Christian Friend vol. 17, 1890, p. 25 etc.
Note 1 — Rev. 5:9-10|
Note 2 — Romans 2:7; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 6:12-19
Note 3 — 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Note 4 — Luke 23:41
Note 5 — Hebrews 3:6
Note 6 — Matthew 26:26
Note 7 — Canticles 8:6-7
Note 8 — John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7
Note 9 — 1 Timothy 3:6-7
Note 10 — Psalm 84:9-11
Note 11 — Luke 4:5-7
Note 12 — Colossians 1:24
Note 13 — Matthew 26:27; 1 Corinthians 11:25
Note 14 — Revelation 20:15
Note 15 — 1 John 2:20, 27
Note 16 — Hosea 14:8
Note 17 — Psalm 110:3
Note 18 — 1 John 5:18 20
Note 19 — Hebrews 3:1
Note 20 — Psalm 69:8-9
Note 21 — Hebrews 2:14
Note 22 — 1 John 5:7-8
Note 23 — Luke 24:29
Note 24 — 1 Timothy 3:16
Note 25 — Heb. 4:12-13
Note 26 — Romans 5:2-3, 11
Note 27 — Galatians 5:17
Note 28 — Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9
Note 29 — Exodus 24:17; Hebrews 12:29
Note 30 — Mark 9:49-50
Note 31 — Colossians 3:2
We have received the following communication concerning this scripture:
"Allow me to refer to your exposition of Rev. 5, on page 259 of The Christian Friend and Instructor (of last year). In great doubt myself for a long time as to how the passage should read, owing to the state of the authorities (and before the reading of the Sinaitic MS. was ascertained), I think — with A, and many cursives to support these two ancient witnesses — verse 10 must be regarded as definitively settled for 'them' and 'they' (instead of 'us' and 'we'); and that the true text of verse 9, i.e., omitting 'us,' is preserved by A and Codex Bergiae, with the AEthiopic to support it. The way, indeed the witnesses for insertion vary as to the place in which they insert the pronoun confirms the evidence of those that omit, combined with the fact that verses 9, 10 thus read give the least probable reading prima facie.
But, taken spiritually, there is, when, as I believe, the true text is restored, as above, and according to your note, a beautiful reason for the omission of the personal reference, without altering so seriously the persons referred to in the song. It is that given in the Synopsis, that it is not any particular class, but rather the value of the act (of redemption) which constitutes the motive for praise. They care not to specify themselves as the subjects of it, but their hearts are absorbed with the value of the work in itself, and the worthiness of Him who wrought it.
I say 'so seriously,' because if the true reading, as I am convinced it is, points to another class, as your note affirms it must, we lose the positive identification of who the elders are, and put the redeemed after the Church is gone into the place of rule, which is reserved for the heavenly saints and the two companies that are privileged, as cut off from the earthly portion, to have part in the first resurrection. (Rev. 20:4.) The place of the redeemed after the Church is gone is seen in Revelation 7.
Nor can ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς be truly translated 'on the earth;' it should be 'over the earth,' for it is the subject, not the place, of rule which is here indicated (the contrast of ἐν in a place, and ἐπὶ over a people or a land may be seen in 2 Samuel 5:5. Compare, in the LXX., Judges 9:8, 10, 12-15; 1 Samuel 8:7, 9, 11, also Matt. 2:22," etc.)
Having re-examined the subject we cannot doubt that our correspondent is right, and hence that the part of note two on page 259 (vol. 13), which refers the "them" and "they" of this scripture to another class must be cancelled. The point is so important that we are glad to make the correction, and to commend it to the attention of the reader.
Romans 2:7; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 6:12-19.
In Paul's writings eternal life is generally viewed in its full result, according to God's counsels; viz., conformity to Christ in glory. In John's gospel and epistles, on the other hand, it is looked upon either as a moral state, as in chapter 5:24, (where he that hears, etc., has eternal life, and is passed out of death into life), or as a present possession, as above, and in 1 John 5:12-13. The above passages from Romans and 1 Timothy may easily be understood if the distinction made is borne in mind. Thus in Romans 2:7 "eternal life" comes after "incorruptibility;" for this, not "immortality," is the exact rendering. Now, incorruptibility applies to the bodies of the saints in resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:53-54), and hence eternal life here is the eternal perfected condition of the saint in glory, according to Romans 8:29. This is a most interesting point, inasmuch as it shows that the apostle assumes Christian knowledge in this scripture. Romans 6:22 is also future. It says, "The end everlasting [eternal] life," and the expression must therefore be interpreted as in chapter 2. Nor is verse 23 an exception, as eternal life is in contrast with death, as the wages of sin, only here it is more abstract, in that our attention is directed to its being the gift of God, and thus not earned, as death is by sin. The apostle will therefore not have us forget that eternal life, in all its blessed fruition, is the pure gift of God's grace, and in Christ Jesus our Lord. Moreover, as has been written, "it is not merely that eternal life is the gift of God, but the gift of God is nothing less than eternal life." Taking now 1 Timothy 6:12, we see no reason for departing from the above interpretation. Timothy is exhorted to "lay hold on eternal life," and surely as the end and issue of the life of faith. Two considerations support this conclusion: first, the exhortation succeeds that as to fighting the good fight of faith, which must include the whole of the believer's pathway; and, secondly, the apostle adds the words, "Whereunto thou art also called," which could not mean less than the full issue in glory of the Christian life. In fighting the good fight of faith, therefore, Timothy was ever to have his eye on the goal (compare Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:2); and "laying hold" of that, he would be furnished with a mighty stimulus and incentive to persevere with all fidelity and courage in the good "conflict" of faith in which he was engaged. In verse 19 of this chapter the correct reading is, "That they may lay hold on that which is really life." It is therefore not exactly eternal life here. It is what is life before God in contrast with finding one's life in uncertain riches. (Compare Luke 12:15.) The rich were thus to be charged to put their trust, not in uncertain riches, but in the living God, to use their riches in view of their being but stewards, and thus of the future (for this is really the meaning of "laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come"); and in this way they would lay hold of that which was really life both now and in eternity.
1 Timothy 2:1-7.
The "alls" of this scripture are most interesting. The apostle exhorts that supplications, prayers, etc., be made for all men. The foundation of this precept lies in two great facts: first, that God is now presented to the world as a Saviour-God, who desires that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; and, secondly, that there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. In accordance with this attitude of grace toward all men on God's part, and the universal scope of the death of Christ (giving Himself a ransom for all), Paul is commissioned (as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher) to all. Not to the Jews only, but to the nations (the Gentiles); in fact, to all men. (Comp. Col. 1:23.) We thus see that Christ died for all, that God desires all to be saved, and that Paul was sent with the gospel to all; and hence it is that, in fellowship with the heart of God, and the object of the death of Christ, as well as with the apostolic mission, that believers are to pray for all men. But even while praying for all, the moment kings, and all that are in authority, are brought into view, the welfare of the saints in their worldly circumstances, as under human laws and government, is remembered. How true it is that God's affections and desires should govern those of His people!
The "green tree" in this scripture is Christ Himself, and the "dry" is the Jewish nation. Together with others, the women of Jerusalem followed Jesus on His way to Calvary, and, in the natural tenderness of their hearts they "bewailed and lamented Him." Jesus turning, bade them weep rather for themselves and for their children, on account of the judgment that would soon fall upon the unhappy and guilty city and people (vv. 29, 30); adding, "For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" That is, if such things, wicked malice, hypocrisy, unrighteous judgment, and a degrading death, were visited upon Him who was like a green tree (compare Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:7-8), what should be done to the people, who were as a dry tree, morally dead before God, without fruit or even leaves, and who were now committing their crowning sin in the rejection of their Messiah? For such a state, symbolized by a dry tree, there remained nothing but the axe and the fire. (Compare Matthew 3:10.)
This verse is more accurately rendered as follows "But Christ as a Son over His house," etc. To take it as it stands in the Authorized Version would make it mean Christ's, or the Son's, house; but it is God's house. This is clearly seen from the comparison drawn. The Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Jesus) was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was in all His house; that is, in the house of God in the wilderness. But though both alike were faithful, Christ is more glorious in His person than was Moses; for He built the house (see Matt. 16:18), and, moreover, having "built all things," He is God. Again, if Moses was faithful in all His house, it was "as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;" but Christ as a Son over His house. The glory of Christ thus outshines that of Moses, both as to His person and as to His position; and we also learn that as Son He is supreme over the house of God. (Compare John 8:35-36.) And we believers are the house, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (See Ephesians 2:22.) In the wilderness we are tested, and thus continuance or perseverance becomes the sign of reality.
The true reading in this passage is "gave thanks," and not "blessed," as in our version. But the variation is valuable as showing the meaning of "to bless" in similar scriptures. (See Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Mark 14:22, etc.) It is to bless God, or to give thanks to Him. (See Mark 8:6; Luke 22:17-19; John 6:11, etc.) The insertion of the word "it" after "bless" has obscured this meaning, and given occasion for the sacerdotal practice of consecrating the bread and the cup before distribution. The passage, moreover, in 1 Cor. 10:16 must be interpreted in the same way; i.e. it is the cup of blessing for which we bless God. E. D.
Without doubt this scripture is the language of the bride, the true remnant who become the bride, personified in this book as Jerusalem. This last chapter takes up and sets forth all the principles of the whole song; and hence it is that we are led back in verse 1 (though at the close of the previous chapter the bride rests in the happy consciousness of being possessed by the Bridegroom, and of being the object of His affection) to the time when all her desire was to find Him, and to be permitted to express her ardent love. In verse 5, after the exclamation, "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?" the Bridegroom reminds His bride that for all the blessing she has entered upon, yea, for her very existence as the object of His affection, and as the companion of His joys, she is indebted, wholly and entirely, to His grace. It is in response to this that she cries, "Set me as a seal upon Thine heart, as a seal upon Thine arm," etc. The heart and the arm (the shoulder probably) are, as ever in Scripture, emblems of love and strength, and may refer to the names of the twelve tribes engraved on the breastplate, and on the onyx stones on the shoulders, of the high priest. The meaning will thus be, Set me as a seal, symbol of security (for a divine seal can never be broken), upon Thy heart and shoulders, that I may ever be borne upon Thy divine love, and upheld by Thy divine power. The reason for this desire is given in the fact that "love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave [Sheol]: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."* These are figures to show forth the intensity of love. It is as strong as death. When death closes its fingers upon its victim there is no power upon earth that can unlock its grasp. And who can separate us from the love of Christ? When the grave receives its prey it closes over it, and shuts out every other object; and divine jealousy claims its object entirely for itself. (Compare James 4:4-5.) Moreover, it is so ardent that it can only be compared to the consuming and purifying effects of fire, "a flame of Jah," taking us back to the essence and magnitude of its character, for love and light are the words used to express the divine nature. This love is also inextinguishable, whether by the "many waters" or by "the floods." The bride will have learned this in her own experience, when she finds herself associated with the Bridegroom in the glories of the kingdom after the unequalled sorrows of that great tribulation, of which the Lord spoke when He said there had not been such "since the beginning of the world," "no, nor ever shall be." Lastly, we are taught that this love cannot be purchased. No, it ever has been, and always will be, a sovereign and divine gift; and on this very account it is both immutable and eternal. (See Jeremiah 31:3.)
*Some translate, "Its ardours are the ardours of fire, a flame of Jah." (See the French Bible, translated by J. N. D.) In the Revised Version it is given, "The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, a very flame of the Lord."
John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7.
The word rendered Comforter is difficult to translate. It is embodied in some hymns in its Greek form Paraclete, and is given in 1 John 2:1 as Advocate. Speaking generally, it means one who undertakes and manages the affairs of another. This is very interesting, especially if we remember that Christ is the Paraclete with the Father, and the Holy Ghost the Paraclete for the saints on earth. As such the latter has taken the place of Christ; and He is thus termed "another Comforter," one who (in contrast with Christ in this respect) abides with His people for ever. Two distinguishing features may be noted. The office of Christ as the Paraclete with the Father is limited to the believer's sins; and it is thus based upon what He is in Himself as "Jesus Christ the righteous," and on the fact that "He is the propitiation for our sins." The object of its exercise is the restoration of the communion which had been interrupted by sin, by producing self-judgment and confession. In the case of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete or Comforter there would seem to be no such limitation. It would rather appear that He undertakes all that concerns our interests as saints in our various divine relationships. It must not be forgotten, however, that the activity of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter in regard to our failures is dependent upon the action of Christ as the Paraclete above; and that, indeed, all His work here in testimony to and in the maintenance of the glory of Christ, in guiding the saints into all truth; in a word, in all His ministry, is carried on in connection with the ministry of Christ on high. In grace; both the Paraclete in heaven, and the Paraclete on earth, have become the willing servants of those whom the Father has given to Christ in order to secure their present safety, instruction, and enjoyment, as well as their perfected and eternal blessedness.
1 Timothy 3:6-7.
According to this scripture, two important things were to be observed in regard to those who desired the office of a bishop; that is, of an overseer of a local assembly; and two dangers are pointed out as the consequence of neglect of these qualifications. A bishop, among other things, must not be "a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." The word rendered condemnation is rather the ground, charge, or matter of accusation, on which condemnation is passed. (See Luke 23:40; Luke 24:20, etc.) This passage therefore gives a remarkable insight into the cause of the devil's fall. He was puffed up with pride, either tempted on the side of the position he occupied, or on that of his own beauty and excellency (see Ezekiel 28:11-17); and, on this account, judgment was passed upon him. The same danger, as the Spirit of God warns us, might beset a "novice" if he obtained office in the assembly. He might be lifted up with pride, and fall as the devil had fallen. The second thing is that the "bishop" "must have a good report of them which are without, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." Here the meaning is quite different. If one who occupied the place of rule in the assembly did not possess a good report of those that were without, he would soon incur reproach, not so much for the name of Christ as for his bad repute; and Satan would not be slow to come in and use this as a snare wherewith to entangle his feet: How often have both these dangers been realized in the Church of God! The lesson is, that we should never, under any pretext whatever, depart from these plain and positive instructions of God's word. E. D.
"Shield" in these verses would seem to be used, in one aspect, in a twofold sense. The true Israel have, as the results of all their exercises in passing through the valley of Baca, at length in Zion appeared before God. Their first feeling, wrought in their hearts by the Spirit of God, is that of dependence: "O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob." Then it is, "Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine Anointed." Behold, not ourselves, but the Christ, who is our shield; so that we regard "the face of Thine Anointed," not God Himself, as the shield. It is the believer presenting, and so hidden in, Christ before God; and this is the only true way of access, from Abel onward, whether for sinner or for saint. In verse 11, on the other hand, it is what the Lord God is — He is both a sun and shield; only it must be remembered that the Christ, God's Anointed, is the Jehovah of the Jews. (See Isaiah 6:5 with John 12:41; Isaiah 25:8-9.) It is only another proof that Christ is everything (Colossians 3:11, N. T.) and that, look where we will, it is His glory that irradiates every page, whether in the Old or New Testaments.
As to the question whether Satan had really the power which he here claims, it is, like every other, answered by the word of God itself. The point in the temptation, we apprehend, was to induce the Lord, if that had been possible, to take the sovereignty of the kingdoms of the world from Satan's hand, instead of from God's, and apart from the cross. This wile was instantly defeated by the invincible sword of the Spirit, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Passing onward to a later day, we shall find one who did receive his sovereignty from Satan. In Rev. 12:3 we have the vision of a great red dragon, who is declared in verse 9 to be "that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan," who has seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns (diadems) upon his head. In the next chapter (Rev. 13:1) we see a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns (diadems); and we read, in the following verse, that "the dragon gave him (the beast) his power, and his seat, and great authority." Without entering into details, as we hope to do in the exposition of the Apocalypse, we may say, that this beast represents the head of the revived Roman empire, and that he has all the forms of governmental power (for the number seven indicates completeness), and that ten kingdoms, the ten kingdoms of prophecy, as shown by the ten horns with their respective diadems, will form his dominion and own his sway. We learn then that Satan had at this period the sovereignty of the kingdoms of the world in his possession, and that he bestowed it upon one who worshipped him — as is evident from the second part of Revelation 13. But Christ, as we have seen, refused the gift from Satan's hands. He, the blessed, perfect, dependent One, would take nothing, whether the "cup" or the glory, but from the hands of His Father. And passing now still further on, we shall discover that it was only for a brief season that Satan was allowed to tempt man with his golden bait, and only for that brief season, in order to show out all the depths of man's evil heart before judgment fell both upon man and upon himself. God never surrenders His rights, or allows His purposes to be frustrated; and thus in Revelation 19 we behold heaven opened, and a white horse issuing forth; "and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns" (diadems). (Rev. 19:11-12.) At length the diadems are on the head of the rightful Sovereign, the One who has on His vesture, and on His thigh the name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Man is for ever discrowned, and Christ having waited in patience His Father's time, for the accomplishment of His glorious purposes, has at length all things put under His feet. On His head are MANY diadems; for the fulness of all dominion is His, and His by right. He who had been the humbled One is now the exalted One on earth, as well as in heaven.
In the consideration of this remarkable scripture, it should be noted that the word "afflictions" ("afflictions of Christ") is never found elsewhere in connection with our blessed Lord. But it is constantly used of the saints, and indicates the trials, persecutions, tribulations, etc., that come upon them from without in consequence of their confession of Christ, and of fidelity to Him in the midst of an evil world. The point is important, as conclusively showing that these afflictions of Christ are altogether apart from His sufferings on the cross, when making atonement. They are rather the sufferings He endured in His whole pathway of doing the will of God, but viewed here as encountered through His love to the Church. "He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it," and this entailed upon Him these afflictions which came upon Him through the instrumentality of man in the hands of Satan. The apostle Paul through grace was animated by the same love, however inferior the degree; and he could thus write, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (2 Tim. 2:10.) He laboured and suffered for the same object as his blessed Master. This gives at once the key to our scripture. He here says, "I rejoice in my sufferings for you," that is, for you Gentiles — sufferings which came upon him peculiarly in connection with his ministry of the truth of the one body, exciting as it did the deadly enmity of the Jews. Inasmuch, therefore, as the word of God was not "completed" until the truth of the Church was promulgated, Paul as its minister suffered in an especial manner for Christ's "body's sake, which is the Church," and could thus say, since he participated in them, that he filled up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ. They were Christ's own afflictions, and Paul filled up, so to speak, their measure. In principle, if a servant now suffers in the same way, from the same motive, and for the same object, he would be sharing in, if not filling up, that which is behind of these afflictions of Christ. E. D.
Matthew 26:27; 1 Corinthians 11:25.
In regard to the "cup," it has, as an expression, a very distinct meaning in Scripture. (See Ps. 11:6; Ps. 16:5; Ps. 23:5; John 18:11, etc.) From these and many other passages it clearly signifies what one may be passing through, whether of blessing or sorrow, together with the experience attendant upon it. Thus in Psalm 23 it was an overflowing cup of blessing; while in John 18, for example, it is an expression for all the sorrows which came upon our blessed Lord in connection with His rejection and death, all of which He would receive, not from the hand of man, but from the hand of His Father. The cup on the Lord's table had its origin doubtless in the passover cup; and the Lord Himself has affixed its meaning to it in the words, "This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins;" and the cup therefore is for ever associated with that precious blood of Christ which met and answered all God's claims; yea, glorified Him in all that He is, and which cleanses the believer from all sin. An empty cup could not signify this; only it must be remembered that the real point of departure in its typical teaching is in giving thanks — blessing God for it. Then, of course, the cup must be full. It may also be noted that Scripture never speaks of "the wine." It is always" the cup;" because, indeed, the Holy Spirit would ever associate it in our minds with the cup of judgment which the Lord took and drained in the accomplishment of redemption. When therefore we rejoice before God in all the blessedness set forth by the cup to our souls, we are at the same time reminded of the infinite price at which our adorable Lord rd and Saviour has purchased our redemption.
To infer that possibly the names of some in this vast multitude were found written in the book of life is utterly unwarrantable, as well as at the same time to overlook the plainest teachings of Scripture on the subject. All believers, whether of past dispensations or of the church period, will be raised or changed at the return of our Lord. (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.) Those that suffer martyrdom during the sway of Antichrist, as also those who "had not worshipped the beast, neither his image," etc., will be added to the first resurrection. (Rev. 20:4-6.) The millennial saints will pass (in what way Scripture does not reveal) into the new earth. (Rev. 21:3.) There will consequently be only unbelievers before the great white throne. This, moreover, is plain from the statement of the grounds of judgment. All the dead are delivered up, whether by the sea, death, or hades. Not one escapes. All alike, small and great, stand before "the throne;" and all alike are "judged every man according to their works." This is the positive evidence adduced to justify the irreversible sentence of everlasting judgment. But God is, and ever must be, justified when He speaks, and clear when He judges. Accordingly another kind of evidence is adduced before judgment proceeds. Every man's works were the positive ground of condemnation; and now the fact that the names of those about to be assigned to eternal woe were not found in the book of life is brought forth to prove that they had no title whatever to escape their doom. On positive and negative evidence alike they are shown to be amenable to the sentence of the lake of fire. It is thus a scene of unsparing judgment upon the unconverted dead of all ages down to the close of the millennial kingdom.
1 John 2:20, 27.
Attention to the exact language employed will at once show that the "Holy One" in verse 20 cannot be the Holy Ghost. It is an unction "from the Holy One." Now every believer knows that the Spirit of God is Himself the anointing [unction]; and consequently it could not be said, as in verse 27, that we received it from Him. The "Holy One" will therefore mean either the Father or Christ; for, as we learn from John's gospel, both the Father and the Son are said to send the Comforter. (See John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7.) There is nothing in the context to indicate whether it is the Father or the Son that John had in his mind in writing "from Him." In fact, both are so habitually one in his thoughts that we often find in this epistle one named where we might, grammatically speaking, expect the other. (See, as an example of this, John 2:28-29.) We can the better understand this if we recall the words of our Lord Himself: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."
This scripture, when rightly understood, is most interesting and instructive. The chapter opens with an exhortation to Israel to return to the Lord their God with words of confession and supplication. Together with this there is the renunciation of all other helpers, whether of Assyria, on whom they had so often leaned to their own confusion, or of false gods, whose impotence they had so often proved in the time of their calamities. Israel was now learning that in Jehovah alone "the fatherless findeth mercy." This state of repentance and confess on draws forth as ever an instant response of forgiveness, restoration, and blessing. (vv. 4-7.) Thereon comes our scripture. First we have the effect of grace on the heart of Ephraim, who says, "What have I to do any more with idols?" Then Jehovah, who ever delights to mark the action of His Spirit on the hearts of His people, speaks: "I have heard and observed him." The next clause again is the language of Ephraim: "I am like a green fir-tree." And then once more Jehovah speaks, to remind Ephraim of the source of his new-found blessing, and says, "From Me is thy fruit found" — a needed instruction for God's people at all times. The last verse, we apprehend, is a lesson drawn from the whole book, as it speaks of Jehovah's ways in the government of His people. To understand them divine wisdom is requisite; and blessed is it for those who can say with the prophet, "The ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein." E. D.
If the translation of this scripture be difficult the sense may easily be gathered. It is altogether a remarkable psalm. In verse 1 we have the exaltation of Christ at the right hand of God as the answer to His rejection on earth; and the period of His session there is indicated by the words, "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Verse 2 passes over the whole of the present interval, the day of grace, even over the actual circumstances of His appearing in glory, as well as the destruction of the beast and antichrist, also the deliverance of His people as recorded in Zechariah 12-14, and exhibits the Messiah as already established in Zion. Hence the words, "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." This will at once explain the phrase in the succeeding verse, "The day of thy power." Messiah has come, and He has established His throne upon His holy hill of Zion; and it is consequently the day of His power, when in His majesty He will "ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness," and when "thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things." (Psalm 45:4.) It is at this time, under the influence of the display of His power, their hearts also being touched, that His people will be willing, will be as "freewill offerings;," i.e., will offer themselves willingly for His service. "The beauties of holiness" should be probably rendered "in holy attire," only the idea of the beauty or magnificence of such a spectacle must be added. After "holiness" there should be a stop, the last clause reading, "From the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth." The womb of the morning represents the dawn of. the new day, ushered in by the reign of the Messiah; and "the dew of thy youth" would seem to mean that the youths, who will spring up to follow their Messiah in the early morning of His kingdom, will be as the dew, either in the sense of being for blessing, as the dew is for the earth (see Micah 5:7), or in that of being as numerous as the dew-drops of the morning. Both of these senses should probably be combined. The reader will notice the interchange of persons in verses 4, 5. JEHOVAH hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; and then it is, ADONAI at thy (Jehovah's) right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath — this verse being a direct address to Jehovah. It adds to the interest of the psalm to remember the use of it made by the Lord Himself in dealing with the Pharisees as to the person of the Christ (Matt. 22:41-45); and also by the apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in setting forth the true character of the priesthood of our blessed Lord.
1 John 5:18 20.
It is a wonderful conclusion, which we find in this scripture, to the whole epistle. Three times the apostle says, "We know;" and in each case the word employed indicates inward conscious knowledge; that is, not only knowledge of the fact as revealed, and testified to, in the Scripture, but this knowledge also made good in the soul in the power of the Holy Ghost, so that we have the inward conviction and certainty of its truth, and in such wise that living in the enjoyment of it, we are moulded and governed by it. First, "we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not," etc. This is according to John's presentation of the truth (see chapter 3:6-9), confining himself entirely to what is born of God, being, what is often termed, an abstract view of the case; so that thinking only of the believer as possessing a divine nature, he can truly say that, so regarded, he does not sin. The next clause reveals his liability and his danger, and hence John adds, "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." Next we have, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness" (or, "the wicked one"). It is of immense moment to possess this certainty (compare John 8:38-45); and having it, as every believer should, we can never be deceived as to the character of the world; for knowing that we are of God, we also know that the whole world lies in, is in the power of, and morally exists in, the wicked one. For all who have this inward consciousness, an impassable barrier is raised between them and the world, as morally impassable as that which existed between Lazarus in Abraham's bosom and the rich man in torment. Lastly, "We know that the Son of God has come," etc. And having come He has "given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true." Here the word "know" is different, the reason being that the Son of God is presented to us as the object of faith (compare Gal. 2:20), and thus, while we may inwardly apprehend Him and His presence, it is ever true that we know Him objectively. The reality and the truth of His person is in this way guarded. (See 1 John 1:1.) Then it is added, "And we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ." The Lord thus said, after speaking of the coming of the Comforter, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20.) The Son is "divinely one" with the Father, and we, having a divine nature and eternal life, are in the Son, as to our place before the Father, as also in His own relationship, as we know from His words, "My Father, and your Father." (John 20:17.) He, moreover, is in us, and this brings in our responsibility before the world. But this travels beyond our scripture. Having said that we are in Him that is true, John concludes: "This is the true God and Eternal Life." He who is the Son, and Jesus Christ, is, blessed be His name, no less than the true God and eternal life. What grace! And what a privilege to "know" this even now! E. D.
According to the truth of this epistle believers are seen as a company of pilgrims — Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of their profession, being on high — journeying on through the wilderness to the rest — God's rest — which had been promised, and which remained for the people of God. (4:9.) It is to this, in fact, they were "called." This calling is "heavenly," because it comes from heaven and leads to heaven. This is strikingly set forth by the apostle Peter, who says, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by [in] Christ Jesus," etc. (1 Peter 5:10.) No doubt there is at the same tine a contrast implied. The Jews had an earthly calling, a calling to an earthly inheritance; but the Christian calling, as these Hebrew believers are reminded, is of a heavenly character — one connected with heavenly blessings, a heavenly inheritance and heavenly hopes. Hence it was that, looking for nothing here, their hearts and expectations being outside of this scene, that some of these faithful saints could take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had "in heaven a better and an enduring substance." (Heb. 10:34.) In 1 Corinthians 15 we learn that believers themselves are heavenly. (1 Cor. 15:48.) The first man (Adam) is of the earth, earthy: the second Man (Christ) "out of heaven." (See New Translation.) All who belong to Adam follow his order; and all who belong to Christ are after His order. And so completely is this the case, that not only are believers heavenly in character, but they will also "bear the image of the heavenly;" that is, their resurrection bodies will be of the same kind and order as the glorified body of our blessed Lord. (See Philippians 3:21.) Nothing short of the recognition of this is Christianity. The inference is evident, that heavenly ways should distinguish a heavenly people; and this will be in proportion as we seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and our minds are on things above, and not on things on the earth.
It is in no wise to be inferred from this scripture that natural relationships may be refused. To be "without natural affection" is one of the features of the "perilous times." (2 Tim. 3.) What we have here is wholly different. Before the commencement of our Lord's public ministry He was, as we read, "subject unto" Joseph and Mary. In this relationship, as in every other, He was perfect, and, as such, our blessed example. But when, after His baptism and anointing, He entered upon His service, come as He was to do the will of God, He, as the true Nazarite, had "the consecration of His God upon His head;" and hence, until His work was finished, He was devoted solely and entirely to the glory of God. The claims of God henceforward absorbed Him, the zeal of His Father's house consumed Him; and consequently He became a stranger unto His brethren, and an alien unto His mother's children. When therefore on one occasion some one interrupted Him, and said, "Behold,. thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee," He answered, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?"* etc. When, moreover, at the marriage feast of Cana of Galilee His mother came to Him with a suggestion as to the wine, He replied, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." But when His work was ended, one thing only remaining to be accomplished, He, in the infinite tenderness of His perfect love in the relationship towards Mary which He had condescended to assume, committed her, ere "He bowed His head and gave up the ghost," to the care of the disciple whom He loved. The application to ourselves is evident. Every relationship in which w e are set is to be diligently observed. (See Eph. 5:22; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18; Col. 4:1.) If, however, the Lord calls to special service His claims are paramount, and, it might almost be added, exclusive. Accordingly, when He said to one, "Follow me," and he replied, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father," Jesus said unto him, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." So likewise Levi at the word of Christ "left all, rose up, and followed Him." (Compare Deuteronomy 33:8-9.) True that every believer is now a Nazarite, a Nazarite from his birth (the new birth); but it is not every believer who is a Nazarite according to Numbers 6, one, that is, who, in the energy of the Holy Ghost, is devoted, as Paul, for example, was, wholly and entirely to the Lord and His claims. To this privilege but few attain, even though it is proffered to many. If, however, we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts.
* We do not speak here of the symbolic import of these words.
The real and true humanity of our blessed Lord is distinctly asserted in this scripture; and it is necessary to hold fast, in this as much as in a past day, that He was "very man" as well as "very God." Satan is ever assailing the one or the other of these precious truths; and he does this in. very subtle ways. To maintain, for example, as Irving did, that our Lord had a nature of the same kind as ours derived from Adam, is to undermine the foundation truth of the atonement. It cannot be said, according to Scripture, that He became "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh:" and the very word here used (rendered "took part';) guards us from any such false thought. The nature Christ was pleased to take was holy (see Luke 1:35); whereas that of Adam, when he came forth from the hand of God, was innocent, not holy; and after the fall it was sinful. The Lord Jesus having taken human nature, He will wear it, as we know from Scripture, for ever, the same nature as when He was down here upon the earth, but in a new condition, inasmuch as it is as Man that He was glorified. We could not say, therefore, that He became one with us, as that would imply that He became one with sinful men. Thus in this chapter (Hebrews 2) it is most carefully pointed out that it is only with His people that He identifies (not, becomes "one with," but identifies) Himself: it is with "many sons" (v. 10), with those who are "sanctified," with His "brethren" (vv. 11, 12), with the "children" (vv. 13, 14), etc. But through grace we do become "one with" Him, whether considered in connection with nature and life (John 17:20-23), or as members of His body. (Eph. 5:29-32.) Moreover, he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.
1 John 5:7-8.
The Revised Version is entirely justified in omitting the words, "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one"; and also the words "in earth" in verse 8. The omitted words are not found in any MS. previous to the 15th century; in fact, only in four MSS. out of some 150. And they are not quoted by any Greek theologian before the 14th century; so that no impartial mind could for one moment accept their authenticity. The internal evidence, moreover, favours the same conclusion. In verse 6 the apostle says of Jesus, the Son of God, "This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." Then should follow, as a careful examination will show, the words, "For there are three that bear witness" (taking up the three things mentioned in verse 6), "the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." The introduction of verse 7 entirely interrupts the argument. The subject of this threefold testimony, we may add, is that God "has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." E. D.
Only twice is the word here translated "constrained" found in the New Testament. In the other scripture it is used in exactly the same way. Lydia "constrained" Paul and Silas to abide with her (Acts 16:15), just as the two disciples "constrained" our blessed Lord, saying, "Abide with us." It is a strong word, sometimes in classical Greek going so far as to do violence to anyone; and thus it may he understood, in the scriptures referred to, as constraining in the sense of taking no denial. Hence the disciples, as also Lydia, might be said to have compelled compliance with their request from their very urgency. How such a constraint must have delighted the Lord's heart; and with what joy He would respond to a petition so presented. Three other times "constrained" is met with in our English version. (Matt. 14:22; Acts 28:19; 2 Cor. 5:14.) In the first two the word means to force or compel. The Lord "forced" the disciples to get into a ship, using His authority to compel them to do as He commanded; and Paul was "forced" by the circumstances, as he thought, seeing no other way out of the difficulty, to appeal unto Caesar. Peter uses the same word in another form when he exhorts the elders to take the oversight of the flock of God, not by constraint, not as being "forced" to do it, but willingly. The last example is where the apostle Paul says, "The love of Christ constraineth us." Here the word is quite different, and is translated in Luke 22:63 "held" "the men that held Jesus." And this is exactly the meaning; and consequently the apostle sets forth that the love of Christ "held" or possessed him in such a way as to leave no other option than that of entire devotedness to Christ. It will be seen, therefore, that while the word means to hold, the moral idea is well conveyed by "constrain." Blessed state for any of us to be in, it may be added, when the love of Christ so dominates our souls as to constrain us to live for Him and for Him alone, unto Him who has died for us and risen again! E. D.
1 Timothy 3:16.
There is a very remarkable passage in Timothy, the force of which is very frequently overlooked. The apostle would teach Timothy how he ought to behave himself "in the house of God;" and he then presents the formative power of all true godliness in the words, "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." This is often quoted and interpreted as if it spoke of the mystery of the Godhead, or the mystery of Christ's person. But it is the mystery of godliness, or the secret by which all real godliness is produced — the divine spring of all that can be called piety in man. "God manifest in the flesh" is the example and the power of godliness, its measure and its spring. Godliness is not now produced, as under the law, by divine enactments; nor is it the result in the spirit of bondage in those (however godly) who only know God as worshipped behind a veil. Godliness now springs from the knowledge of the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. It takes its spring and character from the knowledge of His person as "God manifest in the flesh;" the perfectness of His obedience, "as justified in the Spirit;" the Object of angelic contemplation, and the Subject of testimony and faith in the world; and His present position as received up into glory. This is how God is known, and from abiding in this flows godliness. J. N. D.
Altogether this is a very remarkable scripture, as setting forth the all-searching character of the word of God, when it is applied to us in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is necessary to observe that it is its action on Christians which the apostle has in view. He has been pointing out that there remaineth a rest for the people of God, that it is not therefore to be looked for here in the wilderness, but that it is future, that God's rest, in fact, into which He is bringing His people, is in heaven. Joined to this is the exhortation, "Let us labour [use diligence] therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example [as shown out in the case of the children of Israel] of unbelief." Thereupon he proceeds to speak of the provision God has made to search our hearts by the living action of His Word upon our souls, which, penetrating into all the secret recesses of our being, detects every tendency to unbelief and departure from God, and reveals everything cherished there unsuitable to Him. Nothing whatever can escape it, when once it finds entrance into our hearts and consciences. It is, indeed, the light which makes everything manifest, as well as that which, sharper than any two-edged sword, cuts down between the most hidden parts of our nature, and exposes everything to view. Then it is that the words follow: "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight," etc. The reader will observe this striking connection between God Himself and the Word. We might have expected "its sight"; but no, it is "His sight." The reason is, God and His word cannot be disjoined. When He speaks, when His word comes home to us, it is Himself we hear speaking; we are brought into His presence, and it is only as being consciously there, that we can judge everything in the thoughts and intents revealed by the Word as contrary to Him, according to His holy nature. Even God's own word remains a dead letter until it comes to us as a revelation of Himself and of His mind. This at once explains to us why we read, in verse 13, "His sight," and also that "all things are naked and opened [laid bare] unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Truly we are, in this sense also, in the light as God is in the light, and we can, blessed.be His name, be there in perfect peace and liberty, when we remember that "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Romans 5:2-3, 11.
It is well known that the words "rejoice," "glory," and "joy," in these verses represent the same word in the original; and that the true rendering is to "boast." The beautiful connection in the apostle's argument is, to say the least, disturbed by the needless change which our translators have made. Thus, after showing that, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;" that through Him "also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand," the apostle adds, "and 'boast' in the hope of the glory of God." We are not in it yet, but having the sure and certain hope of its possession, we can boast of it as in prospect. But what of the persecutions and trials by the way? The answer is: "We 'boast' in tribulations also"; knowing that God takes them up, and uses them for our needful discipline and blessing. Moreover, during this process, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." The proof, as well as the measure of this love, is seen in the death of Christ, and in the death of Christ for us as "without strength," "ungodly," "sinners," and "enemies." This leads the apostle to show what God will yet do, on the ground of what He has already done. A legal person argues, that God's attitude depends upon what he is for God; but grace concludes, as in this scripture, what God will be, and do, from what He has manifested Himself to be, and from what He has done, in the death of His beloved Son. Hence we read, "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." The close of the argument is now reached: "And not only so, but we also 'boast' in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation." We "boast" thus in hope of the glory of God; we "boast" in the tribulations that beset us on our journey to this consummation of our hope; and finally we "boast" in God Himself, who is the blessed fount and source of all the blessing we have received, or shall receive, and who, in the display of all that He is as already revealed in Christ, will be the blessed Object of our "boast" throughout eternity.
The translation of the last clause of this verse, as may be seen from the Revised Version, is altogether faulty. Taking it as it stands, it would teach that both the Spirit and the flesh are equally impotent, or rather that the result for the believer of their mutual antagonism is that he cannot do anything, that, whatever his desires, the desires of the new nature, even though indwelt by the Holy Ghost, he is utterly helpless, cannot do the things he would. An examination of the context (v. 16, for example) shows at once that such a thought is wholly alien from the mind of God; and, in fact, the words should be rendered, "that ye should not do those things which ye desire." This at once clears away the difficulty. The Galatian saints were not walking according to the character of their calling. Losing the sense of grace, they had put themselves back, through the influence of Judaizing teachers, under law; and the consequence was, that the flesh assumed its old dominant place in their lives. (v. 15.) The only remedy for this, as the apostle points out, was to "walk in the Spirit." (Compare Rom. 8:13.) Thereupon he takes occasion to bring before them the abiding character of the flesh, and its irreconcilable contrariety with the Spirit. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." The two are, and must ever be, opposed. The flesh will always be evil, and cannot be ameliorated, improved, or changed; and the Spirit, blessed be God, is holy; and it is impossible therefore that the two can be in agreement. The flesh "lusteth" against the Spirit, ever antagonizing, and ever seeking, in opposition to the Spirit, to gratify its own inclinations. The Spirit, on the other hand, is ever in opposition to the flesh, and seeks to repress its activities, and thus to lead the believer according to God. The question then is, To which shall the believer yield? If by grace he walks in the power of the Spirit, he will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh (v. 16); but if, on the other hand, he surrenders himself to the dominion of the flesh, there is then, as verses 19-21 indicate, no sin, however abominable, into which he may not fall. Give the Spirit His place in our souls, He will produce the beauteous fruit mentioned in verses 22, 23. But then, as the apostle warns these saints, it is a characteristic of those "that are Christ's," that they "have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." If, therefore, any were allowing the sway of the flesh, let them take heed lest, after all, they had but deceived themselves with a vain profession, and did not really belong to Christ. If we live in the Spirit, let it be seen — for this is the force of the exhortation — by our also walking in the Spirit. E. D.
Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9.
The question as to the "fellows" of the Messiah is easily answered by the scriptures in which the expression is found. The Psalm, whence the citation in the Hebrews is taken, refers wholly to Christ as the King of Israel. This is clear both from its connection with Psalm 44, and from the language employed. In verse 2 His beauty and grace, as well as His being the blessed object of God's everlasting favour, is touchingly presented. From verses 3 to 5 we behold Him going forth to conflict with His enemies for the establishment of His throne; and in the following verse the whole truth of His person is stated, together with the consequence, that His throne as God, not His throne as Messiah, is for ever and ever. In whatever character Christ is seen in the Scriptures, the glory of His person cannot be concealed. Then, in the next verse, we behold Him again as the Christ of God: "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." Here the kingdom has been founded, Messiah sits upon His throne, and the character of His rule is that He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. It is on this account that God anoints Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows, for in so reigning He vindicates, and makes good, the name of God in His righteous government. The "fellows" therefore will be those who are associated with Him in His Messianic sway; that is, in His kingdom on earth. If we now turn to Rev. 14 we shall discover who these are. The one hundred and forty-four thousand (the details of the interpretation have been recently given in these pages) are the believing remnant found in the land during the frightful sway of antichrist, who, having resisted all his seductions, are brought through that time of unequalled sorrow, and who are now seen enjoying the fruits of their victorious suffering with the Lamb on Mount Sion. Of these it is expressly said, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." (v. 4.) There is, therefore, no foundation whatever for the common theological contention, that the "fellows" are other and previous kings of Israel. The word indeed might be properly translated "associates" or "companions." The meaning of the term in the Psalm must also govern, whatever the special object of the quotation, the sense in the Hebrews; and the introduction in the next chapter of the "brethren," and "the children which God hath given me," confirms this conclusion. It is of great interest to add, what is often noticed, that when the Messiah is looked upon in His humiliation, and as about to be smitten, He is termed the "fellow" of Jehovah. The word is not the same as in Psalm 45; it is one that speaks, if possible, of still more intimate fellowship. When, on the other hand, Christ is presented in His exalted glories, His people are termed His fellows; but, as ever, when His people are associated with Him, His own pre-eminent place is guarded. He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.
Exodus 24:17; Hebrews 12:29.
It is more than probable that there is an allusion in the latter scripture to the former; and it is very evident that the two scriptures are morally connected. "The sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring [the word might be rendered 'consuming'] fire." This was the glory of Jehovah as revealed in relation to Israel in connection with Sinai; in a word, it was the expression of His holiness as set forth in His righteous requirements. But His people were sinners, and could not, therefore, satisfy His just demands. The consequence was that this glory became in Jehovah's government, as based upon the law, a "consuming fire" in the judgment that was continually visited upon Israel because of their repeated transgressions. Moses thus said, "We are consumed [a kindred word] by Thine anger." (Psalm 90:7.) In the passage in the Hebrews the apostle says that "our God is a consuming fire." It is to be distinctly observed that it is of "our" God, the God of Christians, that he thus speaks. After the declaration that God is about to shake not the earth only, but also heaven, he proceeds, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear," and this for the reason that the God whom we serve is a "consuming fire." Once more then the "consuming fire" is an expression of the holiness of Godin testing all our service, and in the necessary judgment of all that is evil in it. (Compare 1 Cor. 3:13.) Grace was unknown at Sinai; but while now God is known as the God of all grace, this in no wise weakens His holiness. He is light as well as love, and, whether in our worship or our service, it should never be forgotten that our God is holy, and consequently a "consuming fire" when He has to do with evil. In the holiness of God, indeed, lies our eternal security. E. D.
The general meaning of this somewhat difficult scripture is soon apprehended. It was no longer a question now of following a Messiah on earth, or of the present establishment of His kingdom. Christ was in fact already rejected, and the cross was in full prospect. (See vv. 9-11, 30-32.) Rejection, therefore, would be the portion of His disciples; and, consequently, the constant and unsparing application of the cross. Everything was to be sacrificed rather than lose entry "into life," and incur the penalty of "the fire that never shall be quenched." It was thus eternity that was now in view, instead of the glory of Messiah's kingdom on earth; and hence there was no alternative between eternal gain and eternal loss. This will account for the distinction between the two clauses of verse 49: the first comprises all men, the second only the true followers of Christ. "Every one" — there is no exception "shall be salted with fire." That is to say, God will test, and search in order to test, every soul of man by His holiness as applied in judgment; for it is of this that fire is a symbol. Even Christ Himself was so tested, as shown out in the holy fire that fed upon the sacrifices offered to God under the old dispensation. The effect for the sinner will be the eternal fire; while for the believer who is in Christ nothing is lost save the dross. But whether for the saint or the sinner the standard is the same; the former finds the answer to it in Christ, the latter being without Christ will perish. Then, secondly, "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." None but real disciples of Christ are here contemplated, their lives being looked upon as a sacrifice to God. (Compare Ephesians 5:1-2; Philippians 2:17.) This will be the more readily seen if it is recalled, that it is especially in connection with the meat-offering, type of the perfect devotedness of Christ to the glory of God in all His pathway (including, no doubt, His death, as in Philippians 2), that salt is mentioned. (Lev. 2:13.) Now, salt is the energy of grace in the soul, linking it in all its activities with God, and preserving it from the contamination of evil. To borrow words: "Salt is not the gentleness that pleases (which grace produces without doubt), but that energy of God within us which connects everything in us with God, and dedicates the heart to Him, binding it to Him in the sense of obligation and of desire, rejecting all in oneself that is contrary to Him … Thus, practically, it was distinctive grace, the energy of holiness, which separates from all evil, but by setting apart for God." A life without the "salt" would degenerate into human grace and amiability, and would thus be characterized by "honey" — that which was absolutely forbidden "in any offering of the Lord made by fire." (Lev. 2:11.) We are next told that "salt is good;" that is, "the condition of soul" which is produced by the energy of grace. The activity of grace within begets a state corresponding to its character. (See 2 Tim. 2:1.) But if the salt, through the lack of watchfulness and of self-judgment, have lost its saltness, wherewith shall ye season it? "It is used for seasoning other things; but if the salt needs it for itself, there is nothing left that can salt it." When we have lost devotedness to God, together with our Nazariteship, separation from evil, our state is hopeless, unless indeed God once more come in with His powerful grace to restore the soul. The remedy against the danger is to have salt in ourselves, and to have peace one with another. The more we cultivate true holiness, the more we are apart from all evil, the more we shall be in peace with our fellowChristians; for it is then that the Spirit of God, being ungrieved, works mightily in us, and enables us also to use all diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.
In this scripture the word "affection" scarcely represents the meaning of the original. It refers to the mind and thoughts rather than to the affections. Some examples of its use will make this apparent. When the Lord rebuked Peter, saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan," He added; "for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men" (Mark 8:33); that is, to give two other translations, "thou mindest not," or, "thy mind is not on the things that be of God." So in Philippians 2:5, where we read, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (See also Phil. 3:15-16, 19, etc.) It is thus evident that the apostle's exhortation refers to our minds and thoughts; and the connection of the passage will explain its force. In Colossians 2:20 we are seen associated with Christ in His death, whereby we have died out "from the rudiments of the world," and have, as a consequence, only the place of dead men in this world. Through death with Christ, if through grace we have entered into it, we are morally outside of man, religious or otherwise, and man's world. But we are also "risen with Christ," and thereby are introduced into a new scene. We belong, through association with Him in resurrection, to the place where "Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." (Col. 3:1.) Consequently all our objects and interests are there; our "life is hid with Christ in God." It is on this basis, on the foundation of what is true of us as associated with Christ in death and in resurrection, that the exhortation is given, "Seek those things which are above," etc.; and again, "Have your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Our minds therefore should be conversant with the things that belong to that new place into which we have already been introduced. If it be asked, What are these things?' the answer is easily given. All the glories of Christ, the various glories of His person and offices, unfolded as they are by His personal and relative names; all the Father's things, which are also the Son's (John 16:14-15), the manifold displays of glory connected with the Father's counsels for the exaltation of His beloved Son; and also all the spiritual blessings with which we are already blessed in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1:3.) All these wondrous things are to fill and occupy the mind of Christians; and hence, as in Philippians 3, to "mind earthly things" is to contradict the truth of our profession, as being a practical denial of having died, and having been raised, with Christ. But if Christ possesses our hearts, our "minds" will always be engaged with Him and His things in the place where He is. E. D.