Scripture Notes — C.F. 15.

Christian Friend, vol. 15, 1888.

Note  1 — John 17:3
Note  2 — Romans 3:25
Note  3 — Hebrews 6:18-20
Note  4 — John 20:22, 23; Acts 2:1-4
Note  5 — Luke 15, 16
Note  6 — 2 Cor. 3:3, 4
Note  7 — Philippians 3:10
Note  8 — 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17
Note  9 — 2 Timothy 4:10
Note 10 — Luke 24:49
Note 11 — Hebrews 10:23
Note 12 — Psalm 132 - 134
Note 13 — Genesis 4:23, 24
Note 14 — Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5
Note 15 — Hebrews 2:17, 18
Note 16 — Hebrews 9:24-28
Note 17 — Genesis 40:14, 23; Luke 23:42, 43
Note 18 — Numbers 10:10; 1 Cor. 11:26
Note 19 — 1 Col. 10:16
Note 20 — Psalm 143:1; 1 John 1:9
Note 21 — Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:7
Note 22 — Isaiah 53:12
Note 23 — 1 Cor. 11:1-16
Note 24 — Hebrews 9:26
Note 25 — Luke 12:35-37
Note 26 — John 3:36; 2 Cor. 5:20
Note 27 — John 20:17, 26-29
Note 28 — Titus 1:5

p. 25.

I.

John 17:3.

In 1 John 1 we see definitely what eternal life is: it is Christ. That which they had seen, contemplated, and handled from the beginning, it was Christ — the eternal life which was with the Father, and had been manifested to them. Thus again, in 1 John 5:11, 12: "This is the testimony, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Paul, in the epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 1:3, 4), presents to us this life in its double character. In the first place, that which answers to His nature, that which Christ was and is personally; and, secondly, our relationship with the Father; that is to say, sons, and that in His presence. We participate in the divine nature, and we are in the position of Christ — sons according to the good pleasure of the Father's will. That is the nature of this life.

Here it is presented objectively. In fact, in our relations with God, that which is the object of faith is the power of life in us. Thus Paul says, "When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me;" but in receiving, by grace, by faith, the Saviour that he was to preach to others, he received life; for Christ is our life. But, as I have already said, it is the name of the Father that is the key to this chapter. God is always the same; but neither the name of Almighty, nor that of Jehovah, nor that of Most High, carries life in itself. We must have it to know God thus; but the Father sent the Son that we might live through Him, and he that has the Son has life, and he only. But the Son has fully manifested the Father; so that the Son being received, the Father was also; and the life displayed itself in this knowledge: faith in the mission of the Son, and by Him; faith in the Father in sending the Son in love as Saviour. The glory of Christ Himself will be the full manifestation of this life, and we shall participate in it; we shall be like Him. Still it is an inward life, real and divine, by which we live, although we possess it in these poor earthen vessels. It is no longer we that live, but Christ that lives in us. Infinite and eternal blessedness which belongs to us already as life according to these words: "He that hath the Son hath life." But this places us also in the position of sons now, and brings us later on to bear the image of Christ. J. N. D. (C.W. 33 p.277.)

II.

Romans 3:25.

The word translated in this scripture "propitiation" should be, without doubt, rendered "mercy-seat." It is the same word in Heb. 9:5, where it is so given. This will explain the term "set forth." In the tabernacle the mercy-seat in the holiest was shrouded from the view of all, save the high priest on the day of atonement. Really, therefore, it was a concealed mercy-seat. In contrast with this Christ as the mercy-seat is exposed, exposed to all in this day of grace in the preaching of the gospel, and every one is free, nay, is invited to approach. But whoever would respond to the invitations of grace must come "through faith in His blood," an allusion surely to the blood annually sprinkled on and before the mercy-seat in the wilderness. On the mercy-seat it made propitiation, inasmuch as it answered all the claims of a holy God in respect of the sins of the people, glorified Him according to all that He was; so that He could righteously maintain relationships of grace with Israel. Before the mercy-seat, where it was sprinkled, not once, but seven times, it was God's perfect testimony to man that propitiation had been, made. Now it is in the gospel that the testimony is rendered to the fact that propitiation has been made by the blood of Christ (He made peace by the blood of His cross), and whosoever receives this testimony, and comes to Christ, as the mercy-seat through faith in His blood, finds that all his sins have been for ever cancelled, put away. But here our attention is directed rather to God's action. This blood on the mercy-seat, Christ in the efficacy of His sacrifice, declares God's righteousness in "passing over," through His forbearance, the sins of the saints of old (for the blood of their sacrifices derived its value from its typical reference to Christ); and it also laid the foundation on which He can be just, on which He can act righteously in grace, seeing that He has been glorified by it concerning our sins, and justify, declare righteous, every one who believes in Jesus. In this wondrous way God is set at liberty to justify freely the ungodly by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. How blessedly simple! And what encouragement is thus given to approach the mercy-seat (Christ) in fullest confidence in the efficacy of His precious blood! E. D.

III.

Hebrews 6:18-20.

There can be little doubt that an allusion is found in this scripture to the cities of refuge in the Old Testament. (Numbers 35:9-34.) There are indeed two points of comparison which can scarcely be overlooked; viz., fleeing for refuge, and the hope set before those who have found refuge. As in the Old Testament the manslayer fled for refuge to one of the appointed cities, and, if he had a claim to the shelter, was in perfect safety from the revenger of blood, so in this scripture believers are looked upon as having fled from coming judgments to a sanctuary guaranteed by two "immutable things"  -  the word and the oath of God. As likewise the manslayer, while he was sheltered in his refuge, lived in hope of the death of the high priest, inasmuch as then he would return to the land of his possession, so also believers have their hope, together with strong consolation, while they abide in their sanctuary. But their hope is the coming out of the High Priest; for it is then that He appears the second time without sin unto salvation. It is this hope which is described here "as an anchor of the soul," during the time of waiting, "both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." What pains God has taken to assure the hearts of His people, to give them present confidence and security in the provision He has made, and to dispel every doubt concerning the future by exhibiting to their gaze Jesus as the Forerunner within the veil? For the fact that He is there is the divine pledge that He will return and have us there also with Himself in the glory. It is this hope (not faith, as in the English Bible) that we are exhorted to hold fast without wavering, on the ground that He is faithful who has promised. (Heb. 10:23.) E. D.

p. 49.

I.

John 20:22, 23; Acts 2:1-4.

There is a great difference between these two scriptures. It is clear from John 7:39, that the Holy Ghost was not bestowed upon believers, did not come to dwell in them in the sense of Acts 2, until after that Jesus was glorified. It is also seen from the words of the Lord Himself that He did not regard the action in John 20 as in any way anticipating the special blessing of Pentecost. (See Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 5.) Distinctly understanding this will prepare us to consider the meaning of the Lord's words in John "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," etc. It is, in fact, the fulfilment of John 10:10: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Before the cross, during His earthly sojourn, His disciples, who really believed on Him, had life; but it was only from Him in resurrection that they could receive it "more abundantly." But the fact that they did so receive it involves the new place taken by the Lord as risen from among the dead. He was the Second Man in incarnation; but He did not take His place as such, and indeed was not in the condition of the Second Man, until after the resurrection. It is this fact which imparts to the scene in John 20 all its significance. Jesus had already revealed to the disciples, through Mary, that His Father was now their Father, and His God their God. He had thus associated them with Himself in His own relationships; and thenceforward He was the Head of a new race. When therefore He came into their midst, where they were assembled, after that He had spoken peace unto them, shown them His hands and His side, commanded them to go forth in the power of the peace He had bestowed, He communicated the life more abundantly to enable them to enter upon their new place and relationships: a life, the full issue of which would be conformity to His own condition in glory. It should also be remarked that the very form in which He communicated the Holy Ghost, as the power of life, explains its meaning. "He breathed on them;" and, turning back to Genesis, we read that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7.) The first man was quickened by a divine communication of breath, was then "made a living soul;" "the last Adam," as a quickening Spirit, breathed of His own life in resurrection upon His disciples, and they lived in its power through the Holy Spirit. This contrast, moreover, involves undoubtedly the truth of the person of the Lord; but into this we do not here enter.

Such then is, we apprehend, the truth of this scene and action. What the disciples received in this way was the Holy Spirit as the power of life, corresponding with what we find in Romans 8:1-11; to receive the indwelling Spirit as power, as the anointing, as well as the earnest, the seal, and the Spirit of adoption, they had yet to wait until the day of Pentecost. And hence it was not until Pentecost that they were brought into the full Christian position.

E. D.

II.

Luke 15, 16.

We find three things before the Lord teaches His disciples concerning making themselves "friends of the mammon of unrighteousness." The first is the grace of God towards us, in three parables of Luke 15. In the first and second we have the absolute grace that seeks: Christ the Good Shepherd, and the Holy Ghost searching with the light of truth. Nothing at all is done by the persons, who are the mere objects of the saving grace. The great subject is, Grace is God's joy; the shepherd is happy, the woman is happy, the father is happy. It is God's happiness to have souls saved. In the third parable we have the prodigal's reception by the father when he comes back. There is, first, the working of sin; next the working of grace; and then the father's reception. We have the whole series of gracious dealings till the man is clothed in the best robe, and is at the father's table.

That is, grace, in Luke 15, has come, and visited man, and takes him out of Judaism and everything else; and then we find, in Luke 16, that man is a steward out of place. In the Jews, man was tried under the best of circumstances. Man — Adam — was a steward, having the Master's goods under his hand; but he was turned off because he was unfaithful. And then comes this question, "How can I, if I have these goods under my hand as steward, and am turned out of place, how can I take the mammon of unrighteousness, and use it to advantage? I do not use it for myself now, but with a view to the future." The steward, for example, might have taken the whole of the money for the hundred measures of oil to spend it; but if he had done so, that would have secured nothing for the future; and, therefore, while he has the power, he uses it to make friends for himself, to receive him into their houses after he should be put out of the stewardship. So with us. While we are here, we have the mammon of unrighteousness; and, as we are taught in 1 Tim. 6:17, we are not to trust in the uncertain riches, but so use them as to lay up in store a good foundation against the time to come. We turn, that is, this mammon of unrighteousness into friends, that, when we fail, we may be received into everlasting habitations. We are put out of all that man has as man, that we may yet have it for a time; but by proper use of it we get reception into everlasting habitations. We use this world for the future.

"They shall receive you" is only a form for "You shall be received." "When we fail" is when all this scene is gone, and this life ends; that is, when stewardship is over.

Then, in the third case, our Lord draws the veil, and, says, as it were, "Now look into the everlasting habitations." The poor man Lazarus died, and was carried by the angels into the bosom of Abraham. The rich man used all for himself in this world, and the result is here disclosed — he is in torment, with not a drop of water to cool his parched tongue. The lesson then is: Do not use the world for present enjoyment; but use it in view of another world. "Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." (v. 25.) Besides, if we do not use this world's things in grace, we cannot, after all, keep them; and therefore the Lord shows that we have the privilege of turning them into friends available for the future. We see also how the other world belies the whole of the present. God's blessing on a Jew was marked by the possession of such things, but the Lord unveils the other world to tell him how all these things are now changed. J. N. D.

III.

2 Cor. 3:3, 4.

In verse 3 we have the general statement, that if the gospel be hid (veiled) it is veiled in them that are lost; verse 4 gives the action by which the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, is intercepted, hindered from reaching the hearts of the unsaved: "the god of this world" (age) steps in and blinds the minds (the thoughts) of them that believe not. It should be especially noticed that the word is not "world" but "age." Two scriptures will aid in its interpretation. In Rom. 12 we read, "Be not conformed to this age;" and in 1 Cor. 2:8 we have "the princes of this age." The first of these would mean that we are not to be moulded by the influences of the moment through which we are passing, whether literary, scientific, philosophic, political, or social — the sum, in fact, of all the influences that go to form, at any time, the life of men as men; and the princes of the age are the world's, or the nation's, leaders, who, wise, as men speak, in their own generation, are utterly blind as to the things of God. When therefore we read that the god of this age blinds men's minds, we understand that he effects this by bringing in thoughts, whether through this world's teachers, or through their books, which are opposed to the truth of the gospel. A popular book, for example, which ignores sin, and consequently the atonement, while professedly dealing with spiritual things, would be one of his most successful instrumentalities for darkening the minds of unbelievers

And how many such are in circulation, even among those who claim to be Christians! This is very solemn; and it calls, at the same time, for increasing vigilance on the part of those who in any measure know the truth, to detect and to frustrate the unceasing efforts of the enemy to quench the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. E. D.

p. 80.

I.

Philippians 3:10.

The meaning of "being made conformable unto His death" is clearly seen from the context. Strictly speaking, the commencement of verse 10 is connected with "Christ Jesus my Lord" in verse 8, the words between being in some sort a parenthesis. The apostle says, "Yea doubtless, and I count" (not only counted in the past, but still do count) "all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." And then, after setting before us that he had suffered the loss of all things for the sake of a glorified Christ, and that now he desired only to have Christ as his gain, in contrast with those things which had constituted his gain as a Jew in the flesh, and "to be found in Him," etc., he proceeds, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." Verse 9 goes on to the future, in accordance with the truth of the epistle in which salvation is always looked upon as completed at the coming of the Lord; whereas verse 10 gives us the apostle's desires in view of His path through this world. First then it is, "That I may know Him" — know Him, that is, in the place where He now is; and this knowledge will ever increase with growing intimacy, and thus is never attained, that is to say, perfectly attained. We know Christ now, but we desire to know Him more fully; and thus it is still all our aim, with Paul, to know Him. Next, "And the power of His resurrection." By death with Christ we are detached from this scene; by being raised with Him we are carried up into the sphere where He now is. (Compare Col. 3:1-3.) The power of His resurrection is that which draws us up, in virtue of having Him as our life in resurrection, into our new place before God; so that our minds are on things above, and not on things of the earth; for we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God. "The fellowship of His sufferings" is the next thing, as a necessary consequence; for when we live in the power of the life which we have in Christ risen, we must suffer in our measure in passing through this world, as Christ suffered. But these sufferings of Christ went on to, and included, death; for as suffering from the hands of man, He died a martyr. (Compare Heb. 12:3, 4.) Hence it is that the apostle adds, "Being made conformable to His death;" for he had been made willing to die, like his Master, a martyr's death, in view of the glorious prospect of resurrection from among the dead. This is the only sense in which being made conformable to the death of Christ is found; and only those therefore who have been put to death, as Stephen was for example, in the character of witnesses for Christ, have been permitted to enjoy this privilege and blessedness.

II.

2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17.

The two very similar expressions — "prepared unto every good work," and "throughly furnished unto all good works" (or, unto every good work) — are, in their combination, very instructive. In the first we have the essential qualification for being serviceable for the Master's use. If a man "purge himself out from among" the vessels to dishonour, then he shall be a vessel to honour, ready to the Master's hand; for he is sanctified, apart from all that would defile  - and be a dishonour to the Lord's name, and, as such, meet for whatever service the Master may require. In the second expression our attention is directed not so much to the state, as to the equipment, for service. Paul thus exhorts Timothy in the midst of the evils and errors that had sprung up, and that would increase, in the midst of professing Christianity, the great house, to continue in the things he had learned, and had been assured of, knowing that they were inspired communications which he had received from the apostles. He also reminds Timothy that he had from a child known the written word of God (in this case the Old Testament Scriptures) which was able to make him wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. This led him to state the character of all Scripture — that it was inspired, and was profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, "throughly furnished unto every good work." The meaning of "perfect" and "throughly furnished" will aid us to apprehend the force of the apostle's statement. The word perfect, then, only found in this place, might be rendered "complete," "suitable," or "exactly fitted;" while "throughly furnished" — only used twice — might be given as "fully equipped." The first of the passages, therefore, points out rather what is the personal state requisite for service, whereas the second teaches that divine knowledge, and divine knowledge gained from the Scriptures, is also needed to furnish or equip us for every good work. This should ever be borne in mind; and we see a perfect illustration of it in the temptation of our blessed Lord. Absolutely holy, He did not encounter Satan with His holiness, but with the word of God. So also in Ephesians 6, after all the armour, expressive of state of soul, is given, there is added the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. If, therefore, we desire to be used of the Lord we should seek first to be separate from evil, and, moreover, to have acquaintance with His mind as revealed in the word of God, our own hearts and consciences being already under its power. We shall then be both "prepared" and "throughly furnished" unto every good work.

III.

2 Timothy 4:10.

Three times Demas is mentioned by the apostle. In Colossians he writes, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." (Col. 4:14.) In Philemon he terms him, in company with Marcus, Aristarchus, and Lucas, as a "fellow-labourer;" and in 2 Timothy he has to say, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (age). Nothing can be more sad than this closing notice of one who had been identified with such a vessel of testimony as the apostle Paul. The final break with Paul might have been sudden, but we may be sure that he had been long before in a backslidden state of soul. The very way, indeed, in which he is mentioned in Colossians, after Luke, the beloved physician, would seem to indicate that Paul was not ignorant of his condition. An open failure is always preceded by a gradual decline of spiritual life and energy. It is thus the Lord deals with His people. If they have grown cold, and are turned aside in heart from His ways, He permits them sooner or later to be tested, that their state may be discovered. This was the case with Demas. His heart had long been upon the present age, and the captivity of Paul and the consequent "afflictions of the gospel" were but the occasion of its manifestation. A time of persecution is always a time of searching, and Demas could no longer conceal his condition, and he therefore forsook the apostle — the Lord's prisoner — and followed his heart into the world. He might have been a real Christian, not merely a professor, but, lacking courage, he lost the opportunity of fidelity to the testimony at such a solemn crisis, and surrendered himself to the influences of the age, all of which were antagonistic to the truth, and to the devoted servant to whom the truth had been committed.

The "age," as distinguished from the world, has generally a moral signification, and is expressive of the sum of the influences that are at work around us in the world at any given moment; and it is precisely these influences that constitute the danger of God's people, and to which so many, like Demas, succumb, and "make shipwreck" of their testimony. It is on this very account that the apostle writes, "Be not conformed to this age." (Romans 12.) E. D.

p.110.

I.

Luke 24:49.

It is impossible to attach too much importance to the direction which the Lord here gives to His disciples. By "the promise of my Father" is meant the gift of the Holy Ghost, for which they were to remain in the city of Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost. (Compare Acts 1:8.) Until they should be thus "endued with power from on high," they would be without the final and crowning qualification for service. It is in this fact that the special teaching of this scripture, in connection with what precedes, is found. The Lord had expounded unto His disciples (at least to the two) in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. He had convinced them of the reality of His resurrection from among the dead, by submitting His body to be "handled" by them, by showing to them His hands and His feet, and by eating before them "a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb." He had opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures; and He had given them their commission to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, thus constituting them His witnesses. But with all this they were not as yet properly qualified. They believed that Jesus was risen, they understood the scriptures in their application to His suffering, His death, His resurrection, and His glory on high, they were divinely appointed to bear testimony to Him and to the efficacy of His work; but all this, ever necessary and important, was of no avail without the power of the Holy Ghost. Surely there is a significant voice in all this for the Lord's servants in every age. Knowledge of the scriptures, ability to explain and apply them in their several dispensational relationships to Christ, a direct call from heaven to preach the word might all be possessed; but though possessed, could not be rightly and divinely exercised, save in the power of the Spirit of God. It might be well enquired if knowledge and understanding have not been more diligently sought than the power which can only come from the action of an ungrieved Spirit.

II.

Hebrews 10:23.

It is difficult to understand why our translators have rendered the original of this scripture, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith." There is no question of any difference of reading, and yet the word "faith" has been substituted for "hope," and thereby the whole sense of the scripture altered. It should be then "the confession of the hope" which we are urged to hold fast. What then is "the hope" to which the writer refers? It is mentioned first in Hebrews 3:6: "If we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." Passing onward to Hebrews 6, we read of those "who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." (Heb. 6:18.) And the next two verses explain that the hope, which we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, is Jesus, who has entered there as our forerunner, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. In Hebrews 9 we further read that Christ will appear the second time, unto them that look for Him, without sin unto salvation. (Heb. 9:28.) If we now combine these scriptures, it seems evident that "the hope" of this epistle is Christ coming out of the heavenly sanctuary for the salvation — salvation final and complete — of His people. This hope, as so explained, would carry with it a peculiar force for the Hebrew saints, to whom this epistle was primarily written, accustomed as they had been, especially on the great day of atonement, to await the coming out of the high priest from the holiest, in evidence that all the rites of that day had been efficaciously accomplished. An illustration of this is found in the gospel of Luke. Zacharias had gone into the temple (ναὸς) of the Lord to burn incense, "and the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense." Again, "And the people . . . marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple." (Luke 1:10-21.) So in the epistle to the Hebrews, Jesus, the Son of God, has, as the great High Priest, passed "through" the heavens into the heavenly sanctuary, and His people are waiting outside, down here, for His reappearing, and this constitutes their hope. Well might the Holy Ghost exhort us to hold it fast, for there is no part of the truth which believers are so liable to surrender as the hope of their Lord's return; for it is bound up with the very essence of Christianity, and with the nature of the heavenly calling. E. D.

p. 138.

Psalm 132 - 134.

The order of these psalms is both interesting and instructive. In Psalm 132 a place is found for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty One of Jacob; and, as led of the Spirit, the invocation is uttered, "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength," etc. (vv. 8-10.) The answer, transcending all the psalmist's thoughts, is vouchsafed, "This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish." (vv. 14-18.) The house of Jehovah is built, and Jehovah has taken possession of it, and, together with this, the provisions of His. grace, the blessing of His people, and the execution of His purposes, as touching His Anointed, are pledged and guaranteed. (Compare Acts 2:38, 39.) In the next psalm (and, may we not say? as a consequence) we have the beauteous spectacle of brethren dwelling together in unity, a spectacle fragrant (comparable as it is to "the precious ointment") alike to God and to men; and inasmuch as "the precious ointment" is a figure of the anointing by the Holy Ghost, the secret and the power of this unity are declared. It is precisely the same in the Acts. Immediately on the saints being built together as an habitation of God through the Spirit, we read that they continued daily with one accord in the temple (Acts 2:46), and that the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul. (Acts 4:32.) Another consequence follows in Psalm 134. — viz., perpetual praise" Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary [or in holiness], and bless the Lord." The allusion is to the provision made by David for the constant worship of Jehovah in the temple, in the appointment of the chief of the fathers of the Levites as singers, who should be employed in that work day and night. (1 Chr. 9:33.) The instruction for us is, that when brethren are dwelling in unity in the power of an ungrieved Spirit, praise can flow out unhinderedly. This was the case also at Pentecost. (See Acts 2:46, 47.) There is yet another thing. Following upon the exhortation to incessant praise, the petition ascends, "The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion." (v. 3.) For when the people of God glorify God with one mind and with one mouth, He is able to bless them according to the thoughts of His own heart. We thus read that, at the dedication of the temple, "As the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God." (2 Chr. 5:13, 14.) Precisely the same order is seen in the displayed blessing at Pentecost; for immediately after the spirit of praise that characterized the saints is noted, we read, "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved." The blessing of the Lord was exhibited upon them, and through their instrumentality. (Compare Acts 4:31-33.) May we be enabled to apprehend the lesson! E. D.

p. 163.

I.

Genesis 4:23, 24.

"In the history of Lamech we have on man's part self-will in lust. He had two wives, and vengeance in self-defence; but, I apprehend, an intimation in God's judgment, that as Cain was the preserved though punished Jew, his posterity at the end, before the heir was raised up and men called on Jehovah in the earth, would be sevenfold watched over of God. Lamech acknowledges he had slain to his hurt, but shall be avenged." Thus far is a citation from the well-known Synopsis. A few words may be added in further explanation. The "self-will in lust" of Lamech is seen in his wilful departure from the institution of marriage in Paradise. (Genesis 2:24.) He acted in self-gratification in having two wives. He also, as pointed out, avenged himself, and that at the cost of the life of his enemy. The two forms of evil, on account of which God afterwards sent the flood, viz., corruption and violence (see chapter 6:12, 13), are both combined in Lamech. Hence he acknowledges that he had slain a man to his wounding and hurt; for these things must bring down the judgment of God. But Lamech also, as descended from Cain, is a type of the Jew of a later day; and, inasmuch as he is introduced before the "heir is raised up" — that is Seth, who becomes a figure of Christ (for it is in His days, in the kingdom, that men will call upon the name of Jehovah) — there can be but little doubt that the sin of Lamech is a foreshadowing (as also the sin of Cain) of the wickedness of the Jews in rejecting and crucifying Christ. In this light all is plain. The sin was great when the Jewish nation by wicked hands crucified and slew their Messiah; and it was most surely to their "wounding," and to their "hurt;" for to this day they abide under the judgment of God on account of His blood. (See Matthew 27:25.) Notwithstanding, great as has been their iniquity, God preserves them, and avenges, and will avenge them "seventy-and-sevenfold" on any nation that may seek to destroy them from off the face of the earth.

II.

Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5.

The difference between these two scriptures is characteristic; that is, in accordance with the respective presentations of Christ in Matthew and Mark. In the former gospel, where Christ appears as the Messiah, it is no question as to His power to do the mighty works; but it is rather the state of the people, their inability, through unbelief, to profit by His presence in their midst which is made prominent. Hence the record is, "And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." In Mark, on the other hand, where Christ is seen as the Servant, our attention is directed to the fact that unbelief limited His activity. There He was seeking to bless; His heart yearning over His people; but their unbelief raised up a barrier, so that we read, "He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them." And are not these two things often witnessed in service at the present day? How often, for example, is it, when the gospel is preached, that the power of the Lord is present to heal (as we read in Luke 5), and there are few, if any, ready through faith to receive the blessing. Again, it is often the case that the Lord's servants are hindered and limited by the unbelief of the audience. They have come forth from the Lord's presence, in communion with His mind, and in the power of the Holy Ghost, and yet the message they proclaim falls powerless on the souls of those to whom it is addressed. In many such cases it is, as with the blessed Lord Himself, that they are circumscribed by unbelief. It is, therefore, always needful to remember that, if all things are possible with God, all things also are possible to him that believeth.

III.

Hebrews 2:17, 18.

Two things are clear from the teaching of this epistle. First, that the priesthood of Christ is connected with, and indeed based upon, the propitiation which He made for sins; and, secondly, that the scene of His priesthood, the place of its exercise, is heaven. (See Heb. 1:3; Heb. 2:17; Heb. 8:1-6; Heb. 9:23-28.) But in the scripture before us we learn that it was necessary, in order to His qualification for the office, that He should in all things be made like unto His brethren. He was thus, in bringing many sons unto glory, as the Captain of their salvation, made perfect through sufferings. It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, thus to deal with Him who identified Himself with His people. Since the children were, moreover, partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, in order to emancipate as many as, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. He was thus in all things made like to His brethren, with the object of being qualified to act as Priest. Two terms are then given to indicate the nature of the qualification; viz., "merciful" and "faithful." It was needful for the high priest in the olden economy to "have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity." (Heb. 5:2.) But Christ became a merciful High Priest, One who could feel for and tenderly sympathize with those for whom He acts, through becoming man, and suffering Himself to be tempted in all points like as we are — sin apart. (Heb. 4:15.) The word "faithful" points rather, we judge, to the execution of His office Godward, though it would not exclude the idea of fidelity in dealing with those whose cause He has undertaken. The phrase, "in things pertaining to God," may therefore be taken as covering the two aspects.

The next thing mentioned is propitiation (not reconciliation) for the sins of the people. Christ was both victim and priest; and it was He, the priest, who made propitiation. But, as we have seen, it was not until He entered heaven that His real priestly work began. Propitiation is, however, here brought in as indissolubly bound up with His priesthood, and, as the next verse shows, as the foundation of its exercise. It might therefore be said that in verse 17 we have the qualification and basis of His office as priest, and that in verse 18 we have the functions, or one of its functions, exercised; "for," as the apostle writes, "in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted." Other functions are specified afterwards. Here the priesthood is viewed in relation to a tempted people; and the Spirit of God calls our attention to the fact, that He who was in all things made like unto His brethren, and who made propitiation for their sins, is, as the merciful and faithful High Priest, abundantly qualified, as having Himself suffered being tempted, to succour them out of all their temptations.

IV.

Hebrews 9:24-28.

It has been recently remarked, that there is in this scripture a most striking correspondence with the four-fold rites of the great day of atonement; and it is to this we desire especially to draw the attention of our readers. First, the entrance of Christ into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, is contrasted with the entrance of the Jewish high priest "into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true." The latter entered "every year with blood of others." But Christ — not to offer Himself often; "for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." This brings before us the second correspondence, or rather contrast. Both entered. The Jewish high priest made propitiation, after he entered, "with blood of others;" but, let the reader mark it, in view of recent discussions, the work  - propitiation, surely — of Christ, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, is connected, not with His entering, but with His appearing; that is, His first appearing in this world, and with the sacrifice of Himself. This is conclusive as to the fact of propitiation having been completed on the cross. The point is most important. Thirdly, we read that "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many," the substitutionary aspect of His work for His people corresponding with the scapegoat bearing, and bearing away, all the transgressions and sins of Israel which had been confessed over it, and transferred to it by the laying of Aaron's hands upon its head. (See Lev. 16:21.) Lastly, as the high priest of Israel came out, after the completion of all the rites of atonement, and in token of their accomplishment (Lev. 16:23, 24), so to "them that look for Him" will Christ "appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:28.) Unlike the Jew, we already know, by the Holy Ghost, that the work of atonement has been finished and accepted; but the appearing of Christ the second time will but be the consummation of His work in the full salvation of His people. E. D.

p. 194.

I.

Genesis 40:14, 23; Luke 23:42, 43.

There is a twofold contrast in these scriptures. Joseph prayed to be remembered in the time of the chief butler's exaltation, and was forgotten; he put his confidence, for the moment, in man, and he was disappointed. The dying malefactor, on the other hand, prayed in his distress, but in faith, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom;" and he received the immediate answer, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise." His confidence was also in a Man; but that Man was the Messiah, David's Son, and also David's Lord, and hence he was not confounded. The reader will learn for himself the precious lessons that lie in this contrast; but some of the most obvious may be indicated. First, it is vain to seek to anticipate, as Joseph was tempted to do, the Lord's deliverance by any human means; secondly, it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes; and lastly, "they shall not be ashamed that wait for" the Lord. (Isaiah 49:23.) E. D.

II.

Numbers 10:10; 1 Cor. 11:26.

There is an intimate connection, though not evident at first sight, between these scriptures. In the first we learn that the trumpets of silver, made of "a whole piece," were to be blown "in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months . . . over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God." Without entering into all the features of this ordinance, two or three points may be specially noticed. First, the blowing of the trumpets was testimony for God, and testimony, too, in connection with redemption, as shown from the material of which the trumpets were made. In verse 2, for example, they were used to call the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps; just as God's testimony now gathers the saints out from the world and around their true Centre, and leads them onward in their journey. Secondly, only the sons of Aaron — the priests (v. 8) — were permitted to blow the trumpets; for only those who enjoy intimacy of access to God, and are in communion with His mind, can render His testimony, according to Himself, in the world or amongst His saints. Thirdly, the blowing of the trumpets was for a memorial. It called the attention of God, so to speak, to His people, and brought in, as faithful testimony ever does, His power on their behalf. (Comp. verse 9.) Passing now to the second scripture, it may be observed, first of all, that the Lord's supper strikingly answers to the peace offering; for this sacrifice represents in figure the communion of the offerer with God, with Christ, and with the whole Church; and it is thus no mean foreshadowing of the privileges of the saints who are gathered around the Lord at His table. The question then is, whether there is anything in connection with the Lord's supper corresponding with the blowing the silver trumpets over the peace offering. The answer is, "For as often as ye eat this [the] bread, and drink this [the] cup, ye do show [announce] the Lord's death till He come." The act, therefore, of breaking the bread and drinking the cup is God's trumpet, proclaiming His testimony to the death of His Son, our Lord. What an immense privilege is it, then, to be associated with this act — to be gathered week after week to eat the bread and to drink the cup in remembrance of the Lord, and to be, in this way, God's witness-bearers, in communion with Himself, with Christ, and with all the saints, amid the moral darkness of this world. Let it be remembered, moreover, that this blowing of God's trumpet is to us a memorial before our God, and that it calls Him in, in all that He is as revealed in redemption, on behalf of His people. E. D.

p. 221.

I.

1 Col. 10:16.

There are two things to be clearly understood in this scripture: the meaning of the word communion, and the significance of the act of eating and drinking. As to the first, it may be pointed out that the word translated "partakers" in verse 18, and that rendered "fellowship" in verse 20, are the same as "communion" in verse 16; and herein we may discover the key for its interpretation. The word communion, then, signifies, in its simplest elements, a common participation — and, in this place, the common participation by the saints, as members of the one body, at the Lord's Table, in what is set forth by the blood, and by the body of Christ. Eating, or drinking, implies identification with the thing eaten or drunk, and thus the apostle says, "Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" (v. 18.) That is, by eating what was placed in sacrifice on the altar, they became identified with the sacrifices, and were thus brought in a way into fellowship with the altar. Their eating the sacrifices identified them, in a word, with both the sacrifices and the altar; just as the apostle teaches, our drinking the cup (though he only alludes to eating the loaf), and partaking of the one loaf, identify us with what these things signify, and with the Lord's Table. Applying this to the Lord's Table in the order found in this passage, we learn, first, that by our taking "the cup of blessing" we express our communion one with another in the efficacy of the blood of Christ, and at the same time avow our identification with all the value of that blood before God. Secondly, when we partake of the one loaf, we express our communion one with another, as members of the one body, in the sacrifice of the body of Christ (for it is the actual body of Christ, offered through the Eternal Spirit without spot to God, to which reference is here made); and we also avow our identification, as known by faith, with all the sweet savour of that sacrifice before God. How blessed the privilege then to be gathered around, and to be identified with, the Lord's Table. And how solemn the act of partaking, both of the cup and of the loaf, proclaiming, as we are thus permitted to do, that we are before God in all the value which He attaches to the blood, and to the sacrifice as the burnt-offering of Christ. The cup, it may be added, comes here first, because the truth of the one body is involved in the one loaf; and thus to show the impossibility of any, whatever their pretensions, being members of the one body, unless they are under the value of the precious blood of Christ. For knowing the efficacy of the work of Christ, the cleansing power of His blood, is the divine condition for the reception of the indwelling Spirit, whereby we are united to Christ.

II.

Psalm 143:1; 1 John 1:9.

The correspondence, in one aspect, between these scriptures is extremely interesting. The dispensations are entirely different, but there are divine truths which underlie both, and which indeed are eternal. In the psalm, David cries, "Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness." The ground of his appeal, and rightly so in his case as it was a question of God's government on the earth, God's righteous government, is the faithfulness and righteousness of God. No Christian in similar circumstances could be led of the Spirit to take this ground in his supplications. We come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy, and to find grace for seasonable succour. When, however, we come to the epistle of John, we find the very words here used by the Psalmist: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just [or, righteous] to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But while this is so, we know that we could not appeal for forgiveness on the ground of God's faithfulness and righteousness, inasmuch as the forgiveness is the expression of nothing but grace. On the other hand, when we read in the next chapter, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins," etc., then we understand that God, in view of what Christ is in His presence, in virtue of His work, is faithful and righteous in forgiving the sins of His people on confession. Thus the faithfulness and righteousness of God are equally displayed in the case of the Psalmist, and of believers confessing their sins, though it would not be according to the truth, as it was for David in his day, for Christians to take that ground in their prayers and supplications. E. D.

p. 251.

Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:7.

Although the passage in Hebrews is a citation from the psalm, there is a striking omission of a word. In the epistle it is simply, "Lo, I come . . . to do" (not, I delight to do) "Thy will, O God." This is the more remarkable inasmuch as the Septuagint, that is, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, from which all the quotations in the epistle to the Hebrews are taken, contains a word answering to "delight." But an explanation of the omission may be found in the character of the psalm as contrasted with Hebrews 10. There is no atonement in Psalm 40. Christ comes into this scene, takes the place of a servant, pursues in patient grace the perfect path of God's will, associates Himself with the believing remnant (see vv. 3, 5, 16), preaches righteousness, etc., in the great congregation, does not refrain His lips, nor conceal God's loving-kindness and truth from His people, presses forward through all the trials and sorrows that come upon Him by reason of His obedience and fidelity to God, and, reaching the cross, confesses the sins of His people (v. 12), even though He is brought thereby into a "horrible pit" and the "miry clay." But, as the reader will notice, there is no forsaking, as in Psalm 22, and, indeed, no actual death. It is therefore the path of the obedient One in this psalm, with all that this path involved, up to the moment of His full identification with "His own" in confessing their sins; but it does not include His atoning death upon the cross. On this very account it is that He can say in the psalm, "I delight to do Thy will," even as He said when on earth, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34.) When, however, we come to the epistle to the Hebrews it is different. Here it is wholly the death of Christ that is brought before our minds, and the death of Christ as atonement, as the "one sacrifice for sins" (vv. 10, 12, 14); and this involved, as we know, His being forsaken on the cross. In the contemplation of this, it was impossible for Him, being what He was, to say, "I delight to do Thy will;" for, indeed, while Satan was pressing the prospect of death upon His soul in the garden, He cried, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (Matt. 26:39.) It was a part of His perfection to shrink from death, and such a death wherein all God's waves and all His billows would roll over His holy soul. Hence it is, in accord with this, that the Spirit of God has caused the word "delight" to be omitted in Hebrews 10. How precious to the spiritual mind are these various indications of the perfect wisdom of our God! And how instructive to linger in meditation on these distinctions in His word! E. D.

p. 275

I.

Isaiah 53:12.

It is essential for the understanding of this striking chapter — a chapter that contains such a distinct setting forth of the substitutionary death of Christ  -  to remember its connection in the future with repentant Israel. Like Thomas, believing when they see Him (Zechariah 12:10), they will then confess their past unbelief, and express their present faith in the Messiah as here recorded. They had despised and rejected Him, they had seen no beauty in Him, for to the natural eye He had no form nor comeliness that they should desire Him; but now they will understand that He had borne their griefs and carried their sorrows, though at the time they had esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted, that He was wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities, etc. This gives the key to the language employed in the chapter; and it will be noticed that the rejection of Christ together with the nature of His death, whether as suffering from the hand of Jehovah, bearing the sins of His people, pouring out His soul unto death, or as numbered with the transgressors, is given with every possible variety of detail, and is so presented that even the most unwilling are compelled to acknowledge that the doctrines of substitution and atonement are here plainly taught. Coming now to the end of the chapter, we find the consequences of the atoning death of the Messiah; but it should be observed that, while some of the expressions are general, these results of His death are given as affecting Him in His relationship with His earthly people. For example, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. (v. 10. Compare Psalms 21:4; Ps. 72:17, etc.) The next verse tells us that He Himself will be satisfied with the results of the travail of His soul; and that on the ground of His atoning death He will "justify" many.*

{*Another has written, "It is my belief that, in verse 11, the two parts of Christ's work are distinguished. By His knowledge He shall bring many to righteousness, or instruct many in righteousness, and He shall bear their iniquities." The same writer translates as follows in his French Version: "Par sa connaissance mon serviteur juste enseignera la justice à plusieurs." ("By His knowledge shall my righteous servant teach righteousness to many" — i.e., as is explained in a note "to those who are in relationship with Him.")}

Lastly, we have His earthly exaltation depicted, and depicted as also flowing from His death. "Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He hath poured out His soul unto death," etc. The present exaltation of Christ at the right hand of God, as we Christians know, is in consequence of His death (Phil. 2); and here we learn that His victory over His enemies (for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet) and the glory of His Messianic kingdom are ascribed to the same cause. The cross therefore is the foundation both of the glories of Christ, whether earthly or heavenly, and of the redemptive blessings, whether of Israel as the earthly people, or of the church as His body and bride.

II.

1 Cor. 11:1-16.

There is no real difficulty in this scripture if it be borne in mind that these directions are given, not for the assembly, not for sisters when gathered together with the saints, but for their private guidance and instruction. This is certain on two grounds; first, that it is not till the 17th verse that the apostle begins to deal with order and conduct in the assembly; and, secondly, that in this very epistle he enjoins silence on women "in the churches." (Compare 1 Timothy 2:12.) It is clear therefore that the reference is to praying or prophesying in private, or in their homes, or in places other than in the public assemblies. Nor is the praying of necessity audible prayer; for the term would undoubtedly include every act of prayer, whether the woman were the mouthpiece, or whether bowing in concert with others in the presence of God. The fact indeed that the woman's special place in relation to man, not solely the place of a wife with her husband, is introduced, would point to the inclusion of those occasions when men, such as in family prayer, or in household or private readings of the Scriptures accompanied with prayer, might be present. It should also be observed that prophesying is not preaching. We read that Philip, the evangelist, "had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." (Acts 21:8, 9.) In those early days of the Church, before the New Testament Scriptures were written, God was pleased to send inspired communications to His people through chosen vessels, and these were termed prophets. (See 1 Cor 14:29-33.) But, as the scripture already cited shows, women were never so used in the assemblies, and hence the prophesying of the daughters of Philip, as well as the prophesying of the women here, must have been on other than public occasions.

The prescription then for the covered head applies in this passage to those seasons when women were praying or prophesying in the manner mentioned. And another has called attention to the fact, that "to decide this question, simply of what was decent and becoming, the apostle lays open the relationship, and the order of the relationship, subsisting between the depositories of God's glory and Himself, and brings in the angels, to whom Christians, as a spectacle set before them, should present that of order according to the mind of God." The foundation, therefore, on which the apostle directs women to pray with covered heads is the divine order which God has ordained: "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (v. 3.) Man, "forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God," and as such representing God's authority, ought not to cover his head; but the woman being the glory of man, is under authority, and, as a sign of it, is to be covered. This is distinctly stated on the introduction of the second ground of the exhortation; viz., the relationship of the woman to the man in creation (vv. 7-10); for it is then said, "For this cause ought the woman to have power" (i.e., the symbol of it, as being subject to it (authority) "on her head, because of the angels" (v. 10), inasmuch as these, whose characteristic is obedience (Psalm 103:20), are the delighted spectators of submission to God's order on the part of His people. The apostle urges yet another consideration — the teaching of nature. He says, "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God (and these words are very absolute, seeming to include all acts of prayer) uncovered? Doth not nature itself teach you," etc. (13, 14.)

A few remarks may be added. First, the hair, long hair, is evidently not, as it is sometimes contended, the covering indicated by the apostle; for he says in verse 6, "If the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." The covering is thus something in addition to the long hair. Secondly, the instruction is for women, not wives only, but for women, and not for children. Finally, it will be helpful to observe that this is no prescription for women's dress, but simply and solely a direction concerning what is seemly and suited for them when they are praying.

III.

Hebrews 9:26.

The exact language of this scripture must be carefully noted. It does not speak of sins, but of sin; and it does not say that Christ has put it away, but that once in the consummation of the ages hath He appeared to do it — to put away sin — by the sacrifice of Himself. The all-efficacious work is done on the ground of which it will be finally put away, but it is not yet put away. It is thus still in the believer as also in the world. Cleansed by the precious blood of Christ, he is without spot or stain of guilt before God; but he has, notwithstanding, sin — the flesh, the evil nature — still in him; and hence the apostle John writes, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8.) In the millennium it will be still existent, and accordingly, even towards the close of the blessed reign of Christ, Satan will succeed in deceiving the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth. (Rev. 20:8.) But in the new heaven and the new earth every trace of it is removed; for then the former things will have passed away, and God will be all in all. It is only, therefore, when we reach this perfect and blessed scene that we behold the complete results of the sacrifice of Christ. Then, and not till then, on the ground of His finished work, sin will have been entirely and for ever put away. Of course faith apprehends this even now; for "if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." But in what has been said we speak of the actual abolition of the presence of sin in the universe of God. E. D.

p. 305.

I.

Luke 12:35-37.

The returning from the wedding in verse 36 does not apply to our Lord. It is only an illustration to show, by the comparison introduced, the suited attitude for those who are awaiting the return of Christ for His people. This is clearly seen in the original. First, the Lord says, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;" and then, in order to press home the exhortation, He adds, "And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their own lord, when he will" (whenever he may) "return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately." It will thus be seen that the illustration runs on to the end of the verse; and what the Lord enjoins by its use is, that just as menservants, uncertain of the time when their master might come back from the wedding, stand waiting inside the house, with their hand as it were on the door, ready to throw it open on the first intimation of his approach, so believers should be found maintaining, while careful also that they are morally ready, the constant expectancy of the coming of their Lord. There is therefore no thought whatever of dispensational teaching through the figure of the wedding in the passage; but it goes entirely to the one point of urging preparedness for and expectancy of the Lord's return. This may be seen from verse 37; for after pronouncing the blessedness of those whom the Lord shall find watching when He cometh, He proceeds to say, "Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." All know that the Lord took upon Him the form of a servant when He came to earth, and also that He still carries on, at the right hand of God, His service on behalf of His people; but here we learn that, after He has come for His saints, it will still be His delight, in the glory itself, to minister to His own. The heart may well be filled to overflowing with wonder and praise in the contemplation of such ineffable grace!

II.

John 3:36; 2 Cor. 5:20.

There is no inconsistency, it need hardly be remarked, between these two scriptures. In the former, the position of the sinner is given; in the latter, the attitude of God in grace towards the sinner in that position. "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." He is, in fact, condemned already ("has been already judged"), though the sentence of judgment be not yet executed. Still, he is "under" the wrath of God, which is his due; for, as we read in Romans 1, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. But the day of grace has interposed to postpone the visitation of the righteous judgment of God upon sinners; and during this period He assumes, in the gospel, the attitude of entreaty, beseeching men to be reconciled unto Him, on the ground of Christ having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Col. 1.) All by nature are the children of wrath (Eph. 2); but on receiving the message of the gospel, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God; moreover, we are set in a totally new place before God in Christ, where there is no condemnation, and we are delivered from the wrath to come. (Romans 8; 1 Thess. 1.) Rejecting the gospel, the sinner is judged according to his works, as also for his slighting and despising grace, as presented in Christ, and he inherits the righteous doom of God's wrath for eternity. Already under it, he is now overwhelmed by it, since it falls upon him as the execution of God's pronounced judgment upon lost sinners. (Compare 2 Thess. 1:7-9.)

III.

John 20:17, 26-29.

"As to her position, Mary Magdalene represented the Jewish remnant attached to the Person of the Lord, but ignorant of the glorious counsels of God. She thought to have found Jesus again, risen no doubt, but come again into this world to take the place that was due to Him, and to satisfy the affections of those who had left everything for Him in the days of His humiliation, despised of the world, and denied by His people. But she could not have Him thus now. A glory far more excellent, of far greater extent, was in the thoughts of God, and blessing for us far more precious. In receiving Christ she could not rightly receive Him, but according to the thoughts of God with regard to the Saviour. Only her attachment to the Lord opened this blessed path to her. 'Touch Me not,' the Lord says; 'for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.'" She could not have the Lord, even when risen, as come again as Messiah upon earth. He must first of all ascend to His Father and receive the kingdom, then return; but there was much more. A work had been accomplished that placed Him, as Man and Son always, with the Father in glory — Man in this blessed relationship; but it was a work of redemption that set His own, redeemed according to the value of that work, in the same glory and in the same relationships as Himself." It was on this very account that the Jewish remnant, represented by Mary, becomes in this message "the company of the Son, associated with Him in the power of the privileges into which He has entered, as risen from amongst the dead." The Lord therefore forbade Mary to touch Him, that He might communicate to her, and to His own through her, this far more exalted and heavenly position and relationship into which they had now been brought through His death and resurrection.

Thomas, on the other hand, is a type of the Jewish remnant in the last days, who will own their Messiah only when they see Him. "For they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced." (Zechariah 12) His confession, when he is convinced by seeing the risen Christ, "My Lord and my God," makes this evident. For "Lord God" are the titles by which the Jew has in the past, and the Jew will in the future, address their covenant God; whereas "God and Father," as seen in verse 17, are the names used by Christians as associated with Christ in His own relationships. It is very clear therefore that we have in this scripture a "sketch of the dispensations of God." E. D.

p. 331.

Titus 1:5.

It is abundantly clear that the apostle directed Titus, as well as Timothy, to appoint elders, and that, as guided by the Holy Spirit, he names certain qualifications to govern them in the selection of these elders or bishops. Paul himself also, together with Barnabas, "appointed elders in every church." (Acts 14:23.) We say "appointed," for neither here nor in Titus is there the slightest justification for the rendering "ordained." It is quite true that in ecclesiastical usage, in after years, this meaning was attached to the word in Acts 14; but no such thought lies in the word itself, for it simply signifies "to choose," as may be seen from Acts 10:41, 2 Cor. 8:19. The word in Titus is not the same, and has the meaning of constituting or establishing. The question raised, however, is, If the apostles, with Timothy and Titus, appointed elders or bishops, why may not the saints now? Two opposite usages are prevalent. First, ecclesiastics, claiming to be successors of the apostles, assert their authority to "ordain;" and, secondly, those who refuse this dogma of apostolic succession contend that the saints themselves possess the privilege of choosing their own officers. There is no scripture to warrant the practice of either the one or the other. The apostles, as inspired men, both appointed elders and delegated their authority to do so to Timothy and to Titus; but they have not in any of their epistles left any direction either for the selection of successors to themselves or for the choice of elders by the saints. On the other hand, Paul, when he warned the elders of Ephesus of coming dangers, commended them to God and to the word of His grace. (Acts 20) The apostle Peter, in like manner, desires that the saints should turn, in their perplexities, to the written Word. (2 Peter 3:1, 2; 2 Peter 1:15.) What then remains as to elders? The divinely-given qualifications for such are contained in the Scriptures; and wherever these are detected, as possessed in any measure by a brother, the saints are responsible to acknowledge such an one as fit to rule in the assembly. (See 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17, etc.) The work of elders may therefore still be done according to God, though there be no existent authority to appoint to the office. It may be added that no such thing is found in the Scriptures as one elder or bishop presiding over or ruling in the assembly. E. D.