Chapter 10. Servants.

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing that whatsoever good thing a man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free" Ephesians 6:5-8.

"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons" Colossians 3:22-25.

We now have come to the least esteemed of the relationships, which form the subject of these pages, — that of servants. But if it is the least esteemed among men, it is at the same time that to which God, Who exalts that which is abased, and abases that which is exalted, attaches in His Word an especial importance. In fact, there is no relationship for which the Spirit of God gives so many directions for the comfort, encouragement, and instruction of those who are placed in it, as those in the relationship of servants, or "bondmen" and "bondwomen." And why? Because there is no position in which men may be found that is beset with so many temptations, provocations, and difficulties, and therefore, so entirely contrary to man's natural disposition, as is that of the servant or bondman, from apparent reasons especially if we remember, that in those times the condition of a servant was that of a slave, who was the property of his master, not that of a hired servant of our days. But now the word "bondman" or "bondwoman," translated "servant" in our version, refers not only to such Christian servants who were "slaves" in those times (or may be so, even now in those barbarous regions of the globe where slavery is still in existence), but to all who for wages have bound themselves for service to some one, and thus have entered voluntarily the subordinate place of a "servant." Therefore the exhortations addressed to "servants," in no less than five Epistles, hold equally good for our modern Christian servants.

But we must remember, that the position of servants at the time of the Apostles, especially that of Gentile slaves, cannot be compared to the relationship of servants in our days. The slave of those days was the property of his master. And though the Jewish servant was, under the merciful provisions of the law of Moses, protected against ill-treatment by a cruel master, there was scarcely any legal restraint of a tyrannical master's cruelty amongst the Gentiles, where the poor slave was exposed to the most barbarous cruelties on the part of an ill-disposed master. My Christian reader may easily imagine what must have been the temptations, provocations, and sufferings of a Christian slave under the power of a cruel Gentile master. He might have become a slave by birth, without any fault of his. If his mother, at his birth, had been a slave, he became, from his birth, a slave of his mother's master.*

{*According to the Roman law; "Partus sequitur ventrem."}

It is therefore most precious and instructive for us to see how "the God of all grace," and "the Father of mercies," in such an especial way has provided, in His Word, instruction and encouragement for those of His dear children, who were in the position of slaves exposed to every kind of evil treatment and cruelty, especially if they had to serve a master, who was in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity, and would ill-treat them in proportion to their godliness and faithfulness to their Lord Jesus Christ. God does not leave His children destitute of His mercy and of His truth, and comforts them that are cast down. Ho guideth the meek in judgment and teacheth them His way.

But there is another, higher reason why the Spirit of God, through His inspired penman, takes such manifest interest in, and provides in such an especial way for the guidance and encouragement of "servants." It is because the relationship of the servant is that in which Christ, in His character as Son of Man, glorified God on earth. For whilst the Gospel of John presents Him, in an especial way, as the obedient Son of the Father; in the synoptic Gospels, especially that of Mark, we find Jesus as the humble Servant, — not only as to His career of unwearied, unremitting service of love to those God had given to Him, but particularly as to the low place of service He took. It has been blessedly remarked, that "Jesus would teach us to take the lowest place, if He had not taken it already Himself." And nowhere in the Gospels does this characteristic feature of the lowly Servant appear more wonderfully than in the Gospel of John, to which I have referred already in a previous portion of these pages, when speaking of His love for the Church. The very grandeur of that "grand Gospel," as it truly has been called, in the first chapter of which the glories of the Son of God are depicted by His Spirit Who glorifies Him, and Who alone could thus describe His glories, serves to set in relief that low position of a menial servant which He takes in the thirteenth chapter, when "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."

But having dwelt in my poor way already on this precious portion of the Gospel of John (p. 191, 192), I content myself with saying, that there was one place still lower than that, reserved for the lowest of all servants, that is, when He was nailed to the cursed tree. Then it was fulfilled, what is written in Ex. 21, of the boring of the ear of the loving servant. There are three stages of Christ's life on earth mentioned in Scripture, which mark His character as the perfect Servant. The first is in the tenth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me," etc.

The Holy Ghost, though evidently referring to Ps. 40:6, has not quoted here from the Hebrew text of that Psalm, but from the Greek of the Septuagint, a circumstance which has puzzled not a few. "But let God be true, but every man a liar." He is wiser than men's wisest, and apparently most reasonable questionings. And if we only would read our Bible with the firm conviction that the Word of God must be true, because it is truth, and that men's reasoning about it always must be wrong, however reasonable, apparently, his reasonings may be, we should find in God's own time, that the very difficulties which so much have puzzled us, will prove to our souls most blessed inlets of fresh light and blessing, and the key for deeper and wider opening up and unfolding of the treasures of knowledge and wisdom, hidden in that precious Word. It is the same as to Heb. 10:5, "a body hast thou prepared me."

In Ps 40, the Hebrew word for "opened mine ears" is not the same as in Ex. 21, in the case of the Hebrew servant, who, by having his ear attached to the door-post with an awl, became thus a servant for ever. Here (Heb. 10) the true meaning of "digged mine ears" is, that God has prepared His (Christ's) ears. Now, we know that the ear is everything in the case of a servant. A servant without a willing and attentive ear would be useless. Therefore, in his case, the word "ear" expresses his whole body. Now, Christ had His ears digged by taking upon Him the form of a servant, i.e., by being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man. It is from this reason, that the Holy Ghost here (in Heb. 10:5), accepts the translation of the Septuagint "body hast thou prepared me."

But it was not only that Christ had thus become a servant, assuming the humble garb of a servant, i.e., by becoming a man. After having stooped from the throne of glory to the manger in a stable, to lie a helpless [Great care should be used with such expressions in relation to the One Who is ever God. Ed.] babe in Joseph's and Mary's, and Simeon's arms; He humbles Himself still. For "being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself." You and I, dear reader, need to be humbled, because we are not humble. Christ humbled Himself. He not only had taken upon Him the form of a servant, but He acted as a servant. "I am among you as he that serveth," was His word of gentle rebuke to His would-be-great disciples. When tempted in the wilderness at the outset of His career by Satan, the proud arch rebel, and the instigator and leader of every rebellion in heaven and on earth, He, Who Himself is THE WORD, used not His own words, everyone of which was truth, but He used the written Word of God, as the "sword of the Spirit," to defeat Satan, thus binding the strong man. All His replies to Satan are taken from the book of Deuteronomy, which treats of the Jewish servant in his responsibility to God.

Thus the Lord God had not only "digged" the ears of the humble Jesus of Nazareth, but He "opened His ear,"* i.e., kept it open, to hear as the learned, in order that He, the lowly Servant, might know how to speak with the "tongue of the learned," a word in season to the weary. God wakened His ear morning by morning to hear as the learned. He opened His ear, and He was not rebellious, neither turned away back, so that He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and hid not His face from shame and spitting; ever the obedient Servant, as He was ever the obedient Son.

{*The word as in the Hebrew original is here not the same I.l. [?] as in Psalm 40:6.}

But that blessed "Servant of servants," if we may say so with reverence, did not only take upon Him the form of a servant, after He had said: "A body hast thou prepared me," when God had "digged," i.e., "prepared" ears; and not only did He humble Himself, during His life, being found in fashion as a man, ever the meek and obedient Servant, Whose ears were kept open, and awakened morning by morning, to receive for every day's work the orders of His God at His door-posts, as it were; but when the time had come that the lowest of all servants was to be highly exalted, and to be received up to glory, and when now THE CROSS, to Him the gate to glory, came in sight, and the murderous cries, "Crucify Him! — Away with Him!" resounded before Pilate's judgment hall, did that blessed Servant stop His ears from those terrible cries? No; but He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." He might have "gone out free" (marg. "with his body"). (Ex. 21:3), but what would then have become of the wife and the children whom God had given to Him? The corn of wheat would have abode alone.

We now come to Exodus 21, as the third and last stage of the ever-perfect service of that wondrous "Servant."

"And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear* through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever."

{*The Hebrew here again is different.}

It was in Christ's sufferings on the cross, the gate to the Father's house in glory, that the ear of that blessed SERVANT was bored through, when He became "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,"* If during those terrible hours, when all the malice of Satan and men was let loose, and the sword of Divine Justice awoke against Him. He "loved His Master," to Whom His soul had said: "Thou art my Lord;" He loved her whom that blessed Master had given to Him, to be the Lamb's wife; and He loved the children whom God had given unto Him. Thus He was brought before the judge, and as a lamb to the slaughter; "for it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

{*The Greek in Phil. 2:8, expresses this exactly.}

But at the same time, when Jesus became the "captain of our salvation," He became a "servant for ever," when He was nailed to the cross. It is true, God has made Him Lord and Christ, as to Israel (Acts 2); and "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36); but when He will appear again as "LORD of LORD'S," and "KING of KINGS," to reign over this earth, He will "gird himself and make his servants to sit down to meat, and will come and serve them," i.e., He, the millennial King of Kings and Lord of Lords, will at the millennial banquet serve His servants, who, during His absence from this earth, kept their loins girded about, and their lamps burning, as "men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding; that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately;" as to us, this will be true also, only in a heavenly sense.

And has not God set Him as the Head of the Church, His body, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and has He not put all things under His feet? And yet, oh, wondrous picture of love and grace! you find the Same to Whose exalted position (Eph. 1), we have just gazed up into heaven, in the fifth chapter of the same Epistle, stooping down to wash our feet. That which He did on earth, (John 13) before ascending to heaven, He now continues to do in glory.

His service was finished at the end of His blessed career on earth. He had perfectly glorified God as a man on the earth. He had finished the work which God gave Him to do; He had, as the faithful Steward, given them their meat in due season; He had given them the Father's Name, and His Word; His whole life on earth had been an uninterrupted line of perfect service. So He might have gone out free, i.e., returned to heaven just as He was. But Jesus, in His character as a Servant, loved His Father and those whom the Father had given Him too much to give up the service; and so, according to Ex. 21, His ear was bored, and He became a servant for ever; now on earth to wash our feet; soon in heavenly glory, when He will gird Himself to serve His servants, who have served Him on earth, however poorly and feebly, if they have waited for His coming.

Abraham and Sarah, who had the honour of having the Lord of glory as their guest at Mamre, and of waiting upon Him; Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, who in their humble abode at Bethany served the One Who was among them as he that serveth; will then be served in their turn by Him, Who is the Servant of servants, as He is the Lord of lords, and King of kings, the King of glory, when He will gird Himself and come forth and serve them. And not only they, but you and I amongst the rest, Christian reader, most unprofitable servants though we have been, especially if we consider the infinitely greater privileges, in position and blessing, which are ours, compared to those humble and faithful servants of their and our heavenly Master; all the more humbling to us, seeing what our poor "service," if it can be called so, has been and is still! May our loins be girded, and our lights burning, and we ourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord.

"Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching; verily, I say unto you that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them."

And then — "His servants shall serve him" — serve Him then as we ought, and not according to our thoughts, as we do here, alas! so often.

"And they shall see his face and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there." No need there of burning lamps; for "they need no candle, nor the light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light and they shall reign for ever and ever." That is, not only shall they reign with Christ over the earth during the thousand years of the millennial kingdom of righteousness and peace, where "righteousness reigns," but in the eternal state of the new heavens and the new earth, where "righteousness dwelleth" (referred to in 2 Peter) His servants, so poor, feeble, and unworthy here, but then perfect like Him in glorious bodies, "shall reign with him for ever and ever."

Fellow servants of Christ, what wondrous prospect is yours and mine through grace! Is it not worth the while to serve a Master so gracious, patient, kind and liberal? Even a glass of water given by you in His name to a faint and thirsty one, shall not lose its reward! Every tear wept in sympathy with one of the suffering ones of Him, who wept at Lazarus grave, will He "gather in His bottle;" every word of comfort spoken to one of His sick, isolated, or sorrowing ones in some out of the way corner or upper-chamber will be written down in His "book of remembrance,'' to the credit of them that "feared the Lord and thought upon his name." "They shall be his," and His great new Name, that once despised Name of the humblest of all servants, that Name which is above every name, and at which every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth; — that glorious Name of JESUS shall be written on the foreheads of His servants in the full blaze of glory!

In the day when the Lord will "make up his jewels," every tear wept in sorrow and sympathy for His sake, will shine like a diamond in the sunlight of His countenance, "when He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," when all His numberless servants will reflect His glories, as the dewdrops in the field, sparkling in all the various colours of jewellery at the rise of he sun, reflect the glory of the heavenly orb. And what is it, beloved, that renders those tiny dewdrops fit to be reflectors of His glory? It is because they are pure, and free from any earthly alloy; for they came from heaven, and therefore reflect heavenly glory. Thus it will be with the saints, the servants of the Lord, when they will appear with Him in glory, clothed upon with their house that is from heaven, in their glorious bodies, their glorious livery, the "gala-uniform" of the soldiers of Christ. There will be nothing then in their bodies, no earthly or fleshly alloy, no mixture of self to prevent them from fully reflecting the glories of the once despised Jesus of Nazareth, when He, Whose "visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men," will come to "sprinkle many nations;" with his "countenance as the sun shineth in his strength," yet "with healing in his wings" for His earthly people. What a radiant reflex will His servants then be! How different to what we are now, alas! Would God we were more like dewdrops — little, pure, and empty, i.e. without alloy! What different lights, what different reflectors of Christ's beauties should we be in this world, and in days like these!

But I must not forget that it is an especial class of Christ's servants, who are the subject of the portion of Holy Writ, which we are considering just now, i.e., those in the place of domestic servants. An humble place, and little esteemed among men generally, and therefore shunned and greatly disliked by many young believers, who belong to families in an humble station of life. Hence the frequent efforts of their parents to place their sons, especially their daughters, in situations, or bring them up in a way often far beyond the modest station in which an all-wise God in His providence has placed them. So instead of procuring for their children a place in a respectable service or trade, suitable for their station in life, they either place them in some showy business establishment, where the world with its allurements, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, surrounds them, and where they are daily inhaling its deadly, poisonous atmosphere; or give them a scientific education, to elevate them to the rank of professional gentlemen and ladies, where they soon learn to forget their father's humble cottage, only in a very different way to what the Lord enjoins His beloved, who has not forgotten the tents of Kedar, but says: "Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me; my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."

The too frequent result of such high aspirations of youthful or parental pride and vanity, is either the ruin of their Christian character and happiness, if they succeed, by falling into pride, which goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall; or, a breaking down, as to circumstances, under the mighty, yet merciful hand of God, Whose wisdom in providence they had disowned.

It is quite true that Christians are not to be guided by divine providence, nor does God intend us to be so, but by faith. Moses, when he had come to years, left the place where divine providence had placed him at Pharaoh's court. What enabled him to do so? Faith. But what was his motive for doing so? Was it the desire to get up into a higher, and more honourable place? What place could be higher and more honourable than to be the first at Pharaoh's court, where he was called the "Son of Pharaoh's daughter?" All the honours of Egypt were his. Or was it the desire to get rich? The rich treasures of Egypt were at his disposal in his elevated place. Or was it the wish for more leisure and pleasure? There is no place like the court of a king for idleness and pleasures of this world, especially for one in Moses' position. What, then, made Moses refuse the honours, pleasures and treasures of Egypt? What made him exchange that place, where he was the most wealthy gentleman next to royalty, with the obscure place of his poor, despised and oppressed people, who, bowed down under their heavy burdens, covered with the dust of the brick kilns, groaned beneath the whips of their pitiless task-masters? Mark, Christian reader! It was because Moses "esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." This was Moses' motive, as the Spirit of God, Who searches the reins and the hearts, tells us in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This was his motive for refusing the honour of being called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

Is it the same motive, beloved brother or sister in Christ, that makes you seek a place for your son or daughter, or prefer a situation in yonder splendid establishment, to the more humble place of a servant in some godly Christian family, whose daily life is on the principle, that "godliness with contentment is great gain?" I would earnestly and affectionately ask you, to "ponder the path of thy feet," remembering, that "the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings." But not only does he ponder our goings. Our natural hearts are deceitful above all things. "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes; but the LORD pondereth the hearts."

Beloved brother and sister in an humble position of life, but called to reign as kings with Christ (for it is to such I am speaking now); the Lord of Glory, Who on earth was known as "Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's son," and during His life of unremitting service, had less of a home than the birds and the foxes, has not sent His servants into the world to try to be "gentlemen" and "ladies," nor to get leisure, and pleasures, and treasures. Where did Moses receive his training for a gentleman? At Pharaoh's court, no doubt, he obtained all the accomplishments required for a gentleman in those days; for "he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." And what was the result of his education at Pharoah's court as a gentleman? He slew an Egyptian. Then Moses received another forty years' training at a place of education very different to Pharaoh's court. It was at the back side of the wilderness, as a shepherd of Jethro's flock.* That was God's school for training Moses; the same school where, at a later period, David was to be trained. And what was the result of that second training? He became a perfect "gentleman," not in the sense of Egypt, but according to God's mind. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3).

{*Shepherds and herdsmen were the most despised (the seventh and lowest) class of society in Egypt, like the "Paria's" in India, so that no Egyptian of the six upper classes would eat with them.

Beloved, it is thus that God trains "gentlemen" and "gentlewomen" (1 Peter 3:4), according to His own mind, and the mind of the lowest of all servants. Who said: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

Dear fellow bondmen in Christ! It is only under His easy yoke, that His servants learn to bear burdens in this world, which appear to nature and unbelief like a heavy yoke upon our naturally proud and stubborn necks. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Do not despise the place of a "servant." It was the place of Christ here on earth. Will you be greater than your Master? The lower your place here on earth, the nearer to Christ, and the more occasion have you to glorify Him in that place, and to manifest His character, Who is meek and lowly in heart. If God, in His wise and gracious providence, has been pleased to place you in an humble station of life, thank Him for it; rejoice in Christ always, and seek to glorify Him in it. Walk with God in the place where you are, and do not try to get or step out of it. You will only have to suffer for it, it you do. Do not leave it, until you are fully sure that the same Divine Providence, that had placed you where you are, removes you to another place. Do not go before God, nor lag behind Him, but walk with God, as His servant Enoch did, and you will have the seal of His approval in your conscience, and the joy of His communion in your heart. And what are all the honours, pleasures, and treasures of Egypt without that? If you have been born in a poor cottage, do not desire to become rich. It is God Who has put you there. Stay there, and remember that Joseph the carpenter's cottage at Nazareth was, most likely, a more humble dwelling than yours, and yet there the Son of God and Lord of Glory lived for thirty years. He dwelt there full of grace and truth. Remember that "godliness with contentment is great gain." It is not written, that they that are rich, but "they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." Honour those who are in a superior position of life to you, according to the divine injunction: to "render to all their dues: fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour" (Rom. 13.) Honour them in their place, and glorify God in yours. And "let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich, in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away:" (James 1:9-10).

There is no place where the character of our Heavenly Master can be so much reflected, and His Name so glorified, as that of servants. This was true in an especial way for the Christian servants at the time those exhortations were written; for, as has been said already, they were not hired servants who received wages, but mere slaves. Under the Roman law, at the time of the Apostles, the masters of slaves had power of life and death over them. If a master was killed, all those slaves that had been under the same roof with him at the time of the murder, or who had been near enough to hear his cries, were without difference sentenced to death. The master could inflict the most barbarous cruelties upon them, without being confined to the number of thirty-nine lashes as were the slaveholders in British America by the provisions of the "Consolidated Slave Law" of 1784, before the abolition of modern slavery in those parts. The power of the masters over death and life was only taken away from them and given to the authorities in the second century after Christ, under the reign of the mild Antonine emperors. If a slave was ill-treated, or mutilated by a third person who was not his master, he himself had no redress, except that his master, if he pleased, could bring in an action for compensation, according to the Aquilian law.

I have given these few historical notes, to give my Christian readers an idea of the terrible, helpless position in which Christian slaves were at the time, when the inspired Apostles Peter and Paul wrote for the instruction, guidance, and comfort of those dear, so sorely tried saints of God. We now see at once the reason why the "God of all comfort," and "Father of mercies," Whose blessed Son, when He was on this earth a "Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief," knew what it is to be tempted, when He was made the butt of Satan's and man's taunts and persecutions; not hiding His face from shame and spitting, nor His back from the smiters, nor His cheeks from them that pluck off the hair; we see at once, I say, why the blessed God of all grace, no less than five times, through the inspired pens of His two chief Apostles, ministers through His Holy Comforter the consolations of the Scriptures to those of His dear children who were in a position of life so sorely tried, helpless and defenceless, and more than any human beings on earth exposed to men's arbitrary and merciless ill-treatment, and therefore, in their position, so like their heavenly Master. Can we wonder at the especial interest shown to His children in that relationship of life, by the Father of the once rejected and crucified Jesus of Nazareth, and by that blessed Saviour Himself, Who can be, and is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," because He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," and Who called out from glory, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" to the very Apostle who wrote the words that head this chapter? Well, indeed, may all His tried and tempted ones "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

These words of instruction and comfort for the Christian servants, given in Holy Writ through the inspired pens of the two chief Apostles of the Lord in five of their epistles, present three aspects of the position and corresponding duties of Christian servants.
1 As servants of Christ, in their responsibility to Him, as their Heavenly Lord. This we have in the two passages from the Ephesians and Colossians which head this chapter.
2.With regard to their responsibility in their testimony to the Name and doctrine of our God and Saviour. This we find in 1 Tim. 6:1-2, and Titus 2:9-10.
3. As to their privilege to suffer for righteousness' sake, as spoken of in 1 Peter 2:18-20.

I would offer a few remarks on each of these three points.

As to the first point, I must remind my Christian reader of what has been already said as to the difference between a slave and a hired servant, i.e., one who has bound himself to serve for a certain time for wages. The former (unless he was a slave by birth, or as a prisoner of war, or as punishment for a crime) had become so by purchase. His master had bought him, and therefore he was the property of his master, who could do with him as he pleased. This, beloved, constitutes exactly our relationship to Christ, Who has redeemed and purchased us with the highest price He could pay for us, that, is, with His own precious blood. The word in the original used for "servants" is "slaves," not only because there were no hired servants at those times, but only slaves, but because we are slaves. It is a hard word to the ears of men, and rightly so, if applied to earthly relationships. But as to our relationship to Christ, there is no sweeter word to a Christian. If Christ had only hired me, I should belong to Him only for a time, but He has bought me, and so I am His own for ever. And that inestimable price, which our Master has paid for us, beloved, even His own most precious Blood, we find in its practical bearing upon the Christian's walk, applied in a threefold way to our consciences.

1. With regard to our bodies; "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:20),

2. With regard to our spirits and the motives of our actions: "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the slaves of men" (ch. 7:23), and

3. With respect to the vain conversation (as to all religion after the flesh), received by tradition from the fathers, the "religion of our fathers: "

"And if ye call on the Father" (in contrast to the fathers), "who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: for as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot," etc., etc.

I must leave it to my readers to ponder these three portions of Holy Writ, in their bearing upon the practical walk of the believer, as the necessary limits of these pages will not permit to enter more closely upon them. But they suffice to show to us, how important it is for you and me, beloved, especially in these last days, where the Master's coming is at hand, to remember, that we are not only dearly beloved, but also dearly bought ones, in order that the Master, when He comes, may find our loins girded, and our lamps burning, as servants that wait for their Master's return, Who has not hired us with corruptible gold and silver, but bought and redeemed us with His own most precious blood, not merely to be his servants, i.e., hirelings, partly His own and partly our own, but His slaves, His own altogether and for ever and ever! Blessed be His glorious and gracious Name!

A slave of Christ! Blessed and most honoured title, by which the great Apostle of the Church calls himself in the very first line of his Epistle to the Romans. He even puts that title before that of the Apostle, in beginning his Epistle with "Paul, a slave (or bondsman) ["Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"] of Jesus Christ, [a] called Apostle, separated unto the gospel of God," etc, To be a slave of Christ, is indeed to be a freeman, i.e. a man, whom Christ has made free from the slavery of Satan and sin, and of his own will, which is the most real slavery in the most terrible sense of the word. The slavery of Christ, therefore, is truest liberty, and the more we live in the sense of what it means to serve such a Master, the more shall we enjoy and stand fast in the liberty, wherewith Christ has made us free.

It is in this sense, then, that the Apostle tells servants, to be obedient to their masters, according to the flesh "with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ." That the words "with fear and trembling" do not, in the least imply any slavish "fear of men which bringeth a snare," need hardly be said. For such service could not be "in singleness of heart," nor "unto Christ." Besides, the immediately following words "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ," would exclude any such thought. And, let us remember that every service which is done "as unto the Lord," will always be done, "with good will" to the master "according to the flesh," "not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." But of this we shall speak further on. Mark, there are two motives for service given here the first, and this is paramount, as it is the purest motive — that is, in the fear of the Lord and in affection to His blessed Person, Who as a servant, has set us such an example, as in everything that is good and for the glory of God. This, that is, doing service heartily, as unto the Lord, "fearing the Lord," (which is the correct reading in Col. 3:22), and as "serving the Lord," is paramount. I have spoken of this in the fifth Chapter (pp. 79-81) more explicitly. The second motive for "service" is a "reward," which, in our character of "servants" of Christ, is quite a proper motive. I say in our character as "servants." For the Church, as the "Bride" of Christ, such a motive, or goal if you please, would be utterly out of place for in that character, we have but one motive and only one object, Christ. Therefore the Lord says when speaking to Philadelphia: "Behold, I come quickly." But in Rev. 22, with regard to His discriminating judgment as to the good and evil servants, He says, "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward with me, to give everyone according as his work shall be." It is the same in Eph., and especially in Col. 3:23-25 "and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." What enabled Moses, God's faithful servant, who was "faithful in all his house" to "esteem the reproach of Christ" greater riches than the treasures in Egypt? It was because "he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." Did such a motive, in his character as a "servant," lower the value of Moses action? Certainly not, else the Holy Ghost would not have recorded it as "a good report" to that excellent witness of faith. Christ Himself "for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame," in His character of a servant. Did this in any way detract from His service, or did it impair the perfection of His motives of obedience to His Father, and love to those the Father had given to Him? I need not answer the question. Hope is as legitimate a Christian motive for the servant of Christ, as are faith and love, though the latter is the greatest, and abideth for ever, when faith will be sight, and hope will have become possession and thus both the former will have ceased. May my beloved brothers and sisters in their (before men, but not before God) humble place of service, always remember that even in the sight of men, the most menial work or service is ennobled by a noble motive and a noble object. And what more noble motive and object than Christ, and what more noble reward than "be for ever with the Lord," and serve Him and reign with Him? May He be the sole motive of, and object of all our service! As another has said:

"Suppose, the Lord had sent two Angels on an errand to the earth, the one, to sweep some crossing in the streets of London, and the other to rule over a kingdom; we may be sure, that the former would perform his task with the same willingness and devotedness as the latter." May it be thus with us! What a beautiful example of true hearted and disinterested service we have in the Old Testament in the lovely character of Abraham's chief servant Eliezer! If he was one among three hundred and eighteen in his time, I fear he would be one among ten thousand in our days.

2. The second aspect given by the Spirit of God in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul to Timothy and Titus, as to the responsibility of Christian servants, is in connection with the Christian's testimony to the Name and doctrine of God our Saviour:

"Let as many servants, as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit" (1 Tim. 6:1-2).

"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things" (Titus 2:9-10).

Here it is not the motive and object of service, that is, the Lord Christ Himself, and our joyful hope, to be for ever with Him, and hear from the Master's lips in glory the coveted words of His approval, "Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord." But we have here to do with testimony, which is never presented to us as a motive or object for service for as soon as testimony becomes a motive or object of service, of whatever kind that service may be, it is a proof, that Service, or Testimony has slipped in between Christ and the heart, and thus has hidden Christ from our view, as the sole object. The result will be, that subtle self and flesh will soon characterise our service, and thus the testimony be marred. Therefore it is not the motive or object of Service, to which the Spirit here directs the Christian domestic servant's attention, but it is the effect of his service as to the Name and doctrine of God our Saviour. A consideration of immense moment indeed! Do we heed it as we ought, my beloved fellow-servants in the yoke of Christ? Alas! Alas! Too frequently does it happen, that through the inconsistencies in the conduct of Christian servants, I will not, say the blessed Name of God,* but His doctrine, His divine truth is blasphemed, and the way of truth evil spoken of, in the household and neighbourhood, to which they belong. And nothing is more dishonouring to the Name of God, His doctrine, and His truth, than the unbecoming, disrespectful and independent behaviour of so many Christian servants in our days. The reason is easily seen, though none the less condemnable. The Christian slave of old, or the servant of our times, especially if he was, or is in the service of an unconverted master, is, as a man in Christ, and having been made partaker of the divine nature, and being in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, naturally conscious of his superiority, under grace, over every unconverted person, even in the highest station of life. Jacob, the poor despised herdsman (the most despised and lowest class in Egypt), could bless the King Pharaoh, and the king submitted to it. The smaller is without all contradiction, blessed of the greater." Wondrous superiority of an Old Testament Saint over the mightiest king of the earth! How infinitely greater, then, is the superiority of the Christian (for the least in the kingdom of God is greater than even John the Baptist, not to speak of Jacob) over every citizen of this world, and if he were the richest, wisest, or highest in position! But here lies the danger! For we must always remember, that whilst the Spirit within us does not cease to be the Spirit, because the flesh is in us; on the other hand, the flesh in us does not cease to be the flesh, because the Spirit is within us. Flesh is always ready to take advantage of divine grace for its own elevation or gratification. Hence the constant danger for the Christian servant, unless he is kept humble under grace and under the sense of it, to assume a superior demeanour to the master or mistress, if they are unconverted; or if they are believers, to adopt a familiar air of equality with them, This is nothing but a kind of antinomianism, i.e., turning grace to account for the selfish flesh.** There is nothing more revolting and shocking to the feelings of the unconverted, or more grievous to the Christian master or mistress, than such a conduct on the part of their Christian servant, who professes to be a follower of Him, Who was the lowest of all servants.

{*The Name of God would be exposed, at those times, in which the Apostles wrote, to the blasphemies of Gentile masters in consequence of the inconsistencies of a Christian slave. In our religious days it is rather the doctrine.

**There was in those times, and so there is in our days (for the flesh is always the same) a constant tendency amongst christians, to confound God's principles as to His government, with His principles as to the Church. "Let every man abide in the same calling, wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant (or slave at those times) care not for it (or "let it not concern thee"); but if thou mayest be made free (i.e., from "slavery") use it rather" etc." Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." This is Divine Government. — But: "For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." — This is Church truth. The confounding of one with the other has caused much trouble in the Church of God and in Christian families. "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace."}

This is not to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things," but disgracing it, and casting a stumbling-block in the way of the unconverted members of the household, instead of being a light to them that are in the house.

It is very instructive for us all, and of exquisite beauty, that it is to believing servants (or "slaves" in those times), that the Apostle, after his practical exhortations for them, holds out that truly noble divine incentive for every Christian; even that beautiful string, and glorious cluster of divine gospel truths, in their practical bearing for a godly walk. Greatly as we all of us need to ponder them well for a more consistent walk in these perilous times, I would especially earnestly commend them to the prayerful meditation of those of my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, whom our all wise and all gracious God, has been pleased, to place here on earth in the same position, in which His own Son has been, and glorified Him here below; that of "servants." I give the whole passage: —
"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again: Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 'For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority, Let no man despise thee." (Titus 2:9-15).

I would direct my reader's attention to the little word "for" in verse 11. It is the link that links the wondrous motive power, contained in the following verses, as its "engine," as it were, with the preceding verses (9 and 10). These powerful motives and motive powers for a godly walk, here especially applied to Christian servants are: —

"The grace of God, that bringeth salvation* to all men" (that is, for the unconverted master or mistress also) "has appeared." Grace and truth came personified into this world in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is, as another has said, but the succinct description of God's intervention in infinite love, by the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the accomplishment of redemption. Here the lovely Person of the incarnate Son of God, "God manifest in the flesh," with all the moral beauties and perfections of the Son of man, as we behold Him in the Gospels, in His humiliation, meekness and lowliness, and life of unremitting service; and, above all, upon the cross, is, as the Pattern for our walk, set before the Christian servant and us all, as He has left us an example that we should follow His footsteps. That grace teaches us, to deny, i.e. to say "no," to ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly (i.e., as to ourselves, in self-denial); righteously (as to our dealings with our fellow men, in business, service, etc., etc.) and godly (as to God, and His claims upon us), in this present world.

{*"Bringeth salvation to all men" is preferable to "has appeared to all men."}

But there is another motive power hope, i.e., Christ Himself again, "Who is our Hope," and for Whose coming from heaven, to receive us up to Himself, we should be daily looking; and then there is a third legitimate motive; i.e., the reward, which will be ours at the (public) "appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ." I have spoken of this already. But now we come to the last, and most powerful motive for a godly walk; Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from — what? From Satan? From hell? From the wrath to come? — Yes. But more: "from all iniquity." Not merely from the consequences of our iniquities we all are glad and thankful enough for that, but it is "from all iniquity." Mark it, Christian reader! — Christ came, as we read in the very first chapter of the first Gospel, "to save His people (Israel) from their sins." They would gladly have been saved from the consequences of their sins, such as the yoke of the Romans, their diseases and infirmities, etc., just as the Gadarenes were glad enough to be delivered from the effects of their sins — the legion of devils — but did not want to have their illicit and sinful traffic in a forbidden and impure article, their swine — spoiled. Alas! Alas! not alone with the Gadarenes was it thus. How often do we find such secret hankering after the forbidden articles — the lusts of the world and of the flesh, in Christians. It is, because they have not realised in their souls the power of those words: "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity (how intensely practical is all this!) and purify unto himself a peculiar people (i.e., a people, that belong to Him, as His property), zealous of good works."

The Old Testament furnishes Christian servants with a beautiful instance of such a faithful believing servant in an unbelieving household, in the little Israelitish maid in Naaman's house (2 Kings 5). Only a little is said of her, but that which is recorded, shows sufficiently, what a bright testimony in faith and walk she must have been in that great household! I say advisedly in her walk as a servant; for else her mistress, and Naaman, and the king of Syria himself would not have acted, as they did, upon the mere word of a little servant girl, if they had not placed implicit confidence in her character, and thus in her words. What a contrast to her is Gehazi, Elisha's servant! What a privileged place was his in the house of such a prophet, with the daily example of the godly prophet before his eyes! He coveted the "wages of unrighteousness," and Naaman's leprosy was his reward! As far as he could, he had done everything to undo the effect of his master's and Naaman's maidservant's faithful testimony. Thus the word of God has furnished us in one and the same chapter with two examples as to servants, the one for solemn warning, and the other for the encouragement, instruction, and — exercise of Christian servants.*

{*I cannot refrain from calling the attention of those of my Christian readers, whom these lines especially concern, to an excellent, little tract: "Mardy, the faithful servant." W. B. Horner.}

3. The third divine injunction for believing servants, as to their privilege of suffering for conscience and righteousness sake is found in 1 Peter 2:18-25. But as these words refer in an especial way to the "slaves"* of those times, in their most trying and yet so privileged position, I need only say a few words, as this unnatural relationship, thank God for His mercy! has been abolished in nearly all parts of professing Christendom. The tie of relationship between master and servant, has on the contrary, in most of our civilized, countries become so extremely lax, that for our modern servants, there is rarely such a thing now possible, as suffering for righteousness sake. If the servant or the maid feel or think themselves wronged, or even aggravated by their master or mistress, they give notice to leave, and there the matter ends. Whether, in the case of a Christian servant, this is according to the mind of their meek and lowly Master in heaven, is another question, which they would always do well to weigh in the presence of their heavenly Lord, before they step into the presence of their master and mistress according to the flesh, to give notice to quit service.

{*The word in the original of 1 Peter 2:13, is not "slaves," but "domestics," (oiketai) i.e., such servants, who were born in the master's house; as Abraham's servants (Gen. 14:14).

What more powerful portion of the word of God could the Apostle put before those often so cruelly treated domestic slaves or servants, than the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah the prophet! However the domestic servant of those days might have to suffer from the caprices, ill-humour and natural opposition of an unconverted master; whatever barbarous treatment he might have to bear within the narrow compass of the house (being less fortunate than the slave in the open field); one look at that cross, where Christ suffered, the Just for the unjust, when He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not His mouth, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, though He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; Christ Who when He was reviled, reviled not again, and threatened not when He suffered, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously; one look at that common hall, where He, the Lord of glory, was made a target for the insults of the Roman soldiers, who surrounded Him, buffeting Him, spitting in His face, mocking Him with a crown of thorns; one look at that cursed tree where He bore our sins in His own body, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes we were healed, one such look, if in faith and in the Spirit was it not enough then, and is it not enough now to shut the mouth of any of Christ's disciples, when suffering wrong, may he be a servant, or a freeman, (i.e., bondsman of Christ)? Oh, how little have we understood the words of the Apostle (who was to glorify God by his martyrdom upon the cross), spoken to those dear fellow-servants of his in Christ: "For even hereunto" [i.e., suffering for well doing] "were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps."

There is none who more deserves to be esteemed and respected than a Christian servant, who just fills his or her place, and glorifies God in it and adorning the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord, Who took the form of a servant, knows and will know how to honour such. But, on the other hand, there can be scarcely a more pitiable and disgraceful sight, even to common-sense people of the world, than Christian servants who utterly forget and deny their Saviour and Lord's character, by stepping out of their place, and trying to assume by their dress, manners, and appearance, a position which is exactly the opposite to that of Him, Whom they profess to be their Master and Lord. The Lord knows how to humble such, who thus bring disgrace on His Name, His truth, and His Gospel, instead of adorning them by their walk. I would earnestly commend to such a close meditation on the seven downward steps of humiliation of our heavenly Master, as they are given in the second Chapter of Philippians, verses 7 and 8.

I cannot conclude these remarks better than by giving to my readers a little account of a most touching incident in the case of a "poor, but rich" (Rev. 2:9) converted black slave, which happened about fifty years ago, some time before the abolition of slavery in the British possessions. It will furnish us with the best practical illustration of what has been said.

A slaveholder in the West Indies had amongst his black slaves one whom we will call John. One Sunday on which, according to the above mentioned "Consolidated Slave Law," every slave was free from work, John heard the Gospel, at some missionary station, many miles from his master's plantation, and was laid hold of by divine power and grace. His Master, who was a great enemy of God and His Christ, soon discovered the change that had come over his slave. From that time poor John was exposed to an incessant and harassing ill-treatment, but He bore it patiently, for he, like Stephen, looked off unto Jesus, Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame. His master had strictly forbidden him, to go to any more religious meetings. But poor John thought, that this was a case in which he ought to obey God rather than men. And the Sunday being, besides, his free day, he accordingly went to listen again to the gospel, walking by night many miles to the place of the meeting, to be back before daybreak. But John's absence was discovered, and on his open avowal of where he had been, his pitiless master had him tied to the triangle, and beaten, until the blood streamed from the lacerated body of Christ's faithful bondman. The barbarous slaveholder, and slave of Satan, then stepped to the bleeding sufferer, and asked him: "What can Jesus Christ do for you now?" "He helps me to bear it patiently, Master!" replied John. Enraged at his calmness, the slaveholder ordered him to be flogged afresh, until the body of the poor slave was one mass of wounds. Again the taunting challenge of Satan's slave was flung at the fainting freeman of Christ: "What can Jesus Christ do for you now?" "He make me very happy Master!" was John's answer. Again his inhuman tormentor had the terrible whip applied to him, when, seeing that his victim was drawing near his end, for the third time the sneering question was put to him: "What can Jesus Christ do for you now?" — "He teach me to pray for you, Master!" whispered the dying slave, and fell asleep, to enter into his Master's joy and rest.
"Master! we would no longer be,
Loved by the world, that hated Thee,
But patient in Thy footsteps go,
Thy sorrow as Thy joy to know;
We would — and Oh, confirm the power,
With meekness meet the darkest hour,
By shame, contempt, however tried,
For Thou wast scorn'd and crucified,"

"We welcome still Thy faithful word —
The cross shall meet its sure reward,
For soon must pass the little while,
Then joy shall crown Thy servants' toil,
And we shall hear Thee, Saviour say:
'Arise, my love, and come away;
Look up, for thou shalt weep no more,
But rest on heaven's eternal shore.'"
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me."