Chapter 2. Order.

Order, obedience and love are inseparable; for without obedience and submission, there can be no order, and where there is no love, there will be no true and lasting obedience in unity, and where there is no unity, there again can be no order.

A few words on the first of these all-important divine principles.

God is a God of order. He "is not the author of confusion." Disorder and confusion belong to the kingdom of Satan and darkness; but, He that is clothed with honour and majesty, who "covereth Himself with light as with a garment," cannot permit disorder in His kingdom. It would be utterly inconsistent with light, and derogatory to majesty. And as to His divine wisdom, it expresses itself in that perfect order which characterises all His counsels and works. It is this principle of divine order that pervades the universe. May we consider the heavens, which declare the glory of God, and the firmament, which showeth His handiwork, where He has set a tabernacle for the sun, and ordained the moon and the stars though there is no speech nor language with them, and though their voice is not heard, yet "their line is gone out through the earth, and their words to the end of the world." And to what, next to the glory of God, does their silent language testify? That God is a God of order.

Each of these vast luminous orbs, suspended in the skies, rises and sets in its appointed time — not a minute or second too late — and keeps its assigned place, or moves in its appointed sphere, without deviating one inch to the right or to the left. There is no confusion, no clashing. "He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down." All is perfect order. Or may we look at the lower creation around us, it is the same perfect order. Everything is in its appointed time and place, so beautifully described in Psalm 104.

"They" (the waters) "go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which Thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over." … "The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted, where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goat; and the rocks for the conies." … "Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening."

Well may the Psalmist exclaim: "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches!"in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches!"

Thus, from the very first words of holy writ, where we find God, commanding the light to shine out of the darkness that lay upon the chaos,* and dividing the light from the darkness, until the last pages of the divine book, showing the glorious heavenly city with the perfect symmetry and harmony of its divine structure, and in the closing chapter, the heavenly paradise, where we find "in the midst of the street, and on either side of the river, the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month," it is the same divine principle of Order, that stamps every page of that perfect word, where man's wisdom, which is folly in divine things, cannot displace one single sentence, nay, not one letter, without producing confusion. This spirit of order and harmony, truly divine in its perfection, breathes its sweet and salubrious fragrance from every page of Holy Writ into the soul of its believing readers, in order that their daily life may breathe the same spirit of peaceful order and harmony, in dependence upon Him, who during His life on earth, was always the pattern and expression of it.

{*Most of my readers will be aware that there is a gap between the first and second verse of the first chapter of Genesis. God was not the author of the chaos, as He is not the "author of confusion."

Note. Modern readers should be aware that, in support of the writer's thought of the fundamental nature of order, the chaotic state of the earth can be properly translated as yet 'unformed'. 'Chaos' was assumed in that century to account for the geological record which they could not otherwise explain, but is now both better explicable by the flood, and indeed there are insuperable difficulties both for science and for Christian doctrine in allowing 'death in the rocks' before Adam's sin. Ed.}

The same unvarying divine principle of order we find in God's government, may it be as to Israel, or the world at large. There is no hitch nor jarring in the divine machinery (if we may say so with all reverence); no turning of the governmental chariot from its straight course so magnificently described in the first chapter of the prophet Ezekiel: corresponding movement of all its parts; wheel within wheel; everything directed by "the Spirit of Life" (see margin) "in the wheels," — and above the chariot, a voice from the firmament, and above the firmament the likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness of the appearance of a man above upon it."

If, again, we look at the religious ordinances, given to Israel in the law of Moses, we meet with the same invariable Divine principle of order, down to the minutest details of worship, administration and family life. Again, as to the Gentiles, "The most High divided to the nations their inheritance; when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." And as to the wall of partition, by which God hedged in His vineyard from all contact with the Gentiles, we are, I think, sufficiently familiar with that Divine order of separation. No mixture was permitted. How strikingly was this invariable principle of order expressed and acted upon, in the case of the Syrophenician woman, by that obedient, yet always gracious and loving One, who was the express image of His Father, and, as man on earth, always to be found in His proper place, always knowing His time, yea, His hour, from the beginning at Cana, when rejoicing with them that rejoiced, up to the end at Bethany, when He wept with them that wept, or even after the end of his life on earth, at His resurrection, in the perfect order of His grave-clothes.

The Syrophenician woman, when applying to the Lord, at first takes Jewish ground, and addresses Him as "Son of David." — No answer. — He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. — She then comes and worships Him, and says: "Lord, help me." She only meets with a still more humiliating, yea, crushing refusal: "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs." For such was then her place as that of the Gentiles generally. She had stepped out of her place, and therefore she had to be reminded of it; and it is only when she takes her true place, that her request is granted.

And since we, beloved, who were once in the same place (Eph. 2); according to the unsearchable riches of God's sovereign grace have received blessings, which are something more than crumbs falling from the table, even "all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ," — infinitely higher and richer than even the meat on the table; — has God's principle of order, think you, been set aside, or relaxed, on account of those immeasurably higher places and blessings, which His grace has assigned to us? Far from it! on the contrary; the highness of our vocation and place, and the nearness of our heavenly relationship are the very reasons why, in the second part of the Divine code, that great principle of order is insisted upon, and should be observed by us all the more, may it be in our houses, or in the church, which is "the House of the living God."

If a good and great king demands order to rule throughout the realms, and unto the uttermost borders of his kingdom, he will certainly and most particularly insist on order in his family and at his court. And do you think that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in heaven and earth is named,* could, in His heavenly courts above, and in His church tolerate that which would be inconsistent with His holiness and derogatory to His majesty? Was His great apostle of the Gentiles and of the church indifferent to the confusion and disorder in the church at Corinth? He told them, that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, i.e., of that order, without which there can be no true peace. It is on the same principle, that the inspired apostle commands Christian women in the assembly, to have a cover (the symbol of subjection to another's authority) on their heads, "on account of the angels," because they are accustomed, to see in the heavenly courts above, everything and everyone in their proper places, and therefore would be grieved, if they saw a woman without that symbol of authority on her head in the church, where those heavenly principalities study the wisdom of God.

{*There are two earthly families: Jews and Gentiles and two heavenly families: the Church and the Angels. Compare Eph. 2:15, with Gen. 2:19, where we find the same unvarying principle of order.

In that most solemn closing epistle of Jude, we find that violation of this all-pervading divine principle of order visited with the most terrible judgments, in terms, whose awful solemnity shows the way how God from His throne of holiness and majesty looks at the daring transgressors of the divine law of order, when, speaking of certain antinomian Gibeonites, who had crept into the church unawares, "ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." We are reminded there of those "everlasting chains," in which those angels, who "kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation," are "reserved under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." — Further of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbouring cities, "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire," (mark, reader, the word "eternal,") for "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh." We are further reminded of that awful moment, when the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up Core and those with him, for their rebellious contempt of the authorities, instituted by God, i.e., of divine order,
as did those, to whom that epistle refers, who "despise dominion and speak evil of dignities," etc. "To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."*

{*There are two evil extremes in that solemn epistle, against which we have to be equally on our guard, in these days more than ever i.e., despising dominion and speaking evil of its dignities; and having men's persons in admiration.}

And as to the heavenly courts above, we find in those passages of the Old and New Testament wherever the Holy Spirit draws the curtain to permit us a glimpse into those heavenly scenes, perfect order pervading the whole; i.e. everything and everyone in their appointed place; and moving in their appointed sphere and time, in perfect harmony of action; be it as to divine government in the Old, or in connection with redemption in the New Testament. Even Satan with his wicked spirits must submit to that order, whenever they are permitted to make their appearance there. I need only to point out such passages as Job 1:6, (order as to time); 1 Kings 22:19, (order as to place); further Isa. 6 (besides the above mentioned half heavenly, half earthly scene in Ezek. 1) and further Rev. 4 and 5, to show how God wills his own immutable principle of divine order to bear sway throughout the whole of His creation, from the highest, down to the lowest. Now by the word "order," we understand such a condition of things and persons, where everything and everybody is found and moves or acts in the proper, appointed place, sphere, and time. Even the children of this world agree that order is one of the essential requisites for human happiness, prosperity, and success. "A place for everything, (and, let us add, "everybody,") and everything (and everybody) in its place," is a well-known adage, the truth of which is generally owned and acted upon, from the surroundings of royalty,* down to the lowest employees in a manufactory. How infinitely more important (because divinely required,) is the principle of order for the relationships of the Christian, may they be those in the church or in the family, and how much more ought order to characterize everything in the individual believer's life and action.

{*A university friend of the writer, in a city of Germany, was, in his quality as mayor or burgomaster of that city, commanded to a "Drawing-room," held by a Royal Prince, residing in that city. After the presentations were over, the Prince and Princess went round and spoke to several of those present. The burgomaster, on seeing them approaching, stepped from his place towards them. Immediately he felt the hand of the Court-Marshal on his arm, who made him retrace his steps, with the words: "Keep your place, Sir." An humbling lesson for the burgomaster, though far less so than those we have often to learn in this respect.}

Beloved, bear with me, if I seem to have expatiated too much on the principle of order. But if we consider the rising spirit of revolution, undermining all authority, in the present evil age, and how, notwithstanding man's boasted progress in organisations and reorganisations of all kind, everything and everybody appears to be, or to be getting out of place, and dissatisfied with the position where God's providence has put him, it appears all important that we should have our minds and hearts thoroughly imbued with a deep sense of order. That sense appears to grow weaker and weaker everywhere; not only in the world, but, alas, amongst Christians in church and family, because they have imbibed more or less of that spirit of the present age (I need not say, that I am not advocating, in saying so, any attempt at reorganisation as to the ruin of the church of God, as every such attempt would, like the "building of steps to the altar," only expose our shame and nakedness).

And what is it that has caused this disorder, so painfully perceptible everywhere, in the political, social, and religious field? It is the spirit of disobedience, pride, and independence, that spirit from beneath, which manifests itself more and more around us. Under the influence of that spirit from the abyss everything is ripening for the not far distant final apostasy, when Antichrist "the man of sin," will be revealed, and when he, who is the first Adam in full bloom, will place himself in the temple of God, on His throne, "showing himself that he is God." This leads us naturally to our second divine principle — obedience.