A Kinsman's Duty.

1868 177 There is a difference between getting into the light and into the spirit of the word.

Much depends on the mode of dealing with it. If I make it my study, taking either a subject in it or a portion of it, and deal with such carefully and laboriously, I shall get into the light of it. If I make it my meditation, not so much handling a given portion of it, but in a freer style letting the soul be borne onward by it, I shall get into the spirit of it.

Of course, I speak of secondary influences, remembering the place of the unction or the Holy Ghost.

Our perfection as disciples would be both to dwell in its light and breathe its spirit, to bear away in our hearts both the one and the other. But the disciple in whom the spirit of the word prevails will be a happier disciple himself, and generally more grateful to others, than he in whom the light of it is principal.

Peter invites us to that word which ministers such light or knowledge as prophets searched into and angels desired. But he tells us how to pursue this high and blessed study — by laying aside moral evils — as having tasted the grace of Christ — as having fellowship with the disallowed stone — as exercising ourselves in worship of a high order. (1 Peter 1:12; 1 Peter 2:1-10.*)

[*The Lord would not let Nicodemus look at higher things till foundations were laid in his soul, or (as Peter here speaks) till he had "tasted that the Lord is gracious."]

This, however, only as it enters my heart. My present writing for a little is on a kinsman's duties. The Son of God became our kinsman: "Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he likewise himself took part of the same." But having become our kinsman, the duties of such an one lay upon Him, and He abundantly owned them and met them. He has answered, or will, in their dispensational season, answer the claims of His needy, injured, or harmless brethren. (See Lev. 25; Num. 35; Deut. 25) But it is this which is on my mind at present in connection with this — that we ourselves have entered upon new relationships, and consequently on new duties. We have, by new birth, assumed another reason or nature, and also a new family connection or kindred.

Thus we have put off "the old man," and are therefore, as the apostle says, "no longer debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh;" no longer debtors to the claims of the old man. But we have put on the "new man;" and in the power of this thought the apostle, at times, directs his words at us. (Rom. 8:12; Eph. 4:24-25; Col. 3:9-12.)

Just as the Son of God took a foreign nature, a body that was new to Him, and ever since has nourished and cherished it, even the Church, as a man would love himself (Eph. 5:29); so have we and are under like obligations. We have put on the "new man," and have become debtors to nourish and cherish it, to live "after the Spirit," according to that which is created in righteousness and true holiness.

But, further, this putting on of the new man has made all the saints our kindred, and we have to own their claims as such.

The law did not say that, if such claims had not been answered, there must be death or stoning; but deep reproach and perpetual shame were to lie on the Jewish brother in some such case. See this in the ordinance of marrying a brother's widow. If the brother refused to perform this duty and raise up the name of his deceased and childless brother, upon the inheritance and among the families of the land, the widow was to come and pluck his shoe from his foot, and spit in his face, and his house thenceforward was to be called "the house of him that hath his shoe loosed." He was not to be stoned, but to have a mark put upon him, and to be made a kind of pillar of salt.

So with us. The Holy Ghost in the New Testament may not write a sentence of death against a saint who is indifferent to the duties of brotherhood, or the claims of his new kindred in Christ; but, as under the law, He puts reproach on him. "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" The spitting in the face was a vivid mark of the distaste of the divine mind towards the Jew who so refused the claims of his brother, and this challenge, "How dwelleth the love of God him?" shows, likewise, the distance between the mind of God and such a christian brother.