The Christian's Family Relationships on Earth, as Reflecting his Heavenly Ones.
Being lectures on Ephesians 5:21 — 6:9
Julius Anton Von Poseck.
"And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days . . .
but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings" Exodus 10:22-23.
A brother in the Lord sometime ago remarked to me, how little, in writings and oral ministry, the subject of Christian family relationships was touched upon, although, as to practical truth, there could be scarcely a more important subject than this, seeing the alarming progress of rationalism and infidelity in England as well as on the Continent, and its baneful effect upon family life, in blighting natural affections and undermining, especially in the rising generation the sense of reverence for all divinely instituted authorities.
Being impressed with the truth of his remarks, I have since in some places, given a course of Lectures on the Christian's family relationships. But in doing so, the immense importance of the subject has grown so much upon me, that I resolved to commit them to print, only in an entirely new form and very much enlarged.
The reason of the reticence on this subject seems to lie partly in the delicate nature of family relationships, and the shrinking from even the appearance of an intrusion upon their privacy, and partly in our natural inclination to think more of our claims upon the fellow members of our family, than of our duties towards them, and thus to emphasise portions of truth which appear to support the former, whilst less heeding those which refer to the latter.
As to the first reason, I can but repeat what I have said in these pages, that nothing is farther from my intention than to trespass upon the sacred confines of family relationships, which none respects more than the writer.
And as to the second reason, we must not be wiser than God and His Word. Divine truth is always simple, absolute, and general. It applies with equal force and authority to sinners and saints of all nationalities. For "there is no difference." Both the old and the new nature are the same in every country. On the other hand, divine truth is intensely individual, and has not been given us to read and apply it to others, but to ourselves.
I need not fear, therefore, that the honest Christian reader will turn the truths sought to be expounded, to a different use to what they are intended, and commit these pages, however imperfect their contents, to Him, Who is "The God of love and peace," for His own blessing that we may "be perfect, of good comfort, of one mind, and live in peace;" adorning by our walk at home, in the world, and in the Church, the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, for the glory of His Name. Amen.
The element of this world is darkness. It is the sphere where Satan, the prince and god of this world and the prince of the power of the air, holds sway, together with his hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenlies, (Eph. 2:2; Eph. 6:12) "the rulers of the darkness of this world."
We, beloved, who through the power and grace of our God and Father have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son, and made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, and not only so, but seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, — we are not of this world. But we are in it. (John 17.) And though a long-suffering God is still lingering over this scene of increasing corruption and violence, and enmity against Him, waiting to be gracious; and though the light of His gospel still shines, yet, darkness is daily thickening around us, "darkness that may be felt." And may I solemnly ask myself and you, beloved: What about the light in our houses amidst the growing darkness around us? Have we, like those Israelites in Goshen, "light in our dwellings?" And is that light shining brightly, "giving light to all that are in the house," and is it "seen by them that come into the house?" It is true, we "are light in the Lord," blessed be God! — But what comes next? "Walk as children of light." The light has not been given us to be hidden under the bushel of commerce and worldliness, or under the bed of idleness and self-indulgence, but to give light to every inmate of the house, and to the comers in. Thanks be to God, we know that "the night is far spent, and the day is at hand," but, alas! for this poor world it is far otherwise: "The day [of salvation] is far spent, and the night is at hand." As in the natural, so in the spiritual world the last hour before daybreak is the darkest and coldest. And that hour is now. But it only proves, that for us, the turn is at hand. The star is in the sky. He, who is "the bright and the morning star," our Saviour is coming, to take us up to Himself. But how will He find us, in whose hearts He has made the corresponding day star arise? Will He find that blessed hope shining upon our path, and our hearts and feet in the light of it? Will He find the light of that hope shining in our houses, and turning them into tents? Tents like that of the Patriarch of Mamre, from whom the Lord could not hide that thing which He did, knowing that Abraham would command his children and his household after him, (three hundred and eighteen servants at the time), so that they should keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment: that the Lord might bring upon Abraham that which He had spoken of him.
Beloved, let us remember that we are not only to be light bearers, — as to the glorious gospel of God and His truth, but that we are to "walk in the light, even as He is in the light," Who has called us from darkness unto His marvellous light. — This light, it is true, is to shine in the walk of every individual Christian. He is called, not only to announce, but to adorn, by his walk, the Gospel of God and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. "The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto a perfect day." But our subject just now is not so much the light of individual walk, but the collective, and therefore more intensified light, as it would shine in a well-ordered Christian household.