Chapter 7. Husbands.

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and wash it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church; for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Ephesians 5:25-33.

"Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." Colossians 3:19

That which characterises the relationship of the "husbands" to the "wives" is, love. And just as the first word, employed by the Spirit, after having addressed the "wives," is the word "submit," thus characterising at once their relationship to the "husbands;" so we find here, that the first word the Holy Ghost uses, after having addressed the "husbands," is, "love," as expressing the very nature of their relationship to the "wives."

Now we know, how apt our perverse hearts are to subvert the character of our relationships, as God has laid it down in His word, i.e., to make the primary duty connected with each relationship the secondary one, and the secondary the primary. Thus, for instance, "wives" are inclined to think and make much more of their love for their husbands, because it is more natural, and consequently easier for them, to love than to obey them. But God does not tell them to love their husbands (except in Titus 2, when speaking to the young women, from an evident reason), but to obey them. Thus, without doing it intentionally, or being aware of it — for our hearts are very deceitful — the chief divine injunction to the "wives" is practically made the secondary one.

Husbands, on the other hand, are prone to think and make much of their position and rights as the head of the wife, losing sight of the fact, that the divine injunction in our chapter (and in other portions of Scripture) is not, to maintain their position, or assert their claims and rights connected with it, but to love their wives. Is it because God does not care whether they maintain their proper place in the family or not? Nothing could be farther from His intention. He is, as we have seen, not a God of confusion, but of order, and wills every one to be just in the place where He has put us, and a husband who does not know how to maintain the place, where God in His providence has put him, is a pitiful sight indeed. But true as it is, that God will have us to fill the place in which He has set us, and holds us responsible for doing so, He never tells us to assert our rights or claims upon those in family relationship with us, but to fulfil our duties towards them, because we are always far more prone and ready to think of our rights, than to mind our duties.

I know, these are commonplace truths, but they are too much forgotten in our everyday life, and we, therefore, need constantly to be reminded of them, and the Apostle's word holds good in this sense too "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe."

God does not, in His Word, enjoin upon us to do what we would be naturally inclined to do, but that which would be contrary to our natural propensities. Therefore the "wives" are not told here to love their husbands, nor the "husbands" to maintain their right and place as head of the "wives."

For the "wife," who, during the daily absence of the husband in the pursuit of his avocation, holds undisputed sway in her little kingdom, is apt to forget, on his return, that the one whom Sarah called "my lord," and whom the Lord God has appointed to be her "ruler," has arrived. Ruling is sweet, and nature is loath to hand back the vice-regal reins to the hands of the lawful liege lord.

The "husband," on the other hand, after a day's contact with this evil world, and having been perhaps, roughly handled by some denizens of the city of Cain, or disappointed or deceived by others, comes home with a ruffled and soured temper (if he has not kept, through grace, his Christian balance), and is prone to forget, the divine injunction "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them;" and: "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." Oh, what wretched, miserably selfish things our hearts are! the very opposite to everything that is in God's heart, as manifested and revealed by His only begotten Son, when Jesus, as the Son of Man, trod this earth, in unswerving obedience to God, and unruffled love to them, whom the Father had given to Him, to be His bride in glory. Oh! for a deeper insight and entering into the love of God and our Saviour, by His Spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind! It is the very thing the Spirit of God does in our chapter. He reminds the Christian "husband" of, and gives him a deeper insight into Christ's heart, full of love for the Church, His Bride. He does not tell him, "You ought to love your wife, and if you don't, you are the most inconsistent Christian;" but He puts Christ and His love before the husband, as the motive power. "Even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it," (or "for her," as the Greek has it).

This it is, which makes exactly the difference between a more natural, moral, or legal; and a Christian exhortation, or "exhortation in Christ."

The former appeals to the natural conscience of the old man (and thanks be to God that there is such a conscience in man, though acquired in consequence of his fall), whilst the latter appeals to the new nature. The former has for its motive either men's own relative notions, and measure of right or wrong, good or evil, true or false; or the requirements of God from man in the flesh, as given in the law of God, by which is the knowledge of sin, and which is the strength of sin (though in itself it is holy, just and good), and therefore must be the ministry of condemnation to man, as it gives him no power to keep it. But the Spirit of God, Who glorifies Christ, receives of His, and shows it unto us, and Who is, in connection with the written Word indited by Him, the only true Exhorter, Comforter, and Teacher; always appeals to the new man in the Christian, that is, to the Godward, Christward, heavenward desires, thoughts, and affections, created by God in him, and presents Christ to that new nature as its only true motive and object. It is, therefore, a great and mischievous mistake, and by no means of rare occurrence, to hear ministers of Christ, when addressing a word of exhortation to Christians, expressing themselves in such terms as these: "If you don't live up to what you profess, you are not honest;" or, "if you accept such a high position and heavenly calling, and profess such high truths, without acting upon them, you are the most inconsistent people in the world." All this is true enough, in a natural sense, and it is most sad and humbling, that so many Christians should be found, who, as to consistency between their walk and profession, are put to shame by many an unregenerate, honest, and moral man, and thus are stumbling blocks to precious souls, bringing reproach upon the way of truth, and dishonour on the blessed Name of our Saviour! All this is most lamentably true. But what I mean to say is this, that such moral and legal, that is, Christless exhortations, are of no avail for restoring such wanderers! It is worse than useless to say to such: "You ought to do this or that," or, "you ought not to act so or so, and if you do, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves." It is just like throwing stones at a hen with clipped wings, that has strayed into your garden, instead of lifting the poor, frightened thing over the hedge. It is of no use appealing to the natural conscience of a Christian, and to his natural morality or respectability. You only make him legal, and thus either miserable or self-sufficient, by throwing him back upon his natural resources, i.e., broken cisterns of natural respectability and morality or consistency. All this is not Christian, but only a Christless exhortation, and therefore powerless, and perhaps worse. Put Christ before the Christian's heart and conscience. If this won't do, nothing will.

How does the Apostle Paul exhort and encourage* his beloved Philippians to be like-minded? He had heard, there was something wrong among them. There was a lack of oil, and thus the wheels of the machine, if I may say so, moved with a creaking noise. What is the remedy the Apostle, or rather the Holy Spirit through His penman, applies as the panacea against all discord? Does he say: "You ought to be like-minded?" He exhorts them, indeed, to "be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." He warns them against doing anything "through strife or vain-glory," and tells them "in lowliness of mind to esteem each other better than themselves," adding "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." But how does the apostle begin these exhortations? Does he call them the most inconsistent and unchristianlike set of people, if they don't heed his exhortations? That would have been no "exhortation in Christ, but a mere moral, human, Christless exhortation. He did not want to make his Philippians "Christianlike," but "Christ-like" here on earth, as they were to be like Christ in glory. This makes all the difference. How then does the apostle head his exhortations? With THE HEAD. He begins with CHRIST.

{*The Greek word in the original implies both exhortation (for the conscience), and "encouragement" or "comfort" (for the heart).}

"If there be therefore any consolation* in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy," (not, "don't grieve me," for his heart had been refreshed by their practical proof of love for him, and he only asks them now, by their unity to make his joy complete) "that ye be like-minded," etc.

{*The Greek word, as I have said, implies both "exhortation" and "consolation" or "comfort."}

And how does the apostle finish his exhortation? Again with Christ:

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."

He again puts Christ before them, in Hip perfect (seven-fold) humiliation and obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. And then he holds up before them Christ in His exaltation at the right hand of God, looking onward to that most solemn (and to the heart of God and of His Saints, most happy) moment, when Satan and all his wicked hosts and tools, that surrounded once the cross of the despised and rejected "Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's son," and have, ever since, opposed His cross, will have to bow, their knees in judgment at that once despised, and to them so hateful Name, before they are consigned to their final doom; and their tongues, as every other tongue in the universe, will have to confess, according to God's just decree, that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the glory of God the Father."

This is what I call a Christian exhortation, or rather, an "exhortation in Christ," which is a very different thing to lashing people into self-exertions, to become more Christian-like instead of Christ-like.

How does the same apostle proceed, when he wants to stir up the Corinthians to more liberality in love for the poor saints in Judea? (2 Cor. 8.) Poor Corinthians, to need that exhortation! But does he chide with them on that account? Does he say, "I must speak faithfully to you," thus putting himself above them, and contrasting his faithfulness with their unfaithfulness? Nothing of the kind. It is true, he contrasts with the backwardness of their liberality, the forwardness of the poor saints of Macedonia, whose "abundance of joy" and "deep poverty, in a great trial of affliction, abounded unto the riches of their liberality," so that "beyond their power they were willing of themselves." And why? Because they "first gave their own selves to the Lord," and unto the apostle "by the will of God."

But does the apostle stop short there? No. That would have been only again "comparing themselves amongst themselves" in another way. He wanted them to follow the example of those poor saints in Macedonia, as they had followed the example of Christ. Therefore he again concludes by putting Christ before them:

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich."

The poverty of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory! What poverty! Was there any poverty like His? And what riches! What were all the riches of the world compared to theirs, owing to the poverty of the despised Nazarene? Alas, how many of us are, like the Corinthians, boasting in their riches in Christ, instead of boasting in Christ, and therefore little realising their riches in Him, because, unlike Moses they have so little realised, what the "reproach of Christ" and the "poverty of Christ" mean. The poverty of the Lord Jesus Christ! and "our riches" resulting from that poverty! What an "exhortation in Christ!" What noble, truly Christian motives, all-powerful for the heart! Those were no words for the pockets of the Corinthians, but for their hearts, out of the abundance of which the mouth speaks, and the hand gives.

I could multiply examples from the sacred pages, as to what I have said about the difference between Christian and human exhortation. I content myself with pointing out three more passages to the reader, without entering upon them, as it would lead us too far away from our subject: Rom. 15:1-3, and 1 Peter 2:18-25, and 1 Peter 3:17-18, besides the one in our chapter, to which I now return from what may appear to some of my readers a digression, but will be found closely connected with the contents of the present chapter,

The Lord grant us to learn more, under His grace, what the apostle Peter calls: stirring up one another's "pure minds by way of remembrance," which can only be done by presenting Christ, in the power of His Spirit, to the aspirations and affections of the new nature, which God has imparted to us in His wondrous grace. If you want a plant to grow, open the shutters and let the sun shine upon it; it is in vain, to hold a candle before it.

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it."

These words of the apostle afford us a fresh proof of what I have just said, that every true Christian exhortation must be "in Christ." Just as the next word after "husbands," is: "love your wives," thus at once characterising the nature of the relationship of a husband to his wife; so the next word after "love your wives," is, "even as Christ also loved the Church." The apostle does not present Christ to the old man, in appealing to the husband's natural good qualities, as manliness, gentleness, liberality, kindness, etc., nor does he present the amiable natural qualities of the woman with her attractions, and the affectionate and touching or solemn vows interchanged at the commencement of their union, as objects of attraction to the new nature of the Christian husband. It is neither the sun shining upon a stone, nor a candle held before a plant. The Christ above us acts upon the Christ in us. The husband's motive for loving his wife must be — Christ. His object in loving her must be again — Christ. And if it is otherwise, the character and spirit of their matrimonial relationship will soon be lowered to the level of a mere natural relationship, and exchange the savour of Christ and His Spirit for that of the flesh, and thus the salt lose his savour. This danger is greater in the matrimonial relationship than in any of the following, because of the closeness of the natural tie, and of the idolatry of the natural heart, stepping in between Christ and the soul.

Do I mean by speaking thus, to impede or check the legitimate outflow of the natural affections between husband and wife? There is nothing farther from my intentions than such a monkish tendency. It is just the absence of the natural affections, implanted in our hearts by our gracious Creator God, which characterises the latter days, and constitutes one of the chief features of apostasy. On the contrary, where Christ is the motive and object for husband and wife in their intercourse, the love of Christ, instead of impeding and hemming in the free outflow of conjugal affections, will only serve to deepen and render them genuine, by sanctifying, and thus preserving them from degenerating, into the idolatry of a mere fleshly affection. "Sanctifying God in your hearts" and "glorifying Him in your bodies." Thus those natural legitimate affections will be ennobled into Christian affections, "even as Christ loved the Church", by being kept under the gentle control of the Spirit, and in the channel of His mind. Certainly, there is no affection so true, so abiding and so deep, as that between a spiritually-minded Christian husband and wife, because it is in Christ and for Christ's sake.

"O Lord, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Then bend my wayward heart to Thee,
And reign without a rival there;
From Thee, my Lord, I all receive,
Thine, wholly Thine, alone I'ld live."

"O Lord, how cheering is Thy way!
How blest, how gracious in mine eyes!
Care, anguish, sorrow, pass away,
And fear before Thy presence flies.
Lord Jesus, nothing would I see,
Nothing desire apart from Thee!"

"'Mid conflict be Thy love my peace!
In weakness be Thy love my strength!
And when the storms of life shall cease,
And Thou to meet us com'st at length,
O Jesus, then this heart will be
For ever satisfied with Thee."

This love of our blessed Head for His Church is here presented to us in a threefold aspect:
1. His love shown for the church in the past, when He gave Himself for us upon the cross.
2. His love, as manifested towards us at the present time, in sanctifying and cleansing His Church with the washing of water by the word, and in nourishing and cherishing the Church, His body.
3. His love for the Church, as manifested in all its final results, in the future, i.e., in a glorious paradise, when Christ, as the last Adam, will present His Eve to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.

Thus Christ's love in the past, His love at the present time, as engaged on behalf of the Church, for whom He died, and His love in the future, when manifested fully in all its glorious results, is presented here by the Spirit of God, in this threefold aspect, for the heart of the Christian husband, in order that this love, in its constraining, self-sacrificing, sanctifying, purifying, nourishing, and supporting blessed activity, may characterize the whole spirit and demeanour of him towards her, whom God has not only given to him to be his companion and helpmeet in this world of sin, trouble, and sorrow, but to be in their household, though in their feeble measure, the expression and reflection of the wondrous mystery of God as to Christ and the Church.

May our gracious Head in glory guide by His Spirit our meditations upon such a sublime and blessed, but solemn subject, and grant, in His grace, that the writer and the reader of them may be kept in His all-searching and yet gracious Presence, and thus our hearts and consciences be more under the living power of these sublime and blessed truths which we profess, and our daily family lives may be the reflectors of them, and the proof that we have learnt them in the Presence of God, and hold them in conscious communion with Him, and in conscientious dependence upon Him!

Christ's love for His Church was dearly proved, in that He gave, not only His life, His precious blood, but Himself, His own perfect, all precious Self for us; Himself, in all His excellencies and perfections. He not only, as the merchant man, seeking goodly pearls, sold all that He had for the pearl of great price, but He gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour." Thus Christ not only:

1. Gave all that He had — all His treasures in heavenly glory, to buy the treasure in the field, "the excellent of the earth," i.e., the chosen ones of Israel, His earthly people, and the "pearl of great price," i.e., the Church, in order that we, through His poverty, might become rich; but when this world, that had been made by Him, and its princes, did not know the Lord of glory in His poverty here below, and when His own people received. Him not, because He was poor, 'Joseph, the carpenter's son;' when they "hated Him without a cause," and when the cry "Crucify Him!" was raised in the streets of Jerusalem, and Israel and man's trial was closed, when they, in common conspiracy were assembled around the cross; it was then that He

2. Gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. It was there and then, that He gave His holy, spotless body, which God Himself had prepared, to be the body of the Lamb of God without blemish and without spot. He gave that holy, sinless body to be buffeted, spit upon, mocked with a crown of thorns, and then to be nailed to the cross; He, "Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed." It was then and there He gave His own precious blood to be shed for the remission of our sins, that we might be brought to God through Him, the Just, Who died for the unjust. Everlasting praise be to His Name!

But He not only gave all that He had, "sold all His treasures;" He not only gave His own holy body to be bruised for our iniquities, and His precious blood to be shed for the remission of our sins, but

3. Christ gave himself for us. I am afraid many of us have very little realised the true meaning of these words: "Christ gave HIMSELF for us."

The eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs, from which I have quoted already in the preceding chapter, affords us a glimpse of what that blessed One "Himself" was, in the sight, and to the heart of the Father, when "the Word was with God," before the foundations of this world had been laid by Him. He was daily His Father's delight: "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."

And was this delight of God in His only Son lessened when He, Who "thought it no robbery to be equal with God," had "made Himself of no reputation," and taken upon Him "the form of a servant, and was found in the likeness of men"? Was the Father's estimate of the excellencies of that Son lowered, because He had thus "degraded Himself," as men would call it, and assumed the humble garb of a servant, to do His Father's will?

"Now when all the people were baptised, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptised, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

Heaven could no longer be closed at the sight of that perfect Man on earth, Who had not only made Himself of no reputation, and taken upon Him the form of a servant, but was just about to submit to John's "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," though He knew no sin, and had done nothing amiss, thus taking His place along with the lowest of those of His people, who justified God, being baptised with the baptism of John. Heaven could no longer be closed at the sight of that perfect Man, glorifying God on the very earth where He had been dishonoured by man. Heaven could be silent no longer. But here it is not the rejoicing choir of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men," as it was at the birth of the Divine Babe; but it is the voice of that God in the Highest Himself, that praises the Man on earth, who thus glorified Him amidst that rebellious people, who rejected His counsels of grace and love towards themselves. It was the voice of the Father, Whose daily delight that humble Man there, stepping before the prophet into the water, had been, as His co-equal Son from all eternity, that could no longer refrain from expressing His own heart's delight in Him. No angel is seen, no angelic voice heard here; it is God Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Who fills the whole scene. The Father's voice testifying to His Son, on Whom the Holy Dove is settling at the same time:

"Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

And towards the end of the career of obedience, love, goodness, grace, and righteousness, and unremitting service of that blessed Man, when the Cross, that tree of curse, shame, and reproach, came in sight; had God's delight in that Son of His love abated? Listen to the words of the chief of His apostles:

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice, which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount."

And when the corn of wheat was now about to fall into the ground and die, that it might not abide alone, but bring forth much fruit; and when His "soul is troubled,"and He says, "Father, save me from this hour," but adds immediately: "but for this cause came I into this hour," and then the cry goes up: "Father, glorify thy name," there again is the Father's immediate response from heaven: "I have glorified, and will glorify again."

Beloved Christian reader! have our souls in the power of the Holy Ghost, and under the sense of divine grace in Jesus, by Whom grace and truth came into the world, been imbued with the beauty and power of such divine scenes in Holy Writ as the above, that is, of Him Who is the centre of them? The more we learn to enter into them, the better we shall realise in our souls the meaning of those words, "He gave Himself."

In the opening verses of our chapter (Eph. 5.) We are enjoined to be "followers (imitators) "of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour."

In this verse both the Person of Christ ("Himself"), in His own perfections and excellencies, and His work, in its efficacy, not merely as sacrifice, but in its character as "an offering and sacrifice of sweet smelling savour," are presented. But it is as the One Who gave Himself "to God," and the delight that God takes in His Person and work, that are primarily in view here, and His giving Himself for us, though presented as a motive for us to "walk in love," yet appears to come in here in the second place (though, in the grammatical construction of the sentence, it is in the first place). The exhortation here is addressed to us in our individual relationship to God as His "dear children." But as soon as we come (verse 25) to the relationships of the Church to Christ, as His Bride and His Body, it is "Even as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it," (or "her," as the original has it). It is not said "to God," nor is anything said about His offering and sacrifice, and its value and acceptance before God, because it is here the question of Christ's love for the Church, in her relationship to Him as His espoused Bride, for whom He gave not only all His heavenly treasures, and left His glorious home and for whom He not only bore the cross, and gave Himself an offering and sacrifice of sweet smelling savour to God, as the One "Who loveth us, and has washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father" ("Glory be to Him and dominion for ever and ever. Amen!") But it is as the One Who wooed His Church, and won her (whom He, in His marvellous love and grace, is pleased to call "a pearl of great price"), by going down into the deep waters of death, and by undergoing the fiery billows and waves of God, that rolled over His devoted head, when He was dying for her, and was forsaken of God. He loved the Church. This was His motive. And because He loved her, He gave Himself for her.

Supposing some royal prince wooing some poor maid of low origin, in whom we were unable to discern one single trace of beauty or loveliness. Suppose this royal lover to be in his person everything that is admirable, amiable, attractive, and beautiful — naturally and morally. We might be amazed at his choice, but we should say: — "What motives for his chosen one, to love him and to serve him!" — But suppose, he had delivered her, who was "black as the tents of Kedar, because the sun had looked upon her," from the power of a cruel slave-holder, not only at the risk of his own
but at the expense of his own blood, having carried her off, himself exhausted, covered with wounds, to make her his queen, and to share his crown and kingdom with her — would not her love to him be of incomparably greater depth and intensity, being linked in her with the deep gratitude to her deliverer from cruel bondage, at the risk (for I speak in a parable) of his life? How immensely deeper and stronger, in affection and devotedness, would be the tie of relationship between such a husband and wife. On his part, because she had cost him everything; and on her part, because she owed to him everything!

Yes, beloved, He gave HIMSELF for us! Have you and I, when reading the Gospels, got our souls imbued with what Jesus was, when glorifying God, as perfect Man on earth? His grace, His love, meekness, gentleness, readiness to help, wherever there was misery, His unwavering obedience and devotedness to His Father and God; His unremitting service of love to those the Father had given to Him, His wisdom, His righteousness; in short, all the excellencies of His person — He has given it all — He has given Himself for the Church. If the 22nd Psalm, the Psalm of His Cross and of its results, closes with those blessed words: — "That He hath done this;" we have here the blessed assurance, still more precious, if possible, that "He gave Himself for us," because "He loved the Church!" I said "more precious still," because I do not only find here the One Who has done the whole work, and Who alone could do it,but the One Who gave Himself for the Church, in His relationship of love for her who is His bride, His body. All that Jesus Christ is, in all His excellencies as the Perfect Man, (and not only all that He has, which is far less, immense as that is!) is mine! Jesus Christ Himself is mine, "for He loved me, and gave Himself for me," re-echoes the heart of His espoused bride, exulting in His love. As another has happily expressed it: — "There are no qualities, no excellencies in Christ, which are not mine in the gift of Himself. He has already. given them, and consecrated them to the redemption and the blessing of the Church. Not only are they given, but He has given them; His love has accomplished it. Jesus — blessed and praised be His name for it! — is all mine, according to the energy of His love, in all that He is, in all circumstances, and for ever, and in the activity of that love, according to which He gave Himself. He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. This is the source of all our blessings, as members of the Church."
"Then weep no more — 'tis all thine own —
 His crown, his joy divine;
And, sweeter far than all beside.
 He, He Himself is thine."

But, beloved, blessed as is the assurance, that Jesus Christ, not only as our Saviour, but in all that He is in His all beauteous and all glorious person, is ours, in the full sense of His relationship as the heavenly Bridegroom to His heavenly bride: let us not forget that we are His, as He is ours. The very nearness and blessing of this wondrous relationship of love between Christ and the Church, is at the same time the measure of our responsibility, for reflecting our heavenly relationship to Him in that family relationship here below, which represents on earth the heavenly relationship of the Church to Christ; I mean, that between husband and wife.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it (or her)."

There is something intensely sublime and touching in those words: "even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for her." The Spirit of God thus appeals to the tenderest and noblest motives and affections of the new nature in the Christian husband. Under their searching power he cannot help asking himself How far have I shown my love to the one, whom God has given to me as partner for life, by giving myself for her? It is true, when, on the morning of our union, she stood at my side, and laid her tender hand in mine, with confiding love, as if saying: "To thee, next to God, I commit the destiny of my weal or woe; because the Lord has united us, and given me to you for your help-meet and companion through life, and you to me, to be my head and supporter, and the guide of my youth;" — then, indeed, I understood, how a man may leave his father and mother, to be joined to his wife, and be one flesh with her. Then I gave myself entirely to her, because I felt sure, the Lord had given her to me, and it required no self-denial to do so, for I found myself altogether lost in her, in the power of that love, which God had implanted in our hearts to each other. My life and its energies, I felt, would thus henceforth be spent, not to please myself, but be devoted, in the Lord, to the object of my loving care, whom He had given to me as a help-meet and companion. But how far have those purposes of my first love been carried out, and has that love been abiding, like the love of Him, who not only loved His own, but loved them "unto the end?" I fear, many of us, when before God, under the searching power of those words; "even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for her," will have to own, that "it has not been so with us: we left the first love to our wives, because we had left our first love to Christ. The world had slipped in between the husband's heart and Christ; and then its chilling, selfish atmosphere had fallen, like a mildew, also upon the first bloom of the husband's affection, and blighted the tender blossoms of that love that gives itself for the beloved object, loses itself in it, shares everything with it, and finds its sole happiness in the happiness of the beloved one. The vain attractions of the world around us, or the still more subtle allurements of the flesh within, had distanced the husband's heart from Christ, and therefore alienated his affections from his wife. Or that huge factory-wheel, called: "Business," had seized him; which, with its giddy rotations, has swallowed up the minds, and hearts, and — consciences of many a Christian husband and father, alas! and crushed, under its ponderous weight, like the merciless car of "Juggernaut," not only his own, but the happiness of his wife and children, once basking in the love of the husband and father, when his own heart "rejoiced in the Lord," Who had loved him and given Himself for him.

You may be sure, if the husband's heart has "left the first love" for Christ, and the world, flesh, and self have slipped in, it will inevitably be followed by an eclipse and a chill in the domestic atmosphere; and his poor wife will soon feel that he has "left the first love" for her too.

There was a Christian merchant in the city of London, who, whilst at breakfast with his family, received a letter, announcing to him the shipwreck of his "fortune." He quietly folded the letter, and, "looking off unto Jesus," said: "Thank God, I have an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven, which none can take away from me." His clerk, a young Swiss, who sat at his side, was so impressed by the reality of that testimony, that he became, through God's mercy, a joint-heir with his master, that is, a child and heir of God, and joint-heir with. Christ. I should have liked, to know the wife and children of that happy and truly rich merchant. Do you think, dear brethren, that man's wife felt ever chilly in his presence, or his children afraid of him? Was there any low temperature in that family-circle? I trow not; and why not? Because he had not set his affections on things on earth, but on things above, where is Christ, sitting on the right hand of God. His own heart was basking in the sunshine of His love, and therefore the hearts of his wife and children must have felt the benefit and blessing of it, and the whole household doubtless reflected the light, and was redolent with the savour of the heavenly relationship and atmosphere, in which the head of that happy family lived and breathed. For his "beloved was more than another beloved," even the chiefest among ten thousand "and altogether lovely." What a treasure and perfume of love there must have been diffused through that Christian household

Let us now consider in our feeble measure:

2 The love of Christ for the Church, as a present thing, and as shown in His present occupation with her, in sanctifying and cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.

In the thirteenth chapter of John's Gospel, where we see, on the approach of the Cross, light and darkness drawing into closer contrast, side by side, as it were (compare verses 1, 2, 3, 25, 26, 27; 30-34), we find, first, the love wherewith Jesus loved His own, who were in the world, "unto the end," i.e., until the Cross, brought before us in the exquisitely touching and beautiful opening verse of that wondrous chapter. (Christ's love for the Church, at the end, i.e., in His death on the Cross, we have in Eph. 5.) Then, after that black, dark cloud in the second verse, we find the sun of the love of Jesus shining forth again in all its brightness.

"Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God: He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."

What a stoop from verse 3 to verse 4! In the full consciousness that the Father had given all things into His hands, i.e., of all the power in heaven and on earth, given to Him by the Father, and all conscious that He came from God, and went to God, He "rises from supper," but not as a man, about to be entrusted with such power, and fully conscious of the highness and dignity of His descent and position, would have "risen" from the table, i.e., elated, lifted up, and puffed up with pride, or, at the best, with the grand and noble attitude, bearing, and demeanour of some great heir-presumptive, who is just going to receive the crown of a kingdom, upon which the sun never sets; but Jesus only "rises" to stoop down to the posture of the lowest servant. Could there be any lower place than that? Yes; there was one place lower still, awaiting Him the Cross. As He did "rise" only to stoop down, so it was, when He was "lifted up" (by men, but in a different way to man), lifted up from this earth on the Cross, that He took the lowest of all places when He was "numbered with the transgressors," crucified along with them upon the tree of curse, reproach, and shame, where He bore our sins, and the judgment due to them,

But I do not desire to speak of Christ's lowliness and humiliation, blessed and inexhaustible subject as that is! but of His love for the Church. The blood which flowed from His pierced side showed His love, as the One Who has washed us from our sins in His own blood. But it was not only the blood, but also the water, that flowed from His side, the expression of the One Who loves us now, as He did love His own who were in the world, unto the end; and as He did love them and us in His death upon the Cross. The water, in its cleansing power, represents His love for us now; the One Who, before He went to shed His precious blood and give Himself for us, stooped down, and laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with the towel, and washed his disciples' feet — did so, as He said Himself to them, that they might wash one anothers' feet as He had done theirs; but, at the same time, that blessed last service of the meek and lowly Jesus, before He died for His Church, was meant, I doubt not, to give to them, by that typical action, the assurance of His love, after He should have died for them. It is the present love of our risen, ascended, and glorified Saviour, at the right hand of God, as the Head of the Church, His body. He gave Himself for the Church, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. It is not here sanctification through the offering of His Body, in the sense of Hebrews 10, that is the chief point in view; nor is it "sanctification of the Spirit," in the sense of 1 Peter 1, but the sanctifying and cleansing power of the Word of God, as applied by our Head in glory, through the power of the Spirit, to the feet, as it were, of His own, whilst we are treading the defiled and defiling soil of the world, through which the Holy and Just One alone passed with unsullied feet.

Oh! what wondrous love is His! which even at the right hand of God, in that place of honour and glory, and surrounded by the homage of the myriads of heaven, crowned with glory and honour, does not only intercede for his poor, weak and failing ones, whilst they are passing through this polluted world, but in tenderest unceasing care is busy, condescends, yea stoops we may say, from His glorious place at the right hand of the throne of God, to cleanse her who is His body, His bride! Neither the power which the Father had given unto Him, nor all the consciousness of His royal, divine descent, and of the honour and glory which awaited Him on His return, could prevent His stooping down to wash His disciples' feet, as His last service of love when on earth; and all the glory and honour that surrounds Him there above, cannot divert Him for a moment from His service of unchangeable love in doing the same in glory!

Christ wants to sanctify the Church, His bride, i.e., to separate her unto Himself, practically, from everything in the world that would attract her heart, and alienate it from Him. For this purpose He uses His Word, and applies it by His Spirit to the heart and conscience of the bride, To her heart; for His Word, the "written Christ," as it has been happily called, in its attaching power, makes the heart of His bride cleave more closely to her Head, the Christ above.* To her conscience; for in keeping the conscience in His presence, the written Word detaches the Church from vain objects of the world and the flesh, so that the heart says to Christ: "Thy love is better than wine. Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee. The king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee; we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee."

{*If a Christian does not practically hold Christ, the Head above, he will soon lose the relish for the Word of God, the "written, Christ," and vice versa.}

Thus, by His Spirit and Word, Christ sanctifies, i.e., separates to Himself, the heart of His bride from all defiling and alienating influences in this world. She learns, reposing on His bosom, like His beloved disciple of old, that His love is indeed better than wine, and far beyond all other loves. She learns, at His bosom, what true love is, and at His feet, what true service is, like His handmaid Mary, whose spikenard sent forth the smell thereof, "while the King sat at His table," so that the whole house was filled with it.

Oh! would that the Church, whom Christ has thus loved, and does love, and will love for ever, may, in these closing perilous times, be more abidingly sitting and listening at the feet of her glorious Head, and more continually reposing on the bosom of her wondrous Heavenly Bridegroom and Lover, in spirit now, as we soon shall possess Him wholly, and be with Him in His glorious home, and with rivetted eves, and undivided hearts, feed upon all His beauty and loveliness, when His thrice-happy bride with rapture will exclaim:—
"He brought me to the banqueting house
And his banner over me is love."

And such is his banner now, beloved, floating over us, whilst passing onward to our final rest and glory with Christ, through a cruel and subtle enemy's country. And whilst Rebecca is travelling onward, away from Laban's house, towards her better home with Isaac, through a barren land, where there is no water; Eliezer, her blessed guide and comforter, spreads the banquet upon the very sand of the wilderness (John 16:13-14), telling her not only of the beauty and riches of her lover, whose golden ornaments she wears already, as the pledges of her betrothal to Him and of His love to her, and not only describing to her the peaceful attractions of His homestead, and the grandeur of His household, but telling of Isaac's love to her, that: "As the lily is among thorns, is my love among the daughters.

And what is Rebecca's response? Is it this? — "As the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons?" May God grant it, beloved! Then, indeed, the bride may continue "I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."

What a banquet in the midst of the wilderness, spread daily for every one of His members, to whom Christ is not only precious (for so He is and must be to every real Christian), but whose heart's affections are in the, power of an ungrieved Spirit, going out towards Him, "who is altogether lovely," and the "chief among ten thousand."

But there is another kind of Christ's loving activity from glory towards the Church, His bride, whilst on her journey towards her heavenly abode with Him. It is the "cleansing her, with the washing of water by the word," from the defilement contracted on the way. He not only sanctifies her by the word, which is truth, that she might be practically set apart, i.e., separated from the world for Himself, as she has been positionally, by His sacrifice and through the Spirit. Thus we have the Word of God not only in its detaching power from the world and attaching to Christ, but in its searching and detecting power, as the two-edged sword (Heb. 4), and in its cleansing character, as presented in our chapter under the figure of the water. Christ, in His love, is not only jealous of the affections (for He has a right to be jealous) of His bride, but also as to her purity, for He is "he that is holy, and he that is true," and says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." For if, in His character as our High Priest, "such an high priest became us (as a heavenly people), who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners;" how far more such a bride becomes Christ — our Head in glory a bride who is holy, harmless, undefiled, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. He will not, nor can He suffer one spot, one stain, one speck upon her, who is to be His companion in a heavenly paradise. Therefore Christ, in His wondrous love, is now in glory as the Head of the Church, continuing the same service of love with regard to His body, in cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, as He, in His wondrous lowliness, condescended to perform on earth, upon the feet of His disciples, as their Lord and Master; in order that, after His example, we might do the same towards each other, as members of His body, after He had gone up on high, and taken His place at the right hand of God, as the Head of the Church. What wondrous grace, beloved, that He, Who is our glorious Head, should deign to use such as us, to be instrumental in His service of love, in cleansing His body, by washing one another's feet, in ministering the Word, under the guidance of His Spirit, to one another. But all must come from, and is done by the Head above, His Spirit may use, as He pleases, this or that member of Christ's body, to wash the feet of another in the assembly, or in individual fellowship one with another, by way of exhortation, instruction, or edification; but it is the Head in glory, from Whom the act of cleansing proceeds, as from the fountain-head. Nor is fellowship of His members (in the assemblies or elsewhere) a necessary condition or means of cleansing, i.e. removing defilement. It may be in the privacy of the closet, in prayer and reading the word, that some portion of His Word may be applied to the heart and conscience for the exercise of either, and thus confession and self-judgment may be produced. For although confession and repentance are, in us, the result and effect of Christ's intercession for us, in His character as our High Priest before God, and Advocate with the Father; still, this is not the point of view of the Spirit of God in our chapter. It is quite true that, "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," and that "God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But it is not here the question of confession and repentance, as the effect of Christ's intercession for us (blessed be His name for it!), nor of the Father's cleansing, in government, His erring, but penitent child, from all unrighteousness (praised be His love as manifested in the chastening rod!); but it is Christ, the Head of His Church, applying through His Spirit the washing of water by the Word, to remove the defilement.

He loved His Church, and gave Himself for her. For what purpose? "That He might sanctify and cleanse her." But is that all? No. He sanctifies and cleanses her — for what? "That he might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish."

The cleansing and washing, though one of the most precious proofs of Christ's love (as is the chastening of the love of the Father), yet is only the means for the final end in glory. What love! all praise excelling, as it surpasses knowledge. The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." May each individual member of His body be enabled, through grace, at every moment to re-echo with the disciple of His love: "Even so come, Lord Jesus. Amen."

We have thus had brought before us, in verse 25, the love of Christ for His Church, as to the past; in verse 26, His love in its present activity towards His Church. We now shall, in verse 27, have to meditate, as far as the limited space of these pages will permit, upon —

3. Christ's love for His Church, as manifested in the future, in our glorious, heavenly home with Him, when all the purposes and activities of His wondrous love will appear in all their blessed and final results in glory, at the "marriage-supper of the Lamb," and His love to His bride will still abide for all eternity.

If, at the beginning of our meditations on the 22nd verse, in the preceding chapter, we turned back, for a few moments, to the first pages of Holy Writ; to the peaceful scene of earthly happiness in an earthly paradise, lost and gone for ever through man's folly and sin; we now have to look onward, or rather upward, to a heavenly one, the second paradise in glory.* It was not, like the first, a "garden, planted by the Lord God," where man was put to keep and till it; but it was gained for you and me, Christian reader, by those hands, that had planted the garden of Eden, being pierced and nailed to the cross by the descendants of the guilty outcasts of Eden, and by the husbandmen of the plentiful vineyard, planted by the same hands, that had planted the beautiful garden of Eden. One of those husbandmen, who had stood by, as an active witness, when they sent a messenger after the lord of the vineyard, with the message that they would not have Him to rule over them, and who, when "breathing threatening and slaughter" against the Church, was "apprehended," i.e., "laid hold of," (to be "taken up" with Christ, not merely "converted," or turned right about face, though this he was also) by that rejected Lord and Christ in glory, was afterwards "caught up to the third heaven," "into paradise," where he "heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful (or possible) for a man to utter." It is the same to whom the mystery of Christ and the Church, "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men," had been revealed; and whose inspired pen refers, in our chapter, to that blissful heavenly paradise, where the last Adam will soon present to Himself His glorious bride in perfect beauty and glory, holy and without blemish. What are all the charms of an earthly paradise, with its natural beauties, compared with the untold ecstasies of the heavenly one, depicted for us by the Spirit of glory in the closing wondrous chapter of the inspired volume! In that heavenly paradise, where Christ will present to Himself His glorious bride, so magnificently described, in the previous chapter (Rev. 21), under the figure of the New Jerusalem above, there will be nothing to remind her of her former sins and shame. That grace which, even amidst a sinful world, with which she was once ranked in common rebellion against God, had said to her: "your sins and iniquities will I remember no more," will have placed her, the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb, not only in the spotless scene of the heavenly paradise, but every trace and relic of sin and shame, connected with the earthly paradise and this earth, will be gone. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (representing man's responsibility wherein he had failed in every respect), is not to be found in that heavenly paradise, but only the tree of life. For Christ, her loving Saviour and heavenly Bridegroom, had charged Himself upon the tree of curse with all the debts and responsibilities of her, whom the Father had given to Him, and had given life to her in exchange, so that He is her tree of life. There will be no cherubim with a flaming sword in that paradise, to bar the way to the tree of life, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every month — fruits ever ready and ripe there are no unripe fruits on that tree, and there is no such thing as bringing no fruit to perfection. Christ, when on earth, was like that tree, bearing fruit every month, as to His earthly people. He always had "a word in season to him that was weary," until, upon the cross, charging Himself with the responsibilities of those under the law, and those without the law, by being made a curse, and being made sin, He received the stroke of the "flaming sword" of God's righteous judgment, that had barred the way to the tree of life, when the sword of God was unsheathed and awoke against His Shepherd, and against the Man that was His Fellow; in order that His own, whom the Father had given to Him, discharged from guilt, and cleansed by His precious blood from all sin and every stain, might be His fellow-heir and partner in that glorious paradise, when He will present to Himself His glorious bride, without spot and wrinkle or any such thing, as the result of His present loving care for the perfection of His Heavenly Bride, the Church, His Body. What perfect grace and love! Not only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — the relic of man's common sin and shame — has disappeared, but instead of those four great rivers — among them Euphrates, and Hiddekel (or Tigris), that flowed from the garden of Eden, only one stream is seen proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb.

{*There is a certain class of books, such as "The Gates ajar," and "Heaven our Home," very widely spread and read, against which it is a solemn duty to warn Christian readers. They give, in glowing terms, a description of heaven (i.e., of their heaven), which would turn that blessed divine abode Into a Mohammedan paradise. A Christianised Turk would be the man to write such books. They appeal to all the tastes and predilections of the religiously-natural man, and are thus most injurious to the spiritual constitution of a Christian.}

The great river Euphrates, on whose shores stood Babylon, the place of Judah's captivity, has been "dried up," as it were, and Tigris, the river of mighty Nineveh, where Israel was in captivity, has disappeared, like the "wadis" in the desert. Every relic of shame, not only as to man generally, but as to God's earthly people, over whom Christ, with His glorified saints, will reign, as the last Adam, with the second Eve, — during the millennial paradise — every trace of man's (may it be Gentiles, or Judah and Israel's) failure, will be effaced in that bright abode of the Lamb's wife. But one memorial there will be, even in Heaven, though not in that paradise, of that tender care and grace of the lover of our souls. I refer to the fourth chapter of the same book of Revelation, when, after the sad prophetic description, given by the Head of the Church Himself, of the decline and unfaithfulness of the Church, terminating in the nauseous, lukewarm character of Laodicea, a door is opened in Heaven to the beloved disciple of His bosom, in order that his grieved and chilled heart might be warmed and refreshed by a glimpse of that wondrous scene of heavenly worship (where there was certainly not one single lukewarm heart amongst those myriads above). We find there, "before the throne, a sea of glass like unto crystal." It is the precious memorial of the gracious and loving care of Christ for us, in cleansing us with the washing of water by the word. Then this care will be needed no longer; therefore the water is no longer in motion, but in a fixed condition, like crystal. But there is that precious memorial of Christ's never to be forgotten loving care, before the throne, and before the eyes of the twenty-four elders, that sit on their "thrones," around THE THRONE, clothed in white raiment, with their crowns of gold on their heads. And as the glorious light of the One that sat on the throne, likened to the brightness of a jasper and a sardine stone, is softened by the emerald colour of the rainbow round about the throne, on which the Lord of Glory is seated now at the right hand of God, as the Great Peace-maker, through the blood of His cross — as the "Prince of Peace," as He is the "Prince of life," as a sign, that God remembers grace, before He is going to do His "strange" work: judgment; so the "sea of glass, like unto crystal," is seen amidst the lightnings and thunderings, and voices, proceeding from the throne towards the world, where that glorious One, now seated on the throne, had once been slain by the wicked hands of men that hated Him without a cause. It was with Blood and Water He had cleansed His own; by the Blood in atonement, and by the water practically. And as the Passover, the type; and the Lord's Supper, the memorial of the cross, had been on earth the blessed provisions of the Lord for His saints of old, to remember the Blood of the Lamb, and for His Church, to remember Him who shed it for their redemption and deliverance; so in heaven the "sea of glass," like unto crystal, is presented to the view of the Lord's beloved disciple, as the blessed emblem and memorial of the Lord's faithful and tender love, in cleansing His saints by the washing of water by the word.

There is another "sea of glass," also a symbol of the cleansing care of God for His people, not the Church, but Israel. This we find in Rev. 15; but it is "mingled with fire." — There is not only the cleansing element of the water, but also the refining element of the fire, evidently referring to "the great tribulation," in Daniel or "Jacob's trouble," at the time of the persecution of the faithful remnant in the days of Antichrist and the beast, spoken of in Dan. 12 and other prophetic portions of the Old and New Testament. But in the "sea of glass" in Rev. 4 there is no fire; for among the twenty-four elders, sitting on their thrones, the Church is included. For perfectly true though it may be for us, that the refining process of purification from earthly alloy, by way of fiery tribulation or persecution (which at the same time is correction), is just as much needed for us, as the "cleansing of the washing of water by the word," that the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ;" yet, the mentioning of the purging element of fire, by way of God's government with us, as pilgrims passing through the wilderness, would be evidently out of place, where it is a question, not of chastisement or correction, but of Christ's loving and tender care bestowed upon us, in His relationship as the Bridegroom of the Church, His bride. This, I think, is the reason why no fire is mingled with the sea of glass, mentioned in the fourth chapter of Revelation. From a similar cause the "sea of glass" would have no place in our chapter (Eph. 5), and much less still in the opening scene of the last chapter of the sacred pages. For just as in that second paradise in glory, where the last Adam, the Lord from heaven Himself, will present to Himself His Heavenly Eve, a glorious bride, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; every relic of failure and reproach, connected with the first paradise, has disappeared; so even the sea of glass, precious memorial though it be of Christ's love, would be out of place there, for it would, at the same time, be a memorial of her failures. And as it would be ill-becoming a bridegroom, if he would remind his bride, on the nuptial morning, of some of her past failures, or even produce in her presence anything that would remind of it, so the sea of glass would be utterly out of place in the closing chapter, as it would have been in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, where we find the outburst of the joyful praises of heaven chiming in the marriage feast of the Lamb's wife, she having made herself ready, and being arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, even the righteousnesses of the saints. At such a moment, and in such a scene, the "sea of glass" would be out of place. But a happy place it has in the fourth chapter of this divine book of the inspired volume. Precious to those twenty-four, seated around the Throne in their white garments, must be the sight of that "sea of glass, like unto crystal," for it reminds them of the never changing loving care bestowed on them by Him, Who has not only loved them and washed them in His own blood from their sins, but unceasing in loving patience and grace, has cleansed His bride (who had so often, alas, practically forgotten at what a cost she had been bought), with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.

There are two things, by which beauty is marred; spots and wrinkles. The former indicate defilement; the latter are the result of passion or of care and age. Both are the effects of sin; the former in a direct, and the latter in an indirect way. If there was no sin in the world, there would be no spots nor wrinkles. People, may they be naturally clean or not, dislike wrinkles; but only a clean person shuns spots; one of unclean habits does not mind them.

Christian reader! do you hate spots or any such thing? Pardon the question. I know that every real Christian loves holiness. The very breathings of the new nature are after holiness. But do you, practically, not only avoid, but hate spots?

In the epistle of Jude, preceding the closing solemn book of Revelation, the book of judgments (first on the house of God, then upon the world), we find that which will bring down those divine judgments upon a corrupt Christendom. It began with the creeping in of certain ungodly professors, of whom the apostle Paul had forewarned the Church; men, professing godliness, but denying the power of it. They loved spots, that is, sin; having, as Peter described them, "eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin." Therefore, both apostles call them "spots in the feasts of charity of the Christians." Now, in Jude's epistle, where we find at the opening a blue, serene, cloudless sky over head for every Christian, as being "sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called;" — and at the close — "the presence of His glory," where God, "who is able to keep us from falling, is able to present us faultless with exceeding joy;" that is, everything safe above, as to our relationship to God and Christ Jesus; we find, at the same time, the most solemn warnings, addressed not only to the Christians, to whom the apostles Peter and Jude then wrote, but prophetically, and, I think, especially, meant for the Church of the latter days, in which we are living, amidst a scene of religious corruption, where those great phases of it, as pointed out in Jude's epistle (Cain, Balaam, and Core), are in full bloom. The chief and common characteristic of all those ungodly professors was, that they loved "spots," i.e., sin, "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness." Consequently the real believers are enjoined at the end of that solemn epistle, to "hate even the garment spotted by the flesh." (It is not only, to keep ourselves "unspotted from the world," all important as this is.)

This reminds me of an incident as to our point. Many years ago an honoured servant of Christ was engaged with a few brethren in some important translation, which the Lord had laid on his and their hearts, and at which they assisted him in their little measure. One morning, on beginning their work, he noticed a little spot of ink in his book, He took out his penknife, and whilst erasing with the greatest care the little blot, so that hardly a trace of it could be discerned, said, as if speaking to himself rather, than to those with him: "I hate spots." The writer of these lines, who was one of them, never forgot the lesson conveyed, though perhaps never intended, by those three words. They were the most practical interpretation of the divine injunction, "hating even the garment spotted by the flesh," and "abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good," which, amongst the rest, formed the subject of their translation.

Mark, Christian reader, it is not only a question of avoiding doing wrong, but "abhorring that which is evil." Nor is it merely "doing good;" there is plenty of that in our Laodicean time; but it is, "cleave to that which is good."

"But," some may ask, "how am I to abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good? Am I to take these words only as a kind of moral principle, or, if you please, scriptural rule or precept?" No; for then, with all its authority, it would have no power, if taken only in the deadness of the letter (though the word of God in itself, as we know, is profitable for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works).

But how, then, am I to abhor that which is evil? By cleaving to that which is good. And how am I to cleave to that which is good? Let us turn to the eleventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. There we find the answer to both these questions. What was the word of exhortation, addressed to the new converts at Antioch by Barnabas, who "was a good man" (mark the connecting link: "for" between verses 23 and 24), and "full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." He "exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." Thus by cleaving to His Blessed Person, by Whom grace and truth came into the world, and Who Himself is perfect goodness, grace, love, meekness, holiness, truth, in short, everything that is good and lovely, yea, "who is altogether lovely," we learn how to cleave to that which is good, by cleaving to Him, Who is perfect goodness Himself. Thus it was that Barnabas was called a "good man" by the same Holy Spirit, Who tells us in the Old and in the New Testament, yea through the lips of Christ Himself, that "no man is good, but God only." Barnabas was an upright man (through grace), and filled with the Holy Ghost, who glorifies Christ, and receives from His, and shows it unto us, and he was "full of faith;" and faith looks neither within nor around, but looks "off unto Jesus," and thus the heart feeds upon every thing that is good, in the Person of that Blessed Lover of our souls; and the more Barnabas fed upon Christ, the more he clave to Christ. Therefore, he was the fit man to exhort those new converts at Antioch, that they would cleave with purpose of heart unto the Lord." That was then, and is now, the way, of "abhorring that which is evil, and cleaving to that which is good." Thus it is we learn to "hate even the garment, spotted by the flesh," or even a spot in the book. If the apostle Paul exhorted the Christians at Rome, to abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good, he did not do so by way of a mere legal precept or rule, but because those at Rome were not "babes in Christ," like those at Antioch, and therefore knew the way how to abhor that which is evil, and how to cleave to that which is good, and, therefore, they needed only to be reminded of the blessed practical Divine principle of truth, because there was strife and contention amongst them, and they were occupied with that which was evil, and thus in danger of getting under the power of it. And from the same reason, I have made these remarks about the way, to abhor that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is good, to the younger of my Christian readers, as we are living in a time, when the danger of getting occupied with that which is evil, is much greater than when the epistle to the Romans was written.

Mark the expression: "nor any such thing." Reader! do we desire and endeavour, with purpose of heart, not only to keep ourselves without spot, but free from "any such thing?" Only by cleaving to and abiding in Christ, we shall be kept (John 15:5).
"O Lamb of God, still keep me
Close to Thy pierced side;
'Tis only there in safety
And peace I can abide.
When foes and snares surround me;
When lusts and fears within;
The grace that sought and found me,
Alone can keep me clean."
Therefore, beloved, let us in these evil days more than ever, "cleave to the Lord with true purpose of heart." The "Lamb without blemish and without spot, once slain for us," He that is holy and He that is true, will have us to be true to Him, and holy as He is holy; blameless and harmless, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, as He will present His bride to Himself in glory, without spot and blemish. We are so now before God, Who has chosen us to be holy and without blame before Him in Christ. But we are so now before God only in Christ. But in that heavenly paradise, we shall be before Christ, "holy and without blame" (or "blemish"). What a moment for Himself and for us! It is not only He that will be satisfied, when in the numberless hosts of the redeemed, He will see the fruits of the travail of His soul; but we also shall be satisfied, when we "awake with His likeness." "We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. It will not be then, God presenting the bride to His Son, as Eve was presented to Adam by the Lord God, Who had formed her from Adam's rib, but Christ presenting to Himself His bride, who is of His flesh and of His bones, and for whose sake He not only forsook His Father's house above, but had to drink upon the Cross the cup which the Father gave Him, to rescue her from her low and ruined condition, when He gave His holy flesh for her upon the cross, and shed His precious blood for her, in order that through His death she might have life, and be cleansed from her guilt and iniquities. But He will not only see of the travail of His soul ("when He poured out His soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors"), but He will see also the perfect fruit of the unremitting and unceasing care of His love, which He now bestows upon her, in cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He, the last Adam, Who is the Lord from heaven," will then Himself present to Himself His own bride, so dearly bought, and so dearly beloved. And if the first Adam with such a delight surveyed the bride, presented to him by Him, Who is the last Adam, and when, even amidst the abundance of that earthly paradise, his happiness was not complete, until Eve had been presented to him: what will, what must be the delight of Christ, when presenting to Himself the Church, His bride, in perfect, unsullied, glorious beauty, in that bright paradise of undefilable and unfading beauty and glory, where everything is peace, love, and harmony; and amidst the heavenly hallelujahs of the myriads of His angelic hosts, and of the guests called to the marriage feast of the Lamb's wife — even the just men (the Old Testament saints) made perfect. What is the wedding of Cana, with its brimful pitchers of wine, to be fulfilled in the earthly blessing of the reunion of Jehovah with His earthly beloved One, compared to that flood of heavenly light and glory, and joy, and blessing, and praise, which will resound, and be poured out around that glorious Bridegroom and his heavenly Bride, who has been the object of such love — love passing knowledge. — Then, surely, she will be altogether lovely to Him, as He now is altogether lovely to her. And as the inheritance laid up for her there in heaven, is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away; so she herself and her beauty will be incorruptible, undefilable, and unfading for ever. At the end of a thousand years reigning with Christ over the earth, her beauty will be the same, "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing." At the beginning of the millennial time, she is presented as "His wife," who "hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7), and at the end of those thousand years, when the old earth and heaven will have been folded up, as a garment, by Him, Who had made them, and been put into the fire and passed away; the Church, His bride, is presented as coming down from heaven under the figure of the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

There will be no change then by changing times, as little with her as with Him.
"That face once so marr'd, I shall gaze on at length
And fearless behold, tho' all shining in strength;
Those eyes, flames of fire, so searching I prove,
They shall beam on me there inexpressible love."
"That voice, like great waters, how calmly my soul
Will hear, in the glory, its deep thunders roll!
Though now it rebuketh, and humbleth all pride,
It shall speak only love to the glorified bride!"
What a moment for Christ and the Church! — For you and for me amongst the rest, beloved fellow-pilgrim, and fellow-heir of glory! Shall I say "moment?" Nay, that moment will be eternity, and eternity will be like a moment! "And thus shall we be with the Lord for ever!"

"'Midst the darkness, storm and sorrow,
 One bright gleam I see;
Well I know the blessed morrow,
 Christ will come for me."

"'Midst the light, and peace, and glory
 Of the Father's home,
Christ for me is watching, waiting —
 Waiting till I come."

"Long the blessed Guide has led me
 By the desert road;
Now I see the golden towers —
 City of my God."

"There, amidst the love and glory,
 He is waiting yet;
On His hands a name is graven,
 He can ne'er forget."

"There, amidst the songs of heaven,
 Sweeter to His ear
Is the footfall through the desert,
 Ever drawing near."

"There made ready are the mansions,
 Glorious, bright, and fair;
But the bride the Father gave Him
 Still is wanting there."

"Who is this who comes to meet me,
 On the desert way,
As the Morning Star foretelling
 God's unclouded day?"

"He it is Who came to win me,
 On the cross of shame;
in His glory will I know Him,
 Evermore the same."

"Oh! the blessed joy of meeting,
 All the desert past!
Oh , the wondrous words of greeting
 He shall speak at last!"

"He and I together entering
 Those bright courts above;
He and I together sharing
 All the Father's love."

"Where no shade nor stain can enter
 Nor the gold be dim;
In that holiness unsullied,
 I shall walk with Him."

"Meet companion then for Jesus,
 From Him, for Him made;
Glory of God's grace for ever
 There in me displayed."

"He, Who in His hour of sorrow,
 Bore the curse alone;
I, who through the lonely desert,
 Trod where He had gone."

"He and I in that bright glory,
 One deep joy shall share:
Mine, to be for ever with Him;
 His, that I am there."

I have endeavoured, however faintly and feebly, to meditate a little upon the way, in which Christ has, manifested and does manifest His love for the Church, His body and His bride, until, in her complete union with Him, in a bright, glorious, and incorruptible paradise, His love will be fully revealed and known; when we shall see Him as He is, and shall know as we are known. But blessed as it is, and precious to our hearts, to dwell in our poor measure upon those words: even as Christ also loved the Church; we now come to the practical application: "So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies." How far has this little word, "so" spoken to my and your conscience, beloved brethren, whoever of you are in the sacred relationship of "husbands?" We must not forget, that the "even as" in verse 25, and the "so ought" in verse 28, are in the closest practical connection as to heart and conscience. And if it be true, that the very gait and look of a husband, when leaving his house in the morning for his business, often tells a tale as to the measure in which his Christian "helpmeet" has entered into the relationship of the Church to Christ it is no less true, that the demeanour of the husband, on his return, in the evening, from the busy city, betrays just as distinctly, how far he has been, throughout the day, living in the sense of what Christ is for the Church. Do I mean to say, that business is to be neglected; and the ledger to be replaced by the Bible in the counting house? I should think very little indeed of the heavenly-mindedness of such a one; for he who disregards the claims of common practical righteousness, only shows that he knows but very little of what it means to live in heaven and to "hold the Head" — Christ. For that blessed One, when on earth, loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, and was always to be found in His right place, and always knew His time, may it be those thirty years in Joseph's humble abode, before He entered upon His ministry; or afterwards, when He said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." A Christian, may he be a master in his own business, who neglects his customers; or a servant, who embezzles his employer's time and neglects his business, whilst reading his Bible, practically denies the truths of that blessed divine book, in which he appears to be absorbed, instead of "adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

But, beloved brethren, is there not a great difference between the mind and the heart? between our thoughts and our affections? God says: "My son, give me thine heart." Men may claim our mind, in our business and daily duties, and rightly so. But God has the sole claim upon our hearts, for He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. Christ has that claim upon us, for He gave Himself for us, and has bought us with the highest price, that only Divine love could pay; even His own precious blood. Is He, not only precious (for this Christ is to every real Christian!) but "altogether lovely" to you? "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Where is your treasure, Christian reader? Above there, or here below? You cannot look up to heaven with one eye, and at the same time keep the other fixed on the earth, but must have both your eyes either heavenward, or earthward. Just so will your heart be either in heaven (Col. 3:1-2), or on the earth (Phil. 3:19.) You cannot have one half of your heart in heaven, and the other half on earth. Impossible. I ask again — not: where is your mind? That may be engaged with the customers at the counter, or with the ledger, or in the warehouse, or manufactory; and properly so. But, Christian husband, where is your heart, during your absence from home, in your earthly avocation? Surely, if the heart is in heaven, our heavenly home, where Christ is; the eye, tongue, hands, and feet, will be guided here on earth by His Spirit.

Does your partner or employer expect or demand from you something that goes against your conscience? "Look off unto Jesus Christ, the Head above," and the clouds overhead will soon disperse, and light shine upon your path. The burden will glide off from you, you don't know how. Or are you in perplexity and difficulties? Is there a great crisis impending, and you do not know what to do and whither to turn? "Commit thy ways unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Does your path seem to be more and more intricate, and beset with impediments on all sides, because you are not able to compete with the world's deceitful ways in trade and commerce? "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Or have you been exposed, during a day's hard task, to the taunts of your worldly fellow-workmen in the manufactory, because you refuse to enter into their ungodly ways, or infidel conversation? You, beloved, certainly need no word of encouragement. For our heavenly Master, Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again, and threatened not, when He suffered, Himself says to you: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is you reward in heaven."

And if thus during your daily employment, you have, with the eye of faith, been looking of unto Jesus," whilst the natural eye was engaged with the visible objects of your lawful daily occupation and if you, though roughly handled by the world around you, have been holding all the firmer our risen and glorified Head, Who, when appearing, a risen Saviour amidst His troubled ones, said "Why are ye troubled? handle me;" and have thus drawn from His fulness, wisdom for your daily difficulties, grace and patience to bear up under them, and faith to rise above them; don't you think, beloved brother, that, on your return home, your wife will have the benefit of your holding the Head (Col. 3), and of your having realised what Christ is for the Church?" (Eph. 5). It would be strange if she did not, whatever her sore trouble may have been during the day.

It was for this reason that I said before: if it be true that the very gait and look of a husband, when leaving his house in the morning for his business, often tells a tale as to the measure in which his Christian "helpmeet" has entered into the relationship of the Church to Christ; it is no less true, that the demeanour of the husband, on his return in the evening from the busy city, betrays just as distinctly, how far he has been, throughout the day, living in the sense of what Christ is for the Church, and whether he has been "holding the Head" or not. For a Christian husband, who does not knew how to behave at home as the head of the family, only proves that he does not hold the Head above, nor realises what Christ is for the Church. I do not mean in the sense of maintaining his authority (though this is also true), but as to his love for his wife and children. Why is it, that so many a Christian matrimony is anything but "a heaven on earth?" Because the husband does not live in heaven, nor "hold the Head" in heaven, and therefore doe not live heavenly on earth, nor behave; as the head of a Christian family ought to behave, It is the wife's privilege, it is true, with her gentle, loving hand to smooth away any sorrow, I do not say frown — from the returning husband's brow; but if he during the day, has been resting on Christ's bosom, where His beloved disciple so calmly reposed, whilst everybody around was troubled if his heart has been happy in the consciousness of the love of Christ, Who is now engaged in cleansing the Church, to present her to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle; — his wife may have to remove a passing cloud of care, but that cloud will bring no storm; it will disperse before her submissive smile of tender, holy love, without her being made the conductor for a rising tempest in the husband's heart, after a day's sultry atmosphere. Such storms may occur in worldly households (and even there, any husband of natural manliness would be ashamed to be overtaken by them), but they do not clear the atmosphere, as natural tempests do, but only render it more and more heavy and pregnant with the destructive element of strife and contention, until peace and happiness are undermined, unless God interferes, in governmental grace, with His mighty hand and voice, and thus clears and restores the atmosphere, that is, the hearts, in such a household, where Christ has been so sadly denied, because "the gentleness of Christ" and "the love of Christ" had been so little realised.

The Christian husband, whose heart, during, perhaps, a cloudy and stormy day, has been pillowed on Christ's love, and sunning itself in the warmth of that love, does not, on his return, frown his wife into silence, submission, and obedience: but he loves her into it, and the only way he forces her into it is by his own example in submission and dependence upon Christ the Head, and obedience to His Word.

But Christ's love for the Church is not only shown by His cleansing her, but by His nourishing and cherishing her. And it is this part of His loving care in particular, which the Spirit of God here impresses upon the Christian husband's heart and conscience. If Christ's love, in cleansing the Church, has been set here before the Christian husband, it is not, that he should set to work and do the same with his wife, but that he may, in a general way, learn of our loving Head in glory to manifest his love towards his wife in his tender solicitude for her, as to everything that concerns her welfare. And why? Because "he that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ the Church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." Therefore those words: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies," refer to that which follows (in verse 29), rather than to what precedes in verses 26 and 27. There are not a few who show great willingness (I do not say expertness) for washing their wives' feet, but let them starve at the same time. If you do not know how to nourish and cherish, your wife, as your own body, you are not fit to wash her feet.

But is the husband, then, to shut his eyes, if he sees something wrong in his wife? Is love to blindfold him, as a natural man's love so often does? Certainly not. The love of the unconverted idolatrous heart may blind the eyes to the failures of its object, but true Christian love does not. On the contrary, the eye of such true love perceives quicker than would a stranger's eye, anything wrong in the beloved one, just as your eye would discern every spot upon a precious vessel, for which you have paid a high price, and which you prize very much. Your hand would at once be ready, with the tenderest care to remove and wipe off the spot, in order that you may present it to your eye, to feast upon it in its unblemished purity and beauty. This it is that Christ does for the Church, His Body. It is the very opposite of a lynx-eyed spirit of fault-finding; it is the spirit of true love, which desires to find no fault, and therefore tenderly and carefully tries to remove anything that is faulty. But I can only repeat what I have expressed already, that when the Spirit of God in our chapter enjoins the husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, adding that "he that loveth his wife loveth himself," He expressly connects this injunction with the nourishing and cherishing her, "even as Christ the Church," and not with the cleansing. There is always the strictest wisdom and propriety in the Word of God, as in everything that is divine.

If the husband's own heart feeds upon the "hidden manna," and is strengthened as with marrow and fatness; and if he is in the daily habit of turning with a thirsty soul to Him Who says: "He that is athirst, let him come unto Me and drink," and thus practises what we often sing:
"Whom have we, Lord, but Thee,
 Soul thirst to satisfy!
Exhaustless spring! the waters free!
 All other streams are dry "
you may be sure, he will be able to supply his wife with that food, upon which he has been feeding himself, i.e., to nourish her; and to cherish her, that is, to water and refresh her soul with that water of life, which has refreshed his own. For I cannot eat nor drink for others, but I must eat and drink for myself; and then, and, not before, the streams of refreshing will flow out to others,

But if I see a husband coming home from the busy city, sitting down to the repast which tender and loving hands have spread for him, and then taking his hat and hurrying off, evening after evening, to some church meeting, to give them the benefit of his assistance and counsel; or to some Scripture reading, where divine truth is discussed metaphysically, whilst the precious souls of his wife and children are starving at home; and then, when returning late at night, chiding with his wife, or expressing his regret at her want of spirituality, what shall I say to him? I would say to him: "My dear brother, is this the way that Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for her? Is this the way that Christ sanctifies and cleanses His body with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish? Is this the way that the Lord nourisheth and cherisheth her? I know that the word of exhortation told the Hebrews, not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some was, but to exhort one another, and so much the more as they saw the day approaching; but it told them also, to consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works. And does this term "one another" mean any one else but your own wife, your own body? Charity begins at home. I should certainly be the last to encourage any forsaking the assemblies, but if I see a husband every evening in the week hurrying away from wife and children to attend meetings, there is but too much reason to fear, that he will get surfeited, whilst his wife is starving.

I know there are servants of Christ, especially gifted by Him, whom He may call away from wife and children, for a longer time, into the regions beyond, "to make known the glad tidings of His gospel, or visit, edify, and instruct, and encourage the body of Christ in those parts. For such, especially, the word of the Apostle would hold good: "But this I say, the time is short. It remaineth that both they that have wives, be as though they had none." The Lord would know in such a case, how to provide. And this is true, not only for such, but for every Christian husband. But it does not warrant any one to neglect his wife, which would be nothing less than a flat contradiction of the injunction given by the Holy Spirit, through the same Apostle, in our chapter. On the contrary, if a Christian husband would make that passage a warrant for his neglecting his wife and children, day after day, and evening after evening, in order to practise his gift (which is often very different from "stirring up the gift,") in a wider circle, or, if he has no gift, to maintain his place and influence in the Church, the inevitable result will be, that the condition of his wife and children soon will become such, as to close the door upon his service, or deprive him of his place in the Church. There have been lamentable illustrations of the truth of this.

Suppose an officer in the commissariat department of an army or garrison, who daily provides every soldier, from the general down to the drummer boy, with their due rations; or the steward of a ship, who gives to every individual in the ship, from the captain to the cabin boy, their meat in due season, would leave his wife and children to starve. Would this be taken as a proof of his strict honesty and faithfulness in his service to the queen and the country? I should think, his queen would be the very last to praise him for it. And what is the verdict of the Divine Code in such a case? "But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [or unbeliever]."

There is One above in glory, at the right hand of God, Who, though surrounded by myriads of adoring heavenly hosts, does not, for one single moment, take His eye off from any, even the feeblest (and to you and me, perhaps, most uninteresting) of the countless members of His Body, the Church, whom He loved, and for whom He gave Himself. He is every moment engaged with cleansing, nourishing, and feeding every one. And permit me to add, beloved brother, it is just this which you and I are so apt to lose sight of. Has, through the ministry of one of Christ's vessels, some needed portion of divine truth been brought home in power to your conscience? Remember, it is our glorious Head there above, Who did it. His all searching eye saw your need, and He, by His Spirit (through Whom you are linked with Him), and through His Spirit's channel, ministered the needed word of exhortation to you, to cleanse you with the washing of water, by the word. If your conscience is honest, and the heart true through grace, you will at once look up thankfully to the Head above, who cleanses you, because He loves you, instead of turning round to some neighbour and grumbling: "He's always lashing us." Or has the eye of your mind been enlightened by the opening up of some important portion of Holy Writ and your heart been cherished and comforted? It is Christ, the Head, Who once on earth made the hearts of His two sorrowing ones burn, when He expounded the Scriptures to them, Who now, from glory, by His Spirit, ministers from His Word the needed nourishment and comfort to your heart. Or have you, above all, been feeding upon His death, and upon Himself, Who died for us, when sitting down at His table, together with your fellow-members? And has your soul been strengthened and refreshed at that divine repast His loving hands took care to spread for us, before they were pierced and nailed to the cross by men's wicked hands? Has your soul, in fellowship with His saints, worshipped God and the Lamb, slain for us, remembering Him, Who loved us and gave Himself for us, in blessed forgetfulness of self and everything around, the eye fixed on His glory, and the heart on His all-beauteous Person? It is He, Who did it, our Head at the right hand of God; our Head, once bruised, and mocked, and spit upon, but now crowned with glory and honour, in Whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily. From His fulness He has, by His Spirit, — that well of water in you, springing up into life everlasting, — enabled you to look up and praise God the Father and Him, in Whom God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Look up to the Head, and thank Him for His love and grace, and all that He is (and He is everything, and gives everything, for He gave Himself — and gives to His Body the Church. You won't turn then, as soon as the meeting is over, to some ministering member, whom the Head may have used for your blessing, and say to him, "What a nice word you gave us," or turn round to some other fellow-worm at your side and whisper "What a wondrous, blessed man! What a master mind!"

And you and I, beloved brother, having, perhaps, just joined in a closing hymn like this:
"O, patient, spotless One,
Our hearts in meekness train,
To bear thy yoke and learn of Thee,
That we may rest obtain;"
we shall, on coming home, and finding there something not quite according to our mind or taste, not set up our backs like the pins of a porcupine, as another has observed. But, in the living consciousness, of what it is to be members of such a Body, and of belonging to such a Head, Who has just in His grace, and love, from His fulness, dispensed and diffused nourishment and strength to so many of His members, and to such feeble and unworthy ones as you and me, among the rest; we shall not only dwell with our wives according to knowledge, as the apostle Peter enjoins us, "giving honour unto the wives as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that our prayers be not hindered" (all important as this is), but we shall love our wives, "even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it." We shall nourish and cherish them, "even as also Christ (which is the true reading) the Church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."

Beloved brethren, how far are our households the expression and reflection of Christ and the Church, His Body?

I now conclude with the closing verse of our chapter:

"Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as Himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

"O precious Saviour, deep Thy pain,
When forth the life-blood flow'd,
That washed our souls from every stain,
That paid the debt we owed."

"Cleansed from our sins, renew'd by grace,
Thy royal throne above,
(Blest Saviour) is our destined place,
Our portion there, Thy love."

"Thine eye in that bright, cloudless day,
Shall, with supreme delight,
Thy fair and glorious bride survey
Unblemished in thy sight."