Selected Writings of Charles Stanley: Volume 1

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. If Thou Knewest the Gift of God!
3. Rahab: or, the Siege of Jericho
4. "I Have Compassion on the Multitude"
5. The Coming of the Lord
6. The Wanderers Restored, or Jesus in the Midst
7. Ruth, or Blessing and Rest
8. Jonathan or One Thing Lacking
9. Awake! Awake! Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh
10. Job’s Conversion or God the Justifier
11. Great Stones and Costly
12. The First Resurrection
13. As It Was in the Days of Noah
14. Redemption
15. What Is the First Day of the Week or the Lord's Day?
16. A Great Supper
17. What It Cost
18. What It Is!
19. Who Are the Welcome Guests?
20. Who Are Engaged in Bringing Them to the Supper


It seems necessary to write a few words of introduction to Selected Writings of Charles Stanley which is a re-publication, in two volumes, of certain of his articles and tracts.
Few other Christian writers have written in a manner as easily understood on the subject of salvation through faith in the finished work of Christ, or have made it as clear that it cannot be obtained by any effort or work of our own. Mr. Stanley has ably expounded the truth that man in the flesh cannot please God, and that every effort of man to justify himself must only end in his condemnation. He has also set forth in order the grand foundation of how God, who is holy, can be just while justifying the ungodly sinner.
Perhaps the great emphasis given these all-important truths in his writings was partly due to the deep exercise of soul which he passed through, while trying to make himself fit for God. This will be best told in his own words: “For weary months I was struggling under law, seeking to meet the requirements of the law, and always failing. God the Giver, and God the Producer of all He requires was, as yet, utterly unknown. I was returning to my home in a village near Laughton, weary and sorrowful even to despair. I was alone with God in the lane: I fell to the ground in the middle of the road and groaned, Oh Lord, I can do no more, I can go no farther,’ and I felt in my soul that I was lost. It was there the Holy Spirit revealed to me the true and blessed fact that ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,’ and oh, from that day, what mercy, what depths of mercy!”
The articles contained in these volumes are by no means all that Mr. Charles Stanley wrote. Much other profitable ministry has come from his pen, but that which has been selected for present publication covers a wide range. Certain references to persons and places, having no bearing on the truth presented, have been deleted, as well as anything of a controversial nature.
Mr. Stanley was one of the “young men” who drew water from the deep wells that we may come and drink. Ruth, the Moabitess, was told by Boaz, the mighty man of wealth, to come whenever she was thirsty and drink of that which the young men had drawn. May the Lord increase our thirst and may we not seek to satisfy soul thirst with anything from the “broken cisterns” of this world. Then shall we praise Him for the refreshing drafts drawn for us by His servants. To Him be all the praise!
In either volume will be found a wide variety of subjects so that there may be food for all. Any one who is unsaved will find the Gospel simply and interestingly told and illustrated. He who is still burdened and seeking deliverance will discover God’s complete deliverance set forth. It is recommended that young Christians read these books, for they present Christ as the Object for the soul and the Motive for every right work, which is essential for spiritual growth. And the mature Christian will be refreshed as he finds the precious things of God and of Christ called to his remembrance.
1947 Editor

If Thou Knewest the Gift of God!

A weary One sat at Jacob’s well; He had left the land of the Pharisees. It was Jesus. He came in love to His own, to save them from their sins; but they received Him not. Weary and grieved was His tender heart, as He sat about the sixth hour at Jacob’s well.
There is a woman coming with her waterpot to the well. She is one to whom the proud Pharisees would scorn to speak. She is a despised Samaritan, and that is not all; she is a poor wretched being, living in open sin. She little knows that she is about to meet the eye of Him who knows everything that she ever did. She arrives at the well, and is astonished that Jesus, being a Jew, should ask her to give Him to drink. “Jesus answered, and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (John 4:10). He did not say, If you were not so great a sinner. He did not say, If you will reform and become a holy woman, then I will give you living water. No! No! No! He let her know, that He knew all that she had ever done. But there was such a depth of pity, grace, and compassion in the wondrous countenance, such tender love to the sinner in those words, that it won her heart, it converted her soul. Christ was revealed to her; and leaving her waterpot she went to the city so full of Christ, that forgetting her own shame, she said, “Come see a man which told me all that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
My reader, can you meet the eye of Him who knows every thought of your heart from childhood? All that you ever did, open and naked to His eye! And can you say that you are not a sinner? How was it that there was nothing in Jesus to repel this wretched sinner? And what can those words mean, “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc.? Is this the one great thing needed by a poor wretched sinner? It is; there can be no mistake about it, for Jesus says it. Of whatever nation my reader may be, whatever the sins you may have committed, the first thing you need is not the waters of the Ganges, or the intercession of saints, or works of amendment; no, the thing you need is to know the gift of God.
Do you ask who and what is the gift of God? The same that met that poor Samaritan sinner; Jesus the Son of God; as also it is written, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “The gift of God is eternal life.” “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.”
My reader, it is a gift, a gift, a gift; oh, if you knew this! You cannot buy it; you cannot merit it. He that knows all that ever you did, all that you are, sets before you Jesus the crucified; Jesus the risen one; Jesus the glorified. Do you know Him the gift of all gifts?
Do you say, “but my sins are heavy, they press me down, what must I do”? If you knew the gift of God! Yes, even though you have committed every sin that has been done in this dark world, yet God’s gift, “redemption through His blood” abounds above it all. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” His very business was saving just such burdened, weary, heavy-hearted sinners as you are. Blessed be His holy name, the work is finished. May God reveal to your soul, my reader, Jesus Christ. Change of life and holiness of life will follow. But the first thing is the gift of God.

Rahab: or, the Siege of Jericho

“Now Jericho was straitly shut up.” Joshua 6:1
The iniquity of the Amorite was now full (Gen. 15:16). The time of righteous judgment had arrived. As this was the first of the doomed cities to be destroyed, God has been pleased to give us most interesting details, in which we shall find Himself revealed, both in grace and in judgment. The natural mind may in all this see only wrath and destruction; but the Spirit can reveal God in the richest display of grace. Yea, even in this scene of judgment.
If we turn to Joshua 2 we find Joshua sending two men to spy out the land. He may have had only thoughts of judgment; but God had thoughts of mercy, and the two spies are turned into evangelists. And now to show out the riches of the grace of God, and that no person can be found beyond the reach of mercy, a harlot is selected as the object of that grace. “They went, and come into an harlot’s house and lodged there.” There may have been no better place in that wicked city in which they could lodge. Who can tell the moral condition of that city, and of all the cities of Canaan? For four hundred years God had borne with the ever-increasing iniquity of the Amorites. This woman’s full character by nature comes out: not only is she a harlot, but it seems natural for her to lie. She deceived the king of Jericho, who sent to inquire after these men. Such is the sinner whom God in His grace delights to take up. Divine faith is communicated to her soul and repentance is wrought in her heart. She has self-judgment, and faith in God. She said to the men, “I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom he utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9-11). This was very striking, for at that moment Jericho abode in its strength. But faith knew, and the heart did utterly melt. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” “For the Lord your God,” said she, “he is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath.” Now is not this beautiful, such faith given to a lost sinner, in a city doomed to destruction?
And now her faith rises higher; she regards the two men as the servants of Jehovah, who cannot lie. Faith claims the kindness of Jehovah, “That ye will also show kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” Faith seems to say, there is nothing too much to claim from God. Father, mother, brethren, sisters, and all that they have. Do you not think that that ancient faith of Rahab puts many of us to shame? Think of the grasp of that faith — there too in the city of destruction.
Well, God is equal to the utmost demand. He now responds to this noble faith, through His two evangelists, “And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.” She then let them down by a cord through the window. And they said, Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee” (Joshua 2:18). Not only so, but please note the two whosoevers. “And it shall be, that WHOSOEVER shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless; and WHOSOEVER shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And she said, According unto your words, so be it.” Is not this a wonderful display of grace which God pledges to whosoever takes refuge in the house of faith, in this doomed city of wickedness? Not a soul shall perish that takes refuge beneath the shelter of the scarlet line. This is very simple. Judgment is the certain doom of whosoever is found in the street of Jericho. Life and salvation, the assured portion of whosoever shall be found in the house of faith.
We will now pass on to the siege of Jericho. “Now Jericho was straitly shut up” (Joshua 6:1). Is not this a striking figure of man’s present condition? What has been the state of this world for eighteen hundred years? Is it not guilty of the greatest possible sin — the rejection, and murder of the Son of God? What a vast Jericho this is, shut up in unbelief, and under judgment! “Every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19), or “subject to the law of God” (Romans 8:7).
Has God ever opened your eyes, as He opened the eyes of Rahab? Has your heart ever melted at the thought of the certain judgment that is hastening? Let us return to Jericho shut up. There was no escape but through the house of faith. Every gate was closed, none went out, and none came in. It is so now, every gate is closed, law-gate, ritual-gate, works-gate, merit-gate — all are closed. Man is a sinner without strength. There is only one way of escape. What is it? For the king and all the mighty men of valor were given up to Joshua.
But what is the meaning of this compassing the city with trumpets of rams’ horns? “And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the rams’ horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up before him.
“And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord. And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the Lord.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the Lord, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.
“And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rearward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. So the ark of the Lord compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
“And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rearward came after the ark of the Lord, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.
“And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent” (Joshua 6:3-17). Is not this the long-suffering of our God, not willing that any should perish. Long had He borne with the wickedness of this city while Israel was in Egypt; and now the whosoever principle of divine grace must be fully tested. Rahab sees the destroying host approach the city. But what a strange sight — what can that object wholly of blue be? If we turn to Numbers 4:5-6 we shall learn: “And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: and shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue.”
It is the ark of the Lord with its blood-sprinkled mercy-seat covered with a cloth wholly of blue. Blue is the heavenly color. And was it not wholly of God that mercy should compass the city of destruction? Does not this seem to speak to us? “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Now Rahab hears the sound of seven trumpets of rams’ horns from seven priests walking before the ark, as they pass on before the ark of the Lord. To her faith these would be the soft sweet sounds of mercy.
See her there persuading her old father to take shelter beneath the scarlet line. No sooner is he in, than that sweet word “whosoever” cheers her on; a mother — ah, it is not always the work of a moment to persuade a mother and a father to believe the plain word of God! and now, brothers and sisters.
The trumpets still sound; and the city is compassed the first day. I do not know how many are housed the first day; but not one of that household must be lost. Another day that ark of the Lord, with its covering of blue, and those seven trumpets sweetly sounding, must surround the doomed city. Oh, how our God delights in mercy! Now brother, now sister, now “whosoever”; oh, hasten to the house of safety! Blow, ye priests, blow softly and sweetly; it is our God that welcomes the sinner in. Do not shout or make a noise yet, these are days of mercy; count them one to seven; oh, how perfectly welcome all ye whosoevers, welcome every one. Blow, ye priests, for God is glorious in His mercy, heavenly and righteous all the city round.
Oh, how cheered is believing Rahab! See her gathering in the crowd. All are welcome, whosoever, everyone. Early in the dawn of the morning, they take the ark, and sound the trumpets, wakening notes of threatening judgments to the ears of unbelief. Continually they blow the trumpets; God would have it so. Oh, the heart of God! not a child of faith should perish, not one be left behind. Six days did they thus compass the devoted city — not one day, but seven days, did the ark, emblem of God’s throne of mercy, compass the city.
But this is not enough. The mercy of God must be manifested to the utmost. On that seventh day, that last day of long-suffering, forbearance, and mercy, those trumpets must sound the blasts of judgment, and strains of mercy, seven times around the city.
And now the last trumpet must sound. The last soul is gathered to the place of safety. The great shout is heard, and then the sudden crash of judgment comes, and not one found in the streets of Jericho escaped. Where now is Rahab, and all that took shelter beneath the shadow of the scarlet line? Will God fail to fulfill the word of His servants, that they would deal kindly and truly with her?
In God’s dealing with her kindly and truly, two things must be observed. She was brought out; and she was brought in. Out from the city of destruction — in to the privileges of Israel. “And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein” (Joshua 6:23-24). Kindly and truly as God did thus deal with this child of faith, and all with her, yet if this had been all, it would come far short as a picture of the exceeding grace of God to us. “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6:25). Thus was she brought out, and thus was she brought in. Saved out of, and from the doom of Jericho; brought into all the royal privileges of Israel. Grace translated the harlot of Jericho into the most honored mother in Israel — a mother in that royal line from whom David, and David’s greater son was born. She became the wife of Salmon, the father of Boaz (Matthew 1:5). Kindly and truly did God deal with her, and, to all in that city of wickedness who believed the word of Jehovah.
I would now ask my reader to notice in this beautiful history, four things, which strikingly illustrate the sinner shut up under judgments; the sinner brought into the place of safety; the saint brought out of the place of judgment; the saint brought into the privileges of the church of God.
We have seen Jericho straitly shut up. And though the trumpet of warning and mercy blew long, yet the terrible crash of judgment came at last. It was similar in the days of Noah, when the long-suffering of God waited one hundred and twenty years. But at last the flood came and destroyed them all. Again in the days of Lot, what a night of wickedness; and though the sun arose once more in all its eastern splendor on the doomed city; yet when Lot was out of Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone and destroyed them all.
Is there not equally distinct testimony in the word of God as to the end of this age? Men may no more believe it than they did in the days of Noah, but Jesus has said, “Now is the judgment of this world” (John 12:31). The Holy Ghost sent down consequent on the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ convicts the world of the awful sin of the murder of Christ. Yea, that all have sinned, and are under the judgment of God.
Nothing can be more clear and certain than the teaching of Christ, that the end of the age will be as it was in the days of Noah, and of Lot. Read Matthew 24; and Luke 17:24-32: “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30). In Luke 21 you may trace from the past destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, to the coming again of the Lord Jesus, with power and glory, and you will find that just as the destruction of Jericho came like a snare, so shall the judgment of this world come, “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35). I know Satan has persuaded men, there is no truth in these scriptures; that they need not fear — a good time is coming. But the Apostle says, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). Will not this be as it was in Jericho? There was no escape. Though long delayed, the crash of judgment came at last. And “the Lord Jesus Christ 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 the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Now read 2 Peter 3. Are we not assured by this scripture of truth, that though scoffers shall come, questioning and denying all these things; yet the heavens and the earth are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men? But just as the Lord was longsuffering in the days of Jericho, so again, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:9-10). No doubt this takes in the day of the Lord in its fullest sense; but I ask, God having thus spoken, is it reasonable to doubt His word, or explain it away? Surely not.
Now have you ever been really awakened, like Rahab, to believe the word of God? What a grave position this really is! A sinner in a world under judgment — a judgment from which there will be no escape. You may say, but will there not be a millennium of blessing to this earth? Certainly! But did the millennium hinder the destruction of Jericho? Neither will it hinder the judgments coming on this world. It will come in its place. But judgment is the end, and doom, of the present age.
Such then is the condition of every soul in the world that has not passed from death unto life. Shut up, waiting for the judgment of Christ. Oh, think of everlasting destruction from His presence. What would you feel if the dearest friend you have on earth, had committed some crime against the law of the land; and was at this moment in the condemned cell, waiting execution? But what is this compared to everlasting punishment? And how terrible, when the longsuffering of God only hardens the heart! It is an undeniable fact, God hath said it, “The whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Rahab was deeply convinced of the condition and doom of Jericho; are you as deeply convinced of your own condition and everlasting doom, unless saved in pure undeserved love?
We will now look at the second point illustrated, the sinner brought into the place of safety. There was faith in Rahab: “I know that the Lord hath given you the land” (Joshua 2:9). There was repentance, self-judgment: “As soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt” (Joshua 2:11). And there was prayer: “I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord” (Joshua 2:12). Blessed marks of the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner! And is it not to be noted that every desire the spirit prompts, is answered to the utmost? Did not God give her a true token? Did He not deal kindly and truly with her? Did He not save alive her father and mother, brethren and sisters, and all that they had? Did He not fulfill to the utmost bounds of “whosoever?” Ah, will not this once-lost harlot rise up in judgment against thousands who have rejected the kindness of God?
And is there not something very beautiful in the way in which the priests compassed the city of destruction? I am struck with the position of the ark. Before they had crossed the Jordan they were to go after the ark, even in the very last march into Jordan. “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it” (Joshua 3:3-4). And there was to be a space between it and them of two thousand cubits. But now they are in the land, blowing the rams’ horns, the ark must be behind them. They must be in the land to surround Jericho, and sound the trumpet. No person can sound the true gospel of God to a lost world until he knows his standing through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and sees himself dead with Him, and risen in Him. Redemption is not a thing before him now; once it was, when a seeking soul; now it is behind him accomplished once, and forever. It is important to be quite clear about this before sounding the trumpet to others. Is the passage of the Jordan before you, or behind you? And more, is the ark before you, or behind you? Is the propitiatory, the mercy seat before you, or behind you? Truly with us, but not before us. The propitiatory sacrifice once offered, finished, accomplished. When that work was before the soul, and Jesus had not been offered up, the true expression of the heart was prayer: “Forgive men their trespasses” (Matthew 6:14). Now that work has been accomplished, and we have passed with the true ark through Jordan, as it is written, “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:12-13). Our joy now is to give thanks and to rejoice in Christ “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7). Thus now the true expression of the heart is praise and thanksgiving.
Let then the servants of the Lord who know that they have crossed the Jordan; who know that they are dead and risen with Christ; who know that God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven their sins; let such compass this whole world of sin and judgment, and sound aloud the trumpet of salvation.
God is pledged to deal kindly and truly. He hath given a sure token. He hath given His only-begotten Son. What the scarlet line was as a figure to “whosoever” believed the word of God in the city of Jericho, such and much more so, is the precious blood of the Lamb: It was fastened in the window — He was nailed to the cross. He died for our sins according to the scriptures. “The just for the unjust that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). God was pledged in that wicked city to whosoever. God is pledged to this wicked world, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If the heart of God lingered then for four hundred years, it has now waited in long-suffering grace for eighteen hundred years.
Oh, let us compass this wide world with sounds of mercy; blow continually; blow softly, the household of faith is being gathered in. Have you a father, a mother, brothers, sisters, yet under judgments? for he that believeth not, is condemned already.
Oh, call them in,
The poor and wretched.
God is waiting,
Call them in.
When that believing company was gathered into the house on the wall, they were safe beneath the scarlet line. It was not a question how vile they had been, but giving up all other hope of escape, they were brought in faith to take refuge beneath the scarlet line. There and there alone they were safe. The trumpet blast of alarm to all beside, was the soft strain of mercy and safety to them.
Now, I ask, is this not a stupendous fact, that God is pledged to deal kindly and truly with whosoever, amongst the lost and guilty, shall take refuge beneath the blood-stained cross of Christ? But those evangelists preach a very defective gospel who would only bring the sinner to the cross and leave him there. This is not deliverance. All this — the scarlet line, the true token, the gathering them to the house of Rahab — all this was but preparatory to two things. The purpose of God was to bring them out, and to bring them in. It is all important to notice this. The same thing may be seen in Israel’s redemption from Egypt; Israel, in the house sheltered by the blood sprinkled on the door-post, was just like the elect company in the house of Rahab, sheltered by the scarlet line; both pointing to the sinner brought to take shelter beneath the cross of Christ. But the judgment on Egypt, the death of the paschal lamb, the blood that shut out the avenger — all this was preparatory to two things, as Moses says, “He brought us out from thence, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers” (Deuteronomy 6:23). In like manner the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross, and the work of the Spirit in bringing the sinner by repentance and faith, to take shelter beneath the precious blood of Christ, all this is preparatory to these same two things; to bring us out, that He may bring us in. The passage of the Red Sea was the bringing them out, the passage of the Jordan was the bringing them in. Just so, according to the word of Joshua. The young men “brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel” (Joshua 6:23). Thus the deliverance from the scene of judgment was complete. They were now saved alive; not a stroke of judgment fell on them. See them there outside the camp in perfect safety. The crash of destruction falls upon the doomed city, upon whosoever believeth not, but not one of the whosoevers perished who believed the glad tidings of shelter in the house of Rahab. So far, then, God dealt kindly and truly with her; and all that believed. But God’s kindness went far beyond this; as we have seen, she was brought INTO all the privileges and heirship of the house of Israel.
Have you ever thought of what the believer is not only brought out of, but brought into? He is indeed sheltered by the blood: “When I see the blood, I will pass over” (Exodus 12:13). Oh, depth of mercy! the blood of Jesus shelters my soul from every stroke of deserved wrath. And more, we are not left in Egypt beneath the sprinkled blood, blessed as that blood is; but He “hath delivered us from the power of darkness” (Col. 1:13). Sheltered and delivered. Read on: “And hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
Now, what are we brought into? We have seen Rahab the harlot brought into joint heirship with Israel; a joint partaker of their hopes and inheritance. Can you take in this marvelous translation? From the depths of sin, in that city of iniquity, to joint heirship in the future throne of the Israel of Jehovah? And the word says there she dwelleth to this day. Such grace must be permanent and everlasting. What a figure or type of the riches of the glory of His grace! Surpassingly strange as this is, it is no less strange than true. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). We must not for a moment judge of our destiny by our present condition; it may be suffering and deep sorrows here. If Rahab became a joint-heir in Israel’s earthly inheritance, all God’s “whosoevers” now are made joint-heirs with Christ; one with Him in all that awaits Him, as heir of all things. Do not forget that it is His own work that fits us for this; we can only bow the heart, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). When Israel were buried unto Moses in the Red Sea, they were out of Egypt; when they came out of Jordan with Joshua, they were IN the land. We are not only buried with Christ, “but risen with Him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). Thus God reckons us dead with Christ, and risen with Christ. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through His death we have passed out of the place of judgment. With Him in resurrection we have entered into joint-heirship with Himself. Everlasting life our portion, joint-heirship our everlasting destiny. Was not this what the Lord meant in His commission to Paul, “To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me?” (Acts 26:18).
Oh yes, not only deliverance from Satan, but the bright inheritance of the sanctified, by faith in Him. And is not this what the Father hath begotten us unto, according to His abundant mercy by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Calm and certain hope, amidst the trials of the wilderness! And was not this very dear to the heart of Paul, in that parting scene with the elders from Ephesus, knowing as he did how everything in the professing church was coming to the bad? “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). I beg of you then, do not for a moment suppose that deliverance from wrath by the precious blood of Christ, is the whole gospel of God, blessed as that is; neither allow the thought, that the inheritance was an after-thought, or attainable by a few of the children of God, by some work or effort of their own. No, joint-heirship with the risen Christ, is the predestined inheritance of every member of the body of Christ, of every child of God, from the descent of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2) to the taking of the church to be with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4).
To the glory of His grace be it known, that during this unexampled period of wickedness, God has no less, no other favor to bestow, than the predestined inheritance of the saints. What then is the believer’s inheritance? This can only be answered as you would answer the question — what is the believer’s justification, in its completest sense? He stood in the believer’s stead, bare his sins in His body on the tree, as his Substitute bare the wrath due to him (Isaiah 53). In His resurrection the believer is justified from sin, and sins once charged to and borne by Him, as He says, “He is near that justifieth me  ...  who is he that shall condemn me?” (Isaiah 50:8-9). All this is reckoned to the believer. “He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). What could not be done by me as a sinner, is done by Him for me, and reckoned to me. So that if you ask, What and where is my justifying righteousness? I point to the risen Christ, my representative in the glory. Who can condemn Him, therefore, who can condemn me? What is my justification then? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again. Look not at self; look off to Christ. What He is, is the completeness of our justification. Just as truly as what He was on the cross was our complete condemnation. In like manner whatever is the inheritance of Christ is the inheritance of every child of God now, co-heir, joint-heir with Christ. To use a legal term, we are tenants in common with Christ over the universe (His own essential glory as God of course excepted). Immense and glorious as it is, yet how fully and how simply this is revealed in scripture! What could be simpler in the case of Rahab? What was the inheritance of this poor sinner? Whatever was the inheritance and destiny of Israel? What is the inheritance of every sinner saved by grace now? Whatever is the inheritance of Christ.
Now do not misunderstand, let us not be occupied with a mere doctrine, however true: but with the fact that this inheritance is predestined. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Romans 8:29). There is no break in the golden links from predestination to glory. There can be no separation between Christ and the co-heirs. Precious Jesus! Has He not said it? “And the glory which thou gavest Me I have given them” (John 17:22).
Now turn to Ephesians 1:11. Do you see this tracing of the plan drawn (eternal purpose) in eternity? God has dealt kindly and truly with us. We are not viewed here as still in Egypt, beneath the shelter of the blood: or in the house of Rahab, sheltered with the scarlet line; all important in their place. Here we have entered into our heavenly land. “Blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Here all is of God; like the ark behind us, all covered with blue. It is God that hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, “having predestinated us unto the adoption of children” (Ephesians 1:5). Here we are accepted in the beloved; “in whom we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7). Follow the tracing: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
We are also here sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, “which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14). Well might the Apostle so earnestly pray that they might know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Now Christ is revealed to the soul in the high heavenly places, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23). Think of being a joint-heir in all this! What a tracing of the eternal plan! At present we can scarcely bear the thought, destined to dwell one with Him, above all principality and power. All things put under His feet. Thrones and crowns, and royal scepters, around that throne in unclouded light await the redeemed of the Lord. Surely Moses and Elias speaking with Him in glory in the mount, was a bright figure of our co-heirship with Christ. What holy scenes of power, and love, and service, await us in the joint reign with Christ!
Satan may here suggest that though grace did bring the harlot Rahab, and whosoever believed the reports, into the blessing and privileges of Israel; yet surely, none but the most worthy of mankind can be thus associated with Christ, over all things. But as it was then, it is even so now, as grace compassed the city of iniquity ripe for judgment, and brought out every sinner that believed, so now grace has surrounded this world, ripe for judgment, ever since it rejected and murdered the Son of God. And this is the character of those grace now gathers to be the joint-heirs of Christ. “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Oh, the greatness of that love of God, the riches of that mercy who takes up such lost sinners, and raises them up with Chris, even into joint-heirship with Him! and thus shall the exceeding riches of His grace and kindness to us be shown in the ages to come. Surely He hath dealt kindly and truly with us, as well as with Rahab of old.
I have only a few words to add. Our adorable Lord is waiting there on the Father’s throne, until the last co-inheritor is gathered from this city of Jericho. It is not until the church is complete, that He takes His place in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5). Until then He says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). My fellow believer, are not these words true? Do they not come from the very heart of Christ? Joshua sent the spies to take out Rahab; Christ Himself will come and take us out of this doomed world. “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But if this is the blessed hope of the children of God — the Rahab household of faith; all that are Christ’s at His coming — the crash of judgments on the rejectors is not less certain. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The coming of Joshua to Jericho had two very distinct characters: The salvation and entrance of Rahab into the joint privileges of Israel; and the terrible fiery destruction of all that were found outside the household of faith. Just so, the coming of the Lord has two distinct characters: First, He comes to take His own without sin unto salvation. They enter into rest and glory. They see Him as He is and are like Him; forever with the Lord. Then after that when the now hated and persecuted saints are in rest, “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 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The scriptures are largely occupied with these two aspects of the coming of the Lord. Which is before my reader? Have you been brought as a lost and ruined sinner like Rahab to take shelter beneath the blood of Jesus? Do you believe God in His kindness and love, nay more in His righteousness, has provided that place of shelter? Has He in pure grace delivered you from the wrath to come? Then can you not trust with child-like certainty His word? Are you waiting for Him from heaven, to come and introduce you into that home of love and holy delight, the unclouded presence and glory of God? A little more conflict. And those who walk before the ark do indeed need to be armed with the whole armor of God. The better we know our destined place in the heavens, the more will wicked spirits in the heavenlies dispute it.
Rise up, my brethren, and, fully armed, march on before the ark of the Lord. Sound the gospel trumpet loudly, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. It is our Master’s voice who says, “Surely I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20). Do not grieve the Spirit by half-hearted doubts. Do not say, If I may but be just saved. No, no, none will be merely just saved. If saved at all, you will be brought into all that Christ is; as surely as you have borne the image of the earthy, you shall bear the image of the heavenly. Without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Unblamable in holiness, in His presence with exceeding glory. Thus our God and Father speaks to us, and shows us the riches of His grace in the history of Rahab and the siege of Jericho. And soon shall we say, One half has not been told us, of His boundless love. To Him all praise. Amen.

"I Have Compassion on the Multitude"

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And His disciples answered Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away” (Mark 8:1-9).
Mark the starting point of this narrative: “Jesus called His disciples unto Him” (Mark 8:1). What a question this would be to every preacher in this land: Have you heard the call of Jesus? Have you come unto Him? Do you know Him? You cannot be a river of water if you have not come and drunk yourself. If you do not know Him you cannot break the Bread of Life to others. If you do not know your own sins are forgiven, you will not be able in faith to preach forgiveness to others. If you know Him, then just come unto Him; He has something to say unto us.
He says, as it were, I want to tell you how I feel about those millions of lost souls on earth where you at present dwell. I have compassion on the multitude. I have been offered up a propitiation on the cross: I freely offered up Myself the sacrifice; I am the Mercy-seat-God; My Father is just, is righteous, in sending a free pardon to those millions, and you have never told them. You have never made the proclamation of forgiveness of sins in My name to millions within your reach — “I have compassion on the multitude” (Mark 8:2).
And there was a large company that had been with Him three days — He says, “And have nothing to eat” (Mark 8:2). And all around are multitudes of professors, very busy in religious activities, but they have nothing to eat. They have sacraments and outward services, periodicals and religious books; and still may have nothing to eat. They are unconverted, are in their sins, guilty before God, hastening on to judgment, and literally no real gospel has been set before them, suited to lost, guilty, hell-deserving sinners.
Jesus says, “I have compassion” on them; He further says, “If I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far” (Mark 8:3).
Is it so, dear reader — is your house very far from Jesus? Is Jesus known in your house? Is the holy perfume of His dear presence there? If a stranger comes to your house, does he feel that Christ reigns there? Or is it a mere Sunday profession with you, and Satan and his world all the week? Ah, when you come on Sunday you come from afar; but Jesus has compassion on you; He knows how it will end with you if you are not saved — when your heart shall cease to beat, and there is a hush in your house, and they whisper, “he is gone.” But oh, where?
Will you have refused the compassion of Christ until it is too late? Where will you be? Will it be to lift up your eyes in torment? What a mercy it is, as you read this, that it is not yet too late. Think, then, of the compassion of Jesus.
How little sympathy the disciples had, then, with Jesus. How little now. They say, “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?” (Mark 8:4). Did they not forget the Lord? He who fed the millions daily for forty years in their wilderness journey, the Jehovah of the days of Moses, was in their midst. They forgot the infinite resources they had in Him. And do we remember the compassion and power of Him who says, “I am with you alway, even unto the end” (Matthew 28:20)? Is anything too hard for the Lord? How little we feel the claims and needs of these perishing millions — how little sympathy with those devoted servants of the Lord who are true distributors of the Bread of Life in the regions far from home and comforts. But they have the joy of fellowship with Him who said, “I have compassion on the multitude.” “And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven” (Mark 8:5). They had the perfect number, and with His blessing, more than enough to meet the need.
And now, fellow-disciples of Jesus, whose heart is full of compassion and love for the multitude, how many loaves have we? We will take first the great multitude of Christendom, who have no Bread of Life ministered to them; infidelity and superstition enough, but no Bread of Life — what have you got for them? Do you say, A very few loaves for so many? Jesus says, “Give ye them to eat” (Mark 6:37).
And remember that among them there are dear redeemed children of God, very faint on the way; long have they been without food that gives real nourishment. Give ye them to eat. One means which the Lord has greatly owned — He only knows how much — is the distribution of tracts. Have you a few of these loaves? Never was there such a need to be sure that there is no poison in them — poison where little expected. Do not give any one to eat what you have not eaten of yourself, and proved to be the Bread of Life.
“And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground” (Mark 8:6). He who commanded this vast universe to be, and it was; who spake, and it was done; He commanded the people to sit down on the ground. Look at Him in the midst of that multitude — every eye turned to Him; yes, the very multitude who had requested Him to depart from their coasts in chapter 5. Yes, precious Jesus, Thou hadst compassion on the men who preferred their swine to Thee. Have you heard His voice? Have you been brought to sit down in His blessed presence? All the needed supply goes out from Himself. “And He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them” (Mark 8:67).
The disciples gave nothing except what they had received. May it always be so with us. It is most cheering to hear of souls in so many distant lands being brought to sit at His feet; to sit down and rest in His dear presence, to prove His tender compassion — and then themselves to be the distributors of the Bread of Life. It will be so everywhere if there is fellowship with Him in His compassion for lost souls. Oh my brethren, where should we have been but for His compassion on us? “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy” (Romans 9:18).
“And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them” (Mark 8:7). Have you a few small tracts that contain the true gospel of God?
Will you look to Him to bless them? Can you in faith obey Him? He commands you to set them before those who have nothing to eat. You have now the privilege of distributing tracts in many languages. Will you give them to such as have nothing for the soul to feed upon? Our compassionate Jesus is using them, in spite of the disciples’ coldness, in regions far from where our feet can tread. Oh, to be a transcript of Him who has compassion on the multitude. Oh blessed Lord, to be more like Thyself!
Seven loaves and a few small fishes seemed very little for four thousand persons. They would have been utterly insufficient, but Jesus was there, and He delights to use our littleness, our weakness, our insignificance. It is thus His fullness and all-sufficiency are made to appear. Waggonloads of loaves and boatloads of fishes would have been more to the disciples’ ideas then and now. Oh, the grand secret of sinners being brought to Him is, He all, and the disciples nothing; but this does not suit man. The need is great around; let us measure it by His infinite fullness.
“So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets” (Mark 8:8). Well, dear reader, have you eaten? Are you filled? If so, you will hunger no more. Jesus said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). This is the sure mark of the one that has been brought to sit at His feet to receive Himself — the Bread of Life — he hungers no more. He knows the truth of the word, “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). He thirsts no more. He needs nothing more to fit him for the holiest. He is complete in Christ, and has perfect peace and rest for evermore.
If this is your singular and happy place, what will you do with your basket? Will you send nothing to those who have nothing to eat? Will you have no compassion on the multitude? It is a wonderful feast — always as much left as when we began. If Christ is enough for you, He is enough for every poor, guilty, hell-deserving sinner on earth. Oh, to be off with our baskets, and take good portions to them for whom nothing is prepared! “And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away” (Mark 8:9). Will you ask Him where you shall go with your basket?
Oh, blessed revelation of God, the heart of God, the love of God to a lost and guilty world! Yes, Jesus says, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). May this be true of every Christian who shall read these lines.

The Coming of the Lord

The Taking Up of the Church; the Judgments That
Will Follow, and Then the Millennium
I. This line is intended to represent the past history of Israel, up to the coming and rejection of the Lord Jesus.
A. This upright line indicates the Ascension of our blessed Lord to heaven, at the commencement of the present period (C).
C. This circle represents the present period, during which the church of God is being gathered out of the world.
T. This line shows the Taking of the church to meet Christ in the air, which closes this period.
J. This short line indicates the period of Judgment between this present period of grace and the Millennium.
R. This line shows the glorious appearing, or Revelation, or coming of Christ to this earth.
M. This circle represents the period of the millennium, or kingdom.
S. This short line represents the letting loose of Satan again after the thousand years.
E. This beginning of a circle points to the Eternal state.
Question: Why have you omitted drawing the line through the circle C?
Answer: The line I, J, M, S, shows the history of Israel, which is broken off during this period (C).
Question: Well now, you make two circles, C and M. You say one represents the period of taking out the church, or the present gospel period; and the other circle (M) you say represents the period of the kingdom set up on the earth; for my part, I thought both had been one and the same. What Scripture proof do you have of the distinction of these two periods?
Answer: That is a very fair question. Will you turn to Luke 21:24-27? You will notice in this passage that all through the times of the Gentiles, or this period, Jerusalem is trodden down under foot, from its destruction right through the period C; and this brings us to the short period J, the distress of all nations; and then the Son of Man is seen coming in a cloud with power and great glory; which event begins the period M, or the Millennium. Now contrast this with Isaiah 2:1-4; you will notice this is what the prophet saw concerning this very same Jerusalem. Read also Isaiah 11:1-12. Now here we learn that after the earth is smitten, and the wicked one is slain, which does not take place during the period of grace (C), but during the short space of judgment (J), then this very Jerusalem becomes the metropolis of the whole earth. Thus the contrast is very striking. During this period (C) Jerusalem is trodden under foot, and the Jews scattered among all nations; while during the period of the kingdom, Jerusalem is exalted above all cities, and the Jews gathered from all nations. Again, during this period (C), the earth is full of wickedness (Luke 17:26-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5). But in the period to come (M), “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Now a few are taken out of all nations (Acts 15:14), then all nations shall bear the name of the Lord (v. 17); now all nations reject Christ, then all nations shall come up to worship Him at Jerusalem (Luke 19:12-14; Zechariah 14:16); now Satan is the “god of this world;” then shall he be cast out, and “the Lord shall be King over all the earth;” (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Zechariah 14:9). Perhaps the contrast could not be put in a stronger light than it is in Romans 8. During this period (C) the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain and bondage, waiting for the glorious liberty of the children of God. Will not this be a wondrous change?
Question: Well, I had no idea that there was so much Scripture to show such a distinction. It must be very important to rightly understand what period Scripture refers to. Is it not?
Answer: Indeed it is; and where the dispensations are not understood, all must be sad confusion. I would point out one instance; the beautiful passage in Isaiah 61:1-2, both periods, and the day of vengeance between them, are in this verse: “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (C), and the day of vengeance of our God (J); to comfort all that mourn” (M); and to the end of the chapter the prophet describes the millennial kingdom. If you compare this with Luke 4:19-20, you will find the Lord shut the book in the middle of this verse. So far the Scripture was fulfilled. Little did those think who heard Him that before the book of wrath and vengeance should be opened (Revelation 5-19), this long period, of more than 1800 years of grace, should intervene. Yes, this long period lay hidden in the middle of that verse.
Question: Will you now tell me what you mean by the line A?
Answer: I must remind you that the line (I) points out the history of Israel, or the Jews, up to the birth and death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The line A, then, shows His ascension to heaven.
Question: Does the Scripture connect that event at all with His coming again?
Answer: Yes, it does very strikingly, to show two things — that He will come in person, and that He will come at the commencement of the period M, the Millennium.
Question: I never knew that — where is it?
Answer: That He will come in person is very clear from Acts 1:10-11. “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” And when is quite plain from Acts 3:21, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets, since the world began.” Nothing, then, is more certain than that at the beginning of the period M, or times of restitution, Christ will come again in person.
Question: This seems very plain; but why do you make the line A before the circle C?
Answer: Because the church did not exist before Christ ascended up to heaven.
Question: Indeed! Why, what was there then, before?
Answer: First, saved individuals, as Abel, Enoch, Job, and then a nation in the flesh — the Jews — called of God, and on their part professing to be keepers of His law. And this continued until they murdered the Son of God. Thus, the cross abolished Judaism, and put an end to all man’s pretensions to stand before God on the ground of works. Thus, when Christ had ascended up to heaven, the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost. All was then changed. Jesus in heaven proved the mighty work of redemption was finished. God is just, and the justifier of him that believeth (Romans 3:19-28; 2 Corinthians 3:13-14; Colossians 2:11-17).
Question: I had not thought how very great the change must be from Judaism to Christianity; and still I do not think I quite know what you mean by the church. Will you explain a little more fully what you mean, and tell me what is the difference between the church and all the saved before Pentecost, and the saved after the church is taken from this earth to meet Christ in the air?
Answer: There are two terms used in Scripture to describe the church, which cannot be applied either to the saved before or after the church. The first is “the body,” and the other is “the bride” of Christ. You will find much about the first in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Is not this very wonderful, that all saved persons now are not left as before, as separated saved persons, or even as distinct societies of saved persons? But all saved persons now, by the Holy Spirit, form one body. And more, this body’s a heavenly body, because joined to Christ the Head in heaven — risen with Him (Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:4-6). To show how very distinct this is from Israel, or anything before — this wonderful mystery was not even made known in the past ages (Ephesians 3:4-10; 4:4-12; Colossians 1:18). And then as to the second term, “the bride,” how different is the position of a wife in a family from all other persons. They may be guests, and of the same family; but their position is altogether different. Such is the wondrous distinction the elect assembly gathered during this period (C) is destined to share with a glorified Christ forever (Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:6-9; 21:9-11). But these precious truths can only be learned by the Spirit’s teaching, leading our souls into close communion with God in His own Word.
Question: I am looking at the line T. Is there anything in Scripture about this taking the church to meet Christ?
Answer: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 there is a very plain passage. The 17th verse states, “We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [who were asleep in Christ] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” And also in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” In Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope; (T) and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (R).
Thus we see that the Apostle, and all who had been “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), not only believed in this taking up to meet Christ, but were actually looking for the blessed event. (Read also 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Hebrews 9:28; 10:37; James 5:8; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Revelation 22:7,12,20.) Surely this is no speculative doctrine, but a great practical truth, a solemn reality, that the Son of God may come, and take the church this hour to meet Him in the air. Can you say this is your hope?
Question: I really feel it is a very serious question. It almost makes me tremble, the very possibility of that great event taking place this hour. Tell me what would enable me to look for Christ’s coming with joy?
Answer: Peace with God; the certainty that you are justified from all sin and condemnation; the certainty that when you meet Christ, you will meet Him who has loved you, and washed you from all your sins in His own blood. This certainty alone can enable you to look for this blessed hope.
Question: Yes, that is true; but how am I to get that certainty?
Answer: As a ruined sinner receiving Christ as your entire salvation; believing in Him with your heart; confessing Him with your mouth. If you have thus received Him, you are justified, you may be quite certain. God says it — it must be true; for God cannot lie.
Question: Well, I do think if my mind was more settled as to the certainty of my having peace with God, I could even long for the coming of Christ. But I thought a great deal of Scripture had to be fulfilled yet; if so, then how is it possible that Christ may take the church this hour?
Answer: That is a difficulty I know with some, but the answer is simply this: such scriptures have not to be fulfilled before the coming of Christ to take the church, but after it. And that is just the reason why I place the short line (J) between the taking of the church (T) and the coming of Christ in judgment to this earth (R). There are many passages which refer to this period of judgment, all of which have to be fulfilled. And all will be fulfilled after the church is taken, during the short period (J). This is very clear from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. It appears from the persecutions that raged, and the great tribulation that these saints were enduring, some had tried to persuade them that the day of the Lord was come. The Apostle shows them the impossibility of this; as they ought to have known that before then they would be gathered to Christ. This had been implied in the first epistle, as they were not of the night; and he had no need to write to them about the day of the Lord. So now he says, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind  ...  as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) — or is come. He then goes on to show the fearful state of this world, when the Spirit of God, with the church, is taken away. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). You may judge what the fearful character of this period (J) will be, and the coming of Christ in judgment, called the day of the Lord, which closes it, by reading the following scriptures: Psalm 82:8; Isaiah 2:12,21; 13:6-12; Daniel 12:1; Joel 2:1-11; 3:9-16; Zephaniah 1:7,14-18; 3:8; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 24:21-22.
The book of Revelation, from the 6th to the end of the 19th chapter, is mostly occupied with these terrible days of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God — this short period (J).
The order of this wonderful book, Revelation, may be illustrated by the diagram. Thus, after the introduction, which occupies chapter 1, chapters 2 and 3 containing the addresses to the seven churches, describe the condition of things that are now in Christendom during the present period (C). Then chapters 4 and 5 take us up and let us see the redeemed above with the Lord. Then chapters 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and on to 19, show what will take place during the period J; and then the thousand years in chapter 20, or period M; after which (S) Satan is loosed a little season; and then chapter 21 (E), the eternal state.
Question: I hope to examine the book of Revelation more closely; I never could make out the order of it before.
But now as to line R; do you not make two comings of Christ? and what proof have you in Scripture that there is any difference between the taking (T) and the revelation of Christ (R) at His coming to this earth?
Answer: There is the most clear proof of this. You remember at the taking the sleeping saints will be raised and the living ones changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Now compare this with 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Jude 14-15; Revelation 1:7. In these passages it is the very opposite of going up to meet the Lord as at the taking (T); it is Christ coming in judgment on an ungodly world. This judgment of living nations is described in Matthew 25:31-46.
Answer: Why, is not that chapter a description of the last day and the general judgment?
Question: Oh, no! If you compare it with Revelation 20:11-15, you will observe it is as different as possible. So far from all nations being gathered together, and judged, and separated, which takes place at the commencement of the millennium (M), after the close of this thousand years the heavens and earth flee away, and the dead, small and great, stand before the great white throne of God, at the end of the short period (S).
Question: Then during the millenium do you expect that all persons saved now will be on earth, and that Christ will also live on earth, and reign over them?
Answer: The Scriptures teach that the earthly kingdom of Christ will be composed first of Jews and Israel in their own land; and all nations then on earth brought into subjection to Israel, and to Christ, the King of kings (Jeremiah 23:5-8; Zephaniah 3:8-20; Zechariah 14:8-21; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-11; 61:4-9). The church, composed of all the saved during this period (C), will share and enjoy the heavenly glory of Christ (John 14:1-3; 17:22; Ephesians 1:3; 2:4-7; 3:9-11; Revelation 5; 19:7-8; 21:9-11). The church will also reign with Christ over this earth. See Greek of Revelation 5:10; also 1:6; 19:14.
Let me add one word more on the present work of God by the Holy Spirit; in visiting “the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). What grace is this! Lost sinners are being brought to Christ. And not one that is brought can ever be cast out. Can you say from your heart that Christ is your all? that as a sinner you have found Him to be your Saviour? Oh, wondrous message to guilty men: “Be it known unto you  ...  that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). Justified! It is God that justifies. Who shall condemn? If a believer, will you not look for and wait for the coming of Him who loved you and washed you in His own precious blood?
O can you say, “The coming of the Lord is nothing to me. What does it matter, if I only get to heaven, whether the Lord comes or I die?” Consummate selfishness! What would you think of a wife, whose husband was in a distant land, saying, “The return of my husband is nothing to me.” Where would be the affection of that heart that could receive a letter announcing that his return might be expected any day; and yet could lay aside that letter with indifference saying, “It does not concern me”? The Spirit of God is arousing the cry, Come, Lord Jesus. A voice is heard from heaven, Behold, I come quickly. Is it possible for you to know the love of Christ and say, “That voice does not speak to me”? Yes, if you are a Christian, that voice of love speaks to your very heart. It is your heart Christ wants. It is not your head filled with prophetic theories. He wants to hear, He counts on hearing the bride say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” And again He says, “Surely I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20). Oh that the whole church of God may be aroused to cry, from their very heart, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

The Wanderers Restored, or Jesus in the Midst

There can be no doubt that the last days of difficulty and perplexity are present realities. You meet a friend, and almost the first word is, “What a state of confusion everything is in!” His face as well as words seem to say, Everything is gone. Some have been expecting the universal spread of Christianity, and the conversion of the world; others, who have long seen the unscripturalness of such a thought, have been expecting there may be some great display of the church in its unity on earth. Instead, they find division and sorrow, through the perversity and obstinacy of men. Such become greatly discouraged, and have real sadness of heart.
Thus, if we turn to Luke 24, we shall find a picture of the things that are happening in our very days. We know the church, or Assembly, was not yet formed, for the Holy Ghost had not yet come to form it. But the company then gathered at Jerusalem was the very company which was afterward baptized by the Holy Ghost when the church began.
We find, then, two of them with their backs on Jerusalem — on the Assembly there, and their faces toward Emmaus. They were not going far away — about six miles. Now what was their condition, or state of mind? They were occupied with the things that had happened. Intellect was at work, and they reasoned. There does not appear to be any willfulness or stubbornness in their conduct; but they were very sad of heart, and sorely perplexed.
Let us remember they were of the company at Jerusalem, but not in their place. They were walking away, as if all were over and lost. Things had turned out very different from what they had expected, and they were sadly disappointed. Is not this a picture of many in this day? They are of the church of God, the Assembly; they are members of the body of Christ, but as to their position, they are so sad, by reasoning about the things that have happened, that, though of it, “two of them,” yet they are walking with their backs to the Assembly, and their faces toward Emmaus. Did the Lord forget these two wanderers, as they talked together of all these things which had happened? No; it was while they thus communed and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. Now what is really the matter with souls in this state is just as it was with them — “Their eyes were holden that they should not know Him” (Luke 24:16).
How tenderly He inquires of their sadness! Does He not feel the same now? Is His love changed? May we not say, “O teach me more of Thy blest ways”? There was little intelligence in them, and their faith in His resurrection was very weak. How tenderly He listens to every word! One thing He did rebuke was their slowness of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken! “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). And may not the wandering, sad hearts be rebuked in this matter now? Oh, for the tender love of Christ to open up the Scriptures, and show that not a single thing is now happening that has not been foretold in Scripture. Yes, all our disappointment and sadness of heart arise from not knowing the Scriptures. They were ignorant of the Scriptures, and they knew not Him.
And now they want to turn in, and settle down for the night; a little independent company, or if you please, individuals away from the Assembly. Oh, the love that could not give them up! Though He showed His disapproval of their step, He opened to them the Scriptures, and their hearts did burn, though as yet their eyes were closed. But what a change when their eyes were opened, and they knew Him! “They rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them” (Luke 24:35). What a picture! While our souls are in that moral state not to know the Lord in the midst of the Assembly, our backs are sure to be turned to Jerusalem. And the moment we truly know Him, the face is immediately turned toward the Assembly. Wonderfully does this picture illustrate the condition of many of the children of God at this time. Doubtless many are sad of heart, and sorely perplexed with all the things that have happened, who never yet knew the sanctuary of deliverance revealed in this scripture. They reason in vain; their thoughts turn to convocations, alterations in ecclesiastical law, questions of so-called church and state. They are distracted with discord, jarrings, and divisions on every hand, but are as blind to the true deliverance from these tumults, as these two sad hearts were blind to the One who so gently opened unto them the Scriptures.
Others who have walked with Him have been turned aside; not only those who, in willfulness, have sought to lead disciples after them (Acts 20:30), but such as have, like these two sad hearts, been so occupied with men and things, that they have lost the power of discerning the Person and mind of the Lord. Oh, that such might dwell on the love of the Lord to these two wanderers! Would He not take you to the Scriptures, and show you that all that has happened was foretold? Ah, He would not merely make our hearts burn by His own precious ministry, but He would open our eyes to know Himself. And we cannot know Him without becoming attracted to the Assembly, His Body. Is there anything on this earth so dear to the heart of Christ as His church? Does not the Spirit of God move the heart of the reader to arise, and go back to the Assembly?
Oh meditate on that infinite love to the church, and you will soon find yourselves on the way back. We cannot know Him without loving that which He loves. There may be little intelligence, yet we shall soon find ourselves where He delights to reveal Himself.
And soon they arrive at Jerusalem; weariness, and sadness, and disappointment are all left at Emmaus — all uncertainty is now gone. The Lord is risen indeed, is the certainty they find in the company gathered together. And the two returned ones are ready to tell their story of deliverance from sadness and disappointment, “how He was known of them in breaking of bread” (Luke 24:33). Is it not sweet also in our day to have returning ones tell the story of restoring love? This touched the heart of Jesus; “And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36). Surely this was as superior to the earthly sanctuary, the worldly temple, with its priesthood and ritual, as heaven is to earth.
Have we been gathered to Christ, the Holy and the True? And are those who had wandered in sadness, a little way from the assembly ground of the twos or threes gathered together unto His name, being now restored by Him? Is it still true that, apart from all worldly sanctuaries, human priesthoods, and carnal ordinances, set up of man, Jesus Himself is in the midst of those gathered to Him? And does He still speak those precious words to those so gathered, “Peace be unto you”? Can we not hear, above the roaring tempest of human discord, those tender words, the very voice we know — “It is I, be not afraid”? (Mark 6:50).
It is indeed very blessed when He first speaks peace to the conscience through His precious blood — “It is finished” (John 19:30) — “Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). Eternity will never unfold the infinite debt of love we owe to Him for this character of peace.
But let us see Him, and hear Him in the midst of the company gathered in the upper room. Ah, they were even afraid of the religious world outside, so the doors were shut. What a contrast with that religious world! It had antiquity, and everything to please the ear and the eye. Shall we say they, the little company, had nothing but Jesus? The fullness of the Godhead stood bodily in their midst risen from the dead — the Head, and the beginning of the new creation. Where are you, reader? with the religious world, or with Jesus Himself? He speaks in the midst of those gathered to Himself. Truly He is not now present in body. But is He not as really present in Spirit? They were afraid. Yes, though it is unspeakably blessed, yet it is an awful moment when the soul is first separated from earthly religion and brought into the very presence of the risen Lord. He says, “Peace be unto you.” What pen, or tongue, can tell the wondrous peace His presence and His words give, in the midst of those truly gathered to Himself? Peace in every sense, both to conscience and heart.
Now since He is risen, since He is present, since He says, “Peace,” how searching the question He put to them, and to us! “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38). Troubled ones, what do you answer to the Lord? Why are ye troubled? Do you say, we are troubled about our sins? He has borne them on the cross: He shows you His hands and His side. Do you say, we are troubled about the confusions and divisions in the professing church? But, He says “peace” in the midst of those gathered to Himself. Nothing can ever break that peace. All the things that trouble you vanish in His dear presence. No need of convocations to legislate or decide in His blest presence. No need of altered prayer books, or learned doctors there — oh, the simplicity, the reality of His presence! But no man can come there truly to Him, unless the Father draws him. It is hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes; and from every stormy wind that blows, He gives perfect rest. “Peace be unto you.” Satan’s greatest effort is to keep souls from being gathered thus to Christ. It may be asked, But has not Christ now gone up to heaven? Quite true; and has not the Father sent down the Holy Ghost? He abides with us to the end. How little this is believed!
And it may be asked, But is it not all over now? Have not difficulties arisen, and is not this blessed testimony to the Person of Christ all lost? Oh, beware of staying too long at Emmaus. What is lost? Is not Jesus Himself as truly present in Spirit now as at the very moment He was bodily present in the upper room? Is not the unspeakable peace of His presence just the same? Is not the Holy Ghost as truly present to take of the things of Christ as at the beginning? Why then are ye troubled? Difficulties may arise, you say, or have arisen. There are no difficulties where His presence is owned. Disown His presence, and we have human intellect only!
There is always danger in reasoning about the things that have happened. These two had the letter of Scripture for expecting the setting up of the kingdom. They had not spiritual discernment of the times, and hence were greatly disappointed. Some have trusted and expected the testimony to be something to be seen in the world, but if we have the mind of the Spirit, what can we expect beyond the sure promise of the Lord? “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). It was not at Emmaus that He said, “Peace be unto you,” but in the midst of the little company gathered together at Jerusalem — the foreshadowed Assembly. Yes, all is perfect peace in His presence; while all is perplexity and sadness with those who have turned their backs on the Assembly.
May the Lord teach us more of His blest ways in seeking the sad hearts who have wandered to Emmaus. And may He ever keep us satisfied with Himself.

Ruth, or Blessing and Rest

“Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may
be well with thee?” Ruth 3:1
My object in writing this paper is, not to interpret the book in its typical bearing on the ways of God with the remnant and nation of Israel in days to come; but, principally, to help the young believer to distinguish between blessing of soul and the true ground of solid rest, as this distinction is illustrated in the touching history of Ruth. I would, however, first notice some solemn instruction in the history of backsliding Naomi. I say backsliding, for when there was a famine, instead of abiding in the land of the Lord, she and her husband, and two sons, went to sojourn in the land of Moab; and, what was still worse, they continued, there.
It is very sad, in times of trial, when the children of God, instead of abiding with Him, go down to the world. But it is still worse when they continue there. And what did she find away from the land of Jehovah? Naomi, which means “pleasant,” was her name, but bitterness did she find away from her God. Away from His presence, death blights her every hope. First, her husband, then her two sons died, and she was left. And full well does the backslider know it is a bitter thing to wander from the Lord.
Though she had left the Lord, He had not left her; like the prodigal, who heard there was bread enough in his father’s house, so the report reached Naomi, “how that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread” (Ruth 1:6) and like the prodigal, “She went forth out of the place where she was” (Ruth 1:7). Wondrous indeed is the grace of our God, who never forsakes the wanderer, but draws and restores with cords of love. Her daughters-in-law arise to come with her to the land of Judah. But dwelling in Moab had done its sad work in her desolate heart. Instead of leading them to Judah’s God, she tells them to return to their land and their gods. She wished them to find rest in the house of that husband on which God had written death.
And such is the influence of every believer, either walking in communion with God, and thus pointing souls to Christ; or, away from His presence, leading others to a world of sin and death.
The Lord, however, had touched the heart of Ruth, and she could not go back. And now Naomi, having lost all, returned to Bethlehem, and Ruth with her. “The city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant], but call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty” (Ruth 1:19-21). Should these lines meet the eye of a backslider, may I not ask, Is not this your picture — true as life? You went out full and now how empty — how desolate — what a life of bitterness. You remember the days when your name was “pleasant” — but what a change! The world tempted and promised; but what have you got? But do not say the Lord is against you. No, the Lord was not against Naomi, though she thought so. No, He hedged up her path! but it was to bring her “to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest” (Ruth 1:22). She went out in the days of famine, and she returned in the beginning of barley harvest. How little did the prodigal expect the ring, and the robe, and the fatted calf!
Blessed be the God of all grace, it is always so. However far the child may have wandered — however deep the sorrow and bitterness in departing — it is always the beginning of the days of barley harvest when he returns. Desolate wanderer! The Lord restore you to the home of His love! What blessing awaits you, and what blessing awaited the bitter Naomi. Not only is it the beginning of barley harvest, but Boaz, the lord of the harvest, is the near kinsman of the desponding Naomi.
A stranger goes forth to glean in the field. It is Ruth, the Moabitess. How like a sinner who first goes forth to hear the Word of Life — to glean a few ears of blessing. As a Moabitess, in herself she was an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, without God, and without hope. But something had drawn her from the house of death to the field of Boaz. It is so with the sinner, whose heart the Spirit of God has touched. Lost and guilty in himself, a stranger to God and peace, yet he is drawn to the place where the servants of Christ are reaping the field. And Boaz was there, and said unto his servant that was set over the reapers, “Whose damsel is this?” (Ruth 2:5). The servant tells him it is Ruth, and what she has done “from morning until now” (Ruth 2:7). He knew where she had come from, and who she was. And full well does the Holy Ghost, who is set over the servants of Christ, know who every sinner is, and where from, that is brought to Christ. And now Ruth hears the voice of Boaz: “Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens” (Ruth 2:8). What tender words! He did not drive her from his field as a worthless Moabitess. Oh, no! His words speak such a welcome to her stranger, desolate heart. Precious picture of Him who would not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.
“Come unto Me,” says Jesus, “all ye that labor and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). How blessed a fact this is: that, however vile and guilty, and however weak the desire after Him implanted in the heart by Him who draws to Jesus, in the presence of Jesus the sinner finds what Ruth found in the presence of Boaz — a perfect welcome. As Ruth heard the voice of Boaz, so says Jesus, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). “Go not to glean in another field,” says Boaz, “but abide here.” And, oh my young believer, abide with Jesus. Go not to seek pleasure in another field. Be not enticed to the ball, or the concert, to the world’s parties, or its false pleasures. Are you drawn to Jesus? Cleave to Him with purpose of heart. I remember a young person, whose heart the Lord had touched, who was persuaded to go to one more ball. She went. She danced. And she was taken from that dance, and laid on her dying bed. Her so-called friends excluded every person who might speak to her saddened heart of the love of Jesus. But they could not exclude Jesus. His is a love that changes not. It was learned from the nurse, that before she departed she had peace with God. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35). Let, then, the thought of His love keep you from gleaning in another field. This tender warning is the more needed in our day, as so many seem to be with Christ one day, and with the world the next.
Boaz said, “And when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink” (Ruth 2:9). How like the words of Jesus! “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37). The prophet also crying of Him, said, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1). And in the last words of Jesus, again, we hear, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6). “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Precious grace!
“Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” (Ruth 2:10).
Yes, it was grace that bowed Ruth to the dust. And is it not the grace of God that leads you to repentance? She said, Why have I, a poor Moabitess, found grace in thine eyes? And can my reader say,
Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter whilst there’s room?
Oh, why have I, so unworthy, such an outcast — why have I found such grace? It is all grace, perfect love to the guilty sinner — love that came and died for me, the Just for the unjust! Yes, when the grace of Boaz was known, that grace changed the mind and won the heart of Ruth! and no repentance is true, but that which is produced by the knowledge of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. When the poor sinner is brought really to know Him, then self is bowed to the dust — the mind is forever changed — the heart is forever won. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). What is so mighty and irresistible as the love of God?
And now Boaz comforts the desolate heart of Ruth. “Thou hast comforted me  ...  thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thy handmaidens” (Ruth 2:13). My reader may say, I am far from being like one of the Lord’s people; but can you say you have found a comfort in the Lord’s presence that nothing else could give you? Though your heart was sad and desolate, did not you find comfort at such a meeting, or when you came to glean at such or such a preaching? When you felt as if you would sink in despair, did you not find comfort in your own closet, when none heard you but the God of all grace? You may be afraid to say you are a Christian. But are you a gleaner? Has God put a thirst for Himself in your heart? Have you found comfort in Him, when none could help? Then take courage. He that has begun a good work in you will carry it on until the day of Christ.
And Boaz said, “At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar” (Ruth 2:14). Oh hungry soul, how free is the Bread of Life! How tenderly did Boaz reach her the parched corn. “And she did eat, and was sufficed, and left” (Ruth 2:14).
When the King sits at His own table, how satisfied the soul who feeds on Him. What unspeakable delight when the soul thus feasts for the first time with Him. I shall never forget the joy and awe I felt when I saw for the first time the table of the Lord, where there was none to preside, but Jesus Himself. Wondrously sweet is the communion of souls who thus own Him.
But still Ruth is only a gleaner. And Boaz said, “Let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not” (Ruth 2:16). Oh! how like the ways of our God. Timid gleaner, have you never found handfuls of blessing, dropped on purpose for you? How suited such a word was to you. What a handful you picked up in such a promise. Perhaps you did not know how God had ordered all this on purpose for you.
Thus does this beautiful history picture forth, step by step, the gracious ways of our God, with many a timid soul. The first budding forth of desire after God, in the going forth to glean — the finding a little blessing among the stubble — then the voice of the Shepherd — thirst and the freeness of the Water of Life — repentance — the full moral bowing down and judgment of self in the presence of divine grace — communings with the Lord — the Bread of Life — the Lord Himself — the soul filled with blessing, on purpose from the Lord — the gleaning from the Word, the beating and the eating. What a picture, I say, of the drawings of divine love.
And yet Ruth had not found rest. “Then Naomi her mother-in-law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” (Ruth 3:1). This brings us to a deeply important and practical part of the subject. Many a dear child of God does not get a step beyond this. You may have been drawn to Christ — have found Him precious — had sweet communion with Him — thirsty, you have drunk of the Water of Life and hungry, you have eaten of the Bread of Life. You may have enjoyed all the comfort and blessing described above, and yet not have the knowledge and enjoyment of the true ground of solid rest in God. You are happy when enjoying blessing, but when trial and temptation come, you doubt whether you are really a child of God. “Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” (Ruth 3:1). God now enable me to write, and you to see, the true ground of rest.
The scene now is entirely changed. It is now no longer the gleaning and the beating. The Martha character ends and the Mary place begins. Ruth is not in the field, but at the feet of Boaz, like Mary at the feet of Christ. She no longer gleans ears of barley. Boaz himself is her kinsman; and if she got one measure, by her gleaning and beating, she now receives six, and is sent away. But six is not the perfect number, and still she has not rest. However filled my reader’s soul may be with blessing, mere blessing is not the ground of rest.
Then said Naomi, “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day” (Ruth 3:18).
It is of the first importance to note this, that as Boaz thus undertook for Ruth, and could not himself be in rest until he had finished the work he thus undertook, even so our adorable Substitue (I speak of all believers) undertook for us, yes, so took our place, that He could not be in rest Himself until He finished the work that gives us rest in the presence of God forever.
“It is true,” said Boaz, “that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I” (Ruth 3:12). “Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down” (Ruth 4:1). He also takes ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit ye down here. And they sat down” (Ruth 4:2). And lest there should be any after misgivings or complainings, he tells the other kinsman the whole case of Ruth, and gives him the first and fullest opportunity of redeeming Ruth and her lands. The other kinsman can manage well with the land, but cannot possibly either redeem Ruth, or “raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance” (Ruth 4:5). “And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it” (Ruth 4:6).
Now there was in olden times a very curious custom in Israel, “concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel” (Ruth 4:7). This was the end of all controversy; the very end of all claim by the other kinsman. “Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe” (Ruth 4:8). Thus the ten men of the city were witnesses, that the claims of the other kinsman were ended. He could not redeem. He could not raise up the name of the dead. He could not give rest to poor, desolate Ruth. And who is it, and what is it, that has had the first and the fullest opportunity of saving and redeeming the poor, lost, guilty sinner? It is the law. The other kinsman could do very well with the land. And most excellent and necessary is the law, for God’s moral government in the world. But can the law, which utterly condemns the sinner, redeem the sinner? Impossible! it can only curse him (Galatians 3:10). Can it raise from the dead? Never! that would be to mar its own inheritance, for it is the inheritance of the law to kill; but not to make alive. For hundreds of years it had the fullest opportunity of saving men, but could it do so? No. As the ten elders bore witness that the other kinsman could not redeem, so the ten commandments bear witness, that, on the principle of keeping law, no man can be saved. If my reader were perfectly righteous, and continued so, in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them, then could it give you life? But is this the case? No, does not each of the ten condemn you? Have you not sinned in thought, word, and deed? You may hope to be righteous some day, by keeping the law. But is it not written “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain?” (Galatians 2:21). How can you then find rest and life in that which is the ministration of death? (2 Corinthians 3:7). And if the plucking of the shoe proved the ability and claims of the other kinsman to be ended, how much more when Jesus took the writing of law, and nailed it to His cross? Does He not prove both the utter end of all question of the law’s ability to save, and the utter end of its claim on the sinner also? Oh why, then, would you cling to the other kinsman? Why go back to the law, which can never redeem the guilty sinner?
What the other kinsman could not do, that Boaz did do. For he could not be in rest until he had finished the matter. The very elders were witnesses, not only that the other could not, but “Ye are witnesses this day  ...  Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance” (Ruth 4:9-10). Oh, what a day of gladness for poor Ruth! What a perfect work did Boaz finish for her that day — what a complete change for her — what perfect rest! No longer the poor, sorrowing, outcast Moabitess — no more gleaning and beating — no more coming and going — no more enjoying blessing with Boaz one hour, and away from him desolate the next hour. The stranger gleaner is now one with him forever. They two have become one, to part no more. Perfect rest! Happy Ruth! the love that redeemed you will never part with you — nothing will separate you from his love. You had nothing to bring to him. Boaz had all to give for you. You are purchased to be his wife. Nobly did he undertake for Ruth, and nobly did he finish the work that day. There was joy that day in the gate of Bethlehem. All the people, and the elders in the gate, bore witness, with great rejoicings, of the perfect redemption of Ruth, and her marriage to the mighty man of wealth.
Is it not even so? What the law could not do, God has done, in the sending of His beloved Son.
Three things gave Ruth perfect rest: redemption, resurrection, and marriage — union with Boaz. And what but these three things, in Christ, does the believer need, to give him solid, everlasting rest?
Let me repeat them: nothing short of redemption, resurrection, and union with Christ, can give the lost sinner rest.
Redemption. It is the happy, present, sure privilege of all believers to say “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to [not our good deservings, but] the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Redemption through the death of Jesus on the cross is the foundation of everything. Beyond this, the other kinsman has no claim whatever. The law could not reach beyond the cross. There it was nailed. The death of Christ is the very end of the law’s utmost possible claim. It cannot go beyond death. And Jesus undertook for us just there. He so really took our place in death, and became a curse for us, that He could not, like Boaz, be in rest Himself until He had finished the work of redemption perfectly for us. He did not merely appear to undertake for us. It was a deep reality. “Made Him to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Oh my reader, ponder this well. Your doings or your feelings had nothing to do with this. If you are a believer this vast work was undertaken for you, and finished for you, without your asking. It was the love of God.
After the kinsman had once plucked off his shoe, the case of Ruth could never, on his behalf, have a second trial; the question was settled forever. It was so with the law. It was a schoolmaster unto Christ. But though man had a fair trial until the cross under law, it could only condemn him. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). And again, the Apostle says, “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Oh! let it be remembered, then, that after this, the cross, man can never be put on his trial again under the other kinsman, law. It has been once and forever proved that he is only lost and guilty, and the law cannot give him redemption, a new life, and rest with God. Any attempt to get back past the cross, and put oneself on trial again under the law, is sheer madness. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” (Galatians 3:10). This ends the question. The blessed cross is the end of the law, and the beginning and foundation of grace — the grand barrier, so that they that would pass from one ground to the other cannot. If of my works, it is no more God’s grace. Let us now pass on to the resurrection.
The death of Jesus, the propitiation for our sins, could never have given rest to the guilty sinner without the resurrection. This is the very point insisted on, where it is written, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). How this marks the deep, real responsibility Jesus undertook for us. If perfect redemption were not made by Him in the giving up His precious life, He could not rise again. If we were still in our sins, unredeemed before God, He must remain among the dead. If our sins are not purged away, He cannot be raised for our justification. He cannot be in rest Himself, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, unless He has forever purged our sins. Now the question is this: Has God raised Him from the dead for our justification or not? Is He raised up on high, and there sat down or not? Most assuredly He is. Then this settles forever the question of our sins. It proves beyond all doubt that they are put away by the death of Jesus forever. So long as Jesus sits above, in that very body which hung on the tree, bearing our sins, so long is He our righteousness, and God’s assurance to our souls, that our sins and iniquities He will remember no more. Yes, the resurrection of Jesus, who is now gone up on high, is the answer of our conscience before God. And far more still. For whatever God did to Christ in raising Him from the dead, He has also done to us in Him our Substitute. Yes, “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). So that, just as the condition of Ruth was no longer what she was in herself as a poor outcast Moabitess, but what she was as the honored bride of Boaz, so the condition and standing of a believer before God, is no longer what he is in himself as a guilty, condemned sinner; and most certainly not what he is, or would be, if put on his trial again under law. No, these old things are entirely passed away, and his condition and standing is entirely of God in Christ, the Head of the new creation. Ruth had nothing to bring to Boaz. But what riches had Boaz for Ruth! The sinner had nothing to bring to Christ. But what has not Christ for the sinner? Redemption, life, union. Just the three things that Boaz had for Ruth. She not only needed one to redeem her, but death was written on her house. We not only needed redemption, but also life, as “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 3:12). We have redemption through His blood. His resurrection is our life — not the old man made alive. It was not the old dead husband of Ruth raised again to life, but a new husband. Regeneration is not the old man raised to life again, but an entirely new life — the resurrection-life. Nor are we put again under the old husband, the law; but “ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him that is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4).
Surely my reader must see, that when converted, we are not married again to the law, that we should bring forth sin — that which the law always brings out. No, “We are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). May God give my reader understanding in these things. If we are led of the Spirit, we are not under the law.
Why should Ruth desire to go to the kinsman, who could not redeem her; and why should the believer desire to go back to the law, which could only curse him? Beware my young Christian reader, for many whom you little suspect would seduce you from Christ. Think not that I would teach that God has set aside His law. No, as the ten elders bare witness of the perfect redemption and union of Ruth to Boaz, so the fulfilled law bears witness. Yes, the death of Christ for His own is the great fulfillment of the law. The law demanded the life of the sinner. Jesus gave His life for the sinner, and the law sits in the gate, a fulfilled witness of the righteousness of God — not passed over slightly — no, fulfilled to the utmost.
I trust my reader now sees, that happy feelings, or the consciousness of blessing, cannot form the true ground of rest, but perfect redemption through the blood of Christ; that the certainty of this is proved by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and, even more than this, that every believer is now one with Jesus; that the very expressive figure of marriage is used to show this wondrous union. When an Emperor of France married a wife from England, she ceased to be an Englishwoman. She might still have an English nature, but her standing became French; yes, it became what the standing of the Emperor was. Her former station ceased and became dead as it were. So with Ruth. She ceased to be the poor Moabitess, and became one with the wealthy Boaz. It is so with every believer, the moment God the Holy Ghost leads the soul to rest in the finished redemption of Christ; forever afterward, the former old standing in guilty self is reckoned to cease — to be dead — and marriage is marriage before God. The married woman can never again be Miss So-and-so. Is it not equally true that the Christian now made one with Christ, can never return to the station and standing of what he is in himself? What he is in himself has been judged on the cross, and now ceases for ever before God. He, like the Empress, may still have the old nature; but the old standing of condemnation never can be his again. There is not such a thing; as it is written, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Oh my reader, if you are a believer, however poor and unworthy in yourself, all this is true of you. You have redemption through His blood. You have His risen life in you. You are one with Christ. Nothing can ever separate you. He will not die again and leave you a widow. You never can be more united to Him than you are, and therefore your everlasting rest never can be more sure than it is. He has undertaken for you. Who shall lay anything to your charge? “It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? 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.” Can you not triumphantly say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:33-35).
In conclusion, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
All is blessed certainty. Risen with Christ — sat down with Him — perfect rest! How could Ruth ever doubt the love of Boaz? All the people and the elders were witnesses. Was it presumption then for her to be quite sure? Impossible! How can you doubt, then, my fellow-believer? He loved you and gave Himself for you. You are His and He is yours. It is not presumption. God is witness — the elders bear witness — ten thousand times ten thousand bear witness — all creation shall bear witness. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (Romans 5:12).
Farewell, then, to doubts and fears. No more comings and goings — no more gleanings and beatings. Farewell to the land of Moab — farewell to a deceitful world. You are one, redeemed sinner, with yonder Christ in glory. That home above — that scene of love — is yours forever. There, set your affections. There, poor desolate wanderer, is your everlasting rest.

Jonathan or One Thing Lacking

My attention was called, at a reading meeting some time ago, to the sad circumstances of the death of Jonathan on Mount Gilboa. Israel fled from before the enemy, and fell. Saul was slain, and his three sons were slain with him. It was the total overthrow of the kingdom of Saul. What a sad picture — the body of Saul and the bodies of his three sons fastened to the walls of Bethshan! Was not this a sad, sad end for any man to come to? But for such a man as Jonathan to come to such a shameful end! How was this? why was this? and what is the lesson that God would have us learn for these last days, in this inspired history?
The turning point in Jonathan’s history is in 1 Samuel 18, and this also illustrates the turning point in the history of every soul born from above.
True, we find him before this a mighty man of the house of Saul. “Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba.” “And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear!” (1 Samuel 13:3). And again we find him a valiant man at the pass of Michmash. Ten centuries after these events, another could say, “I was alive without the law once” (Romans 7:9). “If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more  ...  an Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:4-5).
Now the turning point in the life of Jonathan was, in type, very much like the turning point in the life of Paul on his way to Damascus.
The subject opens. What a study! Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah. On the other side of the valley stood the adversary of the house of Saul — the defier of the armies of Israel. And there was no deliverer in the house of Saul. God sent a Saviour-king that day — that despised shepherd — a stripling. Ah, that despised one is God’s anointed king of Israel. The mighty foe was slain that day by the youngest son of Jesse. “And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Beth-lehemite” (1 Samuel 17:58). “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). Ah, Jonathan had looked across that valley of Elah, and beheld that terrible adversary, Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span; and Saul and all Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid. Not one day merely, or two, but for forty days, he thus presented himself, and with him all the armies of Philistia. How gracious of God to send to the camp that Saviour David, the unknown king! There he stood, having finished the work God gave him to do. Complete was that victory; the champion was dead, and the Philistines fled. Look at David now. Is not this a figure of that greater victory of David’s greater Son?
As Jonathan looked across the valley of Elah, so a soul is sometimes brought to look across the valley of death. And oh, how terrible the dismay if the great adversary is there, and all the sins of a past life there — all standing in dread array, like the hosts of the Philistines! May I ask you to look across the narrow deep valley, and tell me, has the Saviour Jesus been revealed to your soul as the Saviour David stood revealed to Jonathan? Surely the one is only a picture of the other. But there was reality and certainty to Jonathan, and this forever won his heart to David. This matter is so momentous — the valley that separates us from eternity so narrow — another, no, perhaps not another breath, and then, after death, is it to you the judgment? If so, surely you have greater cause for dismay than Israel had in that day. You may have been as mighty a prince in your day as Jonathan; Saul’s trumpet may have often sounded your praise; but has God revealed Jesus to your soul — the sent One of God — the despised and rejected sent One of God? Do you see Him? Then tell me, what are those wounds in His hands and His side? Sweetly do they speak to the heart, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:5). Look at the mighty Conqueror, the sent One of God. “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29). Oh, how wonderful the effect of simple faith in Jesus, as the One who has finished the work of redemption! Forty days had this adversary defied Israel; but for forty centuries had Satan defied man and dishonored God. Who but the holy Substitute could meet the adversary and maintain the glory of God? Yes, as David smote Goliath in the valley of Elah, so has Jesus met the whole power of Satan in the valley of death. My soul, it is well to meditate on this. Every sin that the accuser could bring against me has been borne by Jesus.
There were two things produced in Jonathan by this first revelation, so to speak, of David: he loved him as his own soul, and he stripped himself. Surely this was very simple and natural. How did he look in the face of that shepherd-youth who, taking his own life in his hand, with his sling and his stone had wrought such a great deliverance! And can you look at Jesus, who gave His precious life, who bore the wrath due to your sins, who shows you His hands and His side, who sweetly says, “Peace be unto you!”  (John 20:26)— when you know this, can you not love Him because He thus first loved you?
Thus, you see, faith must produce love. How beautifully simple is all this! But the stripping — why did Jonathan strip himself? Well, that other Hebrew of the Hebrews tells us why he did; and I think the one just explains why the other did it. I take these two because each of them was the finest Hebrew of his day. He was a noble Jew — that Jonathan of our type, and Saul of Tarsus was one of the finest Pharisees that ever stood up in his own righteousness. Turn to Philippians 3, and read the honest account he gives of himself. He says, “Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:6). This was what this Hebrew of the Hebrews could say; and oh, how many a poor Pharisee in our time sighs to say it! But now let us put Jonathan’s question to Paul. Why did Paul strip himself? How clear and simple his answer: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is  ...  of God by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9). Very beautiful and very becoming, surely, this stripping is! The despised Jesus, who died on the cross for his sins, now appearing to this Hebrew of the Hebrews, this Pharisee of the Pharisees, in glory above the brightness of the sun: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:5). What a change those words produced! In after-years, this Paul could write of the glorious One that had been delivered for our offenses, and raised from the dead for our justification, to be our subsisting righteousness — yes, that God had raised Him from among the dead, the holy righteous One, our perfect and everlasting righteousness before God and the whole universe (Romans 4:25; 5:18; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9-10). And oh, the peace of God that fills the soul that thus knows Him, and the power of His resurrection!
Now we must see that all which had exalted Saul the Hebrew of the Hebrews was a discount against Christ; and hence, oh how gladly he strips himself that Christ may be all! Is your heart thus knit to Jesus? and are you thus stripped?
As Paul stripped off all, so “Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle” (1 Samuel 18:4). What a sense of the worthiness of David the Saviour-king! As a military prince, this giving up of the sword is very significant. What a surrender! It is written of the enthroned four and twenty elders that they “cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou are worthy, Oh Lord, to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:10-11).
I take these, then, to be two very blessed marks of a Christian as illustrated in our Jonathan. Such a sense of the value of redemption through the blood of Jesus that the heart is knit to Him in love; and such a sense of what He is as our righteousness or justification, risen from the dead, as at once to strip us of the old robe of self-righteousness — yes, every rag, and sword, and girdle — all, all that is of self, its righteousness, its effort, fighting, and walk — all given up to Jesus the righteousness of God, Christ in resurrection.
And sure I am, dear reader, if Christ has not thus been revealed to you, as David stood revealed to Jonathan, nothing could induce you to give up your old robe, garment, sword, and girdle. If you cannot feel quite sure that your old robe is fit for the presence of God, the devil bids you hope that you may yet fight a better fight, and walk a better walk; it may be mass-making, law-keeping, rites and ceremonies — anything, if Satan can only keep you out of Jonathan’s stripping room, where you are nothing and Christ is all.
We will now look a little further at this instructive history (1 Samuel 19). Where Christ is truly known, there is not a mere momentary excitement, but abiding love to Jesus, and increasing faith in His finished work — such faith as must confess Him before men, at whatever cost. Surely we see this in Paul, and in all the members of the early church; and so I read in our chapter, “But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David” (1 Samuel 19:2). “Delighted much!” We should notice at this point of the history a striking parallel. At this time the kingdom of Israel was outwardly governed by the house of Saul. But God had rejected him and his house, and Samuel had anointed David; and faith knew him as the anointed and coming king. In like manner, faith now knows, from the record of God’s Word, that the glory of this world, with its kingdoms and its god, is all judged and about to be swept away at the coming of the King of Righteousness and Prince of Peace.
Well, so it was, I say, in Israel at this time. The hatred that is now manifested to Christ and His true followers was in a like manner shown by Saul to David and his true little band of men. Do not forget this, will you? for you will find the world’s hatred to Christ a true test of your own heart. Thus was Jonathan tested. “Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David” (1 Samuel 19:1). And what does the loving Jonathan do? He told David. Is not this beautiful? Oh that you and I may go and do likewise! Have you not at times been greatly surprised to find hatred to Jesus where you least expected it? You may have been invited to meet a few friends, nearly all professors. (Saul was a professor, by the way.) Very soon you find that any subject or person may be introduced for conversation except your much-loved Jesus, in whom you greatly delight. And as to the thought that He is the glorious coming King, you must not name such a thing. Oh, rise up from among these hypocrites! Go first and tell Jesus, and then speak for Jesus as Jonathan spoke for David; or, remember, if you do not, you, silently at least, deny your Lord, by even sitting with them who practically welcome Barabbas and say, Away with the returning Lord! “Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?” (1 Samuel 19:4-5). Now was not this a good confession? We find Paul in the same track: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5). And Jesus says, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). And as Jonathan spoke good of David, oh, cannot we speak good of Jesus? Has He not wrought a great salvation? Apart from Jesus, is there anything truly great or good? Has any other one glorified God about sin, as He has on the cross? Does any other thing or person give eternal life but the risen Jesus? Does any other thing give peace, even to a guilty conscience, but the blood of Jesus? I am not aware of anything in the history of the world, of all nations, that enables man to stand on the brink of the grave, that valley of Elah, and look steadfastly into eternity, and say, We are always confident. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
And far more, tell me, has not Jesus brought life and incorruptibility to light? Yes, though the self-existing One, by whom all created things began to exist; yet has He not through death taken a new place for man, beyond sin and death? And as the beginning of that new creation (Revelation 3:14), is He not what we in resurrection shall forever be, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54)? And is He so soon to be manifested who is indeed “God manifest”? — ineffable center of universal worship, whose smile shall fill a universe with joy! Oh, in these few remaining days of His rejection here below, shall we be ashamed of Jesus? As our Jonathan confessed David in the doomed house of Saul, so, and more, may we confess Jesus before this doomed world!
Come, let us now pursue our Jonathan a little further in 1 Samuel 20. Saul still seeks the life of David. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Galatians 4:29). But persecution marks out the true followers of Jesus: “Ye are they that have continued with Me in My temptations” (Luke 22:28). This was very tenderly expressed, but it showed how the heart of Jesus valued the faithful fellowship of His disciples, however dull, when the outward house sought His life, and took counsel to put Him to death. Surely this was beautifully foreshadowed in our chapter. Precious to David was the sympathy of devoted Jonathan. How it sweetened the bitter cup! Those words, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4) tell out fully how the heart of Jesus beats for all the members here below. And do they not also show how dear to Him is sympathy with the hated and persecuted ones? Oh, what a strange thing man’s hatred of Jesus was, and still is!
Have you not noticed, from that day to this, man’s hatred is in proportion to the Christian’s faithfulness to Christ? Is it not so? Who are really hated by the great outward house of our day but the despised few who desire to really tread in His blessed footsteps? Are any others slandered and hated as these? But from the days of Paul to this moment, the worst lie against Christ is this, that if we give to Him the honor of complete and everlasting salvation, without works of our own, that this doctrine will lead to disobedience, and carelessness of walk. How fully this lie is rebuked in our Jonathan — “Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee” (1 Samuel 20:4). Precious obedience, heart obedience, fruit of faith! I might point everywhere in the New Testament and find the same fruit. “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6) is the first impulse of the newborn Paul.
Is this the language of your heart to your precious Lord? — “Whatsoever Thy soul desireth, I will even do it for Thee” (1 Samuel 20:4). This goes very far beyond the law, good and holy and just as it was. It is the heaven-implanted desire to do the will of the Lord, even whatsoever He desireth me to do. And there was this readiness in Jonathan to serve David in the house of his father, and to show David the disposition of his father, be it kindness or hatred. I think we may say he was truly David’s man in the house of Saul.
Judging from outward appearance, David was the rejected outcast; and yet how beautifully faith knew him as the chosen of Jehovah! “And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul” (1 Samuel 20:17). And when the new moon was come, and the king sat in his seat, David’s place was empty; yet how fully did Jonathan confess David, though his confession brought down upon him the severe anger of his father Saul! “And he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die” (1 Samuel 20:30-31). Still Jonathan speaks good for David: “Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?” (1 Samuel 20:32). “If they have hated Me, they will hate you also.”
“And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him” (1 Samuel 20:33). Well did he now know the determined hatred of his father to David. How much his heart felt as the arrow of warning was shot we may gather from this: “As soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed forever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city” (1 Samuel 20:41-42). The sorrows of God’s anointed David were but shadows of the deeper sorrows of God’s only begotten Son, whether we look at the manifold sufferings by which He was perfected as the Captain of our salvation, or at the suffering of death, by which He is now glorified at the right hand of God. No doubt, the pressure on the heart of David was used in giving utterance to those then future sorrows of our Jesus.
But at this point of Jonathan’s history — and it is a solemn point — we must remember that David was now an outcast from the house of Saul, and that the Lord Jesus is at this moment an outcast from this world; that as Saul hated David, so, and more so, has this world hated, rejected, cast out — yes, murdered the anointed Christ of God; and that He is still the hated and rejected Jesus.
But there was another side of the picture. God had rejected the house of Saul, though He long bore with it — yes, during all the time of David’s rejection. And He had chosen and anointed David. And the Lord was with David, even as He was not with Saul. Surely Samuel knew this, and David knew this, though faith was sorely tried. And Jonathan knew this, as we shall see in his next and last interview with David.
But I must now tell you of the one thing lacking in our Jonathan. It is very painful to do so; shall I tell you why? Ah, there are so many Jonathans in our day! Is it not sad — to know Jesus, and to love Jesus, to confess Him, to delight much in Jesus, to desire to serve Him in this evil world, and yet to stop short of one — the crowning thing lacking!
What can this one thing be? My reader may say, through the grace of God, “All that you have said of this typical Jonathan as yet, is true of me.” You can, then, remember the time when God brought your sins before you, and the adversary was permitted to harass your soul, as Goliath defied the armies of Israel at the valley of Elah, and you found no deliverance, no peace, until the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to your soul, the sent One of God, and told you how He had finished the great work of redemption, and that through His precious blood your sins were forever gone, as the Philistines fled from the valley of Elah. And did this win your heart to Jesus, as Jonathan was knit to David? You may have had many a crushing of human pride since then. But can you say, “Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee”? and have you been stripped of all self-righteousness? are you fairly shut up to Jesus? is He all and you nothing? is He precious to your soul? Can you say, “I delight much in Him”? Sure I am He is much delighted in, even as we learn the emptiness of all else, and the worthlessness of all that is of man. And have you confessed Jesus in your own society — in, it may be, your own house? Have you held on, speaking well of Jesus in the face of all hatred and opposition? As Jonathan was David’s witness, David’s man, have you been the witness of Jesus? Has it been your delight to hold communion with and serve Jesus, as Jonathan delighted to tell David and serve him? If so, is it not painful that there should be all this and yet come short of the one thing lacking?
Did you notice the last few words as to our Jonathan? (1 Samuel 20:42). And David “arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.” And where did David depart to? In 1 Samuel 22 we find him in the cave of Adullam. “And when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 22:1-2). But there was one that was not with him, and that one was even our Jonathan. But perhaps you ask, “Is it possible that Jonathan knew of the coming reign of David, and was not with him?” Well, let us read Jonathan’s last interview with David, and we shall see there can be no mistake about that. “And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the Lord: And David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house”  (1 Samuel 23:16-18)— and that house the house of the rejected Saul. Yes, it is quite clear he well knew the coming reign of his beloved David; and as well did he know the rejection of Saul’s house; and yet he failed to go outside and take his place, the true place of faith, with God’s chosen and coming king.
Do you know, my reader, the end of the present age? Do you know that “when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)? — that “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17)? — that as the apostate house of Saul was cut off, so shall apostate Christendom be spued out of His mouth? Now do you not see much around you bearing this character of soul? What a day of blowing of trumpets! Let the Hebrews hear what we are doing! Never was there such a day of man’s doing and trumpeting. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). This is our Lord’s own description of the last state of the great outward doomed house (Revelation 3:15-20). Great in the world, indeed, was Saul when compared with the outcast David, but how wretched and miserable his end!
But do you know, my reader, that the earth-rejected Jesus is even now at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and that He will quickly come, and with an assembling shout call up His saints to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4); and that afterward He will come in judgment on them who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1); and that then the glorious reign of the now-rejected Jesus will surely take place? Do you say, Yes I know all these things will surely come to pass?
And do you know that God has by His Spirit gathered a few of the Lord’s redeemed ones to the now-despised Jesus, as David’s four hundred were gathered to him in the cave of Adullam? True, they were a sorry company, those four hundred, but they were gathered to such a David. Ah, had Jonathan been one of them, would his body have ever been fastened to the walls of Bethshan?
But it is high time to put the question to you: Where are you? Are you building wood, hay, and stubble in the great house of Saul — the outward, showy Christendom — that which professes to be the church of God, but which has indeed become the church of the world? Or have you taken your place outside the camp with the rejected but coming Jesus? Ah, I think I hear you say, Oh, those separated Christians, they are such dreadful people! So our Jonathan might have said of David’s four hundred. But what of Jesus? Is He not worthy that you should forsake everything and identify yourself alone with Him? You will find a few others, through mercy, in the same blessed place; though indeed the religious world tries hard to make them a sect, and as they were in the days of Paul, a sect everywhere spoken against. I do not mince the matter. There is the great outward house, like the house of Saul; and there is separation from it, and identification with Jesus in His rejection, like the four hundred with David; and if you are a Christian, you are certainly in one place or the other. Perhaps you say, I get my bread in this great worldly system. Well, that is, I grant a very serious matter. But so did Jonathan, and you see the end of it in his case — walls of Bethshan.
“But,” says another, “do you not see the influence I have, by staying where I am? what a congregation! what opportunities to speak for Jesus! Do you think I should have the same, or anything like the same opportunities if I took my place outside to the name of Jesus? And think how much my own relations would be against it! And to leave all the splendor and comfort of all that is admired in the world, where one can truly speak for Jesus.” Ah, my friend, Jonathan could have said all this; but why did he lose his reward for his service and love to David? and why did he come to the shameful walls of Bethshan? Was it not because he acted on the very same principle that so many act upon now? He clung to the outward, which God, had rejected, and failed to take his place with the poor and despised followers of God’s anointed one. You know, my reader, that God is not with the bazaars and worldliness and tolerated evil of the professing church. If you delight much in Jesus, if you desire to do whatsoever He desireth you, then surely His own voice will be heard in these precious scriptures concerning Himself. Oh, is it not sad to be spending your time in and for that which is to be destroyed at the coming of the Lord? Occasional visits and communion, and then back to the outward house of Saul — Ah, this will not do! You may have Jonathan’s four marks of true conversion to Christ and yet lose your reward.
Like Jonathan, you may have been filled with love to Jesus, beholding Him the Lamb of God that has put away your sins (1 Samuel 18:1);
Stripped of self for Jesus (1 Samuel 18:4);
Made full confession of Jesus, delighting much in Him (1 Samuel 19:1-5);
You may have desired to do whatsoever Jesus desires (1 Samuel 20:4): but, as Rebecca left all for her coming Isaac, are you willing to leave all and take your place of devoted identification with Jesus?
We hear no more of our Jonathan from the sad, sad moment he left David in the wood of Ziph! (Oh, beware of doing the same!) until we come to the last chapter (1 Samuel 31) of his history.
And there will be a last chapter in your history and mine. It is not here a question of salvation: some shall be saved so as by fire, and all their works burned up (1 Corinthians 3). And did not Jonathan lose all the reward of his early devoted love and service? Slain on Gilboa with his wretched father, and his body nailed with his to the walls of Bethshan.
David’s lament shows how much Jonathan lost (2 Samuel 1). These are but a few feeble thoughts on this wondrous lesson. Do ponder it well. The dark cloud of judgment on the outward house of Christendom is gathering. Like the house of Saul, its days are numbered, and the glory of our Jesus is about to burst forth. Would you have an abundant entrance into His kingdom and glory? Then do not leave Him in the wood and return to the house. Blessed companionship with Jesus! Oh, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp [of the religious world], bearing His reproach!” (Hebrews 13:13). Saul’s javelin was allowed to miss David, but the world was allowed to nail Jesus to the cross. And “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). Can we be outside Saul’s house and yet alive in it?
Are you, my dear reader, dead with Christ? are you risen with Him? Then surely you are called to be, as it were, one of David’s four hundred — a witness of the dead and risen Christ. If you have been washed in His blood, saved by His finished work, then may He give you, and give me, grace to cleave to Himself with full purpose of heart!

Awake! Awake! Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh

Matthew 25:1-13
1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:  4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.  7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.  8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.  9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.  10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.  11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open up to us.  12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.  13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.
What a difference it would make in the professing church, if this, and similar portions of God’s Word, were really believed. Yet the ignorance and sleepy carelessness of the great mass of professors but proves the divine inspiration of this parable.
Let it be remembered that this parable was spoken before the present state of things had any existence; and yet, no person could now write a more striking description of the present state of that which bears the name of God on earth. True, it was spoken to the Jews; but its instruction to us is no less solemn.
Now, to come to the point at once, what would be the case with the multitudes who profess the name of Christ, if He should come at this moment? What would mere profession be worth — the lamp without the oil?
It is written, the “foolish  ...  took no oil with them” (Matthew 25:3). Yet they took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. How common this is in our day! Many think it is quite enough to belong to some religious society — a name to live, but dead. Perhaps, a beautiful lamp, but no oil, and no light. Is this my reader’s condition? Then there is not a moment to be lost — no, not a moment; for it is Jesus who says, “Surely I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20). Rest not a day, nor a night, until you know with certainty, that you have oil in your vessel.
These are the words of truth, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 24:44). And again, “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). Yes, (is it not the Lord Himself who assures us?) this awful event will take the world with as great surprise as did the flood in the days of Noah, and the overthrow of Sodom in the days of Lot. Now, to say the least, does not this subject demand a most serious consideration? However men may explain away the Scriptures, the fact is the same: we are evidently approaching this great event — the coming of the Lord.
The very world seems conscious that some great event is at hand. If you have not got oil in your vessel, then what a terrible day is at hand! What a test this is! Look at it fully. Test your condition by this great event. Suppose the trumpet sounds, to call the dead and living saints to meet the Lord in the air, in one hour from the time you read these word (and who can say it will not?), now are you ready to meet Christ? Does the thought give you joy? Are you sure you are His — that your sins are pardoned — that He is your Saviour, your righteousness, your sanctification, your all? Does your heart long to see Him who has loved you and given Himself for you? Oh, what joy then, to know that in one hour you may see Him, and be like Him! Before God, is this your blessed hope? Or, are you afraid to think of the possibility of this taking place in one hour?
I must speak out, from close observation, and careful comparison of this parable with the actual state of things in this day, It is evident we have arrived at the time when the alarm must be sounded. The Lord grant that the timely warning may be heard.
Is it not fearful to contemplate how few know with certainty, or even wish to know, that they have oil in the vessel? In our day, it seems quite enough to be a member somewhere, and then fall fast asleep. If any one questions the truth of these statements, let him faithfully and affectionately put the question to all the members of any church or society, in almost any town; and the answer from at least five out of ten will be, “I hope I have oil in the vessel, but cannot say with certainty whether it is so or not.” So let me press home the madness of leaving this solemn question in uncertainty.
The moment is fast approaching when, the door being shut, it will be utterly in vain to cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us” (Matthew 25:11). How fearful the sound of those words, “I know you not” (Matthew 25:12). Who can conceive the everlasting anguish of heart to reflect on a life of self-delusion — and for a lost soul to say, “I was a professor, a teacher, or a preacher! I have often read the parable of the ten virgins. Oh, fool that I was! little did I think my own case was described in that parable.”
My readers, let me ask you, point-blank, Are you saved? Have you the blessed assurance, that God has for Christ’s sake forgiven your sins? Have you received Christ? Let me once more remind you — it does not matter a straw what profession you make — if you have not got Christ, your profession will only aggravate your misery. These are the words of Him whose name your bear, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). Oh dead, sleeping professor, Behold He cometh. What would you think, if you saw a child trying to stop a railway train? Just as soon will human reason and unbelief hinder the coming of the Son of God. “Every eye shall see Him” (Revelation 1:7). The moment is fixed. What a moment for this world! What a moment for the five wise, and what a moment for the five foolish! What a moment to you and me! Glorified in the presence of Christ, or cast into outer darkness. Momentous question. Oh sleepy world, awake, awake!
And blessed be the God of all grace, what an awakening there has been, and still is in so many different parts of the world. Among all classes, the mighty power of the Spirit of God has been felt.
Cold professors, empty lamps, have been awakened from the sleep of death. The drunkard, the harlot, the most careless and hardened, have been suddenly awakened to the awful sense and burden of sin. No words can describe the agony of soul through which they have passed. Thousands, and tens of thousands, have been brought to enjoy the blessed certainty of God’s pardoning love and righteousness, the Holy Spirit assuring their hearts that the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin.
God has been pleased to use the humblest means in accomplishing this mighty work. I have seen one after another brought to hear the Word by a servant girl. She continued in prayer for them, and, in answer to prayer, they were immediately brought to God, and found peace. Little boys have gone into the street, and brought in careless sinners, who have gone out justified from all things. In one place a blind infidel, in another, a cursing old sailor were utterly broken down with the sense of sin, and then filled with the joy of Christ. Old men from seventy to eighty, and little children of six, have been alike brought to know the certainty of salvation through the blood of the Lamb. Whole families converted! Yes, and though fifty miles, or even hundreds of miles apart, were converted at the same time.
Oh! do not all these things say, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Matthew 11:6)?
One word more as to the lamp. A man must have oil in his lamp, or he cannot have a steady light. Oil first, and then the light. He may light the wick without oil. There may be a great blaze for a moment, but it cannot endure. How soon it goes out!
In like manner a man must have Christ first, then the light; he must have the Holy Spirit first and then a holy walk will follow. A sinner trying to get salvation by a holy walk is like a man trying to get oil by burning the cotton.
If this is your case, my reader, if you have been seeking salvation by good works or a holy life, if you have ever made a great effort to be a better person, yes, and for a time have made a flaming profession that you were a better person, then let me ask you to take an empty lamp, and polish well the outside; put in your wick, but put no oil with it; place it on your table at night, light the wick, and sit down and watch it. Ah! what a flame for a moment; but I think I hear you say, as it goes out, “Ah! that is I; I have done my best to burn, but my lamp is gone out.” Man’s utmost effort ends in darkness. Oh, how many who once appeared flaming lights are now in the darkness of despair! They never had Christ, and therefore could not endure. We cannot alter God’s order. There must be the cause before the effect. The flame would as soon produce oil as good works produce salvation. The five foolish virgins found, to their cost, that the one thing they needed was oil. “Give us of your oil” (Matthew 11:8), they said, when it was too late.
What a wail of despair will arise in that day from multitudes who have had the formal lamp of profession, but have never had Christ in their hearts. There is a solemn danger in the present day to the children of Christians who grow up attached to the sect that their parents belong to. These, with an empty lamp, slumber in false security, or sincerely striving for a time (without oil) to imitate the light of their parents, become discouraged by repeated failure. Satan whispers, “It is all a sham”; and they are but too ready to be snuffed out, in infidel darkness.
Anxious, awakened soul, do you say, “Tell me how I may get oil for my empty lamp — salvation for my perishing soul. How can I be ready to go in and be with Christ, before the door is shut on all without?” Ah! is this the cry of your wounded heart? Then I have good news for you. All is done; God has fulfilled His promise, in that He has raised up Jesus from the dead. Precious, bleeding Sacrifice, Thou hast finished the work which Thy Father gave Thee to do. Lamb, once slain, alive again! And, oh, awakened, sinner, however deep the crimson dye of your sins, through this dead and risen Christ is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things (Acts 13:38-39).
Better news God could not send you, more sure news God could not make it. If God were to appear to you this moment, and speak to you face to face, He could say no more. It could not be more sure; it is the Word of God to you — forgiveness of sins to you, my reader. Is not this what your burdened heart wants — to be justified by God Himself from all things? I think I hear my reader ask, “How can I know with certainty that I am justified from all things?”
Tell me two things, and I will tell you a third.
1. Do you believe with certainty that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross, the sacrifice for sins?
“Oh, yes, I believe that in my very heart.” How do you know this? God says it in His Word; that is how you know, is it not? “It is.”
2. Do you believe with certainty that God has raised up that same Jesus from the dead?
“Yes, with certainty, I believe that in my very heart.”
How do you know this? “By the same bare testimony of God’s Word.” Then I will tell you a third thing. That same sure Word of God says, “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Now if I am certain of the first and second, why not of the third?
I know Jesus died for sins; God’s Word says so. I believe God. I know, then, that I am justified from all things; God’s Word says so. Yes, God says plainly, “all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Oh awakened soul, ponder these words of life. It does not say, He that feeleth, or he that does; feeling and doing will come after; it says, “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39).
Do you believe that Jesus died, that Jesus rose again? Then why not believe what God says to you, and to every sinner that believes? He says you are justified. Oh, what deep, unspeakable joy this gives to every soul that believes what God says! Do you, I ask, believe God? Then you can no more doubt the certainty that Christ died, than doubt the certainty that you are justified. Your feelings and doings have no more to do with one than the other. Christ has died the sacrifice for sins. God has accepted the atonement, for He has raised Jesus from the dead. You believe this in your heart, and God declares you are justified. Blessed unchangeable truth! Have you thus heard the voice of Jesus — the call of God? Jesus says to you, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth in Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
Ah! all here is positive, real, everlasting. Away with doubts and fears; away with a negative, dark, uncertain, false Christianity. To the soul that believes these words of Jesus, all is positive, clear, certain; yes, everlasting truth. Oh reader! do you hear the words of Jesus? do you believe on God who sent Him? Then He who cannot lie says, You have everlasting life. Could Jesus speak more plainly? “Hath everlasting life.” Oh, how many souls have been gladdened with these words of late; and why not your heart? why should you any longer be in doubt, since Jesus speaks so plainly to your anxious soul? God in His Word, and by His Holy Spirit, thus witnesses to you; you need no greater witness than God. Faith is the gift of God. Do you believe God? then surely you have heard His Word, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Yes, for your comfort will I read you a verse of God’s soul-sustaining truth, wherein you may see how completely salvation, from first to last, is wholly of God, and, therefore, cannot fail: “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). Solid rock, this, my reader; all, all of God; from beginning to end — all of God. Rest, Oh my soul, in God. Have you been called of God? Have you believed God? Then your justification is as certain as your call; and everlasting glory as certain as both. Arise, poor drooping sleeper, and awake to the certainties of (God; predestinated, called, justified, glorified. Enough, my God, enough. Glory, everlasting glory be to Thee, my God; Thou art my Justifier through the blood of the Lamb.
Once more. Have you, my reader, received the record of God? “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life” (1 John 5:11-12). Yes, if you have believed the record of God you have received Christ; you are saved; you have oil in your vessel; now for the light; now for a holy life. Stop, don’t mistake; it is no use trying for a holy life if you are not sure first that you have oil in the vessel. The objecting unbeliever will say, “Oh, this man means to say, if we only believe we may go on in sin, it is no matter; good works and a holy life are of no use at all.” I answer plainly, Good works and a holy life are of no more use for salvation, than the burning of the wick is for oil. But I should be foolish indeed to say the oil was of no use for giving and sustaining light. No, without the oil the wick will not give light; and equally true is it, that without Christ first — without salvation first — there cannot be good works and a holy life. It is thus Paul and every true servant of Christ, since his time to the present moment, have had to battle against the false, absurd doctrine of works for salvation. The sons of darkness cannot see this, and hence the hue and cry of slander. (See Romans 3:8.) We fully confess “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). “Being justified by His grace” (Titus 3:7). Then, says the Apostle, “I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8).
This is the simple, clear truth of Holy Scripture — oil first, and then the lamp burns. Salvation first — God’s free gift — then a holy life. Oil for light, not light for oil. Christ for a holy life, not a holy life for Christ. This is the immense difference between the truth of Scripture and the lie of darkness; the one sets forth Christ first, the salvation of every believer, and the power of the Spirit for a holy walk. This gives peace, joy, the certainty of salvation, and also power for holy works.
The other sets forth works first, with the vain hope that if they can be performed the soul may then be saved; and, sad to say, this is pretended to be the gospel of Christ. Alas! the soul, under such blind teaching, is left, like the lamp without oil — in helpless darkness; sometimes a little flickering of hope and then the sinkings of despair.
Has God now delivered you, my reader, from this awful darkness? Are you now certain that you have oil in the vessel? Christ in your heart? that His words are true? you have eternal life? Oh, has God thus shone in everlasting mercy upon you? Then “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” (Read Romans 12.)
It is only to the children of God who are saved that the precious precepts of God’s Word are addressed. Then, my fellow-believers, we who are saved with an everlasting salvation at such a cost, let us arise and trim our lamps. Have we not burnt too dimly? We are called to show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Oh, how we have failed! What conformity to this world! what worldliness! what carnality! what self-will! How little subjection of heart to God! What disgraceful sectarianism! How little real love to all God’s redeemed children! How little seeking to win souls to Christ! How little real secret communion with God, without which the outside is mere sham!
Come, let us return in confession to our loving Father. Let each one, with lowliness of heart, spread out his whole case before Him who is faithful and just to forgive, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Lord is at hand. Behold, the Bridegroom cometh. The lamp must be trimmed. Now may the Lord take off the charred crust, and so fill us with the Holy Ghost, that the little while before we see our Lord may be spent in the full light of His presence.
O my fellow-believer, the Lamb is worthy of your whole heart! Yield all to Him, body, soul, and spirit. Yes, all — time, property, thoughts — all, all to Christ. Keep not back part He kept nothing back. He gave all — Himself for you. Was ever love like His? Oh happy, saved, pardoned, justified child of God, hear the cry — the midnight cry — Awake! awake! and brightly shine. Christ is your light, your life, your all. By His agony and death; by His tears and groans; by the blood, and by the water that came from His pierced side; by His pierced hands, and pierced feet; by the bowing of His head, and giving up of the ghost; by His resurrection and glory; by His appearing in the air, to call you to Himself; by His smile and by His welcome; oh, awake! awake! shake off your worldly slumber; prepare to meet your Lord. Behold, He cometh; go ye forth to meet Him. Oh God! grant that the henceforth of our little while may be spent to Thee. May not only our words and actions, but the very motives of our hearts, bear the light of Thy countenance. Keep us, oh, keep us, by Thy mighty power.
Rejecters of Christ — cold, empty professors — a few more words and tears for you. Think of those words, “And the door was shut,” “I know you not.” Satan’s world is now your choice; what will it afford you in that coming hour? what will property be worth then? what pleasure will sin afford then? what will the applause of men and Satan be worth then? Look that day in the face, and tell me, What is there worth having when compared with Christ? How fearful the choice of the human heart. Have you chosen Satan’s world for your portion here? Then hell will be your doom forever; and time is so short. May God awaken you from your fatal sleep.
The form of godliness without the power will be of no avail at the coming of the Lord; only those who had oil in their vessels went in. Yes, all who have not the Spirit of Christ will be left out; and then, oh, think of the fierce day of the wrath of Almighty God! We know not the moment when the blood-bought church of God shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Many things have doubtless to be fulfilled before the Lord of glory shall come to this earth in judgment on the living nations. But I do not know a single prophecy which has to be fulfilled before Christ may come to take up His saints to meet Him. Let us then, my fellow-believers, be watching and waiting to meet our Lord. Oh, what will it be to see that face, that smile — the warmth and depth of whose love no pen can write, no tongue can tell! Ah, sorrowing, suffering child of God, wait a little while, and you shall enter the joy of your Lord; you shall be tempted no more. And you shall see those that have gone before — it was hard to part, what will it be to meet — to meet to part no more! What is this world to us, who look for joys so lasting, so divine?
“I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). Oh think, you poor world-despised children of God, of the glory that awaits you, forever with, and like, the Lord!

Job’s Conversion or God the Justifier

The testimony of the inspired Word respecting this man of ancient days, Job, is that he was a genuine man of God, “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). His substance was very great, for God had blessed him with earthly blessings in earthly places. It is important to notice this, before Job is put into the furnace. The genuineness of his character is a settled question, on the testimony of God.
The testimony of the Word is also quite as clear respecting every child of God in this dispensation, however tried and buffeted he may be. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not blessed in earthly places, with a substance that may be destroyed, but we are blessed in the heavenlies in Christ. Mark the certainty — hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5). Thus the blessing of the believer, in these two chapters, Ephesians 1 and 1 Peter 1, is in very bright contrast with even the greatest man of the East.
Job’s inheritance might fade away — not so the believer’s.
Before entering, then, on this scene of fierce conflict, let the believer be well grounded, on the testimony of God, in what is absolutely certain to him. It is most clear by the Word of God that he has redemption through the precious blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins. His inheritance in the heavenlies could not be made more secure to him. For the Lord Jesus, who died for his sin, has been raised from the dead, and has gone up on high, to take and hold the possession of the heavenly places for him. Is it not then as sure to the believer as if he were there? That is, could he hold it more securely than Christ in glory holds it for him? Ah! it is a settled question — reserved for him in heaven. But it may be asked: Though a child of God, may he not fall, so as to lose it after all? No, that is settled too, for those “who are kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5).  Thus, trembling believer, does the testimony of God’s Word make all clear and certain to you. God’s testimony of Job was, that he was “perfect and upright” (Job 1:1). He fears God and hates evil. And again as to the standing of the believer now, how clear the testimony: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). “And ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). And is not love to God, love of holiness, and hatred of evil, the characteristic of every one born of God? (1 John 3:6-10). Thus did the testimony of God settle, at first, the blessing and character of Job, and thus now does the testimony of the Word settle the blessing and character of every child of God.
The veil of the invisible world, so to speak, is now drawn aside, Satan comes among the sons of God. He comes from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. This is that great adversary of whom Peter tells us, he walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. The Lord, in order to let us see what an adversary we have, puts a question to Satan: “Hast thou considered my servant Job” (Job 1:8). And Satan had considered the case of Job. Ah, often when we little suspect, Satan may be watching us and considering, with all the experience of ages, what temptations may be most suited to our particular case. Your door may be shut and you may forget, but there may be watching you, with the deepest malignity, that real person, that real adversary, Satan. He would be no more real if we saw him. God had blessed Job, and that is quite enough to fill the heart of Satan with hatred. And now begins the permitted trial of Job. There was a needs-be. And never are we permitted to be sifted by Satan, but there is a needs-be. With the real child of God, Satan is sure to outwit himself. God will make all work for the believer’s good.
Who would have thought it possible that Satan could have such power, if God had not thus revealed it to us in this book. Job’s sons and daughters are eating and drinking wine, like the world in this day, little thinking of the sudden destruction that awaits them. The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them; everything going on its usual way, Happy-looking world! How quickly and how well did Satan do his work! The Sabeans fell upon the servants and slew them with the sword. One servant alone escaped to tell Job. Men speak of enemies and of powerful armies; but how few remember the great adversary Satan, the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4); the great mover in the last scenes of human wickedness (Revelation 13:4). It was Satan who brought the Sabeans to invade Job. He is a murderer from the beginning. And while the servant was telling him, there came another and said: “The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:16). Strange as it may appear, Satan will again use this very same power. “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (Revelation 13:13).
“While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:17). Fearful as all this was, yet still more fearful tidings were at hand. “While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: and behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:18-19). Oh, what a pang it is to a parent’s heart when tidings come of the death of one child! but, sad as it was to Job, and fearful as was this first part of the conflict, Satan’s heavy artillery was not yet brought up. So far Job held his ground. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Again Satan, the accuser of the brethren, is seen among the sons of God, accusing Job. He has failed, in his attack, but he has not given up considering Job or seeking his overthrow.
God’s testimony is repeated. And ah! it is well if we go over again the blessed testimony of the Word, between the onslaughts of the deadly foe, It is in the very Epistle to the Ephesians, which shows us our glorious, secure standing in the risen Christ, that we are exhorted to take the whole armor of God, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, must not be forgotten. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:1). It is not with Sabeans, Chaldeans, fire and wind, but with wicked spirits in heavenly places, that we wrestle.
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6). Very blessed is it to know this; our life is hid with Christ in God. Satan may be permitted to burn our bodies at the stake, but he cannot touch the eternal life; this can never die. It is only to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.
“So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:7). Now, as Job’s blessings were earthly, in contrast to ours, which are heavenly; so his afflictions were bodily, in contrast with ours, which are spiritual. So, as Satan was permitted to act on the bodily flesh of Job, and thus plunge him into the deepest affiliation and sorrow — poor man, what a picture! he scraped himself and sat down in the ashes — in like manner Satan may be permitted to act upon our old carnal nature, so that, spiritually, we find from the crown to the sole of the foot there is no soundness in us, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores, Ah, it is then that Satan brings up his heavy artillery.
The first heavy blow that the adversary now aims at Job, is through the words of his astonished and irritated wife. She said, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). How very striking is Job’s reply. He, no doubt, saw the distress of his wife at his own affliction, and taking the brightest side, he gave her credit for meaning better than her words implied; and so he said unto her, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh” (Job 2:10).
He does not say, What a fool you are; but, you speak as one. “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). Really, was not Job a beautiful character? — surely, one of the fairest specimens of all the sons of fallen humanity. The Lord had said of him, “There is none like him in the earth” (Job 1:8).
It is remarkable that when the three friends of Job come, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, we hear no more of Satan. And what better weapons can Satan use than the words of mistaken friends? To be misjudged and misunderstood by those we love — surely this is bitterness. In this respect, even, what did our blessed Jesus endure, when He came to His own, and His own received Him not?
But to return to Job, We may form some idea of the bitterness of his anguish by its effect on his three friends. “They sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13). Such was the grief of Job; and such do I take to be a picture of the deep anguish of heart of many a true child of God, who, like Job, knowing redemption, but not knowing the living, loving, and all-powerful priesthood, of Christ, and finding, it may be, after years of happy enjoyment of Christ, so far as known, that the flesh is still so fearfully corrupt, beholds, it may be in one moment, every fond hope of a mended self blighted and destroyed. Job could not put a finger on a spot that was not a running sore. And the believer, sooner or later, must find that there is not a spot in his old self in which he can rest. Ah! it is one thing to talk, it is another to find, that all that I am of the first Adam is withered and dead before God. And it is very blessed when this is learned, to learn also the bright resurrection-side of sorrowing Job.
Chapter 3: Job at last opens his mouth, and Oh, what grief and wormwood! ending with these words: “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.”
It may have been just so with my reader. The true believer dreads nothing so much as sin, and yet that which he most feared, yes, sin  ...  to find sin, sin, sin, and to hate it, to fear it, to try hard to be entirely without it, and sometimes hope it is all gone, and still find it turn up again, and to find oneself no better, it seems to take away all safety — no rest, no quiet, but, as it was with Job, trouble comes. I know that until Job’s lesson is learned, it is so with every child of God. Yes, and just in proportion to your love of God and hatred of sin, is the bitterness of your sorrow. Has not sin, since conversion, felt most loathsome? Has it not weighed down your soul, until like as Job wished he had never been born, so have you not wished almost that you had never been converted? Ah! you might have to sit longer than seven days with your dearest friends before you could open your heart. You little expected to find that you were as bad as you find you are.
And now Satan renews the attack through friend Eliphaz. Poisoned arrows are shot through his lips in Job 4:3-8, “Thou hast instructed many” (Job 4:3). It is terrible when Satan can thus fix a poor believer’s thoughts on himself. “What!” says he; “is this you? You that profess so much — you that instruct others — you that are looked up to? Pretty dishonor you will bring upon the name of Christ, if all that you are comes out before the world! Your sin is fearful, from the very profession you make.” Yes, and sometimes he would fain persuade the trembling soul that its sin is so aggravated, by being so great a professor, that now it cannot be pardoned; and then, if that will not do, quick as thought he gives the thrust he gave Job, “Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same” (Job 4:8). “By the blast of God they perish” (Job 4:9). This is the thin end of Satan’s great wedge. It is the first insinuation that Job is a hypocrite. We shall find this wedge driven, blow after blow, as we go on in the book.
Let the believer beware of Satan’s wedge. He may in-sinuate: “Yes, it is all quite true for all those that are the Lord’s people. Certainly they have redemption through the blood of Christ. I do not want you to doubt that. But may I not ask,” continues Satan, “would you be so bad if you were a child of God? Are you not a hypocrite — think you?” Ah! this is a piece of ground over which, when the Christian goes, he gets a sore buffeting. But it is quite true that they that sow iniquity reap the same. And it will yet be true. By the blast of God they perish. But then this was misapplied to Job. It would have been misapplied to Peter, though he denied his Lord. It would have been right, applied to Judas. He sowed iniquity. He sought opportunity to betray his Master. Not so Peter. Though in the presence of temptation, he found himself utterly without strength. This is just the difference between a believer and a hypocrite. Sin is not the believer’s object; he does not seek opportunities to betray Christ, though like Peter in the presence of temptation, he may find himself as weak as water.
Now, it was this misapplication of truth that Satan so used in the speeches of Job’s friends. Chapter 6 shows that this gave Job a terrible shaking, He “said, Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea” (Job 6:2-3). “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me” (Job 6:4). This was a great mistake. They were the arrows of Satan. God was not against Job. If Job had but known it, God was for him.
How great is the distress of soul when Satan can thus insinuate that God is against the believer! How he will magnify every trial, every affliction! “There,” says he, “does not that show you are a hypocrite, and that God is against you? There now, He will deal with you as your sins deserve.” Yes, and how ready the unbelieving heart is to say, “It must be so. Surely no one felt such despairing feelings as I feel. The terrors of God set themselves in array against me. I thought I was such a good Christian, but now I find my sins deserve the lowest hell.” Ah! so deep was the anguish of Job under this temptation, that he desired God to destroy him. Whether asleep or awake, he finds no comfort. He finds none that understand his case. And thus he sinks in his bitterness, deeper and deeper.
And when the believer is really passing through these deep waters, how few there are that thoroughly understand his case! I only know of One such; I am going to tell about Him presently.
Chapter 8: Now friend Bildad takes his stroke at the wedge to drive it a little farther home. “Can the rush grow up without mire? Can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish” (Job 8:11-13). This is all true of the stony-ground hearers, but not true of Job, and not true of the soul that sincerely trusts in Christ. The water that is in him is a well of water springing up into everlasting life. “The hypocrite’s hope shall perish” (Job 8:13) but the feeblest sheep of Christ shall never perish. But if he looks at his own fancied greenness, at his own boasted goodness, this will fade away; and thus Satan gets the advantage. There may be much freshness of soul at conversion, like the green flag, but beware of trusting in this; for very often the reaction is in proportion to the exuberance of joy, when the real character of the flesh is found out. Then showers of darts are sent, such as: “Have I deceived myself?” “I do not feel as I did.” “Perhaps I have no root in Christ.” “The hypocrite’s hope shall perish” (Job 8:13). Then, Oh what darkness of soul, what perplexity! The eye is off Christ; the heart is listening to Satan. The very first question, even that of justification, is found to be unsettled. It was just so with Job at the close of Bildad’s speech. Beware, then, of Bildad’s stroke on the wedge!
Chapter 9: This chapter brings out the state of Job’s mind. He says, “I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?” (Job 9:2). He gets before God as Judge, and his perplexity is very great. He cannot answer God one in a thousand. “I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that Thou wilt not hold me innocent” (Job 9:28). Poor Job! he does not know now which way to turn. And is not this the case with every believer the moment he gets before God as Judge? How can he or you be just before God? Would not one sin of a thousand utterly condemn you? Yet this is the desperate struggle of Job and every human heart, to be just before God. “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me” (Job 9:20). How does God know that you are innocent? Very far from that. But at conversion you hoped you would then be innocent. Has it been so? Can you look up in the face of God as Judge, and say you have been innocent since your conversion? Impossible. Then, does not the thought of standing before God as Judge make you afraid? Certainly. Job felt it was utterly impossible to stand before God as Judge and be found just, and hence he felt his deep sense of the need of a mediator or daysman. “For He [God] is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Let Him take His rod away from me, and let not His fear terrify me” (Job 9:32-34).
Chapter 10. The thought of God as Judge fills Job with confusion. He gets to feel as if God were against him like a fierce lion. There is also breaking and humbling before God. But all is still darkness — the very shadow of death. What was the cause of all this? And much more, may I ask, what is the cause that many a dear child of God should be in this same darkness and uncertainty? Let us peruse the book, and we shall yet find out the cause.
Chapter 11: Job’s friend, Zophar, now speaks. He brings out the majesty of God, but it is only to crush Job. He sees that Job is wrong in seeking to be clean in his own eyes; and in his zeal he says, “Oh that God would speak, and open His lips against thee!” (Job 11:5). But it is not with him to show Job how he can possibly be a sinner and yet be justified. He can tell that if Job were not a sinner, then it would be most blessed with him; and that is all that Zophar, or mere human light, can do. This is human religion. I must try not to be a sinner, and then I shall be happy, and God will not be against me. Vain endeavor still, you find it — do you not? You are a sinner. How, then, can you stand before a holy Judge? There is the difficulty.
Job again makes his reply. He, too, can discourse well on the majesty of God in all His ways. But this cannot settle the question, How can a man that is a sinner be just before God? A man may be able to discourse well about the stars and the stones — he may be learned in all the learning of this world — and yet not be able to tell clearly how the sinner is justified before God. The dreadful thought still harassed Job that God was against him. Oh what can be so overwhelming as this fearful thought? To whom can you go if God be against you? The sun may shine, but, ah! it is not for you. You may try to flee from sin, but Satan pursues you, pressing it harder upon you. Job said to God, “Let not Thy dread make me afraid” (Job 13:11). This opens the way for Eliphaz to renew the attack.
Chapter 15: Eliphaz says, “Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God” (Job 15:4). This is still a sore temptation of Satan. When the soul is passing through darkness it often seems as if it could not pray — so different from what it was. “There now,” says Satan, “is not that a proof that you are nothing but a wicked person? Surely you must be a hypocrite,” “For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery” (Job 15:34). “The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (Job 15:20). “Ah,” says the believer, “that is just as it is with me. I do not enjoy prayer as I once did. I am filled with pain.” “Miserable comforters,” says Job, “are ye all” (Job 16:2). And then he becomes still more desperate. The thought comes again, God is against me! Why, He has delivered me up. “I was at ease, but He hath broken me asunder: He hath also taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for His mark” (Job 16:12). Says the believer, “how is it God allows me to be like this? How is it?” And then Satan pours in a volley of infidel thoughts, not to be put on paper.
Again the longing cry for the priesthood of Christ goes up from the heart of Job. “Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!” (Job 16:21).
Chapter 18: Bildad again takes his place in the contest. He means well, but his words are poisoned arrows. “The light of the wicked shall be put out” (Job 18:5). Yes, every word is perfectly true of the wicked; but how crushing to Job! Circumstances seemed to favor the charge. “How long,” says Job, “will ye vex my soul and break me in pieces with words?” (Job 19:2). “Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, Oh ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me!” (Job 19:21). Is it not astonishing that he should pass through so much, and yet have such clear light on some things? He says, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).
This is truly a bright beam of light in the midst of much darkness and confusion. And there may often be much knowledge of redemption and future glory, and much blessed, occasional comfort of the Holy Ghost, and still the question of justification not clearly settled. And note, this does not hinder Zophar again, in his turn, redoubling the attack.
Chapter 20: “The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment” (Job 20:5). This was a hard thrust after a moment’s relief. Job is somewhat stirred up, and gives a sharp rebut, by showing that sometimes the wicked prosper in this world.
Chapter 22: Eliphaz returns to the attack with fury. He says, “Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?” (Job 22:5). And now he strikes Job in the most tender place. He brings false accusations against him. “Thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for naught, and stripped the naked of their clothing. Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry  ...  .Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken” (Job 22:6-7,9). This makes the complaint of Job very bitter. He says: “My stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat!” (Job 23:2-3). Again Bildad repeats the great difficulty: “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4). This is no comfort, no help for Job.
Job now gives his last speech, his greatest effort to justify himself. Yes, this was the needs-be of all his trial and sorrow. His words are very touching. “Oh that I were as in months past  ...  as I was in the days of my youth” (Job 29:2,4). It is not, Oh that it were with me, but, Oh that I was. How like the mistaken longings of the soul that is being driven from self to Christ. There is a peculiar delusive pleasure in being satisfied with oneself. Very often after conversion the thought is, how much better I am now than I once was; how I do now walk in the ways of God. Some few are even so far deceived as to think the old nature is entirely changed, and that there is not a root of sin left in them. But, alas! when, the time of temptation comes, all this is leveled to the dust. Now, just read chapters 29 and 31, and you will say, if any man could have justified himself by good works, Job was the man. There is not a man in all your town that can say as much as Job said, and say it truly. As to his kindness to the poor, he was the very opposite of the lying charges brought against him. Thus he lets memory recount every good act of his life, but all fails to give rest to his troubled spirit. I, I, I, I did this, I did that. But it is all of no use. “Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended” (Job 31:40). Not so, Job; you will speak again, and though your words may be few, they will be full of meaning. Now, if Job could not be just before God, how can you? Let memory glance back along the track of life. What sins before God? Are your words ended? Are you dead beaten? Do you say, I cannot tell what to make of it? Then let Elihu speak.
This Elihu is a wonderful person — the very one that Job had desired — the daysman — type of our Great High Priest. The false charges had brought out the self-righteousness of Job, and against him was the wrath of Elihu kindled. Why? “Because he justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2).
You will find the last desperate effort to justify himself occupies six chapters. And how many chapters of many a Christian’s life are spent in the vain endeavor to justify himself, instead of owning himself a lost sinner, and justifying God, in justifying him, though a sinner, consistently with His own holiness and glory. This is the grand mistake, the cause of all the believer’s darkness and confusion. Let me put it plainly before you, my reader. Have you not been occupied with the thought of how you could be just before God? Has not the discovery of the impossibility of this being done, seeing that you are still a sinner, filled you with confusion and doubt? Sometimes you may have forgotten yourself and been happy in the love of God, when thinking of the work of your Redeemer, as Job did for a moment. But then the thought has come, with a pang, I am not what I ought to be, and how am I to be? I am not fit to stand before God, the Holy Judge. I am not just! It is all in vain to look over six chapters of your past experience, even if it were as good as Job’s. And you have tried so often, and been no better for trying, that you have lost all heart and all hope of being really what you ought to be — of being just before God.
Now what is all this but your best endeavor to justify yourself? God says that you are a sinner. You are doing your utmost to prove it is not so, and the discovery that you are a real sinner fills you with confusion. It is most certain you cannot stand before God as a Holy Judge, and be even innocent, much less just. Of all the millions that have trodden this earth, only One could stand before God the Judge; that One was the blessed Lord Jesus. The fire of God’s holiness might search Him through, and there was no sin found in Him. This only One, this Holy One, did stand before God the Judge as the substitute of His people. The divine judgment of the Holy God has been passed upon Him for our sins. And now God, in divine righteousness, is calling poor sinners, not to stand before Him as the judge, but as the Justifier. Oh blessed, Holy, Holy, Holy God, this makes all the difference! I cannot stand before Thee and justify myself, but Thou canst, Thou hast justified me, through the precious blood of Jesus. Oh what a home is Thy presence now for me!
We shall find this the burden of Elihu’s message. It is remarkable that the moment Elihu spoke Satan is silenced in Job’s three friends. “They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking” (Job 32:15). Oh that the tried and buffeted believer would also remember the words that are written for his comfort: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). Now, if these three men were amazed that Elihu should stand up as the advocate for Job, how amazed must Satan be when, after long tempting the child of God, he succeeds, in some unwatchful moment, to entangle him in sin? Straight he goes to accuse him before God. Yes, how amazed he must be to find in the high court of heaven that that unworthy Christian has for his advocate the Righteous One, who pleads His own blood. The very mention of the blood of Jesus stops the mouth of the accuser of the brethren. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). Believer, do think of this. Your utmost efforts to justify yourself can never stop the mouth of the accuser; it can only be stopped by the blood of the Lamb.
Elihu was for Job, but he was not for his self-righteousness. Against this was he wroth. When the blessed Jesus walked this earth, against nothing was He so wroth as against self-righteous Pharisaism. At this He was filled with indignation. You may have been deeply grieved that you could not be self-righteous, so as to justify yourself. The very attempt has grieved Him more. But, though Elihu was so grieved at Job’s great mistake, yet, oh! how his heart yearned over him! He says: “Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. I will speak, that I may be refreshed” (Job 32:19-20).
Fellow-believer, high above yonder thrones and dominions, in that bright glory, there is a Man whose tender human heart yearns for you and me. Oh brightness of the Father’s Glory — didst Thou not take my nature for the very purpose of being a merciful, faithful, tender, loving High Priest? Thou art in the presence of God for us! Thine heart is refreshed in speaking for poor, unworthy me. Thy love is never, no, never weary of me. Oh wondrous, sweet, divine love! Lord, let it fill the heart of the writer and reader!
And now Elihu opens his mouth to address Job. He says, “My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart” (Job 33:3). What a delightful change when, wearied out with trying to find righteousness in myself, the Spirit of God sets before me the Lord my righteousness in heaven.
The object of the deep-felt need of Job was found in Elihu. “The Spirit of God hath made me  ...  Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee” (Job 33:4,6-7).
What a striking Illustration this is of the real humanity of our blessed Substitute, the Lord of Glory. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, yet born of a woman. The Mediator or Daysman between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. Is it not most blessed that God has thus been manifested to us in the flesh? His terror does not now make us afraid. Look at Him in the midst of poor, guilty sinners: the woman of Samaria, the sinner of the city, the dying thief. Oh, may we not come with confidence to such an One?
Elihu rebukes Job for his desperate attempt at self-righteousness, and then for the dreadful thought that God was against him; and then says, “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.Why dost thou strive against Him?” (Job 33:12-13).How simple the question of the believer’s conflict is when this light is thrown upon it. You are not just — you are guilty — is the fact, the sentence of God’s Word. There is no difference, for all have sinned. As a sinner, you are judged in the death of Jesus; and as a judged, condemned, dead sinner, by that death reckoned dead and set aside forever. You, as a son of Adam, never can be just, and so every attempt to set up old self, old guilty self, in any way, is simply striving against God. God is not against you, but God is against this attempt to justify yourself. And I will answer you, God is too strong for you. All must be in confusion while you strive against God. I have just been told an anecdote that shows this very strikingly. A dear old Christian, living here, was sorely tried before his death. All the past sins of his life were set before him in such distinctness, and the sense of guilt and shame was so overwhelming, that he almost sunk in despair. At last Job’s lesson was learned. He said, “I see now; if I had only been a little better man, it would have proved my damnation. If there had been anything in which I could have rested for my salvation, I should have done so and perished in my delusion. But now it is only the blood of Christ.” Such, with every child of God, is the desperate striving of the human heart against God. Job’s lesson must be learned. Man’s purpose is to justify himself in some way. It may be by keeping the law, or it may be his mixing up the righteousness of Christ with his own in meeting the claims of law, and so making out his case just before God. No matter how, every attempt to justify myself before God is striving against God. It is trying to set up my old Adam-nature, which God has put down and buried forever. “Then He openeth the ears of men  ...  that He may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man;” (Job 33:16-17) then must he pass through this sore pain and affliction. It may be through some fall that all self-trust is blighted. Perhaps no believer ever really learns Philippians 3 without some fall. Ah! it is no easy matter to count all the things of my religious self loss and dung; to have no confidence in the flesh; to be found only in Christ.
God’s purpose is shown, by Elihu, to be Job’s full deliverance. And this is His purpose in permitting all the buffeting and conflict through which the believer ever passes. Yes, when he comes to the last sinking point, then, “If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness: then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom” — or an atonement (Job 33:23-24). What a mercy it is that we have a true Messenger from heaven, a true Interpreter from God. The Holy Ghost is the wonderful interpreter of God’s purpose in the cross of Christ. In the good news He has brought, is the righteousness of God revealed. Yes, it is His blessed work to show the uprightness of God, the righteousness of God in justifying the sinner; that God is, as has been said by another, “consistent with Himself, with His holiness,” in being gracious to the poor, guilty sinner. How can God say “Deliver him from going down to the pit” (Job 33:24)? Is he just? Oh, no! Is he innocent? Oh, no! Does he not deserve to go down to the pit? Oh, yes! Then how can God be just in sparing him? “I have found a ransom” (Job 33:24) or, as the margin reads, “atonement.”
Man is guilty. He has no righteousness. But God has found a ransom. This alters everything and interprets everything. I am no longer a trembling sinner before God as my Judge, but before God as my Justifier. God has found a ransom, a propitiation, in the blood of Jesus, for the very purpose of setting forth His righteousness, in freely justifying me by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Four times is this shown to be the very righteousness of God, in Romans 3:21-26. Mark, it is not that I, as a son of Adam, am just or righteous. That never can be.
Chapters 5, 6 and 7 show that I am dead, through the death of Christ, and buried. And my justified state is entirely in the risen Christ. Christ did not die for the just, but for the unjust, to bring them to God. Now, my reader, where are you? Striving against God, trying to be just in yourself before Him, as your Judge? If so, is there any wonder that your soul should be sorely vexed with confusion and darkness? Or are you resting entirely on the value of that atoning blood, that ransom-price, which makes God just in being your Justifier? Ah! whenever your soul is cast down with a single doubt, depend upon it, you may say: “There, I am trying again to justify myself, instead of rejoicing in God my Justifier.” If God is your Judge, you cannot be saved. If God is your Justifier, you cannot be lost. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? 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” (Romans 8:33-34).
It is not you who found the ransom; God found it. Satan may tell Him of all your sins, and especially of your deep ingratitude and failure since you were a child of God. God’s reply is, “I have found a ransom” (Job 33:24).
Surely, then, this must give perfect deliverance — God my Justifier, Jesus my Advocate. Oh, what freshness of soul this gives! “His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth” (Job 33:25). It is no longer now: “Oh that I was as in months past!” (Job 29:2). I is now done with. It is no longer I, but Christ in me; no more wretched striving to justify I — old me. Ah, no! but my soul filled with freshness in contemplating God’s ransom and God’s perfection in justifying me by that ransom. How sweet is prayer now with God! “He shall pray unto God, and He will be favorable unto him: and he shall see His face with joy: for He will render unto man His righteousness” (Job 33:26). Very wonderful! Man, who has no righteousness of his own, has now the righteousness of God rendered unto him. It is “upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22). What a blessing! Christ is made righteousness to believers; they are the righteousness of God in Him; and, above all, as it were, our justification in the risen Christ is the very righteousness of God. And nothing stays the full outflow of all this blessing and enjoyment, but the striving to be righteous in self. Only confess the real truth, for “He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33:27-28).
“How very simple this verse is,” some of my readers may say. “I begin to see plainly that I never was a Christian at all. My religion has been nothing else but trusting in self.” Well, mark those words: “if any say, I have sinned.” Is that the language of your heart now? Can you cast yourself at the feet of Christ as a confessed sinner? You may take that place without any fear of being a hypocrite, in owning what you are, as a sinner, before God, there is no fear of deceiving yourself, much less of deceiving God. If this is your confessed state, God shall deliver your soul from going into the pit, and you shall be enlightened with the light of living. Rest not satisfied until you are assured that God has justified you freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It is indeed a great thing for God to say in this passage; yet it must be true, it is the Word of God. Not one, then, shall ever be found in the pit who has been brought to God as a lost sinner. “He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33:28). How important, then, is the question, Have you been thus brought in real confession before God? It is not, If any have served me, or, If any have not sinned. It is, If any have sinned. “If any say, I have sinned” (Job 33:27). Now, my reader, God marks your thoughts at this moment. What say you to God? Can you say, I have sinned?
Elihu says: “If thou hast anything to say, answer me:speak, for I desire to justify thee” (Job 33:32). Now, surely it is a wondrous fact that God’s very object, His desire, His purpose in sending His beloved Son into this world, was to justify ungodly sinners. Let, then, the anxious, awakened sinner know this, that, in coming to Him, He is most ready, yes, desires to justify. Yes, the moment you believe on Him who raised up Jesus from the dead for our justification, that moment you are justified from all things. (See Acts 13:38: Romans 4:24-5:1.)
Elihu now speaks to them that have an ear to hear. He shows in what Job had so grievously erred: first in saying, “I am righteous” (Job 34:5) and then for saying it was no use serving God. Thus self-righteousness is shown to lead to infidelity and the deepest spiritual wickedness. God is then shown to be just in all His ways. Whether man perceives it or not, there is a needs-be for every act of God and every permission of God, both in His dealings with a nation or with a man. “For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves” (Job 34:21-22). Whatever, then, may be God’s providence with the world, or discipline with His own children, be it chastisement or even removal by death (1 Corinthians 11:30-31), all His ways are in righteousness and truth.
Chapter 35: Elihu applies all this to Job himself, and then, proceeds to justify God — to speak on God’s behalf — to ascribe righteousness to Him. Yes, it is very striking how the work of Elihu is to justify God. This reminds us of the words of Jesus, “O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee!” (John 17:25). The great business of Jesus, the Son, was, by His death, to glorify the Father in justifying the ungodly. It is all-important for the soul to really understand this: that God is perfectly righteous in justifying the ungodly by the blood of Jesus, and that being thus justified, they are looked at as righteous in the risen Christ, He never takes His eyes off them in Christ. “He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, He doth establish them forever, and they are exalted” (Job 36:7). Certainly, it must be so. If when God once sees the poor, guilty sinner righteous in Christ, and He never takes His eyes off him thus in Christ, then he must be established forever; for Christ is established forever. If Christ is exalted forever, then the believer in Him is exalted forever. I may get my eye off Christ, my living righteousness before God, and get looking at what I am. God will never do this. My fellow-believer, does not this make your heart leap for joy — at this moment God sees you righteous in Christ, established forever! You say: “It is very strange, then, that I should pass through so much sorrow and affliction; so bound in fetters and held in cords.” Ah! Job’s lesson is not yet learned.
The next few verses bring out God’s purpose in discipline. “And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; then He showeth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commanded. that they return from iniquity. If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge” (Job 36:8-12). It is most important not to confound the believer’s standing and salvation in Christ with his walk and discipline at the hands of his Father. As to his standing in Christ, as we have seen, it is established forever. To make that depend, in the least, on his works would be to deny the grace of God. But how much does depend on his walk with God! — not earthly prosperity; not worldly pleasures. The nearer we walk with God, the less we shall have of these. Witness the Apostle Paul, and all who live godly in this present evil world.
But who can tell how much our spiritual prosperity — how much the enjoyment of heavenly pleasures — depends on a close walk with God. Certainly the question is put very strongly here; but it is God’s Word. His blessed purpose in all our afflictions, in all His discipline and chastening, is that we may be partakers of His holiness. Oh! think what He has made us in Christ, and then say, “Though I have been afflicted, was there not a cause?” Ah! there was a tampering with some iniquity. And if God had not come in by chastening, might we not have gone on until He must have removed us by death? “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” (Heb. 12:6).
Oh who can tell, my fellow-believer, the blessed results of an entire surrender to God? What a shame for the believer to serve the world, the flesh, or the devil! Oh! the power of that word: “And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). May that word henceforth go to your very heart! What is to be the henceforth of your life and mine? Oh, think of the love and claims of Christ! Would you have days of spiritual prosperity, and years of heavenly pleasures? Then let go everything inconsistent with a world-rejected but heaven-glorified Christ. Seek whole-hearted, obedient service to Him, in simple dependence on the Holy Spirit, having no confidence in the flesh. I am persuaded it is of vast importance that you should at once seek real nearness of walk with God. You have sinned, and the fetters and cords made you cry out. And remember, the believer cannot touch sin without great bitterness of soul. Well, God uses that very bitterness in restoring the soul of the failing saint. “But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when He bindeth them: they die in youth, and their life is among the unclean” (Job 36:13-14). You say, “If I were a child of God, surely I would not have all this trouble and bitterness.” This word shows you, if you were not a real child of God, but a hypocrite in heart, you would not have all this bitterness, but you would go on in sin until you perished forever.
The remaining part of Elihu’s speech is to bring out the majesty of God, and to show man’s entire dependence on Him. Then Jehovah, the Lord Himself, speaks to Job. Thus we have the order of the book: Job and God’s testimony of him; Satan accusing, and opposing through Job’s friends; then Elihu, the daysman; then God Himself. Thus we have the man of God; Satan against him; Christ the High Priest for him; then God.
Now mark the effect of Job’s being thus before the Lord Himself. Astonished that he finds himself contending with the Almighty, he then “answered the Lord and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth” (Job 40:2-3). He had said his words were ended, and now he says he will proceed no further. Oh yes; Job will proceed a little further yet. There is in his confession the owning of what he is — vile. But in the second confession he will go much further than this.
What a solemn word to Job was this: “Wilt thou also disannul My judgments? Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?” (Job 40:8). I will illustrate this. Suppose an ironfounder, employing a number of hands, has in his yard two heaps of metal; the one is utterly bad, good for nothing, and every attempt to use it is a waste of time, for no perfect article can be made of it; the other heap is exactly suited for the casting required. Now the master has a perfect knowledge of both these two heaps, and he tells the men the worthlessness of the one and the suitability of the other. They will not believe him, but go on trying to get a sound casting from the bad heap. Would not this be contending against the master? Or, take another: A large farmer tells his men, who are about to sow his fields, that such a heap of seed is thoroughly bad, that there is not a germ of life in it, but that the seed in the other garner is sure to bring forth a good crop. Well, they will not believe him. They sow the bad seed, and when the summer comes there is nothing but weeds. Well, say they, we must till the land better; we must try again. Try again! would not this be striving against the farmer? After this manner God has told us, most plainly, that man is a lost, guilty heap of sin, and that on the principle of keeping the law he can never be just; and, on the other hand, that the blood of Jesus does justify every ungodly sinner that believes on Him. (See Romans 3:19,25; Galatians 2:21; 3:10.) Now, suppose a man does not believe God about this, but tries to justify himself by keeping the law, or preaches justification to others by trying to keep the law; does not God say to that man, “Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?” Oh, it is a terrible thing to fight against God! If this should meet the eye of a law preacher for salvation, I tell you, you are a fighter against God, a persecutor of Christ. I saw a letter yesterday, from one vested in human authority, threatening to excommunicate, from what he called the church, a person, because she had been converted from the law-keeping religion of the old man to the perfect and everlasting salvation in Christ. Just think of a threatening letter from a professed pastor because a poor sinner had found settled peace in Christ! May God, who revealed Jesus to the mad, persecuting Saul, reveal Christ to this poor, deceived striver against God. It is not only the ministers of Satan who are trying to keep souls from Christ, and telling men that there is yet something in the old, bad heap of humanity; that it may yet be molded and cast perfect. But God’s testimony as to man’s utter ruin in Adam, and the only redemption in Christ Jesus for lost sinners, is so little understood even by the real children of God, that they spend most of their lives in trying to make the bad seed grow — that is, to find righteousness in themselves — that they are constantly finding, instead of fruit, nothing but weeds. Surely it must be so, so long as we try to be righteous in that which God has pronounced guilty. God grant that we may try no longer to be righteous in self; but, rejoicing in the righteousness of God, may we now walk in the power of the new life. God now shows to Job, under the figure of leviathan, that the power of Satan is too great for him. What a terrible one this king over all the children of pride is! This world has rejected the King of Righteousness and preferred the horrible slavery of Satan. But what could be God’s object in thus describing the power of the adversary? Surely it was to lead Job into entire dependence on Himself. “I know,” says Job, “that Thou canst do everything” (Job 42:2). Now what a relief this is! The believer looked at in himself has no power to overcome Satan. Man failed before him when innocent; much less, then, now he is fallen, is he able to stand. It was independence of God that opened the door for Satan at first; and it is simple dependence on God alone that can shut it. May God give us a deep sense of dependence on Himself. It is very gracious of God to tell us what the power of the enemy is, that we may know that our only resource is in a firm trust in Himself. “I can do all things,” says Paul, “through Christ” (Philippians 4:13). “My grace,” says Jesus, “is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And now Job’s lesson is learned. He goes a little further; he says: “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
What was Job’s repentance? Was it a change of mind from paths of drunkenness and uncleanness? Was he deeply sorry for a life of open sin and immorality? Oh no! this was not Job’s case at all. He was a true man of God, and had spent one of the most moral and upright lives on record. Like Paul, as touching his life among men, he had a blameless life, such as not one in ten thousand can speak of. Then of what did he repent? He repented of this: his striving to establish his own righteousness. God was now revealed to him, and he abhorred himself — himself! Does my reader abhor himself, all that exalts himself, all the religion that tries to make himself just before God as Judge? I say, Do you abhor all that would set up man, as a son of Adam? And especially, do you hate this, because it would rob Christ of His excellency? Have you learned that all this is striving against God, and therefore most hateful? The Apostle had learned this; yes, he had learned Job’s lesson, and felt deeply Job’s repentance. He could look back at his whole religious life, at his zeal and his blameless life as a Jew and a Pharisee, and whatever exalted Paul he could trample under foot. He says: “Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:6-10). What a complete conversion this is from the religion of self, to the righteousness of God! Has my reader thus done with self? Do you see such excellency in Christ, that you can say with Job, “Now mine eye seeth Thee, wherefore I abhor myself” (Job 42:5-6)? I say, have you really been turned from the religious strivings of the old man against God?
What a change was this for Job, when the lesson was learned, that there was nothing in himself but vileness! “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). If he had lost seven thousand sheep, now he has fourteen thousand; and so of the camels, and oxen, and asses. And surely the believer has got twice as much by Christ in resurrection, as he lost by Adam in death. Human innocence is lost through sin. Divine righteousness is won in Christ through grace. An earthly garden of delight is lost. Heaven’s eternal joy is found. In a word, I is lost; Christ is found. I am dead; Christ lives. I am buried; Christ is risen. I could never be just before God; Christ is my righteousness, and God my Justifier. What a calm, after such a storm! What divine comfort, after such bitter sorrow! Ah! what settled peace this gives to the soul: to give up all strivings and pretensions to be just in myself, and to know I have perfect justification and righteousness in Christ risen from the dead! Shall I not justify God in the glorious redemption He has wrought? The more I am occupied with God’s wondrous plan of justifying me, a poor sinner, the more will my soul be filled with joy in God. Beware, then, of every effort to set up man in the flesh. Death is written upon it all. Henceforth may we know the joy and power of our resurrection — standing entirely in Christ. For while in Adam man is utterly lost in sin, and has no power for righteousness; and while the law only brought out transgressions, and pronounced a curse on man; yet now, the believer is not only in the risen Christ, entirely without sin and condemnation, but, being risen with Christ, and having the Spirit of God, he has now power, even the power of resurrection, and of the Spirit of God, against all sin.
Thus, if Job lost his sons and his daughters in death, he now receives them, as it were, in resurrection. Their very names are full of meaning. He called the name of the first Jemima, which means handsome as the day. The name of the second was Kezia, which is Cassia, one of the sweetest perfumes of the sanctuary. And the name of the third, Karen-happuch, means, child of beauty. “And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job” (Job 42:15).
Sin has indeed marred all that was so beautiful, so fair, in that old creation, of which Adam was the head. But, oh! how shall I speak of the risen Christ, Head of the new creation? Fairest of ten thousand Thou! Thy beauty, Lord, and glory, ah, how spotless fair! How holy, precious, divinely sweet! The perfume of Thy name is as ointment poured forth! And have I so long vainly sought to find perfection in the Adam-flesh! Oh, let death pass upon it all; yes, have it all, all that I am, with sin so foul! I gaze upon Thee, Lord of resurrection, and abhor myself! And is all that Thou art, mine? Thy beauty and Thy glory, the perfume of Thy holy person, all mine? Is all this the portion of every sinner saved by Thee?
Ah, this is conversion! To let go all I am in death, and now to stand forever in the everlasting bloom, the freshness, the sweetness, the fair beauty of Thee, my risen Lord!
May God bless the henceforth of your life, my reader, as He blessed the latter end of Job! Abhorring all that is of self, with your eye fixed on Jesus, may your soul repose in God your Justifier; and thus your peace shall flow like a river. Gazing in the face of the adorable Jesus, may your path be brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.

Great Stones and Costly

“And he set masons to hew wrought stones to build
the house of God.” 1 Chronicles 22:2
I need not say that the building of Solomon’s Temple is one of the most interesting studies of antiquity; and when that building on Mount Moriah is seen as the type of God’s present heavenly building, it becomes infinitely more interesting.
In this building, then, the first thing that presents itself is this: David, the father, provides beforehand the materials of this Temple; even the stones, the iron, and brass in abundance, without weight. He says, “I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver” (1 Chronicles 22:14). [Estimated value of this wealth is more than $175,000,000,000 as of 2013.] This was David’s provision for this costly building, in addition to an incalculable quantity of brass, iron, wood, and stone. Besides, the riches of Solomon, the son, were quite equal to those of his father, David. 1 Kings 10 gives some idea of Solomon’s riches.
More than 150,000 men were employed in the rearing of this wondrous building (1 Kings 5:15). “And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house” (1 Kings 5:17).
Now, what do “great stones” mean? A builder in this country would consider a stone three feet every way a great stone. But we find these great foundation-stones, sawn and hewn, were indeed “costly stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits” (1 Kings 7:10). A cubit, at the lowest, is one foot six inches; it is the measure from the elbow of a man to the end of his fingers. Thus, these great stones were at least twelve feet every way, and fifteen feet every way. If you just figure it up, you will find they weighed about two hundred and fifty tons each. There was one stone in the Temple, after its restoration, thirty feet by thirteen by seven and a half feet. There are similar great stones in the ruins at Balbec, which may have been built by Solomon, called the “House of the Forest of Lebanon” (1 Kings 7:2). Solomon built three houses, which answer, I doubt not, to the three-fold glory of Christ; and as the same sized stones formed the foundation of each (1 Kings 7:1-11), so is Christ the foundation-stone, alike, of the church of God in heavenly places, the future kingdom of Israel, and of millennial blessing to the whole world. The cross we shall find to be the foundation of all.
To return to that which occupies us at present, the Temple. Vast quantities of cedar trees were brought from Lebanon. But for many centuries there has been a difficulty as to where and how these great, costly stones were obtained. A dear friend, who lives near Jerusalem, told me a few years ago, that there are immense caves under Jerusalem. And the quantity of broken stones, but especially some great stones, half cut, but never finished, makes it clear that these great stones were got out of pits, prepared in this manner: the top was leveled and marked out, then the sides were cut by drifts, then the under side cut. But just think of the greatness of the labor required, in raising these great stones of the pit out to daylight, and moving them, and putting them in their place. Isaiah, may have referred to these caverns when he speaks of the stones of the pit (Isaiah 14:19).
The Temple was built on a rock, by the side of a frightful precipice. “We are told by historians that six hundred feet of foundation-work had to be built to the level, on one side, where Solomon’s porch stood. The foundation-stones were dovetailed, or mortised, in a most wonderful manner into the very rock. The joint was so finely wrought that it could scarcely be found. Thus they were rooted, and grounded, and built into the very rock.
And the house, when it was building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; so that “there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (1 Kings 6:7). Thus the silent growth of this earthly Temple set forth the predestined heavenly building of God. As David, the father, gave the materials to Solomon, the son, even so Jesus says, “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:29). And again, “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him” (John 17:2). “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39).
Yes, he would be a foolish builder who began to build, and did not know whether he had materials to finish. And it is blessed to remember that God, the great Master-builder, foreknew every stone chosen, and precious, that is built and shall be built in the heavenly temple.
Is it not most plain that those great stones, two hundred and fifty tons weight, never got out of the pit by any effort or work of their own? As we say, they would never have seen daylight if they had not been drawn out. You might just as well have put a ladder of ten steps, and told these stones to climb up it and get out of darkness, as to set the ten commandments before a dead sinner, and tell him to try and climb them, and so get out of the pit of sin. Jesus said to those who had long been trying this plan, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
In the judgment of a builder, there would be no way of getting those great stones out of the pit, but by going into the pit, hewing and drawing them out. And all that were drawn out were out, and no others. Now, does not the cross of our Lord Jesus reveal God’s judgment of this matter as to sinners? If David counted the cost of this earthly Temple in gold and silver, God also counted the cost. The price was the blood of the Lamb. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold  ...  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
If those were great stones and costly, surely believers are great stones and costly. He spared nor His only-begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all. I am not much of a mason, but I should say a fifteen-foot cube of stone would cost no trifle. And, fellow-believer, fellow-stone in the living temple, think what you have cost.
Thus God saw no way of raising sinners from the dead but by sending His Son to die for them. “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Corinthians 5:14). And having died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was numbered with the dead. There was the end of all judgment due to our sins. The full ransom-price was paid. Despised, indeed, He was of men: yes, never was a stone so rejected by masons, as was this stone by Judah’s builders. But, oh! what were God’s thoughts of His blessed Son as He lay in the grave? God saw Him the foundation-stone. As our substitute, all our sins had been laid on Him. So Christ bore the sins of many. And now, infinite atonement being made by His precious blood, this stone, rejected by man, was raised from the dead by God. Therefore “this is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). Language cannot find words to express “the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). The raising of those great stones was, indeed, a grand figure of this; but what would have been the power required, if every stone of the Temple had to have been raised up together with the first foundation-stone.
This heavenly temple, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Yet every stone in this living temple was once dead in trespasses and sins — ah! dead as stones. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). Now, whether we think of what we were as lost, dead, buried sinners, or what was the tremendous under-taking for one to stand our substitute, and bear the full, unmixed wrath of God due to our sins — or of what we shall forever be as living stones in the heavenly temple — surely the raising up of Christ, the foundation-stone, from the dead, and in Him the redeemed church, and on Him its eternal destiny — the destiny of every saved sinner through eternal ages — I say, surely the raising of Christ, the foundation-stone, was the greatest event, the greatest work, that ever God wrought. Oh, vastly strange that this, God’s greatest work, should be so little thought of in our day!
Now, the Temple was built on the rock of Moriah — the place where divine judgment was stayed by the altar of burnt-offerings and peace-offerings; for there the Lord answered by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering (1 Chronicles 21:26), even so the voluntary offering of Jesus, and the shedding of His precious blood, is the foundation of every sinner saved by grace from the deserved wrath of God. One thing is certain, that where the foundation-stone was laid, there the Temple was built. Standing on that bold rock of Moriah, “the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries” (1 Chronicles 22:5). Now, when God raised Jesus, the foundation stone, from the dead, where did He place Him? “Far above all principality, and power” (Ephesians 1:21). “And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born, from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). God did not raise Him from the dead to improve the old creation, but to be the beginning of the new creation. Not to build an earthly house, or earthly society, but a heavenly temple. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). “Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). That word in Christ Jesus is very precious. It is very blessed to see this in the type; all those great stones were covered with cedar-wood. “And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen” (1 Kings 6:18). Thus in the heavenly building there is not a sinner seen. Every saved one, though once a great sinner, now fairly wainscoted in Christ — hid in Christ, And not only was the stone covered with cedar-wood, but this overlaid with pure gold. “So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold  ...  And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house” (1 Kings 6:21-22). It is written, fellow-believer, “Ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10). It was not the stones themselves that were seen, but the gold upon them: so it is not ourselves, but Christ upon us. Yes, the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ, in whom we are complete. And all within, how perfect! Beautiful carvings of knops and of open flowers; all covered with pure gold.
You observe all was done to these stones. Not one atom did they do. They were hewn, they were drawn out, they were built in the Temple, they were covered with cedar. The pure gold was put upon them. It is so with the poor sinner. Salvation from beginning to end is all of God. Look at the poor prodigal. Not an atom of merit. The father met him as he was, fell upon his neck, and kissed him. He had not to buy a new robe. No, the robe was ready, the shoes were ready, the ring was ready. Like the gold that covered the stones, so with this new best robe, he had not even to put it on. No, the father said, “Put it on him” (Luke 15:22). Just so with Joshua, when the filthy garments were taken away. God said, “Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment  ...  So they set a fair miter upon his head” (Zechariah 3:4-5). Yes, the new creation-work is all of God. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). The fact is, all this seems too good to be true, and the poor heart is so slow to believe God. Yet true it is, and if the Temple was for glory throughout all countries, this heavenly building of God is for God’s glory throughout all ages, predestinated “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7); yea, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10).
If the change was great, as every stone was drawn out of the pit of darkness and placed in that Temple of splendor and dazzling light, what is the change when a sinner is taken from the dungeon of darkness, and “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21).
Oh, what thousands of poor sinners have been built into this heavenly temple of late! Silently and swiftly is God taking out the appointed stones.
View the vast building, see it rise;
The work how great! the plan how wise!
Oh wondrous fabric! power unknown!
That rears it on the Living Stone.
To every believer God does not say, “Ye shall be built”; but, “Ye are built.” Oh that every believing reader may enter into the full joy of being complete in Christ! For God has made such a blessed finish of it, within and without.
It may be asked, If salvation is so entirely of God, what has the person so saved to do? Well, certainly he can do no more for his salvation than the great stones and costly could do for their hewing and drawing out of the pit. But let us turn to a passage in 1 Peter 2:4-10: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). It is God who has laid this chief cornerstone, elect, precious, “And he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded” (1 Peter 2:6). Oh, surely, the more I see what God has made Him to be to me, the more precious He will be; as it is written, “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner” (1 Peter 2:7). Yes, here is the grand test to every heart — what is Christ to you? Can my reader say, He is everything to me: before Him I had nothing, and after Him I can have nothing? I do not ask what profession you make. Every religious builder who is trying to improve humanity, in one way or another, makes light of Christ. This whole world is one vast pit of darkness, sin, and death. God has no more thought in the gospel of improving this dark pit, than Solomon had when taking the great stones out of the cavern of perpetual darkness. He took out the stones. God is now taking out of the world sinners for Himself. Now man disallows this; he sees no need of a new creation. He says, Why not build up and improve the old? And thus the new-creation temple, built on the risen Christ, from the dead, is almost forgotten among the builders; and instead of waiting for the coming of the Lord, and the manifestation of this heavenly building, men are vainly dreaming that Christianity will gradually improve this dark cavern of sin. The masons of Solomon would not have made a greater mistake if, instead of going on hewing and drawing, they had commenced building in the dark cavern.
No, believer. I ask you to look at yonder risen Christ, raised from among the dead. There see God’s chosen foundation-stone. Is He precious to you? Are you built on Him? The faith that rests in Him shall never be confounded. To you the Spirit of God says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This is what the saved sinner should do.
Nothing can be more pleasing to God than thus to show forth His praise, who has taken us, like the stones of the pit, out of darkness: and as they bore the shining plates of gold that reflected and displayed the riches and magnificence of their great builder, even so may Christ be seen on each of us, reflecting and showing forth the exceeding riches of divine grace. Oh, what grace shone in all the ways of Jesus! Even when crucified on the accursed tree, still grace shone forth: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And that was a bright reflection of Christ, when they stoned Stephen to death. He said, as it were, “Do not say anything about it; lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). Oh for more of the bright shining of Christ in all and on all our ways! God would have us enter into the full joy of being able to give Him thanks, “Which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-14).
Is this my reader’s joy? Can you thus give God all the glory? Are you in the pit or in the temple? covered with sin, or covered with Christ? Ah, it was of no use, though cut and hewn and sawn on one side or every side, if still left in the pit; no place in the Temple; no plates of gold; no knops and open flowers. Those half-cut stones in the caverns of Jerusalem are solemn warnings. You may have long felt the ax and saw of conviction, but are you out of the cavern? This must be the work of God. Paul planted, and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. “So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7). God is the builder. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11.) “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Now God’s way of getting stones is in this manner: the Spirit of God takes the ax of conviction and strikes deep; the Word of God is the power unto salvation to every one that believes. I met a poor old sinner the other day, who thought that no poor stone ever had the chiseling he had had in the pit of sin. The Spirit of God enabled me to set the death and resurrection of Christ before him; and while quoting these words, out he came, drawn out and delivered by the power of God. “Be it known unto you therefore  ...  that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-39). Oh, I love to see great stones drawn out of the pit! The old man said, “How blessed it will be to go home knowing I am saved!” “Yes indeed,” I said. “And hearken to these words of Jesus, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life’” (John 5:24). Yes, just as Lazarus heard the word of Jesus when down in the sepulcher of death, so was this old man “born again  ...  by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23). The hour is come “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).
If my reader has never yet heard that voice, may this be the hour. God grant that from this moment you may yield yourself up to God, as a stone in the hands of the mason, and clay in the hands of the potter.
We must not, however, carry the figure too far; for, while a sinner is, as to that which is good, as dead as stone, yet for that which is evil he is terribly alive. Yes; a live rebel against God — a voluntary, willful rejecter of Christ, the only foundation-stone. “Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:42-44).
In the day of judgment you will not be condemned because you had been in the pit of darkness, but because you refused to be taken out. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, [the dark pit] and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). The remembrance of the love of God in sending His Son to this dark pit of sin, will be like the worm that dies not. Oh what unutterable remorse!
Was it not in love to the bitten Israelites that God bade Moses lift up the serpent in the wilderness? Even so has the Son of Man been lifted up. For sinners Jesus died — lost, ungodly sinners. Yes; it was these God so loved. If He had only bidden, you get out of the pit yourself, you might have said, How can I, since I am as helpless as stone. But He sent His Son, and you have rejected Him: you have refused to be saved. Oh, it would have been blessed had your heart been broken with the sense of His love! But if not, it must be crushed before Him in the judgment with the sense of His everlasting wrath. A very little while, and the end of the present scene shall come. The stone cut out of the mountain shall smite the nations, and they shall become “like the chaff of the summer threshing floor” (Daniel 2:35). This terrible day is closed by those solemn words, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).
There is one point of contrast, however, between the earthly Temple and the heavenly building we must notice. To have seen those huge blocks of stone so built in the rock, one would have thought they would have stood forever. But the time came when the Chaldeans prevailed against them. And, again, when restored in later times, as our blessed Lord foretold, the Romans prevailed, until not one stone was left upon another. Where are those two pillars — Jachin, which means “he shall establish,” and Boaz, “in its strength” — though they were such brass pillars as the like were never cast? They stood at least twenty-seven feet high and six feet in diameter; yet they are removed and gone, and not a trace of this wondrous building remains. But Jesus, speaking of Himself, the only foundation, says, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus did not say to Peter, Thou art this Rock; but, Thou art a stone. Yes; Peter, a stone, needed to be built on the rock as much as any man. He found this need as much in the high-priest’s hall as on the swelling billows. Christ is the foundation-rock; and that Rock is not at Rome, but in heaven. And where the foundation is, there must the building be. Ask a mason if this is not so. Yes; God is not building His church at Rome, but in heavenly places in Christ. Against the church, so high, so blessed, so secure, the gates of hell shall not prevail. How can they? Eve was not made or built of the flesh of Adam; but she was built of his very bone, and that bone so near his heart. And the church, the spotless bride of Christ, all glorious within and without, is also built in Christ, so that “We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30). Some talk about Christ letting the saint slip through His fingers. No, the devil would have to pull Christ’s fingers off before one of His little ones could perish. No, when time shall be no more, this holy building of God shall be seen “descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:10-11). Ah, then it will not be like the plates of gold covering the stones. We shall be changed. We shall be like Him, fashioned like unto His glorious body, like unto a stone most precious — no speck of sin, no dull shade of grief, no cloud of sorrows — clear as crystal. This, my fellow-stone, is our eternity. Highest archangels will be ravished with wonder. “The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). Our feet, that now tread the dirty streets of this sin-defiled earth, shall soon tread the golden street of the city of God. What heart can conceive what it will be to be there? No temple there to shut in and hide the glory. No; God and the Lamb are there. They are the temple of it. “The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). And all yours, my fellow-believer. Yes, though too bright for mortal eyes. Yet wait a little longer. A few more struggles, a few more victories over self, sin, and Satan, through Him that strengthens. Yes, though Jachin and Boaz be removed and gone, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: And I will write upon him My new name” (Revelation 3:12). Thus speaks Jesus, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. Hark! He also speaks to God. “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me” (John 17:24). Blessed Jesus, Thy will shall be done: we shall soon be with Thee. We ask no more Thou couldst not ask more than for us to be with Thee.
There is but one point more, and I close. (Read 1 Chronicles 22:17-19.) Now if David thus commanded the princes of Israel to help Solomon, saying, “Is not the Lord your God with you? and hath He not given you rest on every side?” (1 Chronicles 22:18) how much more has God given us rest and perfect peace through the blood of the Lamb. And now He says, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:5). “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end” (Matthew 28:20). If my reader has not this “rest on every side” (1 Chronicles 22:18), then do not think to get it by preaching or doing; let me point you to Him who gives it, even to Jesus. But if you have peace with God, then “set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise therefore, and build” (1 Chronicles 22:19).
There is work for every mason, and for every man who has found rest to his own soul. Some may be felling proud cedars, others striking with the stern ax of conviction down in the deep mine, others drawing with strong cords of love divine, and others fitting together the building.
Do not say, I can do nothing. “Is not the Lord your God with you?” “Arise therefore, and build” (1 Chronicles 22:19).
God give us more willingness of heart, more singleness of eye, more simplicity of faith; and as the building grows in silent power, yes, when, the top stone shall be brought with shouting, to Him be all the praise!

The First Resurrection

It is a mistake to suppose that the great truth of the first resurrection, or the resurrection from among the dead, rests on the interpretation of some difficult passage in the Book of Revelation. So far from this being the case, we shall find it to be the uniform teaching of the New Testament. Neither is it possible to find a single text to uphold the grave error of a general resurrection and judgment. And while the first resurrection is the full accomplishment of our salvation: a general judgment practically denies our redemption. The scriptures declare there is none righteous, no, not one; all have sinned: it therefore follows that if we have to come into judgment for our sins we must all be condemned. As it is written, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2). Is it not evident if we have to look forward to judgment, there must be everlasting wrath before us? thus salvation is impossible. This is a very solemn question for our souls. If you, and all the world, will rise together, and it is appointed unto you after death the judgment, tell me, how can you be saved? Is there a single promise of pardon at the judgment? Not one. Our subject then affects the very foundation truth of the gospel: yes, if the common error of a general resurrection, and judgment, be true, there is no gospel: for none can be saved, all are guilty, and if judged, must be cast into the lake of fire. Is it not then a fearful thing to spend a whole life teaching such dreadful errors? How many do so, and refuse to hear the word of God! If you profess to bow to scripture, we ask your solemn attention to the following.
The Sadducees, or Rationalists of that day, brought a supposed difficulty to the Lord. A woman had had seven husbands: whose wife then would she be in the resurrection? Jesus answered, “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35-36). Is not this a resurrection of great privilege? Will all be raised together equal unto the angels, the children of God? How can there be a general resurrection, when Jesus speaks of those who shall be accounted worthy of the resurrection from the dead, or from among the dead? Rest not until you are assured that this is your privilege.
We will now notice how the Lord Jesus teaches there will be two distinct resurrections. The one of life, the other of judgment; and the blessed certainty that those who have eternal life shall not come into the judgment. He says that all judgment is committed to Him. That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father: and further, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Do you notice that if you hear the words of Jesus, and believe God that sent Him, then even now, you have everlasting life. Surely you have not to wait until the judgment, to know if you shall have it. You both have everlasting life, and Jesus says you shall not come into judgment. The thing is settled now: you have passed from death unto life. Jesus, the very One who shall execute judgment, says these three things to every believer: you have everlasting life, you shall not come into judgment: you are passed from death unto life. Then He says, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [or judgment]” (John 5:29-30). The word hour is used by John to denote a period, as, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit” (John 4:23 and 5:25). Plainly “hour” here means the whole of this gospel period of more than eighteen hundred years. So there is a period coming in which there shall be two very distinct resurrections, of those who have everlasting life, the resurrection of life; those who have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment. Assuredly one of these must be yours and mine.
Now read John 6:37-40. Here a great privilege is made known for all whom the Father giveth to Christ. “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which he hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39). And to show the value of this special resurrection, the Father’s will that Christ should raise them up, is repeated twice. Is it not evident that if there were a general resurrection there would be no meaning in these words? We shall further find that this first resurrection is at the coming of the Lord, to fetch His saints: and this accounts for the fact, that the resurrection of all given to Christ is so much on His, and on the Father’s heart. What tenderness of infinite love in those words as He went to the cross to bear our sins: “In My Father’s house are many mansions (abodes): if it were not so ,I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). Oh the heart of Jesus! oh the Father’s will! what rest! what joy this gives.
As the Jews held the doctrine of a general resurrection, at least of themselves, this blessed truth we are examining was very offensive to them, as preached by the apostles. “Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead [or which is from among the dead]. And they laid hands on them” (Acts 4:2-3). Do you not see here, the truth of a resurrection from among the dead is the very opposite of the Jewish doctrine of a general resurrection?
Not only is it the joy of Christ to do the Father’s will in thus raising us from among the dead, but also this must take place because of the Spirit that dwelleth in us. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). “But if the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by [or because of] His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11). What a fact is this, we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. Was He raised from among the dead? then we must be also, we must be like Him in all things. We are waiting for this the full effect of redemption. “Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). If the Spirit of Christ dwells in you, then you must be raised from the dead that He may dwell in you forever. If a Christian, this must be your destiny.
The resurrection of all that are in Christ, at His coming, is as certain as that all in Adam have died. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” But our question is when will those in Christ be raised? “Every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end” (1 Corinthians 15:22-24). Nothing could be more certain then, than that the resurrection of those that are Christ’s will be at His coming. Then cometh the end: we shall see in another scripture when the rest of the dead are judged at the end. But carefully note, that is not the resurrection spoken of here, to the end of this chapter. It is the first resurrection; those that are Christ’s. Will the resurrection of the wicked be in power — a spiritual body — in glory? Is it true of them, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly?” (1 Corinthians 15:49). Is not this the exclusive resurrection of those who are Christ’s? The resurrection unto life from among the dead, the redemption of their bodies? When they see Christ they are like Him, they forever bear the image of the heavenly. What a blessed event is their resurrection from among the dead! Equally blessed for “we which are alive and remain” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). “Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). The Apostle could not have had a thought of a general resurrection at the end of the world: when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption: for he says then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). If we turn to Isaiah 25:8, we find the Spirit is there describing not the end of the world, but the beginning of the millennium or kingdom of Christ on earth. Do not forget this; that 1 Corinthians 15 will not take place at the end of the world: but at the coming of Christ to take His saints, more than a thousand years before the judgment of the rest of the dead. For further proof of this see further on.
This was no mere doctrine with the Apostle Paul. It was the prize at the end of his journey. For this he longed; he says, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of [or from among] the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (Philippians 3:11-12). Yes, when this body shall be raised in glory, when we bear the image of the heavenly, then, not until then, shall we be perfected. For this we wait, “we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).
If there were a general resurrection, why should the Apostle so earnestly long to arrive at the resurrection from the dead? Does not this imply that the saints will be raised first? No, had not this very fact been revealed by the Lord to His servant: “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout  ...  and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Thus the error of a general resurrection is in direct opposition to all scripture. There is not a thought of any being raised when the Lord comes, except the dead in Christ: or, as we have seen, they that are Christ’s at His coming. And this coming is clearly for His saints: for when He comes in judgment they come with Him.
We will now look at what God has been pleased to give us, as His final revelation, on this subject. We shall here see what will take place at the beginning of the thousand year reign of Christ. Evidently this cannot possibly be a spiritual millennium as is so erroneously taught — a time when the great mass of the world will be converted by the gospel, and form the church. The church, as the bride of Christ, has been completed before this; in Revelation 19 the multitudes of heaven had said, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). And more, the marriage of the Lamb having taken place, the saints come with the Lord under the symbol of the armies which were in heaven. The then imperial head of the Roman empire is judged, with the confederate kings of the earth. The terrible reign of terror under the dragon, has been brought to a close. Yea Satan, the dragon, the old serpent, the devil, is cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. The saints who have come with Christ are now no longer in conflict, but “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, nor his image  ...  and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:4-5). Thus we see after the church is completed, and comes with Christ and sits on thrones as joint-heirs with Christ, to judge the nations, and to inherit all things: then the remnant also who have been faithful to Christ, during the great tribulation and slain: all these also are raised to partake of the blessedness of the first resurrection “Blessed, and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:6). This completes the first resurrection. Now as to the rest of the dead, the wicked, we are distinctly told, they lived not again until the thousand years were finished. Then after the thousand years, “the dead, small and great, stand before God” (Revelation 20:12) to be judged. The dead were judged. And they were judged every man according to their works. And as is evident, every man that shall be judged must be forever condemned.
Thus a thousand years separate the resurrection unto life, and the resurrection unto judgment.
We have thus gone over the teaching of scripture as to the first resurrection. And we ask where is there a thought of either a general resurrection, or that the Christian should be brought into judgment for his sins?
There are two scriptures carelessly relied on. Some one may ask, does not the gathering the sheep and the goats, imply a general resurrection? (Matt. 25:31-46). But if we read that scripture carefully, we cannot find a word, or a thought, of any resurrection there. It is the judgment of the living nations, and they are dealt with according as they have treated the Jews, now owned as His brethren. At this judgment the Son of Man is seen coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory: and all the tribes of the earth mourn (Matthew 24:31). “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations” (Matthew 25:31-32). Read from Matthew 25:31 To end. You observe this is the judgment of the living at His coming: but not a word about the resurrection, of the judgment of the dead. Now let us compare this with the description of the last judgment after the thousand years, millennial rest, and blessing. “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:11-12). Thus at the morning of this millennial day, two things take place. The first resurrection is complete: and the judgment of the living nations takes place. The rest of the dead live not again until the evening of that thousand years: and then they are judged according to their works. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). At the one judgment the Son of Man is seen coming with the clouds of heaven: at the other judgment, He does not come at all, but the heavens and the earth fled away. Thus we have both the judgment of the quick and the dead: the one at His appearing, the other at His kingdom. “Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1).
The other scripture, so often misquoted to uphold the great traditional error of a general resurrection and judgment, is Hebrews 9:27. You often hear the following words as though they were scripture. It is appointed unto all men once to die, but after death the judgment. If this were so, who then could be saved? No living man could have peace with God, if the question had yet to be settled at the future judgment after death. Do you not see that this error strikes at the very foundation of the gospel? How can there be present enjoyed peace with God, if we and all men have to be judged for our sins? How can we possibly be now made meet for the inheritance of the saints: if the question has to be settled yet, after death? How can we be said to be justified from all things, if we have yet to be judged?
This serious error of a general resurrection and judgment, has thrown all Christendom into confusion. Both things cannot be true: the gospel of the grace of God, and the future judgment of all. Take a case: a criminal proved guilty, receives the glad tidings of her Majesty’s free pardon, and that the crime shall never be laid to his charge again. Another official declares that he must go to judgment before the judge for his crime. Can both be true? The one is in flat contradiction to the other. So is the doctrine and all who preach it, of a general judgment, in flat contradiction of the gospel. Strange as this may appear to those who follow tradition, and pay little regard to scripture, yet it is true that no one who holds the error of a general judgment, either knows, or ever preaches, the gospel of God in its simplicity and fullness. Let us be candid, and come to close quarters. Do you hold that error, and thus you expect to die, and after death the judgment? “Error?” you say, “It is strange to me if that is not the truth: I shall be greatly mistaken if there is not such a scripture as that it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after death the judgment.”
We will see as to that shortly. But first, what is the effect of the doctrine on your own soul? Is it not that you hope it will be all right at last? You are not quite sure you are good enough yet to die, and go to judgment? Sometimes, as you forget this fatal error, you feel a little brighter, and then dreadful doubts, and uncertainty; if a preacher, you may be trying to keep up a fair appearance before others. But the blessedness of sins forgiven to be remembered no more: perfected forever by the one offering of Christ: justified from all things: peace with God. All these you cannot enjoy if you have yet to be judged: for this very simple reason, that all have sinned, all are guilty, and therefore if all have to be judged, then all in righteousness must be condemned.
Now let us read that scripture, “And as it is appointed unto men [not all men] once to die, but after this the judgment: so 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” (Heb. 9:27-28). Does not this prove the very opposite of a general judgment? Just as it is the common lot of men to die, and after death the judgment: so Christ has borne the sins of many: therefore there can be no question of sin to them when He appears. Read the whole context, the very subject is the perfect and eternal redemption believers have through the one sacrifice of Christ. All of which falls to the ground if we have yet to be judged for our sins. It will not do to say it is the doctrine of our creeds, prayer books, and hymn books; is it found in scripture? That is the question, unless we are prepared to give up the Word of God and trust in tradition, however false. As another has said, think of the childish absurdity of this tradition. Paul and thousands more have been with the Lord eighteen hundred years: have they still to be judged for their sins? The Lord Jesus assures the believer that he shall not come into judgment (John 5:24). And there is not and cannot be a single text to show that he will be judged in the proper sense of judgment for sins. That he will stand before, or be manifested before the beemah, or judgment-seat of Christ, and there be recompensed or rewarded according to his works, is a most blessed truth. And also that this will take place at the first resurrection is also plain. “And thou shalt be blessed  ...  for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). Sins are put away by His precious blood. Salvation is wholly of God. We shall be rewarded according to our works. What grace to find anything to reward!
This is the clear doctrine of scripture. Two Christians may both build on Christ, the only foundation — one is rewarded for his works; all the works of the other be burned up, yet he himself saved so as by fire. Read 1 Corinthians 3:14-15: “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” It is blessed to know also that we shall not be rewarded according to man’s judgment, but the Lord’s. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come” (1 Corinthians 4:5). On this very account we are not to judge or despise one another. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the [beemah] judgment-seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10). There is another striking scripture on this subject, and mark, it is in connection with the believer’s certainty as to his being with the Lord. “For WE KNOW that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God” (2 Corinthians 5:1). We have “the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident  ...  it is God who hath wrought us for this selfsame thing” (2 Corinthians 5:5-6). No portion breathes more divine certainty. Yet he says, “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear [or be manifested] before the [beemah] judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may RECEIVE the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Thus while we have the utmost certainty that if we die, it is to be absent from the body, present with the Lord; and also that this is not all, but we shall be clothed upon with our glorified body of power, incorruptible, in the image of the heavenly, like Christ: yet this should not make us careless, but diligent that we may be accepted of Him. That is, our works approved, not burnt up, and thus be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. To confound this with being judged before the great white throne, is like not seeing the difference between giving rewards at the break up of school, and the boys having to be brought up as criminals at the Town Hall.
The Apostle says, “But we are made manifest unto God” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Yes we ARE made manifest unto God. Already we have taken our places as guilty, without a hope in ourselves. We are pardoned, justified, sanctified. Our sins have been judged and borne by our holy Substitute. Now pass on, first, our manifestation before that blessed One who has loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Surely angels may wonder at the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Now if all from our birth, to that moment when we are manifested in His glory, be brought out before the assembled myriads, yet will it not show the grace to “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Yes, every saint will be to the praise of His glory. All this is unspeakably glorious to us, and think of being rewarded, recompensed, in that scene of glory, at the resurrection of the just!
How terrible the contrast in that scene, when the dead are judged! Every thought, motive, and act, all written in the books: every secret sin unconfessed, unforgiven — all, all, brought out into light. Vain the hope of pardon then. The day of mercy is past. The future, God has said it, is the lake of fire.
If a single believer could come into that judgment, then Christ would have died in vain. Oh rest my soul on the words of Jesus. “Shall not come into [judgment]” (John 5:24). The sad error of a general resurrection, then, has taken away all the untold joy, and brightness of the first resurrection; yes, has robbed the Christian of the blessed hope altogether, so that many do not even know that there is a first resurrection. Is it possible that that for which the Apostle so longed, and for which the church waited in the patience of Christ, has been lost and forgotten? It is too true.
Had we space we should find, that the promise of God to Abraham could not be fulfilled, if there were no first resurrection. “And I will give unto thee  ...  the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Genesis17:8). (See Genesis 13:14-15.) Stephen tells us Abraham was a stranger, had no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on. It is plain if Abraham were not raised from among the dead until the heavens and the earth flee away, and he had to stand before the great white throne, then God would have broken His word to Abraham, which is impossible. By faith, they sojourned, and looked “that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). No; they shall be raised from among the dead, whether it be Israel for earthly, or the church for the heavenly glory. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). This must be the reader’s portion, or the lake of fire. May the Lord deliver you from the fatal delusion of putting off your salvation to the judgment of the dead.

As It Was in the Days of Noah

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27).
If these words were but the mere opinions of men, we might disregard them, but since they are the words of the Son of God, they must, and will be fulfilled to the very letter. Let us then carefully inquire how it was in the days of Noah. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Yes, God saw. It does not tell us what man thought, but what God saw. There is no deceiving God. God sees all that takes place under the sun. Just think of God seeing the imagination of the thoughts of the heart. Could my reader bear to be in the presence of a fellow-man if he knew every thought you ever had in your heart? And what was the wickedness of man then, compared to the wickedness of man now? Has not man murdered the Son of God, and for 1900 years rejected Him? And Jesus foretells that this wicked rejection of Him will go on until the very day Christ is revealed.
I dare say that man thought the days of Noah were days of wondrous progress. But “the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). What is it now? Let it even speak for itself. The world’s newspapers say we have no sooner recorded one deed of violence but we are called to report another. But what is it before God? And what will it be very shortly, when the true church of God shall be taken up to meet Christ, and Satan deceives the whole world? Peace shall then be taken from the earth (Revelation 6). And men shall kill one another in that day of tribulation, tribulation such as never was, and never will be again. It will be as literally true as it was in the days of Noah, when the earth was filled with violence; yes, far more literally true than men expect.
I look upon the translation of Enoch as a type of the translation of the whole church of God (1 Thessalonians 4). And then all the world becomes infidel, filled with blasphemous wickedness, except a small remnant of godly Jews who will be saved as Noah and his family. So that it may be asked, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). And God revealed His purpose to Noah that He would destroy man from the face of the earth. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). And still the world went on; its buildings, its commerce, its pleasures, and its sins — men would not believe God. The ark grew larger every day, a witness of the coming judgment; certainly there was no appearance of the coming flood. Indeed, human reason would have said it was impossible. What? God destroy this beautiful world, only just in its infancy? Many of the wise men of this age would have said, “O no, Noah; you are quite mistaken; it is only your opinion; besides, a great many prophecies have to be fulfilled yet — all the world has to be blessed, and filled with righteousness, so that you must be mistaken, Noah; you had better give up working at that great ship, and give up preaching such peculiar views as you hold; come and enjoy yourself, man, and don’t be such a narrow-minded bigot; do you think everybody is wrong but you?” But the flood came and destroyed them all. “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh  ...  and the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:15-16). Every soul that was not shut in with Noah was shut out. There was then no hope; it was too late. Yes, and it will be so in the day of the Son of Man. We read in the parable of the Ten Virgins, “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us” (Matthew 25:10-11). But it was too late.
A Jew, as he listened to the discourse of Jesus in Luke 21, foretelling the certain destruction of Jerusalem, and the scattering of the Jews among all nations, might have said, “Ah, that must be a mistake; why this city is to be the center of the whole earth, and blessings shall flow out through it to all nations. We scattered among all nations! No, all nations shall come up and worship in Jerusalem.” But the day of fierce destruction came; and the city was trampled under foot; and they were scattered among all nations.
In like manner, men may say now, “Be as it was in the days of Noah, the earth filled with violence and wickedness when the Son of Man cometh, up to the very day? Oh that is only your opinion; why, man, the world is to be converted! ‘Apostate Christendom destroyed’? Why Christendom has to extend until all the world are Christians — every man, woman and child!”
Thus man rejects the Word of God just as blindly and as fatally as in the days of Noah, or when Jesus foretold Judah’s awful doom. Yes, in like manner shall they say, “Peace and safety” up to the very day of Christ. It is quite true the world shall be filled with blessing, but this did not hinder the flood, did it? It is quite certain that Jerusalem shall be the metropolis of the whole earth (Isaiah 2), but did this hinder its awful destruction? It is quite certain that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the face of the earth, but will this hinder the words of Jesus being fulfilled? As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man cometh. How can the future reign of Christ, in blessing over this earth, which shall take place after He comes, hinder the fearful judgments which shall surely take place at His coming? No, the world will go on increasing in wickedness until He comes.
His words shall surely come to pass. It will be exactly as it was; the world will be taken with as great surprise as it was in the days of Noah.
O my reader, are you ready to meet the coming Lord? Do you, like Noah, believe God, or, with the world, are you rejecting Him? Are you shut in with Christ, as Noah was shut in the ark, or are you shut out? God saw, and God knows your every thought. The Gospel still sounds; God grant that you may hear, believe, and live. If my reader is a Christian, let me beg of you to search the Scriptures, and see if these things be so. Jesus says, “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:7).


“When I see the blood.” Exodus 12:13.
I knew a person who had, for years, been deeply anxious about her soul. She longed to know for certain, that she had redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of her sins. She felt that if she died without redemption, she was lost forever. She went from place to place, to hear the preaching of the Word. Her anxiety became very great; yet nothing that she heard gave her peace. She was constantly thinking that she had something to do before she could have redemption. She tried to lay hold of the promises but they gave her no relief. She tried to serve God and keep His commandments; she found she failed at every step. She tried forms and ceremonies, but all in vain. She then thought she must have stronger faith, and tried to understand more clearly the value of the blood of Jesus; still all was darkness. God would not even have her faith as the price of her redemption. Her heart sank in despair; she could do no more. It was when she was in that state of self-despair, she heard those words, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). The Holy Ghost spoke in her soul in that moment, and said to her, “It was God who spoke these words.” In a moment she felt the vast difference between herself seeing the blood of Jesus, and God seeing it. She thought, Yes, God sees so much value in the blood of Jesus, that He will pass over me, and the destroyer shall not touch me. From that moment she believed what God had said about the blood of Jesus. From that moment she had peace through the blood of Jesus. Now she knows, with certainty, that she has redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of her sins.
Surely, this one case, out of many thousands that might be told, shows the importance of the subject before us.
Before speaking of these wonderful words, “When I see the blood,” let me remind you of the condition of this people, Israel, as described in the previous chapters. They were slaves under Pharaoh, in bitter bondage. They “sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God” (Exodus 2:23). God heard and pitied them. He said, “for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7). Yes, such also is the plain fact, man has sold himself a bond-slave to Satan. There is no denying it. Oh what a cry of misery ascends from this world of sin. How bitter is the slavery of sin, if there were no lake of fire hereafter; even now, what bitterness and anguish has sin brought? Every heart knows its own bitterness. God heard their sighs, and has He not heard yours?
God is love! He heard their sighs. He knew their sorrows and He came to save. The people heard that God had looked upon their affliction (Exodus 4:31), and they desired to go forth and worship Him. Just like the person above, they anxiously desired to go forth and serve God; but, as it was with her, this only made their burdens the heavier. Their afflictions and sorrow were now very great. How often is this the case when the soul is awakened to thirst after God. Then Satan brings all his force to crush the sin-burdened soul. The next thing, we find the promises of God, in Exodus 6, entirely fail to give the least comfort. “They harkened not  ...  for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:9). In the following chapters, to 12, we see, by the conduct of Pharaoh, how loath Satan is to give up his victims.
How many who read these lines will say, “How like me all this! The more I have desired to serve God, the heavier has been my burden. I have tried to get comfort from the promises, but all in vain. Still anguish of spirit; still the burden of sin; still uncertain as to my interest in Christ.” Poor soul! if this is your condition, let us now look at this redemption chapter. God grant that this may be the beginning of months to you. Do you see, the Lamb was slain and the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts? And do not you see, that every soul, young or old, that took refuge in the blood-sprinkled house, had an interest in that blood? God said, “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). He did not say, When I see how good you are; or, When I see that you deserve My favor; or, When you have repented enough or believed enough. No, the blood is first and uppermost in God’s thoughts. It was His token of love to them, just as and where they were. He did not even say, When you see the blood; but “When I see the blood.” Now, I repeat, did any person within that blood-sprinkled house need to ask, How may I know that I have an interest in the blood? It was most certain he had, on the authority of the Word of God. And every soul that simply trusted in what God said about that blood was saved that night.
Now, we all know that redemption from Egypt was a type of redemption through “the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). And, in the very same way, is not the blood of Christ God’s token of love to lost, burdened sinners? Jesus did not die that God might love us, but because He loved us. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us” (1 John 4:9). God did so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Note, it is not what you see, but what God sees, in the blood of Christ. He knows all your sins, and yet He sees the blood of Christ. He sees that the sufferings and atoning death of His beloved Son justify Him in passing over all your sins, however deep their crimson dye. He says so plainly, and is righteous in justifying freely every sinner who believes in Him, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3). Do you say, How am I to know that I have an interest in that atoning blood? Why, do you not see, every Israelite who believed God had an interest in the sprinkled blood. And if you search the New Testament through, you will find that every sinner who trusted God about that precious blood shed on the cross knew, with the utmost certainty, that he had redemption through the blood of Christ. Note, you have not to trust in a promise. Redemption is no longer a promise, but an accomplished fact — a finished work. If you were dying with thirst, and a person promised to bring you water, you might trust his promise; but when he has brought the water to you, you have not then to trust in his promise, but to drink the water. God has fulfilled His promise; He has sent His Son. The blood has flowed from His pierced side. It is all finished. Peace through that blood is come to you. May God open your heart to receive that peace on the testimony of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead. Oh! how strange that men should forget this, and go back to the promises, as though God had still to do something to save sinners. It is done. The blood has been freely shed. God sees that blood. I only ask, Have you been brought to take your last refuge in that blood? Can you say that the blood of Jesus is your only trust? Then it is most certain that you have an everlasting interest in that atoning blood. You have redemption through that blood, according to the infinite value that God sees in the death of Christ. Up, then, arise, and away from Egypt. With girded loins, and staff in hand, as the redeemed of the Lord, away, away! Adieu, adieu, to Satan’s bonds and Satan’s world! You are no longer your own, but bought with a price — and such a price. Christ died, the Just for the unjust, to bring you to God — and to such a God.

What Is the First Day of the Week or the Lord's Day?

There are those who can see no difference between the seventh day, the Sabbath, and the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, except the mere change of the day. What should we think of the intelligence of a person who could see no difference between a corpse and a living man? Just as blind must that man be who sees no difference between the ministration of death and the present dispensation, which is after the power of an endless life, in which all is perfect and eternal, and of which the Lord’s Day is the joyful expression. The offerings of the former, the dispensation of works, could never take away sin, could never give the conscience perfect peace. The work of its priesthood was never done. But in this dispensation of grace, “after He [Christ] had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
Now, as there is such an immense contrast between the dispensation of works by Moses, called the ministration of death, and the dispensation of the fullness of life eternal by Christ Jesus, so the Holy Ghost has most carefully distinguished between “the seventh day” of the one and “the first day” of the other. Indeed, to take in the full range of God’s thought would be to see the one as the last day of the old creation, and the other as the first day of the new. God’s rest in the old creation was broken by sin, since which the whole creation groans. God’s rest in Christ, the head of the new creation, can never be broken. “We might as easily mingle light and darkness as the principles of the two dispensations; and hence the necessity of seeing the former to be utterly abolished by the cross of Christ before we can have the least apprehension of the present in the power of resurrection. Everything in the past is on the principle of obedience to a carnal commandment; everything in the present springs from the power of a risen life. Oh, that we did but know more fully “the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). (See Philippians 3:1-12.)
This will account at once for the striking contrast between the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian’s first day. The one was strictly commanded, and legal obedience enforced on pain of death to those who had engaged to keep the covenant of works. But to believers, as sons, there is no command at all to observe a Sabbath. Obedience in them is that of sonship. There is nothing in common between the two; all is contrast: and not only so, but the one can only begin on the ground that the other has really come to an end.
Turning to Matthew 28:1 we read, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” It was then the angel of the Lord said, “He is risen” (Matthew 28:6). So in Mark 16:1, “And when the sabbath was passed,” the glory of the resurrection at once burst forth. The shadow of the sabbath passed over the sepulcher of Jesus and disappeared; it vanished before the glory of the risen Son of God. It is very remarkable that Jesus remained in the silent tomb until the sabbath was fully come to an end; and not only so, but until the dawn of the first day of the week very early in the morning. The night seems to have been added on, as it were, in perfect keeping with the fact that the church has to wait a little while; the night of which is now far spent. The dawn of the resurrection morn shall soon break forth. The sun of the new creation shall soon arise in all his strength and glory, to set no more.
The Sabbath as a shadow having served its purpose in pointing to Christ, and now having thus passed away, let us inquire what there is in the Word of God respecting the first day of the week. Great as was that work of creation from which God rested on the seventh day, yet infinitely greater was the work of redemption, from which Christ rested, and which God declared accomplished and accepted by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
On the first day of the week He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He “was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Romans 6:4). “God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30). “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (Acts 4:11). The Epistles also are full of the glory of the resurrection of Christ. The whole question of our salvation hangs on the resurrection of Christ.
Now it was on this first day of the week that Christ arose, the firstborn from among the dead — the first-fruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118: 22-24). The question is, On what day did God take up from the dead His rejected stone and give Him this glory? Plainly, on the first day of the week, This, then, is the day of all days which the Lord hath made; and without a command those are glad and do rejoice in it who are one with Him that is raised from the dead. I know this passage looks forward to Israel as to the time of the manifestation; but faith sees in the resurrection of Christ the pledge and assurance of all that is yet to come. “Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14). As Jesus was the firstfruit pledge of the coming harvest, so that day on which He arose is a foretaste of the eternal peace and joy at His right hand in the glory.
It was on that first day that Jesus opened the Scriptures and showed His disciples how He ought to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory. (Luke 24 — see the whole chapter.) It was on that same day at evening, being the first day of the week, that Jesus for the first time declared the glad tidings of peace through His broken body and shed blood. “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36), and He showed them His hands and His feet. Oh, what a gospel of peace in the wounds of Jesus alive from the dead! And again, the next first day He came with the same message of peace. Who can tell the deep joy of the soul which has long been tormented with the awful sense of sin — when, for the first time, “Peace be unto you” is heard from the lips of Jesus, and conscience is forever satisfied, because God is glorified by the wounds on the risen body of Jesus. Surely that soul will rejoice on the day, the first of all days, when God raised up His Son from the dead.
But the disciples, though thus blest, were commanded to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father — the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:4-8). Now, it is most remarkable that the Holy Ghost did not come until the day of Pentecost was fully come. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place  ...  and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:1,4). Surely there must be some reason why the Lord Jesus remained in the grave until the Sabbath was so fully past, and the Holy Ghost remained away until the Pentecost was so fully come; for the Pentecostal scene — like the resurrection — began early in the morning on the first day of the week.
The institution of this Pentecostal feast in Leviticus 23 will throw much light on this part of our subject. The sheaf of the first-fruits in verse 11, “He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath.” Now the morrow after the Sabbath must be the first day of the week. Christ was that firstfruit sheaf which was waved in resurrection acceptance on the morrow after the Sabbath — not on the Sabbath, but the first day after the Sabbath was passed — on the very day the Jewish priest waved the literal sheaf Christ arose from the dead. “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15-16).
To my own soul the typical instruction in this is very full. The waving of the firstfruit sheaf was on the morrow after the Sabbath, and the two wave-loaves are also offered on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath, or first day after the Sabbath. How wondrously everything met in Christ. On the very night the Passover was slain, Jesus was offered, the Lamb of God without spot. On that very morrow after the Sabbath, when the wave sheaf was waved, on that very first day of the week Jesus, our Surety, was raised from the dead and accepted for us. Seven Sabbaths had to pass away, and the morrow after the seventh must be fully come — the Pentecost — before the Holy Ghost could be given to baptize the disciples into one body, the church of the living God. Then was the church, answering to the two wave-loaves, to be taken from Jew and Gentile, presented before the Lord. The sweet savor offering connected with the sheaf of the firstfruits, contrasted with the leaven baked with the loaves of these firstfruits, is full of solemn instruction as to the perfection of Christ, who “hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor” (Ephesians 5:2), and the leaven of imperfection that is found in the church. As to itself, it is only as seen in Him who loved it and gave Himself for it, that it is without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (Ephesians 5:26-27).
But why, I ask, were they to wait, and why did the Spirit delay until the Sabbath was seven times past, and this first day of Pentecost was fully come? Was it not to show that the Sabbath, with the whole economy of the law, must be seven times past, utterly past, before God could begin to build the new-creation church? It may be necessary to notice, for some, that the church had no actual existence before the day of Pentecost. When Jesus told Peter about the church, He did not say, On this rock I am building, but on this rock I will build My church. Now, that Peter afterward understood this to refer to resurrection is very clear (Acts 4:10-12; 1 Peter 1:3-4; 2:4-9). Surely, as living stones we are not built upon a dead Christ, but built up in Him who is alive from the dead. Unless Christ raised from the dead is seen to be the foundation of the church, the church of God is not seen at all. That there may be churches or assemblies of men without any connection whatever with the resurrection of Christ is very certain. But that the church of God is risen with Christ is also quite as clear; for “He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). Alas! resurrection is beyond man’s thoughts altogether. But it is God’s thought, and that which is the marvelous contrast to everything that is earthly.
Should the reader wish to see more of this, let him turn to the Epistle to the Ephesians. The resurrection of Christ in mighty power is seen in Ephesians 1:18; the church is then seen as His body, raised up with Him, in Ephesians 2, and thus built upon Him, the chief corner stone. Ephesians 3 shows this mystery to have been kept hid from ages.
To return to Pentecost. On this first day the glad tidings of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus was proclaimed for the first time to the wondering multitude. Three thousand heard the Word, received it, and were baptized. When God formed man of the dust of the ground all his members were fashioned, but he was not a living soul until God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Even so, it is quite true, the disciples of Christ were gathered together, but they were not a living temple of the Holy Ghost until He descended on the day of Pentecost. What a change! a timid band of fearful men now stand forth in the mighty power of God; and this great event took place on the first day of the week, even the morrow after the seventh Sabbath. Surely the believer needs no command to remember with gladness such a day.
Let us now notice Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” It does not say, when the disciples met to keep the Sabbath; no, the word Sabbath is never once used in Scripture to denote the first day of the week. But they were disciples thus met, and their object was not even to hear Paul; no, the preaching of Paul is secondary to “breaking bread.” What was this breaking bread that was thought so much of by the early disciples, not on the first Sunday in the month, or the second, but on the first day of the week? The first Sunday in the month has no meaning in it, except as it expresses man’s self-will, to do as he likes for his convenience.
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
This passage is full of solemn instruction as to what it is for disciples to break bread. It is the Lord’s redeemed people, remembering their Lord’s death, and showing it forth until He come. This was the object of the disciples when they came together on the first day of the week. Am I a disciple? Have I redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of my sins? Then with solemn, holy joy, let me eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, on the first day of the week — that is the memorial of His broken body, and of His shed blood; let me thus confess and show forth that my salvation is not by works, but entirely of Christ.
But let us beware of making the supper of the Lord, either a mass, or a sacrament of works for salvation; no, it is the commemoration of that finished redemption which is the eternal salvation of every one that believes. It is for those who believe God and are saved (not for those who doubt God’s testimony and hope they may, partly by works and partly by Christ, be saved) thus to show forth the tokens of this finished work; and though truly blessed for the Lord’s believing people at any time to break bread, remembering His great love, yet how very fitting, on the day of His triumphant resurrection, to come together to break bread in remembrance of His death. This is no matter for human choice. If a child delights to do its parent’s will, simply because it has discovered its parent’s pleasure, much more surely, in the true spirit of sonship, shall we delight, yes, rejoice, in the first day of the week; and loving Him because He has so loved us, we shall with longing hearts desire to do the will of Him who has thus saved us by His grace.
Christ loved to reveal Himself to His disciples on the first day of the week; and faith will still count on this.
The Holy Ghost was pleased to use the preaching of the gospel on the first day of the week; faith will count on His still loving to bring many souls to Christ on that day, and of course at all other times.
Disciples came together then on the first day of the week to break bread — disciples should love to come together now to break bread. Disciples then made collections for the poor on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2) — they should love to do the same now. Oh, how thankful should we be that we have such an opportunity — such a privilege — on the first day of the week to meet together, to break bread, to preach Christ, and to care for one another, none molesting or making us afraid. Shall we lightly esteem such a favor? Oh, no, God forbid! How can they who are not their own, but bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ — how can such say, “I am not a servant, but a son, therefore I will do my own pleasure; I will go here and there; I will do my own will”? Ah, this savors more of Satan than of the spirit of adoption and love. Oh my brethren, we need more to feel the claims of the mercy of God, and more yielding of our bodies to God!
One word as to Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” This is the only passage in which “the Lord’s Day” occurs in Scripture, and I doubt not it means, as commonly understood, the first day of the week — the day which the Lord has made. The sum of it all is this: the Lord’s people, on the Lord’s Day, remembering the Lord’s death, and preaching the gospel to the world.
But, it may be asked, is there no command to the world about Sabbath-keeping now? Nothing, I answer, but to hear the gospel, believe and live. Man never could enter into rest by works. Peace and life are God’s free gift. Every act of obedience must spring from life in Christ. We are created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). “For He is our peace, who hath made both one [that is the Jew under law, and the Gentile without law], and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 1:14-15). “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (Ephesians 1:17).
In conclusion, should the reader be one of those who has long and anxiously desired this “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), this assurance of perfect rest in God, and has never yet found it, let me ask. Have you not sought it by the works of the law, Sabbath-keeping, or what not, instead of looking simply to Jesus? Are we not told that He hath “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20), and that since Christ hath been set forth crucified, “as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” (Galatians 3:10)? You cannot possibly have both. If you cling to the law and try to do the best you can, you let go Christ (Galatians 5:4). If you cling only to Christ, you magnify the law, for all its condemnation fell on Jesus — its ministry is abolished and you are free, you are justified, you have peace, you cease from works, you enter into rest, even the true Sabbath of God. The love of God fills your soul, the Spirit of God bears witness that the blood of Jesus has cleansed you from all sin. The Lord’s Day will no longer be a day of bondage and sin, but a day of thanksgiving and joy. You are a new creature in Christ Jesus — old things are passed away — all is new. The new nature will as surely delight to do the will of God as the old nature is contrary to Him.

A Great Supper

We want to talk with you a little about the wonderful parables of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is one of them. Jesus said, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (Luke 14:16-24).
This great supper is a picture of God’s great salvation. When you are invited to supper by a friend, do you expect that you will have to pay for it? Or will you be expected to provide it? Or take any part of it to your friend’s house? Of course not. Would you not simply have to sit down and receive it? Just so. You would merely be a guest. All would have to be done by someone else before you could receive it. A great deal would have to be done before the servant could say all things are now ready: the supper is on the table. This is the peculiarity of the Gospel. Not so when man was under law. Then the law made known the righteous demands of God. That was more like the landlord coming to your house for the rent, when you can’t pay it; can’t pay it when you would. This great supper is not like that. All is provided, all is given.
Why don’t you like to think about God? Don’t you think He demands something from you, something that you find you have not to give? Yes, you do. You think you have to become good, holy, righteous, religious. God demands all this from you, and you cannot give it Him. Is not that what you think? Have you not often tried to bring all this to God, and still you find you fail to do it. And yet you think if you do not bring something to God, according to the demands of His law, you never can be saved. The Lord Jesus will show you in this picture that you are quite mistaken, that this is not God’s present plan at all. God provides and gives everything. He does not expect you to bring, but to receive, just as you would at your friend’s great supper. Do you see that this great supper is in direct contrast with the demands of the law? The law says thou shalt love God. This supper shows how God has loved you.
What is a great supper? If half-a-dozen men were invited to a supper that cost one shilling, that would not be called a great supper, would it? A supper is great according to what it costs. What would you think, if a nobleman sold all he had, and made a great supper for the poor? That would be a supper to talk about. A great supper indeed. If a supper is great according to what it costs: and if God is the provider of this great supper: this great salvation: let us then inquire:

What It Cost

It is not now God in law demanding: but God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. Have you read of Him in the prophet Isaiah? “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of host” (Isaiah 6:1-3). This is Jesus Jehovah! “These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him (John 12:41). “Unto the Son, he saith, Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8). “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thine hands” (Hebrews 1:10). “For by Him were all things created” (Colossians 1:16). “And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).
He became flesh and dwelt amongst us, born of a poor maid of Nazareth, in a stable, laid in a manger. Oh! read His wondrous life of sorrow, of sympathy, of divine love to sinners. And now turn back and see Him in the glory, too bright for highest creature gaze; see seraphim veil their faces, and cry Holy, holy, holy! Now turn to another scene. See Him in dark Gethsemane — His soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. See Him sweating as it were great drops of blood! No human heart to sympathize. His loved disciples asleep! At that moment one of His disciples and the chief priests of His nation were planning to betray Him and put Him to death. He says, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me” (Psalm 142:3). Oh, see the Creator of the universe become lowly man, and giving Himself into the hands of wicked men. See Him bound; see Him led to Caiaphas; see Him delivered to Pilate. “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe” (John 19:2). Ah, they mocked Him; they spit upon Him. But see Him thrown down. See His hands and His feet nailed to the accursed tree. See Him hanging by those painful wounds! “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). His soul was made an offering for sin. And now the heavens grew dark. Made sin for us, He was forsaken of God. Oh, listen to that cry! “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Hearken again: “It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). This was the price of the great supper: the great salvation of God. This is what it cost. He must be lifted up on the cross, the sacrifice for sins. He must die or remain alone, and never have a guest at the supper. He must die, and rise again from amongst the dead, or all things could never be ready. There is no other supper for poor lost sinners. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?
How long have you despised this great supper? It is said in Matthew, “They made light of it” (Matthew 22:5). Have you made light of it? So here in Luke they all made a polite excuse. The piece of ground — the oxen — the wife. Oh, is it so with you, your business, your work, your family — all right in themselves; but can you pay attention to these things, and neglect, nay refuse, the great supper; the great salvation?
In this section we have been occupied with what it cost; in our next we hope to see what it is. The greatest feast ever made on earth just dwindles down to nothing compared to this. Of every feast that man, guilty man, can make, it is like Belshazzar’s feast, there is the writing of a man’s hand on the wall. But of this supper it is written, “He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). No other supper could ever pretend to this. At all the feasts on earth man eats and hungers again. But this great supper is everlasting. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Once made partakers of God’s great salvation we cannot desire another: there is no other. It was first spread in the midst of the city, even Jerusalem. There it was made light of, despised, and rejected. Free to accept it, all rejected. They would not believe the free grace of God.
Have you tried the pleasures of this world? Do they ever satisfy? How can they, when death and judgment come after them? They only leave an aching void. The pleasures of sin deceive for a moment: this supper satisfies forever. When we examine the supper in our next section, we shall find every need of the sinner met once and forever. Let us remember we have nothing to do for it, nothing to give for it, nothing to bring to it; all is of God. All is done long ago. All things are ready. When the servant says supper is on the table, what have we to do but to sit down and receive it? The cost of this great salvation was the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cost, His precious blood. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

What It Is!

We have seen in the former section that this beautiful parable of the great supper shows us that God is not demanding from man, on the principle of law, but giving, providing, in free grace. “A certain man made a great supper” (Luke 14:16). Thus He provided everything, the guests brought nothing. What a new truth this was as to God and salvation, to men under the administration of the law, which did not give, but demanded. Then we found this supper was great because it cost the greatest price in the universe: the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The agony, the atoning suffering, of the cross, forsaken of God: that was the price of the supper. The price of the great salvation was His precious blood.
Nothing could be more striking than this picture. When you are invited to supper, and all things are ready, you have only to sit down and receive the rich provisions. And note, this picture admits of no uncertainty. A person must know whether he receives his friend’s supper or refuses it. We now propose to examine what this great supper is. Let us continue the figure of the supper. Here then is a great supper spread out, all ready, warranted to meet the needs of every poor sinner brought to it, not only for a moment, but to satisfy forever.
Pray, what is your need? Do you say deep indeed is my need. I am a guilty sinner. Death and judgment is before me, and I cannot escape; and I cannot undo what I have done; and I know very well in my sins I cannot enter heaven. Sit down here; this is what meets your case at the very head of the table, God speaks to you, “Be it known,” — yes, all is certainty at the supper — “that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” Yes, “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 13:38; 10:43). This is a wonderful part of the great supper. Immediate forgiveness of sins; and note this is not through our feelings or doings; but through Jesus. And this is not only immediate forgiveness, but perfect and everlasting forgiveness. “And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). Oh! do you believe God? This is the very first taste of blessedness at the great supper. “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7). Yes, the moment you sit down in the light of that great supper — for there is no darkness there — then you immediately know that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Sins can no more be reckoned to any at that great supper. They have been borne by Jesus, their Substitute; and can never be imputed to them.
Then all there are justified from all things? This is the very next thing on the table. “And all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Why, this was the very thing that Jesus, after He had died for our sins, was raised from the dead for. “He was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Just as the creditor puts the stamp on the bill that has been paid, for full evidence of settlement, so God has raised up Jesus our Lord from among the dead, to be the everlasting receipt — the full evidence of settlement — for that debt paid in His precious blood. Perfect and infinite sacrifice: perfect and everlasting justification, must give perfect and everlasting peace with God. And so all at the supper enjoy this? If they believe God they do. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This is the happy position of all at the great supper. “Being justified.” That is always so. Always we have perfect peace with God. It must be so, the supper is always the same, always through Jesus Christ our Lord. The justification could not be more complete. It was God who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead for our justification. Who shall lay anything to the charge of those at the great supper? “It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again” (Romans 8:33). Oh, reader, do you believe God? Have you sat down at the supper?
Now we will look a little further, and see what God has made and provided at this great supper. Christ Jesus, still meeting our needs, “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Just as you could look at the various dishes on your friend’s table, all provided for you: not brought by you. So here, at the great supper; God’s great salvation. Do you say, I am so ignorant, I greatly need wisdom. Sit down and contemplate Christ Jesus made unto you wisdom. The philosopher may study the stones and the stars, but at this supper, you know Him who made them all, from everlasting to everlasting.
Do you say before I can be quite sure I am saved at the great supper: must I not be righteous in all my ways before God and man? Can God possibly justify me before that is the case? Fatal mistake if you have to bring righteousness to the supper: at that supper you can never be: for you are guilty, and fail at every point. Was not this the fatal mistake of the Jews? Is it not the fatal mistake of the ritualists? They are vainly trying by works to bring that to the supper which God has made Christ Jesus to be to every one that sits at the great supper. But says another, must I not attain to higher Christian life, must I not bring holiness to God? Here is the same mistake again: that is exactly what you find at the great supper, not what you bring. Christ Jesus made unto us sanctification. Well, says another, I need redemption, how may I be sure that I have got it? That again is exactly what all have at the great supper. Yes, God has provided all. Jesus Christ: infinite wisdom: everlasting righteousness. “By one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). Eternal redemption. The great mistake we make is in supposing we have to bring some of these, instead of sitting down, in perfect peace, and finding all we need, and all ours for evermore. If we are still on the ground of God’s righteous demands from us, we are lost, for if He deals with us in righteousness He must condemn us. The blood of propitiation for our sins has been shed. God in His righteousness has raised the believer’s substitute from the dead. God thus proclaims forgiveness of sins to us, and all that believe God are justified. They sit at the great supper in perfect peace with God. Christ is their wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. And they hunger no more. They need no other righteousness before God; no other sanctification; no other redemption.
But what is there in this great supper to provide for righteousness before men? Just everything. Being justified by faith before God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost dwells in them, and thus walking in the Spirit, practical righteousness is fulfilled in them.
Here comes one with trembling desire to sit in perfect peace at the great supper. Well, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Pray, what do you ask for at the supper? Is this what you long to know? When all the sorrows and storms of this sad life are past, I want to be quite sure of a home above. Oh, if you will sit down, and just take what is set before you, you will find three times more than you ask. This is the very thing He makes so certain. He says to you, poor trembling believer, “In My Father’s house are many mansions (abodes): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). Yes, He says, your home above with Me shall be as certain as that I am there. Could He say more? Yes, He does. He promised the Comforter, the Holy Ghost to be with you all the way. Yet more still — “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Certainty of home; the presence of the Comforter all the way, and His peace which is surely perfect. My section is finished, but it will take eternity to unfold the vastness of this great supper; the great salvation of God. Tell us, dear reader, how will you escape if you neglect it?
We now proceed to inquire — who are the welcome guests?

Who Are the Welcome Guests?

We have seen that this great salvation is entirely of God; as the friend who invites you certainly provides the repast. We have seen that the cost of this great supper was the death of the Son of God. No other price could have bought it. We have seen that the great supper meets every need of the lost sinner. Forgiveness of sins; justification from all things; no condemnation to them that are in Christ, at the great supper. No separation from that festive feast of love. Christ Jesus their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Their home in the place prepared, secured. The Holy Ghost abiding with them. The peace of Christ their happy portion. All provided of God. Nothing to do, nothing to bring; all given, and given forever.
Now, Who are the welcome guests?
Such a great supper, such a great salvation spread out before the multitude, hastening on to death and judgment and eternal woe. Surely, you would say, the whole world would at once accept so great salvation. No, it is not so. With all man’s boast of freedom, if left to his own choice, not one would sit down at the great supper. These are the words of Jesus: “They made light of it” (Matthew 22:5). “They all with one consent began to make excuse” (Luke 14:18). Yes, profanely or politely, all refuse the salvation which is wholly of God’s providing. Is not this a true and sad picture?
Tell a man to wash in the Ganges, he will do it. Tell him to give his body to be crushed by the wheels of the idol, he will do it. Tell him to lacerate his poor body, to put it to untold tortures, he will do it. Tell him to own the false prophet of Mecca, he will do it. Tell him to fast; to say long prayers; tell him to become an idolater, and worship a bit of bread, or the blessed virgin; tell him to shut himself up in a cell — all these things, or anything, the millions will do, to work out a righteousness of their own: to provide something to bring to God. But, spread out the accomplished salvation of God, not one of the human race will accept it. All make their polite excuse. Is this true? Look at Jerusalem, nay, look at the cities and towns of highly-favored England, for an answer. Nay, we don’t need go beyond the reader and the writer of these few thoughts.
Oh, is this so? Are you hastening on, day by day — every day a day nearer to death, judgment, the lake of fire — and yet every day rejecting the great salvation of God.
Blessed be God, even from Jerusalem, the city that killed the Holy One of God. From the lanes of that city the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind, were brought to the great supper — three thousand in one day!
Who are the welcome guests? The poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind. “And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou host commanded, and yet there is room” (Luke 14:22). Yes, there is room; room for the writer, and room for the reader. Yet there is room! “And the Lord said unto His servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). This is the blessed work of God amongst the highways and hedges of the lost Gentile world. Is not this grace beyond all measure, beyond all human thought? Not only is this great supper spread, but the outcasts of the Highways and hedges are compelled to come in. Oh, how they sing,
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin.
We will take two persons as samples of the welcome guests. One from the Old Testament, which throws light, in picture, on this great supper. (Read 2 Samuel 4:4; 9:1-13.) We ask your attention especially to the kindness of God, in fetching a welcome guest, lame on both his feet. This young man had fallen, and became utterly lame on the day of the death of his father. This is our condition through Adam’s sin; we are fallen and utterly lame without strength. David said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him? There was one, this lame young man, in the house Machir, in Lo-debar. There he was hiding from David in the place of Lo-debar — that is, the place of no pasture — such a picture of our condition. Are you there, not only hiding from God, hastening on to endless woe, but nothing to satisfy all the way? David sent and fetched him from his hiding-place. And when he came he fell on his face. Then “David said, Mephibosheth! And he answered, Behold thy servant. And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake  ...  and thou, shalt eat bread at my table continually” (2 Samuel 9:6-7). Thus God fetches the poor hiding, guilty, helpless, lame sinner, and says, Fear not, I will surely show thee kindness, for Christ’s sake. Think of these words, Surely I will show thee kindness. Surely! What a feast; and to eat continually. This kindness of God at once produces repentance. “And he bowed himself, and said, what is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am” (2 Samuel 9:8). Has the kindness of God ever led you to this deep self-abhorrence?
All is given to this poor cripple. He is placed at the King’s table, as one of the King’s sons. The kindness of God gives this poor lame sinner the highest place of royal blessing. It was the will of the King. “As for Mephibosheth, said the King, he shall eat at my table, as one of the King’s sons  ...  So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the King’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:11,13). Wonderful as is this picture of the kindness of God, yet the reality far exceeds the type. David deals with him for Jonathan’s sake. God deals with us for Christ’s sake. He sits at the feast as one of the King’s sons. But as to all who are brought to the great supper, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:7).
Very beautiful is the love of David to one of the house of Saul, his enemy. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
One scarcely knows which is the most wonderful, the grace of God in spreading such a feast, or the wickedness of man in despising it? What a text is that over the door of the feast, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Look at it again and again. Yes, the house shall be filled. There is a place for every guest; and every guest shall fill that place. The poor, the halt, the lame, the blind, are welcome. The chief of sinners He receives. The greatest sinner you know is welcome, and is not that yourself? Cast yourself on His own words, “Shall in no wise be cast out.”
Do you say, Oh, I am a Christian without all that; I was baptized; I was confirmed; I say my prayers. Are you a Christian? Are you at the great supper? Are your sins forgiven? Are you justified? Have you peace with God? Don’t say I pray for these things. Many things we have to pray for. But the poor, halt, lame, blind, had not to pray for the great supper; it was all ready for them. To pray for a supper then, would have been to reject it. Don’t say no man can know whether he is saved or not; it is like saying no man can tell whether he has had his supper or not. The great supper, remember, is the gift of God, and to doubt it is to make God a liar. “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar” (1 John 5:10). In our next section we hope to take up a sample case from the New Testament, and also to consider the persons engaged in bringing the guests to the great supper.
Don’t forget those words of Jesus, “I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Who Are Engaged in Bringing Them to the Supper

We have seen that this great supper, the great salvation, is entirely of God. That it meets every possible need of the sinner. It is a great supper because of its great cost. That it lasts forever. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). We have seen that the whole human race, left to their own choice, reject this great supper, We have seen a sample, how the guests have to be fetched to the supper, in the case of Mephibosheth, lame on both feet. The kindness of God shown unto him. The place given him at the table as a King’s son. How God fetches the sinner that deserves everlasting judgment, and how God shows him everlasting kindness for Christ’s sake.
Now we will look at another sample guest brought to the supper. And who, dear reader, do you think are the persons engaged in seeking this strange guest, and receiving him safe to the great supper? The ever blessed glorious persons of the one Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We shall soon see how.
If you read on in Luke 14 you will find one thing greatly overlooked. If you are brought to the great supper, and made a partaker of the great salvation, there must then be no half measures. Christ must be all; He must have the first and sole place. No claims of nature, of relations, or of your own life, must come between you and Him.
This beautiful parable had a wonderful effect — “Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him” (Luke 15:1). This is just what we want you now to do: listen to the words of Jesus. “And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2). They who would be thought righteous, always murmur at this. But now in connection with the great supper, Jesus, who receiveth sinners, gave the following parable, in which is both shown who are engaged in bringing the guests to the table and also fully describes a sample of the guests.
Don’t forget it is Jesus, the Son of God, who speaks to us. The parable is divided into three parts. The man who seeks, finds, and brings the lost sheep. The woman who seeks diligently until she finds the lost piece of silver. The father who rejoices to find the lost son. In each case notice the word lost. Ah! if you knew the meaning in your own soul, lost! Will you notice the order of the parable, all to show how the lost sinner is brought to the supper.
First, the lost sheep. David sent to Lo-debar to fetch the poor cripple. Jesus came himself from the highest glory to bleed, and die for the lost one. Yes, the Good Shepherd must die: must be lifted up: must bear our sins on the cross, or never, never, have the joy of receiving the one lost sheep. He says, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15). It was not the lost sheep that sought the man, but the man that sought the sheep. It was all the man. He sought it, he found it, he carried it, he desired to have it safe at home, and he never gave it up till he got it there. Such is the Man Christ Jesus. He came to seek the lost sinner. He died for him. He brings him safe home at last rejoicing.
And all this the will of the Father. He says, “Therefore doth My Father love Me” (John 10:17). If you know Him thus, it will fill your heart with repentance; fill His with joy.
There is the diligent seeking of the woman, who had lost the piece of silver. Thus next in order, when the Lord Jesus had finished the work given Him to do, and was ascended up on high, the Holy Ghost was sent down, and for eighteen hundred years has He been diligently seeking lost sinners, to bring them to the great supper. And what ever it is to the repenting sinner, it is joy to the Holy Spirit to find and to bring the lost. Is He not diligently seeking you? Oh, that by this little paper He may bring you to the happy feast. And now we will go to the third part of the parable. Jesus, the Son of God, having bowed His head, and cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30); God having raised Him from the dead for our justification; the Holy Ghost having found the sinner, and awakened his conscience, we will now dwell a little on the Father’s joy in receiving him.
There is the guest to be brought, far from his Father’s house. As to all good, dead in trespasses and sins. As to all that is bad, he wasted his substance with riotous living. Spent all in grossest sins, with harlots. Could sin satisfy him? When he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land. Satan sends him to the swine. Poor fellow, he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him Oh, the dreadful slavery of sin! What wretchedness! And no man can give relief. And yet this very wretchedness and self-abhorrence is what God is using to bring this poor prodigal to himself. He came to himself. Yes, is not the slavery of sin, rushing willfully, madly, unto certain everlasting woe; is it not madness? He came to himself. Would you have thought that that wretched sinner was the sample guest the Lord Jesus selects as the one to be brought to the great supper? The moment he came to himself, the Father came to his mind, and bread enough and to spare in the Father’s house.
What of the Father? “But when he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Did you ever see anything like that? Words of Jesus revealing the Father, meeting the sin-oppressed lost prodigal. The work of Jesus, the beloved. Son, has removed every barrier. Are you a wretched sin-confessed prodigal? Oh, see the Father’s compassion and kiss first, and then the prodigal’s confession second.
The Father ran to meet him; the Father had compassion on him; the Father fell on his neck and kissed him. The kindness of God melts the heart in repentance and confession. It is not our repentance that melts the heart of God in kindness. Oh what precious lessons these are! “And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in Thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son.”
“But” yes, immediately sins are confessed all are forgiven. “But the Father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet” (Luke 15:22). Thus is the one lost guest received. Thus is he clothed in righteousness divine: the best robe. Thus he receives the ring, golden pledge of everlasting love. And the shoes on his feet, power to walk and do the will of God. At once and forever he is ready for the great supper. Nay, though the Father met him a great way off, yet at once he is at the supper. But we don’t hear a word more from him, it is all the Father’s joy. If thus brought to see and accept the grace of God, let us now forget ourselves and be occupied with the Father’s joy. He says, “And let us eat and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:23-34). The man rejoiced to find the lost sheep; the woman to find the lost silver; and the father rejoices to find the lost son! God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, God the Father. The three persons in one Godhead REJOICE in seeking, saving, bringing, receiving, the lost sinner to the great supper. Such is the great salvation wholly of God.
Satan would tell you there must be long weary years of penance here, or purgatory hereafter, or both, or you must do something to bring a righteousness to God first; or you must do great works of repentance first, before God can love you or show you kindness; or you must spend a life of dismal ritualism first, and then hope God will be merciful; at last. Satan is a liar.
The Lord Jesus Christ shows us that on the ground of His own infinite sacrifice, by His death for the sinner that now the supper is spread, and now the unhindered kindness of God the Father, by the Holy Spirit, melts the heart of the vilest sinner to full repentance and confession of sins, and immediately all sins are forgiven, the sinner, covered in divine righteousness, is fitted and brought to the great supper, to sit down as a son, in the glory of God.
Oh, that this may be the reader’s place, now and forever more. Amen.