Scripture Notes and Queries

F. G. Patterson.


In Editing this Volume the Editor has found that the experience of several years' study of the Word of God has been helpful. This experience has enabled him to add to what had been written; or render it, he trusts, more clear and helpful.

Trusting, in the Lord's gracious love and goodness, that it may be found helpful to some, it is compiled and sent forth in this form.

Blackrock, May, 1871.


  1. In what way do "All things work together for good," etc., even adverse things? (Rom. 8:28)
  2. What does Baptism signify? What is the Teaching of Rom. 6?
  3. In what way does Phil. 1:6 bear upon the question of the Perseverance of the Saints?
  4. What is the Teaching of Prov. 1:26? Who is "Wisdom"?
  5. Does the Holy Ghost dwell in Christendom, or in the true Church ― the "body of Christ"? (Eph. 1:22-23; Eph. 2:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Cor. 4:17)
  6. In what way are true believers, under the curse, by putting themselves under law, as a rule of life? (Gal. 3:10)
  7. What class of persons are contemplated in Phil. 3:18-19?
  8. Is Atonement in the act of death only, on the Cross?
  9. How does God "create evil," as Isaiah 45:7 states?
  10. What is "leaven" of Matt. 13:33?
  11. What is entering into temptation (see Matt. 26:41)?
  12. How do the angels ascend and descend upon the Son of Man? (John 1:51)
  13. How did Christ learn obedience by the things which He suffered? (Heb. 5:8)
  14. Is Zaccheus' language, "Behold, the half of my goods," etc, that of self-righteousness, or of a hear touched by grace? (Luke 19:8-9)
  15. What is the difference between being quickened by the Holy Ghost, and sealed? (John 7:37-39; Eph. 1:13-14)
  16. What is the "Olive tree" of Rom. 11?
  17. What is the meaning of 1 Peter 1:2; and why is "obedience" placed before blood?
  18. "Without the camp," of Heb. 13?
  19. What is the Teaching of the Parable of the unjust Steward? (Luke 16)
  20. Is prayer to the Holy Ghost a Scriptural thought? (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20; Rom. 8:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:27)
  21. Does the judgment-seat of Christ embrace unbelievers, as well as believers? (2 Cor. 5:10)
  22. How is one to endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"? (Eph. 4:3)
  23. If the Holy Ghost did not dwell in believers in Old Testament times, how do you account for Isaiah's statement (Isa. 63:10-11), "His Holy Spirit within him;" and Peter's (1 Peter 1:11), "The Spirit of Christ which was in them," i.e., the Prophets?
  24. Are "the Saints" and "the faithful" two classes in Eph. 1:1?
  25. What means "Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence"? (Eph. 1:8)
  26. Was Peter wrong to "go a fishing," and did he not draw others into it, etc.? John 21:3)
  27. What do we learn in the Lord's addressing Peter as "Simon, son of Jonas"? John 21:15
  28. How is one to know that one is baptized with the Holy Ghost? (Eph: 1:14; 1 Cor. 12:13)
  29. What is the "perfect man," of Eph. 4:13?
  30. What is meant by eating and drinking "unworthily" of the bread and the cup? (1 Cor. 11:29)
  31. Does John 13:2-4, and Matt. 26:20-26, refer to the same supper? Was Judas present? If so, why did the Lord admit him ― He knew his evil heart?
  32. Is righteousness God's gift, as life? (Rom. 5:18)
  33. Does sealing take place immediately on believing? Can a person be a believer and not sealed in this dispensation? (Eph. 1:13)
  34. What does the number "five" signify in Scripture as a symbol? (Lev. 26:8)
  35. What is the meaning of "obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine which was delivered unto you"? (Rom. 6:17)
  36. What is the force, in their contexts, of the word, "For many are called, but few are chosen" in Matt. 20:16; 22:14?
  37. What is the difference between the "anointing" and "sealing" of the Spirit? (1 John 2:27; Eph. 1:13; 2 Cor. 1:22)
  38. Are the two last verses of 1 Cor. 5 now practically applicable to those gathered to the Lord's name?
  39. If the Old Testament saints had life, what was the object of renewing the sacrifices?
  40. What is the meaning of "the Author and Finisher of faith"? (Heb. 12:2)
  41. What does "firstborn of every creature" mean? (Col. 1:15) 69
  42. What does "all fulness" mean (Col. 1:19)
  43. What are the "sufferings," of Col. 1:24?
  44. What is "the dispensation," of Col. 1:25?
  45. What is the "mystery which hath been hid"? (Col. 1:26)
  46. What are the "Hidden Manna" and the "White Stone"? (Rev. 2:17)
  47. If "all Scripture" be "profitable," what edification is to be learned from the story of Saul and the Witch of Endor? (1 Sam. 28)
  48. If Enoch and Elijah were taken up to heaven, what is the meaning of John 3:13?
  49. The believer's confession of sin explained. (1 John 1:9)
  50. Why are saints told to make their calling and election sure? (2 Peter 1:10)
  51. What is the meaning of the Covenant or Testament of Gal. 3:17, and Heb. 8, 9? Are Christians under any covenant?
  52. What is the "reward" of Col. 2:18?
  53. Explain, "Lie not one to another" of Col. 3:9
  54. Who are the five foolish Virgins? (Matt. 25)
  55. What is the dispensational teaching of the "days" in John 1; do they correspond with the "days" of John 20 and 21?
  56. Is it right to continue to ask for spiritual blessings for oneself and others, when the requests have been laid before the Lord?
  57. What is the "ministry" of 2 Cor. 4:1?
  58. Why, in 1 Tim. 3:15, do we find "the living God" ― why "living?"
  59. Is there any Scripture to lead us to believe that the Holy Ghost will dwell in us forever? (Eph. 1:13-14)
  60. What is the meaning of Rev. 20:4, and the "first resurrection?" etc.
  61. Does Isaiah 49:9-10, apply to Jews or Gentiles?
  62. What are "governments" in 1 Cor. 12-28?
  63. How do you reconcile the apparent contradiction in Numbers 23:19 and Ex. 32:14?
  64. Why is the baptism of the Holy Ghost referred to so early in the Gospels? (Matt. 3:11)
  65. What is to "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God"? (Col. 4:12)
  66. What is to "grieve" and what to "quench" the Spirit of God? (Eph. 4:30, 1 Thess. 5:19)
  67. What is the difference between the bitter experience of Rom. 7:14-24, and the conflict of flesh and spirit in Gal. 5?
  68. What is the difference between Matt. 16:19 and 18:18?
  69. What is the distinction between the "Kingdom of God" and the "Kingdom of heaven"? (Matt. 13; Luke 17:21)
  70. What is the correct thought of Heb. 12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn"? Does the Holy Ghost repeat Himself, or is there a distinction?
  71. What is the proper teaching of 1 Cor. 11:5? Is there any ground for women praying in an ordinary prayer meeting; not in the assembly?
  72. What was the state of the Old Testament saints compared with that of Christians? (Ezek. 18:31)
  73. What is the meaning of the parable of the debtor who was forgiven, and then put in prison for the debt, and what is its application to us, if Jewish? (See Matt. 18:23-35)
  74. Did Paul's ministry of the "one body" only commence when he was a prisoner in Rome? (Acts 26:22-23; 1 Cor. 16:8-10)
  75. When is a person sprinkled by the blood of Christ? (Heb. 12:24)
  76. Is the unbeliever quickened?
  77. Then "the veil will not be rent for them" (i.e., the Jew). What Scripture can be given for this?
  78. It is said, 'the blood is always presented to God.' Is there no application of the blood to us in Heb. 10:22?
  79. Suppose there had been no blood-shedding, might there not have been the blood (qy. water), for condemnation?
  80. Would it then be correct to say, that "the moment the water of the word has reached the conscience of a sinner he is clean?
  81. "Sprinkled from an evil conscience," is not sprinkling of blood upon persons, and for sins? (Heb. 10:22)
  82. Would a Christian be attracted by those things which are pleasing to the flesh?

Scripture Notes and Queries

1. "M. T. P." writes ― "I should be glad if you would say a few words on that text in Romans 8:28, 'All things work together for good to them that love God.' Do the accusations of the enemy, and of our own hearts, work together for our good? They are not pleasant to bear. In what way do they work for our good?" (Rom. 8:28.)

A. ― The passage supposes the consciousness of the perfect liberty of grace in which as believers we stand ― "No condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" ― "The law of the spirit of life … hath made me free from the law of sin and death," ― "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit ― The Spirit dwells in us, and "witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God. If children, heirs, etc.; but we are not yet in possession of the inheritance, except as knowing it is ours, and we find ourselves in a groaning creation, still subject to the effects of man's sin: we are linked to it by a body still subject to death, while waiting for the adoption, to wit, its redemption. We have been redeemed; our bodies are indwelt by the Spirit, which links us with Christ in heaven; in the body we are linked with a groaning creation. We have been saved in hope of the glory that comes, we learn in patience to wait for it; and in such a state of things we do not know what to pray for as we ought; but the divine feeling produced in our hearts by the Spirit, expresses itself by a groan which cannot be uttered; but into which the Spirit enters, and God, who searches the hearts, finds in us the mind of the Spirit, who "makes intercession for the saints according to God." In such a state of things, although we do not know what to pray for as we ought, we do know that all things work together for good to them that love God.

Your question, "Do the accusations of the enemy and our own hearts work together for good" would not have place here; although God may and no doubt does turn them to account for our blessing, because the enemy has been silenced for ever as to our acceptance with God. God Himself has proved Himself "for us," and has justified us, so that the Holy Ghost asks in verse 33, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" There is none. "Who is he that condemneth?" There could be, nay is, no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. As to the accusations of our own hearts, we have nothing to satisfy us in them; if we had, it would be a bad sign. We know that no matter how deep the discovery we make of the evil of our hearts, Christ has been under it all, and has put it away for ever. We do not think badly enough of ourselves. Once we have discovered that there is no "good thing" in us, and with the full knowledge of what we are, Christ died for us, and that He has delivered us completely and for ever; we begin to think not at all of ourselves ― we then have done with ourselves altogether. The Spirit, who dwells in us, is grieved with the slightest shadow of failure or sin, and does not, nay could not, for the time, lead our souls into the enjoyment of our place and portion. He turns us in on our own hearts that we may see the evil and exercise self-judgment as to it; this we may confound with the "accusations of our own hearts."

The verse then shows us, that in such a state of things, God makes all things work together for our good (a precious consolation in the midst of trial and difficulty) ― and so our heart is kept at rest, in the consciousness that His ends are accomplished in and for His people.

2. "N., Glasgow," asks ― (1) Baptism; what does it mean ― death only ― or death and resurrection? (2) Does the 6th chapter of Romans teach Baptism of water? and what is the teaching in that chapter.

A. ― (1.) In Baptism one is always baptized to something. In Christian Baptism, as many of us as are baptized to Christ, are baptized to death. We are buried with Him by Baptism to death (Rom. 6:4). The thought of resurrection follows, in coming up out of the water; but is not the primary thought of Baptism, which is a going to death; we are baptized for death ― The thought is death and burial.

(2.) In Rom. 6 the Apostle refers to Baptism of water, to show that in it the person had been baptized to death, and that it contradicted the thought that one might consider himself alive in a sinful state, so as to continue in sin, that grace might abound. The chapter fully refutes the unholy thought that the full, free, boundless grace of God, which constituted the believer righteous by the obedience of another (ch. 5:19, 21), is a principle of sin. The argument is, that if we have part with Christ at all, we have part with One who has died to sin, and who is alive to God. We have died with Him to sin and we cannot be alive to that state to which we have died ― we cannot be alive to sin and dead to sin at the same time; the objection contradicts itself. Our Baptism was to Christ's death. When Christ died, He died to sin; He was, in His death, discharged from it; He came out of the position to which sin attached as a substitute. Alive in resurrection, He has nothing to do with sin, and lives to God only. We should then consider ourselves as having died to sin, and having come out by His resurrection from the sin for which He died, and as alive to God only; in a state outside the former, and so to walk in newness of life. We have a right to do so, because He died for us. The subject of the chapter is practice, not standing; and in the allusion to Baptism, he gives us God's thoughts, as to what Christian Baptism expressed as an initiatory ordinance.

But it is to be observed that it is never a sign of what is already possessed; but of what the baptized is about to possess. It is the reception of persons into the sphere of blessing where the Holy Ghost dwells, and the privileges of Christianity are, by those who are there already; it is the act of the baptizer. The baptized are received in order to partake of the blessings of that place of privilege. Instance the day of Pentecost; when Peter exhorts the Jews to "Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for (είς) the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). Here it is plain that they were to be baptized with a view to (είς) forgiveness, and the reception of the Holy Ghost. They were not baptized as possessing these things, but in order to receive them. So also we find every case in Scripture. Paul is baptized that his sins might be washed away (Acts 22:16). We have been baptized for (είς) death (Rom. vi), not because we are dead and risen already. No doubt we find that many who were born of God were baptized, but they never were baptized because of this, but were received by those within into the sphere of blessing here on earth ― the House of God.

3. A correspondent would be glad to know how far the doctrine of the "Perseverance of the saints unto the obtaining of eternal life" is borne out by the passage, "He who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of redemption," or, Jesus Christ.

A. ― The passage (Phil. 1:6) shows the perfect confidence there was in the Apostle's heart, that God who had begun a good work in them, that is, the spirit of devotedness to the interests of the Gospel (v. 5) as all other precious fruits which he saw in the Philippians, would continue it until the day of Jesus Christ. His confidence was sure, because it was God Himself who was thus working in them, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure (c. 2:12). The fruits which he had seen were the proof of the existence of the eternal life which God had implanted in their souls. There cannot be the fruit of righteousness, till the righteousness is possessed (c. 1:11); or the fruit of the Spirit, till the Spirit is within (Gal. 5:22), and "By their fruits ye shall know them." In all these cases it is merely the happy natural outflow of that which the Christian possesses; and is to the glory of God. Hence, I do not like the expression, "Unto the obtaining of Eternal life." We never find the obtaining of it a future thing in Scripture. To be sure, the full unhindered enjoyment of it ― "reigning in life;" and its full fruition is always, as we well know, a future thing; but the possession of it is always a present thing to the believer. It may be clouded and hindered, but it is there. He has obtained it as he has obtained forgiveness of his sins, by faith in Christ.

Life and Propitiation come to us through the death of Christ (see 1 John 4:9-10). ― When we hear His words and believe on the Father who sent Him, we have eternal life (see John 5:24; John 17:3). We are born again by His Word, applied to our consciences by the Holy Ghost. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (James 1:18); "Being born again … by the word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). Thus we have a life in us in Christ, which as sinners we never possessed. We were dead in sins, Christ came into the place of death for sins; in His death He put away sin, and bore the sins of many (Heb. 9:26-28). God raised Him up from the dead, and has, by the same power, quickened, or given life to us, together with Christ thus risen, "having forgiven us all trespasses (read carefully Eph. 1:19-23, Eph. 2:5-6, and Col. 2:13); leaving them behind us as it were, in the grave of Christ, thus bringing us into a new place in resurrection before Himself. Christ risen from the dead, and gone up to heaven, is our life, which is thus "Hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-4); and is ― blessed be God ― as secure as He! We have still the old nature (we had nothing else once) to treat as an enemy, to mortify, and subdue; but our life is secured for ever. Hence, it is not a question with us now of obtaining life; but of possessing Christ, who is our life; and thus safe in God's own hand. "Because I live, ye shall live also." (John 14:19.) The fruits will be seen somehow, wherever there is life in the soul; still the fruits are not to be an object to occupy us. Let others see them ― and let us be occupied with Him, who is our life ― risen, victorious over death, sin-bearing, judgment, everything, and its object and measure. If so occupied we will have but few doubts of the final issue ― rather treating them as they deserve, as of the enemy. Faith, keeping the door of our hearts, will admit no such intruders.

4. "A humble believer, Glasgow," asks ― What is the teaching of Proverbs 1:26? Does that passage mean that God will rejoice over the punishment of the wicked? Does "Wisdom" in the context, mean the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost? etc, etc.

A. ― In the passage it is "Wisdom" who speaks crying in the streets to the simple, the scorner, and the fool, to turn at her reproof, and to love not their own ways; and that Wisdom's spirit would be given them, and Wisdom's words made known to them. (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, v. 7.) When they would therefore be reaping the fruits of the folly they had sown, under the retributive government of God in this world, in their fear and calamity they would call upon Wisdom to guide them, but they would not be heard ― it would then be too late to learn Wisdom's ways. Wisdom would then laugh at them as it were (it is a figure of speech), for what they were suffering; having set at nought Wisdom's counsels and reproof, when she cried to them to learn her ways.

The Book of Proverbs refers to the government of God here below, on the principle that, "Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). This is true of saint or sinner. Grace saves the vilest, but the government of God is over all. It is on the principle that if a man squanders his money, or his time, or his health, he will reap the fruit of his ways in the loss of these things, etc. The grace of God in salvation never sets aside these principles of His dealings with men; nor does this marvellous grace alter the fact that every man reaps the fruits of his ways under God's government. A true Christian may do something for want of discretion, and want of hearkening to Wisdom's words, which he may have to repent of all his days.

As to your question, Who is it who speaks? It is plain from 1 Cor. 1:24 that Christ is the "Wisdom of God;" and that He is made unto us wisdom (v. 30). (Read Prov. 8:22-35, and compare with John 1:1-2.) Christ's word, that is, the expression of Himself, is to dwell in us richly in all wisdom. The Christian, too, is exhorted to walk in wisdom toward them that are without ― the world; redeeming the time (Col. 3:16; 4:5).

It is plain that Prov. 1:20-23 is not a Gospel invitation at all. Hence the danger of using Scripture out of its true place and connection. The passage does not teach that God win laugh at the punishment of the wicked, and the rejector of Christ. The divinely taught mind shrinks from such an idea. Still the passage has no doubt often been used to waken up souls to the invitations of the Gospel, with much real effect.

5. "W., Oswestry, Salop," writes, ― "I find that some Christians maintain that the Holy Ghost dwells in Christendom. Now I have always thought … that the Holy Ghost dwells exclusively in the Church. I would be so glad if you would give me your thoughts about this," etc.

A. ― I think that a right understanding of the distinction between the Church as the "Body of Christ" (Eph. 1:22-23), unto which believers are baptized by the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 12:13), and thus united to Christ, exalted and glorified in heaven (1 Cor. 6:17); and the "House of God," a "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:21-22), in the world, will make the matter in your question simple and plain.

When Christ was glorified as Man to heaven, the Holy Ghost (not previously given, see John 7:39) descended from heaven and took up His abode in and with the saints, on the day of Pentecost, as God's house. (Acts 2.) The Church thus begun, and set up as God's witness and abode through His Spirit, is styled "the House of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). This "House" was a co-extensive thing at the descent of the Holy Ghost, with the "Body," its other aspect, and was the true thing which God Himself fitly framed together; a member in which was a living one, and in union with Christ the Head, by the Holy Ghost. But we find that after its being set up, men began to build on the foundation, wood, hay, stubble; as well as gold, silver, precious stones, etc. (1 Cor. 3), and as a consequence the House, as man built it, began to assume vast proportions, and entirely disproportionate to the Body, the true thing. But still, the Holy Ghost did not leave the House, and this House still was, as far as man's responsibility went, "God's building." "The temple of God and the Spirit of God dwelled! in you" (1 Cor. 3:9, 17); i.e. collectively those built together were a temple; quite a different thought from the body of the believer being the temple of the Holy Ghost, as in 1 Cor. 6:19. The House of God soon became what the apostle speaks of in 2 Tim. 2:19-21, and which he likens to a "great house" containing vessels to honour and dishonour; quite a different state of things from its primary state, and which characterised Christendom ever since; and at which judgment has begun (1 Peter 4:17).

The Holy Ghost in the first instance, baptises all believers into one Body (" There is one body and one Spirit," Eph. 4:4), uniting them to Christ as Head on one side; and God dwells amongst them as a habitation through His Spirit on the other. He dwells in a "House" or "Habitation" here on earth, and all who profess the name of Christ are responsible for the presence of the Holy Ghost; although not, of course, "sealed" as the true believer, and indwelt by Him. Thus we often find, as the other day in Italy, a remarkable work of the Holy Ghost, where there may not have been previously a single living member of the "Body of Christ."

A right understanding of the Church as the "Body of Christ," composed of living members, and the "House," or professing Church, is the key to much of the teaching of the Epistles. The word "Assembly" (the true word wherever you find "Church" in the English Bible), has a double application. If we look on high it is the Body of Christ ― "The Assembly which is his Body" (Eph. 1:21-22); if we look below the Assembly is the House (1 Tim. 3:15). The difference lying between union of living members by the Holy Ghost to Christ in heaven, and God having come down to dwell in a habitation on earth.

6. "O.M.A.B., Boyle," asks for replies to the following questions: ―

(1) Tell me the meaning of Gal. 3:10.

How can it be said of saints, justified sinners by faith in Jesus, even though they should make the law their "rule of life," as they say, that they are under a curse? To be sure, such practically deny their oneness with Christ in resurrection; they are rendering themselves incapable of living in the power of the risen life, but this does not alter the fact that they are one with Christ ― risen, ascended, and seated in the heavenlies, and that God looks at them as such. How, then, can it be said they are under a curse?

A. ― The Apostle is not speaking of the standing of persons, but is showing the effect of the law upon all who put themselves under it, or are striving to live on that principle in their relationships with God. That they are in fact putting themselves back in the state to which the curse of the law applies, and consequently putting them selves under the curse, for the simple reason that they do not fulfil it, and it curses all who fail to do so. If a Christian puts himself under the law, he must be consciously only in the position to which it refers; i.e., he must be "in the flesh" (Rom. 7:5). Whereas the standing of a Christian is "not in the flesh but in the Spirit (Rom. 8:9), and, as a matter of course, he is not realising his place as risen with Christ. The law applies to a child of fallen Adam, responsible to God as a sinner, and to none else. It pursues its claim upon him as far as the death of Christ. There, the believer, as having died with Christ, disappears from its pursuit, and it can go no further. It has no claim over one who is dead, and has thus eluded the uncompromising grasp of the law, and is now alive in another state, in Christ risen from the dead. So that, if a Christian puts himself under it in any way, he practically denies the place where Christianity has set him, and cannot consciously be in his true position before God. Of course then he breaks the law ― (Who ever kept it as alive in that state?) ― and it curses, without distinction, all who do so!

This is quite a different thing than if Paul was pronouncing upon the standing of a Christian, as God sees him, "in Christ." Impossible that in such a position he could be under a curse; and were he realising it, he could not put himself back into a condition to which the curse of the Law applies. When consciously there, he walks, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; and the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him who does so (Rom. 7:4), but never by being under it.

7. (2.) What class does the Apostle speak of in Phil. 3:18-19?

A. ― I believe whenever the Apostle writes such solemn words and warnings as these, that he has his mind upon those who have professed the name of Christ, but who, in their worldly fruitless lives, plainly show that it is a mere profession without reality, and are thus the greater enemies to the Cross of Christ ― joining to the name of Christ a life which had the things of earth for its object, instead of that which filled the soul of Paul, a Christ in heavenly glory, who had been rejected by the world.

Doubtless the end of such would be utter "destruction" not merely the "destruction of the flesh" of 1 Cor. 5:5, to which you allude. Such solemn words as these, while searching to all consciences, have in view the mere lifeless professor in the outward universal Church, and are never used to stumble the true believer, or to throw the faintest shadow of a doubt on the certitude of his perfect, eternal, unalterable security in Christ. But when the walk is careless and disobedient, and one sees that souls are satisfied with the knowledge of grace, without seeking to grow up to Christ in all things, it is blessed to have such solemn words to search the conscience deeply, and to provoke the Christian to make his calling and election sure, by adding to his faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (see 2 Peter 1:5-11), and walking suitably to his high and holy calling.

I am daily more deeply impressed ― may the impression be deeply engraved upon the hearts of both writer and reader ― that in our walk as Christians we should strain every nerve in practical Christianity and obedience to the Lord, as though our soul's salvation depended entirely upon ourselves; and yet with the perfect consciousness, at the same time, that it does not depend on ourselves at all. This is so important in a day of much knowledge of the full free grace of the Gospel, and much high-sounding profession, and, alas! but little thorough reality or true-hearted devotedness to Christ. A yielding of ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God! and a bringing of every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ!

8. In reply to a communication from "Elo, London": ―

There is no subject in Scripture which demands more an exercised heart and a worshipping and adoring spirit, than that of which you have written. It is not a subject for a cold, doctrinal analysis, but one for a heart which has had grace given to see something of the deep need of the soul for that which Christ passed through on His cross; who, with a chastened and reverential spirit, would seek to learn the meaning in some measure, if it could not learn it in its depths, of that unparalleled moment, which, once passed through, could not be repeated.

With such a state of soul, much can be learned through grace, and I believe the more the soul understands what passed on the cross, the more solid will be the peace which flows from it. With the mere knowledge of the death and blood-shedding of Christ, forgiveness, shelter from judgment, may be and are known; but there will not be the solid abiding peace with God, till the soul understands in some measure (Who could fathom its full depths!) the meaning of the cry which issued from the soul of Christ on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" That (to us) fathomless cry expressed the position, according to its truth, in which His holy soul stood at the time when He was enduring the judgment of God about sin! It was a moment when the whole moral nature of God, truth ― majesty ― righteousness ― holiness, against and concerning sin, burst forth in its fullest power and expression, and discharged itself upon the head of Jesus! It was a time when the moral nature of God about sin was so brought out, and exhibited, and vindicated, that He can turn towards a fallen world with the fullest display of love in righteousness, and declare Himself a just God, in justifying those who believe, whosoever they be, and whatsoever be the ruin in which their sins have placed them; and do this without the least compromise of His nature in doing so! It was a time when Christ was drinking to the dregs the cup of divine and unmingled wrath ― the cup which expressed the divine judgment of God against sin ― when Christ was forsaken of God; His soul bearing directly the inflicted judgment of God.

Oh for a worshipping spirit to gaze upon Him at that moment. To behold Him drying up, as it were, the river of death and judgment of God upon sin, that His people might pass over dry-shod. Not one sigh of Christ — not one sorrow of His holy life, but is of infinite value to us; but it was at this unequalled scene that atonement was made: it ended in His death. Death consummated the work, but the act of death alone must not be dissociated from the previous scene. If so, it would separate it from the bearing of the judgment of God about sin. The death and blood-shedding were the witnesses to this, but the cup of wrath was drained and finished, when the death of Christ completed the works

Simple souls do not distinguish this, while they rest in peace on the cross ― the death ― the blood-shedding ― the being made sin ― the being made a curse. And in all these rightly; without entering into the meaning of that which God alone can fully know. They know that by means of death they are redeemed ― that they are justified by blood ― by His death they have life ― by the shedding of His blood they have remission. His blood it is which makes atonement for the soul. They are reconciled to God by the death of His Son. But to confine atonement merely to the act of death would indeed be to err. It would be to omit the fact of the divine judgment of God about sin, which was borne to the full by Him when forsaken of God; when He cried and was not heard (Ps. 22:2). This Psalm gives us the feelings of His holy soul on the cross at the time when the circumstances narrated in the Gospel took place, in which verse 1 of the psalm is quoted. If we take verses 7 and 8, and compare them with Mark 15:29-31, nothing can be plainer. It was when He made His soul an offering for sin, when He bore sin judicially before God. Simple souls look on the work as a whole, and rightly so, and with adoring hearts, they rest upon it as undergone for them, without entering fully into its meaning. With such, one would pray that the feeling may indeed be deepened, and a more worshipping spirit flow daily from what they have gained. But when the question is before the soul, it is well to guard against confining atonement to the bare act of death which was the climax and accomplishment of the work, and thus forget that to which Scripture attaches such deep and pre-eminent importance.

I would add, in conclusion, that God does not call upon a sinner to believe in anything that Christ did, but to believe in Christ. He knows what He did, and accepts the sinner who believes in Him according to His own knowledge of the value of Christ's work, and not according to the knowledge the sinner possesses of it; still it deepens and strengthens the believer in the knowledge of God and His grace, as the soul comprehends how the judgment of God for sin has been borne by the Son of God ― how He ended in Himself that to which the judgment attached; and rising out of the dead, is the One in whom every one believing in Him lives.

9. In reply to "J. M'M., Airdrie," with reference to Isaiah 45:7 ― "How does God create evil?"

From chapters 40 to 48 of the prophet Isaiah, it will be clearly seen that there is a great question between Jehovah and the idols of Babylon. The Lord declares that He had raised up Cyrus, King of Persia, the "righteous man from the east," to deliver His people Israel, in the face of and in the midst of this idolatry (consult 2 Chron. 36:22-23; and Ezra 1:1-4; and many other passages), and the idols of Babylon.

But there was then a danger also to be met, lest this Persian king or his people, might attribute to their own idol gods of Persia this deliverance and victory over Babylon and her gods and idols (see an example of this in 2 Chron. 25:14-16; 18:23).

We are told that the Persians were famous for a two-fold system of idolatry ― Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. And so Jehovah declares His pre-eminence over all these principles which the Persian mind had deified, and with which it was familiar. It does not convey the thought that Jehovah directly creates evil; but it establishes His divine pre-eminence as God, above principles which are mere creatures or abstract qualities, and which the Persians held as gods; and to which he might attribute his victories.

Apart, too, from all this, God is Creator; and if He permits in His wise purpose, a creature to work its own will, still He is Creator, and He made the creature, and permits it. No one in any sense is above Him, nothing can be carried on against Him. He allows evil to exhaust itself, and then His goodness ― nay, Himself, is manifested in overruling and counteracting it.

10. "T. S., Crewe." ― In reply to your question on Matt. 13:33: ―

You will find it a rule in Scripture, that leaven is generally used as typical of evil, whether in doctrine or practice. For instance, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees… Then understood they how that he bade them, not to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6, 11, 12). See also Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1. In the last verse we read, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

Paul writes to the Corinthians, with regard to evil practice, "know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" (1 Cor. 5:6.) And to the Galatians, with regard to evil doctrine, subversive of Christianity, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9).

In Matt. 13:33, we are taught in one of six parables which follow that of the sower, a similitude of the kingdom of heaven, in its new mysterious form, which was about to be introduced on the rejection of the King. For one ρeculiar and striking characteristic of the kingdom of heaven in mystery is that the King is not here. It begins at the ascension of Christ. This was some of the "things new" which a scribe, instructed in the matter, would now bring out of his treasures, added to the "things old" which the prophets had aforetime written about the kingdom of heaven (v. 52). It had been said that it would be "as the days of heaven upon earth" (Deut. 11:21), and of the throne of the King, a His throne (should be) as the days of heaven" (Ps. 89:29); again, the Gentiles should know that "the heavens do rule" (Dan. 4:26).

Now all this state of things was entirely set aside for the time, because of the rejection of the King ― of Christ. And instead of all the blessings consequent upon His reception, a far different state of things would be introduced. The enemy would come and sow tares amongst the wheat in the world, or, as it is called, "the field" (v. 38). The outward appearance the kingdom of heaven would then assume, would be that of a vast sheltering power, given under the figure of a tree, which would shelter the birds of the air; or, as they are interpreted to be, the emissaries of the wicked one (see vv. 4, 19, 32). And again, as our parable tells us, doctrine or profession would spread through the three measures of meal, or the sphere of the nominal profession of Christianity till the whole should be leavened. One has only to lift up his eyes, with but a small amount of spiritual intelligence, on the state of things in Christendom around him and see what has come to pass.

11. "Eva" asks, — "What did the blessed Lord mean when He said to Peter, 'Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation?' What is entering into temptation? (Matt, 26:41.)"

A. ― The Lord desires His disciples to "watch and pray," instead of which they slept and prayed not, and when the hour of temptation came they fled · Peter, who was so confident of his own strength, saying, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee," most signally failed. What brought him into the judgment-hall? Why did he thus "enter into temptation?" ― this was entering into temptation. He had not been told to do so. In verse 58, Peter followed Christ "afar off," and "went in and sat with the servants to see the end;" he "entered into temptation." There he was at that moment ― flesh unjudged and trusted in ― prayer and watchfulness wanting ― a moral distance between him and Christ ― temptation entered upon, and unhallowed companionship sought. What a fit vessel was he at that moment to be the sport of Satan.

How often do the Lord's people thus fail? Instead of distrusting themselves, they enter into this or that, and when the time of trial comes, there is failure and a practical denial of Christ. The flesh has been unjudged, and leads them where the Spirit never would have led.

Thus we see many around us ― with unjudged flesh ― no moral nearness to Christ ― temptations of one sort or another sometimes unthinkingly entered upon ― an infidel publication opened and read ― an association of one kind or other taken up ― unhallowed companionship sought, or fallen in with, without divinely given moral courage to resist it ― the ear opened to a suggestion of one kind or other which is known to be subversive to divine truth ― and thus the poor, weak vessel becomes a stranded one on the shores of infidelity; or the clear divine testimony of one who might have been a faithful, firm, and devoted disciple, is lost to Christ, through the machinations of an ever watchful enemy.

All these things, and many more of a like nature, come under the term "entering into temptation." It is the exercise of one's own will and the disregard of the will of the Lord ― self is trusted in, and "wisdom from above" unsought.

It would be a useful question to ask oneself, with regard to everything in which one is engaged ― whether of a religious nature, or the business or other occupations of life, ― Am I sure that Christ has sent me here? ― would He have me engaged in this association or that occupation? ― would He have me read this book, or take part in this or that folly? If one cannot satisfactorily answer to the Lord, and to our conscience before Him, such questions, depend upon it we have engaged in that which is the exercise of our own wills, and thus have "entered into temptation." We cannot count upon the result if we do these things. No doubt, God will take care of His own to the end ― of this I am sure ― but I cannot count upon Him if I "enter into temptation." I may have to learn my folly, like Peter, by a deep and shameful fall. O, for a more thorough and growing distrust of self! If this was more fully felt, we would experience but little of the shameful failures which we have to mourn.

How can I expect to be preserved from contamination if I enter into some place, or companionship, or occupation which the Lord would not sanction, and to which He would not have me go? As long as I am in the path of obedience, I can count with the utmost confidence upon the care and protection of the Lord; He charges Himself with all the rest when I am there. But the moment I get out of this path, I have left the place where He would have me, and where I could count with all confidence upon His care and love.

Depend upon it, the more we know, the more we will distrust self. The more knowledge the more prayer; the more will our sense of dependence upon the Lord grow and increase, so that we can never move one step aright until we know His mind and will.

I have answered your question at length, with the earnest desire that we may be led to seek the paths of life with a single eye, and avoid "entering into temptation;" "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

12. In reply to "M. S., Lyndhurst," with reference to John 1:51: ―

The first chapter of John's Gospel is a magnificent unfolding of the person and personal titles of the Lord Jesus, from His existence as the Word of God ― the eternal Son ― till His millennial glory as Son of Man; His relative characters of High Priest, Head of the Church, and Messiah, being omitted. It begins by showing that He was God, then that He became flesh, and concludes by showing Him the Son of Man ― God and Man. Nathanael at the close of the chapter, gives us a striking figure of the faithful of the Jewish nation at the end of this age, before the introduction of the Millennium, who own the Lord Jesus when He appears as the "Son of God," and "King of Israel," according to His title and person in the second Psalm, "Thou art my Son;" "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." The Lord Jesus answers, that he would not have to wait until that day to see His glory, but that "henceforth (this is the force of the word, not 'hereafter'), ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." In other words that the Son of Man was even at that moment the object of the attention and ministry of the most excellent of God's creatures. By and by He will reign in His full Melchisedec character ― "a Priest upon his throne … and the Lord" will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel" (Hosea 2:21-22). He will be the connecting link between the heavens and the earth, when all things in heaven and earth shall be gathered together in Him (Eph, 1:10).

13. "In what sense did Christ 'learn obedience by the things which he suffered'! (Heb. 5:8.) How is this to be taken?"

A. ― It was an entirely new thing for the glorious Son of God to learn obedience. He who commanded all things from all eternity came into this world of sin, and took the place of obedience, and in a pathway of suffering in which He never yielded to temptation ― "He suffered being tempted" ― never yielded ― He learned what it was in this world to obey. We learn obedience by the subjection of our wicked hearts and wills to God. He learned it as one with whom it was a new thing, and who had a perfect will, but who laid it aside ― ("not my will but thine be done") who submitted to everything, obeyed in everything, and depended on God for everything. His obedience ended in death rather than fail in faithfulness or obedience to His Father. How contrary to the first Adam was the second in all this! And the Christian is "sanctified unto the obedience … of Jesus Christ." May we have grace to be conformed to Him and to obey!

14. "Eva" writes, "'And Zaccheus stood and said unto the Lord, Behold, the half of my goods I give unto the poor: and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold' (Luke 19:8-9). Do you think this the language of self-righteousness, or of a heart touched by the grace of God?"

A. ― It is plainly the language of a benevolent and conscientious heart without the knowledge of salvation, which the Lord brought that day to Zaccheus' house. The tone of Zaccheus is as different as possible from that of the self-righteous Pharisee who "stood and prayed with himself," in ch. 18:11-12. Here was the case of a man who was truly in earnest. Neither his diminutive stature nor the crowd around the Lord hindered him. Would that we might see many as truly in earnest as the blind beggar and Zaccheus! The Lord Jesus, the good Shepherd, called His own sheep by name; He said, "Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at thy house."

Zaccheus tells the Lord what had been* the habitual practice of "an honest and good heart," which had yearned after better things; but still, however blessed it is to see human righteousness where it exists, there was no recognition of this when it was the question of bringing salvation to him ― "This day is salvation come to this house. … For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

{*It may be, doubtless, the expression of a devoted purpose for the future.}

15. "J. K. M." asks, "What is the difference between being quickened by the Holy Ghost, and being sealed; and when are we sealed? "

A. ― The difference is very great, and is of immense importance; it will account for the different states of soul one meets daily. The difference is that between the state of a saint before, and the proper state since the day of Pentecost, before which there was no sealing of the Holy Ghost on man. The saints prior to that time were born again. A saint now, in his normal state as such, is not only quickened, but sealed. Of old, the Holy Ghost was not given; nor was He given until Jesus was glorified (John 7:37-39).

Quickening, is the Holy Ghost producing by a new nature which a sinner had not before, holy desires, hatred of evil, desires after Christ, the love of what God is, and of what is due to Him. A soul in being born again, receives a nature that it had not before as a sinner. A soul having this new nature, hates what it finds of the old, loves the things of God; before it knows deliverance it often finds itself in the deepest distress ― delighting in the law of God after the inward man ― consenting to God's requirements in the law ― to will present, but how to perform that which is good finding not; in the deepest distress because it finds it has no strength to carry out the desires of the new nature. Another law in the members wars against the aspirations after holiness of the new nature, and brings it into captivity to the law of sin in its members. All these symptoms may be found in a soul born of God, without the knowledge of redemption. Sad to say that this is the common state in which most real Christians are found. It is not a normal Christian state at all. Many souls in such a state are seeking to get peace by progress and victory over self ― that is, trying by suppressing the workings of an evil nature which is found twisted and knotted round the heart, to follow the desires and hopes for which the new man struggles so unsuccessfully against the old.

What then is to bring the sense of deliverance and set the new man free? The knowledge of redemption ― of Christ's finished work. God's righteousness must be submitted to, and peace found by the surrender of every pretension to strength, and by being completely cast over upon Him for deliverance. In other words, the new nature has no strength, and the soul cannot find peace or liberty by progress: but it must find peace by surrender of all hope in itself, and through the work of Another. Then it is, when at the end of itself, and the thought of strength in itself, that it finds that the work of Christ applies to its ungodly, and not its improved state ― that when it was without strength Christ died for the ungodly. Thus cast over upon the victory of Another, the deliverance is complete and the new nature set free. It can thank God through Jesus Christ, in whom, on the cross, God condemned sin in the flesh; i.e., the evil nature which so harassed and distressed the soul.

This will give some idea of the state of a quickened soul without the knowledge of redemption. Now we will seek to ascertain what the sealing is, and when it comes.

In Eph. 1:13-14, we read, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest," etc.

The sealing of the Holy Ghost is the result of believing in Christ for the remission of sins. The Holy Ghost then gives the consciousness of pardon, and joy in the knowledge of the finished work of Christ, in putting away its sins. This is the normal and healthy state of a believer; and is the only normal and healthy state of a Christian known in Scripture ― the full assurance of faith and forgiveness. We have not to pray for the Holy Spirit as a seal; Scripture teaches that the reception of the Holy Ghost as a seal is the result and consequence of having believed in Christ and receiving remission of our sins. Union with Christ ― and thus membership of Christ follows. Union is only by the Holy Ghost; a Christian has life in Christ, but he is united to Christ by the Holy Ghost ― life in itself alone is not union. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17); and it is by the hearing of faith, that the Holy Ghost is received; as we read in Gal. 3:2, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

We find instances which will illustrate these two states of soul in the Acts of the apostles. Cornelius was a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, and gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always (Acts 10). Here was a soul in which the desires and hopes of the new nature were at work. What he wanted was the knowledge of salvation to bring him into the enjoyment of true Christian state and privileges. Peter is to be sent for that he might hear words of him (v. 22); who, when he comes, preaches salvation, forgiveness, and peace; and the result of the reception of the forgiveness of sins was, that the gift of the Holy Ghost came upon him as Peter spake, and on those in his house who believed. Again in Acts 19, Paul finds certain disciples at Ephesus, whom he asks, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" They were believers of John Baptist's testimony which was the announcement of a Messiah to come, who would forgive their sins, and a Holy Ghost which He would communicate. They wanted the further testimony of the rejection, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the efficacy of His work in putting away their sins, and the consequent gift of the Holy Ghost as a seal. The result of Paul's testimony to them was, that they received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

These instances show the difference between sinners who had been quickened, and believers who were sealed.

How then do we know that a soul is sealed? when it knows the forgiveness of its sins, not merely as a hope but a fact. When is it sealed? when it has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has received its pardon.

16. "J. K. M." ― The Olive Tree: ―

It may help your understanding of the passages in Rom. 11, to know that the first allusion to the Church, the Body of Christ, in the Epistle to the Romans is in ch. 12:5. Even there we do not find the doctrine of the Church taught; but the practical walk of the members one with another as "One body," The Church is not the subject of the Epistle to the Romans.

The Apostle in beginning his subject of the Olive Tree, writes, "I speak to you Gentiles." He does not speak to the Church as such, although his teaching is for the Church. It is the Gentile dispensation which he has before him.

The Olive Tree symbolizes the line of the testimony and of the promises of God under the figure of a tree, of which Abraham was the root, as being the depository of the promises ― the nation of Israel ― his posterity, the branches ― the fatness, the promises of God.

This tree of promise begins in Abraham, and runs on into the Millennium; and God always maintains a stock (i.e. Christ), and the faithful of any dispensation, which sustains God's testimony in the line of promise on earth. The Jewish dispensation proved itself a failure. They were the natural branches, and it was their "own olive tree" Because of unbelief they were broken off." The Gentile dispensation then commenced, and the wild olive branches were graffed into the stem, and thus brought into the place of testimony and line of promises (to them spiritual), in which they stand "by faith in such a place, responsible to continue in the goodness of God, or failing in this to be cut off. God, who did not spare the natural branches, would not the less spare them. The Gentile dispensation not having continued in the goodness of God will be cut off. Meanwhile God has His own purposes to fulfill, "and the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation." "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." Then the Jews will be graffed in again, as the natural branches, and Israel nationally will be saved ― not individually as now.

It is not in anywise a question of the Church, the Body of Christ; nor of individual salvation, but of Jewish and Gentile dispensations, and the result of the failure in each of them.

17. "E. C." ― "What is the general meaning of 1 Peter 1:1-2; and why is obedience mentioned before blood? "

A. ― James, in his Epistle, addresses the scattered twelve tribes, as Israel had still the character of God's people in his eye: and he recognises both the synagogue (c. 2:2), and the assembly (c. 5:14), before the final separation of the believing remnant from the nation in general had taken place. It was a transitional moment, and he has the nation as a nation, although scattered, before him. Peter, on the other hand, takes up only the elect strangers of the dispersion, who were anywhere but in the land of Israel ― Pontus, Galatia, etc. ― and sets their eye upon a heavenly hope. Consequently, verse 2 is a complete reversal of the whole hopes of Israel, to this remnant of faithful ones. As to Israel of old, we might read it thus, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of Jehovah, through sanctification of ordinances, unto obedience of the law, and sprinkling of the blood of the old covenant (Ex. 24), which sealed their condemnation." Now, he can write of the believing ones that they were "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (the name He reveals Himself to Christians, in the Son of His love, as Jehovah was His revealed name to His elect nation ― see Ex. 6), through sanctification of the Spirit (not ordinances) who separates us from man, unto the obedience of Jesus Christ" ― i.e., to obey according to His order and pattern, who never did even His own perfect will, but the Father's; "and (unto) sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." The Spirit separates us unto both. Thus separated or sanctified by the Holy Ghost unto His obedience, we come under the efficacy of the blood of sprinkling of the new covenant, which purges the conscience, instead of sealing our condemnation.

18. "E. C." ― "Does Heb. 13:13 ― 'Without the camp' ― refer to Ex. 33, when Moses pitched the tent ί Without the camp, afar off?' or, rather, is there an allusion to it; for I suppose there is no doubt the reference is to Lev. 16? "

A. ― In the Gospel narratives we learn that Israel had refused their Messiah, saying, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19). Jesus said on His cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23). The answer to this intercession was the offer by the Holy Ghost, sent down at Pentecost (Acts 2), by Peter (Acts 3), "I wot that through ignorance ye did it," he says, adding that if they would now repent, Jesus, whom they slew, would return, and the times of refreshing would come. Their full answer to this offer of grace was at the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7), in which act the citizens who hated the nobleman who had gone into the far country to receive a kingdom and return, sent the messenger after Him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us." (See Luke 19) Stephen sees the Son of man ― standing at the right hand of God, till then ready to bring in the "sure mercies of David." They had now refused these "sure mercies," and the whole earthly order of things is broken up at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad, except the apostle. Hebrews now come in, and in it we find Jesus seated and expecting, till His enemies be made His footstool (ch. 10:12-13). Till the day when He says, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27). In each Scripture it is a characteristic attitude in which He is seen. In consequence, the Jewish believers are called upon to "go forth therefore unto him outside the camp." They must come outside the earthly order of things, and everything of a religious character which recognized man in the flesh, and connected itself with the world. This was most distinctly Judaism at all times. This Word of the Lord holds good with regard to every religion which connects itself with the world, and recognizes and provides for man in the flesh, and unrenewed. An earthly formulary, which takes in all the nation or country, or district, is the "camp" now, and the distinct call of God to the believer is uncompromisingly to disconnect himself with such, and take his true place with Jesus ― "bearing his reproach" ― "outside the camp," or such an order of things.

Thus acting, he recognizes what God requires ― separation from evil ― in order to walk in fellowship with Him. Moses was quick in apprehension in the mind of God, when he pitched the tent without the camp. (Ex. 33.) He knew that God could not now dwell amid a rebellious and revolted people. Every one that sought the Lord went out to this place of separation to God; and God's presence was found there; and there He spake to His faithful ones.

There is no doubt, as far as the offering went, that Lev. 16 is alluded to. It was the type.

19. "What is the teaching of the Parable of the Unjust Steward? Why is the Spirit of the world held up for us to follow?'' (Luke 16.)

A. ― The principles which governed the Steward, leading him to sacrifice present for future advantages, are commended. He might have kept his master's money; but instead of this he laid it out in view of the future. (See 1 Tim. 6:17-19.)

The lesson taught us in the parable is, The use of riches now that the dispensation is changed. It is not now one in which earthly blessing and prosperity ― the increase of basket and store ― is a sign of blessing from the Lord, as once it was to the Jew. The dispensation is that of the grace of God seeking the lost. Chap. 15 gives us its picture. It shows us that we may turn riches into a means of fulfilling love, by the divine alchemy of Christianity. The spirit of grace filling our hearts (ourselves being the objects of grace), exercises itself in temporalities towards those who need. Thus, the Philippians' care of Paul turned the "unrighteous mammon" into an "odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" (Phil. 4).

In chap. 15 we find one who had departed in self-will from God, with the portion of goods which had fallen to him, (the blessings which man received in creation), and had wasted his substance with riotous living. In chap. 16 man is a steward who had proved himself unfaithful in his stewardship, wasting his master's goods. Fallen man has done both; he has revolted from God, and as a steward has proved an unfaithful one. God, in his grace, does not canvass our title to the goods we have in our hands, which we hold but on sufferance, not certainly as having a title to their possession. He does not remove the goods; but speaks of them as "another man's;" and we should use them in view of the future, so that, by and by, we may find we have made a satisfactory use of them, and be enabled to give a satisfactory account of the use we have made of them, for Him who had left them in our hands. If we are faithful in the least, we will be faithful in much; and according to the faithful use of that which is in reality "another man's," we get the sense of realization, and the joy of possessing that which is truly "our own;" i.e., heavenly things ― the "true riches." We get the consciousness too of having "done wisely" in our use of the master's goods, while we had them in our power.

Verses 4 and 8 may be read thus, "I know what I will do, that when I have been removed from the stewardship I may be received into their houses:" "And I say unto you: make to yourselves friends with the Mammon of Unrighteousness, that when ye fail ye may be received into everlasting dwellings."

20. "O." ― "Is prayer to the Holy Ghost a Scriptural thought? "

A. ― The Holy Ghost is God ― a Divine person. When God, as such, without reference to the persons of the Godhead is addressed in prayer, it includes the Spirit, with the Father, and the Son. In the New Testament prayer is spoken of, not as "to," but "in" the Holy Ghost. (See such passages as Eph. 6:18, Jude 20, Rom. 8:26-27.)

After redemption was accomplished, and the Lord Jesus in heaven ― a Man in the glory of God ― the Holy Ghost was sent down from Heaven (Acts 2). The Holy Ghost dwells in the body of the believer individually (1 Cor. 6:19, etc), and baptizes all believers collectively into "one body" here on earth (1 Cor. 12:12-27), uniting them to Christ, the Head, in heaven. He is spoken of in Eph. 2:18, as the power of our access to the Father, through Jesus, "For through him (Jesus) we both (believers from Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father." As Christians we "live in the Spirit" (Gal. 5), and "walk in the Spirit." Hence, prayer should be "in the Spirit" also.

It is not that the Holy Ghost is not worthy of all worship and prayer ― He is God. But since redemption has been accomplished, God has been pleased to take a place with us, and in us, through His Spirit. This precludes the thought of the Holy Ghost being made by us the object of our prayers. Hence we find the Apostles addressing under His inspiration, the saints and assemblies of God; saluting them from the Father and the Son ― the Spirit Himself being the One who, dwelling and acting in the Church, sends the salutation. This is the same in principle. It is, therefore, in Christianity, unintelligent to do so. If done in ignorance, it is one thing, but to do so when we have learned the Lord's mind, and this grand central truth of Christianity, is quite another.

21. "A. B." ― "C." ask: ― "Does 2 Cor. 5:10, contemplate believers and unbelievers? Will the sins of believers, previous to their conversion, be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ? Will this manifestation be to the praise of divine grace? Will it be only the service of Christians which will then be brought out? If the sins of believers, as well as the deeds which God can accept, be manifested there, how does this agree with, 'their sins and iniquities will I remember no more?' (Heb. 10.) Is not judgment past for the believer?"

A. ― 2 Cor. 5:10 is a broad general principle, which is applicable to all men, irrespective of what grace has accomplished in and for those who believe. It is however to be remarked, that when the apostle has before his mind both saints and sinners, he does not speak of persons being judged, but of their receiving for things done in the body ― retribution and reward is his thought. Because, for the saint judgment is past ― Christ has borne it for him; he does not come into judgment (John 5:24); "condemnation" there is incorrect. All must be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive of the things done in the body, whether they be good or bad. The thought is, the perfect manifestation of all that a person is, and has done, before a throne characterized by judgment, yet without the judgment of the person being in question. It does not say "judged," for then even the saints would be condemned. Yet, when the wicked "receive the things done in the body," they must be condemned.

The apostle has no sort of anxiety for himself as to this solemn thought of a judgment seat; instead of that, it has a sanctifying and practical effect upon him, as one now manifested to God (v. 11). When he thinks of the wicked, knowing that for such it is the "terror of the Lord," it is an incentive to him to "persuade men."

God, who has wrought us for the glory and assimilation to Christ, works morally in our souls, preparing the vessel by a moral dealing thus for glory. When man fell, he came to know good and evil for the first time. Good, which he had no power to practise ― evil, that he had no power to avoid. God works in the sinner, convincing him of, justifying or cleansing him as to nature or practice, according to His knowledge of it, through the work of Christ. He reveals Christ as One in whom was perfect good, outside and above the evil, as the standard by which the Christian thus purged may judge all within himself. Without the knowledge of grace, the soul fears the light. With it ― it rejoices to have a perfect standard whereby to judge all in itself that is inconsistent with the light. God works by His Word and Spirit in the conscience which He has purged, to produce this entire and unsparing judgment of self; those who have benefited by His working thus in them, will have gained. If they have not, and that the fruits which God would have produced in them have been turned aside, they will bear the consequences of the neglect, and lose what they might have gained; which if gained, although produced by Him, is counted to them in grace.

When manifested before the judgment seat of Christ they will then be enabled fully to judge according to God's judgment, as being then divested of the flesh that hindered, all their past career. On one side will be seen all God's gracious care and painstaking wisdom, with which He deigned to deal with them all through their course; on the other, all their own frowardness and wilfulness ― how here they lost by not hearkening to Him; and there they gained and grew in stature, profiting by His ways. Here, capacity, which they might there have had, was stunted to the measure they will have then attained. There, the soul exercised by His workings, had grown in a capacity for enjoying heaven and Christ, which it never can then recover or regain.

When the sense of this tribunal is kept before the soul which has been established in grace (for without it none could for one instant bear the thought of receiving of the things done in the body), it has a present sanctifying effect upon the Christian, He rejoices to judge himself, in the thought that one clay he will be able to do so perfectly, in the full blaze of God's presence in the light. What he has failed to do now, he will be enabled then to do perfectly. He thus keeps his conscience in the light; maintaining its rights and authority against all the subtle encroachments of the flesh. Holiness due to God governs his heart. The inward energy of holy grace which separates from all the evil within, connects the soul with God ― binds the heart to Him, and rejects everything which is contrary to Him. When manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, the full sense of divine grace, but imperfectly learned here below at best, will then be seen. Grace as immeasurable and as perfect as the God Himself "whom it reveals. It will be to the praise of divine grace in the believer indeed.

The statement, "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more," has reference only to condemnation. Christ having done a work which purges the conscience, and has perfected the believer for ever, God righteously remits his sins; He calls them to mind no more for ever. Divine working in the soul enables us to call them to mind, and produces that moral judgment of ourselves about them, which deepens as we know Him better. This work of manifestation is true now, as far as we have realized the light. Having learned divine grace, cannot I look back upon my whole course now in perfect peace with God, and wonder and adore my God?

Cannot I look back at what I was before my conversion, and, while abhorring myself, adore His grace to me? Cannot I look back at my failures since my conversion ― be humbled about them ― and worship Him, as the way in which I have learned Him in His patient grace; convicting, rebuking, chastening, and restoring my soul; thus permitting me to grow in the knowledge of Himself and His ways? God be thanked for the grace that enables us to do so in unhindered liberty, and in the unsparing scrutiny and judgment of self. I do not suppose that a period of time is the thought of this judgment seat. Certainly not an indiscriminate huddling together of righteous and wicked; than which no thought is more foreign to Scripture.* It is, as I have said, a broad general principle applicable to saints of all times and dispensations to the end; and embracing sinners as well.

{* Note. — Matt. 25:31, etc, is the judgment of the quick or living nations — not dead sinners who have been raised. It happens at the opening of the millennial kingdom, "when the King sits upon the throne of his glory." The judgment of the wicked dead (Rev. 20) is after the 1000 years of millennial glory, when the heavens and the earth as they are then, will have fled away from before the face of Him that sits upon the great white throne.}

I trust, beloved friends, that what I have said, may lead into some apprehension of its great principles, and have a present sanctifying effect upon the lives of my readers. Also, that it may prove a spur to the energies of those who know the true grace of God in which they stand, to persuade men ― the thought, that it is the terror of the Lord for sinners, weighing upon the heart; and the deep, deep love of Christ constraining us to make known His grace who died for all!

There is no doubt but that ministerial service will be the subject of divine scrutiny. You have this distinctly taught in 1 Cor. 3:8 — 15; the subject there is "work" — (ministerial labour); not "works." The subject of 2 Cor. 5 is "things done in the body," and thus far more general.

God be thanked we go there in the likeness of Him who sits upon that judgment-seat. He has come for us, and received us to Himself, as He has said (John 14). He has changed our vile bodies, and fashioned them like His own glorious body (Phil. 3). He who sits there is the righteousness of those (believers) who are manifested before Him (2 Cor. 5:21.).

22. "C. A. S." asks, "How, am I to endeavour to keep 'the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?' What does it mean? "

A. — The Holy Ghost came down from heaven personally on the day of Pentecost, and dwells in each member of Christ individually (1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 1:13-14, etc.) and the saints thus indwelt upon earth, form God's habitation through the Spirit. He dwells corporately in the whole Church (Eph. 2:22, etc). He unites each member to Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). Each member to the other members (1 Cor. 12:13), and all the members to the Head. This is the Church of God — the body of Christ.

This unity has remained untouched by all the failures of the church. It is a unity which cannot be destroyed, because maintained by the Holy Ghost Himself. He constitutes the unity of the body of Christ.

The Church of God was responsible to have maintained this unity of the Spirit, in practical outward and visible oneness. In this she has failed. The unity has not. It remains because the Spirit of God remains. It abides even when oneness of action is well nigh gone. The unity of a human body remains, when a limb is paralyzed; but where is its oneness? The paralyzed limb has not ceased to be of the body, but it has lost the healthy articulation of the body.

Still, no matter what the ruin may be — no matter how terrible is the confused and unhealthy state in which things are — Scripture never allows that it is impracticable for the saints to walk in the fellowship of God's Spirit, and maintenance of the truth; such is always practicable. The Spirit of God pre-supposes evil and perilous days; still God enjoins us to endeavour "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;" and He enjoins nothing impracticable. We never can restore anything to its former state; but we can walk in obedience to the word, and in the company of the Spirit of God, who enables us to hold the Head. He will never sacrifice Christ and His honour and glory, for His members. Hence we are exhorted to endeavour to keep the "unity of the Spirit" (not the "unity of the body·" which would prevent us from separating from any member of the body of Christ, no matter what his practice). The Holy Ghost glorifies Christ — and walking in fellowship with Him, we are kept specially identified with Christ.

In this endeavour, I must begin with myself. My first duty is to separate myself to Christ, from everything that is contrary to Him: — "Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19). This evil may be moral, practical, or doctrinal; no matter what it is I must get away from it; and when I have done so, I find myself practically in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost; and on a divine basis where all those who are true-hearted can be likewise. If I can find those who have done the same, I am to follow righteousness, faith, peace, charity, with them (2 Tim. 2:2 2). If I can find none where I am, I must stand alone with the Holy Ghost for my Lord. There are however, the Lord be praised, many who have done likewise, and are on the line of action of the Spirit of God in the Church. They have the blessed promise as a resource, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt, 18:20). They are practically one, as led by the same Spirit, with every member of Christ in the world who has done likewise. I do not now refer to their absolute union with the whole body of Christ — but of the practice.

The basis on which they are gathered {i.e., the Spirit of God, in the body of Christ) is wide enough in its principle to embrace the whole Church of God; it is the only divinely wide platform on earth. Narrow enough to exclude from its midst every thing that is not of the Spirit of God: to admit such would put them practically out of the fellowship of the Holy Ghost.

This endeavour does not confine itself to those who are thus together — one with the other. It has in view every member of Christ upon earth. The walk of those thus gathered, in separation to Christ, and practical fellowship of the Spirit and maintenance of the truth, is the truest love they can show toward their brethren who are not practically with them. Walking in truth and unity — they desire that their brethren may be won into the truth and fellowship of the Holy Ghost. They may be but a feeble remnant; but true remnants were ever distinguished by personal devotedness to the Lord, who ever specially watched over them with the most tender solicitude, and associated Himself specially with them!

23. "J. K. M." — "If it be true that the Holy Ghost was not given to dwell in the bodies of believers, to unite them to Christ in Old Testament days; and that the personal presence of the Spirit in man after Pentecost, was a new thing previously unexampled in the word and ways of God; what is the meaning of Isaiah 63:10 — 11, 'His holy Spirit within him;' also 1 Peter 1:11, 'The Spirit of Christ which was in them?'"

A. — Everything good that ever was wrought from the creation of the world, was done by the power of the Holy Ghost; He moved upon the face of the waters in the Creation; by Him souls were new-born; He inspired the prophets to write, or to speak God's Word. Bezaleel was filled with the Spirit of God to prepare the Tabernacle, Ark, Vessels, etc, (Exodus 31:3.). David was instructed by the Spirit of God in preparing the pattern of the Temple for Solomon (1 Chron. 28:12 — 19). The saints were guided and instructed by Him. David prayed that the Holy Ghost might not thus be taken from him (Ps. 51:11). Noah preached righteousness by the Spirit of Christ. John Baptist as a prophet was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb. To multiply instances is unnecessary. Still all this is far from dwelling in them.

The statement in John 7:39, divides by a clean line between the saints before the Lord's glorification, and since that time. Had the Holy Ghost been then given, God would have been sealing souls in a state short of the consciousness of redemption; and thus accrediting such a state. Consciences were then unpurged (while God was known in grace), and the Holy Ghost could not have sealed them in such a state. When the work of redemption was accomplished, and the soul thus introduced into the liberty of grace, the Spirit of God could then take up His abode and dwell in the body of the believer, as a seal of the perfection of Christ's work. We see this clearly brought out in type, in the case of the consecration of the Priests. The High Priest was anointed with oil (the Holy Ghost in type), without sacrifice; this was typical of the perfection of Christ's person; the Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove upon Him. The Priests, Aaron's sons, were anointed after sacrifices; this was a figure of the perfection of Christ's work in which they stood. Habits of thought have confounded the state of the Saints before the day of Pentecost, with those since that time. Alas! too, souls are not free — they are not enjoying the liberty of grace which the Holy Ghost ministers to them now; consequently they accept a state short of Christian liberty before God. They limit their experience to that of a godly Jew, under law, before redemption. They have almost come to the state of the men of Ephesus in Acts 19: "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost:" i.e., whether He was come yet or no.

Nothing can be clearer than the line drawn by the Spirit of God in John 7:39, between believers before the glorification of Christ, and since that time. Before that time all that ever was done in or by a saint, prophet, or otherwise, was by the power of the Spirit acting in the vessel for the time. Now He dwells in the body of the believer, as in a temple (1 Cor. 6:19), seals him, having believed (Eph. 1:14), until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). He may grieve the Spirit of God, but he never can lose Him. Besides all this, it was an action of the Holy Ghost, in whatever way it took place, in the Old Testament times. This is a different thing from His descending personally from heaven on the day of Pentecost, and dwelling amongst men. His person and presence upon earth is as distinct as that of the Lord Jesus when here. In the believer individually, and in the church collectively. The Lord's promise of the Comforter — the Holy Ghost, was that He would not only be with them (for a limited time, as Christ had been), but in them as well; and that, "for ever." To this end it was expedient that He should go away; if He went not away, the Comforter would not come. The passages you quote have reference to the action of the Holy Ghost in the vessel, whether of a prophet, or otherwise at the time.

24. "L. H., Jersey." ― "In Eph. 1: 1, we read, 'To the saints, … and to the faithful,' etc. Are these two classes of persons, or is one the standing and the other the walk? "

A. ― The word "saints" is a general term applicable to all who are Christ's, at any period of the history of God's dealings. But the Spirit of God has been pleased here to add the word "faithful," a word which may be rendered "believers." It is to be found in the following passages, amongst many in the New Testament, 2 Cor. 6:15, a He that believeth," or "the believer ·" 1 Tim. 4:10-12, "Specially those that believe," or, "specially believers," and "Be thou an example to the believers;" these examples will serve to show that the word may be truly used in this sense. The Epistle to the Ephesians contemplates only the saints since the accomplishment of redemption and the descent of the Holy Ghost, teaching truths peculiar to them. It is from God who has Christ, now both God and Man, in His presence. "Saints" and "faithful" are used of the same persons; the former signifying their condition with reference to the world, the latter giving them a special character as having believed in Christ Jesus. The Patriarchs, &a, had hoped in faith, for One who was to come; those who are contemplated in Ephesians had believed in One who had come and had wrought redemption, and was now a Man in the glory of God; who not only had believed, but who were faithfully maintaining the faith they had received; for when Paul was writing, Christianity, and especially the doctrines he had enunciated, were beginning to be unpopular, not in the sense of the benefits of salvation and redemption, but in the holy and separate walk they inculcated, as the calling of the Church of God. The apostle contemplates this state of things in the mode of his address to the Ephesians and Colossians.

25. "L. H., Jersey." ― Ephesians 1:8, "Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence?"

A. ― God has fully unfolded to us, in verses 3-5, His calling, as suited to His own counsels, and His own heart; which is "to the praise of the glory of His grace." In these verses He does not take into account our sinful condition, but lets us know His own thoughts as to the way He now has us in His presence, as purposed eternally in His own counsels in Christ. In verse 7, He takes into account that we are sinners, needing redemption and forgiveness, and acts according to the "riches of His grace," which (grace) He has caused to abound toward us, "in all wisdom and intelligence" (as it may be read), suited to those called into such a calling, in making known the mystery of His will which He purposed in Himself for the glory of Christ. He treats us as friends (compare John 15:15), in the place of intimacy and nearness. These counsels we learn in ver. 10.

Thank God we are placed in such a position, and called thus to share in His counsels as to Christ; not merely because we shall share the glory with Him (ver. 11), but because His glory is everything to us, and has a real interest in our hearts.

26. Q. ― "Was Peter wrong in going a-fishing, and did he not draw others into it? What is the lesson?"

A. ― It is plain that Peter's going a-fishing was not in keeping with the commission given to him by our Lord in the previous chapter, "As my Father hath sent me, so send I you." No doubt it was Peter's suggestion which disclosed a similar weakness in six more of them, in that Peter afforded a vent for the exposure of their weakness, so far is he chargeable with their offence. What a great matter a little fire kindles! But he who applies the torch, is of course the one chiefly to be censured. The lesson I gather from it is, that no amount of acquaintance with Jesus, such as the disciples had; or no amount of intelligence without His personal keeping, or the power of the Holy Ghost (which these seven were not enjoying at the time), will preserve one on the line, or divert one from earthly interests, in some form or other.

27. Q. ― "What are we to learn by the Lord addressing Peter afterwards as 'Simon, son of Jonas?'"

A. ― I believe it is to show, that He is addressing him as the man ― the natural man, as he was in nature. Is he in nature still? Can the man in nature reckon on his love to the Lord; or does he see his weakness, and will he cease to trust in the son of Jonas? The Spirit tells us that it was "Peter" who replied to our Lord's question. If you will read carefully Gen. 48 ― 49, you will see this principle carried out in the names "Jacob" and "Israel." "Jacob" was his name in nature, "Israel" what God had called him. It brings the interchange of names most forcibly before us, as carrying a divine meaning.

When He said to him, "Lovest thou me more than these?" it was "more than the disciples." Peter had professed, "Though all shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended." He had made a greater profession in fleshly confidence than all the others, and had fallen more grievously than any of them. It was this appeal which touched him to the very quick.

28. Q. ― "How is one to know that one is baptized with the Holy Ghost?"

A. ― By faith founded on the Word of God. It is a positive result to every one who has believed in Christ, and received the remission of sins. "In whom after that ye believed (or having believed) ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise," etc. (Eph. 1:14). "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," etc. (1 Cor. 12:13). Besides, there is the absolute consciousness of it, in union with Christ. The consciousness of the believer is, "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:20). It is not merely that we receive a new nature; all must have it to possess the other; but positive union with Christ by the Holy Ghost, received on believing, as well as union with all believers here upon earth. Do we not know this? We meet those whom we have never seen before, and are conscious of a closer tie than that of father or mother, brother or sister in the flesh.

If I am to ask a man how he knew his body was joined to his head; he would tell me that he had the positive sense of it. As my hand is united to my body, and acts directly with reference to the welfare of the whole body, not merely for itself in particular; so a member of Christ never has a mere exclusive capacity, or in his own individual interest, and the more he acts as a member of Christ's body, so far is the whole body served, or the reverse. "If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Cor. 12:26).

29. "Wm. C, Skreen," asks for an explanation of Eph. 4:13: "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." "What is the perfect man?"

A. ― The object of ministry by Christ's gifts (see vv. 11 and 12), is the perfecting of the saints, and the edifying of the body of Christ, till each and all should arrive in one uniform basis of faith, and the full knowledge of the Son of God, to the stature of full grown men; no more remaining in the unhealthy state of babes, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. "A perfect man," means simply "a full grown man" ― the fulness of Christ Himself being the measure of the stature desired; the Christian attaining it by growing up to Him in all things. This is put in contrast with the state of a babe. The state of soul of the individual is what is in question in vv. 13-15.

You will find the word here rendered "perfect," in the following passages: 1 Cor. 2:6, "Them that are perfect" Let us therefore, as many as be perfect" Phil. 3:15; "Every man perfect in Christ," Col. 1:28; "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age," Heb. 5:15. There are many other passages in which it occurs. The thought is "full grown."

30. "D. M. A., Deal." ― "What is meant by eating and drinking 'unworthily,' of the bread and the cup, in 1st Cor. 11:29? "

A. ― The "unworthily" refers to the manner of partaking of the Lord's Supper, not so much to the person who partakes. Every believer, unless excluded by some discipline for sin, is worthy to partake, because he is a believer. The work of Christ has made him meet for heaven, and worthy to partake of that which calls to mind his Lord in the solemn moment of death, sin-bearing, and judgment. If he bring unjudged sin, or carelessness to it, it is to profane the death of Christ, who died to put sin away from God's sight for ever. The Christian cannot be condemned for sin (the world is condemned); but Christ having borne his sins, God does not condemn him for them, although He cleanses him practically from them by chastening. They never escape His eye ― and while He never imputes them for condemnation, still He never passes over a single sin, and if we do not judge it in ourselves, He deals with us for it by discipline which may reach to sickness unto death, as verse 30 shows.

If we eat the Lord's Supper with unjudged sin upon us, we do not discern the Lord's body which was broken to put it away; thus we partake of it "unworthily," and God cannot allow such carelessness. Grace makes us worthy to partake, but the government of God, administered by the Lord over God's house, deals with sin or carelessness. Still, if we scrutinize our own ways and judge ourselves, we are not judged of the Lord. Judging ourselves for failure, is our course, and then eating the Lord's Supper. Some have thought they should absent themselves from the Supper when they have failed. But He does not say, "Let a man judge himself and so let him stay away," but "so let him eat." Staying away is mere self-will. It is not enough to judge the mere action; it is ourselves we should judge. The state of our heart which allowed the failure, should be subjected to scrutiny and self-judgment. If I am a child, I judge my ways, if they are unsuited to my father; but I do not set about to judge if I am a child, when I fail; but how naughty I have been as the son of such a father. I may behave very unworthily of my kind father, but my behaviour is not the ground of the relationship. I cannot be a naughty child, unless I am a child; and the relationship is the ground of self-judgment, that I may behave myself suitably to the relationship, and to Him who is my Father.

31. "Sophia." ― "Do John 13:2-4, and Matthew 26:20-26, refer to the same supper? Was Judas present? And if so (since unbelievers should not be admitted to the Lord's table), why did the Lord, who knows the secrets of all hearts, admit him?"

A. ― There is no reason to suppose that the two passages do not refer to the same supper, or paschal feast. Judas was present, and during its continuance Jesus instituted that which Scripture afterwards calls the Lord's Supper. The institution of the feast did not reveal other features which were subsequently given to it when it became the symbol of fellowship in the Church, formed afterwards by the descent of the Holy Ghost from heaven at Pentecost (Acts 2). It was then that the church of God began to exist. When redemption was accomplished, and Jesus ascended to heaven as Man; the Holy Ghost descended from heaven to dwell in believers, and in the church of God; baptizing all Christ's members into one body, and uniting them to Christ in glory.

The Lord's Supper was the recognized symbol of the unity of the body of Christ. The first institution of the supper did not embrace what was afterwards revealed to Paul the apostle as to this. He writes, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? "For we, being many, are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread (or loaf)" 1 Cor. 10:16-17. This was a feature added to the first institution of the supper. One loaf was that which symbolized the unity of all who were united to Christ, and baptized into one body by the Holy Ghost. In 1 Cor. 11:23-26, Paul distinctly informs us that he had a special revelation as to the supper; and of course we should expect it to be so, as he alone had received the revelation of the Church of God as one body. Now the church ― the body of Christ ― is only composed of believers, members of Christ. When they gather together, as such, in His name, to eat the Lord's Supper, it does not contemplate the thought of unbelievers partaking of the supper amongst them. Even those who are Christ's and whose walk does not comport with the holiness and truth that becomes the house of God, are precluded from the Lord's table. This makes it simple that no unbelievers should partake of it. If Judas did so, it was before the church had any existence, and before the supper had certain features attached to it, as subsequently added through the apostle Paul.

32. "B." ― "Is it a correct expression, i.e. Scriptural ― to say that the Righteousness of God is His gift, as life is?"

A. ― Romans 5:17 is clear as to this, where it speaks of righteousness as His gift: ― "Much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."

33. "A. N. L." ― "Does sealing take place immediately on believing; or, is it possible for a person to be a believer and not be sealed in this dispensation?"

A. ― Sealing takes place at once on receiving the remission of sins. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed (or ί having believed') ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. i13). Forgiveness of sins is announced by the gospel; I have believed and forthwith I am sealed by the Spirit. We must not confound the state of many quickened souls with that of those who have believed. The action of God in quickening and in sealing are as distinct as possible. He quickens a sinner who wants life; He does not seal a sinner as such, surely; that were to seal him in his sins; nor does He seal a quickened soul in his misery. He does not seal Peter when he cried out

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5), or when the soul is crying out in misery needing forgiveness. He seals a believer; and "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" not doubts, and bondage, and fears.

These two actions of the Holy Ghost are never, as far as I know, synchronous ― they do not happen at the same moment; while on God's part there is of course no reason why it should not be so. Many cases testify as to this in Scripture,,

The disciples were quickened before the day of Pentecost, yet they were not sealed till then, because before that day they could not know that their sins were all put away. The Samaritans received the preaching of Christ through Philip, they were not sealed till Peter and John came down. ("As yet he was fallen upon none of them." See Acts 8:5-17.) "There was great joy," we read, and there is often this without peace from God, in the full knowledge of the remission of sins. Peace is a full and perfect word; it is far more than joy. A soul that has forgiveness and peace with God has been sealed by the Spirit. Paul was quickened by a voice from heaven (Acts 9:4), and yet he did not receive the Holy Ghost till the third day after, when he had gone through all the deep exercises in his soul for the three days (see v. 17). Cornelius was a devout man, one that feared God, and prayed to God always ― a quickened soul. He is told to send for Peter, to hear words of him, whereby he and all his house would be saved (Acts 11:14). God does not call him a saved man, as merely quickened. When Peter comes he does not tell him he must be born again, which as a sinner he needed and had been, but he points him to Christ, and tells him of forgiveness of sins; they accept the message, and the Holy Ghost fell on them at once. You get the same thing in Acts 19; those at Ephesus who were quickened souls had not as yet received the Holy Ghost.

It is not possible for a person to be a believer in the present dispensation without being sealed. There are many quickened souls longing for forgiveness, who are not sealed; but no Christian ever dies and passes away from this scene, where as to personal place the Holy Ghost is since Pentecost, without being sealed. This is why you see cases in which there was no liberty, or peace with God, enjoyed during lifetime, yet they had occasional gleams of joy; when on a death-bed they have got perfect peace with God, and are sealed.

I think we use the word "believer" too indiscriminately, for every state of soul in which God is working. A believer in Scripture language is one who is sealed. Scripture allows but one basis, or normal condition, for Christians, and never supposes a child of God whose sins are not forgiven. When we come to look at the condition of souls we find that in many cases they have not forgiveness, while there is no reason on God's part why they should not know the pardon of their sins.

34. "C. Somerset." ― "What does the number 'five' signify in Scripture?"

A, ― Five seems to be used to signify that which is relatively small; the number characterizing weakness. In Lev. 26:8, we read, "Five of you shall chase a hundred." The very smallness of Israel, if faithful, would easily discomfit their enemies in power. In Isaiah 30:17, on the other hand, it is said of them in the time of their judgment, "At the rebuke of five shall ye flee; till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill" In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, we find that after the midnight cry they were broken up into fives ― weakness ― in the interval between the hope of the Lord's coming being revived in the Church, and the shutting to of the door. We find the Lord (Matt, 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6) feeding the multitude from five loaves and two fishes. He is equal to the demand, no matter how scanty the supply, at times of peculiar moment in the gospel history. Paul says, "I had rather speak five words with my understanding … than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (1 Cor. 14:19).

There are many other places where "five" is used in Scripture, but these passages will help to an understanding of its meaning as a symbol.

35. "R. P." ― "What is the meaning of 'But ye have obeyed from the heart the form of teaching into which you were instructed' (Rom. 6:17, Ν. T.)?" etc.

A. ― The disciples in Rome had given proof in their practical ways of the Apostle's doctrine in this chapter, by walking in the truth of the old man having been crucified with Christ. They were counting themselves as dead with Him, and alive unto God through Christ. Thus sin was not having dominion over them, and as set free from its slavery they had become slaves to righteousness (he speaks after the manner of men). The heart was thus free to yield itself unto God in practical obedience, the conscience being at rest before Him.

The thought of baptism of water is not in the passage. Their practice corresponded with the true spiritual meaning of their baptism, referred to in v. 3, which was "unto death." Baptism is never put as obedience in Scripture. It is always the act of the baptizer, never that of the baptized. It is never the sign of what a man is already, or of an inward state; but of that to which he is baptized. They were baptized "to death" in this chapter; not because they were dead already.

36.Q., ― "What is the moral use of the words, 'For many are called but few chosen' in the different contexts, Matt. 20:16, and Matt. 22:14?" "Anointing" and "Sealing"

Α. ― I apprehend that the two passages show the contrast of the external effect and internal power. Matt. 22:14 is pretty plain. The gospel message, as men speak, had brought in a crowd, and where the true wedding garment was not, he who had it not was cast into outer darkness.

The application of 20:16 is less immediate: it is more the general principle. It connects with Matt. 19:29-30; there reward is declared to be the fruit of sacrifice; and to guard against enfeebling grace, this parable is added; where, though there was appointed reward for labour, we are shown to be no judges of it. For there were those who though coming last, if God calls them to it, will be first. There may be a great appearance of labour, and yet God not own it. It is still the contrast of the outward appearance, and those whom God has chosen; the fruits of His own grace, and not of following apparent principles by man, while only self is there. Only here it is labour and reward brings it in; in 22 external calling of grace.

37. "B., Islington." ― "What is the distinction between the anointing and the sealing of the Spirit?"

A. ― The anointing is the action of God, by the Holy Ghost, in sealing a believer as His. If I put a mark on something belonging to me, it is then marked as mine. It is the distinction between the putting on of the mark, and the fact of its being marked. God anoints us with the Holy Ghost, and the person, who has been thus anointed is sealed.

38. "M'C" ― "You ask, Are the two last verses of 1 Cor. 5 practically applicable, now, to those gathered together separate from evil, according to 2 Tim. 2:19-22?

And, Is it correct to refuse obedience until power come in?"

A. ― To the first, I reply, that the word of the Lord abides for ever. Its authority never ceases, and obedience is always due to it. Power has nothing to do with it. Grace is needed to induce the heart to obey, but obedience is always due. The direction relative to tongues has not lost its authority. Were there tongues, it would apply. But its authority remains. This clears up at once the question as to 1 Cor. 5:12-13. "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person," has its own simple authority that nothing can take away. It applies to an assembly including all saints professing to own the Lord everywhere (see address of the Epistle, ch. 1: 2); and whenever a wicked person is found in an assembly, the case it applies to is there, and it is a simple matter of obedience.

There are acts of power; as, "I have judged … to deliver to Satan." Paul does not say, Do you do it? He does it in all the solemnity of the assembled saints; but there is no command, but a personal act of power, as Paul says elsewhere, "Whom I have delivered to Satan" (1 Tim. 1:20).

The declaration or exercise of a personal act of power, has nothing to do with the abiding authority of a command. The power may not subsist ― the command does. That it requires the help and grace of the Lord to act upon it, is no more than is true of every command in Scripture. To apply the ruin of the visible assembly to sanction disobedience, is a principle wholly unallowable. I cannot appoint elders; it is not a question of obedience, but authority, and I have not that authority; the assembly had it not when Paul was there, nor can they assume it now; but they were bound to obey the command then ― they are so now. Wherever two or three are gathered together in Christ's name, Christ is; and there is the "within" and the "without." It is a clearing of the conscience of the assembly; "Ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (2 Cor. 7:11). Otherwise, the assembly would be the positive sanction ― and by Christ's presence, of the association of Christ and sin; it would be far better there should be no assembly at all than that.

2. Tim. 2:19, etc, gives us the general principle of everyone who calls himself a Christian departing from iniquity, purging himself from false teachers, and walking with those who call upon the name of the Lord out of a pure heart. It is individual duty when evil has come in.

As to the second question, it is practically answered already. In bestowing power, God is sovereign. When the Word has spoken, I am bound to obey. To "refuse obedience until," is to disobey; and it is to assume authority on my own will, and not wait till God chooses to do that which rests on His will.

39. "A Learner" asks, "If the Old Testament saints had eternal life, what was the object of renewing the sacrifices year by year?"

A. ― It could not be then said that they had eternal life. It was only brought to light through the Gospel. (2 Tim. 1:10, Titus 1:2, etc.) We know that they were all born again, but there was no revelation then as to the distinction between two natures. They had the conscience of the "old man" unpurged, and the desires of the "new man;" but, looked at as men in the flesh, they were under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the Father. Under Judaism, they were servants under the law as a school-master, until Christ and Christian faith had come (Gal. 3). "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son unto your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."

That which the sacrifices pointed to and typified had not come; the continued repetition of the offerings showed this. That of which the brazen serpent was a figure had not taken place. "The Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" ― now named for the first time. In only two places in the Old Testament is it named; and even there it is w view of the future. (Psalm 133:3; Dan. 12:2.) The Son of God had come and had displayed eternal life in Himself ― nay, He was the eternal life, which "was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" in the Son; a Moses or a David could not display it, and it was reserved for Him to speak first of that which He alone could display. He takes away the typical and oft-repeated sacrifices, unsatisfying to God, and leaving man's conscience unpurged; establishes the righteousness of God against sin; and God — glorified at what He had done — puts Him, as Man, into the glory of God in righteousness. Atonement was made, reconciliation accomplished, and now God in righteousness gives eternal life to every one believing on Jesus. "God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 John 5). Our whole state as sinners ― what we were, and what we had done ― was thus dealt with judicially on the cross, once and for ever; and Christ, risen out of the judgment, is our life ― we are quickened together with Him, having been forgiven all trespasses (Col. 2:13).

A new nature, capable of enjoying God, was imparted by the Spirit, through faith in the word of God, at any time. The recipient of it was born again. More can now be said; we have eternal life in Christ ― Christ lives in us: and this eternal life brings us into fellowship with the Father and the Son, which could not be till the Father was revealed in Him, and the Holy Ghost given by which we enjoy it.

40. "M. W. K." ― (1), "What Is the meaning of 'The author and finisher of faith?' (Heb. 12:2). (2), Is there any difference, and what, if any, between the words 'Faith of Christ' or 'of the Son of God' and 'faith in Christ Jesus?' Has 1 Peter 1:21 any relation to this subject? etc."

A. ― 1. The Lord is spoken of here as the one who had run the whole career of faith as a Man on earth, until He sat down on the right hand of the throne of God. The cloud of witnesses of ch. 11 might fill up their little niche in the career of faith, and be an encouragement to those who were called to walk on the same principle; but there was one who had gone through the entire course, from beginning to end of the pathway. If the fathers had trusted in God and were delivered, He had cried and was not heard. All ― even the cup of wrath ― must be drained to the bottom before the answer came. He looked for comforters, and found none ― His friends betray; His disciples flee away; Peter denies Him, Forsaken of God, because made sin, He treads with unfaltering step the pathway of faith, looking onward to the joy that was set before Him, till He sat down on high ― the "Captain," or "Leader, and Finisher of faith." We look steadfastly upon Him, and are not only encouraged, as by the other witnesses, but are sustained and strengthened and upheld in the race that is set before us. In contemplating Him, the new man is in vigour and activity, and the weights and besetting sins are laid aside with ease.

"Author," in this passage, is the same word as that translated "Captain" in ch. 2:10, and "Prince," in Acts 3:15, and 5:31.

2. The expressions are substantially the same. There is, however, a nice shade of difference. In Gal. 2:16, 20, we have the characteristic way by which we are justified, and by which we live ― viz., "on the principle of faith," Christ being the object of it ― in contrast with "works of law." So "we live," also, by "faith" in the "Son of God," as the object and motive and spring of our life.

In Gal. 3:2 6 ― "Faith," here, is the object of the apostle's argument, in contrast to "the law" ― Christ being He who is the object of this faith. 1 Peter 1:21 has no relation to this subject.

41. "R. A. H." asks the following questions from Col. 1 ― (1) "The firstborn of every creature;" v. 15?

A. ― The apostle is unfolding the personal glory of the Son of God in these verses (15-19). When the Creator deigned to take a place in that which He created, He must necessarily be "first-born," or "chief" of it all, in the dignity of His person. It is a relative name; not one denoting the date at which He did become a Man, thus taking a place in it. Just as it is said of Solomon who was not David's first-born, "I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth," in the place of priority given him. He adds, in verse 16, "For by him were all things created … and for him;" explaining and enlarging upon verse 15. He must be the chief of it all, even if He appeared last in order of time, as taking a place in it. Adam could not be this, and his children were only those of a fallen man. When God Himself takes a place in that which He created, He could not have a secondary place; but is "first-born," or "chief," because He had created it. Wondrous and yet simple testimony to the deity of Jesus!

42. (2) "All fulness;" v. 19?

A. ― We should read verse 19 thus: "For in him all the fulness was pleased to dwell." This was the counsel of the Godhead. In chap. 2:9, we find the fact: "For in him dwelled! all the fulness (completeness) of the godhead bodily." The fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in Christ. Christ is God; and Christ is Man; yet it is Christ who is both. When He, the Son of God, walked here upon earth, it was not a partial manifestation of God, as if He were but a man. If He, the Son of God, wrought miracles, it was by the Spirit of God; "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God" (Matt. 12:28); yet, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10); the Father wrought in the Son. It was not one Person of the divine fulness of the Godhead acting alone, or to the exclusion of the rest. But all having, not merely similar counsels, but one counsel, end, and aim; "all the fulness was pleased to dwell in him."

43. (3) What are the "sufferings" of v. 24?

A. ― Paul in a special manner suffered those sufferings of which he speaks here. To Christ alone, for Paul, as for all saints, belonged those atoning sufferings which He bore once, and for ever; which God never forgets. Still He suffered in many ways here below, in which His love led Him, and He does not exclude us from a share in them with Him ― "the fellowship of his sufferings," and if we are faithful we may know them in measure. Paul knew them in a peculiar way. It was not here so much "the afflictions of the gospel," as "sufferings for you" ― Gentiles ― and "for his body's sake, which is the Church," of which he speaks. The truths concerning his testimony which led him to prison, and a life of unparallelled devotedness and suffering, which perhaps few if any have ever borne.

44. (4) "The dispensation" of v. 25?

A. ― (a) "The dispensation of God" given to Paul completed the word of God. Creation, Providence, Law, Government, the Kingdom, Incarnation, Atonement, every subject had been unfolded in the word of God, but one.

45. (4) "The mystery which hath been hid," etc, v. 26?

(b) When it was revealed through Paul the full circle of revelation was completed: this was the mystery of Christ and the church. 1st, That Christ should ― as Man ― be set in the heavenlies, having all dominion, by redemption (personally He had it as God), as Head over all things in heaven and earth, to the church, His body, united to Him by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven. 2nd, That He was "in you" ― Gentiles ― the "hope of glory." This was a new thing. When Christ came He was the "minister of the circumcision (the Jew) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Rom. 15:8). Abraham was the vessel of the promises of God; they were repeated to the fathers, Isaac and Jacob; Israel took the promises on the ground of law and man's responsibility, and forfeited them totally; then Christ came, in whom were all the promises of God, yea and amen. He came to establish the promises, as Heir of them all, to the people to whose fathers they had been made, i.e. the Jews. He was rejected, and instead of becoming the "Crown of glory … unto the residue of his people" (Isa. 28:5), the Heir of glory goes on high, and the poor Gentile believer, who had no promises, comes in on the footing of pure mercy, not promise; as we read, "that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy" (Rom. 15:9): we get a place in Christ on high, united to Him who is the Heir of all the glory · and not only are we in Him, but He is in us ― not the "crown of glory," but "the hope of glory;" "Christ in you the hope of glory."

46. Q. ― "What is meant by the 'Hidden manna;' and the 'White stone,' of Rev. 2:17?"

A. ― The church had departed from her first love in the state contemplated In the message to Ephesus (c. 2). God had used the persecution, with which Satan had tried to drive her out of the world, as that which brightened her up for the Lord. This is Smyrna. Satan had not succeeded in driving her out of the world, as a "roaring lion," and he now tries seduction, as a "serpent," and he succeeded in drawing her into the world: this is what we find in the message to Pergamos, ״ I know … where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is." Still there were faithful ones; Antipas, a faithful martyr, might be slain amongst them for His name. (Striking meaning, the name Antipas, i.e., "against all" when all were slipping away into the world.) Now we find the promise to the overcomer in such a state of things ― the "Hidden manna," and the "White stone." The manna was, in figure, Christ humbled here: there was no place on earth that He could take: doing so would but own the world in its state of departure from God. He was the lowliest on earth. Those who were standing firm in this lowly path, in which the church should have trodden in His footsteps, would be fed with Him as the humbled, rejected One, which the church was now ceasing to be. It was the "Hidden manna" too. This is an allusion to the golden pot of manna which was treasured up in the ark for a remembrance (Ex. 16). The humiliation of that Blessed One God never forgets. It was no mere passing savour, as merely a means to an end, in accomplishing His great work; but that which abides in God's memory and heart for ever! Blessed to be fed on such food ― "God's treasured store."

The "White stone" was, according to an ancient custom, a mark of approval ― as a black stone was of disapproval ― it is the approval of Christ to those who were satisfied with this lowly path. In the stone a new name written, known only to Him who received it. There are common joys of God's saints now: there will be common joys in heaven. But there are secret joys now between the heart and Christ, known to him who is recipient of them alone. There will be such in heaven.

47. "J. K. M." ― "If 'all Scripture' is 'profitable' (2 Tim. 3:16), what edification is the Christian to receive from the narrative of Saul and the witch of Endor? (1 Sam. 28.)"

A. ― We learn a deeply solemn lesson from this chapter, besides the ways of God with His people Israel, instructive as they are. We find the closing days of one who had once maintained an outward form of piety, and had exhibited much apparent devotedness and zeal in the service of the Lord, but who never had faith. In Saul's case we see how far flesh can go in an outwardly devoted pathway, yet, when the testing time comes, it proved that there never was any real link with God. His outward zeal had destroyed the witchcraft in Israel, when he was maintaining a religious character; but his conscience never was awakened ― he had not faith. In his extremity in the face of the enemy he trembles, and enquires of the Lord, who did not reply to him by dreams, Urim, or prophets: and he has the solemn conviction forced upon him that the day of outward apparent serving of the Lord was gone. Like the sow that was washed, he has recourse to what he had once destroyed, and which even by natural conscience he knew was evil ― to enchantments. Here God meets him, and exhibits a power that causes even the witch to quail ― terrified by a power superior to the enchantments which she practised. He finds now, when too late, that he had given himself up to Satan's power, and made the Lord his enemy, who tells him his end. Like Judas ― who had habitually yielded to temptation, he finds now that the enemy cannot shield him from the judgment of God, whose grace he had traded upon so long!

Poor Saul! Poor Judas! how many a fair vessel, when the day of reckoning comes, will be found like you!

48. Q. ― "If Enoch and Elijah were taken up to heaven, what is the meaning of John 3:13?"

A. ― They were caught up to heaven. No man had "ascended" up to heaven till Christ. He did so in the calmness of His own divine and indwelling power.

49. "R. P." ― "How is it said in 1 John 1:9, 'If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness' after it is said in Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14, 'In whom we have redemption through His blood; the forgiveness of our sins?' 2. As a believer in Jesus Christ, whose blood has cleansed me from all sin, am I not already forgiven ― washed every whit clean ― so as to need no repetition of forgiveness, or application of it? 3. To which does the ninth verse apply ― to the cleansing efficacy of the blood at the first, or the washing of our feet afterwards by the water of the Word? especially as the next verse says, 'My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not?'"

A. ― 1, 2. I must preface my remarks on these questions by stating, first, that a sin is never forgiven till it is committed; let us be clear as to this: when I, as a poor sinner, believe the gospel, God forgives my sins on the ground of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done; He is just and consistent with Himself in doing so, as a righteous God. He justifies me, and I am pardoned for all the sins I have committed: God remembers them no more for ever. But more, I find, after all, that I am still a sinner, and that if God in grace has removed the fruit off a bad tree, the tree is still there, and may produce a new crop. Then I learn another truth, not only that Christ died for me and bore my sins, but that I have died with Him, and thus for faith, as for God, the old tree is gone, that nature which produced the sins, for which there is no forgiveness. As dead with Christ, I am justified from sin, and the Christ, who has died and risen, is now the true "I" ― a new graft on an old tree which has been cut down; "Christ liveth in me." The old tree is there, and if I am not watchful it may ― alas, it does appear; for "in many things we offend all." Now, I cannot say that I am forgiven for what I never have committed; for forgiveness has reference to actions which have been committed, not to the nature which produced the evil thing. Forgiveness assumes that the sins are in existence to which the forgiveness applies. Neither can I say that I must sin in the future ― I may do so if not watchful; and if I do so, it is the allowance of the action of the old nature, which, as long as unconfessed and unforgiven, hinders fellowship and joy. As for imputation, that cannot be, because Christ has borne the wrath for me, and is in God's presence on high. I cannot enjoy the presence of God ― and God will not allow me to do so ― so long as the sin is unconfessed and unjudged. The righteousness has not changed in which I stand before God, as Christ is there, but the sin is on my conscience. God has said in His Word, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," etc. I lay hold upon that principle by faith, and lay my heart bare before Him; a deep and painful work, much more so than asking forgiveness, for which I have no divine warrant after redemption was accomplished, and which is really "taking it easy." It is easy enough to ask to be forgiven, but a painful work for the heart to take the motive from which the evil action came, and the thoughts which conceived it ("when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin," James 1) to God, and to tell them out in the presence of a grace that does not impute it to me, and which breaks my heart down more than all else could. My heart thinks of the agony it cost Christ to put away that sin before God's eye ― feels, too, what it is to have a sin on my conscience, and learns the restoring grace of God, who is faithful and just to forgive me my sin; and more ― "to cleanse" me ― to remove the remembrance of it from my conscience in full restoring grace.

No doubt we have, as quoted, "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins;" but it is to sins that have been committed, to which this and like passages refer: Redemption, Quickening, etc, go much further than this. The former is the total deliverance of the person out of the condition he was in as a sinner, and introduction into another state before God. Quickening is the impartation of a new life ― the life of Christ risen, who had borne the sins away, and in whom I have the redemption. I ought not to sin after having been introduced into such a state, yet, alas, I do. Hence, when John speaks in the verse you quote (1 John 1:9), he adds, "My little children these things (i.e., the preceding verses) write I unto you that ye sin not." To have said what he did might have been taken advantage of by flesh, and used as license to sin; thus he guards it, and adds the truth, "If any sin, we have an advocate with the Father," One who has gone after us, and dealt with our hearts and consciences with His word and Spirit, making us feel the bitterness of sin, and thus has bowed our hearts before God in confession ― a thing we would never do unless He exercised this advocacy.

We do not need to be justified again ― to be redeemed again ― to be quickened again; all that is accomplished once and for ever. But we do need the sense of forgiveness when we have allowed the sinful nature in us to act in the slightest form. This is the value of the Priesthood of Christ during our whole course here; Advocacy is an action which flows from Priesthood. The presence of a sinful nature in us never makes the conscience bad. It is only when it acts that the conscience becomes defiled. The sin can never come to God's presence, because Christ is there. Nor is there imputation for condemnation to me. But the conscience is defiled, and the bitterness of sin felt I cannot go to God and tell Him that I have a sinful nature, and could not help it, because, if I had used His grace which is sufficient for me, I had not failed. But I go and confess my "sins" ― not "sinful nature" ― and He is faithful and just to forgive me, and to cleanse me, because Christ died; and the righteousness is unchanged, because He is risen and in heaven.

3. 1 John 1:9 is very abstract: i.e., it is a divine principle which the apostle states, without applying it to the state of the individual, as believer or sinner. John's Epistle is full of general, abstract statements. He takes things as he finds them, without allowing for the state of individuals. Faith uses the divine principle, and gets the good of it. It would pre-suppose that I must sin in the future, to provide such a resource for believers as such, specially. Yet when a believer does fail his faith seizes the principle, and uses it for his restoration. If a soul comes to God, confessing his sins, believing that God is faithful and just to forgive him, he gets the good of it, but I could not call him a mere sinner now, as grace has wrought in his heart.

The first two verses of chap. 2 belong to the subject at the end of chap. 1. The apostle has those who have eternal life in Christ specially before his mind in the epistle. He writes these things which relate to communion with the Father and the Son, that their joy might be full. Verse 7 is not an evangelistic statement of the Gospel, although frequently used in that way. It gives three features of Christian position. 1, Walking in the light, we are in the presence of God without a vail, and we walk there before His eye. 2, We have fellowship one with another as Christians in doing so; flesh is not at work in us; jealousies are gone; there is mutuality of joy, and all absence of seeking our own. 3, Although we have sin in us, and if we said we had none, the light in which we walk would contradict us: we know that the blood of Jesus Christ has given us a title to be there with God, and God to have us there. The light prevents us saying we have no sin. The blood gives us the consciousness that we can be there with God. It is not repeated cleansing of the blood, as such is done once and is never repeated, but it is the title.

You will say, Were not all my sins future when Christ bore them? True. But bearing wrath, and shedding His blood on account of them before God's eye, in view of all His people's sins, is not forgiveness. My forgiveness is on the ground of what He has done, and the application of the good of His work to me appropriated through faith. I object strongly to Calvinistic statements used at times in preaching, viz., "all the believer's sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven;" or the like. No doubt the sins were borne and the work was completed fully by the Lord Jesus Christ, by which they are put away, and the sense of forgiveness applied to my soul, but the sins must be in existence first, in order that they may be forgiven.

50. "Gershom." ― You ask how is it that the saints whom Peter addresses as, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2), are told in 2 Peter 1:10, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure?"

A. ― It seems strange to say to a person who possesses a thing to "lay hold" of it, and "make sure" of it, as you find in many places ― yet it is always the way in Scripture. Timothy had eternal life, and yet he is told to "Lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called" (1 Timothy 6). There are many instances of the kind. Scripture always looks upon the Christian, in the two-fold condition, "As having nothing, and yet possessing all things." It is the riddle of the Christian state. If he looks at Christ on high, and the changeless purpose of God who has called him, he knows that "He who (had) begun a good work in (him) will perform it," and, born of God today, he never can be not born of God. If Christ bore his sins and put them away, there never can come a moment when He did not bear them. He is united to Christ on high, and knows it by the Holy Ghost dwelling in him. To all this condition nothing can be added, and it never changes. But when he looks at himself below, he is a poor worm, in weakness and feebleness on earth, and has got nothing yet, unless the Holy Ghost dwelling in him, the earnest of all he possesses in Christ. Then he must get to heaven, and "so run," that he "may attain," "lay hold" on what he has got, "make his calling and election sure" to himself, in a walk in which God ministers to his soul the joy and secure sense of his position. It cannot be made sure to God, because He has called him, and chosen him. A walk, as detailed in the preceding verses (5-9), fills the heart with the sense of security, and joy in which He dwells. It is the atmosphere of the place where God dwells in unhindered blessedness; thus his "entrance" is "abundant" into that scene, when his time has come to enter it, and he makes it sure to his own heart.

51. "M. A. W." asks for some explanation as to the Covenant or Testament (διαθήκη) of Gal. 3:17, and Heb. 8, 9; and if we are under the new covenant, or any covenant at all?

In Gal. 3:15-29, we have the relationship between Law and Promise discussed as to how they stand to one another. Unconditional promise was made of God to Abraham 430 years before the law, and law then coming in with its conditions could not set aside the unconditional promises. Moreover, in the law there were two parties and a mediator; in promise there was but one ― God Himself, acting from Himself, and requiring no conditional terms. One was a contract, the other was grace. Read v. 16 thus: "Now to Abraham were the promises made (Gen. 12) and to his seed" i.e., Christ risen, as Isaac, in figure, raised from the dead (Gen. 22); where God ratified the previously-given covenant (c. 12, 15) by His oath, to which no conditions were attached whatever. "And this I say, the covenant previously ratified by God to Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul" (v. 17). The law was added, "for the sake of transgressions," but did not annul the previous promises of God, while it was testing man, and making him a transgressor.

There are really but two covenants in Scripture ― the old covenant and the new. Still the word covenant is used in several places in connection with the Lord, when it is but the enunciation of certain relationships into which He was pleased to enter with man or the creature (Gen. 9:8-17, etc), or by which He should be approached by man, but without conditions. The context must decide the sense.

In Hebrews 8, 9, He shows the change of the covenant, by the introduction of a new covenant, yet to be made with Judah and Israel; the old was "ready to vanish away." Meanwhile a Mediator is introduced, before the time that Israel and Judah will be again in the land. This Mediator has shed the blood necessary for its establishment, but has not yet established it with them; Judah and Israel not yet being under the dealings of God. If Jeremiah 31:31-40 be read, where the new covenant is enunciated, it will be seen that no mediator is named. Christ having been rejected when He came to fulfil the promises made to the fathers, sheds His blood and goes on high, and all direct dealings with Israel are suspended, while the blood of the Covenant has been shed, and all necessary for its ultimate establishment has been accomplished. In Matt, 26:28, He says: "This is my blood of the new covenant" not, This is the new covenant, but "the blood" of it. The covenant itself has not yet been established.

Hence in Hebrews, while the writer shows the old as "ready to vanish away," by the introduction of the new, he never shows its application as a present thing. The two blessings of the new covenant which we get, as Christians, are forgiveness of sins and direct teaching from God. Christians are not under a covenant in any wise. They have to do with the Mediator while He is hidden in the heavens, before He renews His relationship with Judah and Israel, to whom alone the covenant pertains. See Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8-12.

Hence, too, in Heb. 9:15, He says: "For this cause he is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance, not the establishment of the new covenant, but "eternal inheritance," as having to do with the Mediator Himself whose blood had been shed.

It is striking the way the writer avoids the application of the new covenant to Christians, while speaking of it with reference to Judah and Israel, and at the same time he appropriates to the former the two blessings which flow from it to them.

Verses 16 and 17 are a parenthesis. They show that even in human things, a testament has no force so long as the testator lives. Death comes, and then it is valid. It is the same word, but used distinctly in this sense.

52. "H. D. L." — "What is the 'reward' in Col. 2:18?"

A, ― The passage might be rendered, "Let none circumvent you," or "cheat you." That is, as if he said, Do not allow things to get an entrance into your mind, so that you should be cheated out of that which Christianity has given you in Christ, by voluntary humility, etc. There is no special separate word for "reward" in the passage, but the word is required to get at the full sense of the verb. The words I give in italics are all used to express one word in the original language, viz., "Let no man beguile you of your reward" It is not used in any other place in Scripture.

53. Q. ― "Lie not one to the other?" (Col. 3:9.)

A. ― The Christian as dead and risen with Christ, and as having put off the old man with his deeds, is to act in the truth of this, and disallow and refuse every movement of the flesh, the untruthfulness of which is unchanged, even by a new life in Christ risen. The life which he possesses in Christ is to be seen, and it only. If the believer is "in Christ" on high, Christ is in him below, and his responsibility is that "Christ" should be seen, and never anything else but "Christ."

It is the practice of a Christian, who is dead and risen with Christ, in dealing with his members, and refusing the action of the old man, because he is dead. He is never told in Scripture that he has to die to sin, but he is to act upon the great fact that he is dead with Christ, and his life is hid with Christ in God. This life is to be manifested on earth, in his mortal body.

54. Q. ― "Who were the five foolish virgins?" (Matt. 25.)

A. ― They are all those who profess the name of Christ. It is the profession of Christianity, not exactly the Church as such. When all are awakened by the midnight cry, reality was found in the five wise virgins as well as profession. They had the Holy Ghost, of which the oil is the symbol. The others had no oil. It was with the foolish profession, or religiousness without vitality. The door was shut, and they were shut out for ever! Lost, I do not doubt.

It is a grave mistake to apply this parable to the remnant of Jews in the "time of the end." They have not the Holy Ghost dwelling in them at all, as the believer has; even a babe in Christ has this (1 John 2:20). If they were not professing Christians, they would not be charged with having no "oil." Nor does the godly Jew go forth to meet the Bridegroom; he flies in terror. It is not with him the Bridegroom in hope, but the abomination of desolation in fear. There will be no time of slumbering and sleeping then, for things will reel to their centre in judgment.

Chapters 24 and 25 have three great subject-divisions ― characteristic of Matthew's Gospel. 1st. The desolations, and final restoration of the Jews as a nation on the earth (24:1-44). 2nd. Under three parables, instructions as to those who would be attached by profession to Christ during His absence, and till His return (24:45-51; 25:1-30); i.e., all who profess His name as Christians. 3rd. The result to the Gentiles as to their reception or rejection of the testimony then given, as to the Lord's claims and Kingdom; in other words, the judgment of the quick or living nations at the establishment of the Kingdom. In this scene you find three parties ― Jews ― His "brethren"; Gentiles, who are blessed ― the "sheep"; Gentiles who are condemned ― the "goats." This is not the judgment of the dead, but of the living (25:31-46), at the beginning of the millennium; the dead are not judged till the close.

55. "C. Somerset." ― "What is the dispensational meaning of the 'days' in John 1; and how do they correspond with the 'days' in John 20 and 21?"

A. ― First, John's testimony to his disciples who attach themselves to Jesus during his lifetime on earth (vv. 35, etc.); then the Lord's; then that of the witnesses (vv. 43, etc). Then again, Nathanael figures the remnant in the last days; an Israelite in whom is no guile (compare Zeph. 3:13; Rev. 14:5), who still sits alone, under the old covenant — "apart" (compare Zech. 12:13), and upon whom the Lord looks in their time of distress, before they see Him. (See Isaiah 57:15; 66:2.) Then they own Him as "Son of God," and "King of Israel," according to Ps. 2. Still, Nathanael, now that he knew the Lord, would see greater things than these; heaven opened, and a "Son of Man" the object of the attention of the angels of God! For "here-after" read "henceforth."

Then (chap, 2), the third day, the Lord, in the marriage scene in Galilee, renews His relations with Israel. Becomes the Host instead of a guest, and turns the water of purification into the wine of joy of the kingdom. Thus He manifests His glory. Then follows His judicial action at Jerusalem, and cleansing the temple.

These days are wholly earthly, and with Israel. First, John's testimony; then Christ's, and then the witnesses; and then His connection with the Jews and the temple on His return.

In chaps, 20, 21, there are no "days," and here it is rather the contrary. He gathers His disciples after His resurrection, and is in their midst in the first scene. Thomas represents the Jewish remnant who believe when they see Him. (Zech. 12, 13.) He pronounces the blessedness of those who have not seen, but have believed. It is not the church (as taught by Paul), but an intimation of resurrection work; not a simply earthly work. There are no "days" here, but three consecutive scenes pointing to a Christ known as having left them in resurrection ― not as yet uniting believers into one body by the Holy Ghost, which belongs to ascension, and John does not teach the church, or mention it as such.

An intimation, I apprehend, in Thomas' unbelief, that the Jew does not accept by faith the testimony of Christianity, and Christ risen, through the Church. He believes when He sees, as the Jews will do, according to Zech. 12, 13, etc, and owns Him as his Lord and his God. (See Isaiah 25:9.)

In the third scene, you get seven fishers and unbroken nets ― the work of millennial ingathering is not marred. When the morning comes the Lord appears, and the nets are drawn to shore ― the Lord has fish already on the land, taken by Himself through their night of toil.

56. "E. G. D." seeks to know the propriety of continuing to ask for many things of the Lord, such as, more of the Spirit's power, increase of faith, conversion of relatives, etc. Or whether, when these requests have been once laid before Him, should we leave them in His hands?

A. ― God exercises our hearts and our faith in delaying at times to give the answer to our prayers. The earnestness of our prayer will be according to the exigency of our need, and the consciousness that He alone can give the answer. The heart is exercised and kept in dependence, waiting on Him for the reply. Faith is kept alive. Other sources are not looked to when the soul has learned that He alone can do what is needed. It is a mighty engine, that of prayer. Fitting expression of the new-born soul's dependence on God, in contrast to that nature which ever would be independent of Him, though it cannot escape His righteous judgment.

Daniel had to wait in fastings and mournings for three whole weeks on one occasion, before he received the reply (chap. 10). At another, "Whiles I was speaking," he says, the answer came {chap. 9).

It marks the fact that we are not indifferent to the result, when the heart can, in earnest entreaty, wait upon God.

We may find, like Paul, that it is better for us that our desires were withheld. He learned also the reason why they were withheld after his thrice repeated prayer; thus he could boast in that which was the taunt of his enemies, and the trial of his friends (2 Cor. 12).

We need to be "filled with the Spirit." We need that our faith may grow; many are the needs of our hearts, as of others, and if God is pleased to bless His people, He exercises their hearts in prayer. Paul was indebted to some praying sister, perhaps, who could agonize before the Lord, for those gifts with which he carried on his service in the gospel-field. He could agonize in prayer for those he had never seen (Col. 2), and Epaphras too could labour earnestly (agonize) in prayer for those he knew and loved (Col. 4:12).

In the midst of our cares and conflicts we have to "Be careful for nothing," but to "let our requests be made known to God." He who has no cares ― God ― keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. But we have also to "continue in prayer" we have also to "watch in the same" and withal "with thanksgiving" for His ever opened ear. One of the exhortations in Romans 12:12, is "continuing instant in prayer" "pursuing" as it might be rendered.

The very "importunity" of the man at the unseasonable hour of midnight, was the occasion of his obtaining the loaves (Luke 11:8). One can lay down no rules in such cases. The truly exercised heart gets its own answer from God. At times we can, with simple confidence, "make known," and commit the request to God. At others the heart is conscious that it cannot but cry to God until the heart is at rest as to the petition. He will not give it till His own time, and meanwhile the soul is kept in earnest exercise; faith is tested and patience tried, and the heart watches and waits on Him. Again, such is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us; and if we know that He hears us, we know we have the petitions that we desired of Him (1 John 5:14-15). He listens to everything, and grants that which is in accordance with His will. He cannot fail in power, and we have the reply. The true heart would ask nothing contrary to His mind and will.

57. "P." ― "What is the 'ministry' (διακονία) of 2 Cor. 4:1? Is it the ministry of the apostle, or that which he ministered? It could hardly be confined to his ministry merely, as he uses the same word, though translated 'ministration' in c. 3:7-8, 9, where it is the thing ministered?"

A. ― It is the apostle's ministry, but ministry of and characterized by that of which he speaks. This is a common ambiguity in English. Hope is what passes in my mind (faith, hope), but my hope is laid up in heaven. Thought a good thought, is thought objectively; or, we are of much thought, is the habit of thinking in the man; so of others. In chap. 3 the subject matter ― law or gospel is the ministration, i.e., the thing ministered; but it was ministered by Paul, and therefore his ministry ― a candle was lit up in a lantern; it was itself the light ― the candle's light; but his light because he carried it. God had shone in his heart, that he might give forth the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. His ministry was this knowledge, still he ministered it, and so it was his ministry.

58. "F." ― "Why, in 1 Tim. 3:15, do we get the 'Living' God? Why 'Living?'"

A. ― "The Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16-17) is what the Church was built upon. It is the power which has brought it above dying man, and withal is abiding. It is a term of power and dignity above idols, above death in man. He trusts in the living God (1 Tim. 4:10). We are converted to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. iv). See Acts 14:15: We "preach unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God," etc. Well, this is His assembly on earth (1 Tim. 3:15).

59. D. ― As believers, the Holy Ghost dwells in us. Having believed, we are sealed until the day of redemption, and He is the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). He will eventually quicken our mortal bodies, as we find in Rom. 8:11. Is there any thought in Scripture as to His dwelling in us for ever?

A. ― There are no specific Scriptures that I know of which state that the Holy Ghost will abide in us for ever. But His action in spiritual power is essential to our power in life. The Spirit is life, and it surely is not to be taken away as power of enjoyment in heaven. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free." We are to be fully conformed to the image of God's Son, and we find Him, a Man risen from the dead, giving commands through the Holy Ghost after His resurrection (Acts 1:2). We shall have the Holy Ghost thus after our resurrection, and His divine energy will be wholly free to guide and direct in the service committed to us by our God, and in unhindered power of joy and worship. This is now checked, because of His now giving power to restrain and mortify the flesh in us.

60. "W." ― I had difficulties as to the passage of which you write (Rev. 20:4); comparing it with other passages, such as 1 Cor. 15:54, etc, which disappeared in seeing that the first resurrection does not describe a period of time, but a class of persons having this characteristic name.

In the passage (Rev. 20:4), you will find three classes named.

1. — "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them and judgment was given them."

2. ― "And the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.

3. ― "And those (οιηνες) which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark in their foreheads, or in their hands."

The first division is general, embracing all who reign with Christ, taken up at the Rapture. He not only sees thrones (as Dan. 7:9, where for "cast down" read "set"), but sitters on them; they are now occupied.

The second class are those slain under the fifth seal. See chap. 6:9-10, 11.

The third class are martyr victors under the full power of the beast. See chap. 15:2.

The two latter classes who seem to have lost the earthly blessings of the kingdom by death, are specially named as having gained by dying a place in the heavenly glory, with those who will then reign with Christ.

The first of these ― the sitters on the thrones ― have been raised or changed at the Rapture; and the other two are said, in company with them, to "live and reign with Christ a thousand years," and are all then technically named "The first resurrection."

My chief difficulty was, how that Isaiah (25:8) used the words, "He will swallow up death in victory" ― referring to the resurrection at the end of the tribulation and deliverance of the remnant of Judah; while Paul used the same passage, quoting it in 1 Cor. 15:54, with reference to those caught up before it begins, and when Christ comes, whether raised or changed. [I may here remark that Isaiah 24:21, gives the judgment of the hosts of the high ones on high ― Satan's power (Rev. 12), and the Kings of the earth upon the earth (Rev. 19). Then, after that, in chap, 25, in the details of the deliverance to the remnant of the Jews, and the removal of the vail of idolatry from the nations, he uses this passage: ― "He will swallow up death in victory," with reference to what happens at the end of the tribulation.]

In 1 Cor. 15, Paul quotes and applies it to those who are taken up ― raised or changed ― before the tribulation. This seemed strange; but the moment you understand that the "First resurrection" is a class of persons running all through the crisis, or time of judgment, from the rapture of the saints, until Christ's appearing, it is readily seen how the prophet Isaiah, and the apostle Paul, legitimately use the same words, having a similar class before them, which are split up into sections, as I may say, in Rev. 20:4, and are technically named "the first resurrection," though not raised and taken to heaven at the same moment of time.

61. "G." ― "Does Isaiah 49:9-10, apply to Jews or Gentiles?"

A. ― I believe it applies to the Jews. The chapter gives you a complete history of Christ, replacing Israel on earth as Jehovah's servant, from the womb of the Virgin to the throne of the kingdom. In vv. 4, 5, the Spirit of Christ laments that He had spent His strength in vain, Israel would not be gathered by her Messiah! This brought forth those touching words (Matt, 23:37), "How often would I have gathered thee," etc, as the moment of His city's rejection of her King drew forth those tears, which, though they came from human eyes, took their spring in the heart of God.

The answer of God comes to His plaint in the sixth and following verses. It was a light thing the gathering of Israel compared with the new and wondrous work He would accomplish ― not now gathering a little nation, but shining forth as the light to the Gentiles, to make known God's salvation to the ends of the earth. Strictly this is Christ here, yet to show that when Christ is spoken of in the Old Testament the Church is seen in Him, though not revealed then, Paul uses this passage in Acts 13:47, applying it to Christ's members, and intelligently taking as a command what he had gathered from the spirit of the word. In v. 7, He is there looked upon as a rejected Christ ― despised of man, and abhorred of His own people; but kings and princes would yet worship Him, because of the faithfulness of Jehovah, who would choose Him. In vv. 8 - 10 He is given as a covenant to the people, i.e., Israel; to bring in the earthly blessing; to set free captive Israel ― "Prisoners of hope," Zech. 9:11-12 ― and to open the prison doors to those who are bound. Thus the true Shepherd of Israel feeds His now gathered flock, which would hunger and thirst no more. How analogous is the language of Rev. 7:16-17, which the elder in heaven uses as to those who had come out of the great tribulation, and were marked and prepared for blessing below in the millennial earth.

The prophecy of the chapter runs on to the gathering of the tribes of Israel from the north and west, and from the land of Sinim (China), and the judgment on their oppressors.

62. "G." ― "What are 'Governments' in 1 Cor. 12:28?"

A. ― This word is only found here in the New Testament. He is speaking of members of the body set in the assembly. Those thus designated are gifted to guide and direct the assembly, as a pilot does his ship in her dangers and difficulties. It might be by the word of wisdom in the application of divine intelligence to those things through which she had to pass; the word of knowledge, &a, as in verse 8. The thought is guidance rather than rule. The latter would be by office-bearers, i.e., elders. Here the thought is gifts, or spiritual manifestations in the body of Christ.

63. "G." ― "How do you explain the apparent contradiction in Numbers 23:19, and Exodus 32:14?"

A. ― The context decides the use of the word, and the meaning of the sentence. In the latter "Jehovah" moved at the touching intercession of Moses, "felt compassion for" the people who had merited His judgment.

In the former, "God" is not man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent. Here the meaning is simply as it stands. His unalterable counsels are as unchangeable as His own nature.

The word is similar in both cases, but bears the meanings given to it, and the context decides that which is most applicable. In the one case it is Jehovah in government, whose thought of cutting off part of the nation, and making of Moses (the faithful remnant) a great nation (Ex. 32:10), is turned aside at the intercession of Moses. In the other it is God in purpose, which is unchangeable.

64. "G." — "Why is the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 3:11), referred to so early in the Gospels?"

A. ― John Baptist, in announcing Jehovah-Messiah to His people in Matthew's gospel, brings His two advents together, whether in grace or judgment. This was suited to His gospel, because He has as Messiah, to do with both. Luke 3:16 also speaks of these two great actions, because as Son of man, the character in which Luke presents Him, He has to do with judgment, as well as grace and suffering. Mark 1:8, and John 1:33, both omit that of "fire" the former having to do with His then service on earth, and present service of grace with His servants ― not with judgment, and John only speaks of His baptizing with the Holy Ghost as connected with His revelation of the Father in grace. The thought, in presenting it so early in the gospels, is rather the person who was to do it, in contrast to His forerunner, who baptized with water unto repentance, etc. We know that it was not accomplished until Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, with the Jews; and Acts 10 subsequently, with the Gentiles. See Acts 1:5, where only the baptism of the Holy Ghost is named; not that of the fire of judgment, which will take place at His second advent with the world. Also Acts 11:15-16, where the Gentiles are connected with this baptism. (See also 1 Cor. 12:13.)

65. Q. ― "What is to 'stand perfect and complete in all the will of God?'" (Col. 4:12.)

A. ― Epaphras' prayer was the echo of the apostle's, as one may say. (See chap. 1:9, and 2:1-3.) Paul had never seen the Colossians, but had heard of them through Epaphras. He could thank God as to what he had heard of them (chap. 1:3, etc), but he could agonize in prayer for them, that they might know more of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; thus to walk worthy of the Lord. That they might have the "full assurance of understanding" in the mystery of Christ and the Church, "wherein are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

Conversion only was not sufficient in Paul's mind, and Epaphras had learned this, and his prayer (chap. 4:12) took its tone from his lesson learned from Paul.

66. "C. H." — "What is to 'grieve' and to 'quench' י the Spirit of God?"

A. ― The allowance of flesh in the least degree in a Christian is to grieve the Spirit of God, by which he has been sealed until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). What a motive to holiness is the fact ― true of every believer ― that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in him! He may, alas, grieve Him in many ways. Rejection of light which God has given; worldliness; in fact everything that has not Christ for its motive and object must grieve God's Spirit, and hinder our growth and communion.

To quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), is to hinder His free action in the assembly. While there are special permanent gifts in the Church (Eph. 4:11) there are also the "joints and bands," which work effectually in the measure of every part, and by which the Body of Christ increases. If they are hindered in true spiritual service ― a single word for instance ― the Spirit of God is quenched.

There are dangers to be avoided on both sides, specially by those who seek to walk in the truth of the Church of God. On one side the danger is, that because there is liberty "that all may learn and all may be comforted," there may be the undervaluing of special ministry, which is a permanent thing as long as the Church of God is here. On the other, there is the danger of quenching the Spirit in the various helps, and joints, and bands by which nourishment is ministered in the body of Christ, by putting special ministry in the place of the free action of the Holy Ghost in the members of Christ; both are to be cherished, and the most spiritual are those who will value all that God gives.

The following verses (1 Thess. 5:20-21) show that it is ministry the apostle has in his mind. While in verse 12 he exhorts them to own those who labour amongst them and esteem them highly in love for their work's sake; in verses 19-21 they were not to quench the Spirit in any, but at the same time to "prove all things" which were said, and "hold fast that which was good."

67. "R. P." ― "What is the difference between the bitter experience of Rom. 7:14-24, and the conflict of flesh and the Spirit, as in Gal. 5? How am I to know in which state I am? Do not both come to the same wretched experience in the end, if in the conflict the flesh gets the upper hand?"

A. ― First, there is no proper Christian conflict in Scripture but that of Eph. 6:12; this is fighting God's battles against Satan's power. Rom. 7 is not conflict but experience of a renewed soul under law; not the experience of a person at the time of his feeling its bitterness, but that of a delivered man, who narrates what he had felt when he was learning his powerlessness against the sinful nature he had discovered, and the sad evil of the flesh in which dwelt no good thing. As a man who has floundered in a morass, and finds every plunge putting him deeper, drops his hands and cries out for a deliverer, who comes and pulls him out and sets him free; the delivered one turns round to thank his deliverer and tell him, now at peace, what he felt when there. He had too much to think of when there, now he relates it on solid ground: so it is experience before deliverance, told by a delivered man. Gal. 5 states the fact of the two antagonistic principles ― flesh and Spirit ― in their contrariety one to the other. Not necessarily conflict; for when walking in the Spirit we are above the influences of flesh, and do not fulfil its lusts.

In Rom. 7 the soul looks back to the struggle before deliverance from law. In Gal. 5 it is the two principles which remain in the delivered man.

When you are referring your acceptance with God to your own state in anywise, you are still under law. By which I mean your responsibility as a child of Adam; not necessarily the law of Sinai: and your experience is then that of Rom. 7. You have not yet bowed to the injunction, "Reckon yourself dead;" and you are consequently not free from the power of the evil nature which harasses you. You reply, how can I reckon myself dead, when I feel I am alive? I reply, you never will "feel" yourself dead! but you must "reckon" it so, and accept God's word by faith as more true than your experience and thoughts. Then you will be able to say, "Yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me."

Souls go through this painful process (Rom. 7), in order to discover the hopeless evil of the flesh ― "That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." It is bitter to discover right desires and strivings after God and good, and after all to be led captive to an evil "I," go that you hate what you do, and the evil nature is your master, and you do what you hate. These experiences do not set you free, but bring you to the discovery of how evil the flesh is, and that even the possession of a new nature gives you no power! Then you are forced to say, "Who will deliver?" "Who," brings in another, and your eye is turned off yourself to Him and you are free! In Christ, God has condemned sin in the flesh when He was a sacrifice for it (Rom. 8:3).

The "flesh" in the delivered one is unchanged; he learns growingly the total depravity of his nature. But there is a new "I;" Christ is his life, and the Spirit of God dwells in his body; and there is power in Christ to subdue the evil, by engaging his heart with Christ. The very evil he finds in himself becomes an occasion of communion with Him who has borne its judgment, that he may be delivered from its workings. He does not seek to subdue it himself ― that were to labour in sorrow and failure, and recognize himself again. He keeps his eye on Christ, and lives by another, and the evil which would spring up if his eye were averted is subdued; the power of Christ works in his weakness, and he can glory in it because of the power of Christ. He never receives intrinsic strength; that would be to take away the joy of living by Christ, and thus an unbroken engagement is needed for victory, and the subjugation of self. He walks in the Spirit and does not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

68. "A. L. O. C." ― "What is the difference between Matt, 16:19, and 18:18? Does the first refer to salvation in connection with the bringing in of the members to be added to the Church; and the second to the discipline of the Assembly? Or, do they both refer anticipatively to discipline? "

A. ― The first refers to the administration committed personally to Peter, with reference to the "Kingdom of the heavens." The second to disciples ― "Two or three" gathered together in Christ's name, and connected with the "Assembly" and valid at any time for two or three thus gathered.

In both cases it is "whatsoever" ― thus not referring solely to persons; though slightly differing in form of expression.

To Peter was given ― and to him alone of the Twelve ― the administration of the kingdom of the heavens, brought in in its "mysteries" (c. 13), and commencing at the ascension of the Lord. This power he used, as the first great division of Acts testifies (chs. 1 ― 12). He directed the choice of Matthias, Acts 1; he opened the door to the Jews, Acts 2; he bound Ananias' and Sapphira's sin on them, Acts 5; was chief in directing the choice of deacons, Acts 6; discerned Simon the sorcerer's state, and with John communicated the Holy Ghost, in Acts 8; he opened the door to the Gentiles, Acts χ; he was one of the chief speakers in the conference about the law, in Acts 15, etc. Whatsoever he did under heaven's authority, heaven ratified; though Peter did not do all heaven did for all that! This authority and commission was given to none of the apostles but him, and it ended in him. This administration was continued to none.

The passage in Matt, 18:18, is authority to the "assembly," and applicable to any "assembly" which scripture authorises, though consisting of only two or three. It is continued to such. There is no individual authority in it at all. For making requests, and acting under heaven's authority, the Lord was in the midst, and gave validity to what they did; though like Peter, heaven might do, and did a great deal more than the assembly.

It is of much importance to distinguish between the "Kingdom of the heavens," of which the "keys" were committed to Peter; and the "Church" which Christ builds. It has been remarked that "men do not build with keys," and the Church is built.

69. "L. T." ― "Would you please define in some measure the terms 'kingdom of heaven' and 'kingdom of God.' Sometimes they seem interchangeable, and other times not so. Matthew chiefly uses the former, and he only; Luke the latter, as others too."

A. ― "The kingdom of the heavens" (the true rendering) is only named in Matthew. It is a dispensational term; while "the kingdom of God" is a moral thing. You find the terms used, in keeping with the gospels you have named: Matthew groups his subjects together dispensationally; Luke does so morally; both departing from the historic order, which Mark observes more than any of the others.

With a Jew the term "kingdom of the heavens" was familiar. (See Deut. 11:21; Psalm 89:29; Daniel 2:44; 4:26-35, and other Scriptures.) It is the "rule of the heavens" owned on earth. It was announced as "at hand" not as come, by John the Baptist (Matt, 3); by the Lord (Matt, 4); by the Twelve (Matt, 10), and rejected; then in chap, 12, which ends the gospel to the Jew, the curse of Antichrist is pronounced upon the nation, and a Remnant owned who do His Father's will. In chap, 13, the Lord begins a new action as a sower, and the kingdom of the heavens takes a new character, which the prophets did not contemplate: a sphere overrun with evil, with a mingled crop ― the "mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens," and instead of the true subjects taking their origin from Abraham, they do so from the Word of God, which Christ sows; others accepting the authority of Christ nominally, as professors.

In Luke, who is the great moralizer, the term used is "kingdom of God," of which Christ could say in answer to the inquiry of the Pharisees if it came with observation, that it was "in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21), for God was there in Him; while of the "kingdom of the heavens" it could only be said it is "at hand," and it did not (and could not) commence until the Lord was in heaven. To have come in during His presence would have here made it the kingdom of the earth. His authority and that of the heavens was owned by the disciples, even before the coming of the Holy Ghost, during the ten days of interval, while they waited by His directions for the coming of the Holy Ghost. It will run on in its present confused state until the Millennium; hence a good margin of time after the Church's history is over, as it had commenced before it.

You find two places where it has a moral character assigned it by Paul ― "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17); "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20). It is the "exhibition or manifestation of the ruling power of God under any circumstances." A man must be born afresh to "see" or "enter in" to the kingdom of God, in its verity (John 3); not so of the kingdom of heaven, in which tares and wheat mingle. Souls may profess and submit to God's kingdom, merely by profession; hence, in Luke 13:18, He uses the term "kingdom of God" where nominal profession is noted in the parable, and where the "kingdom of the heavens" might be used interchangeably. Still, none but the saints would be really of it, as born of God.

When the Millennium comes in, the present confused state of the kingdom of the heavens will be set aside by the judgment of the quick; and it will then be displayed in its verity, in a two-fold, heavenly and earthly state of things. The Son of Man gathers out of His kingdom ― i.e., the earthly part of it (see Ps. 8; Heb. 2) ― all stumbling-blocks, and them that do iniquity; and then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father ― i.e., the heavenly sphere of it. (See Matt. 13:41-43.)

70. "A. B. M." ― "What is the correct thought of Heb. 12:23: 'To the general assembly and church of the firstborn'? Does the Holy Ghost repeat Himself, or is there a distinction?"

A. ― The passage should be read, "But ye are come unto mount Zion; and unto the city of the living God the heavenly Jerusalem; and to myriads of angels a general convocation; and assembly of firstborn (ones) enrolled in heaven," etc.

The writer is contrasting the order of things to which the Hebrews had come under Christianity and grace, with that of mount Sinai and law. They were not come to the latter (vv. 18-21), they were come to mount Zion — the principle of perfect grace from God to His earthly people, when wholly ruined in all classes of the nation; people, priests, and kings (vv. 22 — 24). This is the meaning of "Mount Zion" here; it is perfect grace. It refers to God's intervention by His chosen King, David, in re-establishing His relationships with the people at mount Zion (when all was ruined), in bringing back the Ark of God; see 2 Samuel 5 — 6. He opens in these verses a magnificent vista of all that will be in millennial glory, but as now true to faith. The word "and" divides each thought in vv. 22 — 24. So that the last clause of v. 22 should not have been severed from the first part of v. 23. These two clauses refer to the great convocation of angels on high. Then comes, "and assembly of firstborn (ones)," enrolled in heaven, by grace; they were not like angels — indigenous to the place, (cf. Luke 10:20.)

71. Q. — "What is the proper teaching of 1 Cor. 11:5? Is there any ground in it for a woman praying in an ordinary meeting for prayer, of course not in church?"

A. — First of all, I believe that in an "ordinary meeting for prayer," Christians gather together "in assembly." Any gathering together of God's people in the name of the Lord, where the Holy Ghost's action is unhindered ― i.e., an assembly which Scripture owns, is meeting "in assembly" and the woman is to keep silence and be in subjection — showing the sign of subjection by wearing a covering on her head.

No doubt were there no men present, a woman would be perfectly free to pray, or to prophesy if she had the gift; and I believe many have the gifts of Christ. But even if so, it must be used in subjection to Christ in His ordered way, and in private, so as not to usurp authority over the man, and mar God's order in redemption. To pray or prophesy with her head uncovered ― she dishonours her head.

In the first sixteen verses the apostle is dealing with the order of headships according to God, which were forgotten by the saints at Corinth. God is the head of Christ (looked at as Man); Christ the head of the man; the man the head of the woman. In vv. 17 and onwards, he deals with the coming together of the saints in assembly: "church" should always in Scripture be rendered "assembly" and there should be no "the" in v. 18.

The woman (and man too) in Corinthians had forgotten this order, and the former were, I suppose, praying and prophesying with dishevelled locks.' Their hair was given for a vail, not for such a purpose. She ought also, with her hair, to have power (a sign of subjection) on her head, because of the angels.

72. "A. L. O. C." ― "Will you kindly give a little help as to the Old Testament saints. We know they had life, and were saved as we are through faith; but had they the new birth, or new creation, in which the Holy Ghost dwells? Had they it without an inhabitant? What was their spiritual condition? To what things did our Lord refer in John 3, 'Art thou a Master in Israel, and knowest not these things?' How could Nicodemus know anything about the new birth? Was it the 'new heart' and 'new spirit' of Ezek. 18:31?"

A. ― The saints in the Old Testament days were born again. This is a positive necessity for any soul in order to "see" or "enter into" the kingdom of God. Whatever truth God had revealed, and was pleased to use and apply by the Holy Ghost to the conscience, when received by faith, produces a new birth in the soul. The new creation is quite a different thing. Man had not only corrupted his nature, and needed to be born anew, but he had been driven out from God, and thus had lost his place. The new creation is a new place, or order of things with God, into which Christ has entered as Man, dead and risen. We belong to it now because of redemption, and as possessing eternal life in Christ; but we are still connected with the old, and there are certain things of the old creation owned of God in which we have to walk, while morally we belong to the new order of things before God. Human relationships and the like, are the things to which I refer. They are of the old creation.

You do not express a scriptural thought in your phrase, "In which the Holy Ghost dwells." He dwells in "your body" as a temple individually (1 Cor. 6:19), and also in the House of God as a Temple collectively; "know ye not that ye (plural) are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). Hence "Had they it without an inhabitant?" has no force, if you mean that the Holy Ghost inhabits the new creation.

No doubt all the Old Testament saints were born again, and the life they received was eternal, though it was not definitely revealed under that name, until it was first displayed in the Son of God, a Man on earth. They were also morally of the new creation, although the time had not yet come to bring it to light. God was still dealing with and testing man on the earth. Eternal life is the Christian term for what we possess in Christ; by it we are brought into fellowship with the Father and the Son, and thus have a nature suited to heaven.

The Old Testament saints trusted in God as far as then known in grace. Their sins were passed over "through the forbearance of God," in view of what the cross would accomplish (Rom. 3:25). By it God proved how righteous He was in His forbearance with them. Consequently sin was imperfectly known to them, and their consciences were unpurged, while our consciences are purged now by Christ's blood, which fits us to stand in the light of God's presence. The tastes and desires of the new man in its aspirations after God and good were there; the conscience of the old man was there unpurged, but the distinction between the natures was not made known; they were looked upon and treated as concrete men, so to say. In conscience many go no further now, and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost characterizing the Christian state, is indeed known to few.

Nicodemus, as a teacher in Israel, ought to have known that a new birth, "a new heart and new spirit," was needed to partake of even the earthly blessings of the kingdom. The passage in Ezek. 18:31 bears on it; so does Ezek. 36:24-31, still more directly. In the latter they would have this new heart and spirit when gathered from the heathen into the land of their forefathers, there to enjoy their "earthly things." How much more fully needed to enjoy the "heavenly things" which the Lord had come to reveal.

The Christian has "spirit, soul, and body," as a sinful man; self-will and "flesh" setting him against God. A new nature has been imparted from God Himself; it has not removed the old, or improved it. The same man, "spirit, soul, and body," is now the property of another. A nature has been given suited to God, and to enjoy Him in light. The conscience is purged by the blood, on the ground of which he has been born of God. The Holy Ghost dwells in his body, and the same man, not now "his own," but "bought with a price," has to glorify God with his body, and hold it as the vessel, whether of the mind and character or affections, now wrought upon by the Holy Ghost, which leads him to live by an object outside himself ― even Christ. Thus the Apostle desires that "spirit, soul, and body" may be kept blameless till the day of Christ, when complete assimilation to Christ, even of his body, will take place. He has to walk as dead to the world, dead to sin, dead to the law; dead and risen with Christ. Morally of that new place into which Christ has entered as dead and risen, while still connected with the old creation, and in obedience recognizing what is of God in it; yet remembering that sin has come in, and marred it all.

73. "A. L. O. C." ― "What is the meaning of the parable of the debtor who was forgiven, and then put in prison until he paid to the uttermost? Is it Jewish? and what is the application to us?"

A. ― I presume you allude to Matt, 18:23-35. The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the Son of Abraham and Son of David, presented to the Jews and rejected; then the consequences to the Gentiles in two ways, viz., a new form to the kingdom of the heavens, and the bringing in of the Church, announced as replacing Israel. Consequently you find, as in connection with the kingdom of heaven, the governmental dealings of God strongly marked. Primarily you find God's dealings with the Jew. He, as a servant, owed the debt of ten thousand talents, and could not pay. All God's culture of him, culminating in His sending the Lord Jesus, only increased the debt. The Lord on His cross, in the name of that sinful people, pleaded for them in the words "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." They were governmentally pardoned, and vengeance for the blood of Messiah was not demanded at the moment. (I mean governmentally in contrast to that forgiveness which has reference to eternal things.) The answer to that prayer of the Lord was the offer of national pardon in Acts 3:14, etc, through Peter, by the Spirit of God sent down from heaven, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." Thus judgment was delayed for the time through the compassion of God, although nationally they did not respond to the offer. Then came the free dealings of the grace of God to the Gentiles, through Saul of Tarsus. They owed, in comparison with the Jew, but "an hundred pence;" still, what they owed, they owed to them, for "salvation was of the Jews." Thus, the same servant ― forgetting the gracious forgiveness extended to him ― went out and took his fellow servant by the throat, and demanded the debt. So you find, in 1 Thess. 2:14-16, the attitude of the Jew to his Gentile brother; so with Paul's defence (Acts 22) where the Jews gave him audience to the words, "Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles," and then they took the one who announced it, as it were, by the throat, and would not hear another word. Wrath came upon them then to the uttermost. God delivered them up nationally to judgment by the Gentiles under the Roman armies, and they have remained in bondage and ruin ever since under His righteous government, till they shall pay in suffering and sorrow, all that was due ― until Jerusalem shall have received double for all her sins, and the word "Comfort ye, my people," is pronounced. (See Isaiah 40.) Then they will be restored. This is the direct thought in the parable; but, as is usual in Matthew, you find not only dispensational teaching, but personal lessons as well as moral principles. So here you learn the principles by which we should live as those who owed ten thousand talents, and whom grace has pardoned. We must go and imitate God, who has so dealt with us. Alas, how solemn to find that so many having taken up Christianity as a profession, have failed in grace to others, and thus prove the insincerity of their profession; surely they will not escape. The kingdom of heaven always assumes that there may have come in profession under the name of Christ, and that such will solemnly meet its end in judgment where no life is. Life is known by practice, characterised by the grace which bestowed it, and thus its teaching is applicable to us.

74. "E. W. M." ― "Did the ministry of Paul, concerning 'one body' the church, commence when he was a prisoner at Rome? Because, at the conclusion of his oral testimony in Acts 26, he says to Agrippa that he was 6 saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.' Now we know his written testimony goes much beyond this."

"Does the Acts at all comprehend the church of God as united to Christ in heavenly glory? and is the distinction of Jew and Gentile (the absence of which characterises the church) maintained all through the Acts?"

A. ― In Paul's answer before Agrippa you will find many more things stated than those embraced in vv. 22, 23. The union of the saints with Christ on high is owned of the Lord by the words, "Why persecutest thou me?" Paul was to be a minister and a witness of what he had seen, i.e., the appearing to him of a glorified Christ, and of those things in which He would appear to Paul ― embracing fresh revelations of truth communicated through him at subsequent seasons, for all truth was not communicated to him at the moment of his conversion. But the Jews being his accusers, and king Agrippa being one who knew the prophets and was versed in the Jewish Scriptures, the statements of the verses quoted (vv. 22, 23) rather show that he was saying nothing contrary to the testimony of God in the Scriptures, which the Jews who accused him professed to accept.

Besides, Paul wrote 1st Corinthians during the early part of his stay at Ephesus, and sent it by Titus. (Compare Acts 19:22, with 1 Cor. 16:8-10, 2 Cor. 7:6.) In it he taught the doctrine of the church as "one body" (see chap, 12). He also wrote the Epistle to the Romans from Corinth during his ministration there (see Rom. 16:1), where he commends Phoebe, who served the assembly at Cenchrea near to Corinth; in it he speaks of the practical relationship of Christ's members as "one body" in chap. 12.

His ministry of the church as "one body" was no new thing when at Rome. He had taught it all through before he became the prisoner of Jesus Christ.

We must remember that Acts is transitional in its character. Jewish Christians were emerging from Judaism, and God thought of the strong prejudices of His ancient people, and forbore with them until the last testimony to them in Hebrews to "go forth unto him, without the camp," before Jerusalem was destroyed by the armies of Titus. The Acts is historic Scripture, the Epistles are doctrinal. This accounts for much; but strong traces abound throughout the book of the Acts to prove that the doctrine of "one body," the church, was the groundwork of all, and that care was taken to maintain the unity. Samaria must receive the Holy Ghost from Jerusalem (Acts 8). Antioch was not permitted to settle the question as to the law, and so to create a breach with Jerusalem (Acts 15). Jerusalem herself must surrender the right of imposing the law on Gentiles. So in many instances.

75. "H. W. T." ― You ask (1) 'When is a person sprinkled by the blood of Christ?'

A. ― 1. As to the first question; the only passage in the New Testament where ραντίζωto sprinkle; or ράνησμός sprinkling, are used definitely with reference to Christians, are Heb. 10:22, "Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience;" in Heb. 12:24, "To the blood of sprinkling;" also in Peter 1:2, "Unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."

In the first passage there is reference in the writer's mind to the triple action of washing with water, sprinkling with blood, and anointing with oil observed in the ceremonial consecrations of the priests. (Ex. 29; Lev. 8.) He omits the last mentioned, which was typical of the anointing of the Holy Ghost; for while teaching Christians as to their own privileges, he leaves it open, as far as the knowledge of remission of sins reaches for Israel's blessing in the kingdom. Then the vail will not be rent for them; while there may be access by faith within it to God, they do not draw nigh, as we do, with purged consciences, and through a vail which has been rent, into the presence of God in the holiest. The glory will then have come out to them, instead of their going in to it, which is our portion. Therefore the anointing with the Holy Ghost is not mentioned. Israel's blessings are founded on water and blood. I notice this important difference in passing.

In Heb. 12:24, he unfolds the richer value of the blood of Jesus Christ with that of Abel; called here the blood of sprinkling in connection with the New Covenant, as there had been the analogous sprinkling of the book and the people when Moses inaugurated the Old. The blood of Jesus spake of fullest grace to those who shed it; that of Abel cried from the ground for vengeance against the murderer, Cain.

In 1 Peter 1:2, the apostle states that believers out of the nation of Israel, being born of God, are sanctified unto two things: (1.) To obey after the pattern of Jesus, in giving up their own wills for God's; in contradistinction to the obedience of the law, to which they had been sanctified under the Old Covenant. (2.) Thus sanctified, or separated absolutely to God, they come under the value and efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleansed them from their sins; in contrast with the blood of the Old Covenant, which sealed their condemnation.

Thus far, as to the passages where the expression is used.

Now I think that you will find, that in the Old Testament the blood is always presented to God, when it is a question of sins ― sprinkled on the mercy-seat; before the mercy-seat; at the altar of burnt-offering; on the altar of incense, &a, etc. ― to give a righteous ground for the Lord's relationship with His people; His dwelling amongst them, or of their worship; also, to restore those relationships when interrupted. The only exception seems to have been in the ceremony of the cleansing of the leper. (Lev. 14.)

But in the New Testament the blood is always, without exception, presented to God, though we see it by faith. In Rom. 3:25, Christ has been set forth as a propiatory, or mercy-seat; which answers to the propiatory in the ark of the covenant where God's manifested presence was seen in the Holiest of all. And this rightly so in this chapter, for Paul is laying a righteous ground for God's actions in justifying the ungodly who believe in Jesus. Rom. 3 is all God's side; c. 4 gives our side as sinners. On the day of Atonement (Lev. 16), the first goat's blood was carried within the vail, to meet the claims of the throne of God; the blood was only presented for His eye. Also, in the Passover, He was to see it, and His passing over them was righteous, because it met His eye, and answered the claims of His holiness. So in Col. 1:20, the peace of the throne of God was made through the blood of the Cross, on the ground of which creation will be, and we are reconciled. In Heb. 9:12, Christ enters heaven through His own blood. In Heb. 10:19, we enter into the holiest because of it. In 1 John 1:7, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from every sin, giving God a righteous ground to have us in the light with Himself, and so on.

I do not find in the New Testament thought, that it was ever sprinkled on the person at all, to cleanse away his sins. He was justified because of it; has redemption through it, and forgiveness; access to the holiest, etc., because it has been offered to God. On this ground the Word of God (which is the water) comes, and by it we are born again ― but born of God on the ground of the redemption which has been accomplished through the blood. This accounts for the different order of presentation of the water and blood in John's gospel, and his epistle. In the former the blood comes first in order: "One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." The blood expiates, and answers God's claims ― and because of its value, He sends out the water of the word (comp. Eph. 5:26), and through it we are convicted of our sins, and are cleansed in the value of the blood. The epistle being our side, as the gospel was God's, the order is reversed. The water and blood is the order (1 John 5); the water has reached our consciences first, to bring us to God in the value of the blood.

The sprinkling of the person to cleanse his sins is not a New Testament thought; and the moment the water of the word has reached the conscience of a sinner, he is clean in God's sight because of the blood on the ground of which God has acted, though his conscience may not yet have entered upon the value of it. In fact, the first action of the Word is to make the conscience bad, creating unhappiness at one's state ― conviction of sin ― anxiety, etc. When the blood has been received with joy at the first, it has only been received by the natural conscience, or the intellect; there is no divine work, and the blade withers. A stony ground hearer has probably been produced. This is constantly the case in the ordinary preaching of the day in which we live. When there is a real reaching of the conscience by the word of God, unhappiness and exercise of the conscience is produced; then the value of the blood with God having been learned, the conscience is purged and there is peace.

76. (2) 'Is the unbeliever quickened?'

Most assuredly it is an unbeliever who is quickened, otherwise he would be a believer of his own act. Where, then would be the truth of John 1:10-12; James 1:18? If God did not quicken us by the Word, we never would be saved. No doubt, on the other side, man is responsible to believe; but that is beside this question. It is the action of the word of God by the Holy Ghost on the conscience of the individual, producing conviction of its state and repentance, or moral judgment of his state by the quickened one. God has acted on the ground of the blood in quickening him. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.) The person who has thus received life may not have the conscious knowledge of redemption for many a day. The throes of a new birth may last long enough indeed, before the soul is at liberty. When the conscience is purged and the forgiveness of sins known, the Holy Ghost dwells personally as a seal (a further action) in the person who has believed. It is the knowledge of forgiveness which is thus sealed. Deliverance may not be known at the time.

Before the deliverance of the Red Sea, the cloud and pillar came down. Before the learning of deliverance from a sinful state (Rom. 5:12-21; 6, 7, 8), and after the person's sins are forgiven, in Romans 4, the Holy Ghost is given unto us (Rom. 5:5). Forgiveness of sins would be followed by the Holy Ghost in Acts 2:38. It was so, historically, in Acts 10:43-44, 45. Just as the words "forgiveness of sins" fell from Peter's lips on the ears and hearts of those previously quickened, the gift of the Holy Ghost followed as a seal.

77. Several questions have come to hand, and as it seems that some have had difficulties about the reply to the question, "When is a person sprinkled with the blood of Christ?" ― I take up the remarks, and questions of Correspondents in detail.

Q. — "Then the veil will not be rent for them" (i.e., the Jew). What Scripture can be given for this? etc.

The want of understanding as to the place and standing of a heavenly people with God, in contrast with an earthly people before God, is at the root of this question about the veil. We need two things as Christians, in order to stand in the presence of God in the light: 1st, To know how what we have done (i.e., our sins) has been met; 2nd, To know how what we are (i.e., our nature) has been dealt with. The first thing that troubles the conscience is the former. A person finds that his sins are on his conscience, and then learns that they have been met by Christ bearing them on the cross, and putting them away. But this knowledge does not give me rest as to what I am ― for I am still a sinner in nature. Then I am told that I am dead to this sinful nature ― or "sin," and alive to God through Christ. (Rom. 6.) Thus both acts and nature, tree and fruit are met; I can now stand in the light of God's presence, within the veil, if you please. Hence you will find that Paul, who alone teaches the doctrine of the Church of God, treats of this double dealing of God with the tree and the fruit ― because he sets us in God's immediate presence. This is needed for the status of a heavenly people.

Now an earthly people, i.e., the Jew, will not need this. They need to know remission of their "sins" so as to walk happily before God; but they are never called to stand within the veil as Christians. Consequently, you find in the close of the book of Ezekiel, the priesthood is again established between the Lord and His people (ch. 44:15-16). The sacrifices are all renewed, and the feasts, with the exception of Pentecost, which had "fully come," and had expended all its anti-typical blessing on the Church formed at Pentecost. The Passover and the Atonement are renewed (c. 45:18-25), and the Tabernacles (Zech. 14), etc, etc.

Thus you have a nation with a priesthood between it and God, with a divinely ordered ceremonial; but, as I gather, commemorative in its character, because the cross work of the Lord Jesus is past; rather than anticipative, or typical, which was the character of the ritual in the Old Testament.

There is a gate "shut" continually, by which even the earthly prince of the house of David may not enter; "because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered by it." I should mention that there is a prince of David's house, the Lord's Vicegerent upon the throne, in the kingdom of Israel, by and by. The Lord Jesus has appeared and set all to rights, but His place is rather on high, in the glorified church; though there may be divine visitations.

Moreover, if you examine 2 Chron. 3, you will find a "veil" characterising Solomon's typical reign. It will be the same in the Lord's, during the kingdom.

An earthly people with a priesthood and ritual do not need the truth of "dead and risen with Christ;" but they do need forgiveness of sins, and the law written upon their hearts, etc, and these they will have. A heavenly people need much more. The total ignorance in most Christians as to these things produces the kind of spurious Christianity you meet daily, which even at its best only admits remission of sins, and a purged conscience. Consequently its followers walk as earthly men, as pious Jews would do, and take part with the powers that be, the wars and fightings, the politics, etc, which the least understanding of the place and standing of the heavenly calling of the Church would judge in a moment.

The veil was rent at the crucifixion of the Lord. Its rending marked ― first, that Judaism of the past was over; secondly, that man had consummated his guilt, and stood face to face with God; thirdly, that God had disclosed Himself in perfect grace; and fourthly, that the sins of His people were swept away by the same stroke for ever. God and man are now face to face. For a saint, he is as white as snow; for a sinner, there he is in the presence of the richest grace of God, convicted by the light of God which reveals it, while it exposes him.

But we must distinguish all these moral truths and facts from a dispensational order of things on earth, to be again set up on the basis of Christ's accomplished work. Still, I believe that in that state of things a godly Jew will draw near "by faith" into the presence of God, as a saint consciously does now when he knows his sins are forgiven.

You say again, "The paragraph on 1 Peter 1:2, tacitly excludes all believers (except) out of the nation of Israel," etc. So it does. It is addressed to the elect strangers of the dispensation, and to no one else. But they are now Christians, and occupying the same platform before God as those of the Gentiles who had been called into Christianity. Consequently the blessings of the Epistle are to be appropriated by the faith of those who are Christians; while several passages would only be thoroughly appreciable by one who had been a Jew.

78. Q. — Again, "It is said, the blood is always presented to God. Is there no application of the blood to us in Heb. 10:22?" I have already spoken of Heb. 10:22. I believe it to be a reference ― though not solely ― to the consecration of the priests of old. But the consecration of a priest is not the cleansing of a sinner. Besides, "blood" is not named in the passage at all, though doubtless alluded to, and, as I have noticed, the anointing with oil is passed over in silence. The priest was first washed with water ― typical of the new birth of the Word and Spirit of God; secondly, he was sprinkled with blood to consecrate him; and lastly, anointed with oil ― typical of the Holy Ghost's anointing or seal.

The blood has been presented to God by His Son. We may appropriate its value in any way that faith apprehends and lays hold of Christ. But it would be absurd to say that it was literally sprinkled on any one, and I am sure it is not. Faith sings, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." Scripture also tells us that our consciences are purged through it. But all this is faith entering on the value of the once shed blood of Jesus.

Blood was literally sprinkled on people and things in the Old Testament ― never in the New. I have named the case of the leper, and the seal of the Old Covenant when the blood was sprinkled on the people, where certainly it was not for cleansing.

I do say, "Because of its value He sends out the water," and rightly. For all the testimony of Scripture ― the Word, or water, and the gospel of God's grace is founded on, and announced because of the value of the blood in the sight of God.

79. Q. — You say, "Suppose there had been no blood-shedding, might there not have been the blood (qy. water), for condemnation?"

This I pass, because it is based on a supposition.

80. We often see the conscience aroused without any results following. Would it then be correct to say, that "the moment the water of the word has reached the conscience of a sinner he is clean? Is it not when the sinner looks to the blood that he is clean, although he may not know full redemption?

Natural conscience is often aroused without any results, most surely. But I do not term this what you have quoted here. If the Spirit of God in working by the Word has reached the conscience, and has implanted the Word there, a quickening or new birth has taken place, and in God's sight that soul is clean; but the very fact of his being quickened is to make him cry out "unclean"! Subsequently the soul is led to look at Christ, and His work and blood-shedding, for peace, and then he knows he is clean. The sins that troubled him were all borne away long before, and he was clean in God's sight from them, but his eyes opened upon the fact when he believed in Christ for peace.

I would not term the arousing of a natural conscience through fear, or the like, "the water of the word (reaching) the conscience." Far from it. I believe in much of the Revival preaching that goes on, such cases are frequently taken for conversions, and mistakenly so.

81. Q. — Another correspondent asks, if in Heb. 10:22, "sprinkled from an evil conscience," is not sprinkling of blood upon persons, and for sins? etc.

I have already spoken of this. Blood is not mentioned in the passage at all, though I dare say alluded to. Nor is it so much a question of sins, as of consecration.

82. "E. A. H., Clare, asks if a Christian would be attracted by those things which are pleasing to the flesh; or if it is possible to be in such a state of soul as that which would not be gratified by the things which formerly were desired."

A. ― It must ever be remembered that a Christian has not ceased, in becoming one, to possess the flesh ― the carnal mind, which is as much opposed to God as before his conversion. Of it God says, "It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7); this even in the saint has not been removed. The more mature we are in spiritual growth, the more deeply will we distrust and have no confidence in it (Phil. 3:3). It has the same tendencies and lusts; it desires to feed upon that which supports and sustains it. just as much as ever. But there is a "new man" which alone can feed in Christ. He is the "bread of God" by which the new nature lives and grows. We are practically living in and feeding either upon those things by which the evil nature is sustained or the new nature grows, all day long. The things of the Spirit sustain the new nature; the Holy Ghost takes of the things of Christ and plants them in our hearts.

There is nothing which tests the condition of our souls like every day habits, dress, conversation: they come forth out of the heart, and indicate the internal occupation of soul ― whether with Christ and the things of Christ; or flesh and the things of the flesh. But He ever liveth to make intercession for us, and by using His blessed services thus, the heart is kept free from the influences of flesh ― that which feeds it is laid aside ― the soul rejoices in denial of those things which would feed the nature from which He died to deliver us; learns His heart and walks in communion with Him; finding the fact of an evil nature the occasion of more blessed intimacy with Him, that its workings may be refused, and the tendency to start aside from Him like a broken bow, judged. Then the heart feeds on Christ, and the state of soul which refuses the things that would shut Him out is there, and former things things that gratified lose their power.

It is quite possible that a Christian may be in such a state of soul, as not to desire those things that gave such gratification in times past. The superior engagement of the heart with Christ has produced this, rather than the effort, in ascetic zeal, to curb that which is discordant with Him.