Fragments

<42022E> 161

J. N. Darby.

(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)

This comfort, at any rate, we have in all our weakness, that in the ages to come God will be able to show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus; He will be glorified.

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Not only is it perfect grace as contrasted with uncertainty and legal fitness, but the Father's conduct was the Son's place and the whole of it - He had no other. It is to be noticed that, in Luke 15, in the prodigal son, it is not Christ's meeting the claims of God's justice as a holy righteous Judge, but the divine favour and goodness, though He had the best robe on (Christ), a sign of that favour and love - fitness, but according to the Father's heart.

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It is a great thing to have an infinite object, and an infinite capacity - God, and the Holy Spirit in us. I know well it is in a finite creature, and here in a poor earthen vessel, but there is nothing like it in those who are finite, and connected with the full display of God in redemption. And this infinitude of object and capacity are brought together by the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him," and "Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit"; "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by his Spirit which he hath given us." The angels, as creatures, we know are above us, not only excel in strength, but are most lovely in their sinless service, but of course they are not subjects of redemption, of that love which reached from the divine nature to man's sin, and displayed the former (while it brought to light the latter too), and that to bring man into the glory of God, and righteously through the work of Christ. Then the Holy Ghost gives us divine power to enter into this.

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"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," is seeking to carry out, in spirit and gracious manner and ways, that unity of saints externally in this world, which is essentially and always true in the unity of the Body in Christ, and thus to manifest it.

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162 The obedience of Christ would not have been as perfect if He had not been God. Where duty exists, it is the expression and test of love; and where would have been the fulness and inward perfectness of obedience, its motive, if He had not been God who is Love? So He says "That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment, so I do." But it was the expression of infinite Love, and so was perfect.

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The real intimate knowledge of God is beyond Satan, who is only in created heavens, though he can transform himself into an angel of light. Observe the difference heretofore spoken of between "Herein was Love manifested to us, because God sent his only-begotten Son," etc., 1 John 4:9, 10, and "Herein is Love made perfect with us," etc., "Because as he is, so are we in this world"; the double and complete thing - most blessed - first, love to us miserable here, on the Cross, but then perfected and proved. What blessed things belong to a Christian, in that we are what all that Christ is before God! Love in the manifestation of God to us, and that in love - Jesus being given even to death; but perfected in all the effulgence of divine love and inexpressible delight in Jesus, and all that Jesus is as having accomplished the work, and His Son before God even the Father - as He is moreover, so are we.

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If the hopes of the Church, in a heavenly way, had been economically the portion of the saints before the coming of Christ, then the death of Christ must have been, as it were, a duty or a desire. But it is this which makes the Apostle cry out "O the depth"; and much as it might be, in a sense, secretly known, and prophesied of as an evil, sinful fact, and typified as the effect of sin, the union of the Church in heavenly glory was a thing hidden from ages and generations. There was what was the clear support of faith, and interpretation of the depth of God's wisdom in the circumstances, but nothing - not a word - which could justify the circumstances as to man's part, by which all the salvation of man was brought about. Well might the Apostle cry out in speaking of this as to the condition of the Jews, and its aspect in bringing all under mercy, "Oh! the depth of the riches!" For it is wonderful.

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163 Note particularly, the Church is to give witness upon earth though its calling be heavenly; though its calling be heavenly, yet on earth show more or less also the powers of the world to come; the responsibility of the Church in this respect is quite distinct from its privileges. Note this particularly in the beginning of the Revelation, the Son of Man judges the Churches on earth, and is only "First born from the dead" - His titles are earthly though risen. But note the Churches were to do this, so they are responsible for it, and so, connected with this point, though they may have an independent higher calling - so analogously the disciples cast out devils according to the power of Christ's name upon earth, yet they were to rejoice rather that their names were written in heaven. Now it was by the Holy Ghost as to power no doubt, but still it was not as heavenly calling but the title of Christ in blessing to bless on the earth - to set aside earthly judgment on account of sin - this was an accessory portion of the Church, though important to its place of testimony to Christ on the earth, for His title was to it, and He has power for it. The Church then has grieved the Holy Ghost in this, and not maintained the honour of Christ, still it is not its highest place. This is a great key to the Revelation - it links the two and shows the Church's portion here, taking up the Churches in connection with Christ in this point of view.

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God could send just and adequate threatenings by others, or present to man what He required of him, and the consequences of failure, but no one could present the love of God to man in his sins but Himself (for no one was it) and that as above all. Man, enabled by the Holy Ghost, could speak about it as exercised towards the sinner, but he could not present it, for to do so truly in fact he must be it; and moreover he must have been such as God only is in love, to be able to be it in presence of all that was contrary to it. Such was Jesus! Truth indeed came by Him too, for no one could be the truth but He. No man had even a right to be such love to the sinner but God - it would have been a presumptuous wrong to God.

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164 NOTE. - All worship is properly with burnt-offerings - death comes in but it is a sweet savour, "He by the grace of God tasted death for everything." Sin-offerings come in for need by the bye.

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It is almost equally wonderful that Man is gone up on high into the presence of God, and that God came down into the misery, sorrow, sin, and death of man. But both these marvellous things are the truth. What a place man, seen in this light, holds in the counsels of God.

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God's promises are precepts to Himself - binding on Him, and as His to us, showing us what He is in Himself.

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Some people's affections take their value from the object on which they are set. Some make their own in the strength that is in them, the self-devotedness they exhibit. But I suspect there is defect in both, and that the meeting of both (save of course of divine affections in God) would have proved the inefficacy of either.

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What appears frankness is not always full openness, dire tout ce qu'on veut, n'est pas dire tout ce qu'on peut.* What is the Christian's part? To say nothing unnecessary on principle, and then one is simple in both. Let the Spirit guide us in all we actually say.

{*To say all one wills, is not to say all one can.}

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165 NOTE. - "In Jesus" is not a scriptural expression as to people - we have "the truth as it is in Jesus." It is in Christ Jesus; Jesus is the name of the Person who is Jehovah the Saviour - Christ is His office and relative place. So too the name of "Church of God"; "Church of Christ" is human, and not used in Scripture. "Church of God" is that which Scripture used and raises the thought and idea of the Church far higher, and gives it a reality and a meaning.

I add a remark, made long ago, proving that Scripture is much more accurate than we think in these matters; it is never said "God loved the Church," nor that "Christ loved the world." Christ's love of the Church is connected with relationship - God's love of the world with His character.

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It is a blessed thing to think that we know God, are more intimate with Him, adoringly surely because intimate with such Majesty, than with ourselves or any other being, human or angelic. He has revealed Himself perfectly in and through Christ, and dwells in us, nor is He inconsistent with Himself, or ever else but what He is, and as which He has revealed Himself, and we, partakers of the divine nature, know Him according to the apprehensions of that nature through the Holy Ghost. We dwell in Him and He in us. We can say this of nothing else; all else is uncertain in itself or outside me, but with Him I am in communion. I know Him because He reveals Himself - nothing else does, nor can - and that, as I have said, in communicating a nature which can know Him.