THE JOY OF HEAVEN.
"There came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 2 Peter 1:17.
Ah yes! this is heaven's deepest joy; fellowship with the Father Himself, in the delight with which He views His beloved Son; and fellowship with Jesus, in His delight to be thus the object of the Father's love.
This joy, even now on earth, is ours,
But only, Lord above;
Thy saints without a pang, shall know
The fulness of thy love.
(Present Testimony 5:69).
LIKENESS TO CHRIST.
You never can become suitable to Christ but by being in His company. It is the Bridegroom that makes the Bride; and you must acquire from Himself what best suits Himself.... It is company that teaches manners. If you are not in His company you may read the Scriptures as much as you like, be able to describe from them dispensations and so on, but it will all end in affectation, not in Christ's ways. . . . . Accustom yourself to being in the presence of Christ; and the effect of that presence is to demand the entire removal of everything that is not of Him.... The reason we see so little of it in people is that they have been so little beholding the glory of Christ. This was just what made the difference between Martha and Mary. Martha was occupied with the human good thing; Mary was learning, by being in company with Himself, what suited Him. Children are very often like their parents, because they keep their company so much.... It is only as I am with Himself that He gives me power from Himself to be what is suited to Him. J. B. STONEY.
HE IS COMING.
"O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength: lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." Isa. 40:9, 10.
He is coming; and the tidings
Sweep through the willing air,
With hope that ends for ever
Time's ages of despair.
He is coming; and the mountains
Of Judea ring again;
And shouts her glad Amen.
For He thy true Messiah,
Thine own anointed King,
He comes, in love and glory,
Thy endless joy to bring.
Yes, He thy King is coming
To end thy woes and wrongs,
To give thee joy for mourning,
To turn thy sighs to songs.
To dry the tears of ages,
To give thee, as of old,
The diadem of beauty,
The crown of purest gold.
To lift thee from thy sadness,
To set thee on the throne,
Messiah's chosen nation,
His best-beloved one.
TITLES OF THE PENTATEUCH.
The titles of the Mosaic books in the Bible are taken from the Septuagint which was a translation in Greek; for Exodus in particular compare the Greek of Luke 9:31. The Hebrew headings are respectively (1) "Beginning," (2) "These are the names" (3) "And He called," (4) "In the wilderness," (5) "These are the words." The last four titles are simply the phrases introducing the several books. They have no relation in meaning to the titles in the English A.V. We find them already in Jerome's day, but it is clear that they could not be original titles and that they result from the disintegration to which the Torah was subjected by those concerned in the translation called the Septuagint. The rest of the Old Testament titles for the most part follow the Hebrew. In the Jewish Mishna, Leviticus is spoken of as the "Law of the Priests" and Deuteronomy as "the Duplicate of the Law." E. E. WHITFIELD.
A SCRIPTURAL SEQUENCE.
(1) Thy words were found, and I did eat them; Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: . . . (2) I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, . . . (3) if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth: (Jer. 15:16-19).
Note (1) shows remnant character loyal to the Word, (2) is the consequence in a separate path, while (3) is the result in discriminating ability which leads to suitable testimony.
THE MERCIES OF THE LORD.
"The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Heb. 13:6.
When the widow cried unto the prophet, "The creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen," what answers Elisha? At first as if embarrassed by this touching appeal, he replies, "What can I do for thee? Tell me" (he continues as if he had discovered the mode of relief), "what hast thou in thy house?" God does not allow us to be placed in circumstances which bear no evidence of His providing mercies. They may be very small and scanty, yet faith appropriates them, and encouraging the soul in God proclaims, "The Lord is my helper," not outside His own mercies, but through them. The widow here borrows from abroad from her neighbours empty vessels. The testimony in asking the loan of an empty vessel was that she who was known to be in such abject circumstances had something to put into them. She might doubtless have been taunted that her poverty was notorious, and that it was folly to borrow empty vessels. She had only boldly to say, "The Lord is my helper!" Now this is an example of the simple action of faith in the use of means. Nature would have despised the "pot of oil," and sought unto the king and those in high estate, or to the lender for relief; but this is not God's way. God only wants to bring Himself into the scene, for He can touchingly appeal to His people, "What could have been done for my vineyard which I have not done for it?"
(Present Testimony 5:254).
(From Notes of Reading with J. McDonald at Innerleithen, 16/10/97)
I have been much struck lately with the literal meaning of the Greek word "Merimnao"which in the New Testament is used to convey a meaning of anxious care. It is derived from a root word which signifies "to be pulled in opposite directions." A cart pulled in opposite directions will never go on! But if we are going on with God, care will serve to give us spiritual exercises. In all circumstances we should bring in the victorious character of Christ into our lives and walk in the power of the victory that He has won for us. He was crucified through weakness, yet He was not raised through weakness but by the power of God. When we get the knowledge of this in power in our souls it has a wonderful influence on all our actions. It was the sense of the victory achieved that enabled Abraham to refuse the spoil of Sodom even from a thread to a shoe latchet! We ought to act rightly and not to be grumbling at our circumstances; e.g., if we are underpaid, the Lord has His eye on this. He will see to it in many ways. A man once told me that he used to be very discontented with his wages; at last he got an increase, but the next month after, some of his family turned ill and he had a large doctor's bill to pay, so that he did not gain anything by the increase. God could make poor fare afford more sustenance to the body than the richest food in the world. There are many instances in Scripture where God made man's insufficiency superabundantly sufficient for the needs of individuals. We can depend upon it that His wonders have not ceased!
THE LANGUAGE OF THE GOSPEL.
The reader has probably often asked himself, "What language did the Lord and the Apostles use?" That is not easily answered. Scholars have mostly assumed that Aramaic was the language that underlies the discourses of the Lord in the Gospels and of the Apostles in the Book of the Acts, but some have held that Greek was the usual language they employed. The only solution of the difficulty is to suppose the Lord and His immediate followers were bilingual, speaking both Aramaic and Greek; employing the one language in the midst of the less cultured portion of the community, the other ofttimes in parts of the country such as Galilee, or in intercourse with Hellenist Jews. There is a modern analogy familiar to people acquainted with Wales or the Channel Islands where the upper grade will address his guest in the English tongue and afterwards turn to address his servant in the vernacular. Who could suppose that in Luke 2 the angels addressed the shepherds in any language but Aramaic? It is as little likely such could speak Greek, as English peasants in olden times could speak Norman-French. That Greek was not in the time of our Lord the usual language of the common people in Syria (at least) would lie in the fact of the need being early felt amongst the Christians of an Aramaic translation of the New Testament as much as the Old. It is a fact that the Lord spoke from heaven to Saul of Tarsus in "the Hebrew dialect" (Acts 26:14) which Paul himself used as well as Greek according to the circumstances in which he was placed or his object (Acts 21:37, 40). Greek (like modern French in diplomacy) was the medium of communication between the upper classes of the Jews and their rulers. On the other hand when Peter conversed in the hall of judgment, he must have used Aramaic, because of the reference to his provincial accent! E. E. WHITFIELD (1883).
NOTES ON THE FIRST DIVISION OF BRETHREN.
"There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram and of Lot." (Gen. 13:7).
Lot's story (one of the saddest in Genesis) is important to be noticed in a day when God having revealed to us the truth of our heavenly calling, it is plain that there are many Lots. With Abraham outwardly, he was not at heart what Abraham was; later with the men of Sodom outwardly, yet not a Sodomite either. He corresponds to a saint untrue to his saintship! His was a downward course. Lot merely followed Abram. Abram walked with God; Lot only with Abram. How easy it is to walk where another's faith leads without exercise of conscience! How many such there are, practically but camp followers, adherents of a cause for which they have no thought of being martyrs, balanced between what they know as truth and a world which has never been seen by them in the light of truth. Egypt had acted thus for Lot. The attraction it had for him came out plainly where the coveted plain of Jordan seemed in his eyes "like the land of Egypt." Abram's failure in going there had loosened the moral hold he had hitherto retained on his nephew. Still true to the weakness of his character, Lot did not propose separation; but Abram did, after it was plain they could no longer happily walk together. Their possessions, increased largely in Egypt, separated them; but Abram manifested his own restoration by the magnanimity of his offer. Lot beheld the fertility of the plain of Jordan and he chose to be there. He covered the choice with a veil of piety! The plain of Jordan was "like the garden of the Lord," like paradise: Why should he not enjoy God's gifts in it? He forgot the fall and that paradise was barred from man, argued religiously while under all the real secret was found in this: "it is like the land of Egypt."
Subsequently Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, God bade him walk through it as his own. He moved and dwelt in Mamre (fatness) which is in Hebron (communion). May we only know and live in the portion of Abram here!
(Extracts from F. W. Grant's "Genesis in Light of N.T. 1870 or so.)
THE SILVER LINING.
In Romans 15:4, we read that through the comfort of the scriptures we might have hope, that is why at such a juncture we turn to the scriptures without any formal recitation or performance of ritual. In the face of death, the greatest enemy of mankind, human philosophy has been and is shrouded in hopeless gloom. There is probably no greater cloud in human affairs than the cloud of bereavement, yet the scriptures invest that cloud with a silver lining, and there is no other agent which can affect that end! T. OLIVER
VISION AND VITALITY.
The reference to Moses in Deut. 34:7, has been used to illustrate the inflexible nature of the Law retaining its unimpaired strength to the end. We venture to speak of the verse in another way, as the title suggests. By way of contrast we recall the closing days of Eli. "There was no open vision" and the word from the Proverbs was abundantly proved in the history of Israel! As to Eli himself we read, "his eyes were dim" and the sad end of his life is one of departed glory. Returning to Moses we suggest there is a link between Deut. 34:7, and Hebrews 11:27. In both verses we have what is equivalent to vision and vitality! In the pathway of faith these two features are complementary. It was the "seeing him who is invisible" which made Moses endure. He had seen the glory of Egypt, had tasted of its pleasures, but when faith's vision laid hold of Him who is outside all of sight and sense, Moses refused, chose, esteemed and endured! Before applying the lesson to ourselves, we think of the beloved Apostle. Writing to the Corinthians he could say, "Last of all he was seen of me" (1 Cor. 15:8). How that vision changed everything for him! How telling were his words to King Agrippa, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19). As a last reference we turn to Phil. 3, where we learn how the effect of that vision was to relegate all he could boast in as a man to the refuse heap! We turn to ourselves. The lesson may not be easy in execution. It is simple in teaching. The way of strength is found as faith's vision is turned to Christ. Where He has gone is where our souls must and can only find rest. As to things here (ourselves included), all is of a transitory nature. We feel the pressure of change. But we have links with what is eternal: — the scene which He fills, "While we look" on these things, the things here assume their true position and calibre in our minds. It is "while we look." The Lord grant we may be marked by vision and vitality!
(An extract from a letter by the late Dr Wolston at Oslo, Dec, 1914),
I have been struck of late to see how long the Apostle of the Gentiles stayed in many places he visited. At Antioch he remained "a whole year" (Acts 11:26). At Corinth "he continued a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18:11); and at Ephesus, as his centre, he was certainly two years and three months (Acts 19:8-10). It is a grave question if servants of the Lord to-day are not too meteoric in their movements hence the too often evanescent results of labour. We are none of us apostles; but we may well learn from his wise ways how the work of the Lord is best carried on. Such a line of ministry demands faith and patience on the part of the labourers
THE NEW ORDER AND NEW POWER (Rom. 8)
How comforting it is to be even in a small measure in the light of the death and resurrection of Christ. Rom. 3:25 speaks of the propitiation, i.e., mercy seat, the meeting place and what needs blood, so we thank God unfeignedly for the blood of Jesus. The apostle goes on to show that not only do sins need to be dealt with, but the sinful condition from whence they come. God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, so that in the death of Christ this matter has been for ever brought to an end, His death signifies this (our baptism commits us unto His death): that involves the closing completely of that order to which sin attached and the impending judgment of God. Here it is not pardon but deliverance from that order which could only be effected by His death, so we thank God for the death of the Lord Jesus. In Christ's death there is the closing of the old sinful order and in Christ risen there is the opening of the new order, while a new principle operates, viz., the principle of the Spirit of life, in contrast to the principle of sin and death manifest in the old order. The name "Christ Jesus" signifies Christ risen, and that means everything or God and for man. Rom. 8:1 speaks of those who are in Christ Jesus. God has set us there, consequent on our identification with Him in death, but in the light of that He would have us to see that we now belong to an order taking its character from Christ, where life and righteousness are, and where can be no condemnation. Everything meets God's holy eye with perfect delight. We stand in the holy liberty of a new order, and rejoice that there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. The last part of the verse should not be there, it was added probably; by an over-zealous scribe who thus sought to make the blessing conditional on conduct instead of an accomplished fact. Verse 2 speaks of being made free from the principle of sin and death by the agency of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Freedom in this order brings power with it. We are now free to please God and have power so that the righteous requirements of the law right be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. What could not be effected by the law on account of man's condition, is now definitely expressed consequent on the new condition "in Christ Jesus," and the new power "the spirit of God," so we come to be in the light of the value of the death and resurrection of Christ. J. S. BERTRAM.
THE PERSON OF THE SON.
"He smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord" — 1 Sam. 6:19. Let us beware of unhallowed thoughts of the Son of God. Let us eschew curious disquisition about His Person. His name is wonderful; no man can unravel the mystery. He is presented to us as the object of adoration, not as the subject for inspection (Present Testimony 2:33).
AT HOME WITH THE LORD (2 Cor. 5:6-9).
(Substance of address at the graveside of Mrs R. H. Brown, at Galashiels, 31/5/41).
In the passage the words translated in the A.V. (1) as present means "at home with," and (2) as absent is literally "to be away from home." So that we can substitute these phrases for the words: "present and absent." Our beloved sister who was snatched from us so suddenly three days ago is obviously away from home as to the body since we have put it in the grave, but that she is at home with the Lord is not evident judging by sight or appearances. It is only as we walk by faith, that fact becomes good to our apprehension. The sentence begun in v. 6 is partially broken off so as to introduce that explanation and is resumed in v. 8. Apparently the Apostle preferred death to life because that would bring him to be "at home with the Lord." We are content rather to be away from home as to the body and thus to be at home with the Lord. If death comes before the coming of the Lord the Christian will have the far better part, hence we need not mourn in reality for our departed relative and friend because she has a far better part than if left here. She had a sudden death but that does not imply sudden glory as is so often said, for that she has to wait (as we have) the glad resurrection morning to receive a body of glory, like unto His body of glory! But she is happy at home with the Lord, waiting that certain first resurrection which will be indescribably blessed and glorious. Wherefore the Apostle could say we make it our ambition that whether present or absent we may be well pleasing to Him. Hence our main exercises are not relative to the departed, but for those who are left over in view of the great reunion. Her sudden homecall has the object in view that in the infinite grace of the Lord we may be found walking before Him as children of the family of God, growing in grace and in our apprehension of the preciousness of Christ, stimulating one another to love and good works. The sudden transition from the seen to the unseen is very desirable for the christian. There has been no time for heart-rending farewells but we should live each day with relation to each other so that farewells will be unnecessary. But for anyone who does not know the Lord, sudden death would be an irrevocable disaster for eternity. Therefore such should seize the opportunity because now is the day of salvation. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be safe for time and eternity!
NOTE ON ROMANS ch. 5 - 8.
Kristiania (Oslo), 4th December, 1914.
Some have got help through seeing in Rom. 5. the two heads — adam and Christ — and that you can only have association with one at a time. Hence, if in Adam you are not in Christ, and vice versa. In chapter 6. there are two masters, sin and God, and you can only be under one at a time. Again in Rom. 7., you find two husbands, the law and Christ. If bound to one there is no link with the other. But, by death, the link with the first is broken, and thus one is free to be married to another, even to Him who is alive from the dead. When that is seen, liberty is in view. Romans 8, is really the dowry of the soul married to the risen Christ — and a very grand dowry it is! i.e., "in Christ" and "no condemnation"; "in the Spirit" hence "life and peace"; then "Christ in you" (v. 10), and the Spirit in you (v. 11). As a consequence power is known and sonship (v. 14, 15). The "first fruits of the Spirit" follow, and the soul learns that "God is for us" and from His love there can be "no separation" (v. 39).
Extract from a letter of Dr. Wolston. He was stricken by paralysis at the end of Dec., 1914, but remained until summer 1915 when Geo. Johnsen brought him home.
The Apostles had no successors! In the prospect of their departure Paul commended the saints to God and the word of His grace (Acts 20:32), and Peter to the written Word (2 Peter 1:15). It has been the same in principle with the vessels of testimony of every age. They lived, served and departed to be with Christ. We are left and we ask for the light in which they should now be regarded. The Word of God supplies the answer (Heb. 13:7). We are to remember those who have been our leaders and have spoken to us the word of God and considering the end of their conversation we are to imitate their faith. When bereft of any to whom God has specially committed his testimony in the dark and evil day, the Holy Spirit would lead our affections in divine channels. It is a consolation to be directed to remember such eminent servants of the Lord and to recall their faith as an incentive and example. To do so will obviate the danger of human idolatry, and enable us to glorify God in the energy and zeal which they displayed. Moreover, we are told that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day and forever! They may disappear but He abides as our unchanging resource. Amid all our vicissitudes, failures and unfaithfulness, if our hearts are stayed on this blessed truth we need never be discouraged. Christ remains ever the same and he will never cease to care for His church. What comfort in our conscious weakness and antidote to our apprehensions will be found in this. His truth is bound up with His immutable character. Therefore we must not be carried about with strange doctrines. When standard-bearers fall, it is but a summons to hold all the more tenaciously the testimony they proclaimed. "Behold I come quickly, hold fast what thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:11).
EDWARD DENNETT in "Christian Friend," 1882.
MEN OF UNDERSTANDING (1 Chron. 12.).
Among those gathered to David at Ziklag were instructive characters. The centre, light and beauty of that despised company was the rejected man of that day, mean in appearance and contemned. He was a type of the blessed Living One on high who is the Rejected Man of this day of boasted resources. "I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing." The first thought as we meditate is concerning a rejected Lord. The characteristics of these Gadites and men of Issachar show the state of soul suitable to our Lord Jesus Christ in His rejection. The first notable feature in the sons of Gad was that they were a separated company; they had gone out, not come in. That is the very responsibility in order to be a vessel unto honour sanctified and meet for the Master's use (2 Tim. 2:21). Communion is a greater thing in the Lord' eyes than usefulness and is the spring of all service suitable to God. Then these separated sons of Gad were men of might and of war, they could handle shield and buckler, with faces as lions, as swift as the roes on the mountains. In their separation was found strength, courage, skill, boldness, alacrity. These are the qualities of a heart separated to Christ. Ere any of these qualities are found in exercise, Jordan must be crossed when overflowing its banks (v. 15). They must pass through death ere they could serve! "If any man serve me, let him follow me." To give scope for all true devotedness to the Lord, death must be known practically as passed and carried by us. So it has ever been, whether in type or in power of the Holy Ghost. Death in the power of life is the secret of true following of Christ and true acting for Him. Elisha's newly acquired mantle of power received from the one to whom he separated himself led him ere he used it to the same spot as these lion-faced sons of Gad! Jordan alone can open the door for me to reach my Lord in heaven and to follow Him suitable to his rejection on earth and give that subduedness in keeping with vessels of Christ devoted to Him in every turn of the heart, and efficient for Him. Lastly, what characterised the men of Issachar marks the saint to-day according to whether he is a son of Gad or not. If not separated to David they could not have "understanding of the times as to know what Israel ought to do." No one can know the Lord's mind as to the saints who is not suitable to the true David. What can be more excellent, first Christ then His own? The only way to know the mind of the Lord about His interests is to be truly devoted to Himself in communion, walking in His path through the desert of this world. Nothing can please the Lord in the day of His rejection but a remnant wholly separated to Himself empowered in communion with Him by the Holy Ghost. The strength, courage, skill, boldness and alacrity to walk His path, accepting His death, is the only door out of visible things to Himself!
Extracts from W. T. TURPIN in "The Voice," 1880.
A few words spoken at the graveside of an old friend. John 10:28, read.
I have known our deceased relative and friend from infancy, thus probably longer than any other person now living. Amongst her excellent qualities I may mention her faithful service with a firm in this town for half a century. She had a lifelong struggle against ill health in a fragile body borne patiently with calm fortitude and cheerfulness. But I put emphasis mainly on the fact that as a girl she came to know eternal security in the hands of the One whose promise has never failed. He said that they shall never perish, i.e., emphatic, conveying the intelligence that they shall "never, never" perish for all eternity. As we have committed this frail body to the grave it would seem that the grave has gained a victory, but it is only temporary, because we look forward to a morning without clouds. The cloud of bereavement is one of the darkest clouds on earth! In that morning to this war-ridden earth will come the Prince of Peace hushing its groan and crushing all opposition to His will and He shall administer everything to the Glory of God. But antecedent to that morning there will be the resurrection morning when 6,000 years of dying will be eclipsed in a moment, "a twinkling of an eye"! We commit this body of the last member of a christian family (all of whom knew eternal security in the Lord Jesus Christ) to the grave in view of that sure resurrection. "Blessed are they who have part in the first resurrection over whom the second death will have no power." The second death is the logical conclusion of the broad way of man's self-will and opposition to God. May the lesson of this open grave and the sudden homecall of our friend speak to everyone impressing upon us the lesson which we require! T. OLIVER.
No single truth can ever be taken as a ground of fellowship in an evil day when Christendom presents ruin whatever may be the pretension of the Roman or other Church. Let us then insist that we are not living in Pentecostal times but in the last days when judgment is imminent! The question is "can we be in the position of a true remnant withoul falling into narrow sectarianism on the one hand or into Romanism on the other"? A remnant represents a true part of the whole, e.g., a piece of woven silk has been burned save a little bit. That is a true specimen of the whole piece. Rev. 3:7, 13 is purely unsectarian so that any sentiment of being Philadelphian is precluded. Some have indulged that idea with notorious consequences. But the passage applied to those who are in the position of the remnant who disclaim being the Church but who recognise and are governed by the great truths of the Church. We must not confound the recognition of these with the taking of them for a basis of fellowship! That would end in pretension like that of Rome or the narrowest sectarianism. We may be in danger of thinking we are "the Body" instead of being a feeble remnant depending on the Lord to carry out the truths He has confided to us. 2 Tim. 2 will keep us from sectarianism! We cannot get out of Christendom without becoming Jews or pagans. The "Great House" contains miscellaneous vessels, and the faithful one is called to purify himself from such as are to dishonour, and he shall find fellowship with those who pursue righteousness, etc. That the blessed truths of the Church may be recognised as binding on the conscience, will be the first effect of following righteousness, but that is different from making them the basis of communion. May we call on the Lord out of a pure heart!
Extracted from E. L. BEVIR, in "the Voice," 1895.
THE REMNANT AT THE CLOSE.
"He must increase, I must decrease," i.e., the keynote of His ways with us. All I could give Him were my sins (to wash out), nakedness, (to hide me in His acceptance), lost condition (to share His own given glory). But even these I could not really give to Him, so to be done with them; for I was not greater than the "I" that loved myself but He has adjusted that and we are satisfied: — He with His Father's service and I (renewed) with the delight He had in so acting. John's reference was to service. The herald is important until the heralded appears. If He is to be magnified on earth ere He comes to fetch us, what is wanted is a fresh action of the Spirit. It may be hidden and quiet. When He came the first time, there was in the temple Zacharias and near it Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Anna, Simeon, etc. So there may be going on now a silent formative power preparing for the bright morning star. Surely it is the present mind of heaven acting upon us which says, "Surely, I come quickly" which has led to our saying, "Even so, come Lord Jesus" and led to our looking at what there may be still around ourselves practically inconsistent with that hope!
Extracts from letter by G. V. WIGRAM, 6-9-1874.
THE MAN OF THE PHARISEES.
There was no miracle in John 1. Peter, Philip and Nathaniel were brought to Jesus without miracle; the work was in their souls. "Behold the Lamb of God" had awakened this going to the Lord to seek him as sinners having discovered their moral condition; (very different from being drawn to him by wonder). The Lord gives Himself to those in John 1, but not to those in John 2 who believe in His miracles. So in John 4, there is no miracle before the Samaritan woman or the villagers of Sychar! Conscience was stirred. They received Him as Saviour and He is at home with them at once; just as He received Andrew and his companions to his dwelling. In John 3 we get Nicodemus occupying his own peculiar place. He was attracted by miracles, but his soul was reached and it did not end with him as it had begun. He did not wonder and believe but was exercised and sought Jesus timidly. The Lord did not take him to Himself at once. He is patient yet decided, exposing him so that he might learn himself. In committing Himself to others, he formed living alliance with them, consenting to know them with personal knowledge in the bonds of fellowship. He cannot do this for those who believe merely historically by force of evidence; (as the multitude then and as Christendom now). With those who come as sinners He forms alliance and fellowship for eternity! The fragments of convicted hearts must be the link. Nicodemus is seen a second time in John 7 standing for righteousness in the person of Jesus in the midst of the elders. This is a little way beyond John 3. He is still :the companion of the rulers, acting with misgivings and in small measure owning the Righteous One. But in John 19 he has advanced; he put himself on the side of the world victim. God will provide the victim with a glorious triumphant resurrection by and by. Meanwhile Nicodemus and Joseph provide Him with a tomb and grave clothes. Their spices perfume the sepulchre! Nicodemus occupied the place of which the early words of Jesus had told him. In spirit, he is looking at the uplifted serpent, the crucified healing Son of Man, henceforth he was one to whom Jesus committed himself. Do we know that Jesus has committed Himself to us?
(Unnamed author in the days when people read articles because of their contents and not of the signatures.)
THERE SHALL BE NO NIGHT THERE
(Some words at the grave of John King, Gavinton, 6-9-41.)
That night succeeds day with unfailing regularity does not admit of controversy. That it should be otherwise would entail the reconstruction of the physical universe. Nevertheless, that will be compassed by God's intervention in manifest power. But the statement in Rev. 21:25, and repeated in Rev. 22:5, implies more than circumstances in the physical realm. It has also a moral bearing. "Men love darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil" (John 3:19). Night conceals many wrong actions which would be inadmissible under the searchlight of the sun! But darkness is the realm of the author of evil. The Colossian Christians were delivered from the power or authority of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of God's love. The strangers scattered abroad were addressed by the Apostle Peter as a royal priesthood to God who had called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. So that darkness is absolutely opposed to love and light, the great features of God's sphere. The Apostle Paul addressed the Thessalonian believers as sons of the light, i.e. , the teaching of Scripture in the power of the Holy Spirit, and sons of the day (i.e. , the future glory of Christ). They were not of the night nor of darkness! "The light" is the present value of "the day to come." Hence the conduct of the Christians should be in keeping with the light and the day and in strong contrast to the character of the darkness and night exhibited by the world. That the time left for our testimony is brief is impressed with peculiar point at the side of an open grave! Many in this large company are getting old. Many have possibly no thought of God and the real issues of life and only respect for the deceased has led to their attendance here. This moment is of all importance, fraught with eternal significance. The night of eternal loss is coming for the careless man of the world. It will be infinitely better to choose now the path of light which will issue in eternal day with Christ and where night will have vanished for ever! T. OLIVER.
HERE AND THERE.
"These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33.) "Our citizenship (thus our political interest) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil. 3:20.)
Here there are hours of sadness
And trials hard to bear;
There all is joy and gladness,
Without a passing care.
Here there are heavy crosses,
Which weigh the spirit down;
There every brow is circled
With an immortal crown.
Here wars, and strifes, and tumults
Rage on and never cease;
There not a thought can ruffle
The deep celestial peace.
Here there are separations,
Which almost break the heart;
There loved ones meet, and never
Know what it is to part.
Here oft in bitter anguish,
We weep from day to day;
There God's own hand so gently
Wipes all our tears away.
Here we a little longer
Must life's brief story tell;
There in the many mansions
We shall forever dwell.
READY FOR THE RAPTURE.
The Lord never ends a dispensation without giving a close worthy of Himself. How beautiful in Luke to find hearts brimful of God's thoughts, looking for the Messiah. Mary and Elizabeth talk of Him and His ear is close down to hear as in Malachi 3:16. If Christ acts now, as He always acts, we may expect (despite all the ruin) to have some with whom the Spirit can say to Him "Come." The great thing that we have to do in our day is to live for Christ. People have a vague idea of living for the glory of God; but the only way to do that is to have the love in Christ's heart so dwelling in us as it dwelt in the Apostle Paul that he said "That Christ should be magnified in my body." Is that my earnest expectation and hope? If I have been living for myself those around must see that the light is marred, it does not shine out and they would say "if all the light that shines out is the measure of the Christ that shines in, he must have very little?" It is the One whose love has never passed from me for a single moment Who wants me to live for Him. It is impossible to go through this world without suffering! You may chose whether you will suffer for Christ or suffer for yourself. If living for Christ you will suffer for Him. If living for yourself you will have God's rod close behind you. Lot had God's mark as well as Abraham! He had not forgotten Lot any more than He had Abraham; but which of their troubles was it better to have? Abraham's son was the centre of the promises. Would he reckon that God was the keeper of the promise and not himself? Would he trust God to make good His promise while God was testing his heart? Yes! Can I not say "Oh, Lord Jesus, give me Abraham's trial and portion, and not Lot's." It is the mind of God to make as complete a split between flesh and Spirit in these last days, as He did at Pentecost. The question is, who is living for Christ and who is not? If your heart is set on Christ you will have the enjoyment of Christ before He comes and you will meet Him with joy. The Father's thought is that as Christ is there absolutely for us, He will have us here absolutely for Him. Do not pick up things around you, i.e., curiosities out of the gutter; but say "through His grace I will work out what He has worked in, I will live to Christ, whose eye is looking on me and I will manifest to others the One to whom I live."
(G. .V. WIGRAM in "The Voice," 1890).
THE WORD OF GOD
The Word of God should not only be a check on our thoughts but be their source, which is far deeper. We see it in Christ, the only perfect One. He only could say, "By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the path of the destroyer." "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." There is a preserving power in the Word, to keep the feet from sliding, which those only know who receive the truth in the love of it. Merely having the word hid in the memory will not do! There is no preserving power in that. There must be the action of the truth on the heart and conscience, separating from all defilement otherwise its preserving power cannot be experienced. (Fragment from "The Voice," 1879).
CONFORMED TO CHRIST'S DEATH.
"Be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12); but we are to be conformed to the death of Christ (Phil. 3). Paul speaks for himself, but it is the path for every saint in the process of going down. We are to be dead to all that to which Christ has died. We shall be conformed to His body of glory in a moment fast approaching. Now is the time to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. That will be effected in doing His will. That pathway is clearly marked out for us in Phil. 2. In leaving this world for another which is infinitely better, Paul became the pattern saint in the path which the Lord had traced out while here. Our business is to "follow in diligent haste" therein to His glory!
(Extract from address by the late ISAAC ELLIOT at Carlisle, 27-12-15).
THE RICH MERCY OF GOD.
The day of which we are sons will declare the majesty of the rich mercy of God! Enoch is the transcendent O.T. example of the N.T. heavenly calling in principle. The advent of the first-born seldom conduces to increased godliness on the part of the parents as it did in his case. Because new ambitions and interests are introduced. However, the removal of a beloved one is more likely to lead to wholehearted occupation with the object of all heaven's delight. Your beloved has now the better part with Christ and you are left over for the coming of the Lord, the consummation of the prospect of grace. The outcome of the welter of blood and thunder in the affairs of men will be God's intervention in the Man of His right hand claiming His own wholesale and when He will deal with the world in inexorable righteousness. Meanwhile we occupy till He come! We weep with those who weep and commend you, dear brother, to the infallible resource which alone can be found in the word of His grace. Our sincere sympathy goes with you in your hour of great trial! Extract from a letter of condolence by T. OLIVER.
The parts of this great economy committed to Paul are: — (1) We are God's righteousness in Christ. (2) So complete is God's righteousness that all in man which compromised it has been judicially ended in the cross of Christ; the old man crucified with Christ. (3) Eternal life in Christ is given. (4) We are in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It is Christ liveth in us and we in Him. (5) The glory of God is our hope and we are there through the same righteousness in Christ. (6) We are now united to Christ in heaven and as we realise this we are for Him on the earth. (7) We look for Him to come to change our vile bodies that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body. (J .B. STONEY in Present Testimony, vol. 1:79).
MINUTE ASSIDUOUS ATTENTION.
The way our blessed Lord carries on with each of us, step by step, is amazing! The more we muse on His ways (and even words) to us, the more we are comforted with His minute assiduous attention; perfectly holy yet perfectly tender. The Queen of Sheba learned Solomon in his glory and thus we now know Him. This knowledge introduces us into His things, while we have His sympathy in our own sorrows here, like Mary in John 11. As I learn Him in the latter way, I feel that the One most necessary to me is no longer here. As I know Him in glory I am beside myself, no spirit left in me; and I am filled with praise and worship on account of his greatness. May these two lines of knowledge abound in us! (From "The Voice," 1891).
PAUL'S WORD FROM THE PRISON.
Phil. 1. is marked by a collection of beautiful jewels: — Fellowship in the Gospel (v. 5), mutual thought (7), deep-seated love (8), intelligence of God's ways in blessing above sight (12), love for Christ's name (18), balance between being with Christ above or here for the sake of those loved by Him (23), suffering for Christ, a gift (29); then in Phil. 2 humility, 3 energy, 4 contentment imparting perfect peace, when a chain binds in prison him who displayed the energy of Phil. 3. These are three brilliants of extra magnitude! The epistle is not marked by doctrine, but by spirit, conduct and walk in believers commended by the Holy Ghost! Joy is the special mark, furthered by gift whilst here (1:25); but not lessened when the gift is taken away. (2:17). (From an anonymous writer in "The Voice," 1873).
THE GLORY(John 13:31-32).
There is a glorified Man in heaven. The Holy Ghost is on earth in consequence of that! It was God's purpose that glory should be connected with man. In Ex. 40:33, 34, the glory filled the tabernacle and in 1 Kings 8:10, 11 the glory filled the temple. In Isa. 6:15 the glory is disturbed because of the refractory state of the people. In Ezekiel 1:26-27 there is the vision of the glory retiring from the earth, but the prophet sees in the brightest spot the likeness of a man, i.e., an intimation that God would yet have a Man in the glory. In Luke 2:9, the glory returns to announce the birth of the Saviour and God's good pleasure in man. In Luke 3:21, 22, at the end of 30 years of private life when everything therein was beautiful and according to God; on taking His place publicly with the remnant, heaven was opened to Him and God's good pleasure in Him was expressed. In Luke 9:28, 32, after three years of public service the glory invited Him. He could have gone free; He not only kept the law, but He was the expression of divine righteousness. He would not go free. His exodus was accomplished at Jerusalem. In John 12:24, the corn of wheat must die and bring forth fruit after its own order. "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." In John 13:31, He glorified God at man's farthest point of distance in death; God was indebted to Man for glory and man was glorified in God. He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. In Acts 7:55, Stephen saw the glory of God and Jesus. He testified that the Son of Man is at the right hand of God. They stopped their ears and murdered the witness! In Acts 9:3, the glory looked down on a man at the greatest distance from God. In 2 Cor. 4:46 we have the Gospel of the glory of Christ, the image of God; the glory is not veiled, it shines in his face! In 2 Cor. 3:18, we behold the Lord's glory, as we look we are metamorphosed; there is moral correspondence. Glory is every attribute of God in manifestation and perfectly balanced. This is manifested in Jesus. J. B. STONEY.
The act of devotion recorded in 2 Sam. 23:13-17 occurred more than 40 years before the period of record. That was testimony to the lasting impression the act had made on David's mind. It is common experience amongst men, if a good work escapes notice at the time there is little likelihood of its coming up for commendation at a later date! Scripture affords examples, such as, the butler who forgot his promise made to Joseph in the prison, although only two years had elapsed (Gen. 38). Mordecai's good service to the king had been completely forgotten, but God disturbed the mind of the king and he sought that the book of records should be read to him and there was found written that Mordecai had saved the king's life, and that he had not received a reward. Then, he was the man the king delighted to honour! (Esther 6). In 1 Sam. 22, we see the setting of the first mentioned incident. David was rejected, hunted and suffering and became the centre of attraction for broken men in distress, debt, and discontent. But it would appear that the three mighty men were of a different type! They came to David in the Cave of Adullam in harvest-time, i.e. , the very best time of the year, when they could have been employed to the best advantage. But they were attracted by the magnetic power of David. Subsequently they remained near to him and they heard his expression of desire for the water of Bethlehem. (He did not command them to do anything). But the magnitude of the host of the Philistines did not restrain them from consummating the wish of David; they acted in unison "perfectly joined together "in one mind, to fulfil the will of their master. They were separated from every other interest so that they might the more wholeheartedly work for him. In writing to the Philippians commending devoted Timothy the Apostle lamented that the general state was "all seek their own "(Phil. 2:21). What an outstanding privilege it is for two or three to be gathered unto the Lord cleaving to Him and to be near enough in the apprehension of their souls to hear the expression of His mind. We shall then act unitedly for His glory, keeping His word, and our conduct will not deny the significance of His name! Such action will receive His commendation in the day of perfect appraisal to a much greater extent than performing brilliant individual deeds which may attract the attention of men, yet miss His approval. T. OLIVER.
THE SECRET OF POWER
God will take care what you go through; do you take care how you go through it! If Christ's love is not filling my heart, I will go to some variety in a shop and satisfy it. The secret of power without and peace within is only and always to be occupied with God! . . . There is plenty of work but there is reason for complaint of the way I do it, because it is not the amount we do but to do what we have in hand well, as His eye is on us. There never was a moment lost by the Perfect Servant ("straightway" occurs repeatedly) yet nothing was ill done. At the same time He felt the danger of overwork for others, as we find His invitation, "Come ye yourselves apart with Me, and rest awhile." Are we as happy and peaceful sitting alone with Jesus, as when mixing with the toil of commerce or in the excitement of nightly meetings? The true secret of happiness is to sit at His feet while we serve enjoying His presence continually which is quite possible amid bustling scenes. May we abide in Him (fruitbearing results therefrom), and in His love wherein joy results!" ("Words of Truth.")
The point of departure must be the point of recovery, and that invariably is the point most difficult to reach. One will admit and confess anything but the motive. The motive exposes the nature. Self-respect prevents me from allowing any eye to penetrate to my motive, simply because I know it will not bear the light, and if it were known, not my conduct or my ways (which might be considered, and often are, mere accident), but my nature would be exposed and condemned. No one is really humble unless he has lost self-respect. An honest man cares very little about the respect of others if he cannot accept it as his due. Hence there is really no humility until I am so entirely disappointed with myself before God that I can say with Job, "I abhor myself." Now it is remarkable the various ways by which God in His faithfulness brings every one whom He leads into this experience. One in this experience never likes to refer to himself, and not only this, but he thinks everybody's nature is better than his own. Hence there is no rest or sense of escape from self-condemnation but in Christ, where there is no condemnation, and where this is the known region of the soul, everyone begins to be looked at from Christ's side and as they relate to Him. He, the life and rest of the heart, necessarily becomes the spring and standard of everything. If He be exclusively my life and joy, and I have nothing outside of Him but a nature that I abhor and condemn, how must all my desires run in concert with His, and everything else which is contrary to Him is not only avoided because contrary to Him, but also because it claims kindred with me and addresses my nature, making me feel still more excruciatingly that I not only have a nature that I am ashamed of, but that everything which opposes Christ, who is now everything to my heart, finds an auxiliary in it.
Extract from J. B. STONEY, (1813-1897).
THE SECRECY OF THE RAPTURE.
Many notices prepare us for such an event, as the secret rapture of the saints. We have no single type of it, but many things prepare us for it : e.g., "the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God." The eye of the natural body cannot see nor the ear hear the visions or voices of the Spirit! Horses and chariots filled the mountain but the prophet's servant had no eye for them until the Lord pleased. Neither would that prophet have witnessed the flight of His master to heaven had his soul not passed through a testing process. Daniel was given to see a glorious sight and to hear the voice of a multitude but the men with him saw nothing, only a terror fell on them and they hid. The glory on the Holy hill shone only in the eye of Peter, James and John though One object in it was as the brightness of the sun so that there was light enough to have lighted the whole land. Many bodies of saints arose, but only those to whom it was given knew of their resurrection! The heaven was opened to Stephen and Jesus and the Glory were seen by him, but the assembly saw nothing; their only object was their victim. If Paul went to paradise in the body (whether or not he could not say), none saw him. Philip was found at Azotus, no one tracked his flight from Gaza, for the Spirit had borne him away. In the light and the voice of Jesus which arrested Saul in his journey to Damascus, there was no word for his companions, nor form for their eyes. But Saul, the object of the visitation, knew it all, not in his eye and ear merely, but in the depths of his conscience. Have not all the circumstances of the taking away of the saints been thus anticipated? We have visions, audiences, resurrections, flights and ascensions and the heavens opened and yet neither eye nor ear conversing with a ray or utterance. For all these belonged to the region and energy of the Spirit, and lay outside the natural faculties. What will there be in the resurrection and ascension of the saints which will go beyond these notices when taken together? Beyond all these Jesus rose from a tomb of hewn stone and from amid a guard of wakeful soldiers but no eye or ear was in that great secret. This was the first fruits, the pledge and sample! After He was risen though He walked the earth, He was seen only by them to whom it was given Him to appear. He could vanish out of sight or appear in various guises so as to escape discovery as He pleased. These help us to apprehend the manner, silence and secrecy of the rapture.
Extracted from "The Voice," 1876. (Unnamed author).
TWO CORRELATED REGIONS.
In Eph. 2:6, we sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus; i.e., the region where Christ is. In Rom. 8:23, we, the first fruits of the Spirit, ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption (Sonship), the redemption of our body, i.e., the region where the Holy Spirit is, and in which we are subjected to trials, where Christ is not, but where we are under His Lordship. In Romans, Christ's resurrection is adduced in order that we should walk in newness of life, in the region of our responsibilities. (Rom. 6:4). In Colossians, granted that we, too, are risen with Christ we are to seek the things which are above where Christ sits on the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). The Apostle goes on to put emphasis on a development of the subject, "for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." So that in the foregoing we get the practical results of the operation of the Holy Spirit. In the proportion that we live in the region where Christ is, we shall be acting in the power of the Holy Spirit in the region where He is not! The apprehension of the correlation of these two regions led the Apostle to press toward the mark for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus. When he beheld Christ in glory, then Christ was increasingly manifested in him on earth. Forgiveness of sins makes heaven secure in the future, but to see that the man who committed the sins has also been put away in the death of Christ and a new order of Man introduced, is a further apprehension. We shall only seek power according to our need and desires, until the Holy Spirit leads us in spirit to where Christ is, and we realise that God sees us in Him there. As a consequence in the lower region by the mercies of God, we shall be able "to present our bodies, a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, our reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). If we do not see the distinction between these regions and their marvellous correlation, we shall be in great confusion of thought. Death or the body-change at the corning of the Lord will take us away from the lower region, but our portion in the higher region will not know any change by either of these contingencies. As in spirit in the latter region we shall have power according to the power of His glory to mortify (or keep in the place of death) our members in the lower region, wherein also we are "partakers of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with an Holy calling" (2 Tim 1:8, 9).
THE MAN OF SYCHAR.
"My precious Lord Jesus; Thou knowest how fully I can say with Paul "to depart and to be with Thee, which is far better." They come and talk to me of a crown of glory, of the glories of heaven; I bid them stop. I am not wanting crowns, I have Himself — I am going to be with Himself! Ah! with the Man of Sychar; with Him who stayed to call Zaccheus; with the Man of John 8; with the Man who died! Oh, to be with Him before the glories, the crowns, or the kingdoms appear! It is wonderful! With the man of Sychar alone, and I am going to be with Him for ever! Exchange this sad scene which cast Him out for His presence! Oh, the Man of Sychar." Some of last words of J G. Bellett (1795-1864).
FRUIT, FRESHNESS, SOUL PROSPERITY.
Paul commended the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20. to God and the word of His grace. We are built up and we get to know the inheritance of all saints by the word. In Jeremiah 17:5-8, we see that the man that trusts to man is blind to good; but the man who trusts in the Lord does not see the evil. He is not taken up with the barrenness, but with God — the fountain of living waters. He spreads out his roots by the river and so he does not cease to yield fruit. See also Ps.1, wherein we see separation from evil men and meditation on the word of God day and night! The clean animals chew the cud and part the hoof in Lev. 11. They ruminate on what they have taken in and that is manifested in the path of their feet! That idea is also conveyed in Jeremiah 15. The word was in his mouth; he ate it — but he did so alone. He was not among the assembly of the mockers. He took the precious from the vile! But others got something too, because Jeremiah became God's witness. "Thou shalt be as My mouth." The word was joy and rejoicing unto the heart of Jeremiah, but it brought suffering and reproach (Jer. 20:7-13). That is ever the way it works! Jeremiah thought he would keep silence, but the word was in his heart, and like a fire burning in his bones, so he had to speak. In Jeremiah. 23:28, 29 the word is likened to wheat with the strange attendant characters of being like fire and like a hammer breaking the rock in pieces. God can use His word to feed or to break hard hearts! Our business is to get the word in to the people and God will see to the rest of the matter!(Notes of an address by the late R. K. WILSON at Carlisle, 27/12/15)
THE FATHER'S WILL.
There is but one will consulted or regarded there; the infinitely perfect will of our Father in heaven. Happy, happy place! No struggles of the creature's will for pre-eminence there! No disobedience — no self-will! How happy that family, even on earth, where the children delight to obey their parents; or rather, in the intelligence of affection, to anticipate their wishes and fulfil them before they can be expressed. What profound happiness there is in the spirit of obedience. What must heaven be, where every movement of the affections, every word, every action is in perfect obedience to our Father who dwells there! What will earth be when this prayer is answered? "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" (Mark 6:9, 10). (Present Testimony V. 65:1853).
FIVE ELEMENTS TRUE "NOW."
(1) "The spirit that now worketh in the children (sons) of disobedience" (Eph 2:2). In that statement is set forth the work of the enemy (the prince of the power of the air) in the Jews, but it is the same spirit which expresses the universal condition of the world at large. But that is the foreground to a blessed transformation expressed in: — (2) "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes (formerly) were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). That is true of all "in Christ Jesus," whether they once were either Jew or Gentile. The result of bringing near has been effected by the blood of Christ. Later in the chapter, varied aspects of the oneness are presented, e.g., (a) one new man; (b) reconciliation of both unto God in one body by the cross; (c) through Him both have access by one Spirit unto the Father; (d) an habitation of God through the Spirit. (3) A further thought is unfolded in connection with the mystery which "is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3:5). That had been hidden in past ages, but God would have all to see its administration through the Apostle. (4) But a further purpose is shown in: — "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). The all-varied resources of God are being manifested to the spiritual intelligences in heaven so that they may know the character of the execution of God's plans. (5) The fifth thought is conveyed in: — "Now are ye light in the Lord" (Eph. 5:8). This is presented so that there may be a practical result in walk as befitting "children of light." The elements of the nature of God, viz., "love and light," are to come out as fruit. The fruit of the light is in all goodness, righteousness and truth. These five statements coupled with the present moment "now," bring out what God is doing far Himself and for Christ. They shew the features of the working of God in new creation and finally there is indicated the path for every saint in which to walk. So the privileges and blessings of the present moment are beyond our conception!
(Notes of an address by the late Dr WARREN at Carlisle, 27-12-15)
THE RAPTURE, OUR PROSPECT. (1 Thess. 1:4.).
Grace turns everything to the praise of God when His children walk in obedience. The Thessalonians could not solve the difficulty of those who had gone to the Lord and occasion is taken of that to open out fresh and glorious truths. The great thought in Ch. 1. is waiting for God's Son from heaven! Individual hearts are set upon a Person out of sight; nothing can satisfy them but Himself. The thought of belonging to Him on the throne while bearing our names there, is surely enough to make us respond to His love and to wait for Him from heaven. 1 Thess. 4:13-18 turns on individual love to Christ! It is about God's next step when He puts forth His Son bright with crowns of glory. What is that to me, if I do not love Him? If I do, shall I not care for His glory? It is the Lord Himself who shall descend! His actions express the will of God. Through the connecting link between me and the Father's House, I say "Come." The Lord who has been guiding my steps through the wilderness speaks the word. How shall I know His voice? Faith knows Him and when He speaks, faith will respond to His shout. Christ, the regulator of everything, will give the regulating word. What a thrill will pervade all minds in harmony with God, when God's beloved Son rises from the throne to fetch His children home. Angels would not grudge Him any place, so the archangel takes up the note, and God gives full sanction with His trump to what His Son has done. What a sight that will be when you and I shall see the Lord descend to show the character of His Father's love and give confidence to the hearts of His people to be ushered into His Father's House? "The dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up." The double glory of the resurrection and of the life stands out, and according to His grace, the weakest are first thought of. He puts forth resurrection power. The burnt bodies of the martyrs may have ashes scattered to the winds, but the Lord knows where all are and His virtue attracts every particle to be raised a glorious body! "So shall we ever be with the Lord" is the climax. With Him in the Father's House in glory is my prospect! Then what manner of person am I? Let us challenge our hearts as to whether we know the love that the Lord has toward us and that He is coming to take us to the Father's House. (Unknown author in the "Voice," 1869).
THE HEAVENLY CALLING.
People often talk of the heavenly calling as if it were a theory. Was it such to Enoch when he walked with God, or with Moses when he endured as seeing Him who is invisible? Do not let our minds take it as knowledge, instead of realising a living Christ in heaven. He has distinctly called me by name and bears my name before God, as one for whom He has done a good deal. Oh! that living Man who has stolen my heart is up there! He came off the throne to go to the cross as my substitute to take the cup of wrath due to me. God has put His Amen upon this love which was stronger than death. It is reasonable that if the Son of God loved me and gave His life for me, I must love Him in the place where He is. He is occupied with a suffering people in all the circumstances they have to pass through. Enoch walked with God 300 years when there was no scripture. Such walk makes little noise in the world. It was very quiet and unostentatious. He walked alone with God. What is true of faith at one time, is true at all times. Where faith calls me, there will I be found in separation with God. (Extracts from G. V. WIGRAM).
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CROSS.
The material cross is not symbolical of Christianity although it is often employed for that purpose. But the One who hung thereon shewed the wisdom of God in the cross. Christ is made unto us wisdom (1. Cor. 1:30). The result is that we are wiser in the things of God than the greatest natural intellect is. No flesh can glory in God's presence. The cross is the end to all pretension. Christ is also our righteousness. The righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ is unto all but only upon those who believe. In new creation old things are passed away, although as we see each other they are very much in evidence (2 Cor. 5:17). Thirdly, Christ is our sanctification. So in His prayer of John 17, He sanctified Himself for the sake of His own and also He sought that His Father might sanctify them through His truth. Fourthly, Christ is our redemption. Justification by the grace of God is through the redemption in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:24). Finally, the Holy Spirit of promise is the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14). The ground was cleared through Christ being crucified and the Spirit being communicated. Justification is by faith in the blood of Christ; sanctification by energy of the Spirit in the new nature. (Extracts from address by the late Isaac Elliot at Workington, 26/3/37).
"TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH"
To Thee, O Lord, we cry;
For many a saint feels weak and faint,
And fast the arrows fly.
The closing battle rages fierce,
The still small voice, thrice blessed Lord,
From the glory where Thou art,
Comes down through the air in accents clear,
To cheer each loyal heart.
"My power and might are thine, faint heart,
Say, why art thou cast down?
Yet hold thou fast what in grace thou hast,
That no man take thy crown."
Then may each saint his courage take
From Thee, victorious Lord;
And still hold fast to the very last,
Thine own most sacred word.
For yet a few short hours of toil,
And the conflict will be o'er:
And echoing cries of triumph rise
From the glory-lighted shore.
(Extract from "A Voice to the Faithful," 1880).
There is no rest to be found here for the saint; but it is written, "there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." (ver. 9). To know this is both full of blessing and full of sorrow: sorrow to the flesh because as it is always seeking its rest here, it has always to be disappointed — blessing to the spirit, because the spirit, being born of God, can only rest in God's own rest, as it is said, "If they shall enter into my rest." There are indeed joys by the way, but the moment we rest in them, they become as the quails of Israel, poison (Numbers 11.). Every time we find something on which we attempt to settle, that very thing proves but a new source of trouble and conflict to us, a new source of exercise and weariness of heart. God loves us too well to let us rest here. Rest, blessed be God, is not to be our portion here. His holiness will not let us rest where there is sin; His love will not let us rest where there is sorrow. There "remaineth a rest" for us, His own rest — God's rest. There will be neither sin, nor trouble, nor sorrow, in God's rest. There will be Himself there. And we shall rest in Him. J.N.D.
HEARING AND FOLLOWING.
Feebleness of apprehension is marked as to these two points. The quietness of communion is little enjoyed in this busy day. The moment speaks loudly of unrest and unreality; little is known of deep, personal joy in Christ. Heart satisfaction in personal nearness of the Lord is true communion. Then we know the mind of our Lord and are qualified for service as Christ's confidential servants; that is not constituted by the amount or laboriousness of our work. The two attitudes of soul are intimately connected. Christ alone is the blessed source of all satisfaction in Himself. To be a good listener, one must be free and at rest. The Son, ever the Father's delight, came into a world of slavery and sorrow to bring liberty to the captives, as well as relief of conscience and rest of heart to every weary soul. The disquietude of the age infects the saints, both relative to this life and with God. Such have not settled peace! Unsatisfied longings abound. Conscious knowledge of union with Christ glorified alone can impart rest and detach from earth and its things. The ear waits upon His words and the soul treasures them! Then we sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit is sweet to our taste. We grow in personal acquaintance with Christ as the solitude of His company is cultivated. This is illustrated in Elijah. His inward life was not sustained in proportion to his outward testimony. With him, the fire, wind and earthquake were everything and when outward testimony excited the malignity of the enemy, his faith was not equal to the pressure. But mark the blessed tender way of Jehovah! (1) Elijah is called to stand before the Lord, proving that the solitude of disappointed nature is useless. There is no liberty or rest therein. (2) The demands of nature must not be yielded to; typified by the prophet's fasting fort days and nights. His supplies had been provided by Jehovah, so all the claims of nature could be set aside. (3) The consequence is that the prophet listens. "A still small voice" communicates to him what previously would have been unintelligible. Following comes as a consequence of hearing (John 10:27). The Shepherd's voice is heard and they follow. The blessed Lord scorned and reproached, leaves the fold of Judaism, going before His sheep, secures to all His own that it was the true way and the authority for them to follow Him. Their security is in knowing His voice (not in knowing all the false voices).
THE ISSUE OF TRIBULATION.
We heard of your great loss as the climax of the trial you have passed through during the long illness of your dear wife. We are not chargeable with the allegation of being fatalists as we bow to the storms which break over us. We see therein the rich abundant mercy of God. How much more in these long years of trial you have been caused to know the wealth of God's resources, than you would otherwise have done. Nevertheless, you cannot but mourn the severance of the most intimate link in life here. We offer our deep sympathy to you and yours. (Well do we remember being present at your marriage. The happiness of that day would have been impaired if we had seen the sequel here); but we can look beyond the night of trial and hail the eternal day of His presence. May we rejoice in that prospect! (Extract from a letter of condolence). T.O.
THE SUBTLE OPPOSITION OF THE ENEMY.
Nothing can be more solemn than that we are living on earth, the theatre of the great struggle between good and evil. That question was morally decided at the Cross where God was glorified, but the decision will soon be manifested in the complete victory of good over evil by the God of Glory over the enemy. The grand effort of Satan is directed against the testimony of the true character of Christianity, i.e., walking according to the power of the risen Christ, the centre of the glorious counsels of God. The Holy Ghost makes clear the love of His heart; all the glory of His purpose is already known to faith. At the end of the period of grace, God has been pleased to lead us beyond the question of personal salvation to interest our hearts in the Son of His love and His own glory. These are extraordinary difficulties to be met! A faithful picture of our day is given in 2 Tim. 3. The love of self, money and pleasure rather than God is going on around us. Man may have the form of piety and be incapable of coming to a knowledge of the truth. The apostasy is not far off! The opposition to the truth by the enemy is a desperate imitation as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses. The magicians held their own fairly well, until they were called upon to give life to an insect, i.e., God's prerogative! Satan may merit the title of destroyer, but cannot give life. Faithful hearts feel the peculiar opposition and the more the love of God is felt and the glory of Christ known the deeper will be the need to draw on His resources. We see in the Apostle calm confidence and God's power in his quiet perseverance; he left the enemies to God. We, too, are kept in calm dependence by the word of God. "They shall go no further" (2 Tim. 3:9). (Abridged from E. L. BEVIR in "the Voice," 1892).
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST.
Everything will come out there. There can be no disguise in the pure light before the throne of the discernment of Christ, where the full intelligence of His mind will beam on His people. It is not the question of being saved, but how the saved have been walking. Is it strange since it cost Christ so much to accomplish that sacrifice that when he gets his people home, He should say, "Let us look at their walk without question as to their acceptance. If according to my Father's thoughts who would have His sons and daughters walking as those who are separated unto Him by the blood of His Son. As those bought with such a price did they walk worthy of it?" (G. V. Wigram, 1805-1879).
THE CROSS AND THE GLORY
The personal glory of the Lord Jesus shines out nowhere so much as on the Cross, when the hottest furnace of the wrath of God for sin came on Him. When He came to the Cross He was the perfect servant and a poor thief could touch His heart. . . Without one ray of light this perfect One could vindicate God! Praise can never flow save as God gives power, but in this One was the eternal spring whence it flowed. Christians have but few thoughts of all the divine glory connected with the Cross, but when we reach the glory in the view of its widespread character we shall understand its connection with Him who hung upon the Cross. What does the Cross say to your soul about your connection with the world? We should be glorying in the Cross and to follow Him who died on it, and I have seen my connection through that Cross with the glory and am separated to God by the power of it! (G. V. Wigram).
GRACE AND MERCY.
Paul and Silas sang in prison. Grace supported them there. Then the Lord took them out of the prison; that is mercy. Grace is the principle on which God acts. Grace sustains, mercy delivers. Grace is effected in me. Mercy is done for me. Grace is according to the measure of God's heart; mercy according to the measure of man's need. Grace is the height to which we are brought; mercy the depth from which we were taken. (J. B. Stoney, in "The Voice,", 1891).
MILLENNIAL GLORY. (Mark 9:15).
The mind of Peter on the hill was very much that of Jacob at Bethel. It was delight to him beyond expression, so that He might have said "there was no more spirit in him." "Master it is good for us to be here" tells the unforced joy and satisfaction inspired. He feared as feeling at the gate of Heaven and saying how dreadful is this place (Gen. 28.). It is a necessary state while man is as he is. Glory has ever proved too much for man! Freeness was needed to give him ease in its presence. In the third heavens, Paul had no alarm. Peter on the hill was still flesh and blood. Paul in Paradise was "a man in Christ." The body was neither a help nor a hindrance to him. But mark the operation of this glory further. When the Lord reached the foot of the hill, the multitudes "were greatly amazed" (same as "affrighted" in 16:5). The Lord doubtless bore on His person the reflection of the glory unto which He had been transfigured on the hill top. All this is designed to bear us on to the day when the glorified family in heaven will visit the earth, to be recognised in their peculiar heavenly persons They will be known in the footstool that they belong to the scene above, surpassing their own. The throne will be known to be theirs, while the footstool is the place of those whom they occasionally visit. But this sentiment felt, owned and acted on in its perfect measure will not be overwhelming. They saluted Jesus though amazed! (Extracts from J. G. Bellett, 1795-1864).
WHETHER WE WAKE OR SLEEP.
An extract from address at burial of Mrs Lowden (Workington), 13-1-43.
The fifth chapter of Thess. is taken up mainly with the present consequences of such a prospect as the rapture of the saints, at the coming of the Lord into the air. The passage concludes in the middle of the chapter with the encouraging statement that whether we wake or sleep we shall live together with Him. Waking and sleeping are frequently invested with a moral bearing, but not so here. The expressions refer to the body. Waking is living in the body, as the objects of mercy. Sleeping is having passed over like our dear relative and friend to the condition of being with Christ. Observe that the Lord died for us in order that whatever may be our condition, we shall live together with Him. After such a long trying illness our sister has ceased to need mercy, but has now the far better part of being with Christ. She is still in the hands of the Lord of Glory! Again note that the Scripture does not refer to her part as "the best." That term is reserved for what she and we will have, when the Lord will come. Then from the tomb and the earth, we shall welcome our blessed living Lord, and we shall be welcomed by Him! Can we have greater comfort than is inspired by such words and prospect? At the end of the parallel passage in 1 Cor. 15, the Apostle exhorted his beloved brethren to be steadfast in continuance of his course, immoveable as to the Christian position and always abounding in the work of the Lord, for our labour (or toil) is not in vain or empty-handed in the Lord. T.O.
"If any speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." This does not mean necessarily that he must use only words of scripture, though if led of the Spirit he will not contravene scripture. An oracle is the audible word of wisdom for the moment to those who hear. Few Christians but can give utterance to truth, but that may be a great trial to the saints. We want more than this to have the "oracles of God," otherwise there should be no speaking at all! This leaves no room for the flesh nor for man's wisdom. "Have I the word from God for this people at this moment" is the question! On the other hand, we would be led to be courageous to utter His message when committed to us as to make room for those who have it, when we have it not! (Extract from H. C. A. in "The Voice," 1891).
THE PRISONER GREATER THAN THE KING.
Agrippa's answer to Paul's appeal (Acts 26:28), was ironical. We cannot wonder that a Roman proconsul should think Paul insane. His speech had the eloquence of conviction, not religious nor philosophic teaching; but it bore the impress of the supernatural, founded on resurrection, full of the light above the sun! Agrippa felt Paul was pressing him and escaped by an ironical remark. He was a religious Idumean, but far from Christianity! Saul had been stopped on a wrong course and converted in a peculiar way. His natural conscience had led him to do much against the name of Jesus. Educated and religious yet he was the blindest man in Jerusalem, and became the instrument of the blind rulers. (Are better influences now at work in the world than then? Man is morally blind!) At the climax of his career of persecution, the light of an infinitely brighter sphere shone around Saul. He received new and spiritual power to behold the glory and majesty of Christ. His pharisaical glory was ended for ever! A new man with new eyes had one employment to open eyes of men and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Paul, fired no longer by Judaism, but by the splendour from the face of Jesus, carried out fervently his mission. The events of the self-denying, extraordinary life of Paul are attributed to the power of the glorious Christ. Paul's answer to Agrippa is true Christianity; there was no ill-feeling to those who had unjustly chained him. Nothing could be more beautiful! If we know Christ by faith, may our lives be truly of self-denial and grace with the fervour accompanying so wonderful a calling! (Abridged from E. L. BEVIR in "The Voice," 1893).
HOLINESS (1. Peter 1:14-16).
He hath called us and made us His children. The appeal is this, seeing He who has thus acted in such grace, and brought us into such relationship, is Himself holy, so should we be holy. The principle is this, the children should be as the parent. God is holy; hence His children are to be holy. As holiness is a characteristic of the Father, it should also be a characteristic of the children. I am sure of this, if we would serve the Lord, we must be holy: not in self-righteousness, but "as obedient children"; as those that wish to be as He is. Every exhortation to His children, and every recognition of them is full of this principle — holiness. For it is evident, from the Word, and from past experience, that God's work is accomplished by means of holy and godly people. A true position and clear knowledge of the truth will not suffice; holiness is what God looks for. The reason is evident, since to do God's work He must have the soul walking with Himself, in communion with His mind. Witness the contrast between Abraham and Lot. (Present Testimony 6:305).
A STRAIT TESTS.
In a strait, one either rises by the Spirit or sinks in the flesh! The unjudged covetousness will be brought to light and everyone will appear in his true colours. One may move commendably until a crisis in one's history occurs, then the strongest influence controls. In such, Lot betrayed the ruling desire of his heart; up to that he seemed as much in the path of faith as Abraham. Again Abraham failed in going into Egypt. He returned and began again, but eventually had to cast out the bond woman and her son. In an important crisis a very small thing swayed Isaac! Jacob in the hour of his prosperity forgot his calling, and betrayed his leading desire in buying a field! The circumstances which disclosed unbelief in ten of the spies woke up faith and courage in Caleb and Joshua. How unexpected, when Barnabas was carried away! Demas did not desert Paul, when prosperous and his ministry popular! In every defection it is not the crisis which is the origin; the moral bankruptcy occurred before. There is a long preparation for a fall! When the Lord is with His own in any strait, there must be power and maintenance of His counsels. The glories of the sanctuary are better known, and the testimony brighter. (Extracts from J. B. S. in "The Voice," 1888).
THE LORD'S SERVICE.
In the Lord's service, we shall never need to be unemployed! Moreover, it will be unnecessary to fill in time sheets, nor to send reports to a central bureau (although much christian effort is expended on that line). We can be sure that the smallest element in that service will not escape the assessment of the overseer! In Rev. 1, He is in the midst of the seven candlesticks, relative to responsibility. His eyes are as a flame of fire, seeing perfectly the most intimate relation of mankind! — T.O.
A Christian is called — (a) out of this world to God (Phil. 3:14; 1 Peter 2:9); (b) to share an inheritance with Christ (1 Peter 3:9; 1:4), leading the heart into joys beyond things here; (c) to follow in Christ's steps (1 Peter 2:21; 1 Cor. 1:9). That leads into divine fellowship practically. The heavenly man is a contrast to the world and a witness to the death of Christ, and thus a joint heir with Christ wants nothing here. The man who follows is (1) close to the Master, (2) subject to Him, (3) tastes the sorrows and joys of the path. The path of true service and testimony is an exact reflex of His path when here, hence downward. All vainglory must be set aside. All principles valued by men must be disused! The world seeks its own and its principles are for self-aggrandisement, while the Christian's for self-abasement! "He must increase, but I must decrease." The throne of glory is the answer to the cross! In the path of testimony the Lord's company is known, His love, joy and support. I get the first two in bearing fruit (John 15:10-11). The third is made manifest to me as I feel what He felt relative to things here. (Sin and the animosity of the world to the truth!) "He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The more we know our place there in Him on high, the more we shall value that path of separation and holiness in which His divine love is tasted and His sympathies known. (Extract from A. W. in "The Voice," 1893.)
We do not endorse your contention about occasional reception of individuals from the sects, as not constituting open communion. You make a hairline distinction! You quote an isolated passage from J.N.D., without location or context, and thus capable of bearing any whimsical construction. It was certainly not representative of his general outlook! We do not accept your plausible abstractions as a practical basis of inter-local responsibility. In making them we do not see that you are doing any good in the Lord's service. They are likely to lead to "estrangement amongst the people of God" which we deprecate as much as you say you do. You need not blame us for unfairness. Your statements are obviously evasive and indicative of a process of peaceful penetration of subversive principles, i.e., in current usage "fifth column activities." (Extracts from recent editorial letters to correspondents).
LORD OF THE DEAD, AS OF THE LIVING.
Throughout her long life, your sister adorned the doctrine, always instant in season to promote the Lord's interests in her little circle of contact with people. As we are getting older we feel more than younger people do, when pillars on which we have leaned are removed. But it is a great comfort to know that the Lord remains the same! We read in Rom. 14, that "Christ lived again that He might become the Lord both of the dead and of the living." So that His claims are eternal. He has an inalienable right over us! Again we read, "whether we die we are the Lord's and we die unto the Lord." So the Christians' relation to the Lord is the same "whether we wake or sleep, we live together with Him." Those who have gone before sleep in the Lord Jesus, enjoying perpetual rest and happiness and their part is described as "far, far better." It is hard to realise when a dear one slips away from our side that it is true. Hence we need all the consolation that Scripture, administered by the Holy Spirit, can afford for our encouragement in such circumstances. (Extract from a letter of sympathy by T. Oliver).