Thoughts on the Kingdom in Man's Hand and God's Purpose.

BT 1874 172 etc. [This paper is inserted as suggestive rather than as endorsing all the thoughts and etymologies it contains. Ed.]

In 1 Samuel 9 we have the hidden counsel and purpose of God choosing Saul in secret, who is a type of the religious system of the Jews invested with political power. He receives authority by the displacement of Samuel, who represents the spiritual power, manifested in the law and the prophets, rejected of man but owned of God, and continuing to be so secretly even when Saul — the politico-religious system — is outwardly acknowledged and under responsibility.

Now we know that the Jewish religious system did not come into the possession of political power until after the prophets had ceased to prophesy and the canon of Old Testament scripture was closed; and that though then in due time brought into manifestation and power, it was the law and the prophets which prophesied unto John the Baptist and which in truth stood for God as His witness. So we find in the whole history before us that (though Saul is brought into place and power in 1 Samuel ix. in the secret counsel of God; second, in 1 Samuel x. in manifestation before the people; third, in 1 Samuel xi. in acknowledged possession upon proof of power; fourth, in 1 Samuel xii. in full investiture and responsibility; yet) through it all it is Samuel who stands before God and by reason of whose intercession it is that God's blessing rests upon the king and people. And when in pride and blindness of heart Saul — the fleshly thing — ventures to intrude into God's presence on his own footing, and that with a burnt-offering and a peace-offering in 1 Samuel xiii. usurping the place of Samuel — the spiritual thing — he is at once rejected as unfit for God, and another chosen in his place after God's own heart, who could occupy the place of both Samuel and Soul as prophet, priest, and king.

If we look at the account of Saul's parentage, we shall see that the Spirit of God has marked him out as a type of the fleshly religious system (1 Sam. ix. 1), Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Bechorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjamite. This when translated runs thus — a snaring son of the "strong one," son of "bundle," son of the firstborn, son of the "recreated," son of the right hand. Now if we turn to Genesis 5, which gives a prophecy of the outward worship of the God from first to last we find the same order: Lamech, "strong one," type of the mystery of iniquity, the most perfect development of fleshly religion, son of Methuselah, "man of darts," type of the lawless one, the most perfect development of human will in the powers of government; son of Enoch, "dedicated," type of the church, the assembly of those firstborn — the firstborn from among the dead, who following Him ascended up above all heavens, the Son at the right hand of God.

When Samuel anoints Saul to be captain, he gives him every needed provision for his altered condition, laying one responsibility upon him in which if he failed it would be fatal. When God placed man in Eden, He made him responsible for one thing equivalent to abiding before His face. (Gen. iii. 8-10.) When He was dealing with Saul He made him responsible for one thing equivalent to keeping out of His presence; and in both cases failure was the result, Adam went out and Saul rushed in. Since Cain the flesh has always thus brought upon itself the curse of God: see the men of Sodom; Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; Jeroboam, Azariah, etc. And in the account which Samuel gives in 1 Samuel x. 18, 19, of God's dealings with the fleshly nation Israel, and the result, we have a resume of God's dealings with the fleshly king Saul, and the result. He had delivered their hand from making the pots — from all servile labour; He had brought them into a pleasant land, satisfying their mouth with good things; He had saved them and ruled them, had been Himself their King in their midst by His Spirit in his prophets and priests; and now they had rejected Him their God, saying, "Set a king over us."

So Saul was brought out of his anxiety about the asses into the knowledge that his father was sorrowing for him. (1 Sam. ix. 20, 1 Sam. x. 2.) A full and satisfying portion was given him both from God and man (1 Sam. ix. 24, 1 Sam. x. 4); and the Spirit of God came upon him in power, so that he prophesied in the company of the prophets; but in result be as they rejected the Lord in rejecting the word, and therefore was himself rejected. (1 Sam. xiii. 13, 1 Sam. xv. 26.) He is thus an exact type of the fleshly politico-religious system — delivered out of Babylon into their own land, with at least a sufficient portion of blessing; with the power of the Spirit of prophecy upon them. But the end of all was that they rejected the Word manifest in the flesh and were therefore rejected of the Lord.

Though we find that Saul is manifested as king before the people at the end of chapter x., yet Samuel remains in power as the servant of God until the people are stirred in heart to receive Saul by his courageous deliverance of Jabesh-Gilead from the hand of Nahash the Ammonite. So we find that, though the former rule was never established after the return of the Jews from Babylon, yet as to its spirit and power it still continued in the persons of Zerubbabel and Joshua — the prince and the priest — of Ezra and Nehemiah and onward, though ever more and more brought under completer subjugation by foreign powers — Greece, Egypt, Syria, until at length God raised up a temporal deliverer, such as they had sighed and groaned for, in the person of the Maccabean princes upon the occasion of the intolerable ignominy and tyranny brought upon them by Antiochus Epiphanes; who for three and a half years deprived them of all civil and religious liberty, suspended the daily sacrifice, profaned the temple, prohibited the worship of God — the observance of His law, and destroyed every copy of the sacred books that he could find.

In the Maccabean dynasty there were united as an outward thing the functions of priest and king, and so remained until the usurpation of Herod. This was to be the character of the new order of government which God was about to set up in a man after His own heart, but which must first be manifested as a thing in the flesh to prove the weakness of the flesh, and the instability of everything founded on it. Of the circumstances above mentioned we find an exact antitype in the transactions between Nahash the Ammonite and the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead. The words "Jabesh-Gilead" signify a "dry heap of witness." This is a most accurate description of the state of the people or worship and government of the Jews — the witness for God truly, but dry and lifeless. Against Jabesh-Gilead comes Nahash the Ammonite, and encamps against it. Nahash is a striking type of Antiochus, and indeed of Antichrist to come, not only oppressing the people of God, but hating and setting himself above God Himself. This was plainly so with Antiochus as just noted, and as to Nahash, whose name means the "serpent born of incest," we see that it was not so much his desire to slay the men of Jabesh as to lay a reproach upon Israel (1 Sam. xi. 2); and that by putting out their right eyes. And nothing could more aptly describe what the temple and the law were to the Jews than the right eye, and also that it was the only means the Jew had of seeing the light. And just as it was at this time of imminent peril, Saul comes forward for the honour of the Lord, and delivers Jabesh, is made king before the Lord in Gilgal, and rejoices greatly with all the men of Israel. So also the Maccabeans encourage the people to stand up for the law and the name of Jehovah, deliver Jerusalem, reconsecrate the temple; and having already taken the place of king one assumes in addition the office of high priest, celebrating the renewal of the worship of God and the deliverance of their country by a yearly feast and the commencement of a new epoch.

In 1 Samuel xiii. we find that the time of testing and trial comes upon Saul, and he proves reprobate. First the flesh appropriates the honour due only to the Spirit; for Jonathan (that is "the one whom the Lord has given" — for such is the meaning of His name) smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and all Israel heard say that Saul — the one "asked for" by the people — had done it, for he blew a trumpet and said, "Let the Hebrews hear." But though by these means he gets all the people to follow after him trembling, he has no power to oppose the enemy who pitch in his strongholds, and he is driven back to Gilgal, the last place of strength which remained to him in the land. His appropriation to himself of the honour which belonged to Jonathan having failed to inspire the people with confidence in him, he next ventures to bring God upon the scene as his supporter, and to pretend to fellowship with a power from Him, making the things of God a cloak for his worldly policy.

In his reply to Samuel (1 Sam. xiii. 11, 12) God never enters into his thoughts; it was how to keep the people together and to repulse the enemy — the fleshly eye upon the things which are seen. He wants to make the people trust in him, not in God. Therefore he does not offer a sin-offering, which would have been to take the place of humiliation and weakness — a place befitting him: but he offers a burnt-offering, thereby claiming acceptance and blessing — the place of honour and power — done for the sake of appearance, busied about himself, his people, Samuel, the enemy, anything but God. Samuel's answer is that of the spiritual man with God. His heart, his mind, his eye, are all upon God; he measures all things in His presence. For him the Lord is the beginning and the end. "Thou hast not kept the commandments of the Lord thy God . . . . the Lord would have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, but now thy kingdom shall not continue. The Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee." This occurred at the close of Saul's reign, but how the Spirit of God links up the fact of disobedience which filled up the measure of transgression with the command given him in view of his kingly responsibility, before he entered upon it! (1 Sam. x. 8.) "Thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal, and lo I will come down unto thee to offer burnt-offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace-offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry till I come to thee and show thee what thou shalt do." God would have preserved the earthly kingdom and the natural man as king of it, if nature and flesh had kept the place which He had appointed it, namely, out of His presence, approaching Him only through a mediator. But when the flesh takes the place of the Spirit, the man, that of the mediator, and presumes as one that has a standing before God to offer burnt-offerings and to sacrifice peace-offerings, it then comes into a place of judgment and is condemned and rejected for ever.

That Samuel's special place, appointed him of the Lord, was that of intercessor we find in Jeremiah xv. 1, expressly intimated at the outset of his ministry (1 Sam. iii. 21, 1 Sam. iv. 1); for the Holy Spirit testifies that the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord, and the word of Samuel came to all Israel. He was the mediator of a covenant and kingdom which was to pass away (see 1 Sam. xi. 18, 25, 1 Sam. xiii. 13, 14 and Heb. xii. 18, 28); but he was also the voice which cried concerning a new and better covenant and a kingdom which could not be moved, wherein God may be served acceptably though He be a consuming fire (Heb. xii. 28, 29). In this latter aspect of his work he is an exact type of John the Baptist. In Shiloh Samuel's work is a type of the Holy Spirit's in the law and the prophets, for from thence by him the word of the Lord came to all Israel, and the prophets spoke by the Spirit of Christ of the Shiloh to come (Gen. xliv. 10), of the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Peter i. 10). In Gilgal his work and ministry are typical of John the Baptist's who preached the baptism of repentance for remission of sins, and was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make His paths straight. (See 1 Sam. xi. 14, 15; 1 Sam. xii.)

1 Samuel xiii. The events of this chapter, looked at prophetically, are very striking. Saul's strength lay in Michmash, that is "hidden treasure," and Bethel, that is "house of God;" while Jonathan's strength lay in Gibeah of Benjamin, "son of my right hand." So we find that the fleshly Jewish system put all their confidence as an outward thing, in the law — hid treasure — (Psalm cxix. 11 and 14), and the temple of God (Matt. xxvi. 61; Mark xiv. 58) (compare Acts vi. 11, 13 and 14:) while all the hope of the faithful remnant was in the One that was to come (Matt. xi. 3), the One that was to redeem Israel (Luke i. 54 and 68, 75; Luke ii. 25, 32, 38). This hope as the end of that age drew near became bright and the means of much spiritual power in the heart of the Jew that looked for redemption: the power of the world anti the flesh — the Philistine — being cast out. The fleshly system then took up the same hope in a fleshly way, but altogether without power, the result being that a greater door is opened for the intrusion of the flesh into the things of God, and the people are scattered as sheep without a shepherd; till, at length, the fleshly thing, from motives of worldly policy and love of power, despairing of help from God and seeing with dismay the advancing tide of opposing powers which had reached the word itself — for the Sadducees denied the inspiration of all the scripture except the books of Moses, denying even them in fact (Matt. xxii. 29, 33) — forced itself to take the place which could only be occupied by the spiritual thing that was to come, namely, the right and title to God's favour and salvation on the ground of its own sanctity and righteousness, and this the orthodox Jew claimed on the ground of circumcision (Gilgal — Joshua 5:9; Acts xv. 1, 5). For nothing else remained to them: the house of God had become a house of vanity Matt. xxiii. 38) — Beth-aven (1 Sam. xiii. 5); and Bethel, 1 Sam. xiii. 2, Michmash. As for the word the Sadducees denied it and the Pharisees despoiled it (Matt. xv. 1, 20): see Matthew xxiii. 4, 5 and 13, 28, in which chapter there is a divine description of the state of things as seen by God. But when at length the spiritual man came and the whole nation went out to meet him (Matt. iii. 5, 6 and i. Sam. xiii. 10) to be before God in repentance and the putting away of sins, there was nothing left for him but to denounce woe, judgment, and rejection upon the existing system, in consequence of the position taken by the rulers (Matt. iii. 9, 10, Matt. xi. 16, 2.1; Mark xi. 31) who came not to the baptism of John as a body, though many individuals among them did, and to declare the bringing in of a new kingdom and a new captain (Matt. iii. 11, 12, Matt. xxi. 18, 45, Luke xii. 18, 36), leaving circumcision (1 Sam. xiii. 15) or Gilgal, as a ground of hope for God's salvation, and looking for the One that should come for deliverance (Gibeah of Benjamin), Matthew iii. 9, 12.

In 1 Samuel xiv. the fleshly thing, judged of God but in His long-suffering not yet cast out, is seen filling up the measure of its iniquity by seeking to slay and cast out the only living power that was in it at a time when that power had been most gloriously manifested. The fleshly system (Saul) had gathered around it everything that could help to keep it together — political power — (all the men of war, ver. 2) — and spiritual power outwardly — (the Lord's priest in Shiloh), while Jesus, the man of faith, born under the law, servant of the circumcision (Jonathan, that is "whom the Lord has given," son of Saul), has none with Him but the Holy Spirit (his armour bearer); yet the one is powerless for any good while the other passes from the rock of glory (Bozez "shining," ver. 4) to the sharp rock of tribulation (Seneh "a thorn bush ") Exodus iii. 1, 18, from the mount (Gibeah) to the hidden treasure, the kingdom of the heavens, the church (Michmash), Matthew xiii. 44.

The world (Philistines) gave a sign to Jesus that the Lord had delivered them into His hand (1 Sam. xiv. 6, 12) by their prince the adversary, the devil, for when Jesus was manifested (John i. 31) then the tempter urged Him to "come up and he would show him a thing," first to the edge of the temple and then to a very high mountain but only that he might if possible cast Him down. (Matt, iv. 1-11.)

When Jesus gives a sign to that generation, it is the sign of Jonah, showing that when it should be God's time and God's will He would go down to the very lowest place, even into the heart of the earth (Matt. xii. 40). He goes up to the work which had been given Him to do in the posture of humility, taking a servant's form (the likeness of sinful flesh), taking His place among the grovellers of the earth, the meek One lowly in heart (1 Sam. xiv. 13); and at the outset He utterly sweeps away the falsities which the spirit of evil had heaped upon the law and the commandments, perfectly developing the divine mind in them (Matt. 5:17, 27, 33, 38, 43), so as to be no longer a yoke "unable to be borne" (Acts xv. 10; 1 Sam. xiv. 14); and the crowds are astonished at His doctrine (ver. 15), for He taught with authority, and His fame went out through the whole of Syria, for He preached the glad tidings of the kingdom, and healed every disease and every sickness among the people, scattering on every hand by His word, touch, and presence, every ill, moral, spiritual, and physical, that oppressed the people (ver. 17). And though in it all He was ostensibly the servant of the circumcision, yet in fact it was by a power altogether outside the Jewish system as one that had gone out from it, still the politico-religious system was in authority, owned of God and under responsibility to Him (ver. 18, compare Matt. viii. 4), so that it had a connection with the deliverance which was wrought (ver. 19), which Jesus acknowledged; for when He had cleansed the man from that disease which was held up by the law as a picture of complete pollution through a multitude of sins, He says, "Go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses enjoined for a witness to them." (Ver. 15, "the host:" compare Matt. viii. 1-4.)

Again, when He chases away by a word the paralysis from the centurion's servant (ver. 15, "the field"), it is shown to be in connection with the promise to Israel which is made good though the sons of the kingdom be cast out (Matt. viii. 5, 13), proving that those who considered themselves the sons of the kingdom were really enemies and intruders. So also driving out with a touch the fever which had prostrated Peter's mother-in-law, casting out the spirits with a word, and healing all that were ill (ver. 15, "all the people"), it is as Shepherd of the sheep, about to be stricken in fulfilment of prophecy made to the Lord's people the sheep of His pasture. (Ps. 100:3; Isa. liii. 6; Matt. viii. 14–17.) Yet when the representatives of the Jewish system reckon Him as one of themselves and seek in a fleshly way to connect themselves with Him, He shows that He is not to be reckoned among them but has gone out from them, and that if they are to be numbered as His it must be by a perfect separation from everything else. (Compare 1 Sam. xiv. 16, 18 with Matt. viii. 18, 22, Matt. x. 34, 40.)

The Lord goes on to prove His power and authority from God by bringing into subjection not only the moral world and its action in man, as we have seen all bodily disease is the result of moral disease, but also the powers of the material universe in their action on man and the world of spirits in power over man. (Matt. viii. 23-31; 1 Sam. 14:16.) In each case the powers that would oppose perish by their own swords — fall by their own counsel. For no sooner does the spirit of self-righteousness (the bringing in of something good, or the putting away of something evil, Matt. viii. 20-22) intrude itself upon the Lord's notice than its very exhibition is the occasion of its destruction. So again, when the rising against Him of the winds and the sea is brought under His notice, He rebukes them, and there is a great calm. (Matt. viii. 23-27.) And when two men possessed by demons come out of the tombs to meet Him and exclaim against Him, the Lord permits the demons to have their own way, and the result is, that they go down into the abyss. (1 Sam. xiv. 20.)

In Matthew ix. 1-8, all the power of the enemy against man is brought into the presence of the Lord in the case of the paralytic; moral disease in the scribes, physical and spiritual disease in the paralytic, thus severally manifested and dealt with by the Lord. But by saving man from the last, He brings out the first, in smiting which He takes opportunity to deliver from the second. But this exhibition of power altogether disconcerts the upholders of the religious system in authority, and provokes jealousy which causes them to oppose the work of God, using the word and name of God as a pretext. (Matt. ix. 3 and 34.) They first hold aloof themselves (1 Sam. xiv. 18, 19; Matt. ix. 3), and then openly oppose it, preventing the people from reaping the benefit of it. (1 Sam. xiv. 24; Matt. ix. 34, 36; Matt. xii. 24. 37.) The two cases of the sick of the palsy and Matthew the publican show the result of the Lord's spiritual work. "Jesus" — the One who should save His people from their sins — upon those who, though His people, yet were enslaved and oppressed by the world and the flesh — when the paralytic is brought to Him, He immediately delivers him from his spiritual bondage; for though quickened in soul — for Jesus calls him son or child* — he was as helpless for good in spirit as in body, by reason of the fleshly religious power (scribes and Pharisees, Matt. ix. 3 — occupiers of Moses' seat, Philistines; 1 Sam. xiv. 21) which kept him in deadly fear lest after all he should be among the last. Jesus therefore at once says to him, "Be of good courage, child: thy sins are forgiven," changing him thereby from a man of doubt and fear to a man of faith, turning him from being the enemy's slave to be His own free man: from henceforth to smite the foe by glorifying God. (Matt. ix. 1, 9; Luke 5:20, 27; compare 1 Sam. xiv. 21.)

[*One could not admit the force of the argument, save as a figure. Ed.]

Passing from thence Jesus sees a man named Matthew, a quickened soul (for Jesus never spoke in the way He did to Matthew to any but men of faith), but hindered, and hidden, and choked (1 Sam. xiv. 22) by the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this life, the power of the world (=Ephraim, the fruitfulness of the earth). He delivers him in an instant from all his foes by a word. He says, "Follow me," and leaving all he rises up and follows Him. So that from that time he likewise becomes a smiter of the Philstines together doubtless with many others like him (Matt. ix. 9, 10), "following hard after them in the battle."

In Matthew 5, 6, 7, Jesus is seen to be the Messiah — the Prophet, with power and authority on earth to reveal the truth and mind of God, but to be rejected by the Jewish system which claimed that place for itself — the power of interpreting the word. (Compare Matt. vii. 28, 29; 1 Sam. x. 8; 1 Sam. xiii. 8, 12.) In Matthew viii., ix., He manifests Himself as the Priest come to make intercession for the transgressors, being in His own person all that was shown forth in the ark of God Himself the mercy-seat, the Spirit of God abiding on Him, and the glory of God shining forth from Him; being in Himself the Bread of life, the fulfilling of the law and the only lawful possessor of priestly power. (Compare Matt. viii. 17; Matt. ix. 6, 12, 13; 1 Sam. xiv. 18, 19.) Again is He rejected as such by the Jewish system, for what do the Pharisees want with a Physician seeing that they are strong and not ill? or what need had they of a Priest, for they were righteous men, not sinners? Further on (Matt. ix. 18, 34) He is shown to be a Prince and a Saviour, Lord of all power and might, with all power given unto Him in heaven and earth; and the Heir to whom the inheritance belongs, but His claims denied and Himself blasphemously rejected by the Pharisees, though they were their own judges in pretending to do the same things themselves.

This course of things is exactly paralleled in the history of Saul. He first usurps the place of Samuel the prophet, the one who had power with God to reveal God's mind and obtain deliverance on the ground of personal merit; thus, rejecting Samuel, he is himself rejected. He must dispense with the priests and the ark of God, really treating them as unnecessary things, though making a great show of reverence for them; talking to the priest but neither inquiring by them of God, nor waiting for a message from Him; but saying to the priest, as though finding Him a hindrance instead of a help, "Withdraw thy hand," and hurrying off to the battle without him. (See 1 Sam. xiv. 18-20.) At last, puffed up by pride, be is found casting out and ready to slay the prince — the heir of his kingdom, the one who had proved that he had power from God who "had wrought this great salvation in Israel — who had wrought with God this day." (See 1 Sam. xiv. 38–45.)

In Matthew 5, 6, 7, Jesus attacks the enemy on the ground of the word, and drives him completely from all his positions; showing Himself therein as the Prophet, the revealer of the mind of God. In Matthew viii., ix. 1, 13, He manifests His priestly power in the cleansing, healing, and casting out the demons, "taking our infirmities and bearing our diseases" (Matt. viii. 17), granting forgiveness of sins (Matt. ix. 16), healing the sick in soul; having mercy not sacrifice — having to do with sinners, not with righteous (Matt. ix. 12, 13).

From Matthew ix. 14-34, these lines of character are gathered up, and the third ground of authority, that of King of Israel, brought in, only to be more decisively rejected than ever by those who were leaders of the people. From verses 14-17, He reveals Himself as the Prophet, not repairing the old thing but bringing a new blessing from God and new vessels to contain it. From verses 19-22 He is seen as the Priest, the Priest after God, not contracting defilement by contact with the polluted, but communicating cleanness from Himself, who because He was the sacrifice could as Priest bring unto God on the ground of atonement every unclean one that touched Him by faith. This is linked in with His position as Messiah the King of Israel (see Matt. xviii. 23-34), where He raises the dead, gives sight to the blind, and casts out the demons by virtue of His kingly authority, the Anointed One of the Lord, the Son of David.

In Matthew 5, 6, 7, the Lord takes an attitude of resistance and defence, driving the enemy from God's ground in the old things, which they had falsely occupied (1 Sam. xiii. 1, 5; Michmash — "hidden treasures;" Bethel — "house of God"), namely, the word; in chapter viii., from the man of faith; in Matthew ix. 1-13 from quickened souls. In Matthew ix. 14-17 the principle of the new thing is established and from that vantage-ground the Lord goes out to attack the enemy in his own stronghold (1 Sam. xiv. 23: Beth-aven — "house of vanity"); the unclean touches the clean unbidden and goes away cleansed (vers. 19-22); life comes into the presence of the dead one and she rises up (ver. 26): the blind pursue the seeing One and receive sight; the dumb demoniac brought to Him is delivered and speaks.

From Matthew 9:37, 38; Matthew 10, the new thing is fully brought out — the kingdom of the heavens — its conditions and characteristics enunciated and described, its work appointed and its path marked out. In Matthew xi. 2-16 the last stragglers are brought up and the tremblers that lingered in their hiding places brought out; in Matthew xi. 16-19 the last enemy is smitten from God's ground (Matt. xi. 20-24), the battle carried over their own territory — hypocrisy laid bare, and unbelief and hardness of heart visited with destroying judgment. (Matt. xi. 25-30.)

Jesus gathers up all His work: Prophet of the Father; Priest to God the Father; King from the Father. The Prophet-witness to the Father as the Lord of the heaven and the earth, the present Revealer of the Father to the babe of faith; the King in the Father's power over all things; the Father's Son unknown of the world witnessing of Him as its Lord; the Son known personally of the Father and personally knowing the Father, revealing Him in the same personal knowledge and relationship to the babe of faith; the Son of the Father invested with all the Father's authority and power to bring all things in subjection to His yoke of love and peace and blessing. In His whole work, character, a person rejected of man but owned of God and of faith; proved to be of God by His manifested power; acknowledged by the crowds who groaned under the bondage imposed upon them by their religious leaders, being harassed and weary as sheep not having a shepherd — led into a desert of stones and not into green pastures and still waters; all soul-good denied them, and instead only burdens laid upon their shoulders by those who, though destitute of spiritual power themselves, yet coveted to be the acknowledged exponents of God's truth to the world, in order to which end they laboured to keep in abject submission those who owned their sway (Matt. ix. 35, 36; 1 Sam. xiv. 24–26); who now gladly crowded after One bringing spiritual power, and by it bodily deliverance, and withal rest and liberty.

The mind is lost in wonder when considering the great salvation as to earthly things which the Lord wrought in Israel (Matt. x.); unclean spirits cast out, every disease and bodily weakness healed (ver. 1); the dead raised, the lepers cleansed (ver. 8), demons cast out; but the Lord shows that notwithstanding this His mission by His disciples would seem to fail, and they themselves be rejected through hypocrisy and unbelief and the prejudice of system. Yet through it all the remnant of faith would obtain deliverance, those who amidst conflicting counsels and the strife of men clung to Him alone, leaving with them the comforting assurance for their individual souls that no act of faith, however small, could pass unheeded since it was ministered to Himself.

In Matthew xi. the power of system over the human mind is strikingly set forth. There the one most in the mind of God and least oppressed by the tradition of men yet belonging to the old thing — the system owned of God — is so influenced by the current of thought among those with whom his lot is cast that he hesitates to take for his soul's comfort and nourishment the blessed sweet truth that He had come, even the Christ who was sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, and had power on earth to save from grief and evil in spirit, soul, or body those who should trust in Him. It is John who came neither eating nor drinking, and scarcely daring to stretch out his hand to take of the sweet spiritual blessings though in owning the Christ he had a right to all.

But the Son of man came eating and drinking, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners, enjoying all the blessings in the land as from God and unto Him, using all for His glory, and as means and opportunities to smite the enemy (compare Matt. xi.; 1 Sam. xiv. 24–30). At this time the moment has arrived (Matt. xii. 1–8) for the Son of man to manifest Himself in His full authority as Lord of all. Even to the house of God, the temple, and the sabbath, with authority and commission from God to sweep away all the vain imaginations of men, and to break down human devices in the things of God and upon the ground of being Lord of all, and in particular the Chief and Captain of His people, answerable for them in everything, and they alone responsible to Him, does He reply to the captious fault-finding and envy of the Pharisees. As speaking for the people He quotes the same scripture in Matthew ix. 13, in proof of His right to call sinners, namely, that Jehovah had willed to have mercy upon those who had no claim in law or righteousness upon Him for the sake of His priest. And now He quotes this scripture (Matt. xii. 7) in connection with David's obtaining the show-bread for himself and men, to prove to the Pharisees that they had no right to question the actions of His followers since God had willed to have mercy upon all who owned Him, and really dealt with Him alone as Head and Chief and Lord, responsible and accountable for all things done in His name, and by those owning His sway. It was not merely that the act was a guiltless one, in itself, by-and-by if it had been a guilty one, He was prepared to take the charge and consequences and responsibility of it upon Himself.

Having thus utterly routed the enemy, working by the world and the flesh in the things of God, at every point where a stand had been made, the Lord now pursues His victory still farther, carrying the battle into the synagogues on the sabbath day. (Compare 1 Sam. xiv. 81; Matt. xii. 9, etc. Ajalon — "of a stag," the place of a clean animal delighting in high places. So a synagogue was a place for refreshing and communion, a place of delight for those clean before the Lord.) It is here the crowning victory on Jewish ground takes place and is the occasion of the evil heart of man for the first time consciously compassing the death of Jesus; thus unconsciously beginning to work out the predeterminate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Just so it was by reason of the people enjoying the fruits of Jonathan's victory, without acknowledging that the life was forfeited to God, thus bringing the curse of God upon Israel that caused Saul to compass Jonathan's death, falsely supposing that it was the breaking of his command that had caused God's face to be turned away.

If 1 Samuel xiv. 24-46 be compared with Matthew xii. 1-22, the workings of the spirit of evil in the evil heart of unbelief against the man of faith — Jesus — are clearly seen. Jesus is therein exhibited tasting the sweets of the power which God had given Him as Son of man, His Anointed One, to deliver His people from the power of evil. Just as honey was one of God's promised blessings to His people in the land, so was deliverance from sin, sickness, disease, and death God's promised blessings by His Messiah; and had the people but been willing to take freely of these, great would have been the salvation wrought in Israel and great the triumph over all their enemies; instead of which, blinded by the false teaching of their rulers, and their own unbelief, they repented not; they refused to be saved from their sins (Matt. xi. 20-24), though willing enough to participate in their own fleshly way in the mere earthly blessings which came in as part of the results of the Lord's work as Son of man; grasping them as fleshly men and not receiving them as those whose lives were forfeited to God.

But the Lord would not permit them to deal with Him as to His claims in this fleshly way. He would not commit Himself to them, for He knew what was in man. Therefore when He had healed great crowds, He charged them that they should not make Him publicly known, in order that He might be just the meek and silent One, with gentlest touch and lightest footfall, before He brought forth His judicial victory as anointed Son of God. And when they would have taken Him to make Him king, He departed by Himself alone into the mountain to pray, and causes many of His disciples to go away back and walk no more with Him by telling them that none can come to Him except it were given them of His Father.

But like Saul the rulers of the Jewish system had a plan whereby to remedy this revelling in the things of the flesh which spread through all the people, little knowing that the remedy was as fleshly as the sin, namely, to multiply their religious duties — to observe with severest straitness all the law, maxims, customs, traditions, and observances; to roll a great stone of work and labour, not for God but man. And when these fleshly commands were obeyed and earthly things were brought under the sanction of the worldly religious system, then one might take his fill of flesh, unawed by the fact that God's wrathful judgment because of broken law hung over them.

But Jesus takes occasion by the healing of a blind and dumb man possessed by a demon to show the principles of His kingdom, opposed as it is to the power of Satan, and the power by which it is made for men and in man — the Holy Spirit — and the character of those who shall be found inheriting it when He shall come to take possession in that day of judgment unto victory. (Matt. xii. 22-37.) The Lord then shows that the dreaded place of death, the valley of hell, the heart of the earth must encompass Him ere He can take His kingdom, and that this generation would be condemned in that day since they refused to be identified with Him in that place, but chose rather to delight themselves as men in the flesh with fleshly things; and therefore when He should reign in peace and glory they should be cast out into the forsaken place while many far-off ones should be brought nigh.

This period of His ministry concludes with a solemn description of the condition of Israel, associating it with the case of the dumb man possessed by a demon whom He had healed. It shows that since they would reject the indwelling Spirit — out of envy speaking injuriously of Him, therefore the great work which He Himself had wrought in their midst would be rendered abortive and that the sweeping and beautifying of the empty house, however they might boast of it, would but render them a more attractive abode to the powers of evil and the more fit instrument for the exhibition of his perfect power. (Matt. xii. 38–45.)

Then He points plainly to those who should inherit with Him His kingdom by association with Himself in His work for them and persons who like Himself should be the rejected ones, who would have been the means of deliverance to Israel but who should become their supplanters because of their unbelief. Having in plain unmistakable words pointed out what should characterize those who are to enter into His kingdom, namely, doers of His Father's will, being identified with Him in the work of which Jonas was the sign (vers. 38–42; 46–50), Jesus next proceeds to lay the same thing before the people in parables, showing the reason for the failure in the earthly thing was not in the word, but in the people; that the same power that had wrought so mightily hitherto could continue the work until not a foe remained, but it needed faith and so long as there was unbelief and sin unjudged among the people God, would not answer nor deliver them. (Compare 1 Sam. xiv. 20, 37; Matt. xiii. 1-23.)

From Matthew xiii. 24-43 the Lord foretells that what had happened in the fleshly system because it was a fleshly thing should also happen in the spiritual kingdom and that through the direct action of the malice of the enemy; and the contrast between God's thoughts and man's thoughts, God's ways and man's ways, is strikingly shown by comparing it with 1 Samuel xiv. 38-46: the Lord in His longsuffering, being full of compassion, turning His anger away (Ps. lxxviii. 38-41) until the time of the harvest in order that not one feeble blade of wheat might be rooted up in spite of the apparent utter defeat of His purpose (Matt, xiii. 31, 32), and the entire corruption which should seize on that upon which His name is called (ver. 33); while Saul disdains to wait upon God until He should reveal His will, but in self-righteous haste dares to call down the judgment of God: while the Holy One would hold back judgment in grace, the unholy one would force forbearance into justice. God righteous, Saul unrighteous. In 1 Samuel xiv. 38–46 there are three parties on the scene — Saul and Israel (the flesh and its desire) on one side; Jonathan (" whom the Lord has given") on the other, and the Lord God of Israel in their midst in judgment. Of these Israel had knowingly broken the eternal law of Jehovah and brought upon itself His utter curse. (Lev. iii. 27.) Saul being already under judgment — Jonathan had guilelessly broken the vain commandment of man in his ignorance, and man had called upon the just and holy God to give a judgment according to truth.

As to this particular matter the guilty stand on one side, the innocent on the other, and the just Judge is to decide. Which will He — does He — has He chosen to die? The just One for the unjust! the innocent for the guilty — Jonathan for Israel and Saul, "for Jonathan was taken." So that spite of all that man could do through pride of heart and unbelief in calling down the wrath of God and challenging His judgment, crying, "The blood of this righteous One be on us and on our children;" "God do so to me and more also" (Matt. xxvii. 25); yet if thus called upon to choose the God of love and grace will take the innocent One and spare the guilty crowd — will use the very unbelief of man to show forth gloriously His love and righteousness.

In Matthew xiii. 36-46, the Lord shows that if judgment on the evil is restrained it is because of the good in its midst. That a man at the cost of all He had has bought all, bad and good, for the sake of the good. Nay, finding one precious pearl has emptied Himself, sold all He had, and bought it. Here love goes out and possesses the object of its desire righteously. In 1 Samuel xiv. 38-46 it is righteousness going forth and sparing righteously the guilty out of love. In Saul the Holy Spirit shows what the spared ones are by nature, and in Matthew what they are by grace eaters with the blood individually and by nature; a treasure and a priceless pearl by grace as God's assembly.

But judgment shall not always linger, neither shall grace be abused for ever. The One who should not strive nor cry, and whose voice should not be heard in the streets; who would not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax, must bring forth judgment unto victory — must gather out of His kingdom. all offences, and them that practise lawlessness — must sever the wicked from the just and cast them into the furnace of fire. And shall not the men of Samuel's time rise up in judgment against that generation and condemn it, for they rescued Jonathan who had wrought so great salvation in Israel that he did not die, whereas the men of our Lord's time were offended in Him when they saw His wisdom and His works of power; because they knew him that He was one of themselves (Matt. xiii. 53-58), and when for the last time the opportunity was given them to receive or reject Him, the crowds were persuaded to beg for Barrabbas, and to destroy Jesus: all the people exclaiming, His blood be upon us and on our children.

In 1 Samuel xiv. 47-52 the Holy Spirit gives a concise account of Saul and his connections as head over the earthly kingdom in his wars with those that spoiled Israel, and forms in type a complete outline of the work of the Jewish politico-religious system as in authority over the earthly people of God — witnesses for Him upon the earth. Saul fought against the children of Moab and Ammon, the kings of Zobah and the Philistines; which stand as types of sins of the flesh, root and branch; and worldly sins in their cause and result; he also smote the Amalekites, who typify spiritual sins — sin in spiritual things. The sons of Saul represent the threefold character of the ministry of Christ as in connection with the Jewish system. Jonathan — "whom the Lord has given." (Matt. xi. 3, 6, 16-21.) Ishui — "like," "similar" — the one like unto his brethren. (Matt. xiii. 55-57.) Melchi-shua — "the king of help" (Matt. xxi. 15, 45; Matt. xxi. 41-46; Matt. xxiii. 36-39; Matt. xxvi. 63-66), the anointed Jesus who should save His people from their sins; for Moses truly said, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me, him shall ye hear in all things." (Acts iii. 22.) The two daughters of Saul are types of the two religious states that owned the authority and were connected with the Jewish system, namely, the mass, Merab — "a multitude;" and the remnant, Michal — "brook" (See Ps. cx. 7) — "the many," like the sand on the sea-shore, and "the few," that flow away from it. His wife is a type of the character of worship which was united to the Jewish system (the woman is always the type of the outward worship). Ahinoam — "the brother of pleasantness" — outwardly appearing to be connected with pleasantness and joy, but after all springing from fear being the offspring of "wrath." Ahimaaz — "the brother of wrath."

In 1 Samuel xiii. was brought out the failure of Saul in the worship of God, through bringing in the flesh: in 1 Samuel xiv. he fails in the service of Cod for the deliverance of His people from the power of the world (Philistines, sojourners, dwellers on the earth), through making the word of God of none effect by his vain commands; thereby spoiling the work of him who was appointed of God to perform it. (Matt. xv. 1-20; 1 Sam. xiv. 24-52.) In 1 Samuel xv. is shown his failure against the foes that had hindered the people taking possession of the land — "Amalekites," the offspring of the restraint of praise — see Genesis xxxvi. 12 — religious enemies — spiritual evil — powers of darkness — false teachers and teachings. The Philistines are Israel's foes in the land and come tip against Israel to attack her. The Amalekites were Israel's enemies on the way thither, and whom they are now to go out and destroy. The world and the flesh go up against the Lord's people to attack and oppress them, but the Lord's people go out against error and false teaching to destroy it.

In Matthew 5, 6, 7, our Lord declares the failure and consequent rejection of the Jewish system in the worship of God through the bringing in of flesh, and the choice of another to be captain over His people. (1 Sam. xiii., xiv.; Matt. vii. 21-27.) In Matthew xii. that generation is shown by Him to have failed and to be rejected as to service because they made void the commands of God through their tradition. He is then doomed to death by them (ver. 14). Upon that He convinces them of their sin and of judgment by conscience, verses 25-37; by scripture, verses 38-42; by fact, verses 43-45; and concludes by pointing plainly to that which should succeed them (vers. 46-50). He then illustrates by parable the whole future of the old and new things (Matt. xiii. 1-52), and ceases from His works of power because of their unbelief. From verse 1-23 the word of the kingdom is sown as a test of who is worthy in the old thing; from verse 21 the illustration of the new thing begins, not a question of test now, not of natural imperfection and consequent failure. Here the harvest is secure, the seed must bring forth its fruit, no failure. The field belongs to the man, it is his field, the seed is good, and He that sows is the Son of man; it shot up and produced fruit.

The matter to be considered here is the introduction maliciously of evil amongst the good, and the thing is not to test what is good (for that is plainly evidenced by the fruit), but how to root out the evil. Just as in Matthew xiii. the word of the kingdom is shown to be a testing word bringing the nation under responsibility to destroy the false and receive the true in all its fulness, the Lord at the same time foreseeing the failure aid its causes of the many doing either the one or the other, but a remnant of faith should be brought into blessing; so in 1 Samuel xv. Saul's responsibility as king over Israel is used as a test to bring him and the people to the proof whether they would perform the Lord's commandments and destroy utterly the evil.

In Matthew the test is applied individually and the causes of failure are shown to be, first, the heart had grown fat so that spiritual things found no entrance whatever but lay unheeded upon the mind as a thing of little moment or value, not worth consideration, so that the evil one catches the word away; second, that they had heard but heavily with their ears — had not suffered it to take the first place in their hearts — had put it by among those things by which they should profit, but when tribulation or persecution is shown to be necessary to its development it is immediately discarded as a thing bringing trouble rather than peace; third, that while feeling the full claims and authority of the word yet they wilfully closed their eyes to the practical effects of those claims in order that they might live at ease amidst the rank natural weeds of this life, preferring the pleasures of sin to the reproach of Christ.

The characteristics of the remnant of faith are that they not only hear and understand the word, not only receive it and acknowledge its claims and authority, but also let patience have its perfect work, give faith full scope, and walk according to the word. The one great principle taught is that the word of the Lord must have entire possession of the heart not only the first place but the only place, the whole man.

In 1 Samuel xv. the same test is applied nationally the same principle being in action, the converse truth being prominent, not so much now the aspect of the perfect reception of truth as the utter destruction of error though they are indivisible; where the one comes the other goes. In Matthew it is the Jewish system on the point of rejection; in Samuel, still under responsibility; in Matthew the test for the foes; in Samuel the proof of the many; in Matthew to discover the good; in Samuel to lay bare the evil. Faith rests upon what the Lord has done iii the past and acts upon what He is in the present. "The Lord sent me to anoint thee king: therefore hearken unto his voice." "The Lord of hosts saith, I remember, now go and smite Amalek."

Amalek is a type of the false religious system which brings in fear and bondage into the worship of God. It was they who laid wait for Israel in the way when he came up from Egypt; and Egypt is a type of the complete bondage under which the natural man labours, both of natural sin and religious error, and though one may be delivered from the sins of nature, yet he needs also to be delivered from religious error which is sure to attack him in the way. Egypt is the bold high-handed oppressor, Amalek the crafty, deceitful, subtle foe. Egypt lays burdens upon the men, yet, nevertheless, feeds them from the flesh-pots and with the onions and leeks, but Amalek lays wait and falls upon the weak and the women, the aged and the babes, thirsting only for their blood and not for their service, therefore are they the hated of God, and if Egypt be subdued, Amalek must be destroyed. Egypt is broken at the Red Sea, Amalek pursues to the borders of the land. Egypt is done with at once and for ever. Amalek must be smitten until utterly destroyed.

The Kenites represent the merely natural and earthly things which are blessings to those who receive them in faith, but curses and hindrances to the unbelieving, and used by the god of this world to blind their thoughts, but which are not to be confounded with that which the Lord has devoted to eternal wrath and destruction.

Saul smote the Amalekites throughout the length and breadth of their land, just as the Jewish system swept away everything that was opposed to the law and the holy place, but as while apparently exterminating the foe, he and the people spared all that was good, utterly destroying that only which was vile and refuse. So the Jewish system while pretending to a great zeal for God, suppressing with a stern hand everything that opposed itself to the authorized worship, yet spared everything that commended itself to fleshly religiousness, incorporating with itself and using for its own glory and advancement the very things which formed the mainstay and pride of the false worship and idolatry which surrounded them, namely, fear and sensuality.

From Matthew xiv. commences the final trial, failure, and consequent rejection of the politico-religious system, first as to its political aspect and character. John (of whom Samuel is a type, both, the spiritual link between the old and the new, and the real witness for God of which the fleshly manifest thing was but a shadow, yet having a connection with and responsibility towards it) comes to Herod as one under responsibility to obey the law of God as King over His inheritance, and commands him to put away his brother's wife, to slay the pleasant sins. This, tiered refuses to do, and sparing the sin he slays the witness, and is himself cut off from any part in the kingdom to come. (Ver. 13. Compare 1 Sam. xv. 1-29.)

Jesus while showing His deep and utter abhorrence of all fleshly lusts by withdrawing Himself to a desert place apart yet at the same time makes known His complete sympathy with all the needs of man's nature no matter how common or apparently trivial. He was moved with compassion about them and healed their infirm, and when the disciples would have dismissed the crowd to buy food for themselves, Jesus sympathizes with their hunger, saying, "They have no need to go; give ye them to eat."

In the case of Herod is seen the high-handed disobedience to the revealed will of God, disobedience to a positive distinct command for and disregard of His warning voice.

From Matthew xiv. 13-31 the faithful Jews as represented in Peter — who is the characteristic of the Israelite under the Jewish system — are found also failing to enter into the full blessing and power of the work of God. God commands man to exercise faith and obey His word upon the ground of what He has done in the past, and of what He is in the present, as in the case of Saul. Here also the Lord first feeds five thousand men — representing the faithful ones in Israel, with five loaves and two fishes, and when all had eaten and were filled, causes to be gathered up twelve hand-baskets full of fragments, showing that there had been enough and to spare for all Israel — the whole twelve tribes had all had faith to partake thereof. By this work He proves His ability to supply every need; indeed making His disciples the hand by which He distributed His bounty, so that they could not have failed to be aware of the fulness of His power and grace, and with this plain lesson upon their minds He immediately compels them to go alone on board ship in order that He may test their faith and bring it into exercise. Yet having come to them walking on the sea and saying to them, "Take courage; it is I: be not afraid," and then commanding Peter upon his own solicitation to come to Him upon the waters, expecting him to exercise faith and the power of obedience upon the ground of what He had done in the past, and of what He was as then and there present; yet Peter, though at first walking in the success of faith, fails, seeing the wind strong and fearing, and is compelled to take the place of a helpless, lost one, for beginning to sink he cries out, "Lord, save me." Jesus acknowledges the cry of faith, catches hold of him in his extremity; points out the cause of his failure in his walk, and, having gone up into the ship, makes the wind to drop, and brings thereby the others to the perfect confession of faith, "Truly thou art God's Son."

In Matthew xv. is displayed the wilful high-handed disobedience to the command of God of the politico-religious system in its spiritual aspect and character, the cause and method of the disobedience is declared, and consequent rejection indicated. Our Lord is attacked by the Scribes and Pharisees in His character as servant of the circumcision (Jesus — Jonathan) on the ground that He had broken the commands of the ancients. He replies as the sent One, the messenger of God, charging them with transgressing the commandment of God, showing that the cause of their failure both as to worship and service was that their heart was far away from God though they honoured Him with their lips (Matt. xv. 8, 9), and that it was not what a man put into his mouth that brought him into judgment (compare Matt. xv. 11; 1 Sam. xiv. 43), but what, coming out, was in his heart, rebellion, disobedience, and departing from the living God (compare Matt. xiv. 18; 1 Sam. xv. 11, 22, 23); that lip-worship and man's teaching were alike abominable to God, and that only the honouring Him with the heart and obeying His commands, were acceptable in His sight, and the pharisees thus refusing to root up out of the things of God that which the Father had not planted, but sparing the religious things of flesh, though honourable and good, the best and fattest that could be found and bringing them to sacrifice unto the Lord, should be themselves rooted out — blind leaders of the blind would both fall into the ditch.

Matthew xv. 21-28 points to the period of transition wherein the grace and salvation which was the promised portion of the Jews upon their refusal of it goes out to the outcast woman of Canaan, pleading, as to the Lord's mind about it for the whole Gentile world, which she typically represented, so that our Lord's apparent reluctance to grant her the desired blessing, was not only that her faith might be fully drawn out by causing her to see her right place, which it assuredly was, but it was also to Him, doubtless, a foretaste and commencement of the casting away of the Jew and the bringing in of the Gentile, the making of the first last and the last first, which to Him as Israel's Messiah, the One of whom John was the voice, was a sad and terrible trial and perhaps formed the subject of His prayer in the mountain, even as at another time when the rejection was completed, the measure of iniquity being full, He wept bitter tears over Jerusalem.

So Samuel also was grieved at the sin and rejection of Saul, and cried unto the Lord all night. Samuel's words to Saul about his sin have a progressive character. When the word of the Lord comes to him saying, "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king," he cries unto the Lord all night, doubtless in intercession, that Saul might even then find a place for repentance; and had Saul taken his right place in confession, pardon would surely have been his, but instead he meets Samuel with a conscious lie — "I have performed." Samuel does not lose hope and, still endeavouring to touch his conscience and bring him to confession, asks, "What then this bleating . . . and lowing?" But instead of humbling Saul, this home-thrust only forces proud flesh to take a further step in sin, from rebellion he proceeds to stubbornness, actually pretending that his guilty act was meritorious and offering to return to God as a favour part of what he had stolen from Him as though be would make him a participator in his crime.

This has always been the way with flesh after sin had entered. So Adam first makes a false excuse to cover his rebellion, and then — evading the direct question of God, refusing to confess his sin, which if be had done would perhaps have brought him into the results immediately of grace, showing that he was still rolling it as a sweet morsel under his tongue — he charges God with being the real cause of it, since it was He who had given the woman to be with him. So also Cain; confession coming too late, after judgment is pronounced.

Likewise in Saul's case to the second convicting question of Samuel, still looking for confession, he has the hardihood as though he had nothing to look for but commendation to answer, "Say on," unshrinkingly demanding that judgment according to his merits should be weighed out to him. Samuel, still lingering over him in tender pity and intercession, strives once more to awaken conscience by reminding him of what he was, what God had made him, and His command to him as such; then, instead of finishing with the word of judgment, he in tenderness questions him as to the cause of his disobedience, covetousness, and rebellion, thus leaving an open door of humility and confession; but in vain, and this forbearance and long‑suffering only produces in Saul greater hardihood and stubbornness, for he now proudly and lyingly declares "Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord" — not disobeyed — "have gone the way the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek" — did not fly upon the spoil — "and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites" — therefore have not done evil in the sight of the Lord. He adds lies to rebellion, equivocation to lies, and hypocrisy to equivocation; then lays all the blame upon the people but suggests that Samuel's God ought to be very well satisfied since the best of the things taken, which should have been destroyed, would be sacrificed to Him, denying that God was his God whatever He might be for others — that he was his own master and could do as he liked. This is fleshly wickedness perfectly developed (see Ps. x. 4, marg.; Ps. xii. 4). This fills up the measure of iniquity; therefore judgment must fall, and it is swift, complete and irrevocable. Samuel does riot wait for Saul's answer but gives God's answer to his question, stripping off the cloak of hypocrisy; he then distinctly describes the sin and immediately pronounces judgment, bringing him to the bar of God, whose sentence he had so recklessly required, and casting him away from thence.

Now that it is too late confession comes, but even now is he willing to justify himself like Adam, laying the blame upon the people, caring little who suffers so that appearances and his honour among men are saved, with an eye only upon Samuel, or the people, or himself, anything but God; not seeing God in the matter at all, only the things which are seen and for a time. So he says to Samuel, "I pray thee, pardon, my sin, and turn again with me;" but Samuel is in the presence of the Lord, and to Him it is that Saul is now brought, for he says, "I will not return with thee; for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel." Thrice had Saul called down judgment upon himself. The first time is to the rejection of his kingdom, having through motives of worldly policy forced his fleshly self into the presence of God as one fit to be there in worship. The second occasion had proved one of utter destruction to himself and people, for he claims God's sentence as a sinless one; but one was there a sinless one whom God chose to be a scape-goat and a substitute for all the people. The third time he himself is rejected as a servant. As a worshipper, a man under law, and a servant, is he alike rejected. But as bound to the law, he in common with the whole multitude had one to stand in his place who bore the irrevocable curse that was clue; thus on that ground all alike went scot-free. It is thus that the Lord Jesus convicts the Jewish system of failure and consequent rejection: in Matthew 5, vi., vii., as to worship; ix., x., xi., xii., xv. 1-20 as to transgression: Matthew xv. 29-39, 21-35 and onward as to service.

As already noticed the character of persons, to whom the blessing rent away from the Jewish system should be given, is brought out in the circumstance of the Canaanitish woman; who, when brought to the point of giving up all claim of merit upon Jesus and taking the place of an unclean outsider unworthy of any notice, receives from the Lord the bread Intended for the children, the blessing provided for the lost sheep of Israel's house. She first claims the blessing as a matter of pity due from the Son of David. This proved that she did not know Him nor herself, nor the place in which alone blessing could be received and the Lord cannot allow the plea for an instant, for she was not dealing in truth. Again she seeks and now for help as one who owns Him as her Lord, but she has not yet got to the end, still finding some little strength in self, though needing help; still urging some claim upon the Lord, though that of bond-slave. At last He answers, bringing her to use an argument which could not be gainsayed, a plea which was founded on absolute grace, undeniable truth which He Himself had stated in its extremest form — what He was and what she was. The wider the contrast, the stronger her case, for now she rested her claim upon the fact that He was rich and she was poor; He full, she empty; He the Master, she a dog; He having enough and to spare, she hungering for the crumbs. The higher the ground He took and the lower he placed her, the more strongly did she bind Him to grant her desire. She was sure, if His claims were tested, the more His abundant fulness would be brought out, and if hers were examined, the more her utter need would be exposed. Here, therefore, she rested confident in the truthfulness and validity of her plea; and here the Lord acknowledges her truth, granting all her heart's desire.

From Matthew xv. 29-39 the way in which mercy was to reach the Gentiles is again illustrated. Jesus goes up into the mountain and sits down there, and great crowds come to Him and cast down their suffering ones at His feet, and He heals them all. On the former occasion the disciples brought the case of the hungry crowds before the Lord's notice, desiring that they might be sent away as those who could shift for themselves; but now they are left three days unregarded until the Lord Himself takes up their need, and having broken the seven loaves (the number of perfectness denoting a complete supply for all, be they who they may) the disciples distribute to the four thousand, and all eat and are filled; and of the fragments seven baskets full are gathered up, showing that of the Bread of life which He had to bestow there is not only sufficient for the need of those who partake by faith but also provision for the need of the whole world.

In Matthew xvi. 1-4 the whole fleshly religious thing, comprising within its limits every sect, party and shade of religious opinion as represented in the Pharisees and Sadducees, the ritualists and deists, is brought into judgment, proved worthless, and cast away. From verses 5-12 the remnant is shown in its connection with the religious system and bidden to beware of its corruption; from verses 13-20 their proper standing and ultimate position is revealed. From verses 21-28 the path thereto is shown and the conditions attached to walking in it, and chapter xv. 1-9 reveals the chief corner-stone of the new building in the glory attaching to His character as such. The Lord convicts the Pharisees and Sadducees on the ground of scripture and common sense, declaring that, if they used the same judgment in the things of God which they did daily in common things, they could not but discern that His wrath was about to burst and that even now if they learnt from the example of Jonas they might escape though it were from the belly of hell itself. Verses 5-12 prove that they would neither use the judgment nor learn the lesson, and are therefore counted reprobate (verses 15-20) and the kingdom taken from them and given to their neighbour better than they. (Compare Matt. xvi. 1 -20; 1 Sam. xv. 17-31.)

The two feedings clearly represent the grace of God going forth, first, to man with some strength left, therefore still under a measure of responsibility though on the way to utter failure — the remnant of faith. And second to man at the last extremity, perfectly helpless, at the point to die. Jew and Gentile alike under sin, all under the judgment of God. In the one case the Lord going out from the mountain fed them on the plain; in the other, after He had gone up into the mountain and sat down. On the plain the bread was given before the day had passed. In the mountain three days had elapsed. On the first occasion the disciples, having enough food for themselves, come to Jesus that the crowd may be dismissed in order to buy food for themselves. On the second the Lord calls His disciples to Him and tells out all His loving anxiety and compassion for the crowds and commences to give that which was more than sufficient for their own need to be a superabundant supply for the whole crowd. Twelve Jewish hand-baskets of fragments were gathered up after the first feeding — one for each tribe of Israel. Seven large baskets, enough for the whole world — of the seven loaves were taken up.

1 Samuel xv. 26-35 brings to view the last act of iniquity which fills up the cup of rejection and wrath — it is an act of personal violence though but a rending of the garment — endeavouring to compel the spiritual man to perform a fleshly act — to countenance fleshly worship for the sake of fleshly profit. This is refused; the rending of the garment follows: the rejection complete; but outward acknowledgment still continued upon solicitation for the sake of the public example in the hewing in pieces of the chief thing in it which had lifted up itself (Agag — "tall," "very high") against God; then follows (vers. 34, 35) the separation of the fleshly thing and the spiritual never again to meet.

Thus John refuses fellowship, with and witnesses against Herod as the political part of the earthly system, who thereupon rends the mantle of his body, which when Jesus, the spiritual Man, hears of, He withdraws. (Matt. xiv. 1-13.) Then follows the refusal of the spiritual man to have any fellowship with the religious part of the system, that is as to their doctrine (Matt. xv. 1-29), rejecting it (ver. 7-9), hewing it in pieces and going forth from them unto the Gentiles (vers. 21, 22). Matthew xvi. 1-4 shows the rejection of the whole thing from first to last in all its forms, suggests the rending of the skirt of the mantle (ver. 4), and again the spiritual man leaves them and goes away (ver. 5-12): bring out the hewing in pieces of the evil thing harboured by the professing system, and verse 21 the plain declaration that the consequence would be the rending of His body by the professing system; though still continuing to acknowledge it outwardly.

Verses 22, 23, describe the hewing down of the fleshly things of nature in the heart of the remnant of faith represented in Peter, in whom the corrupt thing has found its perfect development. Like Agag he comes cheerfully in his unbelief and self-righteousness to the Lord, saying, Surely the bitterness of death is passed; "This shall in nowise happen unto thee;" but turning round with a word the Lord smites down and hews in pieces the natural things of men, saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me." The tendency of Peter, as a specimen of natural man at his best estate, was to bring his fleshly abilities and perfections before God as fit for service and worship, and the Lord had to teach him at the lake of Gennesaret that as to power for service he was utterly helpless and unable to save himself, and as to meetness before God in worship, the very best things of his natural heart proved him a Satan, a tempter, and an odour of foul savour. Previously (vers. 13-10) the Lord had expressly revealed the new thing which He was about to bring in in place of the old one which He had rejected, and the truth upon which alone it could be established. Yet Peter is found ready to ignore and give up the work of God for the sake of his natural affection, and willing that the foundation-stone should not be laid, since to do so would cost him the object of his heart's desire. But the Lord shows him that nothing of nature must be weighed against the will of God, since He alone knows what is profitable, and that the time was near at hand when it would be according to His mind that each man's doings would be weighed out to him. And in order to encourage his weak ones in the difficulties of the wilderness which separated between the house of bondage out of which He was leading them and the land of promise into which He was bringing them, He gives a promise that before they shall be called upon to taste of death at all, death which all were to be prepared for need be, they should see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.

Thus was the separation between the natural and the spiritual man finally complete — each went his own way, the one mourning for the other even unto the day of His death, but never attempting again to cure the smart or heal the wound, but ever treating the earthly things as past all cure at the point to die, the grave of judgment yawning for it, waiting only to put it out of sight in order to fully manifest the better thing.

1 Samuel xvi. reveals Jehovah working out in secret the counsels of his own will. In 1 Samuel xiii., Jonathan appears as type of the Lord Jesus in His character as the Messiah, the king of help (Melchishuah); in 1 Samuel xiv. 1-30, Jonathan is a type of Christ as the Servant-Prophet, the One like unto His brethren (Ishui — "like," "similar"); in 1 Samuel xiv. 31-46, Jonathan foreshows Jesus as Priest and Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, the Gift of God, (Jonathan — "whom the Lord has given"). In 1 Samuel xv. Samuel appears as a type of Jesus, as the witness for God against the corrupted professing thing, and a link between the rightful heir rejected, and the new man appointed of God to possess the kingdom.

1 Samuel xvi. describes the choosing and anointing of the new man in secret. Samuel is sent to fill his horn with oil and anoint, asking in place of Saul the one whom God had provided among Jesse's sons. He fears Saul's anger, but is directed to take a heifer for sacrifice with him and go to the house of Jesse at Bethlehem. The elders tremble at his coming but he assures them he comes peaceably, and sanctifies Jesse and his sons, calling them to the sacrifice. Eliab — "to whom God was a father" — is first looked on and refused, because though he had outward appearance he wanted heart. Then Abinadab — "whose father is noble" — is not chosen; and Shammah — "astonishment" — likewise. At length when all had passed by unchosen, David the youngest (the beloved) keeping the sheep is sent for and brought in. He was ruddy, had beautiful eyes, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him, "for this is he." Samuel did so, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward, and Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

These things are directly prophetical of the events occurring in Matthew xvii. which is intimately linked with Matthew iii. where John is shown in connection with Jesus as the witness against the corrupted system. Here Jesus is the link between the old and the new. The same voice being borne to Him on each occasion from God the Father, giving Him honour and glory. John's baptism is used by the Holy Spirit as the occasion of the beginning of the anointing, and on the Mount of transfiguration that unto which He was anointed is manifested, but having expressly in view the sacrifice which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke ix. 31), as also at His baptism and anointing (John i. 29). By the baptism of water He was shown to be the Prophet like unto Moses, from among the people (Ishui). By the anointing of the Spirit and the witness of John He is declared to be Priest and Sacrifice (Jonathan — "gift of God"), and now on the mount He is manifested to be the King (Melchi-shuah).

In the mount of transfiguration four representatives of the family of the man of faith (Jesse — "the old man"? — Abraham) are passed in review before the Holy Spirit, of whom Samuel is a type (Samuel — "given of God in answer to prayer." Luke xi. 13), namely, Moses ("the law." Eliab — "to whom God was a father"). Elijah ("the prophets," Abinadab — "whose father is noble"), the disciples (the remnant of Israel. Isa. lii. 14. Shammah — "astonishment," Matt. xvii. 4, 6, 7), and lastly, Jesus Himself. Noting the fact that Elijah appears as representing two classes of which himself and John the Baptist were the types.

There are seven representative men brought together and none chosen — Moses, Elijah, John Baptist, Peter, James, John, and Jesus* who was indeed to be chosen, but being rejected of man could not be chosen of God as the one among His brethren, since as such He had another work to do; but must be brought out from keeping the sheep into the house of bread (Bethlehem), and anointed there as one not of that generation (Isa. liii. 8), apart from His brethren, so that though reckoned as of Jesse's family — one of the seven (1 Sam. xvi. 10) — the seventh (1 Chron. ii. 15), yet if He is to be anointed for the kingdom, it must be as the eighth man — the head of the new creation — the first begotten from the dead; for while Peter is proposing to associate Him with Moses and Elias, the voice of God comes from the excellent glory, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight: hear him" (compare 1 Sam. xvi. 12, Matt. xvii. 5) so that Jesus also represents two classes. He is the last Adam and the second Man — the finish of the old and the beginning of the new creation.

[* I understand the writer's thought, but it seems wanting in reverence at least so to speak of the Lord. Nor does "last Adam" mean that He is "the finish of the old," but excludes the thought of any other to come after the Second man risen from among the dead. — Ed.]

1 Samuel xvi. 14-23 describes the state of the Jewish politico-religious system as rejected of God, our Lord's connection with it as such, and the character of His ministry to it as the one anointed to supersede it. The Spirit of Jehovah departs from Saul and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubles and terrifies him, and Saul's servants, telling him so plainly, suggest that a man who is a cunning player on a harp should be sought out and brought to him, so that, when the evil spirit from God was upon him, the man might play with his hand, and he should be well. Saul assents; and one of his servants mentions having seen a son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, cunning in playing, a mighty valiant man, a man of war, prudent in speech, a comely person, and Jehovah was with him. Saul thereupon sends to Jesse, saying, "Send me David thy son, who is with the sheep. And Jesse took a homer of bread, a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before him, and he loved him greatly, and he became his armour-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me, for he hath found favour in my sight. And it came to pass when the spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the harp and played with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."

So from the time that the Lord was manifested on the mount as the Son of man coming in His kingdom, He takes a place entirely distinct from the Jewish system, and through all His connection with it, from this time there is no thought of restoring but of destroying it, and the secret establishing of that which was superseding it. It had rejected the witness of God and His promised restoring grace by Elijah in slaying John Baptist. (Mal. iv. 5, 6.) This had been the deed of the political power in Herod, and now it was accomplishing its rejection of God in also slaying the Son of man (Matt. xvii. 11, 12), and this, by the religious power in conjunction too with the political, just as God had been rejected in Samuel (the representative of the law and the prophets) through political pride (1 Sam. viii. 19, 20), and afterwards in Jonathan (the heir to the kingdom) through spiritual pride. (1 Sam. xiv. 38, 44.) So that now a new thing must be brought in, but silently and in secret until God's long-suffering had run its course.

But as David for Saul, so the Lord has a work of power and grace to do for the evil thing which had compassed His death. The door of hope had been finally and for ever closed upon the old, as to restoration by Him who was the rightful heir, before the new was manifested, for from that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He MUST BE killed (Matt. xvi. 21); and not only as the Christ should He be rejected, but as Son of man also. It was the religious power that rejected and slew Him as the Christ, but in His character as Son of man were His claims denied and Himself slain by both the political and religious powers. Therefore when speaking of His death as Son of man, He connects it with that of John the Baptist, who had been slain by Herod; and as Son of man, the Lord shows that the whole world would be concerned in His rejection, that "men" would kill Him — Jew and Gentile. (Matt. xvii. 22.)

But the cause which lay at the root of the failure and complete powerlessness of the old thing, and the only source of power in the new, is brought out by the Lord in the case of the lunatic boy. On previous occasions it had been called by the Lord Jesus wicked and adulterous, yet one where grace could work; but now He describes it as an unbelieving and perverted one, where even grace could find no room for exercise; and He sighs for the time when He shall be delivered from it (ver. 17), and in this sweeping censure He includes all in the measure that they were bound to it — disciples, the father of the lad, the great crowd, and the scribes. (Matt. xvii. 20; Mark ix. 14-25; Luke ix. 37-41.) This character of unbelief which spread like a leprosy through the earthly system and all it attached to itself — looking upon the things which are seen and endure but for a time, and being blind to the things unseen but eternal, manifesting itself even in the remnant of faith by an averseness to spiritual exercises (ver. 21) — was the canker which ate the heart out of the Jewish system, leaving it but a shell which outwardly promised well, but which, when the time cause for it to blossom into perfection, withered into dust and ashes.

In verse 19 the Lord shows that faith alone would be of value in the new thing about to supersede it, by which the grace and gifts of God coming down upon the thing powerless in itself, yet containing in itself the germs of life, would cause it to spring up and bear fruit to His glory, as even the grain of mustard seed, insignificant, apparently lifeless, fruitless, until in the earth the gracious influences of God descend upon it, when the life is manifested, and it springs up and bears fruit many fold.

When the power of Jesus in casting out the evil spirits is brought into notice, it is in connection with the kingdom and Himself as the anointed One (Matt. iv. 24, Matt. viii. 11, 16, 34, Matt. x. 7, 8, Matt. xi. 22, 28; Acts x. 38), with power to do so with a word, while the Jewish system was quite unable to deliver its children from the terrible affliction.

The state of Saul troubled by the evil spirit from the Lord, and that of the lunatic lad possessed of a demon, are remarkable illustrations of the condition of the Jewish system at this time, restless and disturbed, and ever being driven by the powers of evil into opposite extremes of rigid formalism or sceptical laxity; and even as all Saul's servants were powerless for good, and David only by his skilful playing could deliver him, so not even the disciples, being as to their faith still connected with the Jewish system, but Jesus alone was able to cast out the demon from the lunatic lad. David's position in the household of Saul is also an exact type of the relation in which Jesus stood to the Jewish system; apparently its servant, but in the secret counsel of God anointed to supersede it, who as its servant brought it nourishment in the revelation of the mind of God, bore its armour in giving spiritual power to all who followed Him, and cured all its ills, moral or physical, by the word of truth and power. This double character of the Lord Jesus is shown clearly in Matthew xvii. 24-27, where the collectors of the tribute, which every Jew paid to the temple, claim it from Jesus, who at once asserts His right and that of his disciples to exemption, but notwithstanding commands Peter to obtain it from the mouth of a fish and pay it for both, as in a way still owning allegiance.

It is at this time also that the disciples come into some measure of knowledge regarding the establishment of the new kingdom, and begin to question and dispute as to their place in it, having a very vague conception of its spiritual character, and of what would befit them as subjects of it. Taking occasion upon a question asked by them as to who should be the greatest in it, the Lord very fully develops (Matt. xviii.) the character of its subjects, namely, little ones severed from every worldly bond, lost ones brought into the Father's presence, its constitution and governing power, His name and Himself, with its law — that of love. (Ver. 21-35.)

Matthew xix. 1, 2, presents the Lord as the one who by His skill was able to refresh and heal and dispel for the time being all the evil that oppressed those with whom His life on earth was linked. From verse 3 to 10 He substitutes the law of the new kingdom for that of the old system. From verse 10 to 12 He shows that only those who are content to be separated from every fleshly gratification should possess the fulness of blessing. In verses 13-15 the Lord declares that little children, and by implication those who like them are helpless and trustful, are the inheritors of the kingdom of the heavens. From verse 16 is shown that natural man at his very best estate, brought to his utmost perfection, is, when all is done, utterly worthless, altogether vanity, and only to be rejected, since earthly things are to him of more value than the things of God; and that of those who do leave all and follow Him, it is not the service which He delights in and rewards, so much as the faith and obedience which is the spring of that service (Matt. xx. 1-16). And this being the case, there would be many go in to work in the expectation of, and right to, very little recompense, who would yet receive as much when pay-time came as those who, like Peter, would bargain to work for a certain wage, so that the last would be more blest than the first, though each would receive equal wages. From verse 17 the blessed Lord explains to His disciples that the new kingdom can only be built up on the perfect obliteration of the old, and that in the slaying of Him who was its rightful heir, and heir of all things, by those whom He had come to rule, and that therefore like Abraham they must be content to give up the only-begotten, in whom they justly expected the fulfilment of the promises of God, and to count that God was able to raise Him from the dead, and consequently to desire and look for nothing that was inconsistent with His character as the risen man — the new man Christ Jesus. But, just as on a previous occasion, Peter desired to gratify his natural affection at the expense of the will and work of God, so now John and his brother and mother wish to satisfy a natural ambition, praiseworthy as to flesh, and to do so at all risks, cost what it may, the rest of the disciples being filled with the same fleshliness. With what gentleness and love does the Lord show that they will have to drink a cup of death to all their earthly expectations, and to have their hopes and joy where He had His, — beyond the grave in heavenly blessings, and that in His kingdom they should possess lordship and authority who were readiest to serve.

Verse 29-34. The Lord is seen to be still ministering to the need of those belonging to the old, but yet in answer to the cry of faith which looked out for the fulfilment of promise, and claimed blessing on that score. The two blind men illustrate the position of the faithful remnant of that time and of the time yet coming, which are but one generation, who, when the heavenly thing is gone from the earth, will be found crying to the Lord for sight and laying hold of the promises given in the Son of David (Ps. xiii. 3), and even as the then remnant had sight restored and were led out to follow Jesus, so the blind but crying one of the coming time will be visited with mercy and healing, and will be led to follow Jesus into perfect blessing.

In Matthew xxi. the Lord Jesus presents Himself as the king, Messiah, the deliverer promised to Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Zechariah ix. 9, only to be rejected by the nation as represented in the governing powers, the chief priests and scribes, though acknowledged thoughtlessly by the rabble and the children, yet meeting every need wherever it presented itself, and showing that, since the wise and strong ones had rejected Him, it was left to the babes and sucklings — the simple and weak ones — to receive Him, and the promised blessing. Then follows (ver. 17-22) an incident designed to show that God's long-suffering had passed its last limit, and that now remained nothing but the irrevocable curse for the politico-religious system which had rejected and compassed the death of its Head and ruler. This was set forth in the fig-tree which, in spite of every favouring circumstance, yet had nothing but leaves, and was withered for ever. The Lord at the same time takes occasion to show those who, as the vine, were to replace the withered fig-tree, as the fruit bearer on the earth to Him, the power by which alone any good could come from them, namely, faith.

The Lord had come into Jerusalem as the One of whom the prophets had spoken — the great King, anointed of God to deliver His people and bring the whole earth under His sway; ready to perform the work, subject only to one condition, namely, that the people should be prepared to receive Him. If He is to fulfil the whole word, and to have His dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, then He must be the just and the saved one; but if He is to save Himself, He cannot save His people, neither can He come as the meek and lowly one but as the avenger. Therefore does He choose the meek and lowly part — to be Himself cut off and have nothing, in order that He may come in grace and not in judgment, in salvation not in wrath.

The Holy Spirit therefore, in quoting the word of the prophet, only quotes so much as the Lord took upon Himself to fulfil at that time. Jesus then enters into the temple as prepared to fulfil the promise of the Lord by Isaiah (chap. lvi.), which was made conditional upon the keeping of equity and the doing justice, but finds that, instead of being fit for a house of prayer for all people, into which place of honour and glory He would then have brought it, they had made it a den of robbers, according to the word of the Lord by Jeremiah. (Jer. vii. 11.) They had refused to amend their ways and their doings — had refused to execute judgment between a man and his neighbour — had continued to oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow — had trusted in lying words while keeping up all the outward forms of religion, coming into the house of God as though it were their place, yet all the while filling their hearts with their covetousness: thus making it in truth in God's sight, and treating it in their own hearts, as being a den of robbers, laying themselves and the sanctuary open therefore to the curse which Jehovah had pronounced upon it in such a case. The Lord however comes in in this extremity of evil, casts out all that sold and bought, and makes what had been a den of robbers a place of healing and blessing; but this only brings out a more determined rejection of Him and the salvation He brought, for the scribes and Pharisees were indignant, and show how utterly they denied His claims by drawing attention to the acknowledgment of them as a thing worthy of rebuke, even though it proceeded from the mouths of children, so sensitive had jealousy made them. Replying to them, Jesus shows to them from Psalm viii. that God had expressly revealed His purpose to bring in the promised universal salvation and blessing upon the acknowledgment of His glory by the weak and ignorant ones, choosing the foolish and the weak things of the world to put to shame the wise and strong.

The next day, when teaching in the temple, He proves to them that their wisdom was the cause of their ignorance, their foresight the reason of their blindness for questioning Him as to His authority for doing the things He did, He agrees to tell them, providing they tell Him front whence came the baptism of John. They, instead of replying upon the facts of the case, reason among themselves in order to make their answer fit their policy, and, this being impossible, they profess ignorance. Since therefore they are wilfully blind as to John's mission, He leaves them wilfully ignorant as to His authority, but lays bare their state of heart, and convicts them of hypocrisy in the parable of the man who commanded his two children to go work in his vineyard: the one who refused, but, afterwards repenting, went, and the other who said, I go, sir, but went not.

In the two succeeding parables the Lord most powerfully brings before them the utter desolation which should overtake them and theirs in consequence of their unfaithfulness and terrible sin as servants and fruit-bearers to God; causing them to convict themselves out of their own mouth, and proving to them from scripture (Ps. cxviii.) that their work as builders of the Lord's house was without avail and vanity, since they refused to build on the stone which God had appointed for a foundation: going further, to show that the stone which they rejected would become to them a rock of vengeance and destruction.

The death of Jesus is now a thing thoroughly settled and determined, only delayed until the plan of carrying it out is matured. The Lord having declared the utter rejection of the Jewish system because of unfaithfulness as servants under responsibility, He next proceeds to show their refusal and contempt of the bounty of God, and consequent rejection as the guests of grace.

This plain speaking stirs up all the powers of the enemy, who comes against Him in the threefold manifestations of evil, namely, the world, the flesh, and the devil: the political, the sensual, and the religious: the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees; and they each attack Him upon ground of their own choosing, each to be utterly discomfited in turn, and in proportion to the strength and artfulness of the attack, routing the first by showing what was clue, as a matter of right, to God as Supreme; the second, by what was consistent, as a matter of reason, with God's nature as the Eternal; the religious enemy He takes upon the ground of religious obligation to the God of covenant — the Jehovah God; answering in each case, not the direct question of the lips, but the thought of the heart; the motive, of which the question was but a blind. Then, gathering all their attacks into a single focus, He with one question meets and confounds them for ever, presenting Himself as the complete answer to everything: for if the Christ were David's Son, then He is the true King to whom everything must be rendered; the true Resurrection and the Life, the God of the living; and the Jehovah God, commanding the obedience of love.

The Lord, having thus completely discomfited them in all their assaults, next proceeds to attack them in turn, and to hew them down root and branch. He first acknowledges their divine commission, but only the more fully to expose their unfaithfulness; then crying bitter woes upon them, He shows that they were not merely faithless servants but fierce foes, not simply untrustworthy guides, but false seducers; sepulchres truly, but sepulchres full of corruption within; children of those who slew the prophets, but surpassing the measure of their fathers; offspring of vipers doubtless, but themselves serpents.

Showing thus the tree to be not only barren but poisonous, the Lord reveals Himself as the One from whom all blessing must be derived, and that the characteristics of those who should exercise authority in the thing which He was about to set up would not be exaltation but humility, and that their portion would not be either to slay the prophets or build their tombs but to be themselves slain and persecuted, resulting however in an overflowing measure of judgment upon the persecutors. And as He began with owning them in the place of God's appointment, so He concludes with revoking that appointment until a time of repentance and acknowledgment of Himself, leaving the temple as a thing that could be in no wise cleansed or restored, a charnel-house unfit for a clean man to enter, like its owners, fair to look on without, but within full of dead men's bones; and predicting its complete overthrow, thus including all in a common ruin, the judgment of Gehenna upon the heads of the system, the curse of Cain upon the generation, desolation upon the city, and destruction upon the temple.

The slaughter of Zacharias is typically prophetical of the slaying of John the Baptist, who was the last of the witnessing prophets of God slain for righteousness' sake up to that time. The circumstances of the time were identical in each case. The temple had been renewed just previous to their ministry with much of its former magnificence, and the ceremonies of the law restored and performed by men who walked blamelessly before the Lord in all His commandments and ordinances; but that generation had passed away, and nothing remained but an outside witness against a house that for God had become an empty shell. Indeed the judicial murder of Jesus was the final act of violence by which the false sought to get rid of the true, prolonged doubtless and consummated in effect by the rejection of the witness of the Holy Spirit in the church.

From this time the earthly system as owned of God is entirely lost sight of, and the Lord passes at once to reveal the new and heavenly kingdom, of which He was Lord and King, taking up the signs which should accompany its manifestation after the complete obliteration of the former thing, not one stone being left upon another.

These signs therefore are to be looked for immediately the Jew comes into responsibility before God as His witness upon earth, after the utter annihilation of that which had formerly ruled him. The old thing was not thoroughly levelled to the ground until Titus destroyed the temple and carried the Jews away into captivity. The Jew will not be the witness for God as a Jew until the church has gone from the earth to be with her Lord and Bridegroom for ever: for before God's King shall be set upon His holy hill of Zion and declare the decree that He is in that day, the day of resurrection the begotten Son of God, these birth-throes shall come to pass. Many shall come, saying, "I am the Christ;" wars and rumours of wars, but this is not the end. Nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, are but the beginning of pangs; tribulation, and slaughter, and hatred, from all the nations shall follow, and then many among themselves would be offended, and deliver up, and hate, one another; false prophets should mislead, lawlessness prevail, and love grow cold; but the one enduring to the end should be the saved; and after the good news of the coming kingdom had been declared to the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth, then should the end of that age come.

Again, the Lord describes another set of signs parallel to these: first, the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, set there by the false king, doubtless the Anti-christ, in the midst of the week; then shall follow the flight of the disciples and the final tribulation in the land, and immediately after the sun shall be darkened, the moon not give her light, the stars fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, to be followed by His coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and the gathering of His elect. Further all these shall come to pass ere that generation shall have passed away; thus clearly showing that men should be occupying an exactly similar position when these things occur as they did then.

The Jew shall be in the possession of the land, the bulk in unbelief, but in their midst a remnant of faith. The Gentile shall have dominion in the land, upholding the false king, the Antichrist, with whom,* for the sake of temporal advantage, the worldly Jew will make a covenant, but their trust put to utter shame and to their own destruction when the scourge of God's wrath shall go through the land.

[* With the beast rather, or Emperor of the West. The Anti-christ is the King of the Jews; they would not have a covenant with him but with their Gentile protector. Ed. B. T.]

That the time of the Lord's coming, the completion of the age, and the introduction of the new kingdom should correspond to and be a part of the time that then was, is the clear teaching of the parable and the direct statement which it illustrates. When the Jew, as God's fig-tree for fruit-bearing and witness upon earth, withered because barren, should become broken in heart and should turn to the Lord — the branch become tender and put forth leaves in the power of a renewed life — then is the summer, the harvest, the end near — at the doors.

This generation will not have passed away until all these things shall have taken place. The heaven and the earth — the heavenly and the earthly which shall intervene — shall pass away, but the word of the Lord not at all.

But as the days of Noah, and as, the people, so shall the coming of the Son of man be: for when the professed sons of God should link themselves with the men of the earth, through the daughters of men and great results and much power and honour accrue to the flesh thereby; when the natural man Enos — "a man" — should have passed away, the spiritual man "Enoch" — "dedicated "— have been taken — he was not, for God took him; when religious flesh should have reached its perfection and perished, Lamech — "strong" — 777 years; when flesh in all its forms (Methuselah — "man of darts") should have been fully developed — 666 (Rev. xiii. 18), and in the long-suffering of God permitted to overpass its limit three years; the time during which the bride is formed from the side of the sleeping Lord — then should the end of all flesh come before God. Even as the flood came and took all away, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.

But it shall be a discriminating judgment. Two shall be in the field sowing seed — two shall be in the mill preparing bread — one is taken, the other left. Watch therefore, for ye know not in what hour your Lord comes. But if the master of the house had known the time of the thieves coming, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be dug through. Wherefore also not only watch, for ye know not the hour your Lord comes, but also be ready, for in that hour that ye think not the Son of man comes — to destroy the thief and restore His house; and meanwhile all the faithful bondservant can do is to give the household food in season. He cannot repair the damage to the house. So doing, his Lord on coming shall set him over all His substance. But that evil servant, who takes occasion by the absence of his Lord, to live as in the night, in rioting, wantonness, and ill-treatment of his fellow-servants, while pretending to keep his Lord's charge, at the same time cultivating friendship with the world which lives in open enmity to his Lord and denial of His claims — the unexpected day of judgment shall likewise come upon him and the unknown hour of darkness.

Having shown how a sifting judgment would come upon those who were in responsibility over His household inside the house, the Lord next proceeds to declare that a testing time would come upon those who waited to go in with Him to the marriage-feast; and here we get an intimation of something not within the scope of the truth the Lord then revealed. If a Bridegroom, then there was a bride having a place and portion altogether distinct from that of those who waited for the Bridegroom to go in with Him to the feast.

The witness for God upon earth is responsible for two things: to feed the household, and be a witness, a light, in the world; and neither is a hardship, since the food for the one and the grace for the other are all treasured up in Christ, freely to be received and freely to be given. The bride of the Lamb — the body of Christ — the assembly of God in its earthly manifestation, and each member of the same, is responsible for these two things; and inasmuch as it has failed — that is, the professing system which has taken upon itself the name of God's assembly, and is therefore held responsible as such — therefore the portion of the hypocrite and the foolish shall be its portion.

These first two parables reveal a nearer approach to church ground than the two which follow. The evil slave was responsible to his lord for feeding the household; the foolish virgin was responsible to the bridegroom for lighting him to the feast. The one dealt in heavenly truth, and the other waited for the heavenly Man. The one being set to "do," and being glad in heart at his lord's delay, therefore did evil; the others, having nothing to do but simply to go forth and meet the bridegroom, were content to be outwardly like their companions, careless whether they would be for his honour at his coming.

The first parable does apply closely to the church as a professing thing under responsibility to God, and the professing church will indeed meet with the fate of the evil bondsman; but the church — the bride — can never be said to have gone forth to meet the Bridegroom,* and probably the second parable accurately applies to faithful ones of Israel (five wise virgins), who shall take the place on earth of the church immediately it is called away; and the professing thing to be destroyed — the five foolish. The words of our Lord suggest this; for after describing the destruction of the evil bondsman, He says, "Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be made like . . . ."

[* Here the writer appears to me quite mistaken in his thoughts; for it can only be Christians, not the godly remnant, who go out to meet the Bridegroom. Going out to Christ (cf Hebrews xiii.) is characteristic of Christianity, staying where they are in the land of the godly Jew. So the Christian only has the oil meanwhile in his vessel, not the Israelite till Christ appears. Again the godly Jewish remnant will never go asleep, as all Christendom has done. It is just the same with the parable of the talents, as with the house servant, now during His absence on high. All three parables apply to professing Christians in contrast with the Jews, whose portion closed before, as the Gentile next follows. — Ed. B. T.]

In the first of the second pair of parables, the Lord takes up again the case of that which occupies the place of responsibility to Him as a bondservant to his lord, but it is no longer to feed those that are within the house, but to traffic with those who are without. Here also the faithful ones in Israel responsible for witness, having their Lord's substance to traffic with, even His name and word, seem to be shown forth; or, perhaps, it is the church in its character as witness on earth, manifested in its first and last developments: first as the bondsman with five talents, where we get it as gathered out principally from the remnant of Israel, with a large measure of gift bestowed and consequent responsibility; and afterwards as the bondsman with two talents, where it is as brought out wholly from the Gentiles with but little strength or gift, but still faithful in that which it has. The one that had the one talent is the empty shell of profession, which will remain on earth when the kernel of faith is gone, but still held responsible as owning the word and name of its Lord, but which all the way through has but hid the heavenly treasure, turning it to a base use, making it serve an earthly purpose; whose lot, therefore, shall be to be cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth; for at the least the talent of profession should be placed in the hands of those who really deal in the heavenly treasure, and not be placed in the earth, where it can produce no fruit, but only become soiled by the contact.

As this parable shows us judgment and reward of those who on earth deal with heavenly things, so the next brings to view the judgment of those who on earth have had to do with heavenly men. In this case we are taken clean off anything approaching church ground, and even that of profession, whether Christian or Jewish.

Here the King comes forth in the fulness of His power and glory, and all the nations are gathered before Him, and the blessing or cursing, the reward or punishment, shall be simply according to the reception or rejection of those who have represented the King (His brethren), whilst He waited in His long-suffering, sending forth the gospel of the kingdom — the everlasting gospel, ere He set His throne in judgment to judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity; to rebuke the heathen and destroy the wicked; to bring the wickedness of the wicked to an end, but to establish the just; causing all the ends of the world to remember and turn unto Him, and all the kindreds of the nations to worship before Him. But now His throne is set, the kingdom of the world, of our Lord and of His Christ, is come, and, according to the treatment of His brethren, His ambassadors, His little ones, so shall the judgment be.

The end is now at hand, and the Lamb which had been set apart three and a-half years before is now to be slain, that the blood of deliverance (the Passover) may be sprinkled. But while the wicked, whom Jehovah will use as His sword (Ps. xvii. 13, 14), are taking counsel together in the high places of the land against Jehovah and against His anointed, faith, by the lowly hand of a woman in the house of a leper — an outcast — receives Him, owns Him and honours Him Lord of all power and might, King of kings, and Lord of lords, though apparently so poor, despised, and destitute, that His nearest friends counted it an act of foolish waste to anoint that kingly head which, while giving rest to all, had not itself where to repose, and wheresoever that gospel of the kingdom shall be preached, there shall this woman's act be spoken of for a memorial of her — an example of believing love — the path for faith to walk in; her deed of love and faith standing out in solitary beauty and grandeur amidst that dark and terrible scene — the single bright gleam which shone alone through the thick oppressive gloom of selfishness and pride which pressed in on every side, shall be the note harped upon by every proclaimer of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom; it shall be set forth as a specimen of that faith which shall obtain entrance into and participation in that blessed state. This incident is therefore given in direct reference to the time and circumstances previously described by our Lord to His disciples, and is reserved for direct application until then.

Judas is found an exact contrast, for his expectations of present profit being all disappointed, the very one he hoped had been the King of Israel now speaking about being buried, and what little he might have possessed himself of having been wasted upon his master's head, he determines to make what he can while yet he has the chance, and in order that he may save something out of the coming wreck of every hope which he foresees, he sells his Master for the price of a slave; and as Mary's blessing shall be the portion of all who shall have ministered to the needs of the despised and persecuted proclaimers of the coming of their King, who will reckon it as having been done unto Himself, so shall the curse of Judas come upon all who have neglected and despised the least of the brethren of their Lord.

So conscious are the disciples of their lack of simple trust in their Lord and Master, and of confidence in one another, that while they could one and all unhesitatingly pronounce indignant judgment that it was a waste to spend three hundred pence in an act of private homage to Him, yet they feel that any one of them might be guilty of an act of grossest treachery. Their eyes were fixed upon an earthly portion, though doubtless in connection with their Lord (excepting Judas, who had decided to have this world's treasure, if not by following Him then by selling Him), and if this earthly portion were to fail, then all beyond was darkness and a blank which they could not penetrate. They began to feel like sheep without a shepherd, that they might run into any kind of evil; like ships without a rudder, at the mercy of every wind and current; and Peter's protestation of fidelity proceeding from the same source as the trembling doubt of the other* showed that all alike would fail in the hour of need, and that flesh, whether in a Peter or a Judas, was a rotten thing, a broken reed that would pierce the hand that leaned upon it.

[* For they were as ready to say, "Is it I, Lord," as "If I should needs die with thee, I will in no wise deny thee."]

The blessed Lord knowing that it is at this point (the cross) that flesh must have an end — the testing place of faith — the terrible gulf, at the brink of which the natural heart lingers tremblingly so long, where every hope and thought and joy of nature must be lost for ever, and that He, the only one who had ever yet been called upon to go down into that bottomless abyss, that shoreless fathomless ocean of the wrath of God, was going through it in all its solemn awful terrors, in order that He might bring through scatheless all who should believe on Him; and that the work He had undertaken He would perfectly perform, leaving not a hoof behind, but bringing all in the joy of perfect deliverance to the other side; yet knowing the terrible trial for faith to trust itself in those dark waters, though it pass dry-shod, now leaves a memorial for the heart to cling to in the dreadful path, which should buoy it up and give it peace, taking its eyes off all the fearful scene and fixing them upon Himself, unseen yet realised and touched by faith.

So while they eat before the dreaded hour arrived, all (except Him who had undertaken the work) unconscious of the imminence of the time, pregnant with eternal consequences, Jesus takes the bread, blesses, breaks, and gives to His disciples, saying, "Take, eat; this is my body." Never now will they be able to anoint that head; wise in their own conceits, the opportunity passed away forever. Now if they would honour that body, they must receive it as a piece of bread, not anointing Him as King, nor fighting for Him as Lord, but feeding upon Him as life and strength, nourishment and comfort. No longer a body to be seen and touched and handled, but an unseen presence having a seen memorial, through which it might be seen and touched and handled by the soul.

Then, having taken the cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of it. For this is my blood, that of the new covenant, that shed for many, for the remission of sins." This was to assure their souls the sea was dry, the fire was quenched, the sword had drunk its fill, and the overflowings of that blood were for their stay and joy in the way. The cup once filled with wrath had been emptied and its dregs wrung out, and instead, the blood, which told of pardon, peace with God, and separation from a world of sin and woe, now filled it to its brim. Real and absolutely true for the soul and faith as the Lord has made the cup of His blood which we drink, yet He goes on distinctly to declare that the fruit of the vine is not His blood; for He says He will in no wise drink of that until He drinks it new with us in the kingdom of His Father.

The Lord having thus given some tangible thing for faith to cling to in its passage through the dark and terrible gulf of judgment against sin — full and overflowing indeed for Him, but therefore dry for all who followed Him — He now permits three of His disciples, who were to have a separate testimony, distinct in its character for each to deliver, to behold the deep grief and sorrow of soul even unto death, which He suffered on account of righteousness through the blind and hardened rejection of Himself and His claims by those among whom He had cast His lot; whose blessing it had been to have received Him, but upon whom utter judgment and the irrevocable curse should come by occasion of their unbelief. The complete blasting of every hope which He might have entertained as the true Messiah, the apparent frustration of the will of God and breaking of every promise, the shameful dishonour about to come upon. the place, the city, and the people, upon which the name of God was called, a byword, a hissing, and a reproach throughout the nations, brought upon them by their own hand; and not alone the cutting off of Himself, God's anointed One, but also the smiting of Him as the Shepherd of the little flock, the few sheep in the wilderness, and their scattering.

Thus the piercing of the only Son — the Son of David , the wounding in the house of His friends, the smiting of the Shepherd with the awful consequences to people, friends, and flock, and shame upon the great name of Him who owned them, beat with such vehement force upon His soul, that the life-blood, distilling as drops of sweat upon His brow, fell thence to the earth. "Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians say, For mischief did he bring them out to slay them in the mountains? Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever." And He in drinking this one cup of death was about to taste all the bitterness and suck out its dregs of the reproach and shame and curse decreed upon all alike, king and people, place and name, root and branch, head and foot: for in Him all of promise, blessing, glory, peace, power, goodness, was treasured, and to cut Him off was to cut off all and leave not a hope behind, but with Himself to plunge all into a black and bottomless abyss, from whence there was no return.

Yet in obedience to a Father all wise, all gracious, omnipotent, He drinks the dreadful draught, and gives His bondman James to behold His cheerful submission, that he may exhort the twelve tribes by that example to count it all joy when they fall into divers temptations, trusting in the Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift, with whom is no variation or shadow of a turning, that therefore they may have patience and await the precious fruit of the earth, having patience for it until it receive the early and the latter rain, stablishing their hearts since the coming of the Lord is drawn nigh.

To Peter likewise, the apostle of Jesus Christ to the sojourners of the dispersion, that he might uplift Christ as our model that we should follow in His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not, but gave Himself over into the hands of Him who judges righteously, exhorting us to arm ourselves with the same mind, for if we have likewise suffered in the flesh we shall have done with sin.

To John also, that he might show us that fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ involves absolute separation from all that is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, since if any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him; that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, and walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin; and he that loves his brother is one that abides in the light, and we thus know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; whereas the world hates us, because its works are wicked and ours righteous.

The Son of man, the one to be the anointed first-born, is now delivered up into the hands of sinners. The Rabbi, Teacher, Prophet, delivered up by the false friend, is now wounded in the house of His friends. The Shepherd of Israel, who had, daily teaching in the temple, made the flock to lie down in green pastures and had led them beside the still waters, restoring their soul and leading them in the paths of righteousness; the shepherd, who was the fellow of Jehovah of Hosts, and could have commanded more than twelve legions of angels, is now smitten with the sword and the sheep are scattered; His dearest friends who could sleep while He watched for that dread hour in agony of soul and supplication, but who waking, when bid to sleep, wound Him more with ill-timed fleshly energy, now all forsake Him, who had with such loving powerful hand guided them through all their journey in the paths of pleasantness and peace. But Peter, in the power of fleshly love, through which he had before proved himself an adversary and now an enemy to his Master's work though not to His person, follows Him afar off, to see the end; and the high priest, and the elders, and the whole council, sought false witness against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death, saying, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours;" but they found none until two come forward and say, "He said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and in three days build it." But it was indeed false witness, for He had said that if they destroyed the temple of His body, truly the temple of God, in three days He would (not build it, but) raise it up. This was the sign He had Himself given them, as proving His authority to cleanse His Father's house, to demand the fruit of His Father's vineyard, even worshippers, who should worship Him in spirit and in truth; but the husband men had refused to render thus the fruits, and had corrupted the temple of God still more, so that, from a house of merchandise, it had become a den of thieves — nay, more, of murderers, for not only had they openly refused to render the fruits to their Lord's just claims, but now had they compassed the death of His beloved Son, the heir of the vineyard.

And now there stand together the spiritual man, and the man of flesh — the man after God's own heart, and the people's choice. God's High Priest, and the false usurper, who, wielding fleshly power and authority, seeks to compel the spiritual man to acknowledge his right to judge, but to no purpose, until, finding his claims met by a superior authority at every point, he dares to challenge a decision between them before the throne of Him whom both acknowledged as the source of all their claims. He demands the sentence upon one single issue, abandoning all secondary counts, requiring judgment upon the one point which was really the only one at issue between them — which of them was the true Anointed One of God. "I adjure thee," he says, "by the living God that thou tell us if thou art the Christ, the Son of God." Then comes the sentence forth, and from the mouth of Him whose right the usurper had denied, for in the person of that meek and lowly One the living God was present in their midst, though not indeed to judge, unless His judgment were demanded, but to save, and that by suffering: therefore is He silent, when to speak would be to judge: but when the righteousness and holiness of His throne is called in question, and He Himself called upon to decide whether He will have fellowship with truth or falsehood, then speak He must, and speaking declare His judgment. "Thou hast said," Jesus says. "Moreover I say to you, from henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Much as they had hated Him when, silent as a sheep dumb before his shearers, now that His full title and glory and power and majesty are revealed, proved by righteousness, holiness, and truth — blameless before God and man, so that not even false witness can be brought to convict Him — then outburst all the malignities of man's heart, and hatred against God; and since in His love to them as the creatures of His hand, He had come to save them from the unutterable curse, to be to the praise of the glory of God, in eternal life and joy; and in obedience to His Father's will, having emptied and humbled Himself, and being by the will of God delivered up into the hands of sinners, they wreak upon Him all the spite that the paltry mind of man, urged on by the malevolence of the devil, can suggest. They spit in His face, and buffet Him, some strike Him with the palms of their hands, saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ, who is it that struck thee?" So do they pierce and lacerate the soul of Him who should have been to them precious as a firstborn, an only son.

Terribly bitter as this cup was to Him who had wept over the hand that struck Him, knowing the requital of vengeance that would follow, saying, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones those that are sent unto her, how often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathers her chickens tinder her wings, and ye would not!" Yet a much deeper wound, going right to the quick, was given by one who counted himself His dearest friend; thrice did the sharp sword of denial pierce His soul. Those three years of constant loving care forgotten: the tender sympathy and love, the watching night and day with prayer, the patient endurance of folly, pride, self-will, hardness of heart, and uubelief — the unwearied teaching, the words of wisdom given as able to be borne, here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept; the mighty acts of power, words of truth, and ceaseless outflowings of perfect self-sacrificing love, all forgotten in a moment, at the question of a maid, increasing in shamelessness and sin, from a public denial before all of any connection with his Lord, to a denial of the person of his Lord, attesting that denial with an oath, and going on to a further denial of his Lord, beginning to curse and to swear, being ready to deny his own identity.

But the night of agony and shame for Shepherd and sheep, Master and disciple, the Lord and His friends, is at its close, and at the first note which heralded the day-dawn, Peter comes to himself, remembers the word of Jesus: his faith fails not — the prayer of his dear Lord receiving a triumphant answer, so that, going outside, he weeps bitterly. The morning has arrived, and the natural heart of sinful man, arrived at its perfect development, takes counsel to destroy the only perfect thing the world had ever seen: but it must be done so as to appear a praiseworthy and just action — nay, more, as being themselves quite free from motive, except a regard for what was due to God and man — a righteous deed, to put a blasphemer to death; but so merciful are they, so sensitive, they shrink from doing it themselves; but God will not permit them to throw the flimsiest veil of decency over their deed, to screen in anywise its abhorrent vileness from their eves, for scarcely had they delivered Jesus up to the heathen governor, thus proving traitors to their God and King, than Judas, the representative man of the fleshly people, returns to them the wages of his iniquity, declaring he had delivered up guiltless blood: — now they must go on to an act of premeditated, wilful, murder, and not, as hitherto, of ignorant and unbelieving hate.

Peter denied his Lord, delivering Him up, in a certain way, to secure his own safety. Judas delivered Him up in order to make a profit out of Him, not wishing to kill Him; but the heads of the people deliver Him up of malice aforethought, that He might he put to death. Compare Peter with Reuben — the remnant of faith — the poor of the flock — the little ones (Gen. xxxvii. 21); Judas with Judah — the nation — the royal seed — the people of God, house of David (Gen. xxxvii. 26); the high-priests and elders of the people, with the eight other brothers (Gen. xxxvii. 18-20).

Jesus denies Himself, delivers Himself up, surrenders altogether His claims to the throne and kingdom as a natural man, that He may take them up again in resurrection; and this is the force of the prophecy of Jeremiah mentioned, of which the quotation in Zechariah is the complement. In Jeremiah it is the Lord as Son of David, Son of a virgin, the Jewish Messiah (Hanameel, the one whom God has graciously given), selling all right and claim to His inheritance — to all that He inherited in that capacity, and buying it back for Himself, as represented in Jeremiah (may the Lord establish Him), at the cost of seven shekels, a perfect price, and ten pieces of silver — the seven shekels representing the price of His own life, and the ten pieces the believing remnant of Israel, whose hopes He completely destroyed by humbling Himself unto death — laying down His life. Thus, as the Shepherd that should feed His people Israel, He lays down His life for the sheep, and the sheep are scattered. But in order that He may take it again in a new power and character, and bring the scattered ones and those who were not of that fold, no longer to a fold, but into a flock, making one flock, and one Shepherd. Thus, as Judah bartered away her Ruler for a potter's field, a place to bury strangers in, so the Lord should count them but as strangers, and defiled, breaking them as a potter's vessel, and burying them in Tophet, till there should be no place to bury; casting down the price of blood in the house of Jehovah, that it might be called a field of blood unto this day.

The religious system claiming acknowledgment from God having thus been shown to be disowned by Him, accounted by Him a blood-field, not His "house of peace" — a valley of lamentation, not a mount of praise; they, on their part, having wrested the judgment of the poor man, and compassed the slaying of the innocent and righteous one; the fleshly man — Cain — violently enforcing his claim to be God's priest by smiting the spiritual man — Abel; the spiritual Man, as God's King, His Anointed One, is brought face to face with him, who, as in the place of God, wielded governmental power over the peoples of the earth, who immediately challenges His title — "Art thou the king of the Jews?" and at once receives reply, "Thou sayest." He is there before His murderers and persecutors, not to answer their malicious and false accusations, but to assert and prove His claims, by being just in the presence of injustice, and making falsehood manifest by truth. But though the professed witness for God upon earth had proved its utter ruin by rejecting, and aiming to destroy His pure and holy One, there was one step more in evil which they could take — having refused the good, there was only left to choose the evil in its place: this they now proceed to do. To rid themselves of God's good Man was their aim, and they cared not at what cost or loss to themselves. Give us Barabbas, and let Christ be crucified, say they; and as His weight of worth and innocence more and more inclines the scale of justice to His side, the greater their hate and madness grows, and the more recklessly, like fevered gamblers, do they cast their dearest treasures into the balances to make the issue meet their will — power, honour, title, at last life itself "His blood be on us and on our children" is cast, that their end may be gained, and now they take ground on which law and justice can meet them.

Life for life — eye for eye — tooth for tooth. If His life were innocent, then they agree to pay according to law its worth and value. Though they had refused to relieve Judas of the responsibility of betraying the innocent, yet now they eagerly accept the consequences of spilling guiltless blood; and Pilate, who had made the condemnation equivalent to a verdict of innocent, delivers Jesus into their hands to be crucified. In mockery the soldiers bow the knee to the lowly Nazarene — soon will come to pass a repetition of that scene in terrible reality: no longer a scarlet cloak, but clothed with a garment dipped in blood; not a crown woven out of thorns, but many diadems upon His head, not now mutely bearing taunts and scoffs, but smiting with a sharp two-edged sword going out of His mouth; an iron rod for sceptre, not a reed wherewith to beat Him on His head: no more the gentle One, reviling not again, who had walked so carefully through the world that not a bruised reed was broken nor the smoking flax quenched, but treading now the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty; not in solemn mockery hailed king of the Jews, but every knee now bending, and every tongue confessing Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords — His name in manifestation and the place of power, written upon His garment and upon His thigh — once His accusation, written over His head upon the cross, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews," while the passers-by reviled, the chief priests mocked, the scribes and elders also, and the robbers even who had been crucified with Him casting the same reproaches on Him. Though man the Monarch of creation mocks, inanimate nature mourns, and for three hours darkness covers the whole land, as though veiling from view that awful agony by which the great sin-debt was paid, and creation bought back into liberty and blessing. The tide of woes rose, wave after wave, upon His soul, and the sorrows of death compassed Him, the floods of ungodly men rolled in upon Him, the cords of the grave compassed Him about, and the snares of death overtook Him — mutely, meekly, did that brave, strong, gentle bosom bear the fearful load, till from His heart was bruised the bitter cry, fragrant to God because the cry of faith, My God, my God, why hast thou abandoned me?

Turning back to 1 Samuel xvii., after Saul had called down the judgment of God which had fallen upon guiltless Jonathan, as substitute for the guilty nation, and had himself been rejected of God for disobedience and hypocrisy, the Philistines gather together at Shochoh of Judah, that is, "enclosure of praise," and pitched between it and Azekah, that is, "field broken up" — in Ephes-dammin — that is, "ceasing of blood-shedding" — and Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together at the valley of "Elah," that is, "strength." Just so, after Jesus had been smitten for the transgression of God's people — had been made a sacrifice for sins, and the whole Jewish system had been given up for unbelief and falsehood — its sacrifices and worship being rendered null and void by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, the powers of evil, permitted by God to sojourn here for a season (Philistines — "sojourners") — gather together to fight against the "enclosure of praise," that is, "the temple worship," and pitch between the temple worship (Shochoh) and the devout worshipper ("Azekah"), effectually separating the one from the other — having made the daily sacrifice, and all shedding of blood to cease ("Ephes-dammin"), the one sacrifice for sins having been offered. The earthly system of religion (Saul) gathers its forces together in the place of its strength — Elah — its rites and ceremonies.

But out of the camp of the Philistines there goes out a champion, named Goliath of Gath, who cries to the armies of Israel, "Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us." And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together." And when Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. So one, hitherto concealed, now is manifested as the champion of the world-powers (Goliath of Gath, that is, captivity of the wine-press): he that, through the righteous judgment of God against sin, had the power of death, that is, the devil: and under that power of his the Lord of life has gone, and, as far as Israel knows, is shut up for ever, so that he, to all appearance, is master of the situation. Jesus, the rightful heir (Jonathan) is altogether put to silence, under God's judgment — the new man is not yet revealed, and the adversary can boldly challenge all the powers of the Jewish system to choose a man who could cope with and kill him. They themselves had been the means by which the only one who could have conquered him had been put to silence, and now, seeing the things that took place, they can only return beating their breasts (Luke xxiii. 48; 1 Sam. xvii. 11), or commune together in sadness, or assemble with shut doors for fear, and the enemy can defy the armies of Israel to produce a man able to fight with him.

Is it the Jew, as such, that is challenged? He beholds the only Jew of power nailed to a cross, and beats his breast in impotence, despair, and shame. Is it the remnant of faith? They can but commune in sadness at the thought that the One whom they had hoped was about to redeem Israel had been delivered up to the judgment of death, and crucified. Is it the disciples assembled on the first day of the week? It is within closed doors for fear.

Forty days does the Philistine present himself in triumph, but meanwhile God is preparing Himself a champion to take up the challenge. He is feeding the flock of God in the place of Rachel's sorrow and grave, of Ruth's fruitfulness and joy, from whence between the time of the smiting on the cheek and the return of the remnant of His brethren to the children of Israel, He should come forth unto God, who is to be ruler in Israel, even Jesus, acting by the Holy Spirit — the body of Christ upon earth, indwelt by and in the power of the Holy Ghost. The time of His manifestation to Israel, as such, was not yet, until the forty days had elapsed (Acts i. 2, 3; 1 Sam. xvii. 12-16); but at length the Father sends the Beloved with a full supply, for all His brethren of Israel, of perfect blessing, the fruit of a finished work, in which each one should share individually, and also collectively participate, even resurrection! He takes from His Father for His brethren ten omers of parched corn, a share for each of Israel, a perfect portion for each, of the firstfruits of resurrection, waved before the Lord on the first day of the week after the passover, raising them up in Himself, and causing them to sit together in heavenly place in Him; but making them also in themselves, though baken with leaven, the firstfruits unto the Lord, a new meat-offering unto Him — their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him; this by taking His place for them in the glory, forty days after the morning of resurrection, they having to wait a perfect interval of time, seven days before they are brought into the power of His work and place. Now they, and all the Jewish people and polity, were still in the valley of Elah, the place of strength (1 Sam. xvii. 17), looking for some exhibition of earthly power and sovereignty (Acts i. 6), still entrenched amidst Jewish forms and ordinances (Acts i. 15-26). To them thus entrenched He comes. No longer the flock in the wilderness, but either as Saul's host, to conquer by a fleshly religion, or to be baptized into one body and be accepted in the Beloved — "David" — to conquer in the power of the Spirit. For the fiftieth day has arrived, the day of Pentecost is now accomplishing, the harvest is ripe: shall their souls' food, and nourishment, and strength for the battle, be such as Saul or David gives? Shall Saul's host going forth to the fight, and shouting for the battle, be the champion, or David, the shepherd lad, armed with an empty sling?

He runs into the army, comes, salutes his brethren, and talks with them; and as he talks, the sojourner of the wine-press — Captivity by name — comes forth, and utters his defiance, and David hears. How was it that Jonathan, God's man of faith, who heretofore had driven back the whole army of the aliens, aided by his armour-bearer only, permitted such a reproach to Israel and Israel's God? Ah! reproach had broken his heart, shame and dishonour had made him full of heaviness; but for the sake of the God of Israel had he borne reproach for His sake, shame had covered his face, and his mighty enemies, they that should have lamented, and comforted him, had given him gall for meat, vinegar to drink, had persecuted him whom God had smitten, and talked to the grief of His wounded; therefore he became a stranger to his brethren, an alien to his mother's children, and, instead of saving them, he must curse them. "Let their eyes be darkness, that they see not, and their loins continually to shake. Let their table become a snare, and what was for welfare a trap. Let their habitation be desolate; let none dwell in their tents. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous."

They had fought against him without a cause; for his love they were his adversaries; they had rewarded him evil for good, and hatred for love; when he had wrought salvation in Israel, Israel's chief had called down the curse upon him, and now had the curse recoiled. Saul had loved it — it had now come unto him. He had not delighted in blessing, so now it was far from him; he had clothed himself with cursing as with a garment, and it now came unto him like water, and as oil into his bones, as a garment which covered him, and a girdle which girded him continually. A wicked one was now set over him, and an adversary stood at his right hand; his days should be but few, and another was about to take his office. The blood of one who had served so faithfully and well was on him and his people, and Jonathan awaits deliverance by David, that they might know that the Lord had done it, and had laid on him the iniquities of them all. As they had brought the curse upon him, so are they now ashamed, clothed with shame, and covered with their own confusion; for all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.

This clearly sets forth the state of the Jewish system, and the position the Lord held towards it as the heir in whom the earthly hopes were centred: they had said, "Come, let us kill him," and the Lord of the vineyard was about to destroy miserably the wicked husbandmen, and let out the vineyard to others. Judas, the type and representative of the system, in whom the evil principles that worked in the mass found their most perfect development, because brought into nearest contact with light and love, and therefore forced to be that, or its opposite, hypocrisy and hatred, Judas was indeed tasting the full bitterness of being under the power of the adversary: he had gone out guilty, his prayer had become sin, his children were fatherless, his wife a widow; his days had been few, his habitation desolate, and another appointed to his office. So that the decreed woe had come upon him by whom the offence had come, and whose chose to consider might see that God's smitten One was guiltless, and that judgment should overtake the guilty; therefore, while wrath was treasured up against the day of wrath, and righteous judgment of God, yet mercy through the One who died, and rose again, might rejoice against judgment, and salvation come to Israel by the new man, David, the Beloved. The One who, as the rejected and murdered heir, could call upon the Lord of the vineyard to destroy, as the Son of the Father, the Beloved, could pray, "Father, forgive them;" and thus David, the children of God baptized into one body, the body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, has power from God, the Holy Spirit having come upon them to witness for Jesus, speaking the great things of God, and saying, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, seeming to possess the power of death, and defying the armies of the living God, keeping them all their lifetime subject to bondage through fear of death?" But if the youngest, hitherto in the wilderness feeding his father's sheep, stands forth for God, he surely incurs the jealous anger of his elder brother. Is it Abel, worshipping the living God, and by faith offering to Him a life out of death, Cain will surely be wroth; does Jacob count the birthright worth possessing, then Esau will hate him, when he finds that he cannot inherit the blessing: does Joseph declare the mind of God to his brethren, it does but stir up the malice of his brethren to purpose his death. So there is an elder one now, a kinsman according to flesh, an Israelite (whose is the revealed mind of God), whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the lawgiving, and the service, and the promises — who, seeing this youngest one come down, can mocking say, "They are full of new wine." But David has an answer to the point — "What have I now done? is there not a cause?" Let this be known to you, and give heed to my words: these are not drunken as ye suppose. It is the third hour of the day: let no man's heart fail him. When with the little flock in the wilderness, single-handed were the powers of evil smitten and destroyed, whether working by Jew or Gentile, whether using God's judgment or man's malice (the cheek teeth of the great lion had been broken, and the northern beast had been driven into a land barren and desolate," Joel i. 6; ii. 20, that is, the power that would work by these in the time to come), and the Lord that delivered then would deliver now. The Spirit of God which had raised Christ from the dead had come down now to dwell in mortal bodies, and would hereafter be poured out upon all flesh, before the great and gloriously appearing day of the Lord come, so that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But the clothing and armour of Saul; his helmet of brass, and coat of mail, and sword, do not fit David, any more than Joel's prophecy exactly applies to the church, but to the Jewish remnant, which will be the owned thing of God in its generation, and out of which the church was formed at this time; so Peter soon puts off Joel's prophecy, saying, I have not proved it, and instead takes the name of Jesus for his staff, and the five parts or stages of His work, as the smooth stones for his sling, namely, His life, death, resurrection, exaltation, and pouring out of the Spirit, and thus draws near to the enemy, who, on his part, comes armed with circumcision, the law, and the temple, as his power for victory, by which to keep Israel in bondage, disclaiming the church for its youth and freshness.

What was this broken staff to Him, this rod lifted up, this Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified — was He a Gentile dog, to be thus spoken to? Ah! he might boast that he had the power of death, could crucify and slay, but the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel's armies, could raise again from the dead. He whom lawless men had crucified and slain God had raised up, and exalted to His right hand, who had poured out His Holy Spirit, that all the earth might know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly, the whole house of Israel, might know assuredly that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear (compare Hosea i. 6-11; Rom. ix. 25-28; 1 Sam. xvii. 47; Acts ii. 36-40); for the battle is the Lord's, and He hath made this Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ. Thus hastens Peter to meet the Philistine — him that had the power of death, keeping God's Israel in bondage all their lifetime through fear of death — taking, by the Holy Spirit, from his bag of bread of life the stone which told of resurrection, taken from the brook, now dry, in which the waters of death had rolled, slinging it, smiting him in his forehead, that the stone sunk in, and he fell upon his face to the earth; for, having heard, they were pricked in heart, and said, what shall we do, brethren? Then said Peter, "Repent, and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." So he prevailed, with a sling and a stone, and smote and slew the enemy.

But no outward sign of power, or weapon of offence, save the sling and stone, had the church so to give proof and token of the victory, it must use in figure the very weapon of the enemy, even death, and that a death by judgment (the sword, Rom. xiii. 4) — baptism; for those who accepted his word were baptized, and there were added that day three thousand souls, turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, realising in some little measure the truth of death and resurrection, even that deliverance was to them, since wrath and judgment had been fully satisfied. Not wholly, however, did they know the power of the work that had been done, for, though they were together, and had all things common, breaking bread in the house, yet they were also every day being constantly in the temple. God, doubtless, making them a sign and token to the whole house of Israel of the work He was then doing in their midst, though the body of the Man in heaven became so connected with the earthly power, recognized by it, treated with an amount of condescension, "having favour with all the people," that it was like rending soul from body, even after being subjected to the cruellest treatment, to separate. God used it, in His grace, to draw out of the mass of unbelief the true-hearted ones, the remnant of Gath, the Jonathans of Israel, whose souls were knit to David — the church loving Him, who was its head and life, as their own soul, making a covenant, acknowledging Him alone as worthy to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing, and giving up all hopes and expectation of a man on earth, and centring all their confidence in One in heaven.

Thus the church prospers, and is accepted in the sight of all the people (1 Sam. xviii. 5; Acts ii. 42-47), and fear was upon every soul; and when the Lord Jesus, by the hand of Peter (Acts iii. 6), cures the man lame from his birth, the people are filled with wonder and amazement, and run together, greatly wondering, while the man himself, once hopelessly lame, in the place from whence all blessing should have flowed to Israel, now walks and leaps, and praises God, singing and dancing in heart with joy. Saul may indeed have slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands. The despised rejected Nazarene, crucified but now raised and glorified, hidden in the heavens but working in and by us unlettered Galileans who are His witnesses (Acts ii. 32; iii. 15), hath done this which ye behold and hear, has made this man strong, whom ye behold and know (Acts ii. 33; iii. 16; see ver. 24), and is sent blessing you, in turning each one from your wickedness. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. But they who receive honour one of another, seeking not that which comes from God only, will be worth to hear such honour ascribed to one who spoke not of Himself, nor pleased Himself, but always did His Father's will; who, because of the Father's judgment, and to do the Father's will had emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation, humbling Himself even unto death, and that the death of the cross; giving His garments to be parted, and His vesture to be cast lots for; laying down His life, as Jonathan, the rightful heir, for the sheep of His pasture, that He might take it again, as David, the beloved, whose throne should be established for ever.

Surely would the priests and captains of the temple, and the Sadducees, be distressed that such honour should be ascribed to Jesus whom they had crucified, and the quicksightedness which characterizes the children of this world in worldly things would make them say, "What can he have more but the kingdom?" This new thing will usurp our place and power in the people's mind, for the number of the men had become five thousand; therefore with jealousy did they eye the church from that day and forward, laying hands on them, and putting them in ward till the morrow. And it came to pass on the morrow that the evil spirit (1 Sam. xviii. 10; Acts iv. 5) was permitted from God to work upon the whole Jewish polity, officially represented in its responsible heads at Jerusalem, its headquarters. Annas, the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and as many as were of high priestly family, and the Holy Spirit plays upon the harp of God before them by the hand of Peter, testifying to the power of the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom they had crucified, whom God had raised up, that in His name, by Him, the infirm man stood before them sound, and salvation is in none other, either for king or people: "for neither is there any name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved." But the sweet notes of God's glad tidings fall now upon ears strung by the evil spirit of jealousy, and hearts quivering with wounded pride; the mouth of God's witnesses must be stopped; if God gives grace to Abel, Abel must be bruised to death. If David prospers, Saul must kill him. If, by means of the church, an evident sign has come to pass, the council being in the place of fleshly power and authority — javelin in hand, must exercise it, and threaten them severely. Twice does the God of all grace, by the hand of Peter, strike cunningly the gospel strains before the responsible fleshly religious system: this second time more completely representing the whole people, for besides all who were of high-priestly family, it now comprised all the elderhood of the sons of Israel; but no cunning charmer could move the heart of the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear. Their poison was like the poison of the serpent, the more genial the warmth, the greater the venom, urged to increasing bitterness and wrath, in proportion to the increasing grace and power manifested by the church, till at last nothing would be left for God but to break their teeth in their mouth.

At first were they witnessed to of resurrection, now of exaltation, of the lowly One, made by them, a shame and reproach in an ignominious death, at God's, right hand, to give repentance and remission of sins, and the Holy Spirit also, that they might likewise be His witnesses, if now they would obey Him. But neither the gift of tongues, nor the life of grace, nor the power to heal, nor the words of life and love, can move their jealous heart, except to greater bitterness and wrath, and a more determined purpose to smite, even to the wall. This second time also was their murderous intent frustrated, and the church avoided out of their presence twice, the reason of their enmity being still the same, the rage of jealousy and lust of power; for the people glorified God and magnified the church for all the mighty works that were done, and therefore fear the church, because the power of God is upon it, and because it behaves wisely before the people, fearing lest, after all, the work should be from God, and they be found also fighters against God.

So great is the honour in which the church is held of all the people (Acts 5:13; 1 Sam. xviii. 16), going out and coming in before them, that the Jewish council find that it is not politic openly to persecute them further (Acts iv. 16, 17; Acts 5:24, 26, 28); but having determined their death, seek to procure it without implicating themselves. Just as Saul sought to compass David's death at the hands of the Philistines, by promising him his eldest daughter Merab (" increase") in marriage, so the chiefs of the people, represented in Gamaliel, are glad to see the church "increase" so mightily; not because it is the Lord's battles that are fought, but that whatever the result, they confidently anticipate profit to themselves. If this counsel, or this work, have its origin from men, and the Romans destroy it, as had happened in previous eases, well, their dirty work will have been done, and their hands clean; but if from God, well, the Philistines will be the sufferers.

At this time it seemed as if the nation promised well to be knit to Christ (Acts 5:11, 16, 28; Acts vi. 7, 8), but when the moment came to take the final step, God's flock preferred to wander into the meadows of delight of the earthly system, rather than follow the Good Shepherd, who would have led them into green pastures, and beside the still waters (1 Sam. xviii. 17-19. Adriel the Meholathite, "God's flock in the meadows of delight." Acts 5:33; Acts vi. 9-11.) But a younger daughter has this earthly thing — "Michal," a brook, a remnant, running out from among the rest — who loves the Beloved, the brook in the way, of which He should drink, as pledge that the rod of His strength should go out of Zion, that His people should be willing in the day of His power. But, blessed as is the foretaste of the fulness hereafter to be enjoyed, it can be used by the evil spirit working in the earthly system to accomplish under a cloak what it dare not do openly, so the prejudices and jealousies of system, working in the disciples' hearts, bring more trouble, and threaten more damage, to the church than persecution from without, for the Hellenists and Hebrews begin to murmur one against the other, but the overruling sovereign grace of God uses even this as a means of greater glory to David, His beloved. For the twelve apostles are more entirely separated unto prayer and the ministry of the word; and seven men, whose sympathies were led out into wider connection with the outside Gentile world, are brought to the forefront. Thus the secret working of the spirit of evil in system is the occasion of double honour to the church in Jerusalem, which is the body of Christ.

Thus the hearts of all the simple ones are joined to Christ, for the word of God increased, the number of disciples in Jerusalem was very greatly multiplied, and a great crowd of priests obeyed the faith. But with all who clung to earthly things this exhibition of power and glory only stirs up greater fear and hatred, which, smouldering awhile, burst out at length in disputation against Stephen; but he behaves more wisely than all the servants of Saul (1 Sam. xviii. 30; Acts vi. 8-10), so that the name of Christ is much set by. Much as the chief priests and the elders of the people, led by jealousy of the spiritual power manifested in the church, conscious that they were themselves destitute of it, desired to get rid of this David, and left no stone unturned by which to do it under a fair pretext, yet the work wrought was of such a character as appealed to the heart and expectation of every Jew. Gamaliel is the expositor of this feeling, common alike to the Jonathans — the remnant of faith as Jews — and to all the servants of the earthly religion, when he speaks good of David, the council warning them as to what they were going to do as regards the men, that they should not sin against those whose works had been very good, and by whom, it might be, God would work a great salvation for all Israel; advising them to withdraw from these men, and to let them alone, and sin not against innocent blood. And they hearkened unto his voice, and discharged the apostles.

Thus God uses Gamaliel (that is, "kindness of God"), and these Jewish hopes, common to all, as a means of giving the church time and opportunity fully to declare the glad tidings that Jesus was the Christ in the presence of Saul himself; for every day in the temple they ceased not teaching and announcing that Jesus was the Christ (1 Sam. xix. 1-7; Acts 5:34-42). And there was war again, and Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought wonders and great signs among the people, but ever the more the grace of God shines out, the fiercer the spirit of evil in the earthly system; for there rose up certain of the synagogues, disputing with Stephen, hearkening not to the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke, but seeking to smite him unto death, rousing the people, the elders, and the scribes, they seize him, and bring him to the council. First it had been those of the high priestly family who had sought the life of the church, afterwards those in conjunction with all the elderhood of the sons of Israel; and now, this third time, we find, not these alone, but the people also associated with them in the persecution of the church. Their object, like Pharaoh's of old, was to smite back into bondage the escaped of Israel, by treachery and force to smite David even to the wall; but the attempt ends in disastrous failure, the blow recoils upon themselves, and the system to which they sought to transfix the body of Christ is, in the effort, shaken to its fall, for while the earthly thing brings against God's man by His member Stephen a witness which is false, the Holy Spirit of God brings a true witness against them as a nation, a crushing and unanswerable accusation, and their violent, illegal, murderous act; but freed Stephen from their power for ever, while it must have shocked every pious man amongst them. It was also, by the will of God, made the occasion of delivering the church from every connection with the Jewish system as the seat of its life and power; for all the assembly fled and escaped and were scattered into the countries of Judea and Samaria. But the apostles, who seem to have formed themselves into a company, and were in that but an image of the true David, remain in Jerusalem, apparently desirous of keeping up an appearance of connection with the Jewish system, as having Jewish standing and Jewish hopes, while the assembly, acting in the mind of Him who is the Head, escapes for ever from the authority of the Jewish hierarchy into secure habitations among the Samaritans, Ethiopians, Greeks and Romans, never more to have its life exposed to their treachery and caprice.

Thus Philip goes down to a city, and baptizes both men and women into the name of Jesus Christ. Again, by the Holy spirit, he goes to meet an Ethiopian, on the desert road to Gaza, and announces to him the glad tidings of Jesus. Afterwards, sent by the Spirit of the Lord, he is found in the Gentile city of Azotus, announcing the glad tidings to all the cities till he came to Caesarea. But, great as was the measure of liberty into which the church was thus brought, it had not yet reached its true place of separation. Stephen was, as it were, the messenger of the church to tell the Lord Jesus all that Saul had done. He had seen Him as Son of man standing at the right hand of God — a high place — and he went to dwell with Him in the habitation there.

The answer to the message was the sending of the body on earth into places of habitation among the Gentiles, where it was with difficulty, and by a great stretch of authority, that the chief priests could reach them. But what the spirit of evil, working in and by means of the guilty religious system, cannot do by outward violence, he seeks to procure covertly, but without success, his instruments and messengers being turned into monuments of the grace and power of God. For instance, when Philip goes down to Samaria, healing and working signs, the crowds give heed to the word spoken, as they had before done to Simon; and Simon also, and perhaps others; but when brought into the direct vision of Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit, He separates between the precious and the vile, appointing each to his own place, purging out the hypocrite and him that had no part nor lot in the matter, and bringing to naught the wiles of the enemy, in introducing secretly, by means of the prospect of advantage, that which defileth, worketh abomination, and maketh a lie into the holy thing of God. Again, when the church by Philip meets with the bond servant of the Jewish system, and reveals to him the person of Jesus by faith, at once the devotee is changed into a worshipper; the wanderer in the desert of Jerusalem-worship, hungry, thirsty, and fainting, is brought forth into a right way, rejoicing to go to a city of habitation.

And, thirdly, the glad tidings are announced in the strongholds of flesh, whether Jewish or Gentile, even in all the cities between Ashdod and Caesarea. At length the chosen champion of the earthly system, who stood a head and shoulders above all others, had profited more in the Jews' religion than any others of his own age: a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, of the strictest sect of his religion a Pharisee, in whom is centred the hopes of the nation, Saul of Tarsus, determines to take the matter up himself, and asks letters to Damascus of the high priests, that he may take the disciples of the Lord, and bring them bound to Jerusalem. But suddenly, when near his journey's end, He who is the great exhaustless well of living water, and who had long looked from His watchtower on high upon this parched soul, all the more thirsty because of his restless zeal, suddenly reveals Himself by the Holy Ghost, as David the beloved, the Head of His body, the church, the despised thing, Jesus of Nazareth, whom Saul was persecuting. A moment before he was the embodiment of fleshly religion, wrought on by the spirit of evil, now the member of the body of Christ, indwelt and inwrought of the Holy Ghost. Walking in the light of sparks of his own kindling, suddenly shone upon by a light out of heaven, once blind, with eyes for all but Jesus, but having seen that Just one, his opened eyes see none other. He whose feet had been swift to shed blood is now led by the hand as a helpless child. Clothed in all the pomp and pride of authority and power — stripped of all, lying down naked, without sight, he neither eats nor drinks for three days.

Wondrous change! Well might they say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" Is not this he who destroyed in Jerusalem "those who called on this, name?" for "he preached Jesus that he is the Son of God." The church having, by means of the tribulation that took place on the case of Stephen, been completely and manifestly severed from all connection with, and bondage to, the Jewish system, God, in His longsuffering grace, sends another testimony, gives another trial, still by the church, but by the church taking a place, in a position it had never claimed before. Hitherto it had owned obedience, now it takes a distinct and separate place, and declares a testimony altogether apart from any Jewish hopes and expectations, for Jesus is preached no longer as the servant, the one like Moses, the Messiah of the Jews, foreordained to them, as Peter preached: nor is it as Son of man, as Stephen saw Him, that He is now declared; but that He is the Son of God, and though, through the mercy of God, He is thus revealed to the Jews first, yet it is a word specially intended for the Gentiles, and sent by the hand of one who, though a Hebrew of the Hebrews, yet was the apostle to the Gentiles, and not to the circumcision. But there was ever deep in his heart, and in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, in the feeling, an earnest longing and desire for his brethren according to the flesh; having great grief and uninterrupted pain in his heart because of their hardness and consequent rejection; and God uses this devoted love to his kinsmen, and fervent wish to preserve for them as a nation the blessing of the glad tidings of Christ, to send by Paul the best and last declaration of His grace. For straightway in the synagogues he preaches that Jesus is the Son of God; but with little avail, for when he falls to proving this is the Christ, the Jews consult together to kill him. And when, having left Damascus in consequence, he arrives at Jerusalem, and speaks boldly in the name of the Lord, the Hellenist Jews seek to kill him. Thus, whether it is the strict orthodox Jew, or the Hellenist, half Sadducean, freethinker, or any of the sects between these extremes, each and all alike resist the Holy Spirit, and reject the completed revelation of the goodness of God. Anxious as Paul is to preach the gospel to the Jews, so that he could have wished himself a curse from Christ for them, yet he is conscious of his calling as apostle to the Gentiles, and longs to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ, for His body's sake, which is the church: but it needed a personal communication from the Lord Jesus Himself before Paul could give up his cherished plan of preaching the gospel to his nation. These two, in a measure, conflicting powers are found working in Saul, the Jew, with Jewish aspirations and sympathies, and Paul, the Christian, with but one object filling his whole being, and that object Christ. The former he counted dead, the latter was his life. Yet if, as apostle to the nations, he glorified his ministry, it was with a desire to provoke to jealousy those who were his flesh, in order to save some from among them, loth was he to believe that his nation was so hardened and blinded through unbelief that they would reject the witness of such a one as he was. Thrice, as tee have seen, does he declare unto them the good news, that there is a rich repast in the house of bread for those who hunger for the bread of life; a sacrifice for the sin-laden, to which all the family are welcome,

But while thus his bowels yearn over his brethren according to flesh, yet obediently he bows to the commands of the Spirit of Christ, leaving Damascus for the wilderness, afterward submitting to be let down through the wall, being lowered in a basket by night; and thirdly, being warned by the Lord Jesus in the temple, suffers himself to be brought down by the brethren to Caesarea, and sent away to Tarsus. However much he felt his mission was to the Gentiles, and gloried in it, yet the remnant of Israel had ever the first place in his heart, as well as in his preaching: so, during these three distinct testimonies, he conceals, as it were, himself, as representing the body of Christ, the church, and takes his place among Jews, as one with Jewish hopes and expectations. But nothing can conceal the plain fact that his seat is empty, that he is not where he once was, though at first it only excites surprise that he, who formerly persecuted, should now announce the glad tidings of the faith which formerly he ravaged. But this feeling soon changes, for when, during the second period, he confounds the Jews, proving that this is the Christ, this despised Nazarene, that Messiah must no longer be looked for out of Jerusalem or earthly system, but that He is to be found in the smallest among the many thousands of Judah, even in Bethlehem, where the brethren have a sacrifice: then prejudice stirs up malice, both against the witness and the One witnessed of, the Jews plainly seeing that the position taken up by the church entirely excludes the earthly kingdom, so long as it should remain, and therefore they seek to put it and those who represented it out of the way, and nothing more remained but to shoot one more arrow of witness against, rather than to, the nation, and that in the very stronghold of their system — Jerusalem — and then to bow submissively to the command, make speed, haste, stay not, "go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me." Bitter as was the grief of Saul, as a Jew, to find that unbelief and fleshliness had thus finally cut off the nation from the glad tidings, it was in the Holy Spirit, in Christ, that he sorrowed most for his brethren, having uninterrupted anguish in his heart for them, though, through it all, he rejoiced that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God's word fails not, and that a remnant was being, and would be, saved, and the nation, by-and-by.

Saul having been safely shipped away to a far-off place, the Jews recognise that they have nothing to fear from the rest, and consequently leave the assemblies throughout the whole of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria in peace: but the time has come for the other sheep, not of the Jewish fold, to be brought also into the flock; for the children's bread to be cast to the dogs, for the middle wall of partition to be cleared off the ground, for it to be plainly shown that no man must be reckoned common or unclean, and the one chosen of the Holy Spirit to set his hand first to this work was one whose ministry, appointed him of God, was just in an opposite direction, even Peter, whose mission was to the circumcision, the one least Jewish of the apostles in birth, home, and education, being an unlearned Galilean, but just as the learned Hebrew of the Hebrews, Saul of the Pharisees, was sent to carry the gospel to the Gentiles, yet was used by the Holy Spirit to declare a final testimony — a testimony of that character — to the Jews; so to Peter, the apostle to the circumcision, was it given to be the first to open the door of faith to the Gentiles.

How strikingly is the wisdom and love of God manifested in this. For the Lord would have all His members in perfect rejoicing fellowship with Himself, and with one another, in their separate lines of work and service. How gently does the Lord lead His saints! Peter, who, when last heard of, was fixed at Jerusalem, is now passing through all quarters — Lydda and Joppa — but still confining his ministration of blessing exclusively to the children, leaving the Gentiles, the unclean outsiders, to starve. But the time had come for the hungry to be fed, because they were hungry, no matter whether Jew or Gentile, clean or unclean. The same Lord over all, who is rich unto all that call upon Him, had heard a hungry one crying continually to be fed; the time had come to feed him, and Peter's hand must do it. Cornelius, a man who had prayed and not fainted, and with whom delay had made him cry out so much the more, thus doing, has moved the hand — how willing to be moved — of Him who bowed Himself to the earth, and had died under the curse against sin, that He might feed with the bread of life all who should hunger for Him — to take of the holy bread, the bread of God, and feed this hungry one — no common bread, but hallowed bread, such as is lawful only for the priests to eat. The heavenly King, at the right hand of power, the very sight of whom casts the chiefest earthly man prostrate, now claims, upon His own authority, from priest-like Peter this holy food, to give to whomsoever He might choose, and He had chosen to knit up in that great sheet of grace all sorts and kinds of men. But a full portion is not committed to the hand of Peter, and a man can only give that which he has received, pure, fragrant, most holy, the sweet savour of an offering made by fire, but only five loaves instead of twelve — a half completed testimony by a remnant to the sojourners of the dispersed of Israel — and this is the Gentile stranger's first taste of the food of God, become already common, in a manner, since a fresh and full portion, a better thing, had that day been presented by the hand of Paul, namely, that this spotless Man that in the fire sent up such sweet odours unto God, was Son of God; this hallowed bread, that Jesus of Nazareth, the good-doer, slain by crucifixion, raised up of God, is by Him determinately appointed Judge of living and dead, that through His name every one that believes on Him will receive remission of sins — the Gentile boldly takes, the Holy Spirit owns the right and due authority of Him who demanded it for them, setting His seal that they are children of God, therefore with right to eat the children's bread: "for to as many as received him, to them gave he right to take their place as children of God, even to them that believe on his name." All is joy, and glory, and power; but amid it all the Holy Sprit lifts for a moment the veil that covers the designs of the adversary. One of the chiefest instruments by which the spirit of evil, working by the prejudices of system, sought to destroy the work of God, was the clinging to circumcision as a needful thing; and the Holy Spirit writes, that astonishment was the feeling in the heart of the faithful of the circumcision when they saw the grace and work of God.

May the Lord ever keep us subject to Him, knowing His mind, having no thoughts of our own. Timorous ones of the stock of Esau are thus selling their birthright for a mess of pottage, bartering the heavenly inheritance for an earthly portion, counting the heavenly bread, the word of God, as not sufficient for all their need, but must have some earthly ceremonies also, something for the flesh to glory in. They thought to have Christ was well, but to have Christ and Moses was to make assurance doubly sure, not knowing the grace of God, who, having spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will with Him freely give us all things, not as bringing anything besides, or making up anything that is lacking, but that, with the gift of Him, all other good is given. Thus the man of earth, who loved his life, has lost for ever the place and blessing he owned by birth; while the younger son, the supplanter, has taken away his blessing: so that the first is last, and the last first, for many are called, but few chosen. The Lord give us to find all our treasure in Christ, nothing — not a desire or thought — outside of Him, lest our souls should begin to loathe this light, this heavenly food, so that, having our heart's desire — meat for our lust — we should get leanness to our souls, and having preached to others, should be rejected ourselves as to our measure of blessing.

But great as is the work which is accomplished in the pouring out upon the Gentiles the gift of the Holy Spirit, something more is needed to complete it. The instrument used by the Lord to show forth the great deliverance He had wrought for Israel, even baptism must be used on this occasion also, and for all future time, until He shall come in power, having put His enemies under His feet. The man fed with this new food must now be armed. The church, the body of Christ, just come up from the wilderness — Himself as indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and in resurrection — had nothing but a sling and stone, the word of life, and therewith gained the victory, then uses Goliath's sword — baptism, the type of death — to let all Israel know. So now Peter, as representing the head of the body, the church, demands that it shall no longer be set apart for Jewish use alone, but for Gentile also.

Henceforth the church stands alone, absolutely distinct and separate from all else on the earth, claiming to be entitled, by a right in itself, to all that was good, for food or fight, life and service, whenever needed, and wherever found, though still covertly and in mystery: and for the moment we pass over the formal recital by Peter to the assembly of the manner in which God had granted to the nations repentance to life by his ministry, and also how at Antioch they were formally brought into the fellowship of the church, taking an identical place and name with the Jew, under the teaching of Paul and Barnabas; for these are the starting-points of a new era in the history of the church, and one reason for which they are mentioned here, is to show that the old path, as well as the new start, were both according to God, and that it was a state of transition, in which ho who had ministered in the line of things that was closing up, yet had perfect fellowship with those who superseded him: and we pass on to the closing scene of Peter's ministry.

The assembly at Jerusalem seems to have been brought at this time specially under the notice of Herod, perhaps in consequence of the character of their witness for Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews, which would excite his jealousy and enmity. The apostles seem also to have been still gathered as a distinct body in Jerusalem, at least the chief of them were certainly there at this time, which gave the assembly a Jewish tone, not in the mind of the Spirit, nor in the line of God's present actings, which were directed to the demolishing of any kind of classification, and the obliteration of everything which gave it an earthly character. They are slow to learn this lesson, and the sharp whip of persecution must be used, and by the hand of him in whose power they placed themselves — a clear type of the Antichrist of the day yet future, who shall persecute the faithful remnant unto death. Herod the king lays hands on some of the assembly — slays James, and takes Peter. Here we find the king and people alike opposed to the remnant represented in Peter and the assembly, and this distinction and double character of persecution is prophesied of in Psalm xxxiv. and Psalm lvi., where the experience, trouble, cry, and deliverance of the remnant of the latter day are brought out.

Psalm xxxiv. shows the persecuting power of Anti-christ; the confidence and path of faith amid all, and final deliverance, with the destruction of the oppressing usurper. "I sought the Lord, and he beard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all. Evil shall slay the wicked, and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servant, and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate."

Psalm lvi. — the other referred to — also written by David upon this occasion, prophesies of the persecution which the godly remnant will suffer at the hands of the people in unbelief. It is noteworthy that Peter, to whom Psalm xxxiv. has an application individually, and finds a fulfilment in the circumstances attending his imprisonment by Herod, his subsequent escape, and Herod's dreadful death, quotes it several times in his first Epistle, namely: 1 Peter ii. 3; Psalm xxxiv. 8; 1 Peter ii. 22; Psalm xxxiv. 13:1 Peter iii. 10-12; Psalm xxxiv. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; also compare 1 Peter iv., 5 with Psalm xxxiv. 15-22; also compare Psalm xxxiv. 4-7 with Acts xii. 5-13; also Psalm xxxiv. 15-22 with Acts xii. 21-24. Now, that the Spirit of the Lord has thus used the hand of the persecutor to bring the Jewish believers in Jerusalem to a proper sense of their position, he is, in his turn, to be dealt with (see 2 Thess, i. 6-9; ii. 3, 4): for, having first opposed, he now exalts, himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped (Acts xii. 21-24); so that he, sitting in the temple, shelving himself that he is God, is smitten by an angel of the Lord, and expires, eaten of worms; but the word of God grows and spreads.

The church, which is the body of Christ, having thus escaped from these fleshly powers (Philistines in the land) Herod, and the people, is found in power at Antioch, where the current of the Lord's ways is at length fallen in with; for His glad tidings are preached unto the Gentiles, and His hand being with them, a great number believe, and turn to the Lord, and not only Jew, but Gentile — "everyone in debt, and everyone in distress, and everyone discontented, gathered themselves unto Him," and He becomes Captain over them, for the disciples are first called Christians at Antioch (Acts xi. 26), and the church is gathered upon ground according to His mind. Paul and Barnabas being among the prophets and teachers, there would be sufficient to quiet any prejudices and misgivings likely to arise in the minds of the Jewish believers; and these two now take up the work which Peter had let fall, after being taken to task about the matter of Cornelius. For the assembly is commanded by the Holy Spirit to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work whereto He had called them, which was the gathering out from Jew and Gentile into the church of God all who confessed and worshipped the one true God, and were willing to receive the gospel. Thus Sergius Paul, who is intelligent, doubtless, in the things of God, is delivered, though a Gentile, and also at Antioch of Pisidia Paul declares this salvation to his brethren, sons of Abraham's race, and also to those who among them feared God, the consequence being that many Jews and worshipping proselytes followed Paul, and the next sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God; but when the Jews contradicted, Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles, who, hearing that this salvation was sent for them, glorified the word of the Lord, and believed, as many as were ordained to eternal life, and the word of the Lord was carried through the whole country. Similar results followed the preaching at Lystra and Derbe; as a rule the Gentiles gladly receiving the word, until the Jews, being jealous, stirred up opposition and persecution. And having thus passed through the country, and returned through the cities they had evangelized, the apostles came back to Antioch, from whence they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.

Turning back to Acts xi., and connecting it with Acts xv., we find the spirit of evil working on the hearts of believers by means of the prejudices of system, in order to destroy, if possible, the work of God, seeking to bring the assembly into bondage to Judaism, and thereby to cut it off altogether. For the apostles and brethren having heard that the Gentiles had received the word of God, when Peter went up to Jerusalem the party of the circumcision contended with him, their eyes being fixed upon the earthly things instead of the heavenly, through not understanding their true position, their hearts being still captivated with the honour, glory, and profit attached to the earthly system, and, little conscious as they were of the terrible evil they were doing, they continued in their foolish and ignorant clinging to the carnal ordinances and rudiments of the world, until they brought destruction upon their people, even to the remnant of faith. Afraid they were to leave all for Christ, accounting that they must have some worldly thing to console themselves withal: what a most solemn and deeply important lesson does this teach us! Christ cannot have any one or any thing to share the heart's affections with Him; however commendable in men's eyes, or plausible in appearance — because all blessing is in Him alone, all without is cursing. It may be red in the cup, and move itself aright, but in the end it stings like a serpent; it may seem a savoury mess, but there is death in the pot. He that gathereth not with Me scattereth; he that is not with Me is against Me. If a man come to Me, and shall not hate his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, his own life too, he cannot be My disciple.

This mistrust of God's love, this evil and fatal thought, that we should be happier by having our own way, than by doing God's will, has ever been the devil's instrument to destroy the life or peace of man, persuading us that, if we do but appropriate what the eye sees and the heart lusts after, we shall be enjoying something now, misdoubting the promise that they which do the will of God shall endure for ever. "What profit shall this birthright do to me?" Thus for bread and pottage of lentils does Esau barter, despising, his birthright! In Psalm lii. the Holy Spirit gives God's estimate of the man who should be the devil's instrument in persuading others to choose the treasures of Egypt rather than the reproach of Christ. The antidote to all the deceitful offers of the world, and to him that wields the glory of it, is that the goodness of God endureth continually. The soul that trusts the love of God has a shield that quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one. But he comes with a very plausible tale, here in a religious guise, smoothly working, deeply wounding, covering the evil work with lying words; a tongue which deceives, while its words devour, like the vampire but fanning the sleeper while sucking his life-blood. Therefore God shall destroy him and his fleshly religion for ever. The Lord shall spue him out of His mouth, pluck him out of his dwelling-place, and root him out of the land of the living. But the feeble remnant of the righteous shall see, and fear, and laugh at him; for this is the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day, that made not God his strength, but pulled down his barns to build bigger, saying to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry;" trusting in the abundance of his riches, and strengthening himself in his substance. But the feeble ones are like a green olive-tree in the house of God, and trust in His mercy for ever and ever. (Ps. lii.)

Thus, first and last, from beginning unto everlasting, for all trials, temptations, times, and circumstances, the strength and victory of the believer is in trust in God, who so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, and commends His love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We, seeing that He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, are assured that with Him He will freely give us all things. Thus the cross of Christ is not only the cause, but the power, of our separation from the world, for we see in it the measure and power of the love of Him who met thus our need and us as sinners, and for His own love's sake brought us to Himself, that we might dwell with Him for ever; therefore we praise Him for ever, and wait upon His name.

In Acts xi. is seen the first deliberate opposition to the work of God from within the church; the spirit of evil, using the party of the circumcision for the purpose, who were believers, but not walking according to the Spirit. It is such instruments the devil delights to employ. They are sincere; what they do has a commendable appearance; they are utterly helpless for good, being cut off by self-will and unbelief from the only source of spiritual power, and therefore, but for the sovereign grace of God, would, like the herd of swine possessed by the demons, rush madly to destruction, with all that follow them. Hitherto the assembly had endured persecution from without, now it is opposition from within, but whether it be Saul persecuting outside in vehement rage, or the party of the circumcision within opposing the liberty of Christ, through slavish fear and timorous unbelief, it is the same flesh in each, and the same evil spirit working in it. On this first occasion, however, the intention of Satan is frustrated by the wise answer of Peter, and the ingenuousness of the believers; for he shows that all he did was by the positive command of the Lord and the guidance of the Spirit, that God had first acknowledged the Gentiles in giving them the Holy Ghost, and he could but allow them likewise: and when the brethren heard these things, faith revives, they refused to put forth their hand to do the bidding of the adversary (1 Sam. xxii. 11-17), but held their peace, and glorified God (Acts xi. 18). On the second occasion, for a moment, as it were, the scene shifts from Jerusalem to Antioch, for so powerfully had the old leaven worked in the assembly at Jerusalem, that its influence spread as far as Antioch, and in a more corrupt form than before, for now it is not only that a Gentile is unclean, but that God cannot cleanse him unless he be made a Jew (Acts xv. 1). But the flood of evil is met by those able by the Spirit to stem the tide, and is rolled back from whence it came, and once more Jerusalem is the place of strife. Here Peter and James take the work out of the hands of Barnabas and Paul, but are not so able for the conflict; for whereas on the former occasion Peter took God's side, now he simply refuses to take the enemy's, for, leaving the yoke upon the neck of the Jewish believer, he exhorts them only not to put it on the Gentile.

James does not even reach thus far, for, like Peter, not seeing the true distinct standing of the church, outside everything earthly, and seated in heavenly places in Christ, he does not even stand aside, and let God work unhindered, but must needs put a little obstacle in the path, no great burden, as it were a pebble only, but enough for some to stumble over. Necessary things, doubtless, but laid upon a neck not made to bear a yoke. Thus the thin end of the wedge of law is introduced, which, if driven home, would separate from grace, and the first blow struck at the distinctively priestly place of the Jewish remnant of faith added to the church as law administrators, not as law keepers, a first success, followed up with such energy by the great enemy of souls, that we find Paul alone standing in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, Peter, James, Barnabas, and the rest of the Jews playing a dissembling part, which, if persevered in, was equivalent to setting aside the grace of God, and saying that Christ had died for nothing (Gal. ii. 11-21). An evidence of how the poison had begun to work is seen in the chapter before us (Acts xv. 36), in the dissension which arose between Paul and Barnabas respecting Mark. From this point Peter, Barnabas, and Mark drop altogether out of the history of the church as given in the Acts. Paul and the Gentile disciples almost entirely occupy the theatre of action, the spirit of legality and Judaism having, as it were, cut them off from service: for what at the first, by the gracious action of the Spirit of God, the assembly at Jerusalem refuse to listen to (Acts xi. 3), but hold their peace, and glorify God (Acts xi. 18), they now give ear to (Acts xv. 5, 7, 13); the result being that even the apostles are cut off from the truth (Gal. ii. 11-21; 1 Sam. xxii. 18). The third and last occasion on which the evil crops up in the church is when Paul for the last time, recorded in Acts, arrives at Jerusalem, where, having related to James and all the elders the things which God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry, they, unheeding the leadings of the Spirit of God, tell Paul of the many myriads of the Jews who believe that they were all zealous of the law, and desire him to show that he also kept it.

But notwithstanding that Paul obeyed the desire of James and all the elders of the assembly at Jerusalem, yet, listening to the calumnious reports of the circumcision, the remnant of faith from among the Jews allow themselves to be led into the snare so artfully laid for them by the great enemy of souls, and from that time scripture records no instance of the conversion of a Jew, and history declares the fact that the gospel of God's grace has no more determined opposer than the Jew, that prejudice and unbelief have effectually cut him off from that which was ordained for his salvation, and refusing, in pride and hardness of heart, to bow to the lowly Nazarene who came, manifesting grace and truth, the perfect revelation of the mind, and nature, and being of God, and choosing rather the lofty things of flesh and sense, has been hardened and blinded in his unbelief, being left a monument of the terrible and righteous judgment of God, a mark for the finger of scorn, a hissing, and a reproach among all nations; while the younger son, who had been as a stranger, and afar off, starving amidst the unclean, is brought into the Father's house, where there is feasting and music, merriment and dancing.

Acts xvi. shows us that the Lord's time has arrived for a further extension of the work of evangelization, and upon hitherto altogether untrodden ground, even among the intellectual and educated people of Greece. Barnabas and Mark would have proved hindrances, doubtless, from Jewish prejudices, to the work, stumble at the outset, and are shut out altogether from the work of God then proceeding. In their place the Spirit of God raises up two instruments fit for the work, prepared to follow fully wherever He should guide, though the path should take them outside the sympathies and cooperation of all, however dear: for this Paul and Silas were alone prepared in the condition of their souls, though quite unaware of the service to which the Holy Spirit was then calling them. How strongly this shows us the necessity of keeping our souls waiting upon the Lord, and instead of blindly running hither and thither, perhaps carried away by the ardour of natural affection to run after our relatives, or through prejudice withholding our hand from the appointed work, as Barnabas and Mark, seeing to it that our souls are in such a state of obedience, faith, and communion, watching the eye and hand of the Master, so that, like Paul and Silas, we may be ready to go forth unhesitatingly whenever He calls, confident that He will guide us according to His will.

The Lord now brings another hand to the work, fitted by natural circumstances for the line it was then taking — Timothy, whose mother was a believing Jewess, but his father a Greek. He goes forth with Paul and Silas, and following the guidance of the Spirit, which was contrary to their intention and natural inclination, they pass from Asia into Greece. Whatever may have been their fear in announcing the glad tidings among the Jews, as shown in the circumcision of Timothy, how great must have been their trembling in venturing upon this unknown track; but faith always goes with a surrendered life, so that nothing comes amiss — surrendered because its trust is in God who raises the dead.

Soon they reach Philippi, and there the Lord shows that they are in His way, and His hand is with them; so Lydia's hungry soul is opened, and filled with the bread of life: the slave, famishing under the power of the devil, is delivered into that for which she cried. The gaoler at death's door, starved in the ignorance of nature, is fed with salvation by faith in Christ, though it took the shattering of every earthly barrier to do it. But system soon becomes aware of the presence of the heavenly Man in His body, the church, for having come to Thessalonica, Paul reasons in the synagogue three sabbaths, which results in the deliverance of a multitude of starving souls into a place of plenty. Here, for the first time, the adversary, Satan, working by the earthly system, brings a new weapon against the church, even the civil authorities, bringing political prejudices to bear: but God delivers His servants, and the Holy Spirit sends them away to Berea, from whence Paul is sent to Athens, and here for a time the work of God goes on altogether unhindered by the enemy.

Note here, that for the first time in the history of the church the apostles stand their ground. Up to the end of Acts xiv. those who witnessed for Christ kept up one continued flight from city to city; this was evidently not because they were afraid to die, but because the Jewish system from which they fled was still outwardly the owned thing of God, and under responsibility to Him, and also because the Spirit of Christ would not bring the Jews, as a nation and system, into such mortal conflict with Himself in His church, as to cut them off entirely from the gospel, by raising in insuperable barrier of prejudice. Passing to Acts xvi. 1-8, Paul, the acting member of the body, is still seen using every endeavour to avoid a collision with the Jewish system, and is warned by the Spirit of Jesus not to preach the word in Asia or Bithynia, doubtless because of the excited state of the Jews there (Acts xxi. 27), but at Troas his aid is solicited for the Lord's people shut up among the heathen Greeks of Macedonia; and now the witnesses of Christ go out, not to fly from, but to fight against, the world-rulers of this present darkness: so that, though the magistrates rend off their clothes, beat them with many stripes, thrust them into an inner prison, and make their feet fast in the stocks, yet, by their spiritual weapons of faith, and prayer, and praise, the earth quakes, the foundations of the prison shake, all the doors are opened, and the bonds of all loosed; the keeper, who was the real prisoner, is set at liberty, and the apostles march in triumph out of prison, and out of the city, while their opposers, as it were, sue for mercy at their feet.

At Thessalonica the apostles come again into contact with the earthly professing thing, for the unbelieving Jews, stirred up to jealousy, treacherously seek to destroy them by means of the heathen rulers and magistrates: but no sooner does the religious foe appear upon the scene, than Paul and Silas immediately flee to another city (Berea), being sent away by the church. At Berea the same events take place. At length Paul comes to Athens and Corinth, cities of Achaia, where for a season the work of God proceeds without opposition. At Athens it deals prominently with Gentiles, declaring facts from God, and their consequent responsibility as His creatures: but when at Corinth the Lord by Paul seeks to bring the Jews into submission, and the acknowledgment of his claims, they only oppose themselves, and speak injuriously, their right to any further consideration is declared forfeited, though grace lingers over them, and leaves them not, so long as they are left. This step of judicially giving up the Jew, and going forth to the Gentile, was not taken without much anguish on the part of Paul, as we may judge from 1 Corinthians ii. 3; doubtless it was in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, but he had the sympathies and presence and comfort of his Lord amidst it all, for even as the sufferings of the Christ abounded towards them, so through the Christ did encouragement also abound. The church now stands forth in all its distinct character and separateness from every earthly thing — Jew or Gentile, religious or political.

Paul felt the momentous importance of the occasion, and much would he need to be comforted by the Lord's visit to him in a vision of the night, saying, "I am with thee; . . . . I have much people in this city;" thus showing that so long as He had a work for Paul to do, none could injure him, or frustrate His own purpose: and so has it been throughout the whole history of the church, and will be, until it be taken out of the way — an earthen vessel, but the power of God; afflicted, but not straitened; no apparent issue, but the way not entirely shut up; persecuted, but not abandoned; cast down, but not destroyed: her confidence through it all being the same as her Lord's, that there are twelve hours in the day, and if walking in the light of His will, none can injure or stumble her. The Lord, in this vision to Paul, reveals Himself in two aspects — as the exalted One, able to succour and deliver in every time of need, and as Jesus, the rejected One, in His people, still despised and persecuted. His people in Him in the glory, and Ho in His people under reproach. But after the word of God had been taught among them a year and six months, the deadly enmity of the Jews is aroused by the power of God displayed in the church, plainly perceiving that, if suffered to continue, they must surely be supplanted, and brought to naught, consequently, with one consent they rise against Paul, actuated, it would seem, by a fleshly zeal for the law, and perceiving him to be depositary of that which was about to supersede it.

On this occasion all the plans and powers of the adversary are brought to a focus in order to crush the truth; never had the peril been so imminent, and since the death of Stephen, the church, in him to whom the truth regarding it was committed, had never been so nearly gripped by its deadliest foe. Peter had been imprisoned by Herod from motives of policy; Paul had been stoned at Lystra, through the blind fury of the heathen multitude, but on this occasion the Jew and the church of God stand face to face, and demand that justice, occupying the judgment-seat between them, shall decide which of the two is teaching the lawful way to worship God. But Gallio will not take cognisance of the ease, and thus standing immovable between them, allows the church to escape; and the Greeks, stirred by a sense of the malevolence of the Jews, beat the ruler of the synagogue before the judgment-seat. Thus mere human justice, though inert and oblivious, convicts the Jews of murderous malice, and though, as a rule, a convenient tool wielded by Satan at his will, is here used of God to confound all his plans, and display His own power and glory, and fulfil His will.

At Corinth the Lord brings another kind of instrument to the work, not the bold proclaimer of the truth, the public preacher of the glad tidings, as Paul, nor the spiritual gifts and worker of miracles, as Peter or Stephen, but the quiet, homely, ministry of Christ in the household of Aquila land Priscilla, brought out by the power of God from Rome, in order that Paul might find a place of rest amid the turmoil of the tumultuous scene around him; and not alone for this, but also that they might carry on the work of God, while Paul, urged by his ardent desire for the honour of Christ and the salvation of his brethren, was wandering in the wilderness of Judah-Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia. His desire in Christ is prophetically expressed in Psalm lxiii. He thirsted and longed to see the power and glory of God manifested amidst the Jewish nation, who were as a dry and weary land without water, as it was in the church, the sanctuary; and though he should not see this, yet, because he counted the loving kindness of God better than life, his lips, his hands, his soul, his mouth, should praise, and bless, and be satisfied. While Paul is thus engaged, system, in its most dangerous form, is brought into contact with the church — first, in the case of the Jewish synagogue at Ephesus, who receive the word with all readiness of mind, but do not permit it to have its due weight and authority over their hearts and conscience, for they still remained where they were and as they were. Their conduct seemed fair and plausible; but if in this condition they had been permitted to have fellowship with the church, a principle would have been allowed bringing in ruin: therefore Paul, acting in the Spirit, did not remain, but bids them farewell, leaving the word to work; the second occasion is in the case of Apollos, who is an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, speaking and teaching exactly the things concerning Jesus, but knowing only the baptism of John, therefore, as to his own conscience, but an upholder of system after all. Not knowing Christ as Head, but a follower of Saul, Aquila and Priscilla, being in the way of the Lord, take him to them, and unfold the way of God more exactly, thereby defeating the schemes of the enemy, who would have brought Apollos into the ministry of the word in his uninstructed state, thus introducing an element of confusion and schism into the church.

When Paul returns again to Ephesus, he discovers a third source of danger to the church in the disciples, twelve in number, received apparently in fellowship[?], but who had been baptized only into John's baptism. He immediately rectifies the error by causing them to be baptized to the name of the Lord Jesus, and to receive the Holy Ghost. In each of the three cases above noticed, however near to the ground of truth they might have appeared to men, and however plausibly they might have claimed fellowship with the church on their own footing, yet in fact they were on ground altogether apart from the truth, and were the choicest supporters of system, though covered up, and gone to sleep. But so easily and completely were they brought under the power of the word, that men would have thought every Jew might have been converted in the same way — that the church had the whole Jewish system in its power, and doubtless, in a measure, it might, by outwardly conforming itself to Jewish usages, and permitting an intellectual acknowledgment of the truth to be sufficient warranty for fellowship, have occupied the place of the Jewish system, but God's time had not arrived to cut off the earthly man, and the heavenly One had to keep the fugitive's place on earth; therefore the church, by an unlawful act, and one which it could scarcely take without some prickings of conscience, shows what it could have done had it chosen. For instance, before preaching the word in the synagogue at Ephesus, Paul shaves his head, having taken a vow, and the Jews, seeing this sign of obedience to the law, unlawful for Paul as member of the body of Christ, receive the word readily, though apparently with unexercised consciences, the prejudices of system in them being lulled to sleep.

So also in the case of Apollos, having received the baptism of John, his mind was disabused of all prejudice, and receives the revelation of the way of God immediately it is communicated to him. The twelve disciples who had been baptized into John's baptism are likewise effectually cut off from all part in the Jewish system, and brought into the full privileges and powers of the church of God. And now that the covering of the nakedness of the earthly thing, even the man of faith, is cut off from it, its deformity is plainly seen, and this in direct contrast with the beauty and glory manifested in the church. For while the unbelieving Jews can only speak evil of the way by the mouth of Paul, all, both Jews and Greeks, who inhabited Asia heard the word of the Lord; and when by the hands of Paul great miracles were wrought, diseases healed, and wicked spirits sent out, the Jews, endeavouring to do the same, and they sons of the high priest, are leaped upon by the wicked spirits, mastered, prevailed against, and compelled to flee out of that house naked and wounded; and, lastly, while the books of charms are burned, to the value of fifty thousand pieces of silver, the word of the Lord with might increased and prevailed.

[To some statements exception might be justly taken; but I leave them for others to judge. ED.]

Paul's method of action, in the case of the preaching at Ephesus, is stated in 1 Corinthians ix. 19–23. To the Jews he became as a Jew, in order that he might gain Jews: to those under law as under law, that he might gain those who were under law: to those without law, as without law (not as without law to God, but as legitimately subject to Christ), in order to gain those without law: to the weak he became as weak, in order to gain the weak. To all he became all things, that at all events he might save some. And it is with these three classes of Jews the church deals here. The Jew in the synagogue, where Paul takes the place of a Jew, shaving his head. Apollos, still under law in its most searching form, gained for Christ, perhaps almost unconsciously to himself, by the unfolding of the way of God. Aquila and Priscilla, acting for Christ, taking a place, as it were, by his side; and, lastly, the twelve men who are disciples, in the place of utter weakness, Paul comes to them in their need, and delivers them for Christ; and so greatly is the power of God shown in the church, and that, though hunted and persecuted, there was neither evil nor transgression in her hand that fear fell upon all — Jews and Greeks — who inhabited Ephesus, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. It is here the last recorded instance is met with of men owning the baptism of John; these are brought into the church, and the last link which might seem to have connected the earthly with the heavenly thing is finally snapped, and the testimony distinctly declared to the Jew which had been formally closed at Corinth, but which divine grace, lingering over them, had continued through Paul and Apollos at Ephesus, even through an apparently unjustifiable course, for Paul shaved his head, and Apollos at the time was not in the church, as to his own conscience and outward place, now ceases for ever.

Paul, as we shall see, makes one more effort, at an apparently greater sacrifice of principle, without effect; but there is no further testimony of any kind to the Jews, except a witness of rejection and judgment. In conformity with this, it is at this period in the history of the church, namely, while Paul is at Corinth and Ephesus, that the Holy Spirit first brings to the work of building up the church that abiding and perfect instrument, "the written word." The perfect revelation of the grace of God had been declared to the Jews during three successive periods; the first of these was during Saul's witness at Damascus and Jerusalem, that Jesus is Son of God. (Acts ix. 21.) The Christ (Acts ix. 22); the Lord (Acts ix. 29): the result being that the Hellenist Jews seek to kill him, and the Lord Jesus appears to him when praying in the temple, and says to him, he having become in ecstasy, "Make haste, and go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me." Coupled with this rejection of the Jew is the command, "Go, for I will send thee to the nations afar off." Thus, at the outset, the casting out of the Jew, and the calling in of the Gentile, is distinctly set forth; though divine grace carries on the witness of fulfilment of promise and manifested love in the Son throughout the whole three periods. The result of the first witness clearly shows that the Jew and the church of God could not exist together on earth as the owned servant of God — that the one, when its measure had filled up, must give place to the other — that because of unbelief the Jew would be cut off, the vineyard taken from him, and given to others bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The epistles written by the hand of Paul at this time clearly bring out these truths, with the further revelation that though the Jew had fallen, and thereby salvation come to the nations, yet they should be gathered in and blessed again, to the great blessing of the world, that blindness, in part, had happened to Israel, until the fulness of the nations were come in. The Epistle to the Galatians deals, as its main subject, with the complete setting aside of Judaism, and everything connected with it — the law, the temple, the customs, and worship — the people and nation just bringing in the new family, and showing its characteristics. Paul first exhibits himself as an example of what God was doing, for, having himself been foremost in Judaism, God had set him apart from the womb, called him by His grace, and was pleased to reveal His Son in him, that he might preach Him among the nations, and therefore it was impossible for him to go back to the old thing, since he had died to law, that he might live to God: he was crucified with Christ, and it was Christ that lived in him, and that in Christ all who believed in Him were delivered from the curse of the law, He having become a curse for them. In Him were brought into the possession of the promises a prior thing to the law, and are brought out of the place of bondage into the liberty of sons, and heirs through God.

Wherefore the bondmaid and her son, Hagar — the Jewish system — must be cast out, for the son of the bondmaid shall in nowise inherit with the son of the free-woman. The Epistles to the Thessalonians take up the next stage of truth regarding this new family, starting from the utter rejection of the old; wrath having come upon them to the uttermost, it shows the new thing to be wholly heavenly, with heavenly hopes only, to await God's Son from the heavens — the Lord Jesus — at His coming, and to be unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints — the catching up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air — to be always with the Lord — to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the same epistles the opportunity is taken to show the perfected manifestation and final destruction of that spirit of wickedness which had caused the setting aside of the old thing. The Epistle to the Romans covers the same ground, showing that God is just in dealing with Jew and Gentile upon the same footing; the Jew, as such, having failed, was set aside, and a new blessing brought in, which all, Jew or Gentile, characterized by faith were partakers, in even an utterly new race, the Head and source of which is Christ, wholly spiritual in character, conduct, and condition, flesh being obliterated. (Rom. ix., Rom. x., Rom. xi. 1-10), reveal the Jew, except a remnant, refusing to enter in, and consequently broken out, and cast away (Rom. xi. 16-36), and the Gentile grafted in, and occupying their place of witness for God on earth (Rom. xi. 11-15; 25, 26). But the Epistle proceeds a step further, showing that the Jew is again to be restored to his own place in superabundant blessing, and in the overwhelming grace of God the whole world to be blessed through him.

Thus the Epistles to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Romans, clearly bring out what marked the first period of witness regarding Christ in the glory, namely, the casting out justly the Jew, as a Jew, the bringing of all who believe into a new thing — not yet fully shown — and then proceeding a step further to show the gathering back again into more than former blessing of the Jew, when the new thing had been perfected. The second period commences from Acts xviii. The first period of witness regarding Christ in the glory dealt more with the rejection of the Jew as God's earthly witness; the second with the place and portion of the new thing — the body of Christ, the church — the truth regarding which is brought out principally in the Epistles to the Corinthians; the period commences with the sending forth of the gospel to the heathen Greeks of Macedonia and Achaia, but Paul uses the opportunity to announce it to the Jews wherever he can, the consequence being that, though some believe, yet the unbelieving Jews pursue him from city to city, until at Corinth he testifies to them in the Spirit, "Your blood be upon your own head; I am pure; from henceforth I will go to the nations." At the commencement of Paul's first witness to the nations, he had said to the Jews, "Since ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, so we turn to the Gentiles," leaving still an opportunity for repentance; but now the case is hopeless, the master of the house has, as it were, risen up, and shut-to the door, and he declares that their blood is upon their own head. Here the setting aside of the Jew is complete, and consequently, in 1 and 2 Corinthians, where the truth is revealed connected with this second period of witness to Christ in the glory, the church, in its character, objects, and condition, is the prime subject; but in 1 Corinthians there is an undercurrent of Jewish reference through it all, and the second epistle brings clearly out the old thing, in order to contrast it with the new, showing the abiding nature of the one, and the temporary character of the other.

The opening of the first epistle strikingly sets forth the perfectly opposite character of the new thing. It is the assembly of God set apart in Christ Jesus — the Man in heaven. Born by a heavenly means — foolish to them that perish — of God in Christ, standing in the power of God, endowed with the Spirit of God, taught by Him the things of God, having the mind of the Lord Christ. Not only having thus a heavenly character, but heavenly objects — bound to observe a heavenly conduct — not mixing with fornicators, avaricious, or idolaters, though they be called brethren — being washed, sanctified, justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; as to the body, members of Christ, also one Spirit with the Lord. One loaf, one body, and that the Lord's body. Christ's body, and members in particular, having the same concern one for another; living in a condition of things in which love is the spring and course, the motive and guide.

Not only is the new thing, as a whole, thus heavenly, but each individual is heavenly, even as to his body which is down here for a time, and that after the nature of Christ's body, who died and rose again, through His Spirit that dwelleth in it, waiting to bear the image of the heavenly One, immortal, incorruptible. The second epistle brings out the further truth regarding this heavenly thing, the new creation, that in it God establishes us in Christ, has anointed us, has sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts; and where He is there is life, abiding glory, and liberty, the ministry of the letter to the old thing bringing darkness, bondage, and death.

In 1 Corinthians xv. 20-28, in a parenthesis, is given the condition of the old man, consequent upon its connection with Adam, its fountain-head, and the portion of the new in Christ, who is the first-fruits of those in Him. Death marks the one, life out of it the other: the one pledged in the resurrection of Christ, and proved at His coming to reign on earth; the other continuing so marked until the end, when He gives up the kingdom to Him who is God and Father, having put all enemies under His feet. Then shall death itself be brought to nothing. There is here a hint of an earthly kingdom in judgment and power, during the interval between His coming in His kingdom, and giving up the kingdom. Thus reigning in two circles of power over the heavenly thing, of which He is the firstfruits now, where all is characterized by life and righteousness, and also in an earthly kingdom, characterized by power and judgment, and where death is found. But death appears to have now power over those who are Christ's, yet, as even the first of the race became a living soul, the last a quickening Spirit, thus all His, having borne the image of the natural out of earth, shall as surely bear also the image of the spiritual and heavenly One, the second Man. Besides, not all shall have part in the completed result of having borne the image of the one made of dust, since in the heavenly One law does not apply, consequently death is powerless as to its sting, and only waits to be swallowed up in a victory already achieved.

Therefore the second epistle begins with a life down here in the power of resurrection, the earnest of the Spirit being already possessed, which gives the confidence of being the work of God for the building from Him, the house eternal in the heavens. From this place of glory and blessing follow the solemn, weighty, holy exhortations to be agreeable to Him, He having done away, in its entireness, with the old thing, giving His Son to take it up as a whole, developed to perfection, and to obliterate it, bringing us reconciled to God, and in Himself God's righteousness. Wherefore, as walkers down here, we must come out of the midst of, be separated from, touch not, the unclean thing.

The third period of witness to Christ in the glory is at Ephesus, where the Jew is shown out in all the malice and impotency of fleshly religion, in the presence of the full manifestation of all grace and power in the church, so that wicked spirits, which are cast out by means of handkerchiefs brought from Paul's body, leap upon Jewish exorcists when attempting to wield the same power, and overcome them.

The first period coincides with Saul's preaching at Damascus and Jerusalem, where the Lord says, "Make haste, and go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. Go, for I will send thee to the nations afar off;" and deals principally with the total setting aside of the old thing, the earthly religious — system — and bringing in both Jew and Gentile into a new thing, a heavenly, upon an altogether different principle, truth developed in Galatians, Thessalonians, and Romans, which chew what the death of Christ is to the believer.

The second period dates from Corinth, where Paul witnesses to the opposing, injurious Jews, "Your. blood be upon your own head; I am pure; from henceforth I will go to the nations." And the Lord says to him by vision in the night, "Fear not, but speak, and be not silent, because I am with thee, and no one shall set upon thee to injure thee; because I have much people in this city." The truth characterizing this period is brought out in the Epistles to the Corinthians, and is occupied chiefly with the order and establishment of the new thing, its position and abiding character, contrasted with the temporary and inferior nature of that which it superseded, and dealing with the resurrection of Christ and its results to the believer.

The third period centres at Ephesus, where the Jew, having been given over judicially, is only introduced to skew his utter impotence for good, and the rotten state of the religious system he belonged to, the revelation proper to this period deals, therefore, exclusively with the church, as seen in its ascended Head, showing the glory of Christ in the heavens, and the church in Him, and is communicated in the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. Thus we find in Acts xix. intimations that the Jewish system, as such, is finally deprived of all spiritual power and blessing, and given over unto the power of the spirit of evil. The church, on the contrary, from this time takes a distinct standing, existing not as by sufferance, but upon proof of superior power and authority, commanding the allegiance of all who owned the truth of God, and looked for the Messiah of Israel. The Epistle to the Ephesians reveals the sanctified in Christ in the heavenlies in Him, blessing God who had thus blessed; chosen before the world's foundation, marked out beforehand, taken into favour in the Beloved in whom all things are to be headed up (the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth), having obtained inheritance in Him, being sealed thereto by the Holy Spirit, which is the earnest. The aim of the Holy Spirit is therefore to open their eyes to the things amidst which they are set, and that they might have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him in whom they became partakers in the calling, the glory, and the power which had wrought in the Christ, in raising Him from among the dead, and setting Him down at God's right hand in the heavenlies, above every principality, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name named, and that as head over all things to the assembly, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all; the members of which, Jew and Gentile, having been alike dead in trespasses and sins, sons of disobedience, children of wrath, are now created of God in Christ Jesus unto good works, formed in Him into one new man, reconciled to God by the cross — a thing hitherto hid, but now revealed and accomplished for God's glory. And this body — the body of Christ on earth — is perfected, and ministered to, and built up by means of gift direct from its Head in heaven, in order that it may arrive at the full-grown man, the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, holding the truth in love, and growing up to Him in all things, from whom the whole body builds itself up in love.

The Epistle to Ephesians thus shows this new man complete, as seen in its Head in heaven, perfect after His perfection, and urges to corresponding walk down here. The Philippians takes it up here, and contemplates it going on to completeness in the day when the Head is revealed, though the connection is not seen, but the result only manifested. In Ephesians it is love from the Head working in the body, which is therefore complete in Him, according to the power working in it. In Philippians it is love in the members working out likeness to the Head, in fruit of righteousness, pledged to completeness in the day of Christ, since God had begun the work, and the power was of Him. The exhortation, therefore, proceeds from the fact that all have a mutual source of comfort, consolation, fellowship, and affection, and therefore should think the same thing, have the same love, be joined in soul, doing all things in lowliness of mind, after the example of their Head, who once took a bondsman form — the likeness of men — and became obedient unto the death of the cross, but now is highly exalted, with a name above every name — the name of Jesus — at which every knee of heavenly, earthly, or infernal beings shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to God the Father's glory.

In Philippians iii. is a man possessing perfectly all the outward qualifications of a Jew, counting all that, and everything else, loss and filth, that he might gain Christ, and be like Him; the measure and the power of separation from every earthly thing, whether religious or fleshly, being the cross of Christ, through which we are brought into the commonwealth in the heavens, from which we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory. In Ephesians Christ in love delivers Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour. In Philippians, love working in the body presents an odour of sweet savour, an acceptable sacrifice, agreeable to God. In Ephesians the Head is seen in heaven, and the body perfected in Him. In Philippians the body is seen on earth, and the Head working out perfect results in it. In Colossians we see the body on earth linked to the Head in heaven, needing the full knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, in order to walk worthily of the Lord, unto all well pleasing; fruit-bearing, and growing, being strengthened unto all endurance and long-suffering, giving thanks to the Father, who has delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, who is image of the invisible God, first-born of all creation, all things being created by Him and for Him; before all, upholding all, the Head of the body, the beginning, first-born from among the dead, having first place in all things, since all things are reconciled by the blood of His cross, whether things on the earth or in the heavens.

In Ephesians the mystery is Christ Jesus in heaven, and Jew and Gentile made joint-heirs, and a joint body, and joint-partakers in Him. In Colossians it is this body on earth, the assembly, and Christ in them, the hope of glory. Therefore, as they have received Christ Jesus the Lord, the exhortation is to walk in Him, seeing that in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and they are filled full in Him. Therefore have no part in anything else, being buried with Him, raised with Him. Once dead in offences and uncircumcision, now quickened, offences being forgiven, and all ordinances taken out of the way. For them, therefore, all earthly connection is for ever severed, Christ, the Head in the glory, being the measure of the separation of the body on earth. From all earthly religion, from all fleshly sin, and every circumstance and relationship being now undertaken, in the power of a life in the glory. All resulting to the believer from the cession of Christ in the glory, as Head of His body, the assembly.

The first period of witness deals, therefore, with the death of Christ, and its results to the believer, obliterating every former thing, Himself the sole object of hope: Romans, Galatians, Thessalonians.

The second period takes up the resurrection of Christ, who gives to His gathered ones down here a life raised from out of the dead; thus they belong to a new creation, old things having passed away, and all things become new, these new things being all of God. 1, and 2 Corinthians.

The third period shows Christ in the glory, working in the power of His glorified life, in His separated ones down here, livingly united to Him, and responsible as a body to the Head to walk here according to Him. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians: the witness to the Jew having thus finally closed, and judgment waiting only until the cup of their iniquity was filled up, the Gentile now comes prominently upon the scene as the object of the testimony of God; and so long as the effect was only seen in the bringing of light, life, and peace, where darkness, death, and discord had formerly reigned, the word of the Lord increased and prevailed, but immediately it was found to touch the pocket, to threaten the loss of their idol-making trade, then at once bursts forth the spirit of covetousness, which is idolatry, in railing against Paul and his doctrine. This is the first occasion recorded in which the issue is plainly put before men, as such, whether they will serve God or mammon. In every way the word of the glad tidings had commended itself to the consciences of men; it had been a word of peace and blessing; for not only did it declare the way of peace, a so great salvation, but God besides bore witness with signs and wonders, and acts of power and healings, so that all Asia beard the word of the Lord, and fear fell on all who inhabited Ephesus, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

Yet when the trade of those who lived upon the folly, weakness, and credulity of their fellows is found to suffer, through the righteous energy of the word in those that believed, then the whole city is filled with the madness of rampant covetousness and selfishness; for the reason of their rage against Paul was not because he had said that they are no gods which are made with hands — for many of their wise men had said the like — but that he had persuaded and turned away a great crowd, not only of Ephesus, but almost of all Asia, so that their means of livelihood is threatened. They little knew the Judge was at the door, upon how slight a thread the sword of justice hung, for if Paul had entered into the theatre, and suffered death through the blind rage of disappointed greed, the souls of men would have been effectually cut off from that blessed truth of God which He was revealing by the hand of Paul, that they might have fellowship with Himself. But where the mind was unbiassed by the prejudice of avarice, and the conscience of right and wrong could exercise its sway, there was a deep recognition of the grace and truth which shone forth from the Christian, and these ingenuous few come forward, and, by the grace of God, are used at this critical juncture to preserve Paul and his companions from violence, and thus also the completed revelation of the mind of God.

Between the time of Paul's departure from Ephesus and his return to Troas, the scripture completing the revelation regarding the setting aside of the Jew is brought out, namely, Romans and 2 Corinthians, and at Troas the Holy Spirit significantly records for the first time that the assembly came together to break bread on the first day of the week, thus intimating bow completely the new had occupied before God on earth the place of the old — a new day, a new house, a new power, a new purpose. The case of Eutychus may well illustrate to us the state into which the assembly gathered from among the Gentiles fell through unwatchfulness; becoming overcome of sleep, he falls to the earth, and is taken up dead, but is revived by means of Paul. Thus the church, as the professing one on earth, falls from its first estate (Rev. ii. 5), becoming a thing of earth, is as (lead (Rev. iii. 1), but at the last is brought away alive with joy (Acts xx. 12). Though Paul had been driven away for ever from Ephesus by the violence of the covetous fools there, yet there were a few wise of heart, rejoiced over of the Father in the Beloved, who come to Paul at Miletus to receive his last counsels, to be committed to God, and to the word of His grace, and to have it committed to them for ministry to the assembly — Abigails of good understanding, linked by ties of nature and outward bonds with those who are fools in their covetousness, occupied with their buying and selling, building and planting, and not rich toward God; pulling down their barns, and building bigger, forgetting that He who gave the increase commanded that they should set their treasure in the heavens, since the night would come in which the Lord would shake terribly the earth, and they who had built for blessing in a shifting scene would find their wealth crumble into ruin: among whom are Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen, who count their worldly gain of greater value than the Christ of God — their daily wage of more importance than their soul's salvation. For the gospel was no new thing at this time, but its claims had been brought before every soul that inhabited Ephesus and Asia, both Jews and Greeks, in such power, that at this crisis it had become a question of submission or opposition to the word, of serving God or mammon, Christ or Belial. The Nabals in Ephesus first had taken a stand in distinct opposition to the truth, with railing, confusion, and shouting; and now the Abigails, warned of the wrath to come, separate themselves from every outward circumstance to meet the David of their hearts by the mouth of His servant Paul. And what a feast had the Holy Spirit committed to their hand, wherewith to feed the assembly of God, purchased with the blood of His own! Bread and wine: the body broken, and the shed blood. Christ died for the ungodly, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; made a curse for us, made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him; our Passover sacrificed for us, that we might, in the power of a saved and separated life, keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Feeding on that slain lamb, roast with fire, whole and perfect, under the shelter of the blood, but feeding on it in the land, encamped at Gilgal, and on the morrow eating of the old corn of the land, unleavened cakes, and parched corn; in the place of possession, though not yet possessed of the place; on resurrection ground, but not yet raised, eating of the fruits of resurrection in the place of circumcision; circumcised with the circumcision of Christ not done by hand, putting off the body of the flesh; buried with Him in baptism, in which raised also with Him, through faith, of the working of God who raised Him from among the dead; and not this only, but also the ample fruit — the hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, the perfect fruits, quickened with Christ, raised up together, but also sitting down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, in Him blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies; in Him chosen, marked out for adoption through Him, taken into favour in Him, having redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, and also obtaining an inheritance; having believed in Him, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession.

And needful would it be, that they who fed the flock should watch, for grievous wolves should come, drunk with the blood of the saints, who, when morning light should come in and with the day-star, the morn of deliverance and rapture of the church arrive, would be smitten in the seat of all their strength with death, and grief, and famine; for woe, woe, shall be on the great city which was clothed with fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with ornaments of gold, and precious stones, and pearls, for in her is found the blood of prophets, and saints, and of all the slain upon the earth. But unto the bride, the assembly, what a glorious inheritance is hers, separated unto Himself, her Head, her Saviour, her purifier, her nourisher — who loved her, delivered Himself up for her that she might be of His flesh and of His bones, to worship Him alone with body, soul, and spirit, not a fornicator, nor unclean person, nor person of unbridled lust, but the bride of the Lamb who commands all the homage of heaven, earth and hell. Thus while the sovereign grace of God provides and secures the portion for the bride, and seals with the Eternal Spirit, the Holy Spirit of promise, the bride for the bridegroom, the time has come for a last expostulation with that weak, obstinate and erring servant, now become wilful, rebellious and murderous, His professed earthly witness, the Jew. The dreaded conflict cannot be put off any longer, the last witness must be delivered, and if rejected, complete casting off the consequence; for the spirit of legality and worldly system has gathered strength and head until it has found a resting place, in the midst of the assembly, and the Spirit witnesses in every place that Saul has come in very deed determined to destroy the work of God; but this is past his power now, the vessel may be broken, the instrument made useless, but the precious water of the word is poured out; the wise master-builder has finished the foundation, delivered up the plans, and the work now goes apace. But though judgment slumbers not, and the time is come that it should begin at the house of God, yet long-suffering lingers still; accordingly the journey of Paul the holy servant of the Lord, that diligent member of His body ever foremost to do His bidding, to venture all liberty or life for His Name, is, as it were by fits and starts; at one time speeding quickly, anon staying many days, while the all-seeing Omniscient One sent forth into all the earth, whose eyes go to and fro through all the earth, gives understanding that bonds and tribulations await him at Jerusalem, then not to go up thither, afterward that the Jews should bind him there and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. At length he comes to the place where Saul had pitched, for James and the elders bring him immediately to face the question of the law, taking Saul's badge upon them, owning themselves as Jews not only zealous of the law, but of circumcision which was given before and the customs which followed after, at the same time requiring no such thing of the nations that believed, but demanding that Paul the Christian should own obedience to the law: bringing distinctions wherein all is Christ, mingling seed where there was but one seed, bringing diverse animals under the yoke of Christ, one of which carried the trappings of his former master: and it would seem not in order that prejudice might be disarmed and destroyed, but in deference to and fear of it, and that in a place and matter where it had no right but was an intruder and an enemy, and this after Paul had recounted one by one the things which God had wrought by his ministry among the nations, and they glorified God; yet they at once brought in the subject of Law-keeping, requiring a course of action entirely opposed to Paul's line of things and the truth committed to his ministry; for both to Jews and Greeks he had testified that all who were of the faith of Jesus Christ were placed beyond the reach, power, and sphere of law — have died to law to live to God.

The law being given only till the Seed should come, but, He having come, the law is passed for those in Him; wherefore the Jewish system — upholder of the law — Hagar and her son, must be cast out, for in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision nor uncircumcision, but new creation; righteousness being reckoned on the principle of faith; for the consequence of sin being upon all irrespective of law, so now the free gift in grace is irrespective of law, so that having been made dead to the law by the body of the Christ, the believer is knit to another raised from among the dead. James, through attachment to the old things, becomes a stone of stumbling, looking with Jewish eyes upon the gospel, rather than the heavenly place and portion of the seeming to connect it with the kingdom to be set up, church; Paul meekly bows to the requirements of James and all the elders actuated by motives altogether different. With them it was fear of the many thousands that believed, with him it was in love to the Lord Jesus and for the glory of His name; glad to avail himself of the cover afforded by these legal observances if by so doing the Lord should use him to witness once more for Him to the honest ones among the loved people of His race. Seven days he waits upon the Lord with closed mouth and unlifted hand; at last the command was given and in a way he could not have anticipated.

In the wisdom of the Lord the very act of obedience to the law, by one not under it, is the occasion of high-handed infraction of it by those who seemed to be its upholders; for the Jews from Asia set all the crowd in a tumult, cause the whole city to be moved, by which there is a concourse of the people who lay hold of Paul, draw him out of the temple and seek to kill him, making five distinct charges against him, all of which are untrue. Thus the opposers of the truth, boasting in their law-keeping and righteous deeds and in appearance not in heart, are proved to be breakers of the law, liars and murderers, the very appearance of righteousness and truth being taken from them and given to the church as represented in Paul.

But now the Gentile comes upon the scene in the due exercise of the governmental power, delivering Paul from the violence of the crowd and giving him a just liberty and opportunity, which frenzied prejudice would have denied, to make his defence to the people. And who could claim a better right than be to speak, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin brought up in Jerusalem at Gamaliel's feet according to the exactness of the law of the fathers? Zealous for God who bad persecuted what he now preached unto death, to which the high priest could bear witness: and what had taken him out of this path, which all were then pursuing, and in which he had so far outstripped them all? The revelation of a righteous Man in heaven, despised and persecuted upon earth, now shining in the light of heavenly glory, annulling every other glory; bowing, blinding, the proud instructed Pharisee, changing the persecutor to a witness, circumcision to baptism, a worker out of legal righteousness to a sinner washing away his sins, calling on the name of Jesus; and this same man who was God in heaven had said to him, "Go, for I will send thee, to the nations afar off." This was his warrant for his deeds, and his answer to the charges brought against him, and that they might know, that, they having failed, God was no longer hedging men within law, or place, or temple. Lawful as was the way in which the zealous law-keeping Jew had been brought out from under law, being chosen before of the God of his fathers appointed by Jesus the Nazarean whom he persecuted, instructed by means of Ananias, pious according to the law, and sent away from the temple out of Jerusalem, by the Lord saying, "Go, for I will send thee to the nations afar off," yet the curse of the Lord being on them, they drive him out from cleaving to the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Away with such a one as that from the earth, for it was not fit be should live. The last drop which fills the cup of wilful rejection of grace is thus added, and nothing remains but for it to overflow, and from this time the vessel which contains the heavenly treasure of the gospel is given over into the hands of the Gentiles. Is it lawful for you "to scourge a man that is a Roman uncondemned?" That justice denied by the people of God is demanded of and accorded by the powers of Heathendom, the nations that know not God.

The requirements of truth and justice, trodden down of the people in the blind fury of religious zeal, are to be more wilfully, deliberately and hypocritically set aside by their rulers, yet not without a witness from among themselves of what is due to the truth of God, to be known and read of all men, not from a sense of what was due to God but to that which was theirs as the responsible depositaries. For though Ananias the high priest commands Paul to be smitten contrary to the law, yet the part of the council who were Pharisees contended against the Sadducees, saying, We find nothing "evil in this man." Whereupon a great tumult arises, showing that the orthodox Jew had begun to find out that the church of God was not an evil thing to be hunted to death, that he had played the fool and erred exceedingly iii seeking to exterminate it as one would a flea; for while occupied in this he had let a more deadly enemy usurp power, even the spirit of denial and Atheism.

But a place of repentance cannot now be found, though it were sought with tears; the Master of the house has risen up and shut-to the door; it is useless now to stand without and cry, Lord, Lord. They had cried Lord, Lord, but had not done His will; if they now cry, Lord, Lord, they cannot enter in. Given over to strong delusions, they curse themselves with a curse to taste nothing until they had killed Paul; and fearfully has the curse clung to them after a spiritual manner, for from that day to this have they starved in a far-off country; refusing to enter into the house of blessing in company with the younger son, where there was music and feasting, the fatted calf and the Father's joy, they are cast into an outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The very act by which they clench the curse upon themselves but binds a blessing on the church and frees it for ever from that contact with the authority of Judaism which had hitherto been its chief stumbling-block; for, in the night that intervened between Paul's last witness and the purposed execution by the Jews of their deliberately murderous intent, the Lord stood by him, saying, Be of good courage; for, as thou hast testified the things concerning me at Jerusalem, so thou must bear witness also at Rome.

The light of God's glad tidings, which first had beamed from Bethlehem's manger, now had shone throughout the sphere appointed for its primal exercise; hut men had loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; and, no matter how gentle and beneficent its rays had been, the brighter they were, ever the more detested.

The sheaf of Life bound together by the Holy Ghost had arisen to stand in the house of prayer, commanding by word and deed the obedience of its brethren, the sons of Israel, and proclaiming that with it only was the bread of Life; but the reply had been, "shalt thou indeed reign over us and they hated it the more, for the vision of the glory of God and the Son of man sitting on the right hand of God, and for its words. Again, the morning star had claimed obeisance from every other light ordained of God: but his brethren envied him, and had carried away the flock from the portion of the Lord's inheritance — the priestly place of resurrection — to broken cisterns which could hold no water; but the man in glory had by his Church come down into their midst, and they had done Him shame and were ready to slay or sell Him to the Gentiles. The time had therefore come for Him to shine in other spheres; the light must be shed upon the land of Egypt, the kings of the earth, and Israel's sons must search for it: never will it seek for them again. So Paul is delivered over into the hands of a company of soldiers, who bring him into Caesarea to Felix the governor who committed him to Herod's praetorium. All was outer darkness where the light had been for Israel. In an instant, as it were the twinkling of an eye, it had set at mid-day.

It is true, thick clouds of unbelief had shrouded it from view, but it had been in the zenith and brightly beamed, but now it was gone: clouds might gather or roll away, it mattered not. Jerusalem was the abode of every unclean thing and bird of darkness; the Lord had smitten them, as He said, with madness, blindness, and astonishment of heart, they groped at noon-day as the blind gropeth in darkness: the yoke of iron was fastened upon their neck; the nation as an eagle flied] of a fierce countenance was come upon them, for they feared not this glorious and fearful Name, Jehovah thy God.

The light had left the land and was journeying to Rome from whence henceforth it should radiate its beams throughout the nations till their times should be fulfilled; but in its course the kings must he brought beneath its convicting power, therefore Caesarea is the first point upon which its beams arise. But the vessel, the light-bearer, the means by which the light shines forth must be shown to be pure and clean, if the purity and glory of the light is to he witnessed of. Paul himself must be clear from every imputation, if the gospel he preached is to be received of men as the word of God. He therefore readily seizes the opportunity of answering before Felix the charges against him, proving that he was not a pest but a worshipper; neither was he a mover of sedition, for neither in the temple did he discourse to anyone nor gather any tumultuous crowd either in the synagogue or in the city; but to the last portion of the charge he did confess, that in the way which his accusers called sect, so served he his father's God, the motive power being the hope toward God of a resurrection of just and unjust. Again his deeds proved their accusations false and cleared his conscience not only before God but man also: for instead of bringing evil he had brought alms to his nation, and offerings: a purified one was he found in the temple, no mover of sedition. Nay, the only crowd and tumult was caused by certain Jews from Asia; and also when before the council he had cried but this one voice, "I am judged this day by you touching the resurrection of the dead."

Here the Holy Spirit takes the first step in the witness to principalities and powers of the resurrection of Christ from among the dead, of whose resurrection and glory it was His purpose and mission to declare. And how unobtrusively, gently, as it were silently, is it done! In Paul's speech it comes in simply as a collateral thing, and first only as a statement of doctrinal fact that there is a resurrection of all men, just and unjust, subsequently confining it to a resurrection of the just only as the matter at issue between himself and his accusers, and by inference limiting the dispute to the fact of the resurrection of One just Man whom they had crucified, but whom he affirmed to be alive: for Felix had perfect knowledge of the things concerning the way, and was well aware of the reason for the enmity of the Jews against him. But when the Holy Spirit witnesses to Felix as an individual rather than as a potentate, He deals with him after another fashion, convincing him of righteousness, temperance, and judgment about to come.

It is a time of trial for the Gentile powers to whom God had committed the sword of justice, and from first to last they prove unfaithful to the trust, though there are extenuating circumstances; for though justice is not done and Paul set at liberty, yet such leniency is shown as their policy permits. Thus Felix commands that Paul should in a measure have his freedom, and that none of his friends should be hindered in ministering to him; and, notwithstanding that the word fills him with fear, he yet often sends for Paul, hoping to make a profit out of him.

When Festus succeeds him, the same witness is continued but develops into more decided action. For when Paul, brought to his judgment-seat, clears himself of all charge of offence against the Jewish law, temple, or Caesar, and the Jews are unable to prove anything against him, of which Festus is very well aware, he yet purposes from political motives to deliver him up to them.

Upon such a failure of justice Paul appeals to the fountainhead of all heathen authority, thereby altogether denying the Jewish polity as the depositaries of judicial power. But before proceeding to Rome there is yet another principality to whom witness must be rendered, Agrippa uniting in himself ecclesiastical lore and temporal authority; and before him the apostle at once takes up his great theme, that of resurrection and Jesus as the raised One, and this as no new thing but the promise made of God to the fathers to which the whole twelve tribes, serving incessantly day and night, hope to arrive. Then with solemn emphasis he describes the fact upon which his whole life hinged, and not his only, but the eternal destinies of myriads of those of the nations hitherto in darkness, under the power of Satan, in their sins to whom he was sent an ambassador, an official appointed servant of his God.

Thus before this complete representative of earthly power (holding as he did the reins of ecclesiastical and political power), Paul testifies of his master the Lord of lords and King of kings, and of the mission to which he was accredited; that all men, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, king or commoner, should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.