire, and his cunning workmen; yea, all must become tributary to the erection of this magnificent temple of the Lord.
The dawn of that day is come, when the treasures entrusted to the Levites shall find their proper place of abode, according to these chronicles: “And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant into his place, to the oracle of the house into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims, and they drew out the staves of the ark.” Another character is to prevail in these new relations with Jehovah; like our antitypical ark, the Lord Himself, no longer to be known after the flesh, a stranger upon the earth, in humiliation, or as completing a work given Him to do Long ago He has said, “It is finished,” and “they drew out the staves,” though these staves unseen from without, will always be the wonder of those who are in heaven, as they were once viewed “from the ark, before the oracle.”
That great mystery of “God manifest in the flesh,” has given birth to another, even to Him that “was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.” So again, if we recall Him as the sacrificial Priest, we are taught, “this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right-hand of God.” What in antitype are “the staves drawn out,” but a finished work below, and a Priest sat down in the heavens? This, as we have said, becomes the basis of our intercourse with God, founded on accomplished redemption, and a triumphant resurrection.
The first book of Chronicles opens to the reader its new genealogies, all tending to the subjects we are considering: how God makes a people His own, and how He brings them, finally, into association with what suits Himself. From the genealogies, we pass onward to chapter x., the setting aside of Saul the first king, the man who “was higher than any of the people, from his shoulders and upward,” in keeping with the original act of God. “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”
These Chronicles lead on to the anointing of David, the incoming one, “with his mighty men, who joined him with the bands of the children of Israel at Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord.” Conflicts and victories mark their path, and clear the way of all obstructions; while the charge to Solomon, the numbering of the Levites, the courses of the priests and singers, the offerings for the temple, and David's prayer to God, culminate in Solomon “magnified,” who demands, “What can the man do that cometh after the king?”
In the first part of this paper, we observe how prominent was the sin-offering, when the question had to be settled, how God made a people His own; but now we shall learn, that our associations with Him must be maintained, or our acceptance in “the sweet savor” of Christ. “And they sacrificed sacrifices unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings... for all Israel, and did eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness,” and they made Solomon the son of David king the second time and Zadok to be priest.” God is thus establishing His own relations with this people, called out from the iron bondage of Pharaoh, and the flesh-pots of Egypt, to find in nearness to Himself and with Himself, the secret of all present joy and blessing.
Like every previous relation, in which God and man are first found, all promises fair. Let us give a backward glance at “the cool of the day” when the Creator and the creature were together in Eden, and again at Noah and his altar and the covenanted blessing with every living thing; or later, at the hosts of Israel and their triumphant song before the murmurs of the wilderness, in order to be on our guard at this new inauguration of the temple of Jehovah and its glory, brought into connection with the responsibilities of so great a king! Everything goes well and responds in tune with these new relations. Nothing remains but for Jehovah Himself to sanction the whole by His approval; nor will He hesitate to crown, as He alone can. “And the Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel; and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him.”
The second book of Chronicles will tell us of the actings of this king on “the throne of the Lord.” All that could mark and distinguish royalty has been given him; but God will challenge him as a man and say, “Ask what I shall give thee,” and bestow on him further the wisdom and knowledge that gave him the precedence as a man over his fellows. Thus God pours forth His resources upon this favored king and nation, refreshing Himself and them in these rich associations.
The building times may now safely begin, and the great foundations must be laid upon that eventful Mount Moriah (so full of moral meaning), which had taught Abraham and David their respective lessons; the first by an Isaac “received back from the dead in a figure,” and the last at “the threshing-floor of Ornan,” where mercy rejoiced against judgment as the angel's sword was sheathed forever by the command of the Lord. Nothing out of heaven could compare with these intimacies between the friend of God at this mystic mount in patriarchal times, nor between the man after God's own heart and this Moriah when the kingdom days were come.
What secure foundations of blessing and glory are here laid in figure! But what Christian, able rightly to divide the word of God, and taught no longer by type but in fact, dot s not see here the true foundation God has laid, which is Jesus Christ, and the shadow of that rock on which the Lord builds His Church, and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail? Who does not, moreover, discover in these types “the chief cornerstone in whom the whole building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord?” What new and precious associations are these between the risen Christ as Head, and His body on the earth, through the descended Spirit at Pentecost?
But to return. The building of the temple, the one object of every eye, heart, and hand, is finished, and the priests and Levites have brought into their place all that prefigured “God manifest in the flesh.” “And it came to pass when the priests were come out of the holy place and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good, for his mercy endureth forever, that then the house was filled with a cloud.”
The relations between Jehovah and His own are now at their height of blessing from the center of God's dwelling place to the extremest bound of the habitable earth. The Queen of Sheba will come from its very ends to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and listen, look, and wonder, till, beholding the ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her!
What shall we, who are children of another hope, and of another standing, say to these things? If Israel's God has shown His delights among the sons of men by coming down from the heavens, and forming these relations with Himself; how well may He challenge “eye, and ear, and heart of man to conceive what He has prepared for them that love Him” in these later times!
In brief, the Old Testament is the history of God come down to this world, and to men upon it, in the varying forms we have noticed; and the New Testament is the record of man (in the person of Christ) gone up into the heavens. We know Him who is there to prepare a place for us; and He has promised “I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may he also.” Let us bear in mind, these two characteristic differences of the Old and New Testament, that we may discern “the manifold wisdom of God,” opened out by the ministry of the prophets first, and fulfilled in the Messiah Son of David according to the flesh, when in the midst of Israel.
Observe, we must not confound this with the other ministry of the Holy Ghost by the apostles, which reveals to us a second man, first-begotten from the dead, and now Head of His body the Church. Incarnation brought Him into this world, and gave Him to the hopes of His earthly people; but resurrection was the point of His departure for the heavens, where He gives Himself to us—the birth-place of all our hopes and their fulfillments.
How well may we bid defiance to every fear, now that Christ is on the throne of the Majesty on high, and encourage one another in the largest expectations of our souls, as taught by His own words: “All that the Father hath is mine.” May we increasingly find our repose and rest of heart, where God has found His, in the Son of His love.

Immortality and Everlasting Punishment

My Dear Brother,-As this question, this evil heresy, is the one by which, most commonly just now, Satan seeks to perplex the minds of the simple, I write a line to you in connection with the tract sent to me. A great many human names are introduced, but scripture is little inquired into. In this doctrine the great point of consequence to me is that the true character and import of sin, of atonement, of repentance, is overlooked, and the responsibility of man. Atonement is either denied or dropped out. Here it is entirely dropped out. Now it is evident, if temporary punishment is the whole desert of sin, Christ had only to suffer accordingly. Repentance is proportionate. And one of the chief teachers in the United States declares in his book that the deep distress of conscience and terror about sin committed, was a base servile fear and wrong. To one who found he had lost the atonement and the sense of responsibility out of his mind, and who asked him what he made of responsibility, he replied, it was impossible to reconcile it with his system, but he saw it in scripture, and so did not deny it. They insist that souls of men and beasts are the same, and plead Genesis to this end—all in whom was the breath of life perished in the flood—that beasts have a living soul and so has man. If this be so (that we have more intelligence, but a living soul like a beast's), you cannot charge a beast with sin, nor make Christ die to put away a beast's sins. What did Christ do for us? not as giving life, but in the way of atonement? That is the grave question. Again, they confound eternal life and immortality, which is not honest.
Save as to the immortality of God, where it declares death, of course, has no part, ἀθανασία, mortality and immortality as to men, are applied solely to the body and have nothing to do with eternal life. Eternal life is what we have in the Second Adam: the question is the condition of the first. Thus, “when this mortal shall have put on immortality,” “the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh.” The places are these—Rom. 6:12, “mortal body;” 8:11, “mortal bodies;” 1 Cor. 15:53, “this mortal;” verse 54, where it is the resurrection, that is, the body (or change); 2 Cor. 4:11, “our mortal flesh;” v. 4, “mortality swallowed up of life,” when he speaks of the tabernacle we are groaning in. Mortality is always of the body, immortality is put in contrast with mortality (not mortality of the soul, but of your present mortal condition). 1 Cor. 15:53, 54, is the change from a mortal state. Otherwise it is used only of God. In 1 Tim. 6:16, He is undying in nature. Mortal is applied to our present state, but is not applied to the soul at all. That God only has immortality does not affect an undying existence conferred; for angels are not mortal, as all admit, and as Luke 20:36 shows. With these and the state of the fallen angels these teachers never trouble themselves. Men must not suffer, their love goes no farther than themselves. Now the everlasting punishment is prepared for the devil and his angels, and there the judged of Matt. 25 are sent; so Rev. 20:10, 15; 21:8.
As to the life we have naturally, beasts were formed by God's word out of the ground, and there the ordinary creation ended, and then beasts were pronounced good. (Gen. 1:25.) And then God proceeds in solemn consultation to form man as His image, as lord of all that had been created, and in His likeness; and first makes him a frame out of the dust, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man by partaking of what came directly from God became a living soul (not at all as the beasts), God's image on the earth. Hence he is called (Acts 17) His offspring. He has a spirit as well as a mere soul, when the distinction needs to be made, which death does not touch. We are not to fear them which kill the body and after that have no more that they can do—that death does not touch what is besides bodily life. I will speak of “destroy” in good time; but death leaves the soul in existence, not merely the souls of saints. When the resurrection was called into question by the Sadducees, it is not said of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob only that they are alive, nor is this founded on their being saints, though they were such, but it is added, “for all live unto him.” Death does not affect the soul. All live, not for man indeed on the earth but, for God.
The case of Lazarus and Dives clearly teaches the same solemn truth; the sinner was as much alive as the saint. They allege that this is a Jewish figure, I admit it fully as to the form; but it is not a figure of a person's not existing. The second death is the lake of fire—is punishment. They allege that it burns man out in time, and that ceasing to exist is the second death; but scripture says the punishment is itself the second death. Death never means ceasing to exist.
Then as to this word “everlasting.” It is incontrovertible that its proper sense is everlasting. It is defined carefully to mean it by Aristotle and Philo (the last a religious Jewish writer of the apostles' age) and others. Scripture speaks of the eternal God, the eternal Spirit, the eternal inheritance, eternal redemption; and what makes it conclusively evident that the word in itself means it is the statement of the apostle in 2 Cor. 4: “The things which are seen are temporal, and the things which are not seen are eternal,” where it is used in express contrast with temporal, without any subject (as they allege) which on other grounds shows what it means. So eternal life and eternal punishment are used in direct contrast—eternal life is in Christ, the gift of God. It is only named twice in the Old Testament, and both refer to the millennium (Dan. 12; Psa. 133); for life and incorruptibility were brought to light by the gospel. In Rom. 2:7 it is incorruptibility, not immortality.
None of the quotations following, apply to the subject at all, I have eternal life now; yet I am as mortal as ever. That life is not touched in any way when I die. (2 Cor. 5:6-8.) It is in full glory when I get a glorious body; mortality or immortality it has nothing to do with, nor they with it. It is “life and incorruptibility” which are brought to light by the gospel. There is a resurrection of the unjust as of the just. They subsist meanwhile, or there is no one to raise; their judgment comes after their death. At any rate eternal life does not touch or take away mortality—has nothing to do with it, nor does it give immortality. It is only the darkness of common doctrine that has given rise to these statements, which have no real foundation at all. “All live unto him.” Destroying the body does not touch the soul. “Who only hath immortality” does not apply to created existence. The angels are not mortal as we are, but they have no existence independent of God any more than we have.
Dr. Whately is wrong altogether— “of those only,” he says, “who shall,” &c. Now it is not so. Immortality is only used twice, applied only to the body, and when it has ceased to be mortal.
Another thing important to remark here is the abuse of the word “die.” We may be quite right in seeing, as spiritual persons, that men may be dead while they live, and that we may be dead in sin, as towards God, when alive, and that the judgment of death implies estrangement from God; as the gift of life is bringing us, in principle, in blessedness to Him. But dying in its positive sense is never applied to the soul. Thus Ezek. 18, constantly quoted for this, and used by good people with good intentions, speaks only of death in this world—present judgment here; not for a father's, but for our own sins.
Quoting such a passage as “He that hath not the Son of God hath not life” proves utter confusion of mind; for if I were a living sinner, I have not life in that sense, yet am alive all the same; and if I never died at all, was not mortal as to the body, should not have it a bit more. What lost life has the sinner no power to regain? Not the fact of life (i.e., conscious existence); he has it as much as ever. It does not touch the question; and I know from Christ's word that death to which I am sentenced does not affect the soul. Why so diligently confound spiritual life and actual existence? And this is the whole secret of the way they puzzle people—poor work! Death as judgment on man may intimate a great deal more, just as life does. But “thou shalt surely die” was bringing in mortality; and hence man was not allowed to touch the tree of life lest he should eat and live forever—live forever as a sinner in the world. Here, as a matter of fact, God was not precluding him from getting spiritual life; and if when actually alive, as he was, he had eaten of the other tree, he would not have died at all. Immortality in his then state, before or after the fall, would have been immortality as a living man as he then was. The death threatened we have plainly declared to us— “Till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Did the spirit God breathed into Adam come out of the dust? It returns to God who gave it; and the body will be raised, and then judgment come, and only then the award of sin by judgment. The corruption of the body is only an intermediate state, common alike to saints and sinners, just as death itself is, save by special intervention of God's power.
As to union with the Savior giving life, it is all a blunder. It has no such effect. None but already quickened ones are united, and that by the Holy Ghost. I need not say that all he speaks of the end of all things at a common resurrection is no part of our belief; but it is one of the acts of Satan to take fresh light and use it, where it has not been, to pour in his darkness.
The statement of everlasting punishment to a simple soul is as plain as possible in scripture:
“These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into everlasting life.” To a simple soul it would be monstrous to say that “everlasting” was not meant to mean the same thing. They are “tormented forever and ever.” Death gives up all it held into the lake of fire—that is, forever and ever; the same word always used in that book for God's existence. They are “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” Now everlasting destruction has no sense if non-existence be meant by destruction. Total destruction I understand; but everlasting destruction in such a sense, is nonsense. And in this case, on their own theory, it is no destruction then at all; for 2 Thess. 1 is at the beginning of the millennium, when, according to their own system, and my own full conviction, they are not destroyed at all, This leads me to the word “destroy.” It is, like death, used for the ruin of a present state of things, even moral ruin, not for cessation of existence. “O Israel thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.” “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” —the same word. “He that loseth (destroyeth) his life for my sake, shall save it.” “Carest thou not that we perish?” Zacharias “perished between the temple and the altar.” Take an English-Greek Concordance, and you will easily see. So destruction; waste of the ointment; the son of perdition; damnable heresies—heresies which ruin people. Moral ruin is meant as well as destruction of existence, if that is ever meant. The world of the flood perished—the flood came and destroyed them all; yet they are spirits in prison after that—another proof that death destroys no soul; does not mean it. Abaddon and Apollyon are the Hebrew and Greek for destroyer: are they able to make to cease to exist finally? Take אבד, p. 8, Engl. Hebr. Cone. I do not think “destroy” is ever used for finally ceasing to exist, but totally ruining as to the state anything has been in. When men are everlastingly destroyed from the presence of the Lord, it confessedly is not so; they then go into punishment; but that is final. And when it is said, “their fire is not quenched,” to assert that it means that they do not exist at all is a miserable come-off, not more. It is a figure, no one denies, and refers, as is stated, to Isaiah; but the figure is one of the continuous existence of the objects of punishment. “From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord; and they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me, for their worm shall not die neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” It is continuing abiding objects of punishment which are now before the eyes of those who come up. It was not a supply of fresh material, &c. All this is false. The opposite is what God is teaching. It is of continued existence; it is the carcasses that were indestructible—at any rate undestroyed: an external matter, no doubt, in Isaiah, and used by the Lord as a figure, but a figure of continued shame and misery, and no fresh supply. And what is the meaning of everlastingly supplying hell, where body and soul are, with fresh materials? “Destroyed forever” (Psa. 92:7), applies to this world; so Psa. 104:35, “Consumed out of the earth.” You may take it as a general rule, that in the Old Testament, judgment, destruction, &c., refer to this world, though a future state is referred to in the Psalms.
Again, the passage “Seek for glory, honor, and immortality” is incorruptibility. God is immortal in His present existence—cannot die. Man is looked at, when spoken of as such, as body and soul, and now mortal in that condition; and mortality is used only in respect of his existence in the body, and immortality too, only in another state. In Rom. 2:7 and 2 Tim. 1:10, it is incorruptibility; but it is always a state in the body, now mortal, then immortal (i.e., the soul separable from the body or inseparable). It does not touch the question, though habit uses it for it. Ignorance or dishonesty can alone quote the word. Angels are acknowledged to be immortal—and what we have to do is to learn from scripture what becomes of that which was directly communicated from God when He breathed into his nostrils, and which, most certainly from scripture, death does not touch.
I have already said eternal life has nothing to do with it; I am as mortal when I have it as before. Now scripture is positive that death does not touch the soul. It subsists after death and apart from the body. There could not in their use of it be a second death if it meant ceasing to exist. Death does not mean for men ceasing to exist; neither does the second death. That is going into the lake of fire, not getting out of it. And this driving out of the presence of the Lord is forever; punishment is everlasting. When dead, all live for God; when raised, they are cast into the lake of fire, and that is the second death, and the final state spoken of. They shall then have their part in it. That is “forever and ever” —the term used for the duration of God's own life; and the duration of His glory. (Rev. 4:9; 5:13, 14.) It is exclusion from the presence and dwelling-place of God: “Without are dogs,” &c. The time when God is all in all, and no more death, sorrow, &c., is the time when the evil are cast into the lake of fire. For death is separation of soul and body, which will never take place again. There will be no more dying, but just punishment on the raised wicked, but no more death; that and hades are over. But that judgment is destruction from the presence of the Lord.
What they specially insist on is that, till we get eternal life, we have, though more intelligent, life like any other animal. Now the falseness of this is evident. So we have seen, we are God's offspring, but I speak of it for another purpose now. I have a conscience; I have a soul that can hate God and did—formed to have to say to Him—that can be rebellious and disobedient, and enter into appeals to my conscience. In a word, I am a moral being. When I am converted, I feel how I have failed as to my previous responsibility; I repent, I feel I am guilty—liable to judgment from God: what has this to do with animal life? If I get eternal life, it makes me look backward on all my previous course as guilt, as subjecting me to divine punishment. When I know myself, I know that the mind of the flesh is enmity against God. God claims moral authority over the unconverted man. For these sins Christ, I find, has died. I was dead in sins. In Him I have died to sin. If I am a mere nephesh chayah,, as they speak (and we are that physically), I cannot repent nor think of atonement for what I did as such. The idea of sin is lowered. All there is is merely a temporary punishment for certain faults which takes place now and also hereafter. For scripture it is enmity against God, and the remaining so is infinite misery, when the veil of sense is taken away and final judgment pronounced. The atonement, responsibility, the true sense of sin, repentance, all go when this fatal falsehood and device of Satan gets into the mina. It is a soul as to its nature capable of hatred and love of God. Would you put the cleverest elephant into this place of responsibility? or could it have a need for its sins to be borne?
If you deal with a simple soul, show it the plain language of scripture: “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Conscience will tell what that means, and if they have been dealt with to prove eternal does not mean eternal, show them what is said in 2 Cor. 4:18; and simple souls, souls where Satan's wiles have not polluted them, will bow to the plain word of God. I have nothing to do with popular statements (though better, if essentially sound, than these immoral deceits); but the conscious subsistence of the soul after death, and eternal judgment and punishment of the wicked, are as plainly taught in scripture as possible. Men have spoken of it (though sound in intentions) in a way designing people can lay hold of, specially from the Lord's coming not having been seen. But the word of God is clear. It does not detail the misery as it does the blessing, and this is its perfection; but it declares it, and this is right. “I am” is essential existence. No other word is used for the duration of God's existence which is not used for that of the punishment and torment of the wicked. And while a few persons have been scandalized who seek their own thoughts and take their own feelings, when there is no just sense of what their own sins have deserved (for this is the secret of it), how many thousands of thousands have been awakened by the just terror of judgment?
I write thus to you because you will have to say to it. I have not entered into all, nor could in this letter. Save a few misapplied texts, there is no serious investigation of scripture, as bearing on a responsible soul, the offspring of God—no sense of what sin is, and that is the evil of the matter.—Affectionately yours in Christ, J. N. D.

Inspiration: Ecclesiastes Dictated

From two opposite points of view is life on earth generally regarded by mankind. The one half view it as a prospect opening out before them; the other half take a retrospective survey of all they have passed through. Like the cloudless morning of a long summer's day does it appear to one just emerging out of childhood, as radiant with hope he starts forth on his journey to realize the dream of his boyhood. Like the gloomy end of a winter's day does it appear to many a one, who has reached the verge of that span ordinarily allotted to man on earth, as chastened and bowed down, it may be, with the remembrance of failures, the old man travels onward to the tomb. Each has formed an estimate of what life here is, but the one speaks of what he hopes for, the other tells of that which he has found. A man's idea of a road he has riot yet traveled on will often turn out to be wrong; so youth's estimate of life is generally fallacious. Can we trust to one who has traveled the road himself to give us a just idea of what life on earth really is? Each one can tell us of what he has found, and may seek to indoctrinate us with his own idea; but the picture will be differently colored, according to the trials or joys each has met with by the way. It will be but the experience of all individual after all.
Man wants something more. Where shall he find it? The wisdom of the ancients cannot supply it; the researches of those who have lived in our day cannot furnish us with it. It needs one gifted with real wisdom to estimate it; it needs one able to search diligently into the things of earth to discover it. One and one only of the children of Adam has been competent for the task, and he as competent has undertaken to perform it. What David, the man after God's own heart, could not have accurately delineated, that Solomon his son could and did; and the Book of Ecclesiastes is the utterance of the Preacher, dictated by the Spirit of God, to provide man authoritatively from God, but also experimentally by the wisest of men, with a just estimate of what life here below for a child of Adam really is. Endowed by God with a measure of wisdom surpassing all before him (“for he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mabel.” 1 Kings 4:31), and never equaled by any that have come after him, king in Jerusalem, possessed of wealth beyond any monarch the world has ever seen (“for silver was not anything accounted of in the days of Solomon"), all that wealth could purchase, all that power could command, all that wisdom could search out, he could enjoy and understand. “What,” then, “can the man do that cometh after the king?” “Who can eat, or who else can hasten (or enjoy) more than I?” (Eccl. 2:12, 25.)
This was no idle boast. A man of pleasure, a votary of science, the ruler over kings, meting out justice to his subjects, answering all the hard questions of the Queen of Sheba, fertile in invention, diligent in study, rich in all that constituted the wealth of a nomad, pastoral, or settled, and highly civilized people—what source of pleasure was sealed up to him, what field of knowledge on earth was kept from him? Of all the pleasures that man can revel in he had drunk deep, while at the same time he investigated the works of God, and learned those laws by which the life and order of the universe are regulated. And, when we speak of Solomon's wisdom, we must remember it was not mere genius as people talk of, nor the fruit of matured study and diligent attention; but God gave him wisdom and knowledge, besides riches, wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings had that had been before him, neither shall any after him have the like. (2 Chron. 1:12.) Such was the one appointed to depict faithfully what the life on earth of a fallen creature is, and only can be; as One and One alone, who has trod this earth as man, has rightly and fully exhibited what man should be. David's son describes the one; David's Lord has set forth the other.
The Book of Ecclesiastes then is of great value, and might profitably be studied by men of the world in our day. Its writer had no reason to bear a grudge against the world: as men would say, it had used him well, conceding him his place, paying him due honor, and rendering full homage to his marvelous wisdom. For “king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom that God had put in his heart. And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.” (2 Chron. 9:22-24.)
Competent then surely to tell us what life is, what has he to say of it? how does he describe it? “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities: all is vanity.” (Eccl. 1:1.) Were these the words of a disappointed man, whose hopes had been cruelly crushed, and himself roughly treated by the way, none could wonder at such a commencement. But these are the words of the most prosperous, humanly speaking, of men the world has ever witnessed. “Vanity of vanities” —a mere breath, a vapor passing over the earth, short-lived in its existence, such is the recorded experience of the son of David, king in Jerusalem, and that not of some things but of all. “All is vanity, saith the Preacher.” And here he takes a title not elsewhere met with outside this book—Preacher. He would collect those about him who were desirous to hear, and instruct them, for such is the meaning of the term. So, whilst other portions of Scripture treat of the future, and the path of the righteous on earth, this addresses itself to all whose hearts are in the world, pursuing the occupations of life, and tells them what they really are, as the Icing's son has discovered by his own experience, and has recorded by the pen of inspiration for the instruction of all who will hearken to him.
“What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?” He takes up the diligent, well-occupied man, toiling away; the man who finds plenty to do and is happy in doing it, thoroughly engaged in the business of life. But why this cry of the Preacher, who “sought to find out acceptable words?” (Chap. 12:10.) And why does he view things so mournfully? The secret comes out. “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever.” The earth abides, man does not; hence the question that needs no answer, “What profit,” &c. And here we are furnished with a view of death, of which it is well for man to be reminded. Death is the wages of sin; but it is not viewed in this aspect in Ecclesiastes. It is not the reason of its entrance into the world that Solomon dilates on, but its presence here as a worm at the root of the tree of pleasure. (Chap. 2:15; 3:19, 20; 5:15; 6:6; 9:3.) It mars pleasure, it chills enjoyment; for it cuts off man just when he would sit down after years of toil to reap the fruit of his labor. How different was the prospect of Adam ere he fell! How different will be the experience of saints during the millennium, and of men on the new earth! But now to man, feeling the consequences of the fall, death is the great marplot, blasting all his hopes. What takes place after death is another matter: other scriptures set that forth. This book regards death from this side of the grave, and shows how it effects a severance between man and the fruits of all his labor, which he thinks he is just about to reap. And the misery of it is just this: man has labored for years, and looks naturally to enjoy what he, not others, has amassed; but finds death comes in and takes him away, whilst he leaves all the fruits of his labor to be enjoyed by another. “There is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity: yet to a man that hath not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.” (Chap. 2:21.)
What a trouble then is death, an unwelcome visitor, which none can keep out of their house. It comes unbidden, it comes at an unseasonable time in man's eyes, and strips its victim of everything; for “as he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath labored for the wind?” (Chap. v. 15, 16.) And whatever his position on earth, all finally go to one place (chap. 6:6), the rich, the poor, the wise, the fool, the righteous, the wicked are found at last with the untimely birth, which has never seen the sun. And death, the great leveler of all ranks, reduces man to a level below himself, even to that of the beasts; “for that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts: even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (Chap. 3:19, 20.) With the thread of man's life thus unrolling before him, at one end of it his exit from the womb, at the other his exit from the world by death, all that is seen being the transient existence of a metal born to die, we can understand the reason of that cry, “What profit hath a man,” &c.
But, if death deprives a man of the enjoyment of the fruits of his toil, his life and all that surrounds him speaks of ceaseless and reiterated labor. The work begun is never perfected. Things in heaven and things on earth proclaim this. “The sun ariseth, and the sun goeth down and hasteth to his place where he arose, going toward the south, and turning again to the north” (thus some connect ver. 5, 6). Each day the work is done only to be repeated again the next. Each year, the course it has traversed, is traversed again. “The wind,” too, “whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to its circuits.” The rivers are ever running to the sea, “yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come thither they return again,” or perhaps better, “unto the place where the rivers go, thither they turn to go.” “All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” Thus nature would teach him, if he regarded it aright, that here as yet no abiding rest can be enjoyed. Life is a busy scene. What has been will be, and there is nothing new under the sun. And to complete the picture of vanity, “there is no remembrance of former things, neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.” The obliviousness in Solomon's days of what had gone before was not a feature peculiar to his time. It has, it will characterize man in all ages. What profit then is there in the labor of man? What has been done will be done again, and what has been effected will be forgotten by the generations which may come after.
With this as the preface to his book, the Preacher proceeds to show that he writes not from hearsay, nor culls the wisdom of others, but has tried for himself what life under the sun is for one of the human race. (Chap. 1:12-2:26.)
He set himself resolutely to the task of searching out by wisdom all things that are done under the sun. In this he made good use of that wonderful gift God had bestowed on him. He beheld them all, “and behold,” he writes, “all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Man may see the defects, be conscious of the want, but he cannot supply it. What a condition to be in! Such is man's condition on earth as one who has departed from God. He must feel keenly, if he feels at all, how bitter are the results of turning from the living and true God. He sees what is crooked, discerns what is wanting, but cannot put things straight, nor supply that which is lacking. “All the foundations of the earth are out of course” are the words of Asaph. “All is vanity and vexation of spirit” is the experience of the king's son. And this, we must remember, is not the experience of the sinner, reaping the fruit of what he has sown, but one of the old creation (though a sinner himself) feeling the ruin and disorder sin has brought on the earth, As originally created by God, man was meant to find unalloyed delight on earth, with a nature capable of enjoyment, a mind capable of instruction and expansion, and a frame capable of exertion; and everything around him would have ministered to his pleasure, or have afforded opportunities for the full development of his faculties. Is that the case now? Let us listen to the words of the Preacher again: “I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem, yea my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.” (Chap. 1:16-18.) This is human experience, yet not the experience which of necessity a man must have, but the experience of all men, who are still suffering under the consequences of the fall. And however great man may be on earth, whatever be the powers of his mind or the yearnings of his heart, he cannot as a child of Adam get beyond what is here described. Like some fair ruin, with here and there traces of exquisite workmanship still remaining, by which we can contrast the evident design of the architect with the present condition of the building, so we can discern in man's feelings and powers what he was originally capable of, whilst compelled to own he is but a wreck of that noblest of God's works first seen on the sixth day of creation.
But whence did he acquire that experience which enabled him to pronounce such a verdict on all the pursuits of men under the sun? He tells us: “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure; and, behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine [yet acquainting, or guiding mine heart with wisdom] and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits; I made me pools of water to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees; I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me; I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces; I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts [or as it might be rendered, and perhaps more correctly, a wife and wives,' i.e., many wives]. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired, I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my portion of all my labor.” (Chap. 2:1-10.) Such was the wide range of pleasures intellectual and carnal that he explored. Nothing was withheld of any joy; but whilst entering so keenly into all that he describes, he tells us his wisdom remained with him. Fully competent then was he from personal experience, and from the wisdom which never forsook him, to estimate aright what all this was worth. Would not such a one be satisfied with what this life afforded? If others less favored were disappointed, he at least had his fill of everything he desired. And, having drunk deep of all that could be indulged in, he has left on record what he found it all to be. “Behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” The value of wisdom he discerned; it “excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness;” but to the fool as well as to the wise death comes, and after death the fool and wise are forgotten, yea, the wise man dieth as the fool. Hence he hated life, and he hated all the labor which he had labored under the sun, because he must leave it to the man that shall be after him; and who knoweth, he mournfully asks, whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? History answers the question, and illustrates forcibly the vanity of all things which he felt so keenly. Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the old men that had stood before Solomon his father, and lost by his act of folly the allegiance of the ten tribes. He forsook also the Lord after three years of his reign had elapsed, witnessed the invasion of Shishak king of Egypt, and lost the treasures Solomon had amassed. The shields of gold went to swell the coffers of Egypt, and Rehoboam had to substitute shields of brass in their stead. From speaking of himself, Solomon turns to others; and taking a survey of all things done under the sun, declares all is vanity.
Of wealth he speaks. It has its use. Money is a defense (chap. 7:12), it is God's gift; yet how often do men feel the vanity of it all. Coveted, toiled after as the one great good, the man acquires wealth, fills his coffers, and yet is unsatisfied. If childless, we may desire offspring, but children are God's gift, not to be purchased by money. If he loves silver, he will not be satisfied with it. (Chap. 5:10,) How can things of earth really satisfy an immortal spirit? If he feasts his eyes with his money to-day, it may vanish away shortly, and he be left with an heir—his own child—born to inherit beggary. (Ver. 13, 14.) Again, if he has been prospered to the last, and his riches have not fled away, he must leave them; for as he entered the world, so must he leave it. Death summons him but not his goods with him. All that he has remains behind him, whilst he, naked as he entered the world, passes out of it by the portal of death. Riches cannot satisfy the soul, they cannot buy off death, nor can their owner insure their retention for the morrow. So Solomon admonishes his fellow-creatures, “What profit hath he that hath labored for the wind?”
Again the Preacher speaks and discourses about wisdom. He acknowledged its value, for none were more competent than he was to speak of it. It strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. It is better than strength, he could say: and better than weapons of war. (Chap. 7:11-19; 9:16, 18.) But here also the vanity of all things done under the sun made itself felt; for when he applied his heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth, as he turned to behold the works of God, he found a limit to the prosecution of his researches; and as he surveyed the works of men, he was only made more painfully conscious of the wretchedness and ruin brought in by sin.
Of the works of creation he had learned a great deal, as is elsewhere recorded; but man is but a finite being, unable to fathom the infinite. This Solomon discovered. “I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea, farther, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.” (Chap. 7:17.) There are fields of knowledge beyond man's capacity to explore or even reach. He may, like Solomon, arrive at this point, to learn from all he knows how little he knows; how knowledge acquired is the mother of many a question which the student is unable to answer; and how incompetent he is to understand even all that he sees around him. Such must ever be his condition here. By the light of revelation we can look onward to a day when we shall, but not down here, “know as we are known.”
Turning to investigate the actions of men, he may learn the evils that are done under the sun: the crying injustice, the lawlessness, the frauds, and many acts of oppression that are constantly practiced amongst men, to find, whilst he sees them, his powerlessness to hinder them. (Chap. 3:16: 8:14.) Another arm is alone able to restrain the lawless; another mind than any of Adam's fallen descendants can alone devise the remedy. The day of the Son of man must dawn ere One will be found on earth competent to put things straight. How often is justice now perverted! The righteous suffer, and the guilty go free. Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. Servants ride on horses, and princes walk as servants on earth. (Chap. 10:6, 7.) And the wise man, courted for his help in time of pressing need, is forgotten when the hour of distress has passed away. (Chap. 9:1, 5.) Thus wisdom may disclose to its possessor what is wrong, and make him feel the bitterness of it, sensible all the time of his powerlessness to correct it. To know good and evil was the bait held out by the serpent, to be just like God. The wise man sees clearly the evil, knows what ought to be, but learns he cannot do it. And woman, originally God's provision for man, his suited help, is found to become, when a tool of the enemy, an instrument for his everlasting ruin. (Chap. 7:26-29.)
After this we may be prepared for the picture presented at the close of the book. Man, created origin. ally in the image of God, not subject to death, is depicted as traveling onwards to the tomb; learning as he goes along, as we have seen, that all around of things done under the sun are vanity; and, at the close of his life, giving in his own death a most convincing proof of the accuracy of the Preacher's statement— “All is vanity.” Beautiful is the poetry of the description, but sad are the features of it. Whilst others may love to describe what man might have been, Solomon tells us what he is; but he speaks not of his greatness, his powers of mind or body; he writes of decay. Created to be lord of God's creatures on earth, manifesting the power of mind over matter; a pigmy by the side of the everlasting hills, yet able to accomplish gigantic works, which seem almost to defy the ravages of time; far inferior to many of the animals in brute strength, yet able to subdue them, and to make the forces of nature subservient to his will; what might he not have been had sin not entered the world? A worn out vessel, his strength decayed, his knees tottering, his hands trembling, his sight failing, his ears dull of hearing; all that once charmed him able to charm him no longer; a mere wreck of what he was, awaiting the hour of his departure to his long home: such is he as described by Solomon. Who will wonder that the burden with which he began is the burden with which he ends. “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, all is vanity.” (Chap. 1:2; 12:8.)
But amid all that spoke of vanity there was another subject be touched on, for, being wise, he taught the people. He had spoken at length about man and his works, he speaks briefly about God and what He does. And what he says about God (for the name Jehovah does not occur in the book) only brings out in higher relief the ruined condition of man. Man abideth not, his thoughts perish, his works crumble to dust, his name is forgotten. Created originally not for death, he is now born to die: but God abides. “I know that whatsoever God doeth it shall be forever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it.” (Chap. 3:14.) Here in the midst of what is transient is something permanent. This he had found and desired to impress on others. (Chap. 5:1-7; 11:9; 12:1.) He would tell the creature of the Creator. It is not grace that he is charged to proclaim; it is not salvation he is empowered here to offer; but to God's creatures, responsible as such to Him that made them, he would speak. The Creator will take cognizance of, and make judicial inquiry into, the actions of His creatures. This none can escape, and of this all need to be reminded. And now that he has exposed the vanity of all things that are done under the sun, he opens out the only word for man to follow: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Chap. 12:13.) The fuller light that we possess confirms all that Solomon said of man, and tells us likewise more about God; but the principle here enunciated is true for all time—the creature should own the authority of God, and yield implicit obedience to all He is pleased to enjoin. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
And just where Ecclesiastes ends, Proverbs begins. Ecclesiastes exposes the vanity of all things here; Proverbs tells us of true wisdom. Ecclesiastes lands man as man in decay and death; Proverbs holds out life, and tells us how to walk wisely on earth. In perfect keeping with this are the subjects of their closing chapters. What Ecclesiastes describes has been briefly referred to. What Proverbs speaks of, is man and woman in their respective spheres; the man, king Lemuel, ruling; the woman, the virtuous wife guiding the house wisely and well. We see them each in their work, but we read of no end to it. Death is not introduced as cutting short their career of usefulness, or carrying them away when helpless by old age. They exemplify what Solomon had taught his son would flow from the possession of that wisdom which is to be desired—life. And we close the book, feeling that we leave them, as it were, the one on the throne and the other in the house. We come to the end of the Book of Proverbs, but we leave them still in life and activity.
C. E. S.

Notes on Jeremiah 1

On the consideration of the second of the four great prophets we propose to enter. Here we are not in presence of the comprehensive scope of divine purpose such as we have seen in Isaiah; but we are about to deepen our acquaintance with one who yields to none in pathos. The sublime strains of his inimitable predecessor are not more suited to the magnificent visions which he was inspired to see and communicate than is the plaintive style of Hilkiah's son to his own solemn and touching commission.
Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry, as he intimates, in the thirteenth year of Josiah. the last godly king of Judah. It was the year which followed the first effort to purge the capital and the country from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. The fairness of the promise but added to the poignancy of his grief when the reformation turned out altogether superficial, and the ruin impending was only stayed, under God, so to speak, by the life of Josiah, who died at the age of 39. Then followed the deplorable reigns of Jehoahaz (=—Shallum), whom Pharaoh-Necho deposed, setting up Eliakim (=Jehoiakim); who was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin (=Jeconiah or Coniah), for whom Nebuchadnezzar soon substituted “his brother” (or, as we would say, his father's brother) Zedekiah (=Mattaniah). Under these kings the closing disasters of Jerusalem, were mixed up with the struggle between Egypt and Babylon, which ended in the indisputable world-sovereignty of the latter and the various stages of Judah's captivity. What juncture so suited to call out the exercises of such a heart as Jeremiah's ? These soul-trials, which the Holy Ghost wrought in, were, as far as circumstances and persons could be, the mold in which the various parts of the prophecy were cast.
As to form, no such book of scripture perhaps has more perplexed the critics, one of whom (Dr. Blayney) has dared to characterize it as a “preposterous jumbling together” of incoherent materials. Apparently from very early times the arrangement was found difficult, as we may gather from the strikingly different disposal of a large part that is exhibited in the Septuagint. They have been compared thus: —
Dr. Blayney has sought to arrange the whole chronologically. Any such scheme will make it evident that neither the Hebrew original nor the version of the Seventy adheres throughout to the order of time.
I do not doubt that the Hebrew (as followed by the Authorized Version) was the order in which the book was left by the inspired editor (whether Ezra or Baruch matters little) who added the last chapter, which fitly terminates the prophecy, and serves as a preface for the appendix of the prophet's Lamentations. In short, it appears that the disregard of mere historical sequence subserves a moral order, which, as usual in scripture, has eluded the notice of those who look to no more than external points which lie on the surface.
Chapter 25 is a sort of link of transition between the first and last halves of the book. The early chapters were no doubt among the first utterances of the prophet, and are for the most part occupied with appeals to the conscience of the Jews, and warnings of the inevitable judgment of God just impending, though far from exhausted then. In that central chapter, the judgment is clearly predicted; and this judgment falls first on the land of Judah and all its neighbors; next, after seventy years' servitude to the king of Babylon, the day of divine visitation comes for the king of Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans. “And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all nations. For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. Then took I the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the Lord hath sent me: To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day; Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people.” (Chap. 25:13—19.)
Thus evidently the chosen people are merged in the ruin and judgment of the nations, and only possess a title to come first in order to be chastised of God for their iniquities, so much the more guilty because of His favor and their privileges. This casts much light on the expression in the chapter that Jeremiah was ordained or made “a prophet unto the nations.” Whatever the secret counsels of divine grace, in the public government of God the moment was come for Judah to be Lo-Ammi (“not-my-people"). Surely God will in His mercy restore them for the latter-day blessing and glory; but meanwhile they fell through idolatry, after the most perfect patience on God's part, from their distinctive place as God's people in the earth—not forever indeed (for His gifts and call are without repentance), but for a time still in progress. “The times of the Gentiles,” and the dispersion of Israel are the evident proofs of it.
Hence we may regard the Book of Jeremiah as divisible into two great and nearly equal parts: the first, up to chapter 25, consisting of moral appeals to the people; and the second, from that chapter, bringing in the particulars of the judgments on Israel and the nations among which they as it were disappeared, and in the midst of judicial dealing God remembering mercy and restoring them in virtue of the new covenant through His own unfailing grace.
Within these two main divisions there are, of course, lesser, though connected, sections. Thus chapter 1 is the prophet's call; chapters 2-6 go together, his first grave expostulation with the people. Chapters 7-10 begin with the house of God as the witness of the people's sin and the starting-point of His judgment; declare that Israel might take a lesson, in their inattention to the Lord, from the birds of heaven which observe their movements and seasons; and insist, though with the deepest grief on the prophet's part, that divine judgments must fall both on them and on the nations around them. Chapters 11-13 remind them of their fathers' covenant broken, so that intercession was vain, yet of restoring mercy at last, and close with a solemn denunciation of the proud iniquity of Judah. Chapters 14 & 15 mingle an acknowledgment of God's chastening in famine with the prophet's tears and confession for the people; but the Lord's assurance, that not Moses nor Samuel could turn Him towards those whom He had made up His mind to abandon and disperse. Chapters 16 & 17 separate the prophet from the people now, but assure of final blessing; show the value of trusting the Lord and call to repentance. Chapters 18-20 give a startling picture of religious hardness toward God, and hatred of the prophet who called them by the testimony of judgment as well as of his own deep conflict withal. Chapters 21-24 are remarkable in this way, that the Spirit takes occasion, by the overwhelming answer of the prophet to Zedekiah, to collect the various sentences on the successors of Josiah—Shallum, Jehoiakim, [Je]coniah. Woe on these destructive pastors is followed by Jehovah's promise of a righteous Branch to David. This, however, does not hinder present sternness of rebuke, but with discrimination of the righteous and the wicked, as set forth in the two baskets of figs. Chapter 25, though in fact an earlier message, winds up, as we saw, the first division, by declaring the intent of God to give all up to the king of Babylon, who in turn should be punished himself.
The second part consists far more of detached portions which give details. Thus, chapter xxvi., in the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, shows the effect of Jeremiah's calling them to repent of their sins that God might turn from the evil otherwise inevitable, the lay element, if one may so say, shielding their monitor from the priestly power. Chapters 27 & 28. bring us to the beginning of (not “Jehoiakim's,” which is an error of the copyists, but) Zedekiah's reign (of ver. 3, 12, 20 and chap. 28:1). God had acted sovereignly in the government of the world and warns, not the king of Judah only, but those round about, of the necessity of subjection to the king of Babylon. This was sealed in the death of Hananiah the false prophet. Chapter 29 declares the blessing of God on those who accepted the humiliation from His hand in the dominion of Babylon; such should find peace in seeking its peace while there. Those who prophesied otherwise were not divinely sent, and must be judged for their rebellion against the Lord. Chapters 30 & 31 prove that the Spirit does not limit the return from captivity to the remnant who went up from Babylon in the days of Cyrus, but looks onward to the unparalleled days of trouble, the time of Jacob's trouble which precedes his deliverance, when they shall serve not only Jehovah, but “David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” The day of the Lord is contemplated, without doubt. Hence all the families of Israel enter the blessing, instead of a remnant according to the election of grace, as now, or before Christ. These will be the days when all Israel shall be saved, and be placed under Messiah and the new covenant. Chapter 32 sets forth a present act on the prophet's part in evidence of their restoration—yea, of an everlasting covenant with them. Chapter 33 teaches that, when the Lord causes the captivity of Judah and of Israel to return, not only shall there be unexampled prosperity, but Messiah, the Branch of Righteousness, shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land, and Jerusalem itself be called Jehovah-tzidkenu; and as the King, so the priesthood; and all this forever. Chapter 34 renews the assurance of the imminent ruin of Jerusalem and Judah, and in detail. Chapter 35 contrasts the Rechabites, faithful to their father, with Judah's disobedience. Chapter 36 sets forth God's faithfulness in testimony spite of Jeremiah's imprisonment and Jehoiakim's destructive madness. Chapters 37-39 form another testimony to this in a different shape under Zedekiah. Appearances of good do not weaken God's word, nor do trifling circumstances impart security where He is not trusted. Chapters 40-44 testify similarly among those left behind when the final blow of the Chaldeans had fallen on Jerusalem: the people were as unbelieving and rebellious as the kings, and reap the due fruit of their sowing, whether in the land or in Egypt. Chapter 45 assures Baruch in his sorrow and shrinking, of God's sure judgments but of his own preservation meanwhile. Chapters 46-49 give the details of His dealings with the Gentiles in the land; as chapters 50 & 51. show us the imperial power of Babylon itself judged, the occasion and type of that which makes the way for Israel's return to the land and the Lord their God.
Chapter 52., though not the prophet's writing, fitly closes the book, furnishing the connection of the Chaldean with the king, the capital, and the temple. The Spoliation of the city and sanctuary was complete, and so was the captivity of the people. God had not failed in aught He had predicted of Babylon's supremacy, nor of the value of subjection to Babylon, the scourge of Judah's sin.
(Chap. 1)
BUT few words will suffice for the opening chapter, especially if the general scope of the prophecy has been apprehended. We have seen the extent of Jeremiah's prophetic ministry. (Ver. 1-3.) His call is then described in verses 4-10. He was a prophet sanctified to the nations, the people of God being on the point of losing their sanctification as His people, and all merged in common ruin and obnoxiousness to divine judgment. Serious charge to one of Jeremiah's tender feelings so strongly susceptible of grief and pity! But he must deliver it. “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” (Ver. 7-10.) Next, he is taught in symbols what was in store for him. (Ver. 11-16.) The almond rod set forth how God would hasten the performance of His word; the pot seething with its face northwards intimated the evil brewing thence for Jerusalem and Judah on account of their idolatries. “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee: but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.” (Ver. 17-19.) Out of weakness the prophet must be made strong to suffer, if not to do, in the testimony of God against His own people, the more painful because so loved and yet so guilty. His tender spirit must speak boldly against all, and so the Lord would deliver him: to shrink from it would ensure his confusion before them. What a deliverance from the fear of man is the fear of the Lord who deigns to be with His servant!

Notes on Jeremiah 11-13

This section opens with the call of Jehovah to hear the words of the covenant between Him and His people. It is the covenant of law, not the ways of grace. By this Israel had bound themselves; but they forgot, transgressed, and despised it, not more to His dishonor than to their own hurt. Little did they feel its solemnity when they undertook to obey it; not at all did they take into account their own self-will and rebelliousness. The sad and sure result was their ruin; and such must God's law invariably prove to the sinner. It never was given as a source of life, strength, or holiness; grace, the very reverse of law, alone can be such; and this, not from defect in the law (for it is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good), but from the inherent weakness and invariable evil of fallen man judged by a divine standard. The fatal error of Israel was shown at the beginning by their proffer to take their stand and hope of blessing, not on the promises made to the fathers, but on the accomplishment of the law to be rendered by themselves; it was ignoring God's grace and their sin; it was presumptuous confidence in their own powers and guilty obliviousness of Him who alone could make reconciliation for iniquity and bring in everlasting righteousness. What, in such a question, is man to be accounted of? Let him at least confess his sinfulness to God and look to another—a Deliverer outside himself. This was precisely what Israel did not, and thence followed their mournful history of pride and falling through sin from first to last. To turn from promise to law, to accept and pledge conditions of obedience must be destructive to sinful men. This was just Israel's case, and God brings it before them.
“The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God: that I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord.” (Ver. 1-5.)
But self-will soon goes into rebellion, and this again into idolatry. “Then Jehovah said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them. For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not. And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.” (Ver. 6-10.)
Impossible that Jehovah should be a consenting party to His people's sin and misery, any more than to His own dishonor. Judgment, therefore, should not slumber. “Therefore thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they 'shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble. What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest. The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.” (Ver. 11-17.)
In the latter part of the chapter (ver. 18-23) the prophet states how the Lord had made know n all to him; for he was as unconscious of their murderous devices against himself as the beast devoted to slaughter. So he calls for righteous vengeance on the guilty people, specially and full soon on the men of Anathoth, to whom Jeremiah's nearness had furnished the opportunity of proving their excessive iniquity.
This is pursued in the first four verses of chapter xii., where the prophet complains to Jehovah of the prosperity of the wicked in the land—so much the more grievous a stumbling-block because He was as near in their mouth as far from their reins.
This is answered in verses 5-13, where Jehovah prepares the tried spirit of His servant for greater ills, and declares He has forsaken His house and heritage, giving the love of His soul (as He calls His people Israel) into the enemies' hands. Desolation therefore was coming, and the sword of Jehovah.
Nevertheless even here Jehovah warns all His evil neighbors who sought to profit by the disasters of the Jews. “Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The Lord liveth, as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 14-17.)
'The section ends with a symbolic action to which the prophet was called in chapter 13, its application and touching appeal to Jerusalem founded on it. The girdle worn and kept safely, then utterly marred, set forth what Jehovah had been and what He would be to Judah. (Verses 1-11.) Did the people taunt the prophet as telling them what they knew? Let them learn what they did not believe, their own destruction now imminent, kings, priests, prophets, all: the God of mercy should not have mercy, but destroy them unsparingly. “Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive. Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory. The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive. Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock? What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail.” (Ver. 15-21.) Did Jerusalem say in her heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? Alas! the answer was already prepared: “For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered and thy heels made bare.” (Ver. 22.) Their evil was as hopelessly ingrained as the black of a negro or the spots of a leopard. Jehovah should not only scatter His people, but put them to extreme shame. (Ver. 24-27.) So it must be till all has been fulfilled. There remains greater horrors: only there is one that yet hinders the last excess of lawlessness in the rising of the lawless one against Jehovah and His Anointed. But this belongs to another witness than Jeremiah: so I say no more here.

Notes on Jeremiah 14-15

This section opens with a graphic picture of the pressure of death on the Jews and Jerusalem, which filled the land with mourning and leveled the great and small, man and beast, in common privation and suffering. (Ver. 1-6.) This draws out the prophet in touching intercession. “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. O the hope of Israel, the savior thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.” (Ver. 7-9.)
But was it possible for Jehovah, whatever His mercy, to accept the degradation of His name at the hands of His own favored people? “Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.” (Ver. 10.) How solemn when Jehovah says to His servant “Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry: and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” (Ver. 11, 12.) This to one who loved the people of God was in every way a trial: what was it to Him who loves as only God can love? Yet it remains true, and there are times when the principle applies, and faith is bound to find it out and act on it, whatever the reproach of uncharitableness. Such a reproach, that costs nothing, gratifies the flesh, and buys the favor of those with whom God has a controversy. But the favor of the guilty people is dearly bought, at the expense of His approval and glory.
Nevertheless, Jeremiah spreads before the Lord that which misled the people most and was the chief source of difficulty to himself. “Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of naught, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom, they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters for I will pour their wickedness upon them.” The false prophets must be the first to fall by the very ill from which they promised the people exemption, and the people must learn the folly of heeding man's promises by their own righteous ruin.
The rest of the chapter (ver. 17-22) is an outpouring of sorrow; for indeed the desolation was without and within, and both the prophet and the priest helped it on for the sake of selfish advantage, fattening on the corruption of God's people. What could Jeremiah do but bewail? This was not forbidden. It was an awful thing for a godly Jew to think of—the rupture of Israel's bond with Jehovah, the loss of their distinctive place as His people on earth. “Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul loathed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble! We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art thou not he, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” (Ver. 19-22.)
In the beginning of chapter 15 the Lord is still more peremptory. At the most critical points in the past Moses and Samuel had cried to Jehovah, and not in vain. The people had cast off Jehovah as their God and as their king; yet had he hearkened to His servants, and staid the hand uplifted as it was in judgment. But now, said Jehovah to Jeremiah, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord, Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, 1 will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways. Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city. She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 1-9.)
Most acutely does the prophet feel the anguish of such desolation from Jehovah's hand (ver. 10), not famine merely in the land, but a sweeping captivity out of it. The point of faith in such circumstances is ever the spirit of faith that accepts the strokes as righteously measured out by His hand, and not as the result either of mistake on the part of the people or of skill and strength in their enemies. God ruled in it all, and this in view of His people's shameless departure from Himself.
Nevertheless there is no time of retribution, chastening, and sorrow when the same faith which sees God in the circumstances is not given to see Him above them. “The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction. Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel? Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.” (Ver. 11-14.)
Here the prophet (ver. 15) looks for the judgment of his persecutors, who were found, alas! far more among the Jews than outside. He recounts the sweetness to his spirit of that divine word which brought him into pain perpetual in the sense of the people's sin, and of the judgments impending on them. (Ver. 16-18.) Isolated and crushed he groans to Jehovah, who gives him the needed comfort: “If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.” (Ver. 19-21.) To return from one's own thoughts and feelings to Him is strength; and to have a heart for what is precious sifted and severed from the vile, fits one to be His mouthpiece. (Compare 2 Tim. 2:20-22.) True grace makes one immovable and victorious, let the odds be what they may.

Notes on Jeremiah 16-17

The prophet has, in this section, a new picture of the excessive evil of the people and of the impending judgments and woes.
“The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. For thus saith the Lord concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land: they shall die of grievous deaths; they, shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.” (Ver. 1-4.) No relationship was to be contracted in the land, no longer were sons or daughters to be desired as a heritage from Jehovah. Children and parents alike were devoted to a sorrowful end, without lamentation or even burial, consumed by sword and famine, left as dung on the ground, or meat for birds and beasts of prey. And this was Jehovah's decree about His people!
This is followed up in verses 5-7, where every sign of sympathy in their bereavement is forbidden. “For thus saith the Lord, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them: neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.” I would here remark that the marginal rendering gives the best sense in the beginning of the last verse; for there is no connection between men tearing themselves for those in mourning and comforting them for the dead; whereas to break bread as a sign is natural, especially as followed up by giving the cup of consolation. This, which was customary on occasions of mourning, was a sort of transition between the paschal feast and the Lord's Supper, wherein the Lord would have us remember Him and thus show forth His death.
Thus, as every token of loving sympathy was now interdicted to the prophet; so was equally every form of congratulation. “Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.” (Ver. 8, 9.) God should cause all festive occasions to vanish away from the land of His delight on which His eyes rest continually.
Thus did He compass His people round with accumulated proofs of His displeasure to the uttermost, if peradventure they might still repent. At least the warnings, thus given and despised by the rebellious people, would instruct those who might have ears to hear in their midst. “And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt show this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God? Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; and ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favor.” (Ver. 10-13.)
It would be sad indeed, were this all. But it is not; sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.” (Ver. 14, 15.) The bright future would eclipse the most magnificent deliverance of the past, and with so much the more solidity as being the fruit of a faithful God's mercy, after all the experience of their evil ways. Nor should it be like the single act in the days of Moses. “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every bill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.” (Ver. 16, 17.)
But grace in their case, as in ours, in no way sets aside the governmental dealings of God; and in theirs especially, as having a covenant character under law, before they are placed under Messiah and the new covenant. “And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things.” (Ver. 18.) This drew before the prophet the picture of Israel's idolatries, and extorts from him the apostrophe, with the Lord's answer, which closes the chapter. “O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord.” (Ver. 19-21.) What a rebuke to the Jews that the most distant Gentiles should yet come and be ashamed of their false gods, which nevertheless entangled the sons of Israel so often and long.
It is by judgments that Jehovah's name shall at length be known. But so much the more distressing was the present state of Judah. As the prophet says, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars: whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.” (Chap. xvii. 1, 2.) Hence, then, judgment was inevitable; for the Lord shall judge His people. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for your iniquities.” (Amos 3) Bethel and Gilgal could be no cover for the transgressions of the chosen people, but rather made them more glaring and excuseless. Hence the word, “O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not; for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever. (Ver. 3, 4.)
Alas! the Jews were but men like the nations, but more guilty; for they departed from Him whom the other, knew not. Therefore “thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” (Ver. 5-8.)
How then can it be that a people should be more indifferent to their God, the true God that loved them, than the most depraved to their idols? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.” (Ver. 9-11.) The ill-gotten flies away. Continuance is only in God even for what He gives. And in Israel's case there was the less palliation; for God had done great things for them. “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” (Ver. 12-14.)
This accounts for all that follows: on the one hand, the mockers in Jerusalem, who dared the fulfillment of Jehovah's word; on the other hand, the prophet's confident appeal to Him who knew all, that his desire was far from the woeful day for the people. In Him only was his hope, and that He should be a terror to adversaries, not to him who spoke what was right before Himself. (Ver. 15-18.)
Nevertheless, as in Nineveh, so in Jerusalem, God delights in goodness and mercy; and a public message goes forth to prince and people at the gates of the city, that if they hearkened to the Lord and hallowed His sabbath, all would be well for them in joy, and prosperity, and thankful praise before the Lord. But if not, He would kindle a fire to devour their palaces which should not be quenched. How soon and truly it came to pass!

Notes on Jeremiah 18-20

The prophet is now told to betake himself to the potter's house, where he was to hear Jehovah's words. There he beholds a vessel of clay marred in the potter's hands, and another vessel made as he would. (Ver. 1-4.) “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” (Ver. 5-10.) The will of man is only evil. The sole hope is in God Himself. But Israel, as Christendom now, feels neither, even where both are in words confessed; for there is a real turning from evil where grace works, and man is quick to claim the credit of it. On the other hand, man is prone to depart from the living God, who would deny Himself if He made light of disobedience, and treated evil in His sight as if it were good.
Another awful effect of perseverance in evil is despair. Man never trusts God really; and a divine call or warning provokes this form of his will. Were it broken, he would at least cry to God and cast himself on what God is, who cannot deny that He is love. His goodness leads to repentance, man's will to desperation. “Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; to make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.” (Ver. 11-17.)
But this draws out hatred of the prophet, and determination to defend things as they are; while the tried witness of the Lord can only plead against Israel, however much he had sought before Him to speak good for them and to deprecate His wrath. “Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words. Give heed to me, O Lord, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet. Yet, Lord, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.” (Ver. 18 -.23.)
In chapter six. Jehovah summons the prophet to take a potter's earthen bottle before the ancients of the people and of the priests and in the valley of Hinnom to proclaim His new message. “Hear ye the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; they have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.” (Ver. 3-9.)
Then (ver. 10) he was to break the bottle with the words, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury. Thus will I do unto this place, saith the Lord, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet: and the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.” (Ver. 11-13.) Nor was this all: the prophet on his return from Tophet stood in the court of Jehovah's house, and said to all the people, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.” (Ver. 15.)
This (chap. 20) draws out the persecution of Pashur the son of Immer the priest, chief governor in the house of Jehovah, who smote Jeremiah and put his feet in the stocks. But the prophet on the morrow gave his adversary, from Jehovah, the name of Magor-missabib (i.e., fear round about), with a still more precise menace of speedy judgment on all Judah, and the strength of the city, and the treasures of the kings, which should go to Babylon. (Ver. 1-5.) “And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.”
The rest of the section is of deep interest, where the prophet bemoans his sad testimony and skews how truly the treasure was in an earthen vessel, that the excellency of the power might be of God and not of men. After all his inward conflicts, the result is his own fresh confidence in Jehovah. “But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. Sing unto the Lord, praise ye the Lord; for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.” Even then however the chapter (ver. 14-18) closes with cursing the day of his birth and the messenger who congratulated his father on such a child, the prophet of woe for Israel, Certainly prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men spake as borne along by the Holy Ghost.

Notes on Jeremiah 21-24

Zedekiah’s message to the prophet in the last struggle with the king of Babylon, gave occasion to the section before us. “Inquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us.” (Ver. 2.)
The answer of the Lord was peremptory in the extreme. How could it be otherwise to a king who thus hypocritically honored Jehovah with his lips when his heart was far from Him? All was hopeless for the king of Judah, who skewed less value for the oath he had taken than the Gentile who had imposed it on him. “Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah: Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath. And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence. And afterward, saith the Lord, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.” (Ver. 4-7.)
Yet even then God has a word for the people (ver. 8-10), and sets before them the way of life, no less than that of death. “He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” (Ver. 9, 10.) Nor is the house of the king forgotten. “Hear ye the word of the Lord; O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the Lord; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations? But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.” (Ver. 11-14.)
But this call to awake to righteousness the Lord follows up in chapter 22. by sending the prophet down to the king's house with a further appeal. “Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord: Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. For thus saith the Lord unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every one to his neighbor, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.” (Ver. 2-9.)
Nor is this all. The various kings of Judah who had reigned during the crisis of the capital come before us successively. Never had a louder wail been heard in the land than when all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. “And Jeremiah [we are told expressly in 2 Chron. 35] lamented for Josiah; and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel; and behold, they are written in the lamentations.” But here, long after, the same Jeremiah says of Josiah's son, “Weep ye not for the dead [i.e., Josiah], neither bemoan him; but weep sore for him that goeth away; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country. For thus saith the Lord touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place, He shall not return thither any more: but shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.” (Ver. 10-12.) Josiah might be mourned justly by a people that lost so godly a king cut off prematurely; but far more deplorable in itself was the lot of his son deposed and carried away into Egypt by Pharaoh-Necho.
Was this all? Far from it. The king of Egypt set up another son of Josiah, changed his name from Eliakim to Jehoiakim; but Nebuchadnezzar bound the guilty monarch in chains, and carried him to Babylon. And his dirge follows: “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord. But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” (Ver. 13-19.) Who of the kings had lived with less conscience? Who had died with more shame? No lamentation for him but an ass's burial (i.e., base exposure) beyond the gates of Jerusalem. For the innocent blood he shed, the Lord would not pardon. See Jer. 36:30.
But had not Jehoiakim a son? Wretched was he, Jehoiachin, who succeeded to his father's guilt and misery. How could he be said to sit upon the throne of David? He reigned in Jerusalem but three months before the lion came up from his thicket and the destroyer of the Gentiles was on his way, the avenger under divine Providence of one who did evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his father had done. “Go up to Lebanon and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed. I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail! As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return. Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear ye the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” (Ver. 20-30.)
Thus the roll is complete: for he with whom the chapter opens was the last king of Judah, Zedekiab, before the capital finally sunk, and the sanctuary was burnt, and the king of the Chaldees had all given into his hand. The answer to his message brings before us the sad group, miserable successors of the righteous king taken away from the evil now come.
Hence in chapter 23 we have their general and solemn judgment, but not without the vision of sovereign mercy when the Son of David shall arise. How refreshing to read such words in the midst of the moral horrors we have had before us! “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people, Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” (Ver. 1-8.)
This prophecy has never been fulfilled. When He came, who is to fulfill its every letter as well as its spirit to the full, He did not reign nor prosper, but was cast out from the earth, and exalted in heaven. Thus greater things were accomplished than a Davidical kingdom or a restoration of the dispersed tribes of Israel. For the very rejection of the Messiah by the Jews gave occasion to the mighty work of redemption by the blood of the cross; and heavenly counsels, previously unrevealed, are now brought out by the holy apostles and prophets, while the Jews are more than ever scattered, and Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. But those times being ended, and the Church of the heavenly places having been meanwhile called and completed in glory, the Lord will turn the heart of His ancient people, at least of a remnant, to Himself, and will return and reign gloriously, executing judgment and justice in the earth. The greatness of this future deliverance will altogether eclipse the day when they first left Egypt and soon saw their enemies dead upon the sea-shore. It is ridiculous to pretend that any such gathering of the tribes has yet been wrought. It is therefore future.
But if Jeremiah had thus a woe for the pastors with the assurance of a true Pastor that was coming, even Jehovah-Tsidkenu as He shall be called, he was compelled meanwhile to denounce the prophets and priests. (Ver. 9-40.) There was absurdity in the idolatrous prophets of Samaria; there was filthiness in the prophets of Jerusalem, whence hypocrisy was gone forth into all the land. Jehovah of hosts therefore commanded His people not to hearken to the prophets who thus made them vain, speaking a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. Peace, and no evil, cried they; when behold a whirlwind of Jehovah is gone forth in fury, to fall grievously on the head of the wicked. They were wholly unauthorized: had they caused His people to bear His words, they should have turned them from their evil way. Jehovah, who filled heaven and earth, was not unheeding but marked those who prophesied lies in His name. If they had His word, let them speak it faithfully. “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 29-32.)
That Jehovah would forsake them was the due burden now, and the burden of Jehovah was not to be mentioned more; for every man's word should be his burden. He would cast out prophet, priest, and people from His presence, and bring on them an everlasting reproach, and a perpetual shame which should not be forgotten.
Chapter 24 appears to conclude this collection of predictions given at different times, but brought together here because of their moral unity as clustering round the last kings of Judah in view of the fall of Jerusalem. The object was to set forth clearly, under the image of two baskets of figs, the wholly opposite fates that awaited those Jews who with Jeconiah were carried off to Babylon, and those who with Zedekiah remained in the land or dwelt in Egypt. “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the Lord, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt. And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.” (Ver. 5-10.) It is painful but of faith to bow to God's solemn judgment of our sin; for He cannot be unfaithful to Himself, and loves to exalt those who abase themselves in His sight. It was unbelief to cleave to the temple and the land when God was judging all, just because His name set there had been made an excuse for the grossest and most rebellious iniquity.

Notes on Jeremiah 25

This chapter has a central relation to what goes before and after, not more in fact than in force. We have seen the evils of the people of God, especially of Judah, laid bare. They had refused all the patient perseverance of God's increasingly solemn warnings, as well as His gracious encouragements; and in consequence of their deliberate and persistent idolatry, their condign punishment at the hand of the king of Babylon is announced. After their seventy years' captivity, their chastiser must be visited of Jehovah, and this with no such measure assigned as to Judah. Had the instrument of divine judgment lifted up itself proudly? It must he surely judged itself without mercy. “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: the which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers forever and ever: and go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the Lord; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.” (Ver. 1-14.)
Then the prophet is bid to administer the cup of vengeance to the guilty nations; but behold, among these, and as the first of them, stand Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and their kings and princes! “For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. Then took I the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the Lord had sent me: to wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day; Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people; and all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Uzzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod, Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon, and all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea, Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners, and all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert, and all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes, and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them. Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you. And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink. For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Ver. 15-29.)
It is thus an universal principle that God in judgment begins with that which bears His name—His people, His city, His house. And if He begins there, where can He stop? Impossible to pass by His haughty enemies. Thus a judgment is involved, first, of the nations which had most to do with His people, but not ceasing till He takes in all the kings, kingdoms, and inhabitants of the earth. To restrain this to that which was accomplished of old is to make the prophetic word of private interpretation, and to force into a narrow, temporary compass what is plainly and expressly of unlimited extent.
The chapter clearly looks on from the past dealings of God with Jerusalem, its neighbors, and its Chaldean foes, to the universal judgment of the habitable earth at the end of the age.
“Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel. And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the Lord hath spoiled their pasture. And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the Lord. He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.” (Ver. 30-38.)

Notes on Jeremiah 26

The second half of this book consists of special circumstances. Here it is a question of the prophet's call to fidelity in his office.
“Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: if so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, to hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.” (Ver. 2-6.) It is unworthy of a servant to pare down the message of the Master. Only let him take care that he add not to His words nor to the tone in which they should be conveyed: for much depends on this, especially in intercourse with others. Hence the apostle wished to be enabled to change his voice, which of course is precluded by written communication.
How unwearied too is the patience of the Lord, who guarantees His own repentance of the evil He could not but threaten, if they but hearkened and turned from their evil doings. But if they persisted in their rejection of His prophets whom He had sent (as He says, “rising up early and sending them"), let them prepare for the worst. No mercy should turn aside His profanation of His sanctuary which their sins had already profaned. The temple He should make as Shiloh, and the city a curse before all nations. It is an awful state of infatuation when men presume on God's favor to His people, spite of their indifference to His will and glory, and predicate the necessary faithfulness of God at the expense of His character and to let off those whom Satan has perverted into His worst enemies under the cover of His name, and law, and land.
In this state a bad conscience makes men implacable; and as they have no faith in God's threatenings any more than in His promises, so the one desire is to extinguish the testimony which galls them. “So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.” (Ver. 7-9.)
But when the enemy comes in thus, the Spirit of the Lord, if He does not lift up a standard, knows how to sustain a witness till the work is complete. As usual, it was the religious element which was most wounded by the word of God and most hostile to His servant. The priests and the prophets, with all the people easily excited and misled, determined on his death, and this in Jehovah's house. “When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king's house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house. Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.” (Ver. 10, 11.)
But the princes were not so easily moved as the people, who, under those more used to calm and dispassionate deliberation, renounced for the moment their former counsels. “Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears. Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets: This man is not worthy to die; he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.” (Ver. 12-16.)
The prophet pleads His commission from Jehovah, repeats the sum of His words without disguise, calls on them to repent of their sins that the Lord might repent of His judgments, but leaves himself in their hand, with a solemn warning to beware of shedding innocent blood. His murder would certainly neither disprove his mission from the Lord, nor turn aside the divine vengeance from themselves nor Jerusalem. The conscience of those addressed answered to His appeal.
“Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.” (Ver. 17-19.)
A counter case, however, is added. If holy boldness was protected, prudence would be a feeble, short-lived, defense, even if the timid prophet took refuge in a foreign land. “And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: and when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; and Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him to Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.” (Ver. 20-23.) Thus Micah and Urijah were each instructive, though from a different point; and “the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.” Poor are the people that are in such a case; as hapless as inconstant are they, whose will leads them, and not the Lord.

Notes on Jeremiah 27-28

It is well known that an error has crept into the text of the prefatory verse. The reader has only to compare verses 3 and 12, with 19, 20, to make this clear and certain. For “Jehoiakim” in verse 1 read Zedekiah.
The occasion of this word from Jehovah to Jeremiah was an effort at a coalition of the king of Judah with the kings that surrounded the land to throw off the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. Vain thought! God had for an appointed term given him a dominion unlimited in title: if limited in fact, it was only that he did not push with his arms yet farther. Rebellious thought! for the God who gave the king of Babylon this large place of authority was avowedly chastising His own people whose evil refused all remedy. Now when God is judging sin, the only suited feeling of man is repentance in dust and ashes with submission of heart to His ways. Therefore was the prophet to say “Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, and send them to the king of Edom and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah; and command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon-, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.” (Ver. 2-8.)
The mourning prophet was called to a course, unspeakably bold and presumptuous in the eye of his countrymen—how much more in the eyes of the ambassadors and the foreign powers! But God does not abate His sovereign will, nor hide the claims of His glory, because His people degrade themselves and put His name to open shame. And what a rebuke, especially to Judah and the guilty son of David, to hear “the God of Israel” proclaim Nebuchadnezzar as “His servant,” not only to the Jew but to their Gentile neighbors! The divine grant too was as minute as it was extensive: “the beasts of the field” did Jehovah give to serve him, as well as “all these lands.” But Babylon's supremacy was measured. It was no purpose of mercy; it was but a sovereign disposition in providence, and as the accomplishment of the needed chastisement of Judah and the nations. This over, many nations and great kings should serve themselves of the Babylonian king after the third generation, as surely as all nations should serve him meanwhile. But serve they must till then on pain of God's punishment with His sore plagues.
Observe that the conduct of faith at such a time exposed the prophet (and those who needed the word of the Lord) to the charge both of indifference to their country's honor and liberty, and of proud insubjection to the powers that ruled over Palestine and the kingdoms round about. This is not the least of the trials of a sensitive spirit. Observe, further, that the path of faith is inseparable from the actual message of God that applied to the then condition of His people. It was worse than useless to imitate what was of God for the days of Moses, of Joshua, of David, or even of Hezekiah. Faith is ever taught of God, and understands His present testimony and dealings. Always a true principle, this is verified now pre-eminently in the Christian. He has the mind of Christ, and is responsible to gather by the Holy Spirit from the perfect revelation of God what is for our guidance as each conjuncture arises. There is no need for which God has not provided in His word; but the Spirit alone can apply it aright, acting in us to the glory of the Lord Jesus. Appearances may be against the faithful as much now as in the days of Jeremiah. Our business is to do God's will and to diffuse the witness of His truth, spite of every adversary.
“Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish. But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the Lord; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.” (Ver. 9-11.) To be stiff-necked and refuse the word of divine warning is the sure road to the fulfillment of His word in our own misery and destruction. To obey is better than sacrifice in the worst of times as much as in the best. But the prophets of men prophesy what suits their masters' wishes and their own immediate interests, and only hasten the evil against which they promise a security as hollow as it is loud.
But the prophet perseveres and warns first Zedekiah the king, then the priests and all the people. “I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you. For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you. Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy into you, saying, Behold, the vessels of the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you. Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should this city be laid waste? But if they be prophets, and if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make intercession to the Lord of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon. For thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in this city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; yea, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem; they shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, saith the Lord; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place.” (Ver. 12-22.) In presence of sin, the flesh holds out fair hopes and immediate pleasure; but the Spirit always insists on that subjection to God's sentence on sin, which cannot but be repulsive to nature but ensures His blessing both now and evermore. Pride goes before a fall; and a refractory spirit paves the way for yet deeper humiliation.
But the enemy grows bolder (chap. 28.); and Hananiah dares to trifle with the name of Jehovah in His own house. “And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon: and I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the Lord: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the Lord, even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place. Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people; the prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him. Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it. And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.” (Ver. 1-11.)
Evil seemed now to have a full and easy victory over good. But God did not await even the brief space to which Hananiah had committed himself under the instigation of Satan. “Then the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also. Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.” (Ver. 12-17.) God is not mocked. His word abides forever. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way. But the expectation of the wicked shall perish. Destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

Notes on Jeremiah 29

In this chapter the prophet instructs the captives in Babylon as to their stay in the strange land, the right feeling to be cultivated toward its sovereign, and the falsity of the hopes their prophets were giving out. The Lord in His due time would prove His goodness to His people, whether preparatorily soon, or finally in a day not yet arrived. The objects of their trust, whether prophetic or royal, should fall under His judgments, even in some cases most ignominiously and unsparingly by the hand of the ruler of Babylon; in others by a total failure of seed to inherit the blessing when it comes from the hand of Jehovah.
“Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; (after that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon: build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Ver. 1-7.)
Thus the prophet forwards his letter to the captives by the messengers whom Zedekiah sent to Nebuchadnezzar. It was no accidental slip of Jeconiah and the people; it was no power of the king of Babylon which accounted for the degradation of the Jews. Jehovah of hosts had caused them to be carried away to the city of the conqueror; and He it was that now spoke to them by Jeremiah. How gracious thus to notice them after all their guilt and to link His name with theirs in their fallen estate! It was worse than vain to hope for an immediate return to Palestine: no conspiracies, no resolutions would avail. It was Jehovah's word that they should settle down in the land of their captivity, building and planting, marrying and giving in marriage, and thus increase rather than diminish, seeking withal the peace of the city where they sojourned, and this heartily as from the Lord, and not as pleasing men. In its peace should be their peace. Assuredly the ways of the Lord are wise and good, wholesome and edifying. Oh that His people had hearkened to Him, and Israel had walked in His ways! But as of old Israel would none of Him, so now were the captive Jews in danger of being a prey to the deceivers who fattened on the folly and sin they helped on.
Hence the prophet was directed to add a special warning against false spiritual pretensions. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” (Ver. 8-14.) The stay of seventy years in Babylon was measured of Jehovah. It was long enough to accomplish His chastening; it was short enough to prove His tender mercy, and leave room for a greater display of Himself, to be followed, alas! by a more dismal and lasting punishment of their guiltier rejection of their own Messiah.
Had they boasted of those the Lord had raised up in Babylon to prophesy? Alas! the true prophet was the least heeded; for he was no counselor of rebellion, neither did he despise the word of Jehovah that came by Jeremiah, but gave himself up to prayer and confession as the time of deliverance drew near. But as to those who trusted the false prophets, “Because ye have said, The Lord hath raised us up prophets in Babylon; know that thus saith the Lord of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity: thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them: because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the Lord, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 15-19.)
But this is not enough. Public examples were needful in special instances to admonish and impress the obdurate people, as credulous of man as they were unbelieving toward God. “Hear ye therefore the word of the Lord, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon: thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiab, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes; and of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saving, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire; because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 20-23.) And as Shemaiah had sent letters, as from Jehovah, from Babylon to Jerusalem, stirring up the priests especially against Jeremiah, God was no heedless hearer of his audacious profanity. “Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, The Lord hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks. Now therefore why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you? For therefore he sent unto us in Babylon, saying, This captivity is long: build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie: therefore thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the Lord; because he hath taught rebellion against the Lord.” (Ver. 24-32.) Truly God is not mocked. The curse causeless shall not come; but those who, miserable themselves, are given up to a spirit of hostility and detraction of God's servants abiding in the truth, shall of the flesh reap the corruption they sow.

Notes on Jeremiah 30-31

The next communication from Jehovah pledges that He will bring back His people to the land He gave their fathers. (Ver 1-3.) Has this been accomplished? No more than an earnest of it. It is His work and shall not fail when fulfilled in power. One of the peculiarities of it is that it is the day of their greatest trouble, yet it is immediately their complete and, as we shall see, final deliverance. The return from Babylon in no way meets such a description; for their return from that captivity was preceded by the day of the Lord on the proud city of the Chaldeans, and in no sense the time of Jacob's trouble. Again, the siege of Titus, however severe a time of trouble to the Jew, cannot possibly be regarded as the time; for Jacob was led captive and scattered more than ever, instead of being then delivered. But these are the only notable epochs that can be pretended since. It remains then that the hour of unparalleled trouble preceding their great deliverance is future and will surely be fulfilled. “And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: but they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” (Ver. 4-9.) Who will deny that the yoke is not broken, that bonds still restrain, that strangers yet serve themselves of Israel? Who will affirm that they are serving Jehovah their God, and David their king? Can this be any other than their true Beloved, their Messiah, the promised Son of that line? He is come no doubt, but as yet refused by them; but the time hastens when Him too they shall serve. It follows however their salvation out of their last time of trouble.
“Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished. For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous. There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines. All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased. Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee. Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey. For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion whom no man seeketh after.” (Ver. 10-17.) Here Jehovah renews His assurance not of saving Israel only, but of their return and rest from the land of their captivity. This is not the gospel. Christianity presents other and higher hopes—grace gathering to Christ on high; and not deliverance by the execution of divine judgments on their Gentile adversaries as here.
From verse 18 there is a third repetition of Jehovah's mercy to His ancient people. “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And out of them shall proceed. thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them. And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord. And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.” (Ver. 18-24.) Here their national restoration is yet more minutely portrayed, and with increasing disproof's of any adequate application to the past or present. From the return out of Babylon till the Romans sacked Jerusalem there was no more than “a little reviving in their bondage.” They were but servants in their own land under the great empires, with which is contrasted the promise that “their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them. But there is a far transcendent change. Lo-ammi is no longer to be inscribed on Israel; but “ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” A divine all-searching judgment of men most clearly and expressly characterizes this intervention of Jehovah: “In the latter days ye shall consider it.” Alas! the Jews have not considered it yet.
Another material distinction is already set out in the beginning of chapter 31. It is no return of Judah, but of the twelve tribes: how different from the scanty remnant of the Jews with a few stragglers of other tribes under Ezra and Nehemiah! Here all the families of Israel are in question. “At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things. For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” (Ver. 1-9.) Who can pretend that this has been made good either in the Jews or in the gospel, much as the gospel has transcended it?
I know the nations are summoned to hear, but it is not of their own salvation but Israel's blessing. “Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 10-14).
It is vain to cite Matt. 2, as if it proved the complete accomplishment of verse 15: especially as the formula points out no more than a correspondence in spirit between the prophecy quoted and the fact, as distinguished from the object. “Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, with the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.” (Ver. 15-17.)
But sorrow from man's oppression and cruel suffering is not all. There is a needed discipline from the Lord which is next brought before us. “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surety have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 18-20.)
Then the Lord calls them to their cities. “Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities. How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth. A woman shall compass a man. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness. And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.” (21-26.) It is a favorite application among the fathers and many who are under their influence, that the birth of the Savior is here intended. But this is an error, and introduces a sense as incongruous with the context as with the particular phrase which has been tortured to bear the weight of the incarnation. “A woman shall compass a, man” refers, not to the birth of Christ, but to the superiority in the latter day of the once backsliding daughter over all the might of man that shall oppose her.
A threefold declaration (first, ver. 27-30; second, ver. 31-37; and third, ver. 38-40) from Jehovah of the rich blessing of all. His people closes this word of our prophet.
The first of these promises pledges the end of travail and the sure establishment of both houses of the chosen nation. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord. In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Ver. 27-30.)
The second speaks of the new covenant, not according to law but grace, which Jehovah will make with them and its and their perpetuity. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 31-37.)
The chapter ends with the third promise as to the city, its limits and landmarks, which (unlike the second) is incapable of any just application to the wants, circumstances, or blessings of the Christians. It is the divine Doomsday-book of Jerusalem, the topography defined, and that security pronounced which belongs only to the mouth of God. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more forever.” (Ver. 38-40.)

Notes on Jeremiah 32

The crisis was now at hand. Jerusalem was undergoing its last siege. The king of Babylon had begun it ere the ninth year of Zedekiah closed, and took the city early in his eleventh year, after having invested it some eighteen months, though not without an interruption. The occasion of the prophet's imprisonment, during which this message came from Jehovah is first explained. “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dolt thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; and he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper.” (Ver. 1-5.)
Then from verse 6 we have the message itself. As an old writer remarks, if the prophet was bound, the word of God was not bound. The word of Jehovah came to him, saying, “Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it. So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances. So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open: and I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison. And I charged Baruch before them, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Ver. 7-15.) Thus the mournful servant of the Lord changes his sackcloth for the raiment of daily life. He had put on the attire of mourning when others vaunted of their tower of false prophecy and their arm of flesh, before the king of Babylon smote Jerusalem. Now, while all were shut up closely and himself a prisoner, the king and the people within, more his enemy than the cruel Chaldean without, and with the certainty that the city must soon be taken and Zedekiah not escape but go to Babylon a captive, he buys his cousin's field in witness that houses, and fields, and vineyards should again be possessed in the land.
“Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the Lord, saying, Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day; and hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror: and hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; and they came in and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them: behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it; because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it. And thou hast said unto me, O Lord God, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.” (Ver. 16-25.)
Such was the faith and the patience of this holy prophet. To bear at all cost a true testimony of Jehovah's mind to His people was far dearer to him than earthly goods, or honor, or life. When outward peace reigned, he saw the coming ruin; when the ruin was approaching its climax, he took measures, according to his discernment of the word of Jehovah, of a restoration that could not fail. Accordingly the word of Jehovah comes to the pleading prophet. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: and the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the Lord. For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face, because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” (Ver. 27-35.)
Thus nothing would set aside the speedy execution of the long-suspended sentence. From the beginning (for so it always is with man) had Jerusalem been for His anger and for His fury to this day, making His house the especial seat of their abominations and building the high place of Baal in the valley of the son of Hinnom, with the horrid sacrifices of sons and daughters to Molech. Judgment therefore must fall on their idolatries and their iniquities. If any deny Him, He must deny them. But He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself. “And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” (Ver. 36-41.) Jeremiah, like Daniel, might go his way till the end be; but then he too shall stand in his lot, and the right of inheritance shall not be lost, nor the evidence of the purchase forgotten of the field in Anathoth.
It is too plain to be mistaken, unless the mind be perverted by some false system, that Jehovah speaks of a day yet future for Israel. They have never yet been gathered out of all countries, nor have they been caused since their dispersion to dwell safely in their land. Nor has the sentence of Lo-ammi been yet reversed, nor have they had one heart and one way, fearing Jehovah always for the good of themselves and their children after them. Nor can it be pretended that the “everlasting covenant” is made with them, when they shall not depart from Jehovah and He will rejoice over them, planting them in the land in truth with all His heart and all His soul.
“For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 42-44.)

Notes on Jeremiah 33

This chapter completes the part of the prophecy which has for its object to assure the people of their ultimate restoration to their land from captivity and dispersion. And hence it is remarkably full as well as distinct.
“Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Ver. 1-3.)
After this opening Jehovah warns them of the vanity of self-defense against the king of Babylon: let who might come in, it would only be to swell the ranks of the slain by the Chaldeans. “For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the king of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword; they come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.” (Ver. 4, 5.)
But a low estate, especially hopeless ruin before their enemies, elicits an instant assurance of blessing from the Lord. “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.” (Ver. 6-9.) They should be built up once more in their land as at the beginning, yea much beyond what was at first. For Jehovah did not then cleanse them from all their iniquity, nor pardon their sins and transgressions against Himself. He gave them a witness of good things to come in their typical sacrifices; but He did not yet relieve them from that law which could not but be to sinners a ministry of condemnation and death. The last chapter declared that the days come that Jehovah will make a new covenant with both the houses of His people, expressly in contrast with their position under the law of old, the result of which will be an inward spirit of obedience, a real knowledge of Jehovah, and their sins remembered of Him no more. Thus will Jerusalem be to Him a name of joy, for praise and beauty, to all the nations of the earth, who bear and tremble for the good and peace He procures His people. On every side they will then learn righteousness.
“Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast, the voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good: for his mercy endureth forever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 10, 11.) As surely as He had previously threatened and was now accomplishing His threat to take from them the voice of mirth and of gladness, of the bridegroom and of the bride, so does He assure, in the face of appearances and natural results and forebodings of desolation but too suitable to guilt, that the sounds of joy should be renewed in their land, and not of nature only but the voice of them that say His praise and bring appropriate sacrifice into His house.
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 1214.) Peacefully shall the shepherds tend their flocks there where war had devastated most. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.” They are thus both included—a conclusive proof that no past return, or revival of tranquility under Gentile rule, meets the terms of scripture. The prophecy awaits its fulfillment.
Yet the next verses (15, 16) clearly point to the presence of the Messiah. “In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” It is Messiah present, but not in humiliation, not a sufferer, but in power and glory. He is reigning. It is not a question of an earth-rejected King, sitting at God's right hand on His Father's throne. It is the great King reigning on His own throne, the throne withal of His father David. “He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” It is totally different from His present action. His relation to us is never that of a King reigning over the Christian or over the Church. He is given as Head to the body, as by and by He will reign King over His people in their land; and all people, nations, and languages shall serve the glorious Son of man. While God is gathering out to Him the Church for heavenly glory, Judah is for the most part blinded, not saved, and Jerusalem is dwelt in safely neither by Jew nor by Gentile. In the days of which the prophet speaks Jerusalem will own her Savior God and King, and acquires a name from His own Jehovah-tsidkenu (Jehovah our righteousness); just as the apostle does not hesitate to say, in 1 Cor. 12:12, “so also is Christ,” where we would have expected His body, the Church. “For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.” (Ver. 17, 18.) Neither the throne nor the sanctuary should fail in Israel: the true King, and the true Priest, should be there from the Lord.
Thus rich and precise is the divine guarantee to His people in their darkest hour. Nor is this all. Confirmation is added, as for the successor to the throne of David, and the Levites, the priests (ver. 10-22), so for the two families of the people. (Ver. 23-26.) “And the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.” (Ver. 19-26.)
The Old Testament prophecies are quoted by Matthew in three ways which must not be confounded: that (ἵνα) it might be fulfilled; so that (ὅπως) it was fulfilled; and then (τότε) was fulfilled. In the first case it is the object of the prophecy, as Matt. 1:22, 23. In the second it is an accomplishment contained in its scope, but not the sole and complete thought of the Holy Ghost, as Matt. 2:23. In the third it is simply a fact which corresponds with the quotation, in its spirit applying to it, as Matt. 2:17.

Notes on Jeremiah 34

This chapter begins a new series, in which the proof of the wickedness of the people is brought out. We see their spasmodic efforts at repentance. Alas! it was no true work of God in their conscience, but simply the pressure of calamity for a time, which led them to form resolves, in a measure after the law of the Lord, but which proved utterly powerless when the affliction was stayed forever so little a while. Hence the word comes to Jeremiah from Jehovah, “When Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought; against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof.” And the Lord then told him to speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, from Himself, assuring him that He would “give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he should burn it with fire.” To fight it out was even to resist the Lord. It was not Nebuchadnezzar merely that was taking Jerusalem; Jehovah was giving up the city and their king of the house of David—a most solemn sign of His displeasure.
Indeed there is never any good received from a trial except it be taken from the hand of God. When humiliation comes, it is no use laying the blame on others, on this one or that one, but rather on God's people as a whole—on ourselves—more especially if we have the chief responsibility of action. Here the king had an immense place, and of course the priests also. If the king was a righteous man, Jehovah always brought blessing to the people for his sole sake: if the king was ungodly, his evil drew down chastening on the people. Alas! if there was an ungodly king, there was also an ungodly people. We may say, Like people, like king; and not only, “Like people, like priest.” In this case Jehovah intimates to Zedekiah a part of that which should befall him. “Thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth; and thou shalt go to Babylon.” (Ver. 3.) This is the more remarkable, because another prophet was given to prophesy that Zedekiah's eyes should be put out, and that he should not see Babylon. “I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans: yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.” (Ezek. 12:13.) Both are true. His eyes did not see the king of Babylon in Babylon, but he was taken prisoner in “the plains of Jericho” and brought to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There his eyes were put out. After seeing his sons put to death, he was blinded by the indignant king of Babylon, and not without deserving it. For Zedekiah had behaved extremely ill before God and man. He had profaned the name of Jehovah, he had shown less respect for that name than Nebuchadnezzar himself. The Gentile chief trusted that the name of Jehovah would bind the Jewish king in his oath: but it did not. Zedekiah, the son of David, broke the oath of Jehovah, and Nebuchadnezzar's anger was great. Therefore he punished Zedekiah thus fiercely, giving him to see the death of his own sons, then putting his eyes out and bringing him to Babylon. Nevertheless his eyes did previously behold the eyes of the king of Babylon. He was confronted with the head of gold, haughty and in the pride of his power, to whom God had given universal power. Thus Ezekiel was proved true, because Zedekiah went blinded from Riblah to Babylon; and Jeremiah was proved true, because he was taken prisoner in the land, did with his eyes behold the king of Babylon and was afterward taken to Babylon. Thus most minutely can every word of the prophets be trusted.
But there was another instructive dealing of God. Along with the humiliation that would surely come upon the king, the son of David, God tells him, “Thou shalt not die by the sword.” He might have dreaded not merely the sword, but the furnace. Nevertheless God says to him, “Thou shalt not die by the sword: but thou shalt die in peace and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn odors for thee; and they will lament thee, saying, Ah, lord! for I have pronounced the word, saith the Lord.” That is to say, he would have a funeral suited to his dignity as a king, and after the usual mode of the Jews—a bed of spices prepared to burn the king's body, and lamentations over him. The reason was this, that God, even in His judgment, carefully remembers whatever good there may have been. The Lord says, as it were, I will recompense; and He never fails. Zedekiah had acted wickedly: nevertheless his heart was towards the prophet, and he would have gladly spared him, but he was pushed on by others more wicked than himself. Consequently, when the supreme moment came, God extends mercy towards him; and thus he stands in full contrast with Jehoiakim, who had only the burial of an ass, as Jeremiah had proclaimed in an earlier chapter.
“Then the prophet spite all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem. And the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah” (ver. 6, 7), the cities that were intended to form a bulwark and a stay if an enemy came up against Jerusalem. But the people and the king formed a covenant, and this was what brought fresh displeasure from the Lord upon them. There was an old law from the days of the desert imposed on the children of Israel, that no Hebrew could ever be a servant to his brother longer than seven years, unless by his own voluntary choice, when his ear was bored, and he, with his wife and children, if he had any, remained servants to their master forever. But as a rule, a manservant or maidservant could only serve six years, and in the seventh they went out free. The sabbatical year proclaimed that they could no longer righteously be kept in bondage. But it had been neglected, it seems for a very long period, probably for several hundreds of years; for the prophecy of the seventy years' captivity notices this, and seems to imply a period of four hundred and ninety years, during which they had paid no heed to the sabbatical year. However that may be, “When all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed and let them go.” (Ver. 10.)
But afterward, when the sight of danger was past for the moment—for Nebuchadnezzar for a while raised the siege— “They turned, and caused the servants and the handmaids whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids.” (Ver. 11.) Then the word of the Lord comes by Jeremiah again, “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen.” How disgraceful then, if God had brought them out of bondage, that they should forget the will of the Lord as to their brethren in bondage. They might possess a stranger unlimitedly; but they might not keep one of their own brethren more than six years. Thus they had quite forgotten their obligations at home until the time of their affliction, when they read and obeyed, letting their Hebrew bondmen go. Hence their guilt was much greater, because they had felt their sin and their fathers' sin; they had seen what the will of God was, and having resolved to do it under pressure of danger, directly the occasion was gone they returned to their evil ways. “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbor: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Ver. 17.)
Nor was it merely that they had singularly lost sight of Jehovah's will and transgressed His covenant, but they contracted a solemn covenant made afresh, “when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof.” There was something similar in early days between their father Abram, as recorded in Gen. 15, and God. There was a remarkable covenant, when it is said that he took all the victims named and “divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.” (Ver. 10-12) Thus and then it was made known to him, in presence of this sacrifice, that his seed were to be afflicted four hundred years, but that the nation whom they should serve, God would judge, and afterward they should come out with great substance. “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.” (Ver. 17.) This set forth the destiny of Israel, the smoking furnace representing their trial and affliction; the burning lamp that passed between them, the hope of the deliverance that would spring up out of darkness. Such were the dealings of God in His righteous government.
These men seem to have imitated in a manner this covenant with Abram; but in them there was no faith counted for righteousness, though they solemnly acknowledged their obligation to the will of God, passing between the calf, which was not only a sacrificial sign for confirmation before the Lord, but a kind of imprecation of death upon themselves if they were unfaithful to the covenant, like the children of Israel in Ex. 24 And so says the Lord to those who had passed between the parts of the calf; “I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth. And Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which are gone up from you.” (Ver. 20, 21.) They were not to be killed as the others, but to be taken prisoners and put to humiliation; though God might assuage their calamity, as we have seen in the case of Zedekiah. As for the city, they flattered themselves that the Babylonians would never come back again; but says the Lord, I will “cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.” (Ver. 22.) So solemn are the ways of Jehovah, whether with the guilty king, in not forgetting his kindness to the prophet, whatever might be the judgment of his iniquity; or with the princes and priests, the still more guilty advisers of the king. Destruction came upon them to the uttermost, as also upon the city itself where such conscienceless deeds were allowed.

Notes on Jeremiah 35

It is striking the pains God takes with His people and the way in which He condescends to employ the example of men (before of birds and beasts) as a parable for instructing His people, if they are but willing to listen. We learn that there was in the holy land at this time a tribe of the sons of Rechab. They were Kenites as to their race—the same people of whom Moses' wife came: there was, as we know, a friendly feeling between Israel and them in consequence.
The manner too in which the Lord presses home the lesson is much to be observed: “Go,” says He to Jeremiah, “unto the house of the Rechabites and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.” This was calculated to impress the Rechabites strongly. A prophet of Jehovah sets before them cups of wine, and this too in the temple. “Then I took Jaazaniah, the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; and I brought them into the house of the Lord.” It was not into some obscure place either in the temple, but unto one of the priests— “into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah, the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door.” It was by the chamber even of the heads of the priesthood and of the princes. And there it is added, “I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.” But the Rechabites were faithful; they had pledged themselves to their father a long while before. It was no new feeling; it had governed their conduct ever since his time who gave the tribe its name; and now even, under circumstances such as pressed Judea, when there was no lack of dangers and sorrow, though a prophet of the Lord bid them drink, though the wine was set before them in the temple of the Lord, they still refuse. “They said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye nor your sons forever.”
It would be too much to assume that there was any direct purpose of pleasing God, or anything morally good in simply taking wine or not. It is plain God does not tempt anyone to evil: the very fact therefore that Jehovah bade the prophet bring them into the temple and set wine before them and bade them drink, shows that it is no question of moral evil. But it would have been unbecoming in those who had pledged themselves not to take it, had they done so. They were obedient to their father—this was what was right. Their father was entitled to test their obedience if he liked, and he did so; and they were true to their father and to their own filial obligation. This was what pleased the Lord, and what He uses for the correction of Israel. What is a convincing proof that the point is not one of moral evil is this—besides the charge to drink no wine, it had also been commanded them “Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents.” It is evident there is nothing at all wrong in itself in a man's having a house or sowing seed in a field: no one thinks so—at least none but a madman. Yet these being tests of their obedience, they were as much bound to abstain from sowing seed and planting vineyards as from drinking wine. But the particular test here employed was drinking wine, because I suppose the others could not have been applied so readily. Jonadab put all this before them as a motive of obedience on the earth— “that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: but we have dwelt in tents and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.” There is no moral excellence in dwelling in a tent, any more than in a house; but there are circumstances where it would be more congruous and becoming. It was a beautiful sign of pilgrimage in the fathers to dwell in tents.
And so here: whatever may have been the motive in Jonadab for laying this precept upon his children, we do not know; but still they were right in dutiful obedience to him. “We have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.” It is true there was now an exception. “But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.” It may be questioned whether they were called upon to make this an exception, and whether it was any better for them to be in Jerusalem than in the land as before. It is good always to hold fast the principle on which we are called to act; it is dangerous to allow ourselves to change. God of course is entitled to bring in new principles for new circumstances, but we must take care that it is God who does so.
“Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Loup of hosts, the God of Israel, Go and tell the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD. The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers; but ye have not inclined your ear nor hearkened unto me.” Such was now the condition of Israel, that God employs all sorts of figures, principally in the mouth of Jeremiah. The birds of the heavens know their appointed times, the cattle of the earth even are truer to their masters than the children of Israel to Jehovah. And here were these Gentiles, these strangers, living in tents in obedience to their father's command. How faithful they were to their promise! how honoring to their father! while Israel as plainly refuses to hearken to Jehovah. It was not that God had not taken pains with Israel. Jonadab had never toiled so hard nor so perseveringly with his sons: he had no prophets to send to them. It was not called for, even if it had been in his power. But as for Jehovah, rising up early He had spoken to them and had sent His prophets; yet they had not hearkened. Nevertheless He was willing to begin afresh and to forgive all “Amend your doings and go not after other gods to serve them.” Yet they had not inclined their ear nor hearkened to Him. Disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft: there is nothing more derogatory to God, nor is anything else more ruinous to man. And God shows that in His government of the world He notices obedience, and especially to parents too: it has His signal blessing. “Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you; therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever.”
God is always thus, I think I may say, with the parental respect and with filial obedience, unless it be in direct opposition to Himself. It has beauty in His eyes and honor from His hand. And so it is that when—solemn sight!—the children of Israel would be given up to destruction (only not final because of the reserve of grace), Jonadab the son of Rechab was not to want a man to stand before God forever.
It is the more important to distinguish this, because it is on the same principle that God blesses even where the condition of people may be indifferent or otherwise bad. Supposing you take even a pious Catholic, God will always bless what is good. He will bless among any except where Christ is utterly rejected. The evil of Popery is not the outward rejection of Christ, but the bringing in of priesthood and ordinances between the soul and God; not taking away from the true God and the Lord Jesus, but rather the adding something of man's own. It is idolatrous. It is not openly and profanely infidel. Profane infidelity denies the true God; but the religious infidelity of Romanism shows itself in putting things between the soul and God, and thus sharing the glory which belongs to God alone with other mediators, such as the saints, the Virgin Mary, and in fact the old sacrificial system. Nevertheless, spite of all that, God will always honor men according to their fidelity. Take, for instance, such a man as Martin Booz, in the course of this very century. He was greatly used of God in the conversion of souls, though he lived and died in Romanism. It is a part of the divine government, that He will bless what is faithful in individuals even where the public state of things is far from being according to His mind; whereas, where things may be according to His word, He will withhold His blessing if hearts are not practically faithful. In the very best position God will withhold His hand where souls are untrue to Him. On the other hand, He will bless individual fidelity in positions utterly foreign to the word of God. This is a great comfort, especially in the present condition of Christendom.

Notes on Jeremiah 36

The last chapter presented the Lord's admonitions to, if not reproach of, Judah in contrast with the fidelity of the Rechabites to their father, even though their obligations were of small intrinsic account. Chapter 36 adds an awful view of the obstinate unbelief of the king with its profane issue, and the condign judgment threatened which was surely accomplished at the fitting moment. Thus the guilt of the people and the king alike comes before us in these distinct but connected words from Jehovah to Jeremiah.
The prophet was bound, but the word of God was not. He is ever superior to the shifting circumstances of man, and paramount to the hindrances which seem to preclude the testimony of His servants. “And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the Lord: therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the Lord, in the ears of the people in the Lord's house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities. It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the Lord hath pronounced against this people. And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book the words of the Lord in the Lord's house.” (Ver. 1-8.)
The spirit of obedience ere long finds a fitting moment for serving the Lord. “And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the Lord to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem. Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house, in the ears of all the people. When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the Lord, then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.” (Ver. 9-13.)
But the ways of God are wise as well as good. Without our own seeking it, He knows how to bring His word before the greatest of men. As Paul before governors, a king, and an emperor, so the words of the Lord through Jeremiah came into the council chamber and the court. “Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them. And they said unto him, Sit down now and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears. Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words. And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book. Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be. And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king. So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.” (Ver. 14-21.) How blessed! The servant of Jehovah keeps his own place of lowliness, despised and suffering as his Master at a later day; but the message none the less surely reaches the throne.
Alas! it was a rejected testimony, and he who sat on David's throne startled his most obsequious courtiers by the boldness of his rebellion against Jehovah. “Now the king sat in the winter-house in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words. Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.” (Ver. 22-25.) Jehoiakim saw no more than a roll, but his guilty conscience felt a horror of that roll which betrayed his fears under veil of the contempt which cut it up and consumed its leaves in the fire.
Vain hope to escape from the hand of Jehovah, who not only hid His servants, but repeated His threats and yet more: “But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the Lord bid them. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” (Ver. 26-32.) How implicitly we may commit ourselves and our testimony to the Lord who watches over all to do good, and to warn of evil, without ever letting go the reins over that which is beyond our control. May we only and always cherish the guidance of His word by the Spirit!

Notes on Jeremiah 37

The last two chapters presented an episode quite out of historical connection with what went before or follows after. They showed us the contrast between the sons of Rechab and the men of Judah, and the presumptuous profanity of the king, albeit Josiah's son Jehoiakim. People or prince, all was hopeless evil against the God of Israel.
We now return to the beginning of Zedekiah's history, whom the king of Babylon called to the throne instead of Jechoniah or Jehoiachin. Outwardly it was a contest between the courts of Egypt and Chaldea; in truth, it was the chastening and humiliation of the house of David and of Jerusalem under the hand of God for their rebellion against His name. “And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah. And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the Lord our God for us. Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him into prison. Then Pharaoh's army was come forth out of Egypt, and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem.” (Ver. 1-5.) It was the term of patience which the Lord is wont to give, when evil men do not yet openly and thoroughly pronounce, and appearances favor for a while the false against the true, and faith is thus put to the fuller test. Thus the prophet was not yet treated with manifest contempt and persecution, and the king was still seeking his prayers by one of the house of Aaron as well as by a minister of the government. The appearance of Pharaoh's army on the scene detects the hollowness of all save those who were of faith. Men would like to find God wrong and reduce His word to their own uncertainty, and to this end they avail themselves greedily of the weakness of the instruments He employs, as well as of each shift in the changeful circumstances of this world as it now is. The day is coming when the state of man and of the earth will be an adequate witness of God's government. It is not so yet, nor will it be till Jesus comes, having received for Himself the kingdom, and slays the enemies who would not have Him to reign over them. Unbelief always assumes that this world, without and before the return of the Lord to reign, is the scene of God's displayed government, and reasons on present results as the expression and criterion of His ways, than which (spite of the certainty of His ever-controlling providence) nothing can be farther from the truth. Faith knows that, while the faithfulness and care of God never fails, it is the future alone which solves and divulges the riddle of the present. For this we must patiently wait.
Now there was no faith in the policy of Zedekiah or his advisers. They were elated at their momentary relief through the intervention of Egypt, and immediately allow themselves the hope that Jeremiah was mistaken in predicting the supremacy of Nebuchadnezzar and the prostration of Judah. “Then came the word of the Lord unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire. Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart. For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.” (Ver. 6-10.) Vain is the help of man against the word of God; not now for the first time had Egypt proved a broken reed, piercing the hand of such as leaned on it. The return of Pharaoh's army without a blow for Judah only deferred the prosecution of the siege by the Chaldeans, who soon came up again to destroy the city with fire.
Jeremiah at least believed the word of Jehovah, and so sought to retire from the city, when relieved for a short space, to his place in the land of Benjamin. This exposed him to the injurious suspicion of his enemies. “And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people.
And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and d he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison. (Ver. 11-15.)
The king was not without conscience, when the prophet was sent for and faithfully adhered to the testimony of Jehovah, so humbling to Zedekiah, but assuaged his sufferings in the prison. What an evidence of the lot of him who is true to God in this world! His prophecies were vindicated, but he was persecuted notwithstanding. “When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. Moreover Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, What have I offended against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison? Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land? Therefore hear now, I pray thee, O my lord the king: let my supplication, I pray thee, be accepted before thee; that thou cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there. Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” (Ver. 16-21.) Vain indeed is the help of man, yea of princes, were they of the house of David.

Notes on Jeremiah 38

The testimony of God never fails in the end to rouse the enmity of man. And so the prophet proved, especially at their hands who seek present influence in the earth. “Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the Lord, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it. Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.” (Ver. 1-4.)
Alas! the king was a moral picture of the people; for they, like him, had a dim, feeble, ineffectual sense that Jeremiah had the mind of Jehovah. But with neither was there that energy of faith which resists the appearance of present interest; and thus all was exposed to bold men in whom a strong will wrought without conscience or fear of the Lord. To such the counsel of the prophet, which urged submission to the Chaldeans, was distasteful in the extreme. The same spirit which rebelled against Jehovah could not but refuse to bow to His chastisement and their own humiliation. But this is the only path of godly feeling and repentance. To flesh it was not to seek the pence of Israel, but the hurt. And the king yields. “Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do anything against you. Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.” (Ver. 5, 6.)
The eyes of the Lord however did not watch in vain, nor were His ears indifferent to the cry of His suffering witness. He knows how to draw out help from the least expected quarter; and so it was on this occasion. “Now when Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebed-Melech went forth out of the king's house, and spade to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebed-Melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” (Ver. 7-13.)
But yielding to will for the sake of peace never satisfies conscience; and the uneasy sense of slighting God and His servant provokes the desire to hear what is most dreaded. “Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the Lord: and the king said unto Jer. 1 will ask thee a thing: hide nothing from me. Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me? So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life. Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house: but if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hands.” (Ver. 14-18.)
When the eye is not single, the body is a prey to dark thoughts and groundless fears; He is unseen and forgotten who alone is to be held in awe. “And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me. But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the Lord hath spewed me: And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet have sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back. So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.” (Ver. 19-23.)
The chapter closes with the king's anxiety lest the princes should hear of the interview with the prophet. What a state of things! But is it so very different now? I doubt it. The highest of this world are often its veriest slaves; and a king is of all men least free as to God's testimony before his court. It is not a new thought, that a real Christian is apt to make a bad and weak monarch. For conscience and policy are sorry companions and allies, which can never rely on each other's succor. Here the result was painful in the extreme, and the cowardice of the king dragged down the prophet into the least worthy passage of his checkered life. “Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it riot from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee: then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house to die there. Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived. So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.” (Ver. 24-28.)
It is in Christ that the light shone in its perfection; for He, He only, is the true light. Yet, wondrous grace! we who were darkness are made light in the Lord. Falsehood and deceit are now fully judged; as there was none in Him, so all is condemned that was ours in His cross, and the life of which we thenceforward live is Christ. Hence in Christianity, as in Him, nothing is tolerable which is inconsistent with the nature and glory of God.

Notes on Jeremiah 39

The inevitable hour was now at hand. Hopes founded on man are vain, most of all for God's people when He is morally judging. Unbelief is abundant in nothing but devices to parry (not so much conviction as) submission to God. At length, however, the due moment arrives to accomplish the warning so long slighted, and then the stouthearted become cravens so much the more because they have a guilty conscience. “In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up. And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo, Sarsechim, Rab-saris, Nergal-sharezer, Rab-mag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon. And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.” (Ver. 1-4.)
It is solemn to observe how little the spirit that has yielded to man's thoughts against God's word remembers in the moment of supreme need what might even yet have profited both city and people and prince. Bad not the prophet assured Zedekiah that, if he went forth to the king of Babylon's princes, he and his house should live, and the city should not be burnt with fire? Alas! it is one of the effects of the evil heart that departs from the living God that it always seems to forget the word when it is most wanted, only to feel its force when it has again betaken itself to some new plan of its own, as disappointing as all before it. How bitter to recollect too late, that all the heart clung to must be given up to vengeance and the enemy, and that the destruction sure to follow is the fruit of one's own folly. “But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him. Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.” (Ver. 5-8.)
Let it be observed how the facts recorded here explain the seeming inconsistency between the statements of Jer. 34:3 and Ezek. 12:13. Both prophets implied that, though he might try to escape, he should be taken; both affirmed that he must go to Babylon. But Ezekiel predicted “yet shall he not see it (Babylon, the land of the Chaldees), though he shall die there;” Jeremiah predicted “thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth.” To a superficial reader this might seem hard to reconcile, if not a contradiction. But such a thought would be only ignorance, not to speak of irreverence; for they each gave out from God beforehand what was made good in the history of the case. For the fugitive king was pursued and overtaken before he crossed the Jordan; and the king of Babylon in Riblah, after judging the matter, had Zedekiah's sons slain before their guilty father's eyes, then put out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him with chains and carried him to Babylon. Thus he did not see Babylon, though he went there; yet he did see the indignant conqueror's eyes who spoke with him mouth to mouth. No word of the Lord falls to the ground.
Nevertheless the riddance was not complete. The poor did not fail in the land; some were left in it—a pledge, little as the stranger thought, of the return of a poor remnant, and of a nation yet to be poor in spirit when God will bring back the captivity of His people, and Jacob shall rejoice and Israel shall be glad. “Then Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained. But Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard. left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.” (Ver. 9, 10.)
But there is respect for God sometimes where it might be by some least expected. “Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard, saying, Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee. So Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rab-saris, and Nergal-sharezer, Rab-mag, and all the king of Babylon's princes; even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.” (Ver. 11-14.)
While imprisoned Jeremiah had a message from Jehovah for him who had interceded for the prophet when cast into the dungeon and about to die of hunger in the mire where he had sunk. God forgets not mercy for the righteous who skewed mercy, though His judgments must be executed on the haughty city where the evil counselors lived who urged the feeble faulty son of David to his ruin. “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 15-18.) Trust in the Lord is never in vain, though none but Himself could see Ebed-melech's for its scant measure. It is better then to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in man; it is better to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in princes. He is of all power and might against the enemy; and His grace toward ourselves knows no bounds.

Notes on Jeremiah 40

This is the first of a series of chapters which present the disorder and moral confusion that reigned among the Jews left behind in or near the land when the rest were carried captives to Babylon. Judgment by the hand of man has no softening effect on those who slight the word of God. We shall find those who would not bow to the chastening of Jehovah false and treacherous in their dealings with their brethren. The heathen shine in comparison with a reckless Jew without the fear of God, who in His word throws no veil over those that, nominally His people, had their hearts far from Him.
“The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, after that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon. And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. Now the Lord hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.” (Ver. 1-3.) We see hence that it is easy even for a man who has no part in God's blessing for His people to own the truth after prophecy is accomplished, especially when it is to one's own exaltation over the fallen adversaries. Nebuzar-adan can talk piously when his master bad gained the victory over Jerusalem according to the declaration of the Lord. It is confessed that He had warned, and finally accomplished His word, and this because of their sins.
“And now, behold I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee; but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.” (Ver. 4.) But Jeremiah had no heart for Chaldea, whatever attractions might seem to be there. He preferred to suffer in the land with the meanest that man left behind. “Now while he was not yet gone back, he said, Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go. Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.” (Ver. 5, 6.) It was love to abide in the scene of their humiliation; it was a pledge of restoration.
But the people of God can never be a sphere of ease, least of all can they afford security save where faith looks straight to the Lord. “Now when all the captains of the forces which were in the fields, even they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poor of the land, of them that were not carried away captive to Babylon; then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Epbai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.” (Ver. 7, 8.)
Things however were all out of course, and the return of the scattered captains and their forces was nothing, because the Lord was not at all in their thoughts. And a strange inversion is seen in the governor swearing to them, not they to him. “And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan aware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah, to serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but ye, gather ye wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.” (Ver. 9, 10.) Nothing could be more conciliatory than the governor's words nor more sincere than his ways. For he was content to do his duty to the conqueror in the distressful condition of the land, but to serve the people to the utmost of his power. And this had its effect. “Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan; even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.” (Ver. 11, 12.)
Thus there might have been a state of things, far from bright certainly, but by no means destitute of mercy from the Lord for the poor in the land. But sin ruins all and everywhere; and ambition and intrigue, treachery and violence, can work in prostrate Judea as surely as in victorious Babylon and more painfully. Evil men find nothing so intolerable as the good; and their own deep obligations sometimes may make the purpose so much the worse. Nor has wickedness long to wait for an opportunity, even if it have no excuse to cover its shame. A wicked Jew lends himself to the plans of a heathen neighbor, jealous of any order or mitigation of sorrow in the land. “Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.” (Ver. 13, 14.)
Thus, God did not fail to give timely and sufficient warning of the danger that hung over Gedaliah. And surely he was imprudent and careless to have despised it. But a good man does not love to hear evil; and having no feeling but of kindness toward others is slow to credit the malice of those he had only sought to serve. Nevertheless in this case it was not without fault. He was in a public and responsible position, and his life was of no small moment both for the help of the poor and as a security against the suspicion or the displeasure of the Chaldeans. When ample witnesses, more than two or three, bore their testimony to him of the plot between the icing of the Ammonites and Ishmael against his life, Gedaliah ought to have inquired further and stood on his guard. But he believed them not and soon paid the price of his temerity.
It is not that Johanan was much better than Ishmael; as we shall see in the subsequent course of events, he had no real faith in God's word and hardened himself in pride and rebellion of heart. And it is possible that Gedaliah knew there was little to choose between them; and so rejected the good warning no less than the bad offer to get rid of Ishmael made by Johanan. “Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.” (Ver. 15, 16.) But in that evil day it was not wise nor well to despise the report that came even from a suspicious quarter. And Gedaliah, had he waited on God, would have been less quick either to impute falsehood to the one or to have acquitted the other. May we learn, though in another way suited to the Christian calling, to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves!

Notes on Jeremiah 41

The history of the degradation of the Jews in or near the land is still pursued. “Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah. Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.” (Ver. 1-3.) It is not an unmeaning description that the Holy Spirit adds to the name and kin of Ishmael, “of the seed royal.” Ordinarily and rightly this would have been a guarantee of help to a governor, and a stay and shelter to the people. But God was forgotten, His judgments as well as His will slighted, and human corruption takes its course where it was least becoming. Truly the ruin of Israel was complete, when the seed royal sank into the basest form of cunning, treachery, and murder, and this of the best of their own people, yea, of God's people in the goodly land, now a moral as well as material desert.
Nor was it only jealousy of the good man who fell unsuspectingly at his own board, where he had hospitably received these emissaries of Belial; nor was it simple rebellion against the conquering king of Babylon, which then broke out against the native governor and the foreign soldiers at Mizpah; the royal desperado had tasted blood and would pursue his desperate career, careless whom or why he slew. “And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it, that there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the Lord. And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went; and it came to pass, as he met them, he said unto them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. And it was so, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he, and the men that were with him.” (Ver. 4-7.)
It adds to the horrors of the picture too, that Ishmael was as avaricious as he was violent and deceitful. “But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.” (Ver. 8.)
Who can doubt that God was pleased to take away Gedaliah, and those who sorrowed over the desolations of Israel, from evil to come? It was mercy to themselves; it was an additional chastening on the guilty people, high or low, that those who did and felt most becomingly should be swept away, and that by their brethren's hands. What a stigma, that a trench made for self-defense should become the promiscuous burying-place of the best of the remnant thus shamelessly put to death! “Now the pit wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because of Gedaliah, was it which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain.” (Ver. 9.)
In furtherance, apparently, of the designs concocted with the king of the Ammonites, Ishmael proceeds next to carry away those whom he did not slay. “Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king's daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the Ammonites.” (Ver. 10.) Yet even when God permits the severest measures of shame and suffering, He disappoints the guilty in the moment of their greatest success. “But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon. Now it came to pass, that when all the people which were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad. So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.” (Ver. 11-14.)
It is true that Ishmael was not slain. Possibly to return bootless, and disappointed of the prey, to the king who had sent him as a destroyer of his own people and a plunderer for the Ammonites, may have been for the moment a more bitter cup to the conspirators.
Alas! he who delivered the captives and put to flight their enemy was no true friend of Israel, because he paid little heed to the word of Jehovah. “But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites. Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, even mighty men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon: and they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt, because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.” (Ver. 15-18.) Fear is an evidence of unbelief as certainly if not so grossly as bold or treacherous rebellion. The prophet had warned them to submit to the king of Babylon, not to flee into Egypt. What was the issue of this disobedience, flowing from distrust, we have yet to learn. How blessed for the believer that he is entitled to trample on fears, and to confide without anxiety to the word of the Lord!

Notes on Jeremiah 7-10

This section of our prophet starts from the temple as its groundwork, though of course branching out into all directions of the people's iniquity.
Judah at that time fell into the same fatal delusion, against which the Gentile is warned in Rom. 11 Christendom, too, has despised the apostle's admonition. Thus the solemn facts stand now in double line before us. Man asserts his self-security most loudly when he least heeds God's sovereign grace and his own responsibility to witness Him aright. The Jew flattered himself that the temple must stand by God's power, let the people be what they might. So Christendom, fallen and yet still falling, set up, corresponding to its degradation, the claims of unfailingness and infallibility, which belongs only to God.
But let us hearken: “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.” (Ver. 1-4.)
God must have reality in His people. Grace never was meant and never can be suffered to enfeeble the moral ways of God: indeed, it is the sole spring of power to make them precious in our eyes and to give firmness in walking according to them. And the grace that is shown to and appreciated, however feebly, by the soul, manifests fruit of righteousness in every-day life between men as surely as it sets all right Godward. No more destructive snare than that privilege can be pleaded by such as sin and continue in it. God's righteous government of His people is as certain as the mercy, which chose and blessed them: let them forget neither! “For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.” (Ver. 5-11.) Nearness to God, even outwardly, is the ground for a more watchful holiness, never for indifference.
But God deigns to reason with His people, notwithstanding their grossness. He points to Shiloh, where first the tabernacle of the congregation had been set up. How vain and fond the notion, that God would maintain His seat where His people insulted Him to His face! “But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.” (Ver. 12-20.)
And what does the God and Father of the Lord Jesus now behold in Christendom? What in the East? What in the West? What in those vast tracts of Asia and Africa, where Christian assemblies once studded the countries now given over to the Mahometan apostasy? And if we come closer still, is there not as decided a setting up of false mediators in Romanism, as ever there was of false gods in Israel? If one had their “queen of heaven,” has not the other theirs, worshipped with yet more passionate devotion and with far less inexcusable rejection of better light?
The rest of chapter 7 (21 et seq.) reminds the people that obedience was the claim of Jehovah, not burnt-offerings to hide their transgressions and stiff wickedness, which grew worse and worse as the prophets followed the law. Jeremiah should speak of them; but they were incorrigible idolaters. Jerusalem only dishonored the Lord and His house, and is therefore called to mourning. As the Lord had rejected the generation of His wrath, so the high places of Tophet in the valley of Hinnom's son should be superseded by the valley of slaughter till Tophet should have no more space for burial, and the carcasses of Judah should be meat for birds and beasts; and all joy should cease and the land be desolate.
Chapter 8 fills up the picture. “At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: and they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Ver. 1-3.) Moreover, the prophet was to remonstrate with the people of Jerusalem on their perpetual and unrepentant backsliding (ver. 4-6), more heedless than familiar birds, great or small, which attend to their fit times, yet with all assumption of wisdom. (Ver. 7, 8.) But what wisdom is in those who reject the word of the Lord? Their covetousness and perfidious neglect of the true interests of Israel must meet with due retribution at His hands. He will surely consume, reversing the counsels of prudence, disappointing their hopes, and causing the whole land to tremble before their adversaries, who will bite like serpents not to be charmed. (Ver. 9-17.)
The rest of the chapter (ver. 18 to the end) and the first eight verses of chapter 9 set forth the affliction of the prophet over the deceitful malice of the people of the Lord, which forbade their knowledge of Him. Then, from ver. 9, follows their judgment under the Lord's indignant displeasure. Well might they call (ver. 17) for mourning women, and with haste; and men shall fall like the handful after the reaper, but with none in their case to gather them. (Ver. 22.) Human acquirements and resources would never do for man to glory in, but in understanding and knowing Jehovah righteous in all His ways here below, and delighting in goodness. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Ver. 25, 26.) If grace can be indiscriminate, judgment sometimes takes this shape also. And of this Jeremiah treats.
Chapter x. closes the section with a solemn warning to Israel against the superstitious fear and idolatry of heathen ways, which are exposed in the ridicule of their falsehood. “They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name.” (Ver. 15, 16.) Verses 17, 18 speak of speedy and condign judgment. And the prophet (ver. 19-26) both resumes his outpouring of grief, pleads for correction only in judgment lest all should come to naught, and prays for His fury on the heathen that know Him not, the devourers of Jacob and desolaters of His habitation.

Jeroboam and Rehoboam or God in Government

God's glory must be maintained. “Before all the people I will be glorified” was God's announcement by Moses to Aaron in the day of his brother's greatest honor and deepest distress. (Lev. 10:3.) His sons Nadab and Abihu had “offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out a fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” A terrible end to a glorious morning was this judicial action of God on Aaron's sons. “And Aaron held his peace.” He was silent, What could he say to this but acquiesce in it? It was right, it was fitting, that the God of the whole earth should resent an affront offered Him by those whom He had brought into such close official relationship to Himself. If all Israel had failed, they ought, as the tribe of Levi did on another memorable occasion, to have cared for the glory of Jehovah, and to have sedulously guarded against the introduction of unhallowed fire into the tabernacle of God. They did not; for they introduced it, and died.
If men fail to care for God's glory, He may, for a time, forbear, but in the end He must act: He cannot deny Himself. He cannot acquiesce in the failure of His creature in this or any other matter. The Gentiles, when they knew God, glorified Him not as God: so He gave them up to uncleanness. (Rom. 1:21-24.) Belshazzar, though he knew the facts of Nebuchadnezzar's sickness, glorified not God: so the handwriting appeared to announce his approaching doom. (Dan. 5:23.) Jeroboam displaced Him in Israel when he set up the golden calves: so God had to show that He was God. Rehoboam with Judah forsook His law: so He made them feel the consequences of their sin.
Because of the grievous abominations and idolatry sanctioned by Solomon, Jeroboam was appointed by God to be the future king of the ten tribes. The kingdom became his, because God could not suffer sin in Israel without taking notice of it; and the kingdom would be his and his children's without change of dynasty, if he walked in God's ways, as David had done. The reason of his having it and the condition of his keeping it were both plainly declared on that day, outside the walls of Jerusalem, when Elijah the Shilonite rent the new garment, and gave him ten pieces out of the twelve. And God proved Himself faithful to His word. Solomon was to be king all the days of his life, because of David's sake; but the kingdom should be taken out of the hands of his son, and the ten tribes should be given to Jeroboam.
An exile in Egypt till Solomon's death, Jeroboam was recalled after Rehoboam had ascended the throne, and quickly found himself the accepted ruler of these ten tribes. The sure result of disobedience was clearly manifested when he was made king. He knew the reason of his elevation. The beneficial effect, on the children, of the father's obedience he had witnessed in the continuance of the kingdom unbroken in the hands of Solomon. He knew the cause of the delay between the promise of the kingdom by the mouth of Abijah at Jerusalem, and his possession of it at Shechem. If ever there was a man who had been initiated into the cause of God's governmental dealings with His creatures, that man was Jeroboam. The relation of cause and effect in the severance of the kingdom in twain he knew perfectly; and the terms on which he could retain for himself and family the kingdom he knew also. To retain the kingdom he must be obedient to God; to lose it, he had only to be regardless of God's glory, and take his own way. He chose the latter alternative; he set up the golden calves in open hostility to the altar at Jerusalem: so God had to intervene, and to glorify Himself.
Once seated on the throne of Israel, to keep possession of it was his object. Abijah had years before told him how to do this, but he followed his own heart, and drew Israel into grievous and abiding sin. The were set up at Dan and Bethel. A priesthood al he instituted; and a house of high places he built, in imitation, doubtless, of the temple on Mount Moriah. He invented a feast, too, in the eighth month instead of keeping the one God appointed for the seventh. All being ready, following the example of Solomon at the dedication of the temple, be stood to burn incense on the altar. At the dedication of the temple God manifested His presence, and showed to all He took knowledge of what went on: the fire descended and consumed the sacrifice, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. At the institution of the feast Jeroboam devised, God likewise manifested that He witnessed what Israel were engaged in: a prophet appeared, and cried against the altar but just erected for a new worship. He announced its destruction, and foretold that the object Jeroboam had at heart, to keep Israel permanently separated from Judah, his sin had effectually prevented. A child born to the house of David, Josiah by name, should exercise authority where Jeroboam then stood, the religion and the rites that day inaugurated should pass away; and the altar devoted, as people might suppose, to the worship of Jehovah under the figure of the calves, should be defiled by the burning on it of men's bones. The priesthood Jeroboam had appointed God disowned; and where they had offered up sacrifices, priests of the high places should be sacrificed; and a sign was given as an earnest of the fulfillment of this prediction—the altar was rent and the ashes poured out. The Lord Jehovah had been that day grievously dishonored, and He would show it; He rejected the sacrifice. No fire from above descended to consume it, but the altar on which it was laid was rent underneath it. Jeroboam had imitated Solomon, and grievously sinned against God. God rejected the imitation, and more markedly signified His displeasure. He accepted Solomon, and answered his prayer. He regarded not Jeroboam; for the prophet He sent addressed himself to the altar.
Attempting to seize God's prophet, Jeroboam had to own the power of the Lord: his arm dried up so that he could not withdraw it—outstretched in the very act of rebellion against God, it remained a spectacle to all the people. At the altar he had reared, before the calf he had made, the power of Jehovah was displayed. His arm remained stretched out, spewing what he would do; but control over it he had lost—a striking illustration of man's impotence when arrayed against God. Jehovah on that occasion made all to see that He was above and distinct from the idols; and Jeroboam had to confess before all the company of Israel there assembled that Jehovah alone could help him. “Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king's hand was restored him again.” The prayer was immediately answered and God was the more glorified, His power was exhibited in fixing that outstretched arm, and His power was seen in re-invigorating it.
But whilst Jeroboam was healed, not one particle of the judgment then pronounced was averted, nor was it delayed a single day beyond the stipulated time. It was the prophet He accepted, not Jeroboam, The prayer of the man of God received an immediate answer, but not because God would show mercy to Jeroboam; for the king did not turn to God, nor humble himself before Him, neither did the people. God vindicated His name where it had been so flagrantly outraged; but He did no more, because they were not in a condition to have mercy shown them; yet He was ready to be merciful. That was, that is, His character. “He delighteth in mercy” is the revelation of Himself given us in Mic. 7:18. “The Lord God gracious and merciful,” &c., such was the statement, as He would be displayed in government, made to Moses when in the cleft of the rock at Mount Sinai. It needs only the opportunity to display this; and the opportunity is furnished when men are ready to receive it. The history of Rehoboam shows this.
For three years after Rehoboam's accession Judah walked in the ways of David and Solomon. Then they failed, and forsook the law of the Lord, and Shishak king of Egypt was raised up to be their enemy. This was the first time since the exodus that the power of Egypt was felt by the children of Israel. In the fifth year of Rehoboam Shishak invaded Judah. Whilst Judah glorified God by serving Him, He prospered them; when they forsook His laws, He dealt with them; and speedily did the punishment overtake them. Strong for three years, within the two following ones Rehoboam found himself weak and defenseless, a foreign power ravaging the country, and Jerusalem itself threatened. The defended cities proved no barrier, for the invaders were a great host. What were the people to do? The princes assembled at Jerusalem were powerless to avert the threatened calamity. The king and his counselors with all their wisdom could not divert the conqueror from his purpose. God then sent a message by Shemaiah, telling them of their sin, and that He should deal justly with them. “Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hands of Shishak,” was the message Shemaiah had to deliver. What a message was this! Who could say a word against it? It was perfectly just. God dealt with them as they had dealt with Him. He could not pass over their sin. They reaped the fruits of their own actions.
Perfectly just, yet how terrible was this! not a hint of mercy, not a glimmer of hope. Who could support such a manner of dealing with them on the part of God? Let any poor child of Adam, who trusts to his own righteousness, ask himself if he could stand to be dealt with by God strictly—as he has done to God, to receive from God according to what he has done and no more. What man is there who, in his inmost soul, would not shrink, if such a proposal were made to him? But how did the king, the princes, act when Shemaiah delivered his crushing message? They glorified God, and that moment mercy was vouchsafed them. “The Lord is righteous” was their reply. They humbled themselves, and said no more. They deserved such treatment. They took their right place before Him. They justified God, without excusing themselves. Jeroboam asked to have his arm healed. He felt the inconvenience and desired its removal, but not one word in justification of God escaped his lips. Rehoboam and his people asked for nothing. We read not of any prayer for the removal of Shishak. They justified God, and He was manifest to them. “Because they have humbled themselves, therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.” How ready is God to respond to people when they own Him as the righteous Ruler! Ahab humbled himself, and God deferred the threatened judgment till his son's day. Jezebel did not follow her husband, so the dogs ate her flesh in Jezreel.
What a character is that of our God! Righteous He is, yet merciful. “Because they have humbled themselves.” They took their right place before Him, therefore He could say, “I will grant them some deliverance. It is God in government that we have set forth in these two histories, a warning and an encouragement to all who will take heed. Shishak plundered Jerusalem, the golden shields were taken away, the treasures of the Lord's house and of the king's house he got possession of—he took all. A sorrowful time it must have been for Judah; but the secret of the Lord they knew. His wrath should not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Israel was already given up, having acquiesced in the sin of Jeroboam. (2 Kings 14:16.) Judah deserved the same treatment; but, when they humbled themselves, God granted them some deliverance, and it was not till the reign of Manasseh that the fiat went forth for their captivity in Babylon. (2 Kings 21:12-16; 24:4, 5.)
God's ways in grace we may well trace, but His ways in government also. God must be glorified. If His people fail in this, He must act against them; but if they humble themselves, He can show mercy, and He surely will. Rehoboam was strong for three years, then weakness supervened. The cause was shown: He humbled himself, and Judah with him, and the impending chastisement was mitigated, and he again became strong in Jerusalem. Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor, no despicable enemy in the field as Abijam found; but of him, after the establishment of the calves, and the mission of the prophet to Bethel, we read not that he prospered. “Who hath hardened himself against God and prospered?” asked Job. Shall a sinner humble himself before God without experiencing mercy at His hand? Let Rehoboam, Ahab, and Manasseh reply.

John 14

In John 14 (after the opening verses) we have first Christ himself on earth, and the Father seen in Him; then Christ in heaven, and we knowing by the Comforter sent down that we are in Him and He in us. In chapter 15 is our place on earth (the true place of the disciples then with him, but still in principle our place on earth now), not in heavenly union but in responsibility, first, for fruit, then for love—both that our joy may be full, and His joy abide in us; for both were fulfilled in him as he intimates.

John 17

It is very natural that Jesus should have deeply felt, before leaving this world, all the circumstances in which His disciples were about to find themselves. At the moment when the Son had accomplished His work, and completely glorified the Father in the midst of all the difficulties and all the malice of Satan (a moment which has not had, and which will not have, its equal, whether in time or in eternity), it was natural, I say, that He should put all before the Father.
Not only has Jesus perfectly glorified the Father, but there is no one who, like Himself, has felt all the effects, all the consequences of sin. He realized all, and has placed us in the same circumstances as Himself. He felt and expressed all the weak position of His disciples, according to all their need, and according to all the resources which He knew to be in the Father.
He said these things in the world, where He had been the man of sorrows, and where He had suffered much. In virtue of the work He accomplished, He can enjoy all the privileges of His work; but He takes this into consideration, that His disciples are left in the world.
The natural heart does not feel the privileges of the child of God. The natural heart does not feel its wants. Pride does not see difficulties; hence it “goes before destruction.” The natural heart escapes many things which are a weight to the child of God. We see that in Jesus. He