J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)
I think I have remarked that it is not, cannot be said we are love, though it be said we are "light in the Lord." Love must be sovereign and free in its nature, where true and right. As creatures we love with a motive, but this is another thing. But divine love must, in its nature, be free and sovereign. Hence, even in human affections, it is not said "Wives, love your husbands" - it would, in Christian condition, be out of place. "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" - that is another thing; but to the husband it is said, "Husbands, love your wives." And though this be in a given relationship, yet it is from the higher position in kindness and grace, and towards the weaker vessel. Hence also we must add to brotherly kindness (philadelphia), love (agape) - a higher principle which connects us with God.
With reference to remarks that have been made, I would say that there is a special work of the Holy Ghost before the second creation, and even in Christ, as on the first, though of a very different kind. All work on the creature in every shape, is immediately of the Holy Ghost. But all the movement (as in Luke 1) and in the forming of Christ in the womb of the Virgin herself was of the Holy Ghost, and so was the Apostle's work. I only refer to the introduction of it here, as a new kosmos (world) of beauty. It is still true as to the individual. All was in the womb till Christ's death and resurrection. I only refer to it generally as remarked by John Bellett. Christ's place in that most lovely picture of the pious Remnant was peculiar, but it is all connected with Christ and His birth in this world, even we may say Zacharias's.
There has been a question of hymns of worship to the Father, but it has raised a question in my mind how far hymns are suited worship to the Father. We sing about Jesus, in whom all unsearchable riches and grace and truth subsist and are come. But can we do that with the Father? I have some doubt of it. I have looked at some hymns addressed to the Father, and after the first words, the hymns all speak of what we are and have got. I doubt that this was merely that the writer was not at the height needed for it. I hesitated as to the possibility of it before - the character of these hymns tended to confirm the thought. In Colossians 3:16, they read theo (to God); still the heautous (yourselves) has a large place in the thoughts here and in Ephesians 4. But this will require more thought, and is a large and important subject. Divine relationships and the true character of worship, as well as the nature of hymns are involved in it.
81 Note, praise is different from worship. We may celebrate the excellency of some one without worshipping him; see Revelation 5:9, 10.
It is one of those striking facts which one overlooks, but which have their importance in the character and teaching of Scripture, that we have not even the word "justified" in the teaching of any of the Apostles but Paul, save the well-known corrective statements in James. Nor is "righteousness" used by them in what is called the forensic, i.e., judicial sense. We have Paul stating it too in Acts 13. In the gospel, we have "Wisdom justified of her children," "This man went down justified rather than the other" (Luke), "By thy words thou shalt be justified" (Matthew), "He willing to justify himself" (Luke), "Ye are they which justify yourselves," and "The publicans justified God." These are all in the Gospels, otherwise it is as I have said. So we have seen of the Church - Christ naming it as His building - the Acts historically as a fact in the world, and manifest - else only in Paul.
Having often spoken of God's dwelling with us only in virtue of redemption, I was led to think of Christ's presence upon earth, and this really throws great light on His sojourn here. He did not dwell in the midst of any one. He came to represent God to men, and the Son of David, the Messiah to the Jews, but only that. It was not taking up His abode with us. That does belong to grace and redemption, Israel historically, and the saint and the Church by the Spirit. But He here presentatively, and alone. The Holy Ghost could dwell and abide in the redeemed when He had accomplished His work and gone up. He was in the way with Israel to the Judge - God was in Him reconciling the world, not imputing their trespasses. This was another thing than dwelling in it as an abode. Hence in John 1 "dwelt among us" is another word eskenose (tabernacled) amongst us, and even this applies, strictly, only to the Apostles. Still it implies that He was sufficiently there for the display of God revealed in grace, which is the capital point. But His Person was all alone, full of grace and truth, and declaring God; His place, even then was on the bosom of the Father.
82 It is interesting to see, as to God's way of dealing with us, that His explanations, answers to prayer, all His replies to us, go beyond the occasion of the demand. Thus, in Revelation 17, the whole relationship of the beast with the woman is unfolded when the woman's case is before us. In Daniel 7 we have the whole condition and place of the saints in the answer to the enquiry, what the fourth beast was. So in Psalm 132, the reply in each case goes beyond what is asked; compare verses 13-15 with verse 8, verse 16 with verse 9, and verses 17, 18 with verse 10. So in Matthew 13, the explanation of both tares, and wheat, and fishes goes into the results when what is spoken of in the parable itself is over.
One thing makes very clear and distinct the difference between the Body and the House. One could not speak of the "Body of God." Christ, the Glorified Man is the Head, and the Church is His Body. But the House is the House of God - His temple or tabernacle.
Further Note on Isaiah